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

Sunday 31 July 2011

Mini Micro Scooters Review

mini micro scooter

Are Mini Micro Scooters suitable for a 2 year old? I had asked myself the same question. About two weeks before Lara's second birthday I saw her using her cousin's scooter and she knew exactly what to do; it brought a great big smile to her face. Mini Micro Scooters are the smallest of the Micro Scooter range and are officially suitable for ages 3-5 but the lovely people at Micro Scooters said that many people give them to 2-year-olds who are confident and tall (Lara is both of these things) so we were really excited when Micro Scooters sent Lara one to try out.

One of Lara's other birthday presents was a safety helmet and arm/knee pads. Together with the limited edition Neon yellow Mini Micro Scooter, Lara really looks the part. One of my worries about giving Lara a scooter at such a young age was that she would have lots of accidents and dent her confidence but actually, the Micro Scooter is so intuitive to use and so light weight that Lara hasn't really had any accidents at all (this may just be because I am hanging over her at all times!)

The Mini Micro Scooter was really easy to put together. It came in two parts which were simple to fix in place. I was thankful that we didn't have to faff about with fitting the wheels or handle bars. Phew.

decorating a mini micro scooter

The Neon Mini Micro Scooter we have is one of a limited edition for this summer only that are inspired by the bright colours of highlighters – we love it because it isn't too girly and because many of the other scooter options for toddlers are branded so they date quickly. The Micro Scooters don't need branding because they are so iconic themselves.

The Mini Micro Scooter has a flexible base which is wider at the front than the back. There are two wheels at the front and one at the back. The wheels are solid, a bit like rollerblade wheels so this means you don't have to worry about punctures. The most innovative thing about the Mini Micro Scooter is that your child can steer by leaning their weight to the left or right, rather than having to twist the handle bars. I think this take a bit of getting used to but Lara seemed to pick it up straight away.

Lara has decorated her scooter with ribbons and a little 'Scoobit' to make it all hers! There are a number of scooter decorations, including bags, which can be bought direct from Micro Scooters.

The Mini Micro Scooter does seem to be suitable for Lara (although Lara is tall for her age and shorter children would definitely struggle with the height of the handle bars). Lara, as a two-year-old, does have the dexterity to use it but I have noticed that she seems reluctant to play on the scooter without me very close by, whereas with the bulkier, chunkier scooter at her cousin's house she is always happy to play alone. I get the impression from her body language that she feels some security in the heaviness and restricted movement of a bulkier scooter. Noticably, when she gets going on the Mini Micro Scooter she does enjoy it more and she squeals with excitement as we go around the pavements outside out house so I think its just a matter of time before she gets the confidence to use the Micro Scooter.

mini micro scooter for a 2 year old

The limited edition mini Micro Scooter costs £59.95 and is available exclusively this summer on .

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Tantrum Time - Tips for Coping With Trantrums

I simply can't believe that nobody out there wanted to share their experiences of coping with tantrums.

I received one lovely entry for this month's carnival from Ellen at In a bun dance. In this post Ellen explains the troubled relationship between her two year old toddler and her 11 year old with Aspergers. Do give it a read, it's a fascinating post about a stage in a toddler's life that is very relevant to me right now.

My own little Lara has recently turned two and her behaviour is, at times, wearing me down. I wrote this piece last month after a particularly eventful trip to Sainsburys.

Next month's blog carnival will be all about Miscarriage (which you may know, happened to me last month). I hope to have a few more entries than this month... please???

The carnival will take place on august 24th so I will need your entries by the 21st please. It can be on any aspect of miscarriage or still birth, I just want to try and encourage others to talk about it and to share their experiences because reading other people's accounts really helped me deal with it. If you have a story you want to tell but would rather not host it on your blog, or would rather remain annonymous then I would be happy to feature your post here on Mellow Mummy.

Email your entries to or else leave me a link in the comments below.

See you next month.


Tuesday 26 July 2011

New Stage One Organic Baby Food Pouches

Over the past few weeks, my panel of reviewers have been trying and testing a number of brand new organic baby food pouches. Below you will find a review of four different brands of organic baby food pouches for stage one and two of weaning - great for taking out and about or for when you simply haven't the time or inclination to make your own purees.

Baby Zilli

You have to be a pretty brave chef to put your name to a range of pre-prepared baby foods. Aldo Zilli and his celebrity lawyer friend Dean Dunham have 7 children between them so you'd hope they knew a bit about weaning babies! The Baby Zilli range starts from stage one (4-12 months) and features recipes all the way up to stage 4 (toddlers).

We like...
...the combination of flavours sound like things mum and dad would happily sit down and eat. The stage one flavours are Aldo's Fruity Punch (pear, apple and banana) and Tasty Veggie Blend (sweet potato, butternut squash and broccoli).
...the pureed foods actually look and smell quite appealing!

We'd prefer it if...
... the pictures on the packet were of the food rather than the chef. Without larger images of the food it is hard to distinguish from the packaging which flavour is which (or which stage is which).

