right car for family

Choosing a car was easy when you only had you to think about, wasn’t it? You could pick the cutest-looking vehicle, or the one that was lowest, fastest and most powerful… but now you’ve got tiny humans to protect and transport safely.


When you’re looking for a new car for your family, one of the most important factors is whether you can afford it. Because ultimately, if you can’t afford it, it’s not going to be good for your family. That’s why companies like motor finance 4U have a car finance calculator on their websites, to help you work out the costs of the repayments.
However, you should also make sure that you take into account the running costs of the car – things like insurance, tax and petrol to name a few.

Safety Features

For a family car, safety is probably one of your primary concerns.

Always take a look at the Euro NCAP safety rating – you can find this on most car reviews or the Euro NCAP safety ratings. Make sure that you check the individual ratings too, as they are broken down into adult, child and pedestrian. Of course you should look at adult and child, but make sure that you take into account the pedestrian safety rating too. You’re going to be driving around schools, so it makes sense to have a good rating for pedestrians too.

Most cars have both active and passive safety features, but they do vary from brand to brand. Look for Electronic Stability Control, or ESC, which automatically reduces engine power if it detects that the car is about to lose power. According to Which?, studies have shown that ESC could prevent up to a third of all road accidents. Other active safety features to look for include automatic braking systems, lane keeping technology and visibility aids, to name a few.

Passive safety features include airbags, seatbelts and body shell.

Family Friendly Features

Family cars these days really know who their target audience is. They’re producing cars that have features that are more geared towards families.
Things to think about:

Obviously the first thing to consider is whether you can fit everyone in comfortably. Sliding seats make it easy to adjust the back seat space but it’s always worth checking. If you can, pick a car with high seats, so their little faces can see the outside as it whizzes past.

Fitting a child seat can be tricky if the door doesn’t open wide enough. Bring one along when you view a car to see how easy it is to get in there.

The boot is an important aspect of the family car. Whether it’s the weekly shop, pushchairs or a new climbing frame, the car needs to be able to handle that, as well as a few kids that are along for the ride. Check that the boot is a decent shape, and that there isn’t a loading lip (or there’s the option to raise the boot floor).

Similarly, storage space in the car is a key thing to look for in a new car, because it’ll cut down on family life clutter.

Dark interiors hide spills and stains that come with kids and cars. Leather is wipe-able, making it the practical choice.


The way you’ll use a family car will determine the type of car that will be best for you and your family. The first and most obvious thing to think about is how many passengers you’ll have. If you have or want more than three kids and you have pets, then an SUV or even a minivan might be suitable.

The second is to think about where you will do most of your driving. If you live and drive mostly in a city, then you’ll need a relatively small car, but if you do a lot of motorway miles, you should consider something large and comfortable.

Parking is an important factor. If you’ve decided that you’ll need a big car, your next consideration should be whether you’ve got space to park the vehicle.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.

When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your kids, ordering takeout can be a bit of a challenge. When kids have a menu full of options in front of them, some of their go-to favourites may be fish & chips, hamburgers, grilled cheese or chicken nuggets, which makes it even more challenging to steer them in another direction. While it’s ok to let your children splurge on this food once in a while, make sure you consider the healthier items on the menu and encourage your kids to try new things on a daily basis.

Below are just a few tips to follow when ordering takeaway for your family:


chinese food

While most Chinese dishes include a high amount of vegetables, having them deep-fried and surrounded by noodles isn’t always the healthiest way to eat them. Since noodles can weigh in at nearly 200 calories per cup, be sure to consume them in moderation. Better yet, replace the noodles with a side of brown rice or tofu.

If your kids love dumplings, remember that Chinese takeout menus may serve them in many different ways. Wonton soup, for example, contains a few steamed dumplings and soup is considered to be more filling, which will prevent your family from overeating before the main entree. And, according to LiveStrong, a cup of wonton soup contains a high amount of vitamin B6, Niacin, B12, and pantothenic acid. Just keep in mind of the amount of sodium you might be consuming.



Believe it or not, pizza can be a healthy meal when made with the right ingredients and when eaten in moderation. While you don’t have to forgo the cheese to make a pizza healthy for your kids, it’s important to know how to best utilise the pizza’s canvas. Rather than adding sausage, pepperoni, or bacon to a pizza, consider choosing leaner meats like grilled chicken and loading up on the veggies, including mushrooms, peppers, red onions, spinach, and artichoke hearts.

Building a healthy pizza is much easier than it sounds. Hungry House has an enormous range of takeout menus to choose from, including some of the best and healthiest pizza restaurants in your area. Whether you search by rating or price range, pizza restaurants today are much more accommodating to those with special diet requests.



From deep fried samosas to rich paneer, Indian food has become incredibly popular in recent years because of its creative use of spices. If you haven’t noticed already, many vegetarians tend to veer towards Indian cuisine as meat is not often used in many of this cuisine’s dishes, but this doesn’t make ALL Indian takeout food healthy. Dishes that are prepared with lentils and chickpeas provide the protein growing kids need and are on the healthier side as these foods aren’t typically prepared with high amounts of oil and butter. Instead, Indian food is often prepared with a variety of spices to produce unique and delicious flavour combinations.

