Kodomo.com was my second baby, in some ways.
I had been lucky enough to enjoy a career as a luxury travel writer in the years before getting pregnant with my first daughter Lola who, if I’m honest, was a very lovely surprise about 6 weeks after we got engaged (I blame the champagne wave!) I wanted to continue traveling as a mother and I felt strongly that the experiences she would have would very much shape the person she was to become. I accepted that infinity pools, sweeping marble steps to a hotel bathroom and late nights in the resident bar were to be a thing of the past but I wasn’t ready to embrace Disney and all-inclusives just yet. Kodomo.com was born of my desire for quality information for parents, sourced by other parents who had actually visited the place (it’s appalling to me how much online is clearly just sourced from a press release) with useful information on local doctors, family-friendly restaurants and ideas on what to do when outside the hotel.
Cass on holiday with her daughter Maya
Getting everything designed, written and live took nine months (hence it is like my middle child) and, while there were days I questioned my sanity for undertaking such an epic task, I’ve loved every minute of it. Lola is now nearly 6 and we have another little girl in the house, Maya, who is ten months. Lola thinks nothing of hopping on a plane; Maya has already been to Croatia, Thailand and Spain. Next stop? North Carolina in July where I went to university. The jetlag may be seriously unfun with tots in tow, but to see the confidence and ease with which Lola travels now, her constant yearning to learn more about other cultures and her love of a good hot curry makes it all worthwhile. Hopefully her sister will be the same and, as we are privileged enough to be able to travel as we do, I’m ready to find out.
Cass’ top tips on travelling with babies and small children:
I used to find it impossible not to take my entire summer wardrobe away with me if I was going somewhere hot. Today, I keep things as limited as possible. It’s rare to go anywhere these days where doing laundry isn’t an option, most of it doesn’t get worn anyway and, unless you’re heading to rural Siberia, you can buy nappies and so on when you get there. Pack what you need for the flight and the first day or two and leave the rest at home. It makes the toing and froing from airports far more bearable.
Heading to the east coast of America this summer as we are, I’ll let the girls stay up later than normal for a few nights before we go but accept that this may make no difference to the time they go to bed and get up once we’re there. Kids and jetlag don’t mix; sometimes we’ve managed to dodge it and other times it’s been hell. But, hey, Lola and I had some magic moments watching the sun rise in LA a few years back, even if it was four days in a row!?
Night Nannies was founded by former TV journalist, Anastasia Baker in 1999. She has two children and carried on working at the BBC when her first child was born but found she struggled to hold down a demanding job alongside motherhood when her second child arrived. Anastasia saw a gap in the market for mums with newborns, who craved two or three nights a week of uninterrupted sleep. Here she shares with Marloe Musings her top tips to try and get your baby to sleep through the night.
Many people assume if your baby is up all day, he will sleep all night – this is not always the case. The baby is usually so over tired and over stimulated, that they have difficulty settling at night. A baby with structured and regular sleeps in the day tends to be more content and therefore usually sleeps better at night too.
Whatever action you take do stick to it for at least 2-3 weeks. It is no good for a couple of days as this is not long enough to get rid of bad habits.
By Edwina Langley – Grazia Online
‘If I’m honest I still find it slightly odd to say ‘vagina’,’ says Chloe Delevingne, ‘and it really shouldn’t be like that'.
‘I do think it’s really good that women of all ages are getting rid of the stigma of being able to talk about [their] vaginas – and not wincing or freaking out about it.’
This is the issue The Lady Garden Campaign (LGC) hopes to address.
Set up by Mika Simmons, founder of the Gynaecological Cancer Fund, who tragically lost her mother to ovarian cancer in the year 2000, LGC’s aim is to get women talking about their nether regions to dispel the myth that it’s a taboo subject. With research uncovering that a third of women are too embarrassed to go to the doctors for gynaecological concerns, it’s the not talking about vaginas that’s the problem. Early detection of gynaecological cancers – cervical, ovarian, vagina, vulva and womb – is the key to successful treatment. Not getting checked out puts women at great risk.
