More than a Mum

More than a mum is the place I save everything that doesn’t fall into the Travel, Food and Lifestyle buckets. It’s all those little things that go into my life and make me the person I am. Expect to find, fashion, beauty, photography, hobbies and anything else that is another part of me that I thought you might be interested in.

pete-bellis-472570-unsplash
Pete Bellis

I’ve been talking a lot recently about my connection to Italy; an account of our day trip to Venice with the kids which was utterly amazing and memories of my time when I used to live in the country. Like running the clubhouse for the local golf club. I still think of that period of my life as my best years and the time when I ‘grew up’.

Having arrived in the country as a 19 going on 20-year-old and with just one year of work under my belt, I really was ‘wet behind the ears’ and trying so hard to be a grown-up. It was a difficult time having no family to turn to for guidance and all my choices and actions were completely down to me. It was like walking through life blindfolded.

However, as I understood more and more of the language and was able to make friends and converse with them, a whole new chapter opened for me and I entered into the fascinating world of fashion.

You cannot visit Italy and not notice the clothes. Everyone you come across will be dressed beautifully; it was one of the first things I learnt. My English student background had given me a baseline of charity shop clothes, make do and mend and the odd piece that had been a gift or I had saved up for. The suitcase that I arrived with was stuffed to the brim with trash. Although I’d never have admitted it back then.

I guess I started to understand my look wasn’t quite the ticket when my friends mentioned how ‘quirky’ I was. Or how I was ‘proprio inglese!’ Was that a compliment or not?

I started to take more notice of how the people around me dressed. I watched with intense curiosity as the shops displayed their new seasons and I started to pay more attention to how I put items together. That was the moment I fell in love with clothes and shoes and … boots.

Living in the mountains, boots become a necessity. With months and months of snow from October through to March, you must make sure you look after your feet. In fact, the montanari will remind you many times, ‘Keep your feet warm and you’ll be fine.’

Most of us had more than one or two pairs of boots. We had flat ankle boots, Moon Boots, snow boots, riding boots and for the more special occasions I’d recommend these Uppersole over the knee boots with lace up back  for those evenings spent dancing.

Coats were another important item and I remember, when I first returned to the UK, how I found it so odd that people here would go out with no coat or jacket on! I clearly remember a school group visiting the resort during a bitterly cold February half term and walking down the snowy high street in heels and skimpy dresses for their night out. I admit to cringing as I listened to the Italians murmur how foolish they were, ‘Why not take a coat and put it in the cloakroom?’ they asked me baffled at why the English would put their health at risk when it wasn’t necessary.

Different countries, different customs I would reply with a smile, shrugging my shoulders and hoping they weren’t including me in that bracket of fools.

I had a quick peek at my current boot collection and counted 4 pairs. How many pairs do you currently own?

Photo by Court Prather on Unsplash

Did I ever tell you that I used to run a restaurant in Italy with my brother? It was called Maso Spilzi and was the clubhouse for the local golf course in Folgaria. I could go on to say I am very knowledgeable about golf, but I’d be lying. However, I did get a great insight into the world of golf, in fact, many of my friends played the game and even tempted me up on to the driving range a few times.

It was during my ‘when I lived in Italy’ days and I know I’ve told you about that before. It’s funny as it all seems such a long time ago but my friend from Italy got in touch a while back to say her husband was now running the place. (I’ve told you about him too, he runs Malga Millegrobbe which is at the top of a mountain and one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been to.)

That tiny piece of information sent me right back to the year 2000 and I could see myself in the bar of the restaurant, serving drinks, taking lunch orders and doing tasks that restauranteurs do.

One of our weekly tasks for the golf club was to put on a ‘spaghettata‘ for the weekly competition. It was a fun occasion when the whole golf club would come together and play against one another. Some weeks there were some very prestigious prizes and others there were more humble offerings for the winner but no matter what was up for grabs, there was one thing every golfer who took part did, and that was to take great pride in dressing accordingly.

Golf fashion goes back decades and has always been a step aside from what may be considered ‘normal’ fashion. On the course, bright colours are the way forward, Rupert Bear checks are seen as immensely desirable items, the beautiful leather shoes are unique to the sport and the overall look must be one of refined elegance. A casual smart to be reckoned with.

