Mellow Mummy: 2012 : Taking life as it comes...

Sunday 30 December 2012

Mimijumi Bottle Review

I agreed to review the Mimijumi bottle because it sounded like it was the ideal product for me and Holly. I was very slowly moving Holly over from breast to bottle ready for my return to work in the new year but ever since she was about 6 weeks old, Holly has been very awkward when we offer her a bottle; she is definitely more keen on boob! Mimijumi bottles are very simple and are specifically designed for breastfeeding mums who want to be able to offer milk on the move to a baby who would rather feed from the breast.

The Mimijumi bottle is incredibly simple.  Only two parts - a bottle and a 'nipple' which screws onto the top. This makes it quite simple to clean and very simple to assemble.  Even the anti-colic mechanism is integral to the 'nipple' rather than being a separate part of the bottle.

The 'nipple' on the Mimijumi bottle is lightly textured and coloured to look like a breast.  I would say that it is the closest I've seen a bottle come to the real thing!  I also noticed that it is one of only two bottles that Holly has taken to instantly.  Most bottles we have tried (and we did try a lot!) took several feeds before Holly would drink comfortably from them - in some cases she never got used to them which is why we tried lots of different brands.

Mimijumi comes in two sizes of BPA-free bottle (Very Hungry and Not So Hungry).  There are also two different teat flows (slow and medium).  Holly tried the medium flow and I still think this wasn't fast enough for her; feeding her took FOREVER and although she seemed quite happy using the bottle, she began to get fidgety because the feed was taking longer than it would when she was feeding from me.

The bottles are dishwasher safe and steriliser-safe but can't be used in the microwave.  We also found them difficult when we were using formula rather than expressed milk because the plastic cap over the top of the nipple didn't form a full seal and when we shook the bottle to mix the formula, it would inevitably spray or dribble out.

I like the shape and simplicity of the Mimijumi bottle and I thought that the milk-carton-style packaging was a touch of genius but I can't help thinking that the bottles, when tipped up, look very much like a rabbit or hamster bottle!!! For me, Mimijumi is a nice idea but we would need a faster flowing teat for Holly to use these bottles regularly when I give up breastfeeding.

Images courtesy of mimijumi

Britax VERSAFIX Group 1 Car Seat Review

It is great to see a new car seat on the market that is as versatile as real parents need it to be – the demands of a busy growing family aren't easily met but the VERSAFIX is designed to make life that little bit easier.

The VERSAFIX is ideally suited for families like me who quite often need to move the seat between several different vehicles. In the past few months both sets of grandparents have taken their turns to look after my daughters during the day and I can tell you it is pretty stressful trying to move some car seats between our own car which has ISOFIX mountings, and into their cars, which don't. The VERSAFIX makes this process less stressful because it is suitable for use in cars with or without ISOFIX.

You can also use the VERSAFIX with the TopTether ISOFIX fastening if you have it in your car. Right now, we don't have TopTether but the VERSAFIX will grow with your child so, should you buy a new car in the future that does have TopTether fastenings, you won't need to replace the seat – yay! The ISOFIX clips on the VERSAFIX are tucked away when not in use to help protect your car if you aren't planning on using them.

My two girls are on either end of the Group 1 car seat spectrum. My youngest is a little over 9kg and within the next couple of months she will be moving into a forward facing Group 1 car seat such as the new Britax VERSAFIX; my eldest is 3 and a half years old, 18kg and in all likelihood will be moving on into a Group 2,3 car seat to make space for her little sister. I have tried both of my girls in the new VERSAFIX and was impressed at how easy it was to adjust the seat to their two totally different shapes.

The shoulder straps on the VERSAFIX move up and down using a simple latch at the back of the seat so there was no need for me to undo and re-thread the straps when changing the seat for my two girls – phew! Like all Britax seats, I found the process of fastening my children into the seat to be extremely easy because there are visible and audible indicators to tell you when you have done it right. The straps are really nicely padded which I think is important for a small baby just moving into a Group 1 car seat.

My eldest daughter is very tall for her age and there is no way to heighten the head supports on the VERSAFIX so this would encourage me to move her onto a Group 2,3 car seat sooner rather than later (ie. now). I love the fact that the ISOFIX connectors pack away so easily when I move the seat into a a friend or family member's car (and I can imagine this being handy when travelling by taxi too) but for me, the VERSAFIX is still too heavy and bulky to actively encourage me to move it between vehicles.

I liked the fact that there was a small recline facility on the VERSAFIX. Normally we don't need to recline the seat for our eldest daughter but this year we seem to have done a lot of long journeys (a 10 day, 2000 mile trip on one occasion!) and it is handy to be able to recline the seat just a tiny bit to make her more comfortable when she sleeps.

The VERSAFIX is a great all-round car seat that is suitable for lots of different cars and families.