Plum Baby
The new range of stage one breakfast pouches from Plum Baby are a little different to many others because they offer a mix of both fruit AND cereal while remaining gluten-free which is important for a first weaning puree so as to avoid the risk of allergy. The two new flavours are Banana, Apricot & Oaty Porridge and Prune, Peach & Baby Rice.

We like...
...the mix of cereal and fruit means that you can have an interesting breakfast combination even when away from home.
...carbs for breakfast seems to make baby fuller for longer.
...the cereal (unlike some other baby foods, not mentioned in this post) are naturally sweetened with the fruit alone.

We'd prefer it if...
...there were more flavours on offer.
...the baby rice puree was a little thicker (we love the thickness of Plum's boxes of baby cereals).

Ella's Kitchen
Ella's Kitchen are just launching a new range of stage one baby food pouches that contain nothing but one single fruit to help when you very first start weaning. The first tastes pouches from Ella's Kitchen come in banana, pears, mangoes and apples flavours.

We like...
...the single flavour makes it easy to introduce one new flavour at a time to your weaning baby and can be combined with baby cereals or yoghurts.
...the pouches are really nice and small so are good for taking out and about and mean that there is less waste (tiny tummies don't need much!)

We'd prefer it if...
...there were some savoury single flavours too. When we weaned, we made our own purees for eating at home and lots of the favourites were veggies rather than fruits.

Organix have launched a range of new stage one savoury pouches.

We like...
...the new recipes such as Sweetcorn, Chicken & Broccoli and Pumpkin, Cheddar & Lentils all sound really tasty and introduce some grown-up tastes.
...the colour of the purees looks brighter and more appealing than many others.
...the packaging is really bright and it is clear what product and ingredients you are getting.

We'd prefer it if...
...the pouches were a bit smaller as we couldn't use them up in one go and it seemed disappointing to offer the same flavours twice in one day.

Monday 25 July 2011

Guest Post. Preparing for a Baby on a Budget

Today's guest post for the Britmums guest post match up is by Laura at The Breastest News. You can follow Laura on twitter or on facebook.

So you've found out you're pregnant or are already far into your pregnancy, well whatever stage you're at now is the time to prepare for that all important maternity leave when the purse strings will be tightened and you'll need to budget your heart out! There's no point staying in denial or thinking any actions you take might jinx your chance of a healthy baby. The sooner you prepare for your new bundles arrival the better.

First things first, open a savings account. An ISA would probably be best as this will have the best interest and you can still take money out if you need to. The only thing is you get to put away £5,340 (which is a good sum) but when you take money out you can't put it back in. For example putting £300 in then taking it out again means you'll only be able to save up to £5,040 as you've already used up that £300. Don't worry if you can't save a lot if you look after the pennies then the pounds will look after themselves!

Keeping on the financial theme it's best to start keeping a track of your incomings and outgoings via a handy homemade spreadsheet, it's the easiest and quickest way to do things. Be sure to jot down all your direct debits, standing orders etc as you want to capture a true picture of your spending habits. Everything from car insurance, mobile phone contracts, mortgage payments, car fuel costs to electricity and gas bills. Anything you pay for needs to be noted. By doing your budgeting this way you can see exactly what money you have left over after your bills to save and start buying important purchases for your baby - as well as maternity clothes for yourself.

To help make sure you keep a tight rein on the finances just that little bit more, sign up to online banking so you can check your account daily/ weekly for payments that have been made. This way you can query any payments that don't look familiar and also note down on your spreadsheet when bills have been paid incase anything should go wrong with the bank in future.

One thing which I find really useful to help budget with food shopping is to set yourself a limit each month and put that money into a different bank account to help you stop overspending on food. It's good to give yourself little challenges and seeing the money you'll be saving will help spur you on and keeps the savings going.

As well as starting your own savings it may be a good idea to look into what benefits the Government can offer you. People within a certain wage bracket are still eligible for Child Benefits which is around £80 a month for your first child and a lower payment for subsequent children, and also Child Tax Credits which vary depending on your wages and other household income. It's always better to look into these things though as every little helps and don't let the hideous looking forms put you off. If you need help, get down to your local Citizens Advice Bureau. It's free and they're always willing to help.

Next on your budgeting list should be preparing for your babies arrival. Do this by bulk buying any essential baby items such as nappies and baby wipes. There are always offers on at supermarkets and they're pretty good deals. Make sure not to get too many newborn nappies though as your baby will grow out of these extremely quickly, we learnt the hard way!

If you have any friends or family with children then borrow your heart out. This is the best way to help when you're on a really tight budget. Borrow a cot (but make sure to get a new mattress), clothes, toys etc if you can and then when it's time to give it all back you'll be glad of the free space and you don't have the hassle of storing stuff or trying to sell it on either.

