Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Top 10 Summer Dresses 2015 - The Ultimate Lust List

I've been trying to avoid the shops the past month or so. Too many gorgeous summer clothes and not enough funds mean this is the only sensible option. Unfortunately however - emails, newsletters, instagram, blogs and those damn personlised Google ads that follow you wherever you click have been my undoing. Why yes I have been coveting those boots for over a year now - just leave me alone ok?!

I am currently furiously avoiding all the fabulous summer dresses on offer online. Although I think I may have failed quite spectacularly in this mission. So lets just get it out of the system shall we?

First up is Mister Zimi. Discovered on Instagram - once you look you can't go back. Simple styles and graphic prints. I want everything.




Next up is this beautiful white boho dress from Mango


And if white is your thing how about this from Hush



Mango also have this lovely maxi dress going for an absolute bargain



And Hush this perfectly simple beach dress in a similar style


Another slouchy beach dress - this one is from Mint Velvet. Just add flip flops (and a beach).


If money were no object - check out Anthropologie


Zara have a vast range of dresses - surely something to suit everyone here



Finally - and quite possibly my favourite - this wonderful creation from Mint Velvet.


Did I mention there was a jumpsuit version too..?

Hard to believe I found all these without even looking isn't it. Just imagine the damage I could do if I was actually doing some serious shopping.

So, seen any gems? Which one of these is your favourite?


Monday, May 25, 2015

After school activities - who needs them?


Do your kids do hurling, hockey, French, football, or fencing? Or maybe it’s ballet, boxing, chess or coding? Chances are, if they are over six years old then you (or someone close to you) are ferrying them across town to after school activities any and every day of the week - which is causing you stress and arguments, and costing you a fortune to boot. So stop the mad stampede for a moment and ask yourself: Do they really want this? Do you? Who really needs after-school activities anyway?

I was at a lovely event the other week put on by Marks and Spencer, where the child psychologist David Carey was speaking. From the moment he started talking he had me hooked - mostly because he was reinforcing what I have long believed myself - that somewhere along the way society has gone wrong in the respect of how we help our children to grow.

A major shift has occurred between when our generation grew up and our children’s generation. Structured learning has become the order of the day and after-school activities have become almost obligatory. Nearly all children now do at least one or two activities a week, not necessarily a bad thing at all, but what about when it’s five or even seven days a week? And sometimes multiple activities on a single day thrown in for good measure?

David Carey says 
It is through play, and most importantly free play, that children develop social and emotional intelligence
But when is this free play happening?
As the age for starting school creeps ever lower we are teaching younger and younger children to sit still, hold a pencil, read, write, behave... when really they are not psychologically ready to do those things. Children of 4, 5 and 6 should actually be learning through play. Just ask those clever Scandinavians. 

After school activities are perpetuating this loss of free play so our children are being ferried from one organised activity to another without giving them the time to create, develop and evolve many of the skills they should. 

It is through play that we learn to get along with others. It is through play that we learn to understand others. It is through play that we learn to understand ourselves. And it is through play that we learn about language, maths and greater learning
                                                                                                            David Carey

As he so rightly pointed out - success in life rarely comes down to just grades and intelligence and certificates - there is a whole spectrum of social and emotional learning that is integral to how our children get on in life. 

And this particular type of learning happens when children are left to their own devices. 

So what happened to grabbing your bike and calling for your friends? Or bouncing a ball against a wall for three continuous hours? Or making mud pies. Or doing handstands. Or being bored?

Tom Hodgkinson, author of The Idle Parent, believes that a more hands-off approach to parenting actually teaches children to be more self-reliant and capable, but I’d go even further than that. In my eyes, it’s when kids are left to their own devices that the magic happens. That’s when the creativity is born and the memories are made.

A study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in Ireland which looked at the lives of 8,500 nine year olds as part of its Growing Up In Ireland study bears out this belief. It found that “the ‘hurried child’ whose social life is as closely timetabled as their school life can experience stress and exhaustion. They may also become less creative, unable to fill their own time, and find it difficult to interact with peers outside the confines of structured activities.”

After-school activities can be a great addition to a child's life - but like all things it is when they are done in moderation that the benefits come. We really shouldn’t be trying to fill each and every precious hour of our kids' lives with them, tiger mothering them through their precious childhood years. Otherwise, when do they get to discover the joy of discovery?

And yes I know that we all only want what's best for our kids - but maybe society is now giving us the wrong signpost as to what that actually is. Maybe it's time for us all to jump off the treadmill.