‘I want to change the way that people think, and women think, and talk about their bodies. And get them to know the symptoms are very complicated,’ explains Mika. ‘[My mother] was diagnosed and died within 9 months. I knew there wasn’t enough awareness [about it]. I saw over and over again through friends, family, friend’s mums – women were not being diagnosed early enough. I had this urge to do something about it.’
Mika was approached by her neighbour, Dr. Susana Banerjee – who had been taken on by the Royal Marsden Hospital as the Head of Oncology for Gynaecological Cancers – to fundraise for research into treatment. ‘I said, “Yes, I will definitely help you fundraise – but only if I can also do a campaign”,’ says Mika. ‘Which is how Lady Garden Campaign was born.’
The Lady Garden Campaign Committee
She pulled together a committee of ‘powerful women’ – ‘women who worked hard and wanted to make change’ – and who also had had experience of gynaecological cancers. Chloe Delevingne was one such woman.
‘When I was 21 I had a scare,’ Chloe explains. ‘I had pre-cancerous cells on my cervix and I had to have half of it removed. At that point, there wasn’t much information about things like that. I was [before] the age of even being allowed to have a smear test, and if I hadn’t recognised the symptoms from my studies I wouldn’t have gone and got checked.’
At the time, Chloe was studying Biomedical Science and Tumour Biology at University College London. She happened to be writing her dissertation on HPV and cervical cancer and noticed some unnerving parallels. With symptoms including pain after sex, abdominal pains and irregular bleeding, she knew something wasn’t right. ‘So I went and had a smear test. They came back saying that I had pre-cancerous cells, and I had to go and have the procedure.’
‘For me a big part of the campaign is to do with awarenesss. Making women aware of the symptoms of the different types of cancers and being able to be confident enough to go to a doctor if you think you’ve got something wrong.’
For Chloe, the eldest Delevingne sister, known for preferring life outside the media spotlight, this was a brave move.
‘I found it quite nerve-racking,’ she admits. ‘But do you know what? The support and the response we’ve had from everybody has been so positive and so brilliant it kind of makes it a lot easier. When I first got involved and started telling people about it, it was remarkable, the amount of girls who have actually gone through the same thing as me and I had no idea, close friends of mine. It just drives you even further.
‘I think a lot of people are scared of the idea of a smear test – it really isn’t that bad,’ she continues.
‘It’s also about trusting yourself, knowing [when] you don’t feel right. It’s about awareness and building confidence about feeling free in ourselves to discuss what’s going on.
‘I grew up in a household full of girls and my father really struggled with the idea of talking about periods and stuff like that. But it really shouldn’t be a bad, unspoken thing. I mean, adverts of a sanitary towel come on the TV and my father goes: ‘Oh my god, oh my god!’…
‘It’s about educating everyone,’ she says.
LGC were approached for a Mother’s Day collaboration with the luxury motherhood accessories brand, Marloe London.
Founded by Marina Sevier and Chloe Riddell, Marloe London create luxury cotton and bamboo hand-dyed muslins that are a whole lot more than mere swaddles, acting as blankets, scarves, sarongs, whatever the modern day mother requires. They contacted LGC with the idea of designing a one-off coral and aqua muslin to be launched on Mother’s Day, sold exclusively at Selfridges – with 100% of profits for the month going to Mika’s Gynaecological Cancer Fund.
‘I had a very minor scare,’ explains Marloe London’s co-founder, Marina, ‘and I had two weeks of not really knowing what was going on and really worrying about it. I was aware of The Lady Garden Campaign and I just thought, my goodness, it’s so important for everyone to be checked regularly and we can all be very shy and embarrassed… It really stuck a chord with my experience. And I thought a campaign that’s out there trying to, in quite a tongue-in-cheek way, get women to talk openly about it – that’s really important.’
LGC jumped at the chance. ‘I loved the collaboration around Mother’s Day,’ says Mika. ‘Obviously I don’t have a mum anymore and I thought it was really lovely to do something on that day. And the quality of their products… Often we get a lot of brands approaching us, but these two young women, in their own right, are doing something quite similar to us: being very brave in trying to create something new in the world, which is very enabling for mums… I was inspired by what they were doing.’