This is a tradition that doesn’t seem to ever go out of fashion and golfers secretly are vying with one another for the best look. I have found some great golf t-shirts available at Function 18 to look the part

That same sense of presence exists here on the British golf courses and I frequently see my friends posting photos of themselves in the golf gear and being very proud of themselves. Sometimes I wonder if they are more interested in the look rather than the 18 holes?

I found their sense of fashion and care of attention to dressing on the golf course very endearing and noticed that everyone takes part from the top lawyers and doctors who arrived in the latest BMWs or Mercedes, to the local plumber who enjoys a round of golf with his friends at the weekend to enjoy the fresh air and company.

You couldn’t really tell who was the plumber and who the doctor in the sea of bright colours, but I can tell you, they all tucked into their plate of spaghetti after the prizegiving and enjoyed a glass of wine too.

Do you play golf, and do you own special clothes to wear on the course?

natural products

It seems these days, we’re constantly told we’re doing something wrong. Don’t eat that, don’t shop there, or don’t you dare drink that. It’s exhausting. Is it too much to ask for some positivity? Something good we can all get on board with and agree on. Well, thankfully, this is the beauty of natural products. They have so many benefits it would be hard to find the negative in them. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider using more natural products in your everyday life.

Money Saving

You may be worried that investing in natural products will cost you more money. This isn’t necessarily the case. Sometimes by going natural, you can actually save yourself some pennies. A good example here is shampoo and conditioner. Did you know it’s actually better for your hair if you use products such as baking soda or lemon juice? These are simple household ingredients, and can easily cut down the costs of your next toiletries shop. Once you start looking for natural product alternatives, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much choice there is out there.

Sleep Better

natural products

You can use natural products – such as candles and reed diffusers from Neom Organics – to fill the rooms in your home with fresh, gorgeous scents. These aromas can help you to de-stress, relax and you’ll find yourself falling asleep before you know it. There are so many scents for you to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find one that suits your home, and will send you to sleep. You could also place a reed diffuser in the bathroom, perfect if you want a peaceful bath before heading off to bed.

Better Skin

natural products for skin

It’s been shown that most chemicals work against your skin rather than with it. By using natural products, your skin will quickly reap the rewards. This is particularly useful for those with sensitive skin as natural products are less likely to cause a reaction. Once again, it doesn’t have to break the bank either. It can be something as simple as an avocado face mask. Rather than stripping back your body’s natural chemicals, and replacing it with man made chemicals, natural ingredients can help feed your skin – they can keep it looking, and feeling, healthy.

Environmentally-Friendly

Natural products go hand in hand with helping nature. For a start, the production of them – as they’re natural – won’t harmfully impact the environment. Plus the disposal of them won’t have lasting damaging either. This is because most natural brands are very earth-aware. The packaging on them – if there’s anything – will be recycled and green as can be. Natural products are much more sustainable, so not only does using them benefit you, but also the planet. What have you got to lose?

Disclosure: Collaborative post

Hotter whisper boots

I love this time of year, falling leaves, lots of bright colours, some glorious days and long walks in the woods or the countryside, even on the beach.

We’ve been quite busy this autumn, we have been to Dreamland in Margate – it’s the perfect time of year to visit as there are no long queues! We’ve walked over to The Leather Bottle pub in nearby Cobham and I have taken the girls shopping to spend some of their vouchers.

On each of these occasions, I have enjoyed the comfort of my Whisper boots made by Hotter.

Hotter and Mari’s World got together to show how three generations of women could wear the Whisper boots and style them in their own unique way. I am the middle generation, mum is the top and Oana, who was delighted to join in, showed how the younger generation could wear and style these boots just as well as any other woman in town.

The top generation

Hotter Whisper boots

Mum was delighted to join in and at first couldn’t decide which colour to go for. It’s so easy to choose a sensible black or brown boot but no, mum pushed her boundaries this time and selected the bright red boots. Quite a statement and, although I knew she’d come up trumps as she’s always been a woman who has taken great care in her appearance, I was curious as to how she would fit these bright beauties into her wardrobe.