Stick to the basic stuff for when your baby is born. Plain baby grows, sleepsuits, mitts, socks, hats etc from suparmarkets are cheap and cheerful and will save you a lot of money as your baby will hardly be in them at all. If your baby is anything like my son (he was a big baby) he was literally in his newborn clothes for all of 3 weeks if not less! When you're child gets a little bigger then is the time to invest in some nice cosy clothes especially through winter. Plus kids aren't fussed about what they wear, they don't know any better.

It's now time to investigate your local thrift and charity stores where bargains are a-plenty. Some clothes and toys in these shops are brand new and sell for pennies making your life a whole lot easier. My mother-in-law has bought some amazing toys for my son from charity shops and they're practically brand new, and guess what? He doesn't even know the difference!

Now I'd be letting my side of the team down if I didn't mention Breastfeeding! Yupp, it's all that your baby needs in the first 6 months of life and even better it's FREE! So give it a bash if you can. It'll save you a massive ton of money and you'll be singing it's praises afterwards.

So there you have it, some handy tips and tricks to help you budget before and after your baby arrives. I really do hope they help the people who need it most. I didn't start budgeting until I was almost 6 months pregnant and I still managed to take 14 months maternity leave so I must have done something right? Please let me know your thoughts on baby budgeting, all tips and tricks are welcome. The more the merrier!

Sunday 24 July 2011

Trunki Travel Toybox Review

trunki travel toybox

What's that you say? A toybox, by Trunki? The children's travel specialists? Tell me more!... Lara is now the proud owner of a vibrant blue Trunki Travel Toybox to accompany her bright pink Trunki suitcase and, as you can see, she's loving it!

The Trunki Travel Toybox is the kind of product you didn't really know you needed until you tried it and then realised you couldn't live without it. Why would I need a travel toybox? But then, when I thought back to the contents of my own suitcase (and Lara's Trunki suitcase) earlier this year, I realised that it was 25% Lara's belongings... books, crayons, jigsaws, cuddly toys. All of these things I pack into my bag every time we go and stay away for the night (and every time we go and visit Lara's grandparents). Lara now has her own handy toybox that I can put everything in to and then tidily place in the boot of the car when we go on our travels.

trunki travel toybox

The Trunki toybox is not quite square but square enough that it takes up a sensible space wherever you store it. Our Trunki toybox lives in the main living room most of the time and Lara is free to take her toys in and out of it whenever she chooses. Lara regularly packs all of her toys away in it and then puts the lid on.... waits 5 minutes and then takes the lid off, and unpacks the box. Toddlers!!!

trunki travel toybox

The thing Lara loves most about the Trunki is that she can sit on it and I won't tell her off! It is designed for sitting on. Turn the box over and the wheels on the lid mean that your toddler can scootle around until their heart's content. Lara likes to scootle in the living room and the garden but scootling on the grass is not that effective. I'm pretty certain that Lara would LOVE it if I bought her a matching toybox – there is a nifty loop whereby you can string more than one Trunki toybox together and then scootle around like a little train.

trunki travel toybox

I like the concept of the Trunki travel toybox but I think there are one or two practicalities that have been overlooked, which is surprising from Trunki who normally have all these things covered. I'd like to see the attachment mechanism for multiple boxes to be built in – perhaps they could clip together. I also think the lid is too fiddly for little toddler hands. I always have to help Lara close the box and I don't think I would trust the lid to stay closed if I were travelling in public with it. I think it looks great, it is incredibly useful but... it is just a box on wheels at the end of the day. A gorgeously shaped, brightly coloured, tactile box on wheels that my toddler LOVES!

Bio Oil Review

If I had been a blogger when I was pregnant with Lara, I would have written you a Bio Oil review – I loved it and, given that I managed to come out of the other side of pregnancy with no stretch marks then I can safely say that it did it's job well with regards to retaining the look of my skin.

But today, I'm not doing a review of Bio Oil in terms of stretch marks, I'm reviewing it for it's ability to improve skin tone and relieve dehydrated skin. If you've followed Mellow mummy for some time you will probably know by now that Lara suffers from dry skin and ezcema on her arms, and that since becoming a mum, I have also suffered from dry skin, particularly on my arms. I thought that we would give Bio Oil a chance to prove itself by improving the dry skin on our arms.

The first problem I encountered on our experiment is that Lara has inherited a trait from her father – a dislike of feeling greasy! Lara let me put the Bio Oil on her once (we regularly apply moisturiser to her so she is used to this). She really didn't like the oily feeling of it on her arms. She has had massage oil applied regularly in the past but usually you rub oil in until it is pretty much absorbed into the skin. With Bio Oil, you give it a gentle rub and then let it sit on the skin to absorb. The next time I tried to apply the oil to her, she outright refused to let me touch her! I gave up that experiment.

But for me, I love the feeling and I really like the smell of Bio Oil (maybe it reminds me of being pregnant?). I've been applying the oil to one of my upper arms so that I can compare the results. I can't really say that I've noticed a difference to the blotchiness of my skin but I think that perhaps Bio Oil is better at improving skin tone where the skin has suffered from discolouration rather than than irritation. When it comes to rehydrating the skin, I am more impressed.

