Monday, 28 July 2014

Pizza Express Bromley Review

I had a meal last week in the Bromley branch of Pizza Express, I was there to review it and take a look at some of the new additions to the menu - there's an impressive summer menu which reflects the season perfectly!
Pizza Express Bromley

I went for a lunch time meal and took my husband along for company and menu sharing :)
We've been to Pizza Express before - it tends to be one of the places we go to when there's a big group of us for birthdays - it also used to be one of my regular Friday working lunch haunts, before I became a play at home mum. I have my usual favourite - to be honest, I enjoy my usuals so much that I often bearly glance at the menu because I know what I'm having before I even set foot through the door, but for the sake of my review, for this meal, a dough balls starter and pizza margarita were banned - I was determind to explore the menu and try new things!

The second we walked through the door, we were welcomed by a friendly smile and shown to our table, something new for me - I always eat in the window, this time I was further into the restaurant and seated in a lovely little round booth - my new favourite table - it felt very intimate and special while at the same time, allowing me to people watch! The staff were all friendly and professional, with our waitress having sound knowledge of both the Bromley Pizza Express and a neighbouring branch.
Pizza Express Bromley

In addition to the main dining rooms, the Bromley branch has a lovely outdoor dining terrace as well as a elegant spiral staircase leading up to a further dining room. 
Pizza Express Bromley Outside dining

For starters we chose:
* Olives Nocellara del Belice - these are beautifully vibrant green olives with a buttery taste, I'd recommend these over other olives.
Pizza Express Olives Nocellara del Belice

* Leggera Panzanella - classic Tuscan inspired, santos and vine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, surfine capers and croutons marinated with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar.
Pizza Express Leggera Panzanella

* Risotto Fresco - oak roasted peppered salmon fillet, garlic and parsley in a creamy white wine risotto finished with rocket and lemon.
Pizza Express Risotto Fresco

Something special to drink
* Hugo Pizza Express - Prosecco with Elderflower, fresh mint and lemon over ice - a magnificent summer drink.
Hugo Pizza Express

For the main course, we both chose from Romana Pizza selection- boasting bigger thinner crispier bases.
* Toscana - crumbled chilli and fennel sausage, tomato and mozzarella, gran Moravia cheese, fresh basil and extra Virgin Olive oil.
Pizza Express Toscana

* Pomodoro Pesto - marinated santos tomatoes, fresh basil, baby mozzarella, tomato and garlic oil.
Pizza Express Pomodoro Pesto

And for dessert? Well ... It'd be rude not to! 
* Chocolate glory - a must have for any chocoholic!
Pizza Express Chocolate Glory

* Raspberry sorbet with chocolate stick (dairy free) - I was very excited by this because most sorbets contain raw egg, which I avoid, so finding dairy free sorbet was fantastic - and this is my new favourite dessert - it's perfect!
Pizza Express Raspberry sorbet with chocolate stick (dairy free)

Pizza Express boasts a great menu, and takes great consideration for those with dietary requirements - a generous veggie menu without a single stuffed mushroom in sight and there is a plethora of gluten free choices all coeliac uk accredited, not to mention a thoughtful children's menu.

Pizza Express Bromley

We enjoyed our meal, all food was well presented and simply delicious and the atmosphere, decor and staff are a credit to a wonderful branch of a Pizza Express.

Emma in Bromley xx

* I received a meal from Pizza Express for the sole purpose of being able to carry out the review. All words, thoughts and photographs are my own.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara Review

Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara - blogger review
Mascara is my one make up item I couldn't live without and I never leave the house without wearing it! 

I have a current love - hate relationship with mascara - you see, back when I was an online marketing manager in Central London, I always wore a Chanel mascara, but then when I became a play at home mum and even more recently since buying our family home, pennies are a bit tighter, Chanel mascara is no longer an option so now I'm in this whole love - hate thing of trying to find one that stands up to my high expectations for less than half the price! I did love an Urban Decay one but because there isn't a local stockist, with having to add on postage costs, it seemed a bit pointless really and I'm too impatient to wait as I have a habit of not realising my mascara has run out with enough time to allow 7- 10 days postage.

