Mexico

August 26, 2014

Mexico. When you read that word, what does it make you think of?

 Many think danger, kidnappings, beheadings and drug cartels. After the film Savages, Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro made the gringos look a little differently at Mexican gardeners.

 Others maybe think of tequila, Tijuana, sombreros and ponchos.

 Frankly, that’d be like associating Great Britain with Jack the Ripper, bad food, ghastly weather, football hooligans and Jimmy Saville.

It all exists, of course, but it’s neither a fair nor accurate picture of either country.

This post is about the country that I love. It’s become my second home and I find myself lauding her beauty and defending her to my back teeth.

People talk about the warmth of a country as experienced through its people – you feel this immediately on arriving in Mexico. Be that in Mexico City, Puebla, Veracruz or Cancun – the smiles, the manners, the sense of the familial. Family and food are held in high esteem (as they should be, really) and meals are important.

The cuisine is incredible. Forget burritos (they barely exist in Mexico by the way, a bit like General Tso’s chicken….an invention to satisfy the Westerners’ tongue). From tacos, quesadillas and chilaquiles to chicharon, chiles nogada and molé – the cuisine is enormous and deserves to be taken as seriously as Italian. Whilst not as “adventurous” as say, the Chinese, the snacks are pretty entertaining – found in market places all over the country are delights such as gusanos and chapulines – worms and grasshoppers. Fried to a crispy crisp and if one doesn’t look closely, as delicious as peanuts.

The architecture is breathtaking. Puebla, a former Spanish city, is chock full of stunning colonial buildings. Then there’s the Talavera, ceramics native to Puebla – every single piece carefully painted by hand and signed on the bottom by the artist. Think a more funky and colourful version of Wedgewood.


There are the bustling cities, the plantation like swathes of tropics (Veracruz) and some of the most gorgeous beaches on earth (the Caribbean side, think Tulum).

Mexico is home to true artisans – we’re not talking straw donkeys here. Stunning hand-embroidered Otomi fabrics, delicately hand-painted alejibres from Oaxaca, silver to die for…

Take a stroll around any marketplace and you’ll see more chiles than you’ve ever imagined possible – ancho, guajillo, chilpotle…and hundreds more. If you love to cook and enjoy experimenting with spices and herbs – you’ll be in culinary heaven.

As for drinkies – we all know Tequila but it’s time to discover its lesser-known friend Mezcal. No, Corona doesn’t count as a Mexican beverage. Nobody drinks it there. Like the burrito, another thing that only non-Mexicans consume.

It’s a family-friendly country – children are welcomed wherever they go. No stuffiness or side-eye if your little one is out with you for supper at 9pm. In our case, we’ve been lucky enough that our toddler all but became part of the staff at the last hotel we stayed at.

This is just a wee snapshot of an amazing country. Go quick, before the rest of the world realizes what a wonderful country Mexico is.

Elaine

My first Autumnal outfit

August 26, 2014

This hat from Zara is a little bit special, and is my first must-have item for this Autumn/ Winter.

Zara £19.99

I personally love a bit of grey on grey, and I’ve gone for an understated mannish look with this one from one of my favourite stores – Cos.

Top £79 Trousers £89

I’ve paired the outfit with some patent brogues (they aren’t going anywhere) to contrast with he texture of the outfit.

Brogues £39

What do you think of this outfit?

Nat x

Street Style Sunday: How to style an old white shirt

August 26, 2014

 I recently inherited my husband’s white work shirt from T.M.Lewin, I only got a look in because it has a rip in the arm, but I’m not going to let that deter me. I love a good white shirt, so easy to style, whether they are fitted or oversized you can never have enough white shirts in your wardrobe. So I just rolled up the arms and paired it with a tulle skirt, and some brogues.

 

The skirt has been in my closet forever it’s from H&M unfortunately it’s not still available (although they have some superb midi skirts at the mo), but you can find a similar tulle skirt here.

The necklace is from a local shop called The orange Tree, which is great for one-off finds, unusual gifts and amazing for your interior design needs.

The bangle is from Halcyon days and I adore the simple beauty of it.

Usually I wear heels, but after comparing I think these flats looked just as good, so I went with them. The brogues are from Clarks, you can find similar here.

The outfit was for a night out with my husband for our anniversary. We went to L’anima where they serve the most amazing contemporary Italian food. The cocktails are also worth a visit even if you don’t sample the food.

The brilliant mixologist looked after us and made us this smokey concoction. I believe it was his signature drink.

The Mister and me in our matching white shirts. Ha.

How do you wear your white shirt?