The arm on which I have been trying out Bio Oil is certainly smoother and less dry at present. Bio Oil helps the skin by supporting the skin's own natural oils and by giving the skin a chance to restore it's own barrier-effect against drying chemicals. After application, once the oil has dried, my skin does feel a lot healthier and more supple.

That said, I still don't feel like the Bio Oil has been as effective against the dry skin on my arms as it was against stretch marks. I'd definitely use it again during pregnancy but I'm not sure I'll continue my dry-skin experiment.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Which Nappy Cream is Best for Nappy Rash?

At Christmas, when Lara moved out of reusable nappies into disposable nappies we started to experience something we had never before – nappy rash. Sine then, I've tried a number of products to tackle the problem of nappy rash. I started by trying a number of organic and natural moisturisers which had worked well on Lara's ezcema and claimed also to be good for nappy rash. I found most of them ineffective. I've now tried all the big brands and several supermarket own brands and these are the three products that I've really found to work for us.


  1. Sudocrem

    Arguably the best known name when it comes to relief of nappy rash, Sudocrem is a thick ointment that comes in a tub. I've heard rumour of a Sudocrem tube but I personally haven't seen one yet.

    We Like:
    • The firm cream applies smoothly and provides a thick, effective barrier against moisture and really does seem to sooth Lara's nappy rash.

    • The smell reminds me of childhood.

    • Sudocrem is also great for sunburnt skin, rashes or grazes. Mummy & Daddy use it occasionally too.

    • It lasts well.

    We'd Prefer It If...
    • It didn't get stuck under your fingernails when you scoop it out of the tub.

    • The lid didn't fall off in the changing bag and get the cream covered in the crispy bits of gack at the bottom of your bag.

  2. johnsons baby nappy cream

  3. Johnsons Baby Nappy Cream

    You may be surprised to learn that Johnson's Baby only recently launched a nappy cream. It comes in a tube and is instantly recognisable as a Johnsons's product.

    We Like:
    • The handy tube that you can take anywhere.

    • The gentle, baby-fresh scent.

    • The cream is really very effective. Not only does it provide a nice thick barrier but it seems to instantly reduce the redness of nappy rash.

    We'd Prefer It If...
    • The lotion wasn't so sticky. It doesn't go on as smoothly as I'd wish because it sticks to your finger tips like napalm.

  4. boots nappy rash spray

  5. Boots Nappy Rash Spray

    OK, so it's not a nappy cream but who said you have to combat nappy rash with a cream? I was sceptical at first but trust me, the Boots nappy rash spray is effective. It is a very far cry from the organic and natural nappy creams I first tried! Gulp.

    We Like:
    • The fact that nappy rash is totally banished when we use it. It reduces redness from the first use.

    • Lara (who is now a very wiggly toddler) can't reach down and grab a handful of cream as the spray is so fine that there is nothing to grab.

    We'd Prefer It If...
    • You didn't have to remember to shake the bottle every time you use it. If you don't shake it well, the spray is really weak and splutters everywhere but if you shake it well it produces a really fine spray that goes on evenly.

    • It had a nappy-freshening scent.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Six Weeks Pregnant And Bleeding. Miscarriage?

I never expected to be blogging about miscarriage. I had hoped to have wonderful news to share with you this month. In fact, I had already started planning pregnancy-related blog posts and reviews. But, last month, having known for no more than 4 days that I was pregnant, I found myself googling the phrase “6 weeks pregnant and bleeding” looking for some tiny glimmer of hope. In my head, I was hoping that the bleeding was normal. In my heart, I knew it was a miscarriage.

I had suspected that I was pregnant for about a fortnight. The nausea was overwhelming, far more so than last time. Other than that, I felt amazing. One sweltering afternoon at work I realised that where everyone else around me was stressing, sweating and swearing, I was smiling, bouncing and beaming. It could only mean one thing. I let things sink in over the weekend and took the pregnancy test before work on a Monday morning. Positive. Result!!!

Now I just had to sit back and wait for a few weeks before all the clinical stuff kicked in. Midwives appointments, scans, blah blah blah.

On the Thursday morning I went to swimming with Lara. Afterwards we got on a train to London. During the afternoon I felt really light-headed but I figured that was the way pregnancy went. I noticed ever such a slight tinge of blood when I went to the toilet but thought nothing of it – I know plenty of mums who experienced bleeding all the way through pregnancy. By the evening, the blood was more noticeable. My very first instinct was to ask the internet for help! The search for “6 weeks pregnant and bleeding” produced a number of results on forums from worried mums like me and a mix of experiences.

At 5 or 6 weeks it is very common to experience a small amount of bleeding as the egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. That was good enough news for me, so I went to bed feeling less stressed and convinced that I wasn't experiencing a miscarriage. As I drifted off to sleep, I experienced some slight cramps. It felt just like the night before a period. I felt sick to the stomach with worry but managed to convince myself that everything would be fine when I woke up in the morning.

