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

Thursday 31 March 2011

Inspire Me – I Need A New Spring Wardrobe

As you know, I HATE shopping and prefer buy online from websites such as K and Co and from mail order catalogues as much as possible. I've lost weight since last summer but all my pre-pregnancy clothes are too small for my mummy-belly and look old and tired. It's time to stop splurging on clothes for Lara and instead focus on me - I'm seriously considering starting my entire spring wardrobe from scratch!

Mr. B. gave me a hand-written voucher for Christmas that I have yet to cash in, and with a holiday to the sunny south of France planned later this Spring, I've decided I NEED new clothes. So people, I need some inspiration – I’ve no idea what the current spring trends are. Are maxi dresses still the done thing this year? Or should I be looking for something a bit more revealing? Can I get away with bright, bold summery t-shirts or do you think of me as more of a 'neutrals' kind of lady?

With the gorgeous weather that we experienced over the weekend, I feel inspired to buy lots of short sleeved tops and long, floaty dresses to get me in the holiday mood. If only clothes shopping for me was as easy as it is for Lara.

This post is in association with K and Co.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Lara's First Trike

This weekend marked a momentous occasion. We removed the waist support from Lara's Smart Trike and released the pedals so that she can pedal the trike herself. She's still a little bit all over the place and could fall off at any minute, and her feet can't quite keep up with the pedals but she'll get there soon enough and before long she'll be racing away. Every time we take Lara out on her Smart Trike around the local roads, we get lots of lovely comments from passers by who seem amazed that such a thing exists - I think the long extending handle that allows me to control where Lara goes really impresses some of the older neighbours who wish they had owned something similar when their children were toddlers. One of our favourite places to take Lara on her Smart Trike is Virginia Water in Sunningdale, Berkshire. There are lots of wide, well-paved paths that we can push the trike down and Lara can either pedal, or just enjoy the ride. This is Lara last summer on the very first day that we tried out the Smart Trike at Virginia Water (she hasn't quite grasped the concept at this point!). It was a gorgeous sunny day and we really needed the sun shade. At Christmas time we removed the main strap as Lara had outgrown it. This weekend, we removed the waist support as Lara's belly had got too big for it AND because these days she is just so eager to gain her own independence that she hates being cooped up inside the trike. I won Lara our Smart Trike from Mummys Shoes last summer and it is one of the best prizes I've ever won her. It is going to last us another year or so and will grow with her. I love the fact that the parental handle bar extends high enough for me (I'm tall) and can go shorter when Mr. B. is using it. I love the fact that I can put my camera in the little container at the back of the trike so that I can take pictures of Lara when we're on the move (Lara likes to store tennis balls there)! And I love the fact that the trike can be tailored to your own child's size and ability by letting them take control of the pedals when they are ready, and to remove all of the supports, and the parental control when the time is right. This video is of Lara shortly after we first got the Smart Trike last summer; I call the video "Doggie or Duckie?" as I'm sure you'll see why. I think it really demonstrates the genius of the Smart Trike for smaller children. This, incidentally, was also the day Lara took her first steps.

I am thinking of buying Lara her first cycle helmet but so far I've been unable to find a helmet designed for children under 3 years. I can't wait until Lara is able to pedal about on her own and go exploring on her Smart Trike. Note: This isn't a sponsored post. We love our Smart Trike and just wanted to spread the love!

Monday 28 March 2011

Lara does... Peppa Pig World

Peppa Pig World Review: For Lara, Peppa Pig World is the stuff of dreams. The theme park, part of Paultons Park in Hampshire, is a pre-school Nirvana. On Friday we attended the press launch of Peppa Pig World and Lara got to meet her idol - Peppa and rubbed shoulders with Peppa royalty (Neville Astley, Mark Baker & Phil Davies)!

The mellow family absolutely loved Peppa Pig World. There were plenty of rides for children even as young as Lara (in fact, Lara was only unable to go on one ride due to her height). The facilities were really smart and the rides such as Peppa's Big Balloon Ride and Grandpa Pig's Little Train were so exciting for the children that the whole place was little up with the smiles on everyone's faces.

The park was clean and bright and the tinkly Peppa Pig music was at just the right volume to get you in the mood (I thought it would annoy me after a while, but actually I found myself singing along to the 'woof tweet' song and such-like! The toilets and changing facilities were good (throughout the whole of Paultons park they have two-stage toilet seats suitable for big and little bottoms alike!).

