Mellow Mummy: 2011 : Taking life as it comes...

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Lara does... 2011 In Pictures

Pregnancy Blog :: Week 23

So here I am on the verge of a new year with exciting new prospects for 2012. Baby will be here with us before I know it - I just get this feeling that the next 3 and a bit months are going to whizz by.

Baby seems to have coped well with the over-excitement and over-indulgence of Christmas without any ill effects. I've tried to get Mr. B. to feel the movements of the baby which seem strong and energetic to me but he can't yet feel anything.

Here's to a fab 2012 - enjoy!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Gumtree Daily Deals - Bargains for the New Year

As I mentioned just before Christmas, I have been experimenting with group buying sites in order to find a few bargains. Gumtree did some research and found that while 92% of Brits enjoy a bargain, only 68% can be bothered to look for one so they created Gumtree Daily Deals which has reduced-price offers and sends you an email with a summary of offers on a daily basis.

Just before Christmas I was planning a big party for both of our families - we were going to need to buy a WHOLE lot of booze! Thankfully, Gumtree Daily Deals asked me to be one of their guinea pigs and try out their service. I noticed that they had a phenomenal deal of Virgin wines so I went for it - a case worth over £120 was on offer for £60. Half price!

Ordering was soooooo easy. The Gumtree deal gave me a voucher code and a direct link to the Virgin Wines site. I didn't need to browse or faff about selecting specific bottles (it was for a party, people get what they're given!). I had registered with Virgin wines, paid and checked out within about 3 minutes.

Our wine was delivered 48 hours later. Speedy.

We got a really pleasant surprise in that the case of 12 bottles of wine were all wines we would be happy drinking ourselves (based on grape variety... we haven't drunk them all quite yet!) and the case came with a free gift of two large Dartington Crystal red wine glasses. Obviously I haven't been drinking a lot of wine lately but Mr. B and my guests from the day haven't come across a bad wine yet from the bunch. My only slight grudge is that the deal was one of Virgin Wines' regular boxes so we are effectively signed up for a regular wine delivery now and we will have to cancel the contract - I didn't think it made that very clear on the Gumtree site (although it was clear when I logged into Virgin Wines to redeem my voucher).

I receive my daily emails from Gumtree (just one... unlike other group buying sites I know who send you upto 5 a day. Ug) and although I haven't yet been tempted by another offer, the emails haven't annoyed me yet.

I'm hoping to find some good bargains on Gumtree Daily Deals in the new year.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

My Stérimar Colds and Allergies Journey

Earlier this Autumn I blogged about using Stérimar for colds with which both Lara and I were suffering. After using Stérimar I was so happy with it that I agreed to become a Stérimar ambassador so today I thought I'd tell you a little bit more about how Stérimar has helped to keep us cold-free and (for me) allergy-free this Christmas.

We first discovered Stérimar Baby in the summer. It is a natural salt-water spray with a slightly reduced salt content for smaller, more delicate noses. I loved the fact that it was much easier to use than anything else I had tried to unblock a baby's nose and is more natural than the nasal drops I had been prescribed for Lara in the past. We used it in anger during October when Lara had two colds in two weeks - it cleared her nose when she got stressed from not being able to breathe.

At the time, I was also suffering with a cold and congestion so, having seen the success we had with Stérimar Baby, I decided to try Stérimar Congestion Relief. It costs around £7.49 for a 100ml spray can but I can tell you it was definitely worth it. With a higher salt concentrate than any of the other saltwater sprays in their range, it was astonishingly effective at clearing my blocked nose at nights but it came with an added bonus. Usually, after a cold, I suffer from something called allergic rhinitis - it means that even after I've got rid of the cold, I have a blocked nose and mucus for many, many weeks which I often find can take months to shift. I decided to continue using the Stérimar spray and the allergic rhinitis cleared up within a matter of days - about 48 hours.

And so, in the future I am thinking of trying out Stérimar Allergy Relief which is a similar spray but designed specifically for allergic rhinitis - you use it to wash away airborne allergens from within the nose. Stérimar Allergy Relief costs around £4.49 for a can.

I guess my other alternative is to go for a regular-use solution called Stérimar Isotonic Nasal Hygeine. It is a natural spray based on the same salt-water solution and I know several European friends who swear by it as part of their regular daily routine to help prevent congestion and allergies. It costs arounf £6.63.