Nat x

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“She’s alright but her bum is massive”…

August 26, 2014

Are the words I heard come out of a car as I strolled along to my midwife appointment this week. There was no one else on the street at the time, so I can only assume the lads in the car were talking about me and my beautiful nearly eight month pregnant buttocks.  After feeling fairly happy I had still managed to squeeze said bottom into my Topshop Leigh size 10 maternity jeans that morning, I felt a little bit deflated to say the least (side note – the jeans are old and incredibly stretchy so the sizing is by no means realistic, but you have to take the perks you where you can get them at this stage of pregnancy.)

And it got me thinking, why is it that women (and men too but perhaps not so much) are always being judged by their appearance and why did those lads comments mean so much.  Even at eight months pregnant, when I should just  be pleased as punch to be growing a little mini me, I still feel an intense pressure to look and dress a certain way.  Look at poor Kim Kardashian.  I am not her biggest fan but the way she was scrutinised by the press and general public when she was pregnant was blatant bullying.  Granted, I was just walking along the street minding my own business, and Kim’s business is obviously to be in the spotlight 24/7, but who cares if your bum becomes that much bigger when you’re pregnant and your thighs that bit wobblier.  Does it warrant being subjected to unkind comments regardless?  More to the point, why should anyone have to put up with unpleasant remarks about their size – men, women, pregnant or otherwise.

Saying that, I am currently obsessed by pregnant celebrities.  I will scour the celebrity news sites daily hoping I’ll catch a glimpse of Mila Kunis and her rounded belly.  But to be honest, I am also looking for verification that there are other women who are a similar size to me, so am I just as bad?   I recently had a scary stint is hospital due to a racing heart rate and yet one of the most unpleasant bits of my stay was when the doctors weighed me and revealed my weight after I had deliberately stayed off the scales for the last seven months.  I weighed 13 stone 3 pounds, and who cares?  No one, but regardless I am still spending far too much time thinking about the ways in which I will lose my baby weight and get back into my real size 10 skinnies.  I am not one for fad diets and I am planning on breast feeding again if I can, so my plan can only include gradual and healthy weight loss, but surely this shouldn’t be a concern before I’ve even had the baby!

So I am saying this for myself and any other ladies in a similar position.  Let’s give ourselves a break.  None of our friends or family care if when pregnant we pile on the pounds, as long both baby and mummy are healthy.  Don’t beat yourself up for reaching for that third, fourth or even fifth biscuit, pregnancy can be hard enough without chastising ourselves for any indulgences.

So if you find yourself questioning whether you should be reaching for your comfiest pair of joggers for the third day in a row, just do it!  I know I will.

Gemma x

Wendover-on-Sea – The Dandy Kid

August 26, 2014

Last week The Dandy Kid  (a children’s boutique) put on a great day for families called Wendover on Sea. It’s the summer holidays so I’m always up for different things I can do with the kids. There was Punch and Judy, face painting, sandpits, bouncy castles, lots of cake, and so much more.

Here’s my photos from the lovely time we spent there:

My daughter was rather enthralled by this little lady sat next to her on the bouncy castle.

The lovely owners of The Dandy Kid and their gorgeous girls.

This lady in the striped top is known as the knitting midwife – she had the kids mesmerised with her finger knitting and knitted loom band making skills.

 Of course I couldn’t go all that way and not take a little peek at the boutique itself on the upper level of a converted barn. As you can see the shop is full to brim of quirky, individual finds making it a real struggle to come away empty handed.

And I was absolutely delighted to come home with a hand knitted neon necklace made by the fair hands of the knitting midwife (of course), that my kids have tried very hard to swipe. Sorry girls no chance, this one is mine!

So if you ever find yourself near this pretty little market town called Wendover in Buckinghamshire – make sure you visit the Barn Courtyard where you’ll find The Dandy Kid and a few other treasures close by such as a fantastic little art gallery and an abundantly stocked antiques store among others.

And if you don’t happen to be close by any time soon, fear not you can check out their fantastic range of children’s clothing, accessories and homewares online.

Nat x

Fieldlife agents in stripes

August 26, 2014

What is it about stripes, maybe it’s the connotations of French sophistication that has us so enthralled. From when Coco Chanel brought the Breton sailor uniform into the fashion consciousness, anyway whatever it is I can’t get enough of stripes and I know I’m not alone in this. Whether it’s for myself or for the kids stripes always add that instant classic stylishness without trying too hard.

 

Luckily for us the lovely British kids brand – Fieldlife sent us some striped tops to road test.

Tickle giggles are the best kind.