I found the food on offer to be really disappointing. Daddy Pig's Big Tummy Cafe didn't offer much in the range of sandwiches and Miss Rabbit's Ice Cream Parlour didn't really sell things suitable for a one-year-old to eat. Our search for healthy or nutritious food in the rest of Paulton's park wasn't very fruitful either... the sandwiches were all gone so we resorted to Chicken Nuggets and Chips and a very forlorn looking apple. Infact, I was underwhelmed by the rest of Paultons Park - I felt like it was unchanged since I last visited about 21 years ago.

As well as the rides in Peppa Pig World, there were some really super play areas both indoors and out for children right up to 8 years old. There were some innovative play features such as interactive musical toys and puzzles, and even a wet area where the littlies can splash about in muddy puddles.

We all had an amazing day and will DEFINITELY be going back as Lara could spend a whole day going round and round on Grandpa Pig's boats! The fun is best described through pictures so here we go...



Peppa Pig World opens at Paultons Park on April 9th. Find it at Junction 2 of the M27 near Romsey.

Sunday 27 March 2011

The Sunday Review – Acorelle Fragrance

All of my favourite fragrances are floral. Summery, light and refreshing. I recently got the chance to try out one of the new range of Acorelle fragrances from . I chose one of the Eau Fraiche body mists – White Orchid.

The fragrance is 100% natural and comes from essential oils and plant extracts. The Light Orchid fragrance features both orange and sandalwood oils which are known for their calming influence. I find it really zingy and a lot more fruity than I had expected... the smell reminds me of Refreshers sweets that tingle on your tongue! It has some very light citrusy notes and for me, when I close my eyes, I think of plums and summer pudding!

The Eau Fraiche fragrance is a lighter than a full Eau de Parfum and is great for me because the bottle is thin and compact so I can pop it in my bag on the way to work and then re-apply it throughout the day rather than being hounded by the overwhelming fragrance of an Eau de Parfum for the whole day in an attempt to apply enough to last the whole day. The bottle is a gorgeous, tall, sleek glass token which is a work of art in itself.

Acorelle fragrances are some of the world's first organic fragrances. You can choose from 9 Eau de Parfum or 4 Eau Fraiche fragrances and mypure do a great thing by offering a 'discovery' set so that you can try out a number of the different scents.

I am really enjoying using my White Orchid spray on my clothes and body but I noticed on the mypure website that they also recommend using it on linen and around the home. I think this summery, fruity smell could work really well as a fragrance in my guest room to make it welcoming and relaxing.

The Acorelle Eau Fraiche 30ml bottle costs £22 from

The Sunday Review – Hands First Power Scrub+

As a busy mum, I wash my hands a lot. I like gardening and I like cooking, both of which lead to grubby hands so it is important for me to clean thoroughly when I'm around a little monster like Lara. We've had a bottle of Hands First Power Scrub + by the sink for the past month or so, sitting right there next to my normal anti-bacterial soap dispenser and each and every time I've chosen the Hands First over the traditional gel soap.

I like the scrub because it does just that – scrubs. Tiny little pieces of pumice and walnut shell act as an effective exfoliator. After using it, my hands feel really clean (as long as I rinse them well, because otherwise they feel all bitty!). The Power Scrub also acts as a moisturiser with active skin conditioning from blue cypress oil and panthenol. It's antibacterial properties come from grapefruit seed extract which I am convinced accounts for the slightly zingy, refreshing scent.

At £7.99 for a 225ml bottle of hand scrub, I found Hands First to be a bit pricey for an every day hand-wash for mums but as a hard-working, specialist hand scrub for me to use after I've been out in the garden (or after a particularly unpleasant nappy) then I think it's perfect and is well up to the task. If I had my way, it'd be in a slightly easier to use bottle – the little pieces of exfoliating goodness cause the gel to come out of the bottle very slowly (which is stressful if your hands are covered in earth.... or worse).

Hands First Power Scrub + is available online at and Pharmacy2U .

Thursday 24 March 2011

Mothers Day is All About the Chocolates, Right?