Stérimar is extremely gentle and has no known side effects. It can also be used on its own or with other medications as long and as often as required. It is perfect for me to use during pregnancy when many other medications are off-limits.

Stérimar is available in Boots and most pharmacies across the UK.

For additional information, please visit

This is a sponsored post but that doesn't stop it being fun to read

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Pregnancy Blog :: Week 22

This week baby has become REALLY active. Somersaults, drum-playing, football, maracas... you name it, baby is up to it!

Baby seems to have started responding to food (I'm sure Lara did from an earlier stage). About 20 -30 minutes after eating, I often get a lot of activity, or... (if its something baby isn't too keen on) a bout of nausea.

This morning we were listening to Christmas music and baby started wiggling and kicking along to the music - I believe that at 22 weeks its ears are just starting to form and process low frequency sounds so you never know, Frank Sinatra may be just the thing!

I've also begun to find everything an enormous effort. Just walking up the stairs to my office at work feels like I've climbed a mountain. This worries me as I still have a long way to go and the bump is definitely going to get heavier.

I can feel my body stretching and re-arranging itself now. If I sit in the same position for a long time, my back aches like nothing on earth and i can feel the weight of my body weighing down on my pelvis when I walk. Ho hum.

Right then peeps, have a wonderful Christmas... see you on the other side.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Cooking with Children :: Sausage Rolls Recipe

Homemade sausage rolls make a great party snack for Christmas time and they are a quick and easy thing to cook with children because they are messy (!) and the hard work is all in the construction!

homemade sausage rolls recipe

1 packet of ready-made puff pastry (either fresh or frozen). We use ready-rolled puff pastry as it is EVEN easier to use!
1 packet of pork sausage meat (fresh or frozen, it normally comes in a great big sausage shape but at this time of year you may find it in flat packs alongside the sausages in your supermarket).
1 egg, beaten

  1. Preheat the oven to the temperature indicated on the packet of puff pastry that you are using (about 200 degrees in a fan-assisted oven).

  2. Lay out (or roll out, if needed) the puff pastry onto a floured surface. If it isn't quite square then trim it to make it rectangular.

  3. rolling pastry for homemade sausage rolls

  4. Split the sausage meat into two and then squidge one half of it into a long line about 1/4 of the way DOWN the pastry.

  5. Do the same thing with the other half of the sausage meat about a quarter of the way UP the pastry

  6. Now slice the pastry along the half-way point so that you effectively have two matching pieces with meat along the middle.

  7. making homemade sausage rolls

  8. Using a brush, paint a line of egg along one of the long edges on both pieces of the pastry.

  9. Roll over the non-egg side of the pastry on top of the sausage meat and press down very lightly.

  10. eggwash on homemade sausage rolls

  11. Now roll over the eggy side and press it down onto the pastry, using the egg to glue it.

  12. When you have done this for both rolls, turn them over so that the smooth side of the roll is facing the top. Cut the sausage roll with a sharp knife into the size of rolls that you want. I tend to find that about 1.5 inches works well.

  13. Pierce the top of each little sausage roll with a knife or snip with a pair of scissors to allow the steam from the meat to escape.

  14. Brush the rest of the egg over each of the sausage rolls to give them a nice shine when they cook.

  15. homemade sausage rolls

  16. Put the sausage rolls onto two baking trays (that have been lined with greaseproof paper. Put them into the oven and bake according to the instructions on the puff pastry. This will be for about 18-20 minutes until golden and the meat at each end of the pastry has started to colour or crisp.

  17. homemade sausage rolls waiting to be cooked

  18. Allow to cool on a cooling rack before serving either hot or cold.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Financial Planning for Baby Number Two

A couple of weeks ago I did the very scary thing of sitting down with Mr. B and working out how much maternity leave I can afford next year. The news wasn't good!

If I want to keep Lara in nursery full-time then we calculated that we would have to start dipping into our savings after just one month and those savings would run out in December! If we only send Lara to nursery for 3 days a week AND re-mortgage the house we worked out that this gave us another two months grace. Ug.

We started putting some plans in place for baby number two. First we looked at the changes we needed to put in place at work through HR. Did we both have quality life insurance? Do we need to make any adjustments for a larger family? Would it support both children in the event of our deaths?

What about my pension? Do I need to top it up while on maternity leave (if I could afford it!!!).