When I was asked if I'd like to review Bourjois Volume 1 seconde Mascara, I said "yes please!" - I've spent a small fortune on the easily available brands in Boots and I'm never happy with them, they usually either have a useless rubber stick to apply it with, start flaking off after four hours (problematic for my contact lenses!) or they are brilliant for a week and then dry out already!

But I'm please to say "I'm happy!" I absolutely have enjoyed Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara - it doesn't need a billion coats, it looks great after literally 1 second! It doesn't start shedding small black bits onto my cheeks and contact lenses and it still looks fresh by the end of the day and I've had my pot open for 3 weeks and it hasn't dried out! I think I've finally found my Chanel replacement - it's on an intro offer at Boots at £7.99 and it's usually £9.99. 

This mascara volumises and coats well, it dries very quickly so if you want to apply more than one coat, do it fast! I didn't find any clumps, smudges or flakes from this lovely deep pigment black mascara and I will actually buy it again.

Emma in Bromley xx

* I received one Bourjois' Volume 1 Seconde mascara for the sole purpose of being able to carry out this review. All words and thoughts are my own.

Silent Sunday - Thor and Flying Fairy

Emma in Bromley xx
(Twitter @beachpebble)

Monday, 14 July 2014

Finding Out You Cant Legally Own The house You Are Buying

Stay at Home Mum, Emma Clement and Maegan Clement
So you're on a career break while having babies - you like to remind people you have a degree (with honours you know!) and you did have a successful career in London but living in the London boroughs means being out at work 7am to 7pm  which your husband also does, so being a play at home mum works best for your little family.

But hang on? You bought your little starter home with hubby way before getting married and having kids but the time has come when a little bit more space is needed - a bijou 2up2down isn't quite right for a family of four with a boy and a girl child. Your current home was your big leap up onto the property ladder - you worked hard to get it, you put in equally on your joint mortgage payments etc until you started that career break in pregnancy - in the 9 years you've owned it, the equity has grown and you've made enough for a decent deposit for the next house - a big jump to the family home.

You find a buyer for your house, find a house you'd like to buy and grab a meeting with a mortgage guy. This bit we knew would be tricky - what, with not actually being paid and everything for being a stay at home mum. We could apply for a new joint mortgage however as a rough guide, for two it's 3 times your income so if one isn't earning then it's just 3 times one income - plus student debt counts as negative equity - so the value of being an educated stay at home mum is negative. Applying for a sole mortgage is roughly calculated at 5 times your income so for a family where only one person is currently the earner, this is your option. 

Your breaking through the (slow) selling a house and buying another one process.
You hear the horror stories of friends buying houses, including the one where your fellow stay at home mum couldn't be on the deeds because this was their first home. 
This is your second house, your putting in equity you earned from your own investment in the first house so it's different right?

You get all the paper work - seriously! A book worth you go through it all, crossing the tees dotting the eyes and signing in front of witnesses. Your buying your home together, with money you made together from property you invested in together for your family.

However, some days later you receive contact from your solicitor - it is not possible for you to be a legal owner. Because the mortgage is in one name, your husband, it is only him that can be a legal owner of the property as set out in the t's and c's of the mortgage agreement. It basically comes down to this, should you both be on the deeds but only one of you is party to the mortgage, if there was a default on payment, the mortgage company could not claim against the person on the deeds not party to the mortgage. It does not matter that you are putting in your own earned money to the purchase, or that you have to sign an agreement accepting the mortgage terms as an adult occupier. 

I have to accept that the only way for us to purchase our family home is for me to go from being a homeowner to not, and to not have any legal entitlement to my own home. I worked hard to gain that first step on the property ladder and now I'm back at the bottom and it sucks. 

Fed up of being penalised for being an educated stay at home mum - even the prime minister is negative towards us!

Emma in Bromley xx

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Silent Sunday - Moving In

80's reproduction farmhouse kitchen
Emma in Bromley xx

New House

new house, 80's reproduction farmhouse kitchen
Those following me on social media will know that on Tuesday I completed on both selling and buying our new home! 

I can tell you that I haven't been this stressed out since my finals at uni and moving house with two little people totally gazumps being bridezilla!