Chloe felt the same and even agreed to front the collaboration. ‘I actually had one [of their scarves] – I got given one when I had my daughter (Juno) with her name on it. If I’m honest, I used it more for other things, like as an actual scarf.’
‘[LGC and Marloe London] are a match made in heaven,’ she says. ‘Because it talks to young mothers. 100% of the money goes straight to the charity, which is insanely generous.’
‘Marloe London is a brand that is really attempting to get to the yummy mummy crowd,’ says Mika. ‘And it’s not that I don’t think what we’ve done so far won’t have reached them, but I thought it was a really lovely opportunity to specifically target them.’
If you’re looking for a gift for your yummy mummy, or someone else’s, or a gift for any yummy woman – you! – this is a strong, and worthy, contender. Just make sure the recipient is aware of the gynaecological link. If my conversations with these inspiring women have revealed anything, it’s this: the importance of keeping such conversations going.
And if that means talking about vaginas morning, noon and night, then I am all for it.
The LGC limited edition scarf is on sale now at marloelondon.com & selfridges.com. All profits go to the Gynaecological Cancer Fund until 30th April and 25% thereafter.
Vanessa, a talented artist and experienced portrait painter, lives and works in London. She studied painting and sculpture at Charles Cecil Studios in Florence. She makes work from life on many subjects in different mediums from figurative portraits, nudes, landscapes to bronze sculptures and works on paper.
Vanessa in her studio in West London
Can you tell us a bit about your art...
I'm interested in painting how I see life - portraits mostly as I find them the most challenging. The variety in people is pretty endlessly fascinating.
Which artists have most inspired you? And, who do you consider to be the greatest portrait painters?
I can be inspired by many things ranging from the colours in a chocolate wrapper to a Velazquez! He is the tops in my hierarchy of portrait painting.
Velazquez, Infanta Margarita Teresa in Silver Dress, c. 1656
How is painting children different to painting adults?
I treat them all the same they watch peppa pig, get bribed with sweets and hung upside down by their ankles when they don't sit still.
What has been your favourite portrait you’ve painted and why?
"Molly Whuppie" which I like as it has a dark and strange folk tale behind it and because I nailed it with the brushstrokes.
What is the secret to a great portrait?
It's a bit of a mystery and some magic! I wish there was more of a formula.
Is a portrait dependent on the model being in front of you? How do you get a little wriggling child to hold the same position?
For children it's difficult, I do insist on having some life sitting time with them (even if its just in 3 minute bursts for a quick colour study whilst they watch cartoons on my laptop that I position at eye level!) as it's important for me to get to know them a little and get something of their character.
To discuss a commission and for further information on Vanessa's work, please visit vanessagarwood.com
If you have ever felt the stress of 21st-century living wrap itself around your heart and turned to a double espresso and a faint hope that tomorrow will be better, then this book will show you how to slow down, listen to your body and find a more natural, holistic way of life. Xochi Balfour changed her life from her little London kitchen and, as The Naturalista, has been blogging about her experience of balancing and simplify ing her life in harmony with the natural world.
Xochi photographed by Rahel Weiss
Xochi recently published her first book, The Naturalista: nourishing recipes to live well. She holds regular retreats with her husband Ben and works with teachers near and far to deepen her understanding of what it means to be well in the 21st century. Through her nutritional therapy coaching, she works with individuals to rebalance and re-empower themselves through holistic nutrition, mindful self-practice and daily ritual.
An energising winter recipe: spiced turmeric and nutmeg milk
Turmeric is a powerful natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its brilliant bright yellow pigment, curcmin. This makes it great for busy mothers and little ones as winter opens up and viruses and lurgies abound.
This spicy drink brings it to life with sweet dates and fragrant, antibacterial nutmeg, while calcium-rich sesame and omega-filled flax and chia provide good nourishing oils and plenty of long-lasting energy.
If you have a high-speed blender, you can use almonds or cashews here; if not, cashews are easier to break down, and a better option for a smooth texture.
Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately, warm or at room temperature.
For more healthy and delicious recipes look at The Naturalista: Nourishing Recipes to Live Well
How motherhood muslin brand Marloe London discovered they had some very special customers. Marloe London thought they designed muslins for mothers and babies, until they received some touching feedback.
Marloe London, a luxury muslin brand, was originally designed for mothers with newborn babies. But when founders Marina Sevier and Chloe Riddell discovered their scarves were being given to cancer patients, a touching Christmassy idea emerged.
Chloe Riddell (left) and Marine Sevier, founders of Marloe London
Here, Marina explains what happened…
What is Marloe London?
We sell luxury scarves that double up as comfort blankets. We see our Marloes as the equivalent of Swiss army penknifes for motherhood (and beyond), as much scarves as shawls, as comfort blankets, swaddles or sarongs.
You have decided to donate 70 Marloes to London’s Royal Marsden Hospital which specialises in cancer treatment. Why?
We both have had loved ones that have been so wonderfully cared for at the Marsden. While many of our customers are new mothers or those buying presents for babies, it turned out that Marloe blankets were also being bought for people’s friends and family undergoing cancer treatments. As a light blanket and shawl, the fabric is ultra soft, antibacterial and thermo-regulating. A couple of our customers thoughtfully gave us this feedback and we were very moved. We wanted to respond to a genuine and unexpected charity calling.
The blankets are being delivered to patients and nurses at the hospital alongside mince pies by Gail's Bakery. How did Gail's get involved?
No Christmas present is complete without a tasty treat! We approached Gail’s Bakery because we know it cares about their local community, and its mince pies are the best in town.
Where did the idea for Marloe London come from?
Having become mothers and stepped away from our full-time careers, we looked at each other and laughed as our favourite jumpers were covered in baby sick. Any notion of style had been replaced with cutesy, cartoonish muslin rags draped over our shoulders. We saw a gap in the market and genuinely wanted a muslin that was stylish, as well as practical. The scarf blanket was born.
How are the scarves made?
Our scarf blankets are embroidered, hand-dyed and finished in England. Our bespoke fabric is woven in a factory in China run by an enterprising and lovely businesswoman – and mother.
What does your brand name mean?
‘Mar’ comes from the first part of my name, Marina, and ‘loe’ comes from Chloe. London was chosen as that’s where we live!
Okay so I’m actually getting excited even thinking about Christmas, that’s probably because it’s getting so close now and I’ve literally just finished my shopping. Wrapping starts tomorrow!
This is such a dreamy time of year and I’ve always loved being in London in December. The lights, the cool crisp air and the carols everywhere you turn. I love feeling festive and I love wrapping up warm especially when I’m trying to hide a ginormous pregnant bump!
With my children at school we only really have a week of down time before Christmas arrives so I’m taking the children to a few shows in town before decamping to the countryside. I also really want to make it to Kew Gardens this year to show the children the lights, it really is magical and they’re old enough to stay out a bit later now.
When it comes to traditions, I love stir-up-Sunday when I make a Christmas pudding with the kids, we also love studding oranges with cloves and I love the memories of my own childhood.
Another tradition I love is decorating the tree as a family. We put Christmas music on really loud and unwrap all the old tree ornaments and spend hours placing them on. You can always see where the children have been working for the area always groans under the weight.
Christmas Eve is spent with family and friends as it’s my husband’s birthday and we try to make things special and not about Christmas. Then before the children go to bed we change over to Christmas mode again and put out the mince pie, brandy and carrot for Rudolf. Christmas day is always spent with lots of family and I love nothing more than scooping the kids up and bringing them in to our bed for stockings before the madness of the day takes hold. We like to go to church while the turkey is in the oven and then after a huge lunch, we take the dogs for a walk before coming home to a good old movie, in front of the fire, more present opening and grazing all afternoon on leftovers.
On my wish list is a phone case and charms from Chaos Fashion and some killer heels. My husband is the best present buyer so I always leave it to him.
I adore this time of year and wouldn’t change a thing.