Disclosure: I was sent a VERSAFIX sample to conduct my review.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Weaning: Self-Feeding

Weaning is going really well and Holly is trying more adventurous tastes and textures with every day that passes. I don't think her appetite or eagerness to try new foods will ever match her older sister but I'm happy that she is enjoying the weaning process just as much.

We have now moved on to the Mellow Mummy tried and tested combo of baby-led weaning alongside mashed homemade foods. Having spent a week in a hotel with no baby food facilities (or packaged food available to buy), Holly had to get used to finger foods very early on.

At meal times I now serve Holly pretty much the same food as the rest of the family - sometimes without a sauce, or chopped up slightly differently (and often without our last-minute addition of fresh or dried chillis!).

Tommee Tippee sent us a few pieces of tableware from the explora range - many of these are designed for slightly older babies but because Holly is already self-feeding we are getting to try them out already.

Our favourite piece of Tommee Tippee tableware is these Tommee Tippee Easy Scoop Bowls which come in a pack of 4. I find them so versatile and use them for almost every meal - I sometimes use them for Lara too because they are a good size for an afternoon snack. Theoretically you can fasten the bowls to the table or highchair tray with the Tommee Tippee Magic Mat but I haven't had any success with this on any type of surface so I have given up - Holly just pulls the bowl off and makes as much mess as if I hadn't used it at all.

We also like serving Holly's meals in the Tommee Tippee Section Plates which are perfect for us because we can put some of the mashed food in the middle to spoon feed her and also some finger foods at either side to keep her occupied as we eat.

The last thing that I have just started to try with Holly is the Tommee Tippee Snack n Go cup which is designed for holding toddler snacks.  Holly very occasionally has a snack in the afternoon and I think it will be a long time before she totally gets the hang of the cup but the idea is that they can push their little hands through the flexible lid to grab a small crisp or biscuit without being able to tip the entire snack pot up and lose all of the contents.

Sometimes when I watch Holly eating all by herself I can't believe how grown up and independent she is already.

Sunday 23 December 2012

Schuh Kids Review

When the world of UK mums found out that Schuh were launching a kids range of shoes, there was a ripple of excitement across facebook and twitter! Stylish, designer shoes for little feet as well as big ones. Yay!

Lara and Holly were really lucky to be offered the chance to try a pair of shoes from the range of kids shoes. Schuh sell some big brands of footwear such as Vans, Converse, Ugg and Toms and usually these are reserved for teens upwards due to the sizes available but now Schuh are stocking these brands for children as young as... well... newborn!

Schuh have a range of crib shoes for pre-walkers and tiny babies which, I will admit, are more for show than anything else. Tiny feet are always better out of shoes for as long as you can get away with so I wouldn't normally put shoes on Holly unless it is either totally freezing outside or if I wanted her to look particularly stylish for a photo or a visit to friends!

I chose Holly a very very cute pair of pink mini converse trainers. I just couldn't resist them. They are, of course, totally impractical. How hard is it to try and get a crawling baby to sit still long enough to tie their laces? And how long is it before she undoes the laces and chews them until they are soggy??? - seconds. Ah well, at least they will look good for our Christmas photos and it looks very cute when she and her big sister match.

Yes, that's right, I chose Lara exactly the same pair of pink Converse high-ankle boots from the junior range (Lara has already grown out of toddler sizes). I was tempted by a pair of Hello Kitty Vans but I'm glad I plumped for matching shoes - Lara LOVES her new trainers. They are so totally and utterly 'her'. Casual and fun yet totally feminine. The only sad thing about this situation is that now I want a pair of matching pink Converses! I used to own a pair of groovy green ones when I was in my teens and they were just about my favourite pair of shoes ever.

I ordered the girls' shoes online and arranged for them to be delivered to my local store. Delivery to your home is free but I wanted to be able to try them on an make an easy return if they didn't fit so I got them delivered to Schuh in Reading.

The staff in store were really helpful and not miffed at all by the kids. I was half expecting them to be a bit out of practice with children's feet given that their customers are normally older but they were cheerful and helpful and great with Lara who, quite randomly, appeared bawling at their doorway with blood seeping from each side of her mouth after a faceplant on the freezing cold pavement - poor mite! A new pair of pink boots definitely cheered her up though.

Holly's shoes cost £22 and Lara's cost £27 from

Anywayup Cow Cup Review

Yay - the Anywayup Cup is back. I can't tell you how much of a panic I got into when I was pregnant and found that I couldn't source an Anywayup cup anywhere and I was obviously not the only one. I even had emails through the blog and messages on facebook from people who were desperate to lay their hands on one and were looking to me in case I knew of anywhere that still sold them. But thankfully the Anywayup cup is now back and slightly improved and all is right with the world again.

