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Festivalling with the little moppets

Sophie Lombardi

Not been to a festival since your free and single days in the 90's? Neither had I. Let me tell you, taking the kids is a whole different ball game. I'm no Edith Bowman, but I have talked to my family festy friends and we've come up with some tips....

The Tent

Back in the day, you were all too pissed to get the tent up, so you slept underneath the ground sheet and it was surprisingly comfortable. We are terrible campers but the only camp craft you need at a festival is to be able to put the tent up. To avoid divorce proceedings, attempt this at home first and put it up immediately on arrival at the festival. As everyone has bought the same tent on sale at Halfords, it's a good idea to put a up a flag or something bright so you can find your tent again and the kids don't get too lost.

Food

Unlike Reading in the 90's when you lived off fags, booze and the occasional Ginsters pasty, you are going to need some real food this time around. Many of the family festivals have fancy schmancy food outlets (Fortnums at Port Eliot this year). Buying the kids aged-venison and gruyure waffles may feel like setting fire to your hard earned cash. As most festy meals cost around £8, we recommend packing a cool bag of rice cakes, peanut butter, muesli bars or whatever will keep your kids going, without having to partake in any camp craft cooking.

Sleep

The main flaw in family festivals is that the party doesn't stop until the wee hours and yet the kids are still up with the sun. Tip from the mama ravers, ear plugs for you so that you can get some kip, eye masks for the kids (put these on them after they have gone to sleep) and all the coffee in the entire world.

Planning

There's a lot of stuff for the precious moppets to do at family festivals. Some of it is free and some of it you have to pay for. To avoid meltdowns and being totally skint, look at the program with the kids beforehand and agree on a couple of things a day. You may need to book into workshops in advance.

Tired Little Leggies

It's often a long way between the different stages at festivals. Little leggies may benefit from a good robust buggy or a cart that can be rented from most festivals. You will inevitably end up carrying them at some point as well as lugging around the buggy/cart.

Other things you may want to bring along are loads of baby wipes (festival shower), head torches and ear defenders (even though our children make more noise than a death metal band).

Poppy and Honesty are going to be at Port Eliot Festival this year running workshops for big and little people. Please come and say hello and make yourself some Liberty Print Headgear.

Best tip of all, have tonnes of fun ..

Love

Sophie xxx

 

10 years on... advice I would give my younger Mummy self

Sophie Lombardi

Mr. P and I celebrated 10 years of parenthood last weekend. We've been chatting about the ups and downs and having a chuckle about the nutty stuff we did. If I was able to steal MJ Fox's time-machine and go back to 2007, these are some of the things I would tell my rookie parent self...

Choose your girl gang carefully

I felt a huge pressure to socialise my children regularly. If I wasn't attending playgroups. gymbaroo (?) or god awful singing in the library, my kids were definitely going to be sociopaths or psychopaths right? Subsequently I ended up hanging with some quite judgy women and through the fog of tiredness/PND and trying to navigate my way through the early years,  I didn't recognise that this wasn't a supportive or healthy place for me and the sprogs. Thankfully, I had a couple of amazing queens on my side. They always lifted my spirits and didn't give a monkeys if you bribed the kids into the bath with jelly babies. 

Always chose fun

I missed out on seeing the late George Michael sing Wake me Up Before you Go Go because I had to do the night feed. There is so much boring shit that you have to do as a parent. The housework is endless. Given another chance, unless the house was about to be condemned a slum,  I would  ditch the dishes in favour of drinks with the girl gang and give the babe a bottle so that I could shimmy on down to Club Tropicana with George. 

Mummy -  tummy? Whatever.

It is a bloody shock to see your post pregnancy stomach. I can liken it to the dimply party pasty available in our Cornish bakery. Tip to former self- don't look at it. There are so many more important things to do (like have fun) and you are so much more than a wobbly tum. 

Stop analysing the elusive 'bond'

I bought into the idea that I had to feel an automatic, unstoppable, all-consuming connection with my babies as soon as they were born. Subsequently I spent such a long time looking for this and became more and more anxious that it just wasn't there. Given the opportunity, I'd definitely tell my former self to take a step back, be patient and watch the relationship blossom over time.  My big kid was recently very poorly, we spent the whole time together watching telly and having fizzy drinks. There is no doubt in my mind that we go together like a good gin and tonic. 