By 7am on Friday, the blood flow was heavy like a period but I still held out hope. I read blog posts and forum entries from women who had been though it all and had still come though pregnancy with healthy babies. This wasn't a miscarriage. Was it?

At about midday (when I would usually be sitting down to a pint and a burger at the pub) the blood flow became very strong and I felt weak and emotional. My weekly pub lunch was ruined. I burst into tears in front of my colleagues (try explaining that to a group of blokes). I knew now that this was the end of it. The nausea and weakness became so bad I had to leave work. I slept for about 4 hours that afternoon and woke up feeling a lot more positive. If a miscarriage is what life had dealt me then I had to cope with it. I had to stay strong for Lara (I had a 2nd birthday cake to bake that night).

The blood lasted for less than 24 hours after that. It was like the heaviest period I'd ever experienced. By the end of Saturday, I felt like my normal hormone levels had returned. No more mellow high. No more nausea. The pregnancy was over before I had really got my head around it. Of course, we'd talked about plans. About work. About cars. About whether or not to tell our parents. But we hadn't had time to put any plans in place.

On the following Monday morning, I took a pregnancy test again, just as I had done 7 days before hand. Negative. Arse.

It has taken me a while to write this blog post. Even though I'm not grieving for a foetus (it was only 6 weeks after all); even though I haven't written off the chance of future babies; even though I'm still feeling really mellow about the whole debacle... I'm finding it hard to put into words. I went through all of the thought processes you'd expect; What did I do wrong? Is there something wrong with me? Can I no longer have a baby? would I have kept the baby if I hadn't drunk so much wine last week?

My own GP congratulated me for my mellowness and level-headedness. I could have rushed to my local early pregnancy centre (where I'd have had scans and invasive examinations) but by letting it all happen naturally I avoided the stress and the potential of an Anti-D injection. My own body reset itself naturally. And in answer to the questions I asked myself... the GP said “you didn't do anything wrong”, “no, probably not but we won't bother investigating unless it happens 3 times in a row”, “almost certainly not; in fact early miscarriage is normally a good indicator fertility” and “who knows”!

Miscarriage, I've discovered, is FAR more common than people think. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. In the days before high-sensitivity pregnancy tests, people may have just thought that they had a late period.

And so, I'm back to square one. Just with slightly less enthusiasm for the whole baby thing.

Monday 18 July 2011

Meet the People Behind Kiddy Car Seats

Meet Bettina Wuerstl, joint owner and International Sales & Marketing Manager of Kiddy, a German company making waves in the world of children's travel products. Tucked away in the picturesque town of Hof in Bavaria, Bettina, her husband Jan-Stefan, and a small team of passionate staff are hard at work trying to take on the might of Maxi-Cosi and Bugaboo.

Kiddy is a family-run business which has grown with the Weurstl family for over 30 years. Kiddy launched in the UK and 2009 and has gone from strength to strength. In it's current guise, Kiddy has evolved into a major player in the European children's car seat and pushchair market and yet, within their home town of Hof, Kiddy remains a central part of the community with the local mums and dads visiting their nursery shop within the Kiddy headquarters for all of their nursery needs, Kiddy are the German distributor of many of the mother and baby brands I know and love. The store is colourful and welcoming and huge – you could easily mistake it for one of the enormous out-of-town nursery retailers anywhere in the UK.

Bettina and Jan-Stefan have found their niche. It has taken some years for the business to evolve into what it is now and, since Jan-Stefan inherited the company from his father, the relationship between the husband and wife team has also evolved. Bettina, is the enthusiastic and passionately outgoing face of Kiddy who is immediately lovable. Jan-Stefan is the more reserved and calculating engineer behind the brand – a clash of characters which, although difficult to manage in the past, has proven to be a recipe for business success . As Kiddy has grown (and they themselves have started a family), they have added to their team with an eclectic group of cheerful and passionate staff, all experts in their field.

Kiddy car seats, as you will know if you have read my review of the Kiddy Energy Pro, don't look like most others on their market. For many years, Kiddy have pioneered the use of their innovative 'impact shield' which they continue to develop and improve on a mission to find their car-seat-safety nirvana. Jan-Stefan, as head of Research and Development, is the one on that mission.

Jan-Stefan Wuerstl is passionate about safety and technological innovation in a way that re-enforces his stereotypically German approach to life (his presentation to us lasted exactly 1 hour. Not a minute more. Not a minute less). Jan-Stefan quite strongly feels that the European laws on child car seat safety are not stringent enough and simply can't comprehend why parents would risk their children's lives with incorrectly fitted car seats or those of a sub-standard quality.

Everyone I met at Kiddy was incredibly passionate and cheerful which is not surprising in such a beautiful part of the country. I am convinced that the relaxed atmosphere and focus on sourcing the very best people in the industry contributes to the creativity and success of Kiddy's products . This success can be seen in a number of recent awards, most notably, the Kiddy guardian pro which was awarded the highest accolade in the Stiftung Warentest (the European equivalent of the Which? tests) and is the only Group 1,2,3 seat to have been given a Which? Best buy award twice in succession.