The cow cup is an Anywayup Cup with a fresian black and white pattern. It is instantly recognisable but it is also just about the best trainer cup or beaker that we tried when Lara was learning to drink from a cup. I am so glad that Holly can have one too (we were sent one to review but I'm definitely buying more).

Other than the groovy design, here are the reasons why I rate this trainer cup so much.

  • The handles are perfectly sized and a good distance from the cup which means that babies as young as Holly (7 months now) and as old as toddlers can hold it easily
  • The lid clips on. No annoying twisting threads to get right. And once it is on, it stays on. For the first few uses it takes quite a lot of brute force from you to take the lid off again but after that it softens a little and for me, it is the best type of lid on a cup.
  • The cup is fun, which means that your little one WANTS to drink from it. The cow cups were always Lara's favourite and she insisted that we send them to the childminder for her to drink her milk from during the day.
  • The cup doesn't leak. The design has changed a little since Lara's day and now the spout contains a small seal at the top which your child has to suck through. Unless they are sucking, liquid cannot come out so it doesn't matter if they tip it up. It really is an anywayup cup!.
  • The cup is really easy to wash - we put ours in the dishwasher. You can also put it in the microwave as long as you leave the lid off.

The new style of Cow Cup doesn't even have a removable valve inside so it is even easier to wash up than before. I have noticed though that the new type of valve inside the spout means that Holly has to suck VERY hard to get water out and she finds it a bit frustrating. I tried it myself and it was bliming hard to drink from so I am thinking of leaving it for a little while before I try her with it again.

You can buy the cow cup and other anywayup cups from

Saturday 22 December 2012

The Room On The Broom - a Christmas Day Spectacular

The Room on The Broom is the latest Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler creation to be turned into a magical animated film and we will all get a chance to see it on Christmas Day on BBC1. Lara has absolutely loved The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child these past two years as they are extremely special stories animated in an extremely impressive way and The Room On The Broom is no different - Lara was mesmerised by it when we watched a preview.

I haven't actually read the book The Room On The Broom yet (I'll admit I never read The Gruffalo until I had seen the film but since then we've become big Julia Donaldson fans) but the movie was perfect - that slow, captivating rhyme that draws you in.  The story is narrated by Simon Pegg.

The Room On The Broom is described as a story about a kind witch who invites a surprising collection of animals to join her on her broom, much to the frustration of her cat. The gang ultimately saves the witch from a fearsome dragon, and in gratitude she rewards them with a magnificent new broom which has room for everyone.

Once again there is a star-studded cast that ensures this film gets star status on Christmas Day.  Gillian Anderson takes the leading role of the Witch with Rob Brydon as the cat who is, quite honestly, my favourite  character of all with lots of very cat-like characteristics! The film also stars Martin Clunes, Sally Hawkins, Simon Pegg, Timothy Spall and even David Walliams.

Lara found moments of the film quite scary even though she knew the story from nursery but having watched it once from behind the living room door a big smile came to her face when the previously scary dragon turned a bit bashful instead.

The Room On The Broom is broadcast on Christmas Day, BBC1, 4.35PM.

Friday 21 December 2012

Baby Breakfast Ideas

I struggle with innovative breakfast ideas for myself, let along my two girls. We get stuck in a breakfast rut and so I was happy to be asked to try out a couple of new products for weaning babies, suitable for use at breakfast time.

Holly has been trying out these bright, clever pouches of Wakey Wakey breakfast cereal from Ella's Kitchen which are available in both plain flavours (so that you can add your own fruit or yoghurt if you fancy it) and fruity flavours.

Holly started by trying the stage 1 Wakey Wakey Mango + Apple Baby Porridge which is made from rice maize and oats with tiny flakes of fruit. At first she REALLY enjoyed the change from smooth plain porridge but I think the novelty soon wore off - it is quite a big packet for a stage 1 weaning product given that stage 1 doesn't last very long.

Next she moved on to the stage 2 textured Wakey Wakey Strawberry, Mango + Banana Porridge. It is noticeably thicker but not lumpy and it comes with visible flakes of strawberry in it. I think this one went down better with Holly.

I really like the pouches - they come with a screw top which means you can keep the porridge fresh and pour it into a bowl easily without having to store a box in your cupboard which leaks flaky porridge dust everywhere! OK, so the pouch is plastic and that worries me, environment-wise but Ella's Kitchen at least make some efforts to encourage recycling of their food pouches.

Normally however, I like to mix Holly's porridge with some fruit puree (sometimes homemade!  sometimes not) or with a spoonful of yoghurt - it makes me feel like I'm in control of the flavour.

On the day when I decided to first introduce Holly to yoghurt, Rachel's got in contact with me to tell me that their "My first yoghurts" selection packs had just been re-invented with a new improved recipe and four fruity flavours; the perfect accompaniment to Holly's breakfast porridge!