I was sent a box of chocolates in return for this chocolate-fuelled review.
When I was asked to review a box of Mother's Day Chocolates from Hotel Chocolat, I ummmed and aaahed for at least 1 minute! Who was I kidding? No-one else is going to buy me a box of chocolates for Mother's Day, are they? Last year Mother's day was all about the amazing feeling of experiencing my first ever Mother's day as a mum myself. This year, it's all about the chocolates and flowers! Unfortunately, until Lara is old enough to buy me presents herself I have to rely on Mr B to supply the goodies, and, given that I can count the number of times he has bought me chocolates on the fingers of one hand, and the number of times he has bought me flowers on the fingers of one... finger... I could be sorely disappointed.

I tried the Sleekster All About Mum selection box of white, dark and milk chocolates. The chocolates arrived really promptly and were well packed. The selection box looked really smart and I couldn't wait to get into it.

The chocolates were a really grown up mix of fruit centres, caramels, nutty fillings and boozy bits! They are mostly shaped as hearts with a few traditional truffles, a shell and a sexy pair of lips! I found the All About Mum selection to be a really feminine selection without being delicate and flouncy. The chocolate from Hotel Chocolat is to die for. I love their bitter dark chocolate and filled with an Armagnac ganache I think the Love-Me-Do heart was my absolute favourite with the fascinatingly fruity Blueberry Truffle in white chocolate coming a close second.

I love the fact that their fruit fillings don't taste as artificial and boring as those you would get in a standard high-street box of chocolates and I think it is great that Hotel Chocolat believe in the quality of their chocolate and the ethics of their cocoa supply.

I would love it if Lara (via Mr. B. ) were to buy me a box of these chocolates.

While I'm here, and moaning about never receiving chocolates or flowers, I'd just like to give a shout out to Interflora who heard my illness woes on twitter and magicked up a bunch or gorgeous spring flowers within an hour and a half to cheer me up and make me feel better. Now I had better head off and drop some more hints to Mr. B.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Learning Through Play – Lara Wields A Knife

Have you ever had one of those moments when you've taken your child to a friend's house and they've spent the entire visit playing with a single toy that you KNOW you are now going to have to buy, or the world will probably end? We had one of those moments a few weeks ago. Lara discovered a 'chopping' set while at her cousin's house. She was totally enthralled. Myself and Mr. B. locked eyes and at that moment I KNEW I was going to have to buy Lara the same toy.

I soon found the toy I was looking for online at Early Learning Centre and, at the earliest opportunity I visited our local branch and spent a whopping £13 on what is, quite honestly, my best investment to date!

The toy in question is a set of wooden vegetables & fruit, a wooden loaf of bread, a wooden chopping board, knife and tray. The toy is so simple and that's the beauty of it – no annoying plastic bits for Lara to rip off, no batteries required and no tinkly music. Fabulous. Each of the toy foods is stuck together with Velcro and the knife can be used to 'chop' them into pieces. Each wooden piece is sturdy and tactile – it feels like a toy that will last us for years.

And the best bit about the new toy is that Lara, at 21 months, is quite happy to sit for hours chopping vegetables. I've seen her sit for over 40 minutes chopping the fruit and veg, sticking them back together again and re-chopping!

I love this toy because it is helping Lara to learn about food preparation and goes some way towards my own new-year's resolution of teaching Lara to cook. Of course, Lara is far too young for me to teach her how to chop real carrots, pears, fish, tomatoes and oranges but she is old enough to start learning the lessons she will need to grasp sooner or later. In a few short weeks Lara has already demonstrated an understanding of balance – choosing to place her chopping board now on a table or chair instead of wobbling it on her leg or the arm of a chair. She also quickly learned that the knife is much more effective when held the correct way up and that applying pressure to the top of the knife can help when something seems too tough to chop.

Perhaps the best lesson she is learning is to be careful with her fingers. If Lara does accidentally place her fingers below the blade of the toy wooden knife, it won't hurt her but it does come as a surprise. Using her toy chopping board, Lara now tells herself to be “careful Lara” if she does get her fingers in the way.

Lara will be helping me prepare the dinner before long, just you wait and see!

This post was written for the Tots 100 Monthly Blog Hop where this month's theme is 'Learning Through Play'.

Monday 21 March 2011

I'm a Mobile Wifi Blogger – And Loving It!

For the past three weeks I have been trialling the Mifi 3G mobile wireless broadband from 3. Now it has gone, I'm bereft. I loved the freedom it gave me to do what it is that I do (by that I mean tweet, blog, surf, chat), wherever and whenever I wanted to.