The stress has seen a return, with a vengeance of my IBS to the point that my GP gave me a gallstone scare, I'm sure I've gained more wrinkles, grey hairs and inches round my tummy!

Well it's been one heck of an emotional rollercoaster but I can confirm we are finally finally in our family home ... Well not quite - it need a bloom' good scrub first! It's very dusty, the kitchen is dirty and I've never seen so many spiders in one house in all my life ... So we're sleeping at my inlaws for a few nights!

The entire house is fine to live in but all the rooms need a freshen up - this is most obvious in the kitchen and bathroom! I found several spiders living in one of the kitchen cabinets and the cooker is filthy!

 I can't wait to put my own stamp on the place, I love decorating - just as well given the amount that needs doing!

The house hasn't got a washing machine or a dryer at all so with two small children, this is at the very top of our list! Along with a kitchen table and chairs, some doors and windows need replacing, I'm desperate for bookcases, new carpets and bedding not to mention childproofing the garden!

Be warned - there will be many, many home and interior blog posts over the summer!

Emma in Bromley xx

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Selling Your Home Emotional Rollercoaster - from Listing to Offers

After deciding which estate agent to go with (you can read about that here if you like) we were all set to sell!

selling your home - sold sign

The Bromley estate agent we chose was confident of our schedule - we'd be marketed as a guide price with a realistic expectation of achieving above this. The photos would be taken on the Friday and we would be live on the internet that evening or the Saturday morning at the latest with the following Saturday being our open day.
The open day would see one viewing at a time but several scheduled after each other. Offers wouldn't be accepted that same day but rather people would be invited to submit their very best offer by lunch time on Monday after the open day and we would be able to sit down, go through the offers and pick the one we wanted to accept. Sounds simple right? 

So this is how things actually happened ... We didn't go live online that Friday - we didn't go live until the Monday, there had been a computer update at the estate agents which caused a delay in uploading new properties. Being an ex online marketing manager I panicked, we wouldn't even have online presence for a full week before the open day, but the estate agent was calm and confident that this wasn't an issue, they'd already been using their database to establish interest and bookings for our property.

selling your home

The day before the open day and I was busy busy busy! I had my father in law's help to mow the lawn and clear any rubbish (including animal poo!) from our front garden and my mother in law had made up some hanging baskets, planted some plants and vaxed the carpets! I had our window cleaner come round and do all the windows, I put fresh flowers all around the house and polished everywhere, hid as many toys as possible and made sure our home looked it's best! The big stress point was that the local council had decided that this was the day they were going to close off my entire road and dig it up! Arrgh!  I was nervous but our estate agent was very positive and confident and we were left with happy thoughts of all these exciting offers above the guide price to expect after the weekend.
selling your homeIt was finally happening, we are selling the house! Our estate agent had expressed such confidence that we dared to view a possible house for us to buy!

But that lovely happy confident bubble popped. The open day didn't bring in the promised plethora of offers and not one above guide price - actually not even any at guide price. It sucked, we felt really low, disappointed and let down but you've got to keep going right?
The estate agents confirmed they had two bookings for Thursday evening so from that low we rode all the way up to a new high - two evening viewings sounded promising. 
Although terribly inconvenient - our children are 2 and 4 so evening viewings suck - it means starting the bedtime routine at a nearby family member's home but it has a negative effect on the kids - they really struggle having such a disrupted bedtime - but you've got to do whatever it takes right?
So that Thursday, I'd cleaned, scrubbed, gardened and spread even more fresh flowers everywhere  but part way through the morning I got the call to say one of the evenings viewings had cancelled so only one would be coming. I packed everything for the evening and bedtime into the car so we could have dinner and start the bedtime routine elsewhere  and we set off half an hour before the only viewing left was due.
Then we got the call - just 15 mins before the viewing was supposed to happen to say that one had also cancelled - I could have cried, getting everything ready and getting the kids out had been hard work and it had all been for nothing. 
Back to feeling rubbish.
selling your homeThere was a viewing booked in for Saturday but that would mean that in an entire week - following the failure of open day, we would have had just one viewing - that is really rubbish and not at all a reflection of the confidence and impression given by the estate agents. Needless to say, that viewing didn't go well either - apparently the kitchen dining area was too small (ouch! That hurt, I'm particularly proud of our kitchen - its impressive for a 2up2down!) we fit all four of us in and there's room for a bigger table than ours if you wanted!
Then came even more evening viewings - back to a happy place - 2 viewings is good right?  one on Tuesday night and one on Wednesday night - both school nights, both nights really took their toll on my four year old - poor little soul.
The Tuesday viewer said our home was far superior to any of the other ones he'd viewed yet complained the bathroom was too small - well we manage with it as a family of four but you could change it to a wet room, or a walk in shower instead of bath if you really wanted even more space - I'm starting to wonder if the agent has lost interest in our property or isn't pointing these obvious things out to people? 