The next place we started looking was at savings accounts. When Lara was born we put in place a Child Trust Fund but those no longer exist, so we wanted to find out what the new options were - perhaps a Junior ISA when they come into being? We also wanted to budget for regular and long-term savings for the baby in the same way that we do for Lara.

I guess that every family is different when it comes to financial incomings and outgoings for a family but when it comes to planning we are (or at least should be) all the same - it is important to understand what you CAN afford and what the impact of another child is going to be on your wallet and your way of life. For me, it is important to get all of these plans sorted NOW, well in advance of the due date because when it comes to April next year, mortgages, savings, life insurance and pensions are not going to be high on my list and it would be silly to get into financial difficulty at what is supposed to be such a happy time.

This is a sponsored post but that doesn't stop it being fun to read!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Top Tips for a Mellow Christmas from Pampers

This year Lara really 'GETS' Christmas. There has already been chocolate, cakes, visits to Father Christmas and magical adventures and I can say right now that she has got somewhat over-excited at times. With an excited terrible two-year-old and the total lack of a routine over the festive holidays, I cannot see this Christmas being the relaxing, homely one that my pregnant body is longing for! The Pampers Village Parenting Panel experts have compiled their ultimate tips for an enjoyable festive season with baby to try and make things that little bit more mellow.

Pregnancy advice from Midwife, Mary Steen-Greaves:
  • Take a relaxing bath with some lavender drops added to help you de-stress and a warm milky drink to help you have a good night’s sleep.

  • Try not to over eat, especially late at night. Eat small meals frequently to help your digestion and keep spicy and fatty foods to a minimum.

  • You will still need to wrap up to keep warm when outdoors even though you will feel warmer than usual due to your increased blood. Wear comfortable, sensible footwear to help you maintain a good posture and reduce the risk of slipping in the cold (possibly icy) weather.

Skin health advice from Dr David Atherton:
Winter is tough on everyone's skin, but especially in the case of babies with naturally sensitive or dry skin. Consider the following:
  • You can use a humidifier in baby’s bedroom – if you can, make sure it incorporates a hygrometer to shut it down when the humidity is optimal to prevent dampness.

  • Apply a protective moisturiser to baby’s face and hands before leaving the house, and re-apply on your return (this one can apply to mum too!)

  • Cover the skin when outside. Use gloves, a scarf and a hat to help keep baby’s skin protected and warm.

  • Make sure your home isn't too hot and dry, especially in baby’s bedroom. Turn down the boiler setting, make sure it is off at night and, if you can, get some house plants to help increase the humidity.

Baby Development advice from Dr Maggie Redshaw:
  • The first Christmas stocking is really exciting – bubbles to blow, finger puppets and small picture books are great for babies and parents. Interacting through play helps to facilitate conversation through facial expression, sounds and movement.

  • Babies really enjoy wrapping paper and boxes at Christmas, and play with them as they would expensive toys so there is no need to spend a lot, but just take care about items that might not be so good to put in the mouth. A box can be a boat, car or den so use your imagination to bring games to life – this will help baby develop through social and make-believe play.

  • Christmas is usually a time for lots of indoor play, but make the most of it when it’s bright and crisp to get out to the park to try a kick around with a ball or play in the leaves/snow – this will help baby to develop physically while having fun.

For more information and tips on caring for your baby, visit the Pampers Village, or connect with other mums and log onto the new Pampers UK & Ireland Facebook page.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Essential One Newborn Clothing Review

The Essential One is a beautiful website that I discovered last month when they sent the most gorgeous box of clothing for me and my panel of reviewers to sample. There seem to be a whole host of newborns in my life at present – my boss, my friend and obviously my own bump brewing for April 2012.

I gave my boss (and his wife – my newly recruited Mellow Mummy reviewer) some newborn essentials from The Essential One as a gift for their first child. The long-sleeved baby sleepsuits and short-sleeved baby body suits are the kind of thing you simply can't have enough of for a new baby. I was really proud to offer these to my boss because they are amazing quality and they come in a lovely draw-string bag which makes them into a great gift.

the essential one newborn bodysuits and sleepsuits

Apart from the great quality (you can feel it in the softness of the 100% cotton fabric and see it in the tidiness of the seams), the thing I liked most was the colours. I'm fed up of cheap white baby suits that stretch after the first wash. I loved the fact that almost all of the colours on offer are gender neutral – often vital when buying a gift or stocking up for your own bump. By neutral, I don't mean boring. The beiges are mellow and there are also yellows and greys but my favourites are the bright colours – perfect for any baby.