Kiddy's latest products demonstrate their passion for child safety. The Guardian Pro 2 is a group 1,2,3 car seat with improved side-impact technology which grows with your child through an astonishingly easy-to-use expansion mechanism. The Cruiserfix Pro is Kiddy's new group 2/3 car seat, which I think is one of the best-looking on the market. The Cruiserfix Pro can be used with or without ISOFIX harnesses and uses all of Kiddy's wealth of car safety knowledge. In addition to the car seats, Kiddy have launched a baby carrier and have a wealth of new products launching in the UK over the coming year.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Mama Tea Review – Caffeine Free Infusions

mama tea caffeine free herbal infusions

As someone who recently made the decision to reduce their caffeine intake, a vibrant collection of caffeine-free teas designed especially for mums was an ideal product to be asked to review. Mama Teas are a set of caffeine-free infusions that are great for anyone trying to reduce their caffeine intake, including pregnant and nursing mums.

At my caffeine-fuelled peak, I was drinking 3 cups of strong italian coffee and 3 cans of diet coke just to get me through the working day. I would round the day off with another fizzy drink during the evening and a cup of tea before bed. Not a great recipe for mellowness.

I've recently replaced one of my hot drinks during the day, and my hot drink in the evening with one of the tasty infusions from Mama Tea. I can't tell you how many times in the past I have tried herbal teas and lasted about 2 days before giving up. Generally, my opinion on herbal teas is either “ick” or “ho hum”. I also usually have to add a lot of sugar to make them palettable.

I have actually been really surprised by the set of Mama Teas. My favourite is the “Cool mama” which is a chamomile, spreamint and marshmallow infusion which is suitable throughout pregnancy. It is a tea designed to ease heartburn and indigestion or to generally cool you and make you mellow. I really like it as an evening drink to help settle me down for the night. The “Cool Mama” tea doesn't taste too strongly of any of the ingredients – just the way I like it.

Out of interest, I tried the Ready Mama tea which is a raspberry lead and motherwart (traditional ingredients to help prepare for birth) but it is also mixed with hibiscus and rose. My experiences of raspberry leaf tea from about week 38 of my pregnancy were definitely of the “ick” variety which is why I wanted to see if Mama Tea had managed to make it palletable. The hibiscus and rose give the tea a very gentle floral scent and it certainly does seem to make the tea taste less of general-purpose plant ingredient! It is also a really groovy pink colour instead of the more traditional bluey green. If you are looking for a tea to get you through labour and birth then I'd highly recommend it.

One of the other infusions in the range is the “Morning Mama” (ginger, chamomile and citrus) which is definitely one to replace my coffee-time drink. It has a fascinating tingle from the ginger and the scent of the lemon, orange and lemon-balm is enough to make you feel sprightly and ready for the morning. The "Morning Mama" tea is known to help reduce the feelings of nausea during morning sickness.

The range is finished off with “Glowing Mama” (rooibos, elderflower, echinacea and dandelion) which claims to be a powerful antioxidant and good for fluid retention and boosting the immune system. And finally, “New Mama” which is Mama Tea's most popular infusion designed for breastfeeding mums (not pregnant ones). The “New Mama” tea is a liquorice tea with fennel, fenugreek, nettle and lemon-balm. I have to say that I found it a little weird... very liquoricy and yet quite savoury. Three of the active ingredients are intended to increase milk flow so this tea is ideal for breastfeeding mums.

For each of the teas in the Mama Tea range, I found the flavours to be well balanced and not too 'tea-ey'; sometimes I find herbal teas to taste bitter and to leaf my mouth feeling dry, but these ones leave me feeling refreshed, as a good cup of tea should. My two favourite teas “Cool Mama” and “Morning Mama” really are a delight to drink and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.

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Liz Earle Instant Boost Tonic and Skin Repair Light Review

liz earle naturally active skin repair light moisturiser  liz earle naturally active instant boost skin tonic

Last month I fell in love with the Liz Earle Naturally Active Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. This month I decided to try out the next two steps of the Liz Earle Daily Essentials routine – The Instant Boost Skin Tonic and the Skin Repair Light Moisturiser. Would I be as equally won over?

The Liz Earle Natutally Active Instant Boost Skin Tonic is a toning lotion designed for use after cleansing. It is made using Liz Earle's interesting mix of science and nature (and approach to skincare that works wonderfully well for my Mellow lifestyle), with aloe vera, calendula, geranium, cucumber and vitamin E as the naturally active ingredients.

The Instant Boost Tonic has a really innovative bottle top that twists to provide a small opening out of which to dispense the lotion. I find the dispenser REALLY effective for putting the lotion onto round cotton pads. The smell of the Instant Boost Skin Toner is heavenly. Much more floral than the other Liz Earle products I have tried. The smell reminds me of baby powder or baby shampoo (which is weird because Lara and I have tried about 2 million baby shampoos and almost none of them smell this stereotypical!)