Turmeric, for example, can be found in many Indian dishes and is known to have health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, according to WebMd. In addition, Tandoori items on Indian takeout menus are often found to be lean because they are cooked in traditional clay ovens called Tandoor. Meats like Tandoori chicken or shrimp retain more nutrients because of the way these dishes are prepared.

If You Don’t Know, Ask!

As it can be difficult to judge how some takeout dishes are prepared, don’t hesitate to request details from the person who is taking your order. In general, try to avoid ordering deep-fried foods and overly processed meats with all of your meals and replace them with hearty sides of steamed vegetables, fruits, or brown rice.

While having family meals shouldn’t always be a task of choosing the healthiest foods, be sure to keep in mind the nutrients your kids (and yourself!) are getting from what you eat.

sunpat on toast

Fuel Your Dreams with Sun-Pat

Do you have a dream that you wish with all your heart to come true? Well now you can make that dream come true because Sun-Pat have this incredible competition where two winners will receive the chance to be what they dreamed of being for the day.

You have until 16th November to enter and it’s really easy …

Sun-Pat is offering two people the chance to experience their dream for a day alongside Olympic hero Adam Peaty or TV presenter Helen Skelton, with eight runner-up prizes of a year’s supply of Sun-Pat Peanut Butter and a £1,000 donation to a local group of their choice to ensure our future stars are equipped to achieve their own dreams.

To enter, simply tell us what you’ve always dreamed of doing. It could be anything from becoming a pilot to winning your own gold medal. You can even share a photo to support your entry.

Entries can be made below using the entry form or on the Sun-Pat social media pages by clicking on the icons below. Entries made via Facebook must be posted on the Sun-Pat Facebook page in the form of a comment on our pinned competition post, entries via Twitter or Instagram must include #SunPatDreams.

Making dreams come true

sun-pat peanut butter

Life has been hectic as you can probably guess since my last post. It was the day we opened our hearts and the front door to Tommy and his family. Firstly I want to let you know that everything is going really well but secondly I must inform you that life has been taken up a notch and hectic doesn’t quite cover it!

The reason behind all of this massive change is a dream, it’s Tommy’s dream and as his mother I feel it’s my job to do as much as I can to help him achieve it.

My boy was born in 1988. As a child he was never interested in school, hated homework but he had a dream, of working in the family hotel. He went into the catering trade and trained to be a chef and has since worked in the family hotels as a chef running the kitchen, the staff and looking after the guests and their appetites. The boy did very well and has worked with grand chefs and even been featured on Italian television.

But something was missing.

The desire to grow, learn and be even better. The final dream is to have a place of his own but I am sure you can appreciate that in the meantime the best practise is to learn and learn and learn. To try different types of cooking, have a go at dishes you’ve never even heard and throw yourself into the culinary world.

In order to do that London was obviously the first place that came to mind and at the end of August he turned up on my doorstep ready to follow his dream.

He got a job and has been working in London ever since under a very demanding chef.

He is now cooking someone else’s menus, learning new techniques and widening his knowledge of food.

I am so proud of him. I realise we are way off the dream becoming reality but I can see we are on a very good start to getting there.


Sun-Pat Peanut Butter

chicken satay recipe

One product that Tommy has used in his recipes in London is Sun-Pat Peanut Butter, he had never heard of peanut butter before as it’s not something you find in Italy. Chef uses it in his secret Chicken Satay recipe and I have since been searching on Pinterest for Peanut butter recipes to see if I can make one at home. I watched him taste it for the first time in his life and saw his expression as he noted the delicacies of the spread. I saw him already thinking about where and how he could use the peanut butter in his cooking and as I let his thoughts wander, I prepared a piece of toast and gave it to him, straight.

He liked it and when he found out how I and his uncles would devour a jar after school he laughed and popped some more bread in the toaster for second helpings.

I am loving having my boy home again and I love watching him fuel his dreams and follow his heart into his future.

Disclosure: this post is a collaboration with Sun-Pat. All opinions are my own.


For the first time, in the longest time, I feel compelled to write. To write about me and what’s going on in my life, as this morning I have woken with a feeling of stepping into a new chapter. It feels like I’m stepping over the threshold into another important phase in my life and I feel the need to document these feelings and thoughts so I can come back to them in years to come.

I have done this a few times throughout my life, the biggest time being when I left Italy for good back in August 2004. I remember hugging my BFF with the knowledge I wouldn’t be popping around for a coffee whenever I fancied. No more aperitivo after work, lunches on the ski slopes, going for a pizza together or trying out the new restaurants and sharing a bottle (or two) of good Trentino wine. I still miss her today.

But that’s just it, when you have these life changing moments in your life, where the axel of your world shifts there will always be parts you miss, bits you don’t like and an underlying sense of, ‘Can I make this work? Am I doing the right thing?’