There is suffering in parenting

An SAS soldier recently told me that sleep deprivation was the WORST part of his interrogation training (am not sure that included water boarding). Being kept awake by a baby for years is torture and so is being told to F*** off by children that have been your life's work. The only book I read as a Mum was Buddhism for Mothers. I'm not buddhist but totally subscribe to the idea that as a parent you have to accept a level of suffering. 

I can think of million more things,  but that will do for now. To all Poppy and Honesty's  pixelated young mummies, you're doing a fabulous job. We are bringing out a new grown up range just for you guys, Why should the moppets have all the good stuff when we do the school run with rice crispies in our hair ?

Big love 

Sophie xxxx

PS. Some great Mummy bloggers to follow. Peter and Jane: hilarious, tells it like it is. The London Mummy: Treats for Mummies and kids.  Mother Pukka- championing flexible working for parents. 

 

Free Your Lady Marmalade

Sophie Lombardi

Here at Poppy and Honesty HQ, we are obsessed with the colour orange. No, I'm not ranting about the President Elects skin tone (much), but the gorgeous and under-rated colour that will feature strongly in our next unisex collection. I have a Paddington-like enthusiasm for Marmalade, so it is only fitting that as a tribute to 'The Donald' we make a sticky orange mess to mark his inauguration.

If you have the time or the inclination, making Marmalade is a very satisfying way of passing a lazy afternoon - and the recipe below is pretty fool proof. Do make sure that you test the Marmalade properly for the elusive skin, which indicates that it has set.  You can get the darling moppets to help with the orange squeezing and the cutting if they are older too. They can also make pretty labels and think of imaginative names for their pots of gold (Donald's foundation?).

Yours with zestiness,

Sophie x

Recipe for Marmalade (makes 6 x 450g jars-ish)

800g Oranges (Seville if you can get them)

x1 Lemon

x1 Lime

x1 Pink Grapefruit

2kg Preserving Sugar

Method : Put a saucer into the fridge to cool. Wash and dry the fruit. Pour 2 litres of water into a big pan and add all the squeezed juice from the fruit. Chuck away the lemon but keep all the pith and skin of all the others fruit. Scrape the pith and pips into the centre of an old clean tea-towel.  Draw up the corners of the tea towel and secure with a good knot or a bit of string to make a bag. Pop the bag into the pan. Cut the fruit peel into small strips and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1.5 - 2 hrs. 

Squeeze your tea towel bag into the pan and discard the bag. Add sugar and heat until dissolved.  Bring the boil and boil rapidly for 15 mins. Get the saucer out of the fridge. Test that the marmalade has reached setting point by placing a teaspoon of it on the cold saucer. After a few seconds push the marmalade with your finger tip. If it wrinkles it has reached setting point, if not boil for a further 5 mins,  Leave the marmalade to rest for a 15 mins and then spoon into sterilised jars. 

YUM

Sparkly diggers and skateboarding unicorns

Sophie Lombardi

"Oh. she's soo gender neutral" says parent of girl climbing a tree. 'Really?' (my pal says) maybe she's just a girl who likes climbing trees'. ... World. Gone. Mad.  Why can't you be a girl that makes mud pies in the garden in a pretty dress, or a boy who likes a bubble bath after his rugby match? The uber trend for gender neutral parenting can sometimes seem ridiculas. Can't our kids just be girls and boys with wide and varied interests, talents and tastes, do we need to start labelling them gender neutral? 

The retail industry has very much made up their mind as to how our children should think, feel and behave based on their gender. The majority of the girls loot seems to be sugary pink with an emphasis on kittens, ponies and unicorns. The boys on the other hand get vehicles, dinosaurs and sometimes some rather macho slogans, apparently all boys and girls love these things... At the other end of the spectrum we have the teeny tiny gender neutral selection; mainly beige, yellow, brown, cream and nondescript. After some extensive market research (chin-wagging in the playground) I think what parents really want out there, is more choice for our children. C'mon retail land give us a pink T-rex, a skateboarding unicorn or sparkly digger, I dare you!