The Essential One was set up to help mums to be avoid the confusion of what is really an essential for a newborn, and what the big brands tell you are essentials! They specialise in baby's first year- 0-12 months - and offer a limited range deliberately focused around 'things you really need'.

The Essential One do not use synthetic fibres and focus around 100% cotton as this is not only thermally the best fibre to keep babies cool when it's warm and warm when it's cold but is the best fabric for delicate skins. I love the thoughtful little touches such as the cotton draw-string bags and the fact that all appliques are backed in soft fabric so as not to scratch babies skins. It is really interesting that all of their sleepsuits have fold back scratchmittens right the way up to 12 months which is great for babies with eczema.

the essential one review cable knitted newborn cardigan

I love every single item of clothing that I have seen and tried from the Essential One – my absolute favourite has to be the cable knitted cardigan which looks warm and snuggly with a hood and a button-front.

From the moment you open the package of products that arrives from the Essential One, you feel like you are being treated. There is gorgeous light paper wrapping (no plastic to be seen) with a very gentle scent that evokes the new-mum feeling.

Please please do go and take a look at the essential one or visit them on facebook – I think you'll like their simplicity and general mellowness.

House of Sasha Vintage & Handmade Gifts, Toys and Clothes Review

Today I'd like to introduce you to another local business woman -Heidi Gray. Heidi runs House of Sasha, a business inspired by her daughter Sasha that sells soft toys, homewares, girls clothing and handmade bits for children and adults alike.

If you live near Wokingham then you can find House of Sasha on Wokingham market but you can view the catalogue of lovely items (that make great gifts) online at You can also find them on facebook.

One of my absolute favourite products from House of Sash is the organic soft toys from imajo. Their traditional softies are squidgy and soft and are appropriate for newborns. They are lovely quality and are made under fair trade conditions in Sri Lanka. Our organic teddy bear is going to be our baby's first toy!

Heidi and her business partner also make a number of handmade pieces inspired by little Sasha. This handmade tote bag is perfect for Lara to carry all her important things around (bits of screwed up paper, random pieces from a jigsaw and half a plastic chicken).

Lots of the homewares on sale at House of Sasha are from Sass and Belle - quirky vintage and hand-made goodies for the kitchen, bedroom and living room.

Do pop over to House of Sasha for a browse and, if you see them in or around Wokingham then say hello from me!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Pregnancy Blog :: Week 21

Last weekend I went to the Tots100 Christmas Party at Butlins in my gorgeous Isabella Oliver dress and felt fantastic. The bump was REALLY obvious and I swear my belly has grown noticably even since last Saturday.

I have been slathering on moisturisers and most recently the Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil in an attempt to prevent stretch marks on my ever-bulging belly. it seems to be a really fast-drying oil (which is great because I have little patience to wait for it to dry) but the best thing about it is the smell of the cocoa butter - I feel like a walking chocolate shop. Very festive. So far so good, but I guess the ultimate test is to see whether I can come out of this pregnancy with no new stretch marks.

On Tuesday we went for the 20 week scan. It all went really well - I can't believe how much the image quality of the ultrasound scan has improved in just two and a bit years. We could even see the tiny valves in the heart opening and closing.

We didn't find out the sex of the baby, but I have my suspicions (that I won't share here as I haven't even told Mr. B).

I also had an MRSA test - I'd totally forgotten that. I weird cotton bud thing you have to rub around your nose and then another around your crotch. Lovely! Plus, I got given my first Bounty pack. There was a teenie tiny size 1 Pampers nappy in the bag and I simply can't believe how small it is... Lara was NEVER that small, surely?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Potty Training, The Final Frontier

That's it, I think we've finally cracked it! We have been an accident-free household for a whole week now. Phew.

I'll admit that it has taken far longer than I had hoped to get Lara through potty training but a few weeks ago we reached a turning point and then last week another milestone that I think was the secret of our success.