For three lovely weeks I was a mobile blogger. By that, I don't mean that I traipsed around with my laptop everywhere I went (although I could have done) but I was able to respond to emails, to keep in touch with readers, reviewers and product representatives and to tell the world about things I was up to (such as taking Lara into London for a couple of exciting product launches that we covered on ParentWheels). Having a wireless internet signal with me at all time meant that I was able to maintain my social network in places where previously I would have been suffering internet-withdrawl-symptoms. Cafes, trains, cars and meetings!

The Mifi from 3 is a small pod around the size of a compact mobile phone that acts as a wireless hotspot. Upto 5 devices can be attached to it at any one time which is ideal if you have older kids who want to use their internet-enabled devices on the train or in the car. I used it during my lunch breaks at work and gave the password to a few select colleagues so that we could share photos and websites while waiting for our Friday-lunchtime burger but I can imagine it being equally useful in a coffee shop with my mummy friends.

I don't own a smart-phone. Mainly because I simply don't phone or call anyone. But, I do have an iPod touch that I like to connect to free wireless hotspots when I'm out and about. In my experience, free wireless hotspots are (a) slow, (b) annoying as you often have to set up an account and log in and (c ) becoming few and far between. The Mifi solved all of these problems for me.

The Mifi feels good. Its small, black, sleek and looks great alongside my iPod. It is small enough that I could slot it into the changing bag and carry it with me everywhere. It is just about thin enough that I can even get it in my wallet. Genius.

The download speed was regularly up around the 7Mbps level where my home broadband hovers at just about 1Mbps. For this reason, I after 24 hours of using the Mifi, I seriously considered replacing my home broadband (which comes free with my line rental). However, there are a couple of things that stopped me from rushing out and buying a Mifi. Firstly, I can't get a 3 signal in my house at all which means I can only use it when I'm out. If I had a good signal then there is no question that I would have replaced my existing home broadband. The cost of running a Mifi is considerably lower than I had expected – the rates seem competitive with home broadband packages. The monthly rental for a Mifi starts from under £10 for a low-usage contract (a high usage contract costs around £23 but you can also buy pre-paid usage allowances).

My other problem was the battery life. Maybe I overused it? But, for a gadget designed to make my life easier when I'm out and about for the day, I'd expect it to last from a full overnight charge all the way through my working day. I understand that the signal levels and usage levels will affect the time the charge lasts for, but for me, a 9-5 battery life is the minimum I'd expect.

Are you a mobile blogger? Can you live without your wireless broadband?

Sunday 20 March 2011

The Sunday Review – Closer to Nature Hygiene Range

We have been trying out the new range of hygeine products from Closer to Nature by Tommee Tippee. To me, the fact that Tommee Tippee are branching out into such things as sterilisation fluid, hand sanitiser and surface spray shows that they are really serious about becoming the UK's biggest all-round baby brand that covers all bases!

As you know, Lara has been teething a lot lately so we have been using a Gumigem teething necklace for her. Having packed away our steam and microwave sterilisers months and months ago, I hadn't yet really sterilised the teether, just given it a quick blast under the tap if it got dropped on the floor. I'm now able to use the Closer to Nature Soother, Teether & Teat wipes to clean the teether when it gets grubby. They are 100% biodegradable (we like this) and kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs (we like this too), there is no need to rinse things after you've cleaned them with these wipes which means that they're great to have on hand when out and about (I like to use them to clean the tops of Lara's beakers when they've been in the murky depths of the changing bag).

My favourite product from the new Close to Nature hygiene range is the hand gel. Before I became a mum, I used to keep a bottle of hand sanitising gel in my bag at all times (I started on my honeymoon in Africa where taps and soap weren't always on hand when travelling). When I was in hospital after the birth I was put off alcohol-based hand gels because the paediatrician on the ward pointed out that if I washed my hands with alcohol, then put my fingers in or around my baby's mouth, I might as well be offering them a vodka and coke! The Closer to Nature hand gel is alcohol free and is safe for use around babies and children. I found it to be effective and quick-drying. It smells good too and doesn't knock me out from fumes when I use it!