Rachel's organic first yoghurts are suitable from 6 months onwards and come in strawberry, banana, raspberry and peach flavour.  They are naturally sweetened with fruit juice so there is no added sugar and because they are made with whole mik, they are packed full of calcium.  Rachel's My First Yoghurts claim to have the perfect texture for babies when weaning but I find the texture a bit alien; there is rice starch added which gives them a thick appearance and it makes the yoghurt appear ever so slightly grainy.  Mind you, Holly loves them and I'm hoping that because they are a little sweeter than some children's yoghurts, Holly will enjoy them for longer than her big sister did (Lara mysteriously stopped eating yoghurt at about 8 months old and has refused to try it since).

Thursday 20 December 2012

Barratts Kids Shoes Review

Lara doesn't yet need school shoes (though it won't be long) but at nursery I do like her to wear something comfy that won't get totally trashed within the first day of her wearing them. Lara has also inherited her mummy's enormous feet and we struggle to keep up with her ever-growing feet - she is a size 11 already and is only 3 and a half years old. Sigh.

Anyway, Barratts asked us if we would like to review their range of kids footwear and we had a good browse of the girls shoes on offer. Lots of the shoes were either very casual or very well suited to school but I plumped for this pair of Skechers because I thought they were exactly half way between the two (and because I used to own a very similar pair and loved them!)

These Skechers Velocity Mary Jane Casual Shoes come in an infant size 10 all the way through to adult size 5. They have a really chunky, bouncy sole and a very simple velcro tab across the top which means that Lara finds it easy to put them on herself.

I ordered Lara's shoes online from Barratts. As a website developer I am often a very harsh critic of retail websites but I can tell you now that the Barratts website was a dream to use. The menus and shortcuts just seemed to offer me everything I might need when looking for shoes for Lara and the registration and checkout process was one of the easiest that I have used in a long time.

Our shoes arrived in mega-quick time (it was 2 working days after I placed the order). Lara at first seemed more taken with the free comic that came with the shoes (!) but once I convinced her to try them on, I think she was quite taken with them and was eager to show them off at nursery. She was especially excited when I told her I used to have some like it... it made her feel that little bit more grown up.

Now that Lara's feet are a little bit more predictable in their size than they were when she was a toddler I am happy to buy shoes online, especially when I know that I can make a return very easily should I need to by taking the shoes to my nearest store.

The Skechers shoes seem to have worked well for nursery and I'm hoping that it is a good sign for next autumn when we have to worry about school shoes!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Trendsetting New Mums

This is a guest post from Darcie Hewitt-Dudding on behalf of Milkbug.

Long gone are the days where mums are seen as frumpy, cake-baking, jam-making, apron-wearing kid wranglers. It’s actually quite cool to be a mum, with pregnant celebrities looking as amazing on the catwalk as their non-pregnant counterparts. Young women like Lily Cooper (nee Allen) and Peaches Geldof are breaking the mumsy stereotype in the media, making being a mum supercool. Along with the latest news that Kate Middleton is pregnant, there’s nothing more in vogue than joyfully bringing life into the world and looking and feeling good whilst you do it.

New Mum Pressure
In the media, there is always a furore when a woman has her baby, particularly when they ‘struggle to lose baby weight’ or start their workout the day after giving birth and are stick thin a week later. There is also the question of whether you go back to work or not, with media ‘supermums’ somehow juggling several children and their high-flying career. Are you exhausted just reading that? Me too. Though we know it’s an impossible ideal, it still puts a pressure on regular mums like you and I, making us feel under even more pressure to be a good mum as well as looking like a model and keeping a hold of our careers.

Looking Amazing without all the Hard Work
No regular actual mum has time or energy to exercise and look after a newborn, and apparently neither does Gwen Stefani who has recently said she has given up working out in favour of spending time with her children, so there’s really no need to feel bad about your wobbly belly! The key to looking good is the cut of your clothes. Milkbug is a cute little clothing company that caters for nursing mums. Combining functionality with fashion, they have filled the gap in the market for young mums who want to be comfortable, practical and stylish and want the confidence to breastfeed wherever they may need to. They offer a range of different pieces, from Milkbug tops, to dresses and nightwear, all designed with nursing in mind. Their clothes are designed in a range of different styles for nursing access, from oversized armholes and layers, to empire line and princess line access, so there is never any unnecessary flesh exposed and you can breastfeed in comfort. Most of these pieces are suitable for use from pregnancy right through to post-partum. This way you don’t need to have rock-hard abs the day after you’ve birth, you can just create the illusion with beautifully cut clothes, and feel confident and radiant just as you are.  

Images courtesy of Milkbug.

Monday 17 December 2012

Lara's Christmas Craft Party

Yesterday Lara held a Christmas craft and cookery party for a few friends.  It was so much fun (although entertaining a house full of three year olds is shattering) and Lara exhausted herself because she got so excited.