Ever since I left Italy I have missed my children, Thomas and Megan. At the time they were in their teens and had no inclination to leave the life they had always known for Britain to stay with me. It’s not the age you, the parent, pulls the shots so I had to begrudgingly accept their decision and work it out to the best of my capabilities.

I mentioned about the changes in Mari’s World a while back, and today the final pieces of the jigsaw are going to fall into place. Only then will we start to discover if this is such a great idea we all thought it was during the initial chats back in July.

As I write, Oana, Evan and Sophie are heading towards their aeroplane in Bucharest (which I really hope to visit one day – in case the universe is listening). Thomas has been here since the end of August, working in London and settling in to his new life, and I have been changing rooms around, emptying cupboards of crap I have been hoarding forever and making room for him and his family to join us, for an undefined period of time.

Until they get on their feet.

Until they are capable of running their own home.

Once the children are settled in their schools.

Once Thomas has proved his worth and gets his promised promotion to a larger wage packet.

I count myself very lucky we have the room to bring them into our lives comfortably, without too much disruption but there will be disruption and we’ll have to tackle it all one day at a time.

We will be welcoming a preschooler who apparently doesn’t like to sleep before midnight. I’ve made her a princess bed to see if I can help coax her under the covers a bit earlier.

We will be home to a 4-going-on-five year old, a boy. A boy who loves Marvel, who wants to play loud, raucous games and likes thinking he is the Incredible Hulk.

I know this is a big responsibility, I know it is a huge challenge that will affect me, my husband, the twins and Baxter and I hope I am capable of navigating my ship sensibly and successfully through the seas that lie ahead.

I hope we can work it all out. I hope with all my heart we have the positive outcome I envisioned back in July.

Wish me luck as I embark on my next chapter and open my doors and my heart to

Baebox monthly subscription for girlsBe strong   Be bold   Be brave   Be unique   Believe in yourself   Be you

You may have noticed that for the past month or two I have been proudly ‘wearing’ a new badge on my sidebar. It’s Baebox and it is a unique idea created by a lovely friend of mine, Rosie Shelley.
Her genius idea is a monthly subscription box aimed at young girls to promote a healthy and motivating message to make them feel good about themselves and positive about their future.

Rosie chooses the contents to put in the Baebox very carefully from brands who share her vision, she wants the monthly subscription to be powerful. Her idea is to make young girls feel more confident about themselves, be more courageous and bolder in life. To have faith in themselves and trust their instincts. Qualities that can rank low during the delicate transition phase from child to young woman.

The BaeBox ambition is to help circulate the message to tweens and teens that they are just right as they are, that they are not defined by how they look and how society says they should look, that they are unique, they have choices, and they can be whatever they want to be. To empower our daughters. To empower the next generation. — Rosie Shelley

Above you can see for yourself the twins reaction to the unboxing of their first Baebox, I hadn’t told them anything about it as I wanted to capture their reactions. They were very excited and intrigued to the contents. Once I put the camera away I watched them take a closer look at the gifts and re read the quotes. It was an amazing moment to witness from afar.

I am fully aware of the fact that my babies are growing up. They are conscious of how they dress as they’ve heard certain items (vests for example) are for babies. They no longer want white socks for school but are wearing black socks which are for ‘older girls’. I get this, it was similar back in my day but we do hear so often about the pressures on kids to look right, act right and to be right in order to be accepted into the gang.

I am also conscious of the precarious stage in life we are fast approaching, we have a lot of attitude in the house right now from one of the two. She doesn’t even realise she’s doing it, she’s picking it up from her environment and trying it out at home. It’s my job to make sure she stays a ‘nice girl’ throughout this phase, that she remains confident in herself to be able to make her own choices and not following the others like a sheep with no mind of her own. Plus to stop her bossing her sister about.

Tricky one to put across but I personally think Baebox can help me do that.

Baebox monthly subscription for girls

Don’t you just love the vivid colour scheme chosen for the boxes? This is how you will identify the real box as sadly there are already copycats out there jumping on Rosie’s genius idea and interpreting it badly. Be warned.

What’s included in a Baebox?

September was the first month of the subscription and in it we found

  • A notebook to write down thoughts and ideas.
  • A heart tin to keep little things safe.
  • A yoyo to play with outside.
  • A special plaque to display in the bedroom.
  • Positive cards to look at every day.

There was a slo a card with an inspirational message about Katarina Johnson-Thompson which I found very empowering. We read it together and talked about it afterwards.

Baebox doesn’t finish on the day of opening but offers a lot of things to do throughout the month, a plaque to look at every day, inspirational and motivational quotes and a notebook to encourage young ones to write down their thoughts and feelings.


What does Bae mean?

“Bae,” Urban Dictionary says, is an acronym that stands for “before anyone else,” or a shortened version of baby or babe, another word for sweetie, and, mostly unrelated, poop in Danish.

Sign Up

This is where you need to go to sign up for Baebox