Things continued in this way and just when we were contemplating our choice of agent and considering swapping to a rival - afterall, It had come down to a choice of two for me, we had good news! Not only had we viewed a house that felt like "the one" but we also had an offer at guide price on our home! After some negotiating and three revisions, we had an offer accepted on the house we wanted to buy and we accepted the offer to buy our house so now we swap onto a whole other rollercoaster!

Emma in Bromley x

Friday, 11 July 2014

An Honest Answer From An Estate Agent

You may have noticed that I've just moved house (literally on Tuesday!) and some of my recent blog posts and social media content has been all about the stages I'm going through, including estate agents! So when I heard about the debate style mini shows all about the various hot topics - I thought it was perfect timing to share with you - I found them very insightful, especially the fees one!

Have you always wanted to see an Estate Agent give an honest answer? Now is your chance!  Knight Frank, the leading independent global property consultancy, decided to put itself on the front line and face questions about the estate agency business from people just like you. A panel of specialists from Knight Frank answered questions in a new debate show - An Honest Answer

The conversation spanned a number of topics including:
  • Fees
  • Valuation
  • Investments and Mortgages
  • Property: The Process
  • Gazzumping
  • Agent Expertise
  • Property market Insight
  • Choosing Your Agent 

There more info here too:

Emma in Bromley xx (yep! I'm still in Bromley!) 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Woolly and Tig Songs for Wobbly Moments CD

We all love Woolly and Tig - and there's a new music cd (Songs for Wobbly Moments) out next week full of songs from the show - my personal fave is the Elves and the Shoemaker! 

Woolly and Tig Songs for Wobbly Moments CD

My two little ones - Blake and Maegan really enjoyed bopping along and a bit of a sing song - and a dance with Woolly!

Maegan Clement with Woolly

Woolly and Tig - Songs for Wobbly Moments will be released on the 7th July 2014. You can hear a sample through the itunes store

There are 20 fun filled songs from the TV show:

Big Stomps
If There wasn’t a “No”
The Thunder Bang Song
Funky Dunky
Rubba Dubba Rock
I Like Monsters
Counting Kisses
I Love Woolly
Elves & Shoemaker
Give a Smile
Weenie Worries
I Love Mummy
Mairi’s Wedding
Cheeky Wee Echo
One More Step
Agree to Disagree
Auld Lang Syne
Counting Kisses Woolly’s Solo

All the songs are based on or from episodes of the TV show and are nursery rhyme style, simple and entertaining for little people who will soon pick up the words and join in!

Emma in Bromley xx

* I received a copy of the CD and a cuddly Woolly for the sole purpose of being able to review it. 

My Kitchen Story

This post is an entry for the “My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum.

Lets start at the beginning ... in the beginning our first kitchen was certainly not to our taste, featuring turn of the 70's/80's decade original kitchen of beige and brown peeling laminate unites with silver grove bar "handles", a pine effect scruffed surface, what could only have been a (only part working) 50's original oven and what looked more like 70's bathroom tiles I was keen to update this kitchen pronto!

These are from moving in day for our first house - which we will be in until we move in 2 weeks time eeek! 

70's 80's kitchen

Emma Preston Clement Modern Day 1950's Housewife

Tea and Cakes Sign, Babycham poster
My Tea and Cakes sign and Babycham Advert - trying to brighten up the place!

It would be five whole years before we would have the time and the money to update completely and utterly redo the entire kitchen including a boiler replacement and the removal of a wall!