So apologies to those whom I have offended here - I'm sure you'll have your revenge when you son or daughter is CEO of the world and mine are out sweeping the streets and still living at home. Although I am counting on at least one professional footballer after all those weekends spent pitch side.  

Oh.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

No more sex


Getting everyone out to school in the morning is often stressful. Especially on those days when you have been in bed scrolling through Facebook and didn't notice the time ticking away...

This morning was no different. After a mad dash looking for uniforms, lost shoes and school bags I shoved a piece of toast in somebody's mouth and shouted for the hundreth time to 'Get a move on, we're going to be late'.

The 6 year old continued to stroll around the house looking for 'something' but wouldn't tell me what. The 8 year old gave me the 'Jeez, you're so stressy' line. Which is always helpful. And the 10 year old stood at the front door silently rolling her eyes at us all.

I looked at the clock.

'Ok. That's it! Out, Out, Out!'

They filed passed me grumbling, but just as they got to the car, one of them turned back.

'One sec - I forgot my markers'.

The next one followed

'One sec - I forgot my music folder'.

The last one turned tail

'One sec - I forgot my something'

I stood red faced and exasperated in front of the car, shouting after them like a mad woman -

'NO! NO MORE SECS!'

And then froze, watching the stream of smirking teenagers walking past the house on their way to school.

Bugger.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Things to do in Wicklow - Powerscourt Waterfall



As you may know already we are big fans of Powerscourt Gardens, but there is also the magnificent Powerscourt Waterfall a little further down the track that we visited recently.


This is the heighest waterfall in Ireland - and if you time it right it is absolutely spectacular.

In fact I have been coming here all my life. As kids our parents would pile us all into the old Morris Traveller and we'd head out to roam the wilds and paddle in the streams.


The rugged beauty is still the same today as it was all those years ago - but they have added a really great play area for children of all ages that really adds to it.









Pack a picnic, a rug, a ball and a towel to dry off after paddling and you have yourself a fabulous day out.


What are you waiting for?!


More Things to do in Wicklow

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Most Iconic Wedding Rings of all Time

My little sister’s wedding is fast approaching and she’s recently been setting her sights on wedding rings. It’s a piece of the wedding style puzzle that she had almost forgotten about. Though the ring itself may seem simple, there’s a great deal of variation in style and setting. Here are a few of history’s most iconic wedding and engagement rings to swoon over. I'm not sure she's going to be quite so lucky as these ladies though...

Josephine de Beauharnais’ dynamic duo
French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte certainly had money to spare, so when the time came to lavish his bride Josephine de Beauharnais with jewels he did so with a stunning diamond and sapphire wedding ring. The band itself is composed of gold, with two pear-shaped stones (a blue sapphire and diamond) showcased side by side to symbolize their love.


Scarlett Johanssons’ Art Deco style
Known for her unique, classy sense of style, Scarlett Johansson’s engagement ring has helped usher in the hot vintage trend in engagement and wedding rings. When she got engaged to French journalist Romain Dauriac, he exhibited his excellent taste by presenting ScarJo with a beautiful piece of Art Deco style jewellery. This featured three round diamonds set in a vintage rectangular shape. Love the look? You’ll see the geometric shapes of the Art Deco era featured in a number of wedding rings from modern retailers like these at Vashi who collaborated with me on this piece, showing the versatility of this iconic style.

Audrey Hepburn’s stackable rings
Stackable rings are a practical trend in wedding bands – they let you mix and match your everyday jewellery to suit your daily outfit. Mel Ferrer gifted Audrey Hepburn a stackable wedding ring, containing two different bands in rose gold and white gold. Always a trendsetter, she helped make this the popular style that it is today.


Marilyn Monroe’s baguette diamonds
Speaking of style icons, it’s hard to imagine the style of the 50’s without mentioning Marilyn Monroe! Are you in search of a simple wedding band style that still sparkles? You might want to take a look at Monroe’s baguette-cut diamond eternity band. It was given to her during her wedding ceremony to Joe DiMaggio in 1954.


The famous blue sapphire
However, when you imagine blue sapphire rings, you probably don’t immediately think of Josephine de Beauharnais and Napoleon. A more modern blue sapphire ring was the one given to Princess Diana by Prince Charles in February 1981, more recently sported by the Duchess of Cambridge after being given to her by Prince William. This iconic ring has been sparked many imitations, with the original featuring 14 solitaire diamonds encasing a brilliant blue Ceylon sapphire. Crafted by Garrard, it’s set in 18-carat white gold and will remain an icon of wedding ring design for years to come.