I may be wrong but it seems that within the girls retail section there seems to be a greater range these days. Whether this or not this is just a bigger selection of the sugary stuff I don't know. However on my last high street shopping spree, I was phenomenally underwhelmed by the khaki, grey and heavily branded micro- range for the chaps.  For me colour is a wonderful, joyful thing. Why would we deny our boys this? Lets face it, life can be grim enough sometimes. 

I know that this is a very first-world rant and I am grateful that my boys are warm and loved. But for those of you seeking fabulous and vibrant threads for your kids, check out the brands below. They are small independents leading the way in fun clothes for all. 

Stay colourful this January.  

 

Sophie xxxxx

PS Check out Poppy and Honesty new zingy kids range coming soon. 

Tootsa McGintyBoys and Girls ShopHugo Loves TikiEclectic Bambino

Ru and Charlie rocking their Tootsa jumpers.

Ru and Charlie rocking their Tootsa jumpers.

Here's to a gentle 2017

Sophie Lombardi

Happy New Year you lovely lot. I hope that Christmas had some sparkly bits and that you kicked 2016 to the curb with all its crazy rubbish news. Hopefully 2017 will be more gentle; like a lazy afternoon with cups of tea and Radio 4 rather than the acid house party with casualties that was last year. In order to kick start its fabulousness, I have compiled a list of 'intentions'. No don't worry, they won't be chanted and have very little to do with drinking slime, it's just that the very words 'new years resolution' seem to set me up to fail. 

I have never really understood why we put restrictions on ourselves during the most miserable time of year. Unless of course its an important, health-related thing, do we really need to deny ourselves the goodies in January? It's the ideal month to stay in with comfort food and a box set (and you can call it hygge if you really need an excuse). I think that it would be much nicer if we could think of lovely things we would like to do more of the following year. Here are 7 of my intentions (as you will see they are most profound).

1. Eat quality calories: Bendicks Bittermints rather than cold fish fingers or Duchy Originals over custard creams.

2. Wear lots of sequin, feather, pompom outfits, while I can just about get away with it without looking like a drag queen/dried up lady of the night.

3. Digital Down Tool. Leave my phone off and at home as much as possible. 

4. Make hay whilst its not actually pouring with rain. February and March are notoriously terrible, so get out in the fresh air unless it's howling a hooler,

5. Sneak in plenty of cuddles and snuggles with my boys . They are getting much more stingy with their affections as they get older. Soon it will not actually be cool to speak to me, instead they will text demands on devices that I have previously forbidden.

6. Smile as much as possible at everyone especially if they are grumpy because a. This might make them feel better or b. it will really annoy them. Win, win.

7. Remember the golden rule: If the problem is not going to bother you in a years time, it's definitely not worth worrying about now. 

I am sure there will be plenty a soggy cold chip along the way but it's a start. What nice things will you be doing more of in the New Year? Whatever they are, I hope that 2017 is wonderful for you and your nearest and dearest.

 

Sophie xxxx

 

Christmas for overachievers - The Gingerbread House

Sophie Lombardi

This Gingerbread House is the pride and joy of my over-achieving husband, Mr. P. My previous attempts have resembled some kind of psychedelic World Heritage Site-cum Christmas morning. Apparently the roof couldn't handle 2 tonnes of smarties and candy canes. Obviously Mr P didn't let the kids near this one. In fact I came into the kitchen to discover two grown men discussing the structural integrity of The Gingerbread House with the kind of intensity that you may find at a conference on nuclear warfare. If you are a Christmas overachiever give it a whirl, that's if you're not too busy plucking your home-reared turkey or bungee jumping down the chimney.

Mr. P's top 5 tips:

1. Make sure the gingerbread dough is cooled before you roll it out. Then roll it out (in sections) between sheets of grease-proof paper to the same thickness! 

2. Allow the gingerbread to cool completely on wire racks prior to assembly.

3. Only use Mary Berry's icing meringue for the joins/glue. She knows what she is talking about!

4. Ask for help when building it! 4 hands are definitely better than 2.

5. Build the house in sections and let it set completely prior to adding more bits and pieces.

6. Use wine bottles to steady the Gingerbread walls and roof whilst they set.

Mr P roughly followed Mary Berry's gingerbread recipe, however the chimney was too much, even for a man with no mortal equal.