Emma's Kitchen Project

Emma's Kitchen Project
And TADA ... Looks great in "gooseberry fool2" with walnut finish units and a wooden floor with wine bottle labels, black shiny tiles, chunky handles and modern appliances - including a slimline dishwasher (aka my best friend) to use Fairy Platinum dish washer tablets in! I couldn't live without my coffee machine, candelabra (I know it swamps the table! ha ha) and magnetic notice board!
Olive, Walnut and Black Kitchen

Olive, Walnut and Black Kitchen
All four of us absolutely love this kitchen and it's my favourite room!

But alas, now we've finally got a wonderful kitchen, we've decided to move on to a bigger home (this one only has 2 bedrooms) and right now? With moving day less than 2 weeks away, that lovely kitchen is now full of boxes! Minus the toaster which met with an accident and now only one slot works!
kitchen full of boxes

Below is the kitchen in the house we are buying! It's alrighty, it's certainly liveable but it's not at all to my taste and one of my pet hates is kitchen cupboard doors with grooves! There's a little utility annex but no washing machine or tumble dryer in our new house - which is going to be tough with 2 small children! (good job my in-laws are in walking distance hee hee)  I can't wait to get started on making this kitchen the heart of the new house but I just hope it won't be another 5 years down the line! And I'd really really really like to find a way to fit a sofa and bookcase in here!

This post is an entry for the "My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum 

Emma in Bromley x

* I received a pack of Fairy Platinum Dishwasher tablets for taking part in this linky challenge and I'm hoping my blog post will be one of ten winners in the challenge!

Silent Sunday - 5 and 3

spiderman chocolate cake
Blake Clement Wolverine Mask Captain America Frisbee
Maegan Clement build a bear unicorn, duplo icecreams
Maegan Clement Doc Mcstuffins Playscape, costume and stuffy

I know the Silent Sunday rule is one photo but ... we've had a 5th birthday and a 3rd birthday so there is absolutely loads to share! I'm on instagram as @beachpebble_uk

Emma in Bromley xx

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Blindfolds and Massage Oil - Silent Night Sleep Campaign

tempur eye mask and magnesium oil spray
My children are still very young - 2 and 5 and sleep is a luxury in our house - an undisturbed night simply does not happen - between two children, night time toilet training, the local scooter boys and the massive fox problem (anyone else with urban foxes will know that they make a sound at about 3am which would make your imagination assume something awful and violent was happening!) I can expect to be woken at the very least 3 times a night - some nights this is far far higher! For example, the night before my five year old's first sports day, he was so excited that he woke no less than 9  times between 11pm and 1am, add to that my daughter waking twice and the foxes replicating the sound track to a hammer horror murder scene and of course the almightyly annoying desperately needing a wee scenario - I was definitely out of bed more than I was in it!

The problem is, sometimes it can take a while to fall back to sleep - or just as you are drifting back to sleep, another disruption takes place. I don't think I have a problem with initially falling asleep - let's face it, by the time I'm able to clamber into bed, I'm in some sort of desperate sleep craving zombie haze. 
But after being wrenched from slumber for the 3rd time, I can often expect to wriggle about trying to get comfy with my excessively fidgety legs and over active mind for quite some time - I think I easily lose an hour just from trying to get back to sleep, or stopping my legs from fidgeting.

So I was intrigued when Silentnight's Sleep Clinic invited me to be included in the silentnight second part of research - investigating if sleep accessories can help! I answered a 5min questionnaire which included answering which sleep accessories I'd tried already and any i'd consider. I knew that as part of the research, I would be sent some sleep accessories to try and I was surprised when they arrived as they weren't ones that I'd tried before, nor were they the ones I'd said I'd consider trying! 
I received a sleep mask and an oil spray. - oh there's a big part of  me who giggled like a school girl at being sent a blindfold and oil!