About 1 month ago Lara started to refuse to wear a nappy. At night Lara was happy to wear a pull-up (aka bedtime pants in our house) but during the day she would insist on wake-up pants! This presented me with a few issues because although she knew what she was doing, Lara consistently had accidents when in the car or when driving. We went with it and thanks to the little toilet-training pads from Dry Like Me (panty liners for toddlers) I was given the confidence I needed to let her go nappy-free when Lara was out and about in the car or tired in the afternoons and evenings. I also invested in a piddle pad for the car-seat to protect against the occasional, inevitable accident.

Our second milestone was actually initiated by the staff at nursery. They asked us to bring home Lara's potty because she was more than happy using the toilet and found that she only insisted on using the potty when a new member of staff was taking her to the toilet. We took this as a prompt to remove the potty from home and this seems to have been the final deciding factor. Hiding the potty forced Lara to walk all the way to the bathroom if she needed to go. We had been finding that Lara would go and fetch her potty, place it down in front of the TV or by her book and then get distracted before wetting herself centimetres from the potty. We hid the potty and the accidents magically stopped.

This weekend we managed a 2 hour car journey to Butlins, a weekend away and a 2 hour car journey home. Perfect.

And so (assuming we really have met the goal) it's time to share my Mellow Mummy top tips for potty training.

  • Potty training in the summer so they can run around outside is a myth. We started in July and now it's December and I can tell you now that Lara is not running amok naked in the garden

  • Have confidence in your child and they will surprise you.

  • Give them whatever gadgets or tools they need to gain their own confidence. When we started we found Bambino Mio potty training pants to help Lara as they felt like pants but offered a little protection if accidents happened. Dry Like Me toilet training pads helped in the later stages to offer the same kind of confidence but with REAL pants.

  • Don't expect your child to get it straight away

  • Offer encouragement (and bribes) freely.

  • We've tried and loved different types of potties such as the Pourty Potty (nursery particularly liked this) and the Becopotty but in the end, the potty Lara (and Mummy and Daddy) got on with best was a dead simple, traditional potty with high sides and a nice big bowl from Bambino Mio

  • Hide the potty when the time is right!

  • If you have a carpet you love, now is the right time to invest in a carpet-cleaner!

It does seem rather depressing that no sooner have I got Lara out of nappies I now have to start thinking about lifting my stash of reusable nappies out of the loft and seeing if I can bring them back to life for baby number two!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Leapfrog Scout and Friends Baby Walker Review

Lara, her cousins and her friends have been putting the brand new Leapfrog Scout and Friends Baby Walker to the ultimate test - a direct comparison with the popular VTech First Steps Baby Walker. It makes for a very interesting review, mainly because Lara and her cousins have been using a version of the VTech walker at their grandparent's house ever since their first days so it is a product they recognise and have grown up with - a challenge for any new product to compete with.

The Leapfrog Baby Walker boasts 5 features that make it stand apart from the VTech walker and they are all things that make me, as a parent, very happy. Wide legs, lockable wheels and non-slip wheels are all things that I've felt are lacking in the VTech product for years.

The wide-legs of the Leapfrog Scout and Friends Walker mean that it is noticeably more stable than the VTech model when one of the children is physically walking with it, or when playing with the activities from the front.

The lockable wheels are a stroke of genius. I have always thought it weird that a baby walker would be constructed in such a way that it moves the very second your crawling baby tries to lift themselves up on it and walk. The Leapfrog walker has two small red clips on the wheels which allow you to lock or unlock them. This makes the walker even more stable and is ideal for babies who are just finding their feet and attempting to lift themselves up.

On our living room carpet (which has a very shallow pile) we found the VTech walker to slip rather than roll. The wheels on the Leapfrog Scout and Friends Baby Walker have a small textured strip around them which makes them a lot more grippy and so the movement is far more natural. On Nanny's VTech (which is many many years old) the wheels have worn and become shiny with age so it only moves cleanly on a carpet that offers quite a lot of resistance. I think the textured wheels would really help in a house with hard floors too.

The activity plate on both walkers is removable. The clip on our VTech didn't work properly so the plate kept falling off (Nanny's one doesn't behave this way); on the Leapfrog walker the plate clips off and on from the sides (very easy to do). These days Lara is more interested in the activities on the plate than the walker itself so she likes to take the plates off and sit with them on the floor.