Mum and granddad passed by for a night a couple of weeks ago on their way to Sardegna and she picked up her boots with glee saying she couldn’t wait to try them on. I asked her about her boots on a recent telephone call and she loves them, she’s been walking the well heeled streets of Sardegna looking fabulously smart. She said,

In the words of a song by Nancy Sinatra – “These boots were made for walking and that’s what they will do …”  They are very comfortable, fashionable and I love the colour.  Thankyou

I’m sure I’ll be seeing mum enjoying her boots a lot more this autumn and winter.

The younger generation

Hotter Whisper boots

Oana is my grandchildren’s mother. She is 28 in November and like most women, takes enormous pride in how she looks. Even when money is scarce she manages to come up trumps and look a million dollars. However, could she be tempted to review a pair of boots that women of all ages would happily be seen in? Would she think they made her look ‘old and frumpy’?

I proposed the challenge to her via Whats App and sent through the Whisper boot link so she could see for herself. She loved them and came back almost straight away with her colour choice and size.

Oana has been working a lot as a care assistant the past few months and has to feel comfortable when she is working but she says they are also perfect for slipping on to take the children to the park, for the school run and she said, they look perfect with jeans.

The middle generation

Whisper boots Hotter

Ok, you can decide which generation you prefer to be classified in but the point of this review is to show that one pair of boots can stretch a multitude of ages and styles.

I went for a plum-coloured, suede pair rather than opt for a traditional black or tan boot. I’m really pleased with my choice and have been able to wear them on casual occasions and for ‘going out’. I’ve worn them to work and for long walks. I have been asking the girls to take my photo and they only just got the boots in but you can see plenty more on the Hotter website.

Whisper boots Hotter

They are incredibly comfortable, they are like putting on your favourite pair of slippers. In fact, I’ve often got home and started on house chores only to realise I haven’t changed into my slippers!

I was fascinated to learn from the Hotter Instagram that there are over 40 pieces that go into making a pair of whisper boots. This really goes to underline the care and craft that goes into making a pair of Hotter boots.

Hotter Whisper boots

I can happily say that all three of us thoroughly recommend the Whisper boots by Hotter as a fashion statement and the most comfortable boot you’ll put on this winter.

Disclosure: We were sent a pair of boots each to review for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own.

best friend birthday gifts

Our best friends are important. They’re there through everything, we confide in them and they’ve seen us at both our best and worst. We laugh with them (or occasionally at them), cry together and share some of the most important parts of our lives with them.

While we do things for our best friends all the time, a birthday is the perfect opportunity to say thank you and show them just how much they mean. Here are some gift ideas for your best friend.

Time to Relax

birthday gifts for best friend

If your best friend is also a mum, then chances are, they probably don’t get many opportunities to enjoy some me time. Make your best friend’s birthday all about her by gifting a personalised pampering set, complete with scented candles, bath products and beauty treatments.

Make it Yourself

A homemade DIY gift can be really special and shows how much thought you’ve put into a present. For your best friend’s birthday, you could make a scrapbook filled with your favourite memories and photos, bake some of her favourite goodies, or use your skills (from pottery to knitting) to make something special.

Update her Wardrobe

birthday gifts for best friend

As a mum, it can be very easy to neglect your own wardrobe – after all, your children come first. So, on her birthday, why not treat your best friend to some new threads? Alternatively, buy a gift card for her favourite store, or arrange a birthday shopping trip for the two of you.

A Birthday Celebration

birthday gifts for best friend

Many people prefer to be gifted an experience, rather than receive a physical gift. If your best friend is like this, then plan a celebration. This could be anything from afternoon tea and a spa afternoon, to an evening out with Witness for the Prosecution tickets or a meal at her favourite restaurant.

Their Wish List

Has your best friend been eying something up for a while? Is there an item they really want, but can’t quite justify purchasing? As mums, we always put our families first. For her birthday, make sure your best friend number one for the day by surprising her with a wish-list item.

Select a Subscription

Why treat your best friend for just one day, when you can spoil her throughout the year? Whether she’s a book lover or animal obsessed, gifting a subscription box allows you to give her presents for months to come – these beauty options look lovely!

The bond we have with our best friends is special, so when it comes to their birthdays, we want to get it right. For a gift that tells them just how much they’re appreciated, consider these ideas for your best friend’s birthday.

Disclosure: Collaborative post