Together with some of her friends from nursery, I taught Lara how to make gingerbread from first principles and also how to make mince pies.  It was icky sticky work but the results were fab and we had so much gingerbread left over that Lara and I managed to make a whole army of gingerbread men!

The girls seemed to enjoy themselves most during the crafty part of the event.  A couple of weeks ago I had taken Lara to Hobbycraft in Reading to choose a few select bits and pieces of Christmassy craft materials for her party.  Then, rather co-incidentally, Hobbycraft last week sent Lara a big party box full of children's Christmas crafts which made her party into something very special indeed.

The girls had fun painting stained glass window tree decorations, making collages from sticky christmas trees and candy canes and printing with shaped sponges.  There were hand paints, stencils, pipe cleaners, carboard, stickers and straws along with plenty glue and tape to help them along their way.  But do you know what I think all of the girls were most taken with?  the funny reindeer antlers which brought great smiles when I told them that they could take them home with them.

Once the pies and biscuits were cooked they ate them from paper plates and cups with napkins and a tablecloth to match.  Hobbycraft really had thought of everything for a Christmas party and there were even a few bits and pieces that we put into party bags such as crayons and DIY hand puppets.  In Lara's box there was also a cracker-making kit that I thought was probably a bit too advanced for a group of three year olds but maybe I'll hold on to it for next year in case Lara's Christmas Craft Party becomes a tradition!

Sunday 16 December 2012

ICE Rewards Review

One of my very early blog posts was about online cashback schemes - I use them for pretty much every one of my online purchases and I've been a member of ICE since the very first week it was launched. ICE is a rewards scheme which offers you rewards for spending on sustainable products from retailers who make ethical and environmental commitments.

ICE have a number of big names such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer signed up to them which means you can get cashback on your everyday purchases. However, the thing that really appeals to me about ICE is the small online retailers and farm shops who really embody the environmental and ethical ideals that the ICE rewards scheme is intended to support.

Wooden teaching clock from

In the past I've bought gorgeous handmade gifts and a photo album that I hope will be a family heirloom. But this month I've been in the market for toys and games for the girls for Christmas and I was particularly looking for some wooden toys because these not only have a lower environmental impact (usually!) than much of the plastic and electronic goodies that they will also be getting this Christmas, but also because they stand the test of time.

ICE have several mother and baby retailers to offer including Mimi Myne and The Little Green sheep.  ICE offered me a voucher to spend and I was really impressed by the range at who seemed to have everything I needed for Holly and her nursery, including toys!  Ethical Babe had an outstanding range of organic and natural toys - I found it hard to choose.

John Crane Puzzle from

Shopping with ICE is easy.  If you make your purchase with one of their retailers after clicking on the link within ICE then you will earn rewards (upto 11% in rewards at some retailers).  Then, when you have enough rewards to spend, you do the same thing.  When you are shopping through ICE there is a big blue bar at the top of your browser window and when you have decided what you want to buy, you click the links in the bar to say that you want to spend some of your rewards.

In my case, I was given a redemption code which I then entered at the checkout of and hey presto, my gifts were with me within the week.

I chose a wooden teaching clock for Lara and a John Crane Tidlo wooden farmyard puzzle for Holly.  They are both chunky and awesome quality and I know that they will become classics that last for years.

Hippychick Waterproof Clothing Review

A little over a year ago, Lara became the proud owner of a pair of Hippychick all-weather waterproof dungarees. Since then, I've recommended Hippchick waterproof clothing to a lot of friends and they are the first place I would look when buying. This winter, Lara has gone a step further and is reviewing the Hippychick All In One All Weather Clothing Suit and Holly has been trying out the compact and bargainous Hippychick Pack A Suit. The two girls are well prepared for rain and snow now!!!

You can't miss Lara in her top spec All in One all weather clothing suit. She is a little yellow beacon of fun when she is pootling around the garden. Lara has also told me (about a million times) that next year when Legoland re-opens that she wants to wear her Hippichick suit on the log flume so that she doesn't get wet.

The All Weather suit has celcro fastenings around the ankles and wrists to make sure water can't get in. This also means a great fit when your child is trying to get into wellies because you can wear them inside or out without faffing. It is made from teflon-coated nylon and can withstand wind and rain without making your child hot and sticky on the inside. Lara seems comfortable for long periods of time in hers which means she can play outside, whatever the weather.

The hood has a small peak to keep rain out of her eyes (which has a lovely soft fleece lining around the hem). There is also a small amount of elasticated adjustment around the waist which means that Lara still has growing room in her suit. The All in One suit is avaulable for ages 12 months all the way through to 4 years. Lara is very tall for her age and is wearing age 4-5 clothes most of the time but her All-in-One suit still has PLENTY of space for her two grow throughout the spring. The suit costs from £27.50 and is also available in pink and blue on

Holly's suit is the very affordable Pack A Suit which comes in a small pouch about 20cm square.  It is compact enough that I can just put it into the changing bag in case we need it.  At £14.99 it is a very affordable option if you don't spend so much time out in the wind and rain.