Jacqueline Kennedy’s emerald sparkler
Coloured gemstones can enliven the wedding ring, giving it a splash of irresistible colour that’s just right for a more playful look. Jacqueline Kennedy, classy as ever, sported an engagement ring featuring 2.88 carats of diamonds as well as elegant emeralds.

Amal Alamuddin’s ethically sourced bling
Amal Alamuddin specialises in human rights law, so it makes sense that when George Clooney shopped around for an engagement ring he looked for one that was ethically mined. Although it may be responsibly sourced, the 7-carat diamond in a platinum setting is certainly every bit as glamorous as the other rings on this list, proving that you can have it all!


This post was written in collaboration with Vashi.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Boho Boys and Gypsy Girls


I've long loved the boho vibe. For me it brings up images of sunshine, flowers, flowing dresses and hippie hair. I briefly danced my way barefooted down the gypsy trail when I was back packing around Australia a million moons ago - but somehow headbands and glitter don't marry with the rainy school run so well...

And so I will try to relive my youth through my poor suffering children.

I could spend hours trawling through the beautiful offerings on Melijoe - so many brands do the boho trend so well - Pepe, Scotch and Soda and Stella McCartney would be top of my list.

One day...One day...

For the Gypsy Girls:

Pepe




Pepe

Scotch and Soda

For the Boho Boys:




Japan rags


Aren't they just gorgeous? Now I just need to buy a VW Combi and a tambourine and we're all set. 

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Melijoe.com. All words and opinions are my own.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Platform Pizza - Things to do in Wicklow

The Irish Times have named it the “Best Pizza in Ireland”. Could it really be that good? With only you lovely readers in mind (and nothing at all to do with our rumbling bellies) we headed in to Platform Pizza in Bray, Co. Wicklow, to find out what all the fuss is about.

The first thing that hits you on entering Platform Pizza is the atmosphere. The industrial decor of the room is warmed by the array of interesting artifacts and features dotted around the place, and of course by the chatter and buzz of the many customers. Be warned – Platform Pizza is rarely quiet.




The lure of the toilets, entered by way of an antique wardrobe was too much for the kids and they spent the first 15 minutes needing the loo. Continuously.

Once we had persuaded them to actually sit in their seats, the excitement reached fever pitch. Not just any old pizza menu for them. Oh no. Starter, a choice of main, dessert, and a selection of drinks (including a very popular strawberry lemonade – made with proper strawberries) was all laid out on the special kids’ menu – which doubled as the rest of the evening’s entertainment (once the toilet glee had finally worn off). At just €8 per child, it is amazing value – a much needed aid when you have three children with you.





The staff at Platform Pizza are truly wonderful. Highly attentive, fun, and very welcoming to children of all ages. They are always on top of things and never far from hand when you need them.


Carlo, (or Carrrrrlo) who works front of house, took time out to tell us about the amazing boneless chicken wings that are one of their specialties. One of our party remarked that they had the taste and texture of chicken breast. I think he may have had a hard time believing they were actually wings (sorry Carlo), and in fact they do, only tastier, but not as tasty as the hot spicy sauce they come with. And did I mention the blue-cheese dip that accompanies them? (Sorry, I may have just salivated over my keyboard…)



The other starters were equally good – antipasti, and garlic bread that was inhaled by all of us almost before it hit the table. Great-quality meats, amazing dips, and fantastic dipping bread. Perfect. The kids, meanwhile, tucked into their dough balls.



The drinks menu was varied and very different from the usual. For review purposes only – of course – we tested out some of the cocktails and craft beers. We would have given a huge thumbs up for them; but we couldn’t risk spilling any.


So what about the pizzas, I hear you ask. Well…they were rubbish.

Only kidding. The quality of the meal continued with the awesome pizzas. The kids tested out the margarita and a ham and pineapple, whilst the grown-ups devoured a pepperoni; anchovies, capers and olives; and goat’s cheese and rocket. The decisions are tough, though – the pizza combinations on the menu are seriously tempting and all are priced between €11 and €14.



Are they the best pizzas in Ireland? Well, I can’t recall having a better one. The bases are crispy and chewy and just the right thickness. The toppings are great quality and generous. The choices are varied and the combinations well thought out.

And if you just don’t like pizza – well there is plenty on the menu for you weirdos too.

So what was the damage? €116 for 4 adults and 3 children – which I would say is pretty bloody amazing value.

Overall? Impossible to fault really.  10/10.

It’s possibly that I now have plans to return and make my way through the entire menu. I could be gone some time

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