Other products in the range include a surface cleaning spray, great for using in and around the house... and a cold-water sterilising fluid which would have been a life-saver on holiday with Lara when she was a baby (we used to take our steam steriliser with us wherever we went!). All of their bacteria-beating products are made with a product called Byotrol which doesn't kill bacteria by poisoning them with chemicals, but instead is a lot milder, less toxic to animals and humans and is generally a safer, more gentle biocide than bleaches and disinfectants.

You can buy the new range of Closer to Nature hygeine products from Asda, Toys R Us and Tesco or find out more online at

The Sunday Review – Aldi Mamia Disposable Nappies and Wipes

You'll know by now that we had some issues with the reusable nappies. They're not gone, just used a lot less, which means that we've really entered into the world of disposable nappies. Unlike most mums who use disposable nappies, I'm not brand loyal (seeing as I didn't use them from birth) and I'm more than willing to try out different brands.

Aldi asked me to try out their own brand of disposable nappies and wipes – Mamia Ultra Dry – on little Lara. When they arrived, I was sceptical because the nappies didn't have the same sort of feeling as the Pampers or Huggies I was used too – they felt a bit more papery on the inside, and a little waxy on the outside.

When using the nappies, I was really pleasantly surprised. I found them just as absorbent, and just as well-fitting as the Pampers Simply Dry nappy we often use – perhaps a little less flexible and less able to cope with the manic movement of a toddler than a more expensive styles in the Pampers/Huggies range. I found the designs on the nappy to be good fun – tiny little elephants and giraffes all over (and guess what, when I went to the Pampers factory last summer, I guffawed when they suggested that little things like this matter to mums... how wrong I was!)

I was so happy with the value for money of the Aldi Mamia Ultra Dry nappy (£4.99 for 42 size 5 nappies) that I decided to start investigating some of the other own-brand nappies available. I've tried a couple now and hated them both because they give Lara awful nappy rash – Aldi seem to have managed something with their own-brand nappy that the other supermarkets haven't.

The Mamia wipes were also pretty good. I didn't like the fragrance of the standard wipes (it reminded me of the disinfectant smell of public lavatories) but the sensitive wipes are unfragranced and therefore much more pleasant. The wipes have a good moisture level but I always find that baby wipes with a clip-top seal stay moist for longer than wipes like these that have a simple peel-back seal (plus they don't get covered in the goo at the bottom of the changing bag). Obviously I'd prefer it if they were paraben-free and biodegradable, but we can't have everything we want for 85p!

Friday 18 March 2011

Berkshire Baby & Toddler Show 2011

The Berkshire Baby and Toddler Show is coming in Sunday April 10th - don't miss it! Organised by the lovely NCT ladies of both my old stomping ground in Bracknell, and my new stomping ground in Wokingham, the Berkshire Baby & Toddler show promises to offer a wide range of exhibitors of baby and toddler products and services and an extensive set of workshops (from £10) to learn much-needed tips for weaning, breasfeeding, paediatric first aid and lots, lots more.

The president of the NCT, Sue Saxey will be attending the show and there will be a Kidzone offering a number of different activities for little people.

You can find out more about the exciting things coming by following the build-up to the show on their facebook page or visiting their website. If you want to attend one of the workshops, check out the schedule on their site and sign up in advance to make sure you don't miss out.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Don't Drink the Bath Water

Lara is trouble. A real little minx. She has developed a naughty streak. The kinds of naughty streak that involves running around the house stark naked after a bath, throwing things, hiding behind the television, tearing stuff up into tiny eenie weenie little pieces... and drinking the bath water.

I feel like I'm playing on repeat. “Don't drink the bath water”. “Lara, no, DON'T drink the bath water”. “No, really Lara”. “Lara”. “Stop drinking the frigging bath water”.

Bathtimes have become really good fun in the mellow household. It is the time of day when I let Lara wear herself out ready for bed but sometimes I find it hard work. We've had to confiscate the Bob-the-Builder car wash bath toy because she kept yanking it off the wall. We've had to replace the normal sponge which was torn into a million different pieces with one of the Boots Ramer sponges (much less destructible!) and we've turned bathtime into a two-person job!

I know that at 21 months this is just the start of things to come. I've got to psyche myself up for this and prepare myself to take on the terrible twos the mellow mummy way.

Monday 14 March 2011

10 Tips to Beauty on a Budget

Hi I am Becky and I blog at Baby Budgeting. I have guest post swapped with Emma so you’ll find her over at Baby Budgeting, my blog for thrifty creative family living with under 5’s. As you know Emma is well up on her health and beauty so I thought I would bring you some health and beauty on a budget.