I noticed that Lara enjoyed the activities on the VTech walker more than the Leapfrog and would spend more time playing with them. I personally prefer the look of the VTech activity plate too as the primary colours make it look more appealing. The large amount of white on the Leapfrog walker seems to detract from the colours of the activities themselves. I find the music and noises less annoying on the Leapfrog activities - I think the full alphabet song is great but I wish that the a,b,c,d light-up keys were more like the VTech in that they would benefit from having an image association such as ' b for ball'. The range of music on the Leapfrog Baby Walker is wider and of a higher quality too.


MASH Jr Clothing Review

Look at my big girl! Lara is growing up. I love it. OK, I know I'll miss the baby days but I love seeing Lara gain her independence and turn into a child rather than a toddler. One of the undeniable facts that prooves Lara is now a child is that I can no longer buy her clothes from baby or toddler ranges. Lara is wearing clothes for 3-4 year olds and this means I'm having to readjust my thoughts on what to dress her in - a shift from cute and promising to mature and stylish.

Lara's latest outfit is from Italian designer childrenswear brand MASH Jr who sent her a couple of items from their latest Autumn / Winter range to try out as her first foray into big-girl clothes. MASH Jr produce luxury clothes for babies right through to 16 year olds.

The clothes in the children's range for 3-9 year olds are all incredibly fashionable and actually make me feel like I've got a lot of growing up to do! I'm pleasantly surprised by how practical all the designs are though - often practicality is sacrificed for style but the clothes we tried were beautifully made from good quality fabrics which would stand the wear of children and which were easy to put on and to clean. They are not items of clothes that you would need to reserve for special occasions.

Lara's outfit comprises a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt and a pair of navy jeggings from the MASH Kiss range.

In the UK you can buy MASH Jr from who ship internationally. The clothes are all really reasonably priced for the level of quality.

MASH Jr Mash Kiss clothing  MASH Jr Mash Kiss clothing   MASH Jr Mash Boys clothing

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Silver Cross Rag Doll Review and News of a Comp!

Over the past couple of months Lara has really developed her imagination through role play. Yesterday she told me she had spent the day at nursery being a doctor to the poorly babies! Lara has her own dolly who she likes to look after at home. Her name is Beth (or Goldilocks depending on what mood Lara is in) and she is a Silver Cross traditional ragdoll.

silvercross ragdoll

Beth came beautifully presented in a large white gift box that would make most little girls squeal with excitement when they opened it. I saw the Silver Cross ragdoll gift boxes on display in my local John Lewis last week and they looked fab. Beth is soft and squishable and has a delicately decorated face that makes her look so gentle and peaceful (especially when she is tucked up in her Silver Cross pram!)

silvercross ragdoll

Lara loves taking her ragdoll's coat off (and then getting me to put it back on again) and settling her to sleep in her own pram. One of Lara's absolute favourite things about the Silver Cross rag doll is that she has cute little bloomers which Lara can take on and off so that she can change the doll's nappy! Admittedly, Lara would also love to be able to take off the doll's shoes and she finds it frustrating that they are sewn on. I think Beth is beautifully made and I'd rather like one for myself - they have a small range of beautiful dolls from £25 to £35.

silvercross ragdoll

Silver Cross are currently running a competition on their facebook page to win one of 5 Pop Classic Lightweight Pushchairs. All you have to do to enter is like their page and then answer one easy question and provide your email address. The competition runs until Friday 16th December. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Little Pumpkin Lindam Clarity Baby Monitor Review

Lindam Clarity Digital Video Monitor
The Lindam Clarity Digital Video Monitor has really surprised me as an all-round baby monitor; the image quality is outstanding and the sound quality seems uncompromised. It is easy to use and has most of the features that I look for in a baby monitor.

Little Pumpkin logo

Online baby and children's store Little Pumpkin sell the Clarity Digital Video Monitor (currently reduced to £99.99) and I think it is an awesome piece of kit that I shall be very happy to use when baby Button arrives in a few months time.

The monitor was very fast to set up. The camera was easy to position so that it looked down on Lara's cotbed. I was really impressed with the mechanism on the camera that allowed you to position it at lots of different angles. The camera seemed to be more than able to cope in the dark through its use of infra-red and the quality of the image we received during the night was more than acceptable. The only slightly annoying thing is that in order for the camera to work at night, it emits a small red light which didn't seem to disturb Lara but we both found really noticeable in her room.

The image quality in daylight was really very crisp and clear. The sound too - normally video monitors sacrifice sound quality for image but this one was as clear as any other audio monitor I've tried.