No idea why she did this supermodel pose or who she got it from!!! Erm.

It’s either that or this, no in between with my girl.

Captured at dusk.

I love the way she’s looking up to her big sister, she copies everything she does, which as you know can be good and bad :/

Fieldlife are a British children’s clothing brand made from the highest quality materials, manufactured in Britain in British factories. The clothes are built for exciting adventures and discoveries, they call their wearers ‘field agents.’

You can check out their range here.

To celebrate this Brilliant British Brand we are running a giveaway for you to win £50 to spend how you wish on their website.

To enter the giveaway make sure: 

  • You are a UK and republic of Ireland resident. 
  • You must be 16 or over. 
  • You MUST enter the 3 mandatory fields – each worth 1 point. 
  • After completing the mandatory fields you can enter as many times as you like. Every time you get 3 points you get another entry. 
  • The giveaway closes on 16/9/14.
  • Rafflecopter picks a winner at random.
  • I will notify you via email within 3 days from the end date.
  • You have 28 days to acknowledge my notification, after which another winner will be picked.
  • You will get your prize within 14 days of acknowledging your win.
  • Your email address will be shared with Fieldlife and no other parties.

 

 

 

Street Style Sunday – My Style

August 26, 2014

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of midi skirts. So I thought I’d show you my favourite skirt. It can easily be dressed up or down and can take you from the school run to cocktails at night.

 

The skirt is from ASOS and can be purchased here.

The shoes are old and from Zara, but you get the idea.

Later on in the week I will show you how I dress the skirt down for the school run.

What item of clothing in your wardrobe is your favourite?

Nat x

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Fruit picking in the country

August 14, 2014

Last week we went to stay with my mum for a few days. Every time I go I drive passed a quaint little farm advertising fruit picking and until last week I’d never been. This time however it was a lovely day and we had a bit of time to kill before the rest of the clan got home.

It was more like fruit eating with the littlest one, we had to smuggle our goods away from her beady little eyes otherwise we would’ve had nothing to show for our efforts.

The raspberries were delicious, we made a fruit crumble later on.

I think my sister and I enjoyed the fruit picking a bit more than the kids, who soon got bored (once their tummies were full), but we were on a mission.

The little monkey wouldn’t go in her buggy on the way home – this is her trying to run away from us wearing her c/o Fieldife striped t-shirt. (More to come from Fieldlife later in the week).

Nat x

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Elongate your legs with some flared jeans

August 14, 2014

I’ve been hankering after a pair of flared jeans for at least a year, but I was never happy with any I tried on. I knew which ones I wanted but they were £200+. This year I had the hairbrained idea of asking for Selfridges vouchers for my birthday, so I could get myself a pair a really expensive ones to treasure.
These jeans are high-rise Paige jeans from Selfridges.
The jumper which I absolutely adore as it’s so soft and washes really well was c/o Desmond Elephant Click the link to check out the adults and kids range available from Desmond Elephant. I want it all.
Pair the jeans with some platform shoes so that the jeans are very close to the floor when you walk.
I paired them with my Orla Kiely shoes from Clarks, unfortunately they aren’t available any more but any platform shoes will do. Although I hear Orla Kiely will be doing another collaboration with Clarks coming this Autumn.
Here’s my ones:
Would you wear Flared jeans?
Nat x

 

In Celebration of the Mixed Pedigree – by Elaine

August 12, 2014

My roots are rather diverse. If I go back just two generations, the taboos were nicely shattered by a marriage between my maternal grandparents – a Scotsman marrying a Japanese lady on one side (grandfather); a Eurasian marrying another Eurasian (grandmother). 


Scottish, Japanese + Italian, French, Cambodian (Annamite back in the day), and smidgeons of other bloods.


One generation ago, my mother married a 100% Chinese fellow. Add Chinese to the mix.


My mother’s sister married a 100% Scotsman. Their brother married an Australian woman (originally English). We bring into the genetic pool, blonde and blue/green eyed first cousins. Family photos are like an advert for The United Colours of Benetton.


Growing up in a small town, we were the only FOREIGNERS. Well, visibly foreign, I should say. My parents were well-known in Malvern, being restauranteurs of the first and only Chinese restaurant in the area. One couldn’t really miss my father. He rather stood out amongst the white folk. My mother could blend in – though she did have a penchant for colouring her hair jet black. Why, I have no idea, given she was born a blonde, then a natural redhead (more titian than ginger)…then finally chose black. Perhaps to keep my father company. Who knows. 


I look the most Chinese of my siblings. My sister is fairer in colouring and complexion, more representative of the Japanese side. My brother is slap bang centre. 