As your baby get s older you start to think again about that all-important but easily forgotten person – you. If you’re like many women who treat themselves by shopping, you’ll have to get creative, because for mums on a budget retail therapy is not always possible.

Instead why not try one or more of my top 5 tips to make the most of your looks without breaking the bank.

RECIPROCAL MANICURES – A manicure can easily cost £20 or more, so save yourself some money but still treat your nails to a bit of tlc. Have a friend do your nails, then when your nail varnish is dry, you can do hers in return. You will both feel a million dollars but won’t have spent a single penny. Men, too, have been known to do a great paint job on nails, so ask your partner or husband if he has some free time. To survive looking after a baby, you’re best off with clear polish and short tidy nails. But your toes can be transformed in a trice (and they don’t get scuffed through nappy changes) and you’ll feel über glamorous in no time.

A SKILL SWAP – Do you have a friend who cuts or colours hair? Perhaps if you’re lucky enough to have such a friend, she can do your hair and you can babysit for her in return, or even do her ironing?

GO MOBILE – If hairdresser friends are few and far between, then you can save money by switching from a salon to a mobile hairdresser. Of course, you could always dye your own hair. I have a friend who went back to her natural hair colour after having her baby so she could more easily dye it herself: her locks looked luscious and she saved an absolute fortune. Mobile hairdressers can fit in well with your children, particularly if you are a full-time mum. I always have my hair ‘done’ as my birthday, Christmas and Mother’s day gifts from my husband. It is pricey but it makes me feel fabulous.

GET INTO SHAPE – When you’re feeling tired, it’s so easy to reach for the biscuit tin, jump in the car instead of walking and flop down on the sofa whenever you get a moment. Try to resist the urge to lounge about, if you feel overweight and unfit this will just make you feel worse. What’s stopping you? Running up the stairs, skipping in the garden, riding a bike and walking to the shops and park are all free – plus, you’ll look and feel better for some endorphin-releasing activity.

DITCH THE JUNK FOOD – Eat simple, healthy meals and shun the sugar-filled nibbles – not only are they sending your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride, they’re expensive too.

NATURE’S PLAYGROUND – Get lots of fresh air: it does wonders for your skin and makes you feel energised; what’s more, if you take baby along too, the daylight exposure can help them sleep well at night. (It’s easy to remember your baby’s SPF and easy to forget yours, choose an SPF of 15 or more.)

SORT THOSE HAIRS OUT – Someone’s got to say it! Your bikini line may well have been abandoned during pregnancy but now you can see it again you really should do something about it. While you’re there, tidy up your eyebrows and sort out any hairy armpits or legs. These looks may be low maintenance but, if you took care of these areas before and don’t now, you could end up feeling untidy and possibly unsexy. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with embracing the hairy look if
it’s one you love.

GET SOME EXCELLENT BASICS – You won’t be able to spend money on clothes like you used to, and now practicality is key. But, whatever you wear, you can still be clean and stylish. Jeans and a plain white long sleeved t-shirt always look good, with comfy but hardwearing shoes (I live in my Converse – they’re worth every penny and wash well too).Once you’ve found the jeans for you, you can wear them
endlessly – dressed down or up. Accessories update your look – a new bag or hairband in this season’s colours can make you look bang on trend for little cost.

A GOOD SKIN CARE ROUTINE – It’s all too easy to neglect your
own skin care when you are a busy mum with someone else’s face to wash, teeth to clean, etc. So, at the least, aim to cleanse and moisturise your skin once a day. Having a good skin care routine combined with fresh air, eating well and drinking water are all key components to looking good. (If you want a little extra help a tube of lip gloss can go a long way, takes mere seconds to apply and
can cost very little. I always keep one in my bag!)

THE MAGICAL POT OF VASELINE – If you are going to buy one beauty item, make sure it’s Vaseline. You can style your eyebrows with it, put it on your cheekbones, use it as a hand and foot cream and, of course, as lip gloss. Vaseline is cheap, cheerful and the small pots fit in your handbag(and can even double as nappy cream). Give your cheeks a pinch for some colour and use an old toothbrush to brush those eyebrows. Tell yourself loud and proud: you are gorgeous!