The PackASuit is also available from 12 months up to 4 years (Holly is admittedly a little drowned in hers at present as she is only 7 months old; but she is big for her age and it means she can join us in the garden when its wet).  Considering that the Pack A Suit is the cheaper waterproof option from Hippychick, I was expecting some comprimises on quality and functionality but in fact the Pack A Suit also has a peaked hood and elasticated wrists and ankles as well as a range of colours.  The different really is the fabric - this is a coated polyerethane which means you have to be a bit more careful about putting it in the washing machine (no bio detergents or fabric softeners allowed!) but unlike some cheap waterproofs I've tried before, this one is still breathable and comfortable.

We are looking forward to spending quality time in the garden and out and about this winter with the girls in their waterproof Hippychick clothing.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Cooking with Children :: Peppermint Creams Recipe

I have wanted to cook peppermint creams with Lara for ages. It is such a simple recipe that is perfect for cooking with preschoolers and at this time of year they are a classic that can be wrapped up beautifully and given as gifts. Our recipe has raw egg yolk in it so these peppermint creams aren't suitable for babies, toddlers, pregnant ladies or anyone else who has a sensitive tummy.


340g icing sugar
1 egg white
Peppermint extract or flavouring
Green food colouring

100g bar of dark chocolate

  1. Line a tray or plate with greaseproof paper.
  2. Whisk the egg white in a bowl until it is frothy and there are no runny bits left. Stop whisking before it becomes stiff.
  3. Stir in the icing sugar. We used our hands once the mixture became really thick because it becomes a bit like a dough.
  4. Drizzle on a few drops of peppermint extract (a little goes a long way) and kneed the 'dough' well to combine the flavouring. This makes your hands smell fab.
  5. Split the mixture into two pieces - putting one aside. To the other piece, add the tiniest amount of green food colouring you can possibly imagine (we're talking molecules here) and kneed it in until the icing has turned an even pale green colour.
  6. Tear off small pieces of the icing mixture, both white and green, and rub them round and round between your hands to make balls. Use a fork to squash each ball down into the tray.
  7. Once all of the peppermint creams have been made, chill them in the fridge for about 3 hours.
  8. Once the peppermints have hardened you are ready to melt the chocolate. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place the bowl above a pan of simmering water to gently melt the chocolate.
  9. Once melted, allow to cool ever so slightly so that it doesn't burn tiny fingers. Dip some of the peppermints into the molten chocolate. With a spoon, drizzle chocolate over the other mints.
  10. Place back into the fridge for up to 24 hours to allow them to fully harden.
  11. Lick the spoon

Friday 14 December 2012

Christmas Crafts, Recipes and Festive Fun!

mini christmas pudding cupcake

This year I was very proud to have been invited to contribute to the Hallmark advent calendar.

The Hallmark advent calendar has a different festive idea behind every door. Some doors contain recipes, others craft ideas. Some contain fun family activities, others just contain festive inspiration for things to do.

On the first day of the calendar there was a printable letter to santa which we used as our template for Lara.

My own contribution is a very festive muffin recipe that you can find out more about on the calendar behind the door on the 18th December so stay tuned!

Behind my favourite doors so far there has been a step-by-step guide of how to make toilet roll santas by Maggy from Red Ted Art and beautiful hand-wrapped 'melting snowman soup' gifts from Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family.  I'm proud to be among such great company on the Hallmark advent calendar!  There are also make-up tips and wrapping tips and each door has a video or a downloadable PDF with step-by-step instructions.

Disclosure: I was paid to write my recipe for Hallmark and get involved with the promotion of the Hallmark advent calendar.

Monday 10 December 2012

Win Copies of Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook

Last month I reviewed Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Zainab Jagot Ahmed (you can read my review here). Today I have two copies of the book to give away to two lucky Mellow Mummy readers.

Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook is available exclusively electronically - you can get it for various different e-reader devices including Kindle.  Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook is the perfect cookbook for people looking to find inspiring ideas for baby foods or for people who love Indian food themselves but are a bit wary of feeding them to their baby. It would make a great gift for new parents and you can buy it on Amazon, Waterstones or Kobo books as a gift from just £3.99.

If you would like to discover the yummy, healthy and inspiring Indian recipes in Zainab's book, leave me a comment below to let me know what your favourite indian dish is (or indeed your baby's favourite!) by the 26th December.  You can gain an extra entry by liking Zainab's facebook page and then leaving me a separate comment to tell you've done so.

You can find out more about Zainab and her cookbook at and on facebook.