I know that lots of people dispense with the 'toner' stage of their daily cleaning routine, but for me, I've always found it essential. My face doesn't ever really feel clean until I've cleared off all the remaining bits of cleanser with a really light, fresh toner. The Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic doesn;t disappoint... it leaves my skin feeling clean and tight but with no lasting tingling. Exactly what I look for in a toner. It is gentle and alcohol-free (it's the alcohol which causes the tingling).

The Liz Earle Naturally Active Instant Boost Skin Tonic costs £11.75 for a 200ml bottle.

I'm finishing my current skincare regime with the Liz Earle Naturally Active Skin Repair Light Moisturiser. It has an autumny, earthy scent that I put down to the primary active ingredient – borage. Other naturally active ingredients include avocado oil, echinacea, beta-carotene and vitamin E.

The Skin Repair Light Moisturiser is suitable for combination or oily skin (which is my face, to the the T). It is a very light formulation so that it doesn't encourage the skin to produce too much of it's natural oils (thus causing greasiness).

My Skin Repair Light Moisturiser comes in a nifty pump (although the do also sell it in tubes). The pump is very effective (if you've read past reviews of mine, you'll know that I get easily stressed with useless dispensers!). Although I'm underwhelmed by the Skin Repair Light moisturiser in general, I have to say that it does seem to help my skin balance. I don't think I'd describe my skin as feeling 'moist' or 'young' but after using this moisturiser for a few weeks I have DEFINITELY stopped using the word 'greasy' to describe my skin... it seems to really have helped to balance my skin.

The Liz Earle Naturally Active Skin Repair Light Moisturiser for combination/oily skin costs £17.60 for a 50ml pump.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Cooking with Children : Pasta With Pesto, Roast Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes

Garofalo pasta is very popular in our household (and with our overseas family). Garofalo have recently launched their children's pasta shapes (Giostra dei Bambini) which are FAR more grown up than most pasta specifically targeted at children, and so they are a hit in our house.

On Monday Lara helped me to make a really simple home-made pesto to accompany her Dischi Volante (flying saucers) pasta. This is an astonishingly fast recipe that is bright and fun for children to make and is a healthy, balanced meal ideal for summer. For us, it is a great way of using some of the wonderful produce currently in our garden. We find Basil to be quite an overpowering flavour so this home-made pesto is made with parsley and mint to cut through the Basil tang!

Serves 2 adults and one hungry toddler.

A large handful of fresh basil leaves (about 3 full stems or about 30 leaves)
A large handful of fresh mint leaves (about 3 full stems or about 50 leaves)
A large handful of fresh parsley leaves (the more the merrier)
A small clump of chives (about 10 leaves)
2 tablespoons cashew nuts
1 tablespoon pine nut kernels
1 large slug of olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 match-box sized piece of hard cheese (traditionally parmesan, but we used cheddar!)
10-15 cherry tomatoes
2 roasted chicken breasts (cold, with or without skin)
Garofalo Dischi Volante pasta 260g (we allow 100g per adult and 60g for Lara)

Please bear in mind that although it looks as if Lara is independently weilding sharp kitchen instruments, one of us is behind her at all times and that children should be supervised at all times in the kitchen.

Step 1. Tear all of the basil leaves and mint leaves from their stalks and place them in a blender. Put the chives and all of the parsley into the blender (don't bother removing the stalks).

Step 2. Add the pine nut kernels and the cashew nuts (the cashews give the pesto a wonderful creamy texture)

Step 3. Grate the cheese using a very fine grater (avoiding those tiny little finger tips)

Step 4. Add the cheese to the blender with a grind or two of black pepper

Step 5. Pour in a good slug of olive oil. Start with about 2 tablespoons full and then add more if the final mix looks a bit too firm.

Step 6. Blend to a fine paste (fine enough and liquid enough to stir into pasta)

Step 7. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and then cook the pasta to its instructions

Step 8. While the pasta is cooking, slice the cherry tomatoes in half (and eat a few as you go... if you're Lara)

Step 9. Chop the chicken breasts roughly. You can keep the skin on or remove it if you prefer.

Step 10. Drain the pasta and then stir in the chicken slices, tomato halves and all of the pesto mixture before serving.

Step 11. Enjoy!

Tantrum Time Carnival - A Call For Posts


This month Mellow Mummy's blogging carnival is entitled 'Tantrum Time' and we're looking for your blog posts about tantrums to feature in the carnival which will be held on the 27th of July.

If you have a blog post to share about your baby or child's worst tantrum, or perhaps an embarrassing episode, come and share it with us at Mellow Mummy. Perhaps you have some tips to share, or a particular approach to dealing with tantrums. Add your blog post URL to the comments below or email the URL to and be sure to check back on Mellow Mummy on the 27th July to read about everyone else's experiences.

Last month's blogger's carnival was all about Birthday Cakes and Birthday Parties.