Ultimately, I know none of the above matters; being happy and healthy is most important in life. But it is true that looking good can make you feel good, and when it’s affordable, why not?

Becky xx

Sunday 13 March 2011

The Sunday Review - Clarks Pram Shoes

Image courtesy of Clarks

One of my team of mummy & daddy reviewers became a Dad for the second time a few weeks ago. His gorgeous little boy seemed like the ideal person to review the new Pram Shoes from Clarks

Clarks are well known for their First Shoes range for crawlers, cruisers and little walkers but until now, if you had turned up in a Clarks store with tiny weenie feet you'd have been turned away because real, rigid shoes are not good things for small, growing feet. Clarks have just launched a new range of soft, flexible Pram Shoes to buy online that ARE designed for tiny feet – to keep them warm and protected when your baby is out and about in the pushchair.

Both myself, and my Daddy reviewer, Ignacio liked the shoes. They're very soft and squidgy so there is no guilt associated with putting tiny feet into cramped shoes. Unlike any other leather pre-shoe I've seen, the Clarks pram shoes are held onto the feet using a very small elasticated draw-string toggle instead of the more common fixed elastic around the ankle. This is a great feature because it means that the shoes can be tailored to your own child's feet – you can tighten the draw string a little for really tiny feet, or loosen it as they grow bigger.

The Clarks pram shoes come in a range of colours and all feature a small, subtle emboridered design on the front. You can buy them in sizes for 0-3 months, 3-6 months or 6-9 months. Ignacio found the 0-3 month shoes to be a bit big for his newborn baby, even at their tightest fitting but that means that there is plenty of room for tiny toes to wiggle and that there will be several months use out of them yet.

The pram shoes come in a smart presentation box that allows you to see in to the contents inside. They would make a gorgeous gift for a newborn.

Clarks still believe that barefoot is best, but when you're out and about, you may just want the little extra protection and comfort that a pair of leather shoes offers.

The Sunday Review – Estée Lauder Pure Color Lipsticks and Pure Color Nail Varnish

This month Estée Lauder have launched a new selection of Pure Color lipsticks and Pure Color nail lacquers and I was lucky enough to get a sneaky peak. Just before Christmas I tried my first ever Estée nail varnish and I can honestly say that it is the best nail varnish I have ever owned (even beating my favourite colour of Bio Sculpture varnish), I couldn't wait to find out whether it was a one-off or whether the new Pure Color nail varnishes for 2011 were just as impressive as the one I had previously tried.

The spectrum of colours in the new range will suit every taste. Wanting to put them to the test, I chose one of their new colours – a very girly pink called Pink Thrill. In total contrast, I also chose a very vibrant green called Wicked Green from their limited edition collection which features some slightly out of the ordinary nail colours such as blues, deep purples and greys. I love them both (although I admit that I'll be wearing them on very different occasions).

At £14 for a bottle, they are a little more expensive than I would normally pay for a nail varnish but I think they are worth every penny. I tell you this, I cannot make a mistake when applying these varnishes – the brush is so easy to use that the colour glides on effortlessly. I don't get any streakiness that needs to be touched up and I don't feel that there are thick or thin patches on my nails. The varnish features special technology which is designed to stretch across the nail and ensure a smooth finish and it does just that. By the time I've finished painting the other hand, I look back and my first set of nails have magically blended and look flawless! It really does take the stress out of doing my nails at home (something I've had to do since giving up my monthly manicure and pedicure as part of my drive to save money) and it certainly saves me time in touch-ups.

The range of colours available for the new Pure Color lipsticks is mind-boggling! There are 45 colours to choose from in either a satin crème (a soft but shiny finish) or lustrous shimmer (a bright, multi-faceted effect). My lips always feel healthy and well moisturised after using my Estée Pure Color lipsticks but if I'm honest, I'm a little disappointed with the staying power of the colour (especially given that they are described as long-lasting) and I have to top them up about twice during my working day.

One of the things I've enjoyed about the Pure Color lipsticks (other than the feel of the iconic gold packaging in my coat pocket!) is that I can add as many or as few layers as I like to make the colour stand out even more. In the morning when I go to work I tend to opt for one thin layer of colour but if I'm feeling good about myself or if I'm going out after work, I add on another couple of layers and the colour builds really well to become a lot more vibrant without making me look like a clown! The Pure Color lipsticks retail at around £18.

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