The parent unit is wireless and rechargeable and has a handy flip-out stand. We liked the fact that you could switch it so that the screen was off until it detected noise. The detection was very responsive but not so much that the tiniest noise would cause the screen to switch on during the night. We also liked the fact that you could remotely switch on a nightlight in the nursery, or play lullabies in the nursery. I think the only functionality we really missed was the ability to talk back to Lara in the nursery through the parent unit but I'd be prepared to sacrifice that for the rest of the features it does provide.

The Lindam Clarity Digital Video Monitor is really good value for money and I can see many year's use from it in the future. It looks smart and is easy to use. I highly recommend it.

Barefoot Botanicals Rosa Fina Cleanser Review

The Rosa Fina Nourishing Cleansing Milk is exactly what I look for in a cleanser; it is by far the best 'natural' skincare product that I've tried all year.

Barefoot Botanicals is a brand that combines science and nature. The Barefoot Botanicals Nourishing Cleansing Milk is a really effective cleanser which leaves my skin feeling really clean (in fact, the amount of gunk left on the cotton pad after I've cleaned my face is horrifying!). As an added bonus, the cleanser has a wonderful range of natural active ingredients.

The main headline ingredient is the rosa mosqueta oil which give the cleanser a gentle rose smell. Alongside this witch hazel and dandelion are there to purify, while aloe vera and jojoba are there to nourish and replenish. My skin almost gives an audible sigh of relief when I use it!

The product is described as suitable for normal to dry skin. Barefoot recommend it for sensitive or mature skin, fine lines, wrinkles and scarring.

The things I love most about this cleanser are:-
  • The pump bottle makes it so easy to use and easy to keep clean

  • The smell is very soothing and natural - EXACTLY what I look for

  • The texture is not so thick that it leaves my skin heavy but not so thin that it absorbs before I can wipe it away

  • It cleans my skin REALLY well

Barefoot Botanicals Rosa Fina Nourishing Cleansing Milk costs £20.95 for 125ml on

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Lara is officially ready for Christmas!

That's it... Lara is now properly excited about Christmas. Every morning on the way to nursery she tells me, "it's nearly Christmas" and it makes me smile.

We've put up Lara's advent calendar ready for the 1st December and we've already pulled one or two crackers (much to Lara's delight) and, as you know Lara and I have been practising one or two Christmas recipes for our annual Christmas Party.

Poundstretcher have a really wide range of incredible value stocking fillers and Christmas decorations and they sent Lara a few goodies to try out. Our local Woolworths died but was reborn late this year as a Poundstretcher and I'm actually really impressed with the range (much more so than I was with Woolworths!)

This children's father christmas apron was an inspired choice for Lara, my little cook. This weekend Lara Christmas will be helping me trial a snowball cupcake recipe and gingerbread biscuits.

Lara's Peppa Pig advent calendar and mini children's crackers also came from Poundstretcher. The calendar is just as good as any you would find anywhere else and the crackers make a cute addition to a kid's stocking (I wouldn't put one on the dinner table though as they don't have hats in them!).

If you are looking for wrapping paper, decorations, confectionary or stocking fillers over the next few weeks you could do worse than pop into Poundstretcher to see how far your budget could take you.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Where Can I Buy... Winter Maternity Coats?

Even before I became pregnant, some of my readers asked me exactly this question. Where can I buy a winter maternity coat? Lots of places sell T-shirts, jeans and dresses but coats are harder to come by so I decided to put together a list of a few lovely winter coats that I've found over the past weeks (I've not decided which to buy myself yet though!); hopefully I've covered all tastes and budgets!

Next have a small range of maternity clothing with a few essentials such as this Navy Maternity Coat £55
next navy maternity coat

Jojo Maman Bebe have a really affordable range of maternity clothing and a good few winter coats in the range.

Isabella Oliver have a very smart collection of maternity coats including this miltary-style cashmere mix coat in a number of colours.
isabella oliver maternity coat
Pea Coat £249

Blossom Mother & Child stock a scrumptious range of luxury maternity wear including this selection of beautiful winter coats.
blossom sheepskin maternity coat
Blossom Sheepskin Coat £950

quilted maternity coat
Quilted Coat £366

clark and gray maternity coat
Clark & Gray Maternity Coat £390

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