  1. The competition is open to UK residents only.
  2. Only one comment per person. Multiple, automated or bulk entries will result in immediate disqualification
  3. The winner will be contacted by email.
  4. Entries will only be deemed valid if a valid email address is provided when commenting - people who just log into intensedebate with their facebook account will not qualify for entry because it is too difficult for me to contact the winners
  5. The winner must respond to their winning email within 24 hours or else a new winner will be drawn - this is due to the limited dates available for the show once the competition is closed.
  6. The winner will be selected at random from all valid comments received by 11:59pm on 26th December
  7. The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into
  8. The winner's name will be published on this site

Sunday 9 December 2012

Bigsby Story Buddy Review

Meet Bigsby.

Bigsby is a cute fluffy monster with a great big cheeky smile. Not only is he cuddly but he also likes to listen to stories! Bigsby is the latest Story Buddy character from Hallmark.

Bigsby sits with Lara and Holly while I read them his story book. He came with one book "Bigsby's Best Friend" but there are a couple of other books available to buy too. The magical think about the Story Buddy is that he interacts with the story as you read it. There are certain words and phrases throughout the book that Bigsby responds to and he seems to come alive.

The first time that we read the Bigsby story, Lara nearly fell of her chair. She was totally engrossed in her story when Bigsby said "Bigsby Bashful". She thought it was hilarious and Holly just gave him a look!

I had expected the novelty to wear off for Lara (it certainly did for me). After a few times of reading the story, she still seems to enjoy hearing him pipe in with his twopence worth. I think it helps that it is a story that she enjoys but I find myself reading the book hesitantly because I know what's coming (the words that activate his voice are marked in the book).

Mr. B. quickly worked out some of Bigsby's key phrases and sometimes shouts them just to confuse matters. Apparently Bigsby's vocabulary is extended in each extra book.  He has also tried lots of different speeds and accents and Bigsby seems to be very flexible and it is quite hard to catch him out.

To me, the entertainment factor is greatly limited by the number of books that the Story Buddy responds to. I'd love it if he could just sit there and respond to any story book that we read (but then I'm a techy and I know that that would be seriously complex to achieve).

Bigsby costs £19.99 and is available in Hallmark stores, independent gift stores and at The additional books for Bigsby are also available priced at £5.99 each.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Mother and Baby Yoga

mother and baby yoga class
This week my baby yoga classes will come to an end.  Baby yoga?  as in yoga for babies?  Well, not really...

If you have never tried baby yoga then let me explain.  Most baby yoga classes are in fact yoga classes for new mums where it is totally acceptable for you to bring along your baby.  Nobody is fussed if you have to stop for some (if not all) of the lesson to feed your baby and nobody bats an eyelid if your baby screams the whole way through.

I have been doing a weekly mother and baby yoga class (BBCise) with Bump Birth and Babies .  We started when Holly was 8 weeks old and now our lessons have come to an end... not just because I have to return to work in the new year, but also because Holly is now totally and utterly mobile and I can't keep an eye on her while I'm attempting 'Downward Dog'!

baby yogaGone are the days when Holly would lie below me on my yoga mat and stare deep into my eyes, giggling at the funny faces that I made at her.  I used to love seeing and hearing her giggle as my hair waved over her face.

For me, the mother & baby yoga classes were as much an opportunity to get out of the house as they were to get some exercise.  I had never been to a yoga class before although I knew several yoga moves.  Yoga seemed peaceful and sounded like a class that I would get as much out of as Holly would.  I've met a good friend through yoga and I've also discovered an interest for yoga so I plan to carry on taking a 'grown ups' evening class once I am back at work.
Mother and baby yoga
Mother & baby yoga is obviously designed to help you tone up the parts of you that have suffered most through pregnancy and childbirth.  After each lesson I have really felt like my abdominal core has had a really good work out and I've learned some useful exercises that I can do any time and any where to continue exercising those muscles and also my pelvic floor muscles.

And Holly has had good fun too.  During our lessons we would perform a few vigorous massage techniques on our babies to help them get their arms and legs moving.  Our teacher would also encourage them to look around and get up on their tummies.  Clearly Holly doesn't need that help any more now that she can sit up and crawl off all on her own!

baby yoga classAt the end of each lesson there was the opportunity just to zone out.  If our little ones were causing trouble, the teacher would come and take them off our hands while we chilled.  Not quite meditation but just a tiny bit of me-time in an otherwise manic day.

You can practice yoga any time after your 6 week post-natal check has been signed off by your G.P. and I highly recommend it for getting you back to feeling yourself.

Images courtesy of Bump, Birth and Babies.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Cantaloop Nursing Bra Review

For me, the number one priority when choosing a nursing bra is comfort. The Cantaloop nursing bra is quite simply the most comfortable I have ever tried and, because of the soft, stretchy knitted fabric that it is made from it is incredibly flexible and adjusts to me as my shape changes.