Bon courage

 

Sophie xxxx
PS. Don't forget to put a tea light inside - so pretty.

There's no business like small business

Sophie Lombardi

This blog did not quite make it in time for Small Business Saturday, however it's never too late to support awesome independent shops.  I'm as guilty as the next person of loading up my e-basket in  Amazon or John Lewis; and ticking everyone off my list with one big self-satisfied click (JL is infact my spirit home). However, supporting local businesses not only boosts our local economy, but makes your Christmas booty so much more interesting and unique. Independent shops generally offer a much more personal service and you're more likely to find something for those folk who seem to have it all.  So even if the bulk of your loot comes courtesy of the big green lorry, make sure you snaffle up some goodies from a lovely independent. There are way too many to mention here, but if you haven't done all your christmas shopping have a little look at these guys....

Lady Bakewell Park

Lady B is a self taught baker of the most FABULOUS biscuits that you will ever see, along with lots of other yummy pastry things. Her original marbled iced biscuits feature brilliant, nostalgic and sometimes hilarious lyrics from your favourite hits, as well as witty dittys for engagements, new mamas, Christmas and other occasions. You can gift someone a biscuit subscription (hint hint), order personalised biccies or selection boxes. Biscuits definitely bring comfort and joy in my house and these ones are the shizzle. Last orders for Christmas, Monday December 12th.

Willow and Stone

Willow and Stone is not your average knocker shop. Specialising in front door furniture they sell beautiful fittings in brass, bronze and nickel as well many other home accessories. From the sweetest Maileg bunnies to antique door bells, this is a well curated independent shop where you are sure to find something for everyone.

Little Leggies

This is the place for luxury kidswear. Little Leggies offers gorgeous cashmere baby and children's clothes. However if (like me) you are way too self centred to buy the good stuff for the little nippers, they have GORGEOUS cashmere jumpers for women. I have one and I am very in love with it; no bobbling and it has remained soft and sumptuous after lots of wear and tear, jumpy puppies and me being generally slovenly with tea and dunking activities. Send their link to your nearest and dearest. They are quite a treat so you'd better start grovelling, it will be worth it.

Thank you for supporting our small business and to my fellow small bizz folk, keep on rocking. I have tagged a selection of my faves below.

Sophie xxxxx

Kids stuff: Eclectic Bambino  Beautiful Botanical Illustration: Sarah Jane Humphrey 

Home accessories: The People Shop  Biscuit cushions: Nikki Mcwilliams

Plants and their accessories: Toro Studio  Cool kids toys: The Kid Who

Little girls hair bows: Willow and Ivy 

When you're not feeling the sparkles

Sophie Lombardi

There's nothing quite like forced joviality to make you feel more rubbish if you are feeling really low. A number of years ago, I had crippling Post Natal Depression at Christmas. On receipt of a lovely, well wishing text suggesting that we would be having a wonderfully snuggly time with our gorgeous new babe, I smashed my phone against the wall (terribly counter productive, resulting in hours swearing in The Apple shop with a crying baby). The fact is, shit doesn't stop happening just because its Christmas. For plenty of people out there, it will be a challenging test of endurance rather than rocking around the Christmas tree wearing a paper hat at a jaunty angle. So, for those of you feeling really rubbish, this blog is for you.

If you haven't read 'Reasons To Stay Alive' by Matt Haig, please do. In fact, give it to everyone you know. It's a book about depression which isn't depressing, nor is it preachy or insistent that you follow some kind of radical regime that involves weird things like stuffing coffee enemas up your bum and refusing conventional treatment. Matt nails the experience with his deeply moving personal account of his battle with acute depression and anxiety. With the support of his great girlfriend and family, Matt finds his way through and learns to accept and even find meaning from his debilitating illness. His account is absolutely spot on. If you have ever struggled with your mental health, reading his book will be like listening to lyrics in your 'break up' soundtrack, his words feel so true. I particularly liked this passage: 

"If you have ever believed a depressive wants to be happy, you are wrong. They could not care less about the luxury of happiness. They just want to feel an absence of pain. To escape a mind on fire, where thoughts blaze and smoke like old possessions lost to arson. To be normal."