Sunday 10 July 2011

Unique Editions - Personalised Story Book Review

personalised story book enchanted garden
When I was much, much younger, my uncle bought me a personalised story book as a gift which I still treasure to this day and so I've been thinking of buying Lara her own personalised book for a while. Unique Editions contacted me to see if I would like to review their personalised story books just in time for Lara's 2nd birthday!

A personalised story book is a unique gift. A book tailored to your child which can feature images and text relating to them and, if you choose to, the book can even their relatives and friends. We chose to order Lara a book called 'The Enchanted Garden of Lara' which we were told, could feature Lara and one close family member. Given Lara's fascination with all things gardening and her subsequent idolisation of her Grandpa, we thought it would be ideal if Grandpa could feature in the story too.

My initial impressions of the website weren't great. Unique Editions is, I presume, a French company and the site is translated into English for UK customers. The translation of the website (and the text inside the books) is ever so slightly formal and the site has an overall feeling of a very small company with some things yet to learn about a commercial website (or maybe that's just the web developer in me coming through?). Despite this, I found is incredibly easy to choose my book and to follow the instructions for personalising it.

personalised story book snail

To personalise the book you have to provide photos that will look good when trimmed and cropped. They have some very clear guidelines, recommendations and examples to help you get the best from your personalisation. Add to this the names of the people you want to mention and then they can generate you a preview of the finished article.

Unique Editions have a number of different story books for children from 0 to 10 years old but for children below 5 there is only one option which is a bit disappointing. Thankfully the Enchanted Garden is perfect for Lara.

Delivery took about 10 days from the point of ordering and we were kept up to date with progress throughout.

personalised story book bumblebee

When the personalised book arrived I was really impressed. I hadn't expected the book to be quite as good quality as it is. Each page is brightly coloured, clearly printed on good quality paper and bound with a thick spiral ring. The beautifully-written tale of Lara in her garden features Lara as a snail, bumblebee, caterpillar and butterfly during her journey of adventure.

Lara loves the book. The moment she realised who the book was about, her eyes lit up and the biggest smile I have ever seen creeped across her face. I'm not sure Grandpa was as flattered though to be idolised as a bumble bee!

Unique Editions personalised books are priced in Euros so the GBP price can fluctuate but at present the books cost around £23 including postage.

The world of personalised children's books has come on a long way since 'Me and the Yellow-Eyed Monster'! Lara's Unique Editions book is a really very special gift that I hope she treasures as much as I have my own personalised story book (pictured below).

personalised story book

L'Oreal Elvive 60 Second Saviour Review

It pains me to admit that the L'Oreal Elvive 60 Second Saviour is an awesomely effective intensive conditioner. Having spent last month reviewing organic and natural conditioners, this L'Oreal Paris Full Restore 5 conditioner is a massive change and its not all bad. In fact, in terms of effectiveness I really can't fault it.

I'm not someone who preaches about organic and natural food or cosmetics. It just happens to be the way that life has taken me. There are some natural products that rock, and others that suck and the same goes for the big high-street man-made brands. I'm the first to admit that life's luxuries (such as a conditioner that leaves your hair feeling fabulous in less than 60 seconds) have evolved because there's a need or a want. And so, I'm totally open to the idea of a L'Oreal Elvive conditioner, especially if it does the job well.

I guess the thing I object to is the attempts at 'SCIENCE' which I find patronising and inaccurate. The bottle starts well... "60 Second Saviour Intensive Conditioner". Cool. I can cope with that.

It goes on, "INNOVATION - INFUSES ONTO THE HAIR". Err, what? You're just quoting words at me now. And grammatically incorrect words at that. Don't you mean 'fuses onto'? or 'infuses into'? Grrrrrr.

Further down the label (after the name drops of Pro-Keratin and Ceramide) I'm further bamboozled by the statement "INSTANTLY TRANSFORMS - WEIGHTLESS RESULT". Reading the label makes me feel like I'm watching a US shopping channel advert.

Patronising, fake-science label aside, does the stuff work? Well yes. And that's the part that pains me. It's quite incredibly effective and blows all of last month's conditioners out of the water.

I shall leave you with this anecdote to describe quite how good the L'Oreal Paris Elvive Full Restore 5 60 Second Saviour Intensive Conditioner is (that's quite a mouthful)...

I swim every Thursday morning with Lara. It's a rush and due to the time of her lesson at present, I rarely get a chance to wash my hair before I have to go to work. I normally get by until the evening by scraping my hair back into a high, tight pony tail.

Last month, I took the afternoon off work to go to an event at the Savoy hotel in London. Not the kind of place you turn up to unwashed and with greasy, tangled hair. I washed my hair the night before my swimming lesson and used the 60 second saviour. My hair felt properly fabulous from the very moment I rinsed it out. The following day, even after Lara's swimming lesson my damp hair still felt great and was easy to comb. So good in fact that I went straight to the Savoy from swimming and managed to look reasonably respectful and with hair that fell softly onto my shoulders. Awesome.

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