And it does change! Now that I am very very slowly transferring Holly over from boob to bottle, my breasts swell and then 'deflate' during the day. Holly is eating a lot of solids so it can be a long time between feeds and when I am wearing some of my more rigid nursing bras, they get tight and uncomfortable towards the end of the day. The Cantaloop bra does not - in fact I can barely feel it at all.

My Cantaloop bra is pretty different to any other I have tried. Instead of straps to hold the drop cups, instead the breast is supported by a sort of 'o' of stretchy fabric and then the whole of the front cup drops down. At first it felt a bit weird, like my boobs were poking out of two peeky holes!!! But now I understand that actually it is that fabric underneath that is providing a really good support for me during the day.

Cantaloop pride themselves on the fact that, because their bra's are so stretchy, they only need to make 4 sizes to suit all women and that you don't even need to see a professional fitter, you just consult their size chart and can order in the knowledge that the stretch is bound to accommodate you. This also means that you can wear the same bra at the end of pregnancy and then into motherhood without worrying about your change in shape.

I found the clips on the drop-cups to take a little getting used to as they are different to most. At first I found it hard to undo the clips with one hand but I've had a bit of practice now and can manage just fine.

Cantaloop nursing bras are available in bigger Boots stores and online at and Amazon - they cost around £24 which I feel is a bargain.  This bra is definitely the most comfortable I have tried yet; no itchy seams and no uncomfy underwires.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Holiday Inn Chester South & Chester Zoo Review

Last weekend we had a brilliant family trip to Chester, courtesy of Holiday Inn Chester South. We were invited to try out their hotel and zoo package and it was a really mellow weekend.

After our long drive north, we arrived in Chester in the dark and rain. The car park for the hotel was nearly full and we had to rush to reception in the howling wet wind. From the outside, the hotel didn't look awfully appealing but on the inside I think we were all immediately surprised. Neither myself nor Mr. B. has ever knowingly stayed at a Holiday Inn before and our expectations were a bit more motel than hotel. Our expections were definitely exceeded - Holiday Inn Chester South felt like a very smart hotel once we were inside.

We were allocated an executive room at the very furthest part of the hotel from reception - sigh! Despite the trek, the room was worth the walk. Holly has, in her short 6 months, already stayed in 8 different hotels and this was by far the smartest. It was well appointed (it even had bathrobes which Lara didn't hesitate to try on), clean and comfortable. Lara had a sofa bed made up and Holly had a travel cot. One of the things we liked most about the room was the great big thick shutters instead of curtains - this meant we could get a total blackout in the room which was handy come the morning.

Before dinner we all had a dip in the hotel swimming pool. Holiday Inn Chester South has its own on-site health club with gym and pool. Even the pool area was well set up for families. There were floats and armbands available by the side of the pool and in both the male and female changing rooms there were cots available for you to put your baby while you got changed. Small things that make a big difference.

Unfortunately we were too late to get a table for dinner in the hotel so we headed out to explore Chester in the wind and rain. We know the area a little bit so we took a short drive north of the City to the Cheshire Oaks outlet centre near Ellesmere Port where we knew there were lots of restaurants. We all had dinner at a Harvester restaurant and both Lara and Holly gorged themselves on food!

Our night was very disturbed because Holly was really suffering with bad teething pains. We needed a good breakfast to wake us up enough for our day out! Breakfast was great - a good quality buffet of hot and cold food. The staff provided us with a highchair for Holly without being prompted. In fact, throughout our stay at Holiday Inn Chester South every single member of staff we spoke to was cheerful, friendly and polite (very unusual in a UK hotel in my experience).

After breakfast we headed out to the north of Chester to Chester Zoo. It was about a 6 mile journey from the hotel and by the time we got there, the sun was shining and the day looked bright. We met up with some of Lara's cousins who live nearby and they couldn't wait to tell us about the baby elephant who had been born just a few hours earlier - I don't think Lara quite realised how priviledged we were to see the family of elephants gathering round their new arrival.

I love most UK zoos but it is many, many years since I had been to Chester zoo as a child and I can tell you it is just about the best zoo I have visited in Britain. There has obviously been a lot of investment in the zoo - alongside the smart cafes and shops it has lots of large, tailor-made enclosures which, while being spacious and well-tailored to the animals, are also designed with the public in mind. We saw all sorts of animals from tiny mongooses (mongeese?) to massive Orangutans. Lara's favourite animals were the tigers but I think I enjoyed seeing the Red Pandas and Cheetahs most.

Lara and her cousins had great fun on the play areas and running through the tunnels that were part of the mongoose exhibit. We all had lunch (pricey but lots of options to suit all budgets and tastes) before we had to head back south for the long drive in the Sunday night traffic.

It was a brilliant weekend and we will definitely be going back to Chester Zoo again in the future.

If you fancy taking the same family trip as us, Holiday Inn Chester South are offering a discount for Mellow Mummy readers if you book at least 21 days in advance - see their website for details.

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