Matt tells us about his most frightening experiences, but doesn't dwell on them; instead he gives hope to the situation and reveals that depression has given him greater empathy and an ability to feel more in the world. The book isn't about well-being buzz words and Matt doesn't refer to a 'journey' unless he is actually going somewhere. If you're wondering whether or not this book is for you, it probably is. Whether you suffer mental from health issues, know someone going through this stuff or even if you just want to know more about the experience of being human and being alive, go and grab a copy.

If anyone reading this is going through a horrible time, I understand (and so does Matt). Christmas will be tough, but they'll be another one next year. I promise you that you will feel the sparkles again and they will be brighter and more sparkly than before. I  always think that the best experiences and moments in life are the ones that aren't scheduled. Lurid jumpers, awful shouty songs about how it should be christmas every bloody day and getting crushed in the shops can all be appreciated another time. 

 

Sophie xoxox

PS. All Matt Haig's books are total winners. I can highly recommend them all.

book (1 of 1).jpg

Winter Love Bomb

Sophie Lombardi

At this time of year my children become increasingly anxious that they are on the naughty list and are rather obsessed with their obscenely extravagant Christmas lists. Apparently this year FC has a budget of about 1,000 pounds per child (Wow! who knew he was so eligible?) Anyway, at this point, I start to self implode and mumble about the poor starving children which has absolutely no impact on their moral compasses whatsoever.

This year I am determined to install some kind of Christmas spirit into the entitled little rat bags  without bursting their whole sparkly Christmas bubble and spending the day ranting into my mulled wine.  Getting the children to give is quite a challenge. To be honest their contribution to the Shoe Box Appeal (choosing a toothbrush) and The Food Bank (carrying the cereal) is rather minimal. So brace yourself lucky friends and relatives, this year, the kids are making stuff for you.

We're big bath-fans in our house. It's not really about getting clean (thats just a bonus) but more about having some lovely floaty time-out. So we're making lots of fabulous multi-coloured sparkly love (bath) bombs for everyone. Embellish as you wish, rose petals, glitter, degradable confetti; all provide lots of decadent fun amidst the fizzle. Making stuff for people at Christmas is hardly original but like many parents, I become so consumed getting the festive haul together, I forget to schedule 'making time'. It's a great opportunity for kids to properly give and maybe even start to understand what Christmas all about, a giant winter love bomb (with lots of presents and some good old festive fighting). 

 

Sophie xxxxx (see Winter Love Bomb recipe below)

Recipe for Winter Love Bombs.  INGREDIENTS.  300g Bicarbonate of Soda,  100g Citric Acid  10ml Fragrance or Essential Oil of your choice (for sensitive babes use half)  Colour - most food colours are fine.   Razzamatazz- glitter, rose petals, confetti, go wild.  METHOD...  1. Brush a little olive/almond oil inside your mould (silicone ice cube trays or cup cake moulds work a treat)  2. Combine the bicarb, citric acid with food colouring and mix together with your hands.  3. Add your essential oils and mix to combine.  4. Spray a little water into the mixture, just enough so that it holds together when you squish it in the palm of your hand.  5. Add your razzamatazz (glitter, rose petals etc).  6. Push into your moulds and leave to dry out for 2-3 days.

Recipe for Winter Love Bombs.

INGREDIENTS.

300g Bicarbonate of Soda,

100g Citric Acid

10ml Fragrance or Essential Oil of your choice (for sensitive babes use half)

Colour - most food colours are fine. 

Razzamatazz- glitter, rose petals, confetti, go wild.

METHOD...

1. Brush a little olive/almond oil inside your mould (silicone ice cube trays or cup cake moulds work a treat)

2. Combine the bicarb, citric acid with food colouring and mix together with your hands.

3. Add your essential oils and mix to combine.

4. Spray a little water into the mixture, just enough so that it holds together when you squish it in the palm of your hand.

5. Add your razzamatazz (glitter, rose petals etc).

6. Push into your moulds and leave to dry out for 2-3 days.