The sleep mask -  this is a tempur pedic eye mask - I've obviously heard of tempur mattresses and pillows but I didn't know you could get sleep masks made from them - these are brilliant - you get complete black out and extreme comfort from them - with a very soft covering. The before kids me would have relished this mask but the current me sleeps in glasses! Seriously, I'm extremely short sighted and I have to spring out of bed so quickly and regularly that I'm in the habit of sleeping in my specs! I know, naughty right? Thing is I can't even see clearly as far as my elbow and I can't be clattering about trying to locate glasses while rushing to shush a child before the other one wakes up! Hubby had a go of the sleep mask too and loved it - it's one I think would be a godsend while traveling (or in hospital) or for when I have my eye lasered - something I desperately wish for!

The Magnesium Oil Spray -  I'd never even heard of this little beaut before! 
I tell ya, hubby has this on without even flinching but for me, every time, it makes my legs sting like crazy for about 10mins to the point where I think it's going to annoy me and just like that, it stops and my fidgety legs simply calm. It smells relaxing too and definitely solves the fidgets!

You should see the Silentnight sleep clinic!

Emma in Bromley xx

Silent Sunday - green pond, little ducklings

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Leitmotiv Interiors, City Living and Jip What a Zoo

City living promotion - My top picks 
Leitmotiv Jolanda Van Goor Open Minded table £84.99
Leitmotiv Jolanda Van Goor Open Minded table £84.99
Open minded side table designed by Jolanda Van Goor and made in the UK using Maple and MDF. Normally £132 on offer at £84.99 until 23.06.14

Leitmotiv ceramic spool pendant lamp £26.99
Grey Spool Pendant Light - also made in the UK. Normally £54 on offer at £26.99 until 23.06.14

Leitmotiv ceramic grey pendant lamp £39.99

Ceramic Grey Pendant Light, Made in the UK. Normally £134 on offer at £39.99 until 23.06.14

Leitmotiv orange rope table £69.99
Orange Rope Table, made in the UK from steel and MDF. Normally £123 on offer at £69.99 until 23.06.14

What a Zoo promotion My favourite items
Jip Ellie The Elephant Clock £24.99
Jip Ellie the Elephant clock normally £40 on offer at £24.99 until 24.06.14

Jip Bobby The Bird photo frame £9.99
Jip bobby bird photo frame, usually £18 on offer at £9.99 until 24.06.14

Jip Bobby The Bird Coat Stand £39.99

Jip bobby the bird coat stand normally £57 on offer at £39.99 until 24.06.14

Emma in Bromley xx

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Mr Fox Bedding for Children

I'm excited to see Mr Fox bedding on offer today - I absolutely adore this brand for nursery and children's bedding - the prints are brilliant and I've got my eye on the Peter set for Blake and the dwarves set for Maegan - they'd be perfect for when we move! 

All the designs come in - 
  • crib sheet set, usuall £25 on offer at £9.99
  • crib duvet set usually £34 on offer at £12.99
  • single duvet set usually £75 on offer at £28
  • Pillow covers usually £14 on offer at £4.99
  • Character cushions usually £20 on offer at £7

Some also have crib bumpers usually £42 on offer at £18 and aprons usually £13 on offer at £6

I've only shown a small selection of what's available - there's a lot to pick from - including colourful fitted sheets!

On offer until 21st June 2014.

Mr Fox Alice Bedding - Alice in Wonderland
Mr Fox Alice Bedding - Alice in Wonderland - queen of hearts cushion
Mr Fox Alice Bedding - Alice in Wonderland bumper

Mr Fox Alice (Alice in Wonderland) bedding.

Mr Fox Dwarves Bedding - Snow White bedding
Mr Fox Dwarves Bedding - Snow White Cushion

Mr Fox Grandma Bedding - little red riding hood
Mr Fox Grandma Bedding - little red riding hood cushion

Mr Fox Grandma (little red riding hood) bedding

Mr Fox Pumpkin Bedding - Cinderella
Mr Fox Pumpkin Bedding - Cinderella cushion

Mr Fox Pumpkin (Cinderella) bedding 

Mr Fox Little Birds bedding
Mr Fox Little birds bedding, these pillow covers are on offer at £4.99

Mr Fox Sweet Monsters Bedding - Monster Cushion
Mr Fox Sweet Monsters bedding this character shaped cushion is only £7

Emma in Bromley xx

Mr Fox Bedding on Emma in Bromley