My mother tells me a story of how I came home from kindergarten one day and set about furiously scrubbing my eyes with a flannel. Someone had called me Slitty Eyes. I don’t recall that at all, probably a good thing, but it makes me smile. I can remember one boy calling me a Chinese Sausage and pulling his eyes. I couldn’t have been older than 7 or 8. Children can be so unfiltered, so cruel!


I was never bullied at school. I had friends from all over the world. The most I had to deal with in terms of my ethnicity was the fact that I wasn’t like the stereotypical Chinese girl. Maths? Nope. Science? Nope. Computing? Nope. I silently rejoiced that I wasn’t the dorky girl from Hong Kong with the funny accent from being bilingual in Cantonese/Mandarin and English (now I regret that I can only converse in English and Spanglish). I was relieved that I wasn’t a maths/science nerd with glasses and awkward social skills (how I wish I could do my own accounting or not freak out when I’m given a calculator to use THAT HAS THE SYMBOLS IN DIFFERENT PLACES). 


I refused to learn Chinese. I didn’t want anything to do with that side of my heritage. I told my mother that I’d never again answer her if she called me by my Chinese name. I fully embraced my school life where I was anonymous. I was Elaine. 


My father used to get irate when I’d call myself British. Not English or Chinese. Just plain British – I have a British passport, therefore I’m a Brit. That was my way of avoiding the Chinese way. Whatever your father is, that’s what you are. The mother and her bloodlines don’t count. I didn’t like that. I felt it was rude, unfair and downright ridiculous to discount one entire side of the family. It was also my way of pissing off my father. He couldn’t argue with the facts which in turn angered him all the more. 


For a time during my childhood, I hated looking different. I was resentful that my mother, brother and sister could get away with looking “normal”. I couldn’t, no matter how I tried. My eyes were a total giveaway. I loathed them. When I was 16, I considered saving up enough money to have surgery to change the shape of my eyes. 


One incident that haunted me for many years, and which I couldn’t talk about for even longer, happened when I was about 21. I was in the local pub with friends and my then boyfriend. I’d made eye contact with a girl, and because I must have given her my Resting Bitch Face look (ie looking gormless), she launched into a verbal attack – out of nowhere, loudly and aggressively. She called me all the racist names under the sun and then threatened to punch me in the face. I stood there, deer in the headlights, completely dumbfounded. My charming boyfriend apologised to her for whatever I’d done to upset her (huh?) and then offered to buy her and her friends a round of drinks. He told me later that it was to settle the situation and prevent it escalating. Wanker. Funnily enough, the threat of being punched in the face wasn’t the most upsetting part for me.


To be called a racist name, to be verbally assaulted because of the colour of one’s skin or shape of one’s eyes – it’s a million times worse and basically incomparable to being called fat or ugly. One can lose weight and fix ugly. One cannot fix their ethnicity. It was a stomach punch that almost floored me. If I could have disappeared off the face of the earth right there and then, I would have. It knocked my confidence, my self esteem and made me question everything about myself.  


However, when I became an adult, things slowly changed. In very small ways. I was living in DC and a London friend was arranging for one of her friends to meet me for the first time. I was to meet Philip by the Washington Monument at 6pm to watch Screen on the Green. Along with 500 other people. The place was packed. I’d know him purely by the fact only a Brit wears a jumper around the shoulders in 99 degree heat. How would he recognise me? Katherine told me “I told him you are around 5’7, shoulder-length brown hair, probably the only one wearing heels on the grass”. I laughed. She hadn’t told him to look for a Chinese looking girl. It hadn’t crossed her mind. A small and silly story but it was huge for me. Katherine, one of my oldest and dearest friends from school, saw ME. The outside stuff was irrelevant. 


In recent years (I’m now 40), I’ve become comfortable in my own skin, with what I look like, with my “ethnicity”. I find amusement rather than shame when someone says an ignorant remark…there have been so many and almost always from seemingly educated and intelligent adults. 


I’ve become proud of my father’s heritage and culture. It’s only taken me nigh on 20 years…


I married a Mexican/Spaniard. Our boy looks likes me and my husband, a nice mix. Basically, we’ve added yet another “look” to the family.  I’m proud and delighted that he looks different. I hope we’ll do a good job of bringing him up to celebrate and be proud of his Heinz 57 pedigree. He speaks Spanish and English fluently, has a little Arnold Schwartznegger accent, goes golden brown just looking at the sun, is blessed with the eyelashes of a camel and has the temperament of a rebel. He’s already different and it’s bloody wonderful.

Elaine

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