Mellow Mummy: April 2013 : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Getting Kids Cooking - Pizza Making With The Pros

A couple of weeks ago Lara and Holly were lucky enough to spend the day learning how to make pizza with the pros at Pizza Express. To celebrate the launch of the new Pizza Express Picolo menu for children, Lara and Holly were taught how to stretch their own pizza, cover it in unctuous tomato sauce and select their favourite fresh toppings. I have to say it was one of the best days out we have had - the two girls absolutely LOVED it. The excitement the girls found in creating their own pizza followed by the pleasure they showed when it came to eating their own creations really demonstrates how much children enjoy getting involved in the food they eat.

The new Pizza Express menu features little versions of some of the adult pizzas on the menu (as well as some new in-house pasta dishes) but the beauty is that children are now encouraged to chop and change the toppings on their pizza to ensure that they get something they really want to eat... the imagery on the menu really focuses on the fresh vegetable toppings and I must say that both Lara and Holly tried toppings I would never have dreamed they would enjoy! The pizzas are slightly lower in salt these days too which means I was comfortable letting Holly, at just under a year old, join in with our family meal out.

Take a look and see how much they enjoyed the experience! My favourite photo is of Holly eating the no-added-sugar raspberry sorbet!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Smart Trike Dream 4-in-1 Review

Now that the weather has shown signs of spring we are getting more and more opportunities to go out and about with Holly on her Smart Trike 4-in-1 with Dream Touch Steering.  Holly is still using it in the first mode with all the supports and straps on and she will do for another few months yet, but as she grows older we will be able to remove the supports and the straps slowly as she increases her own confidence and dexterity.

Holly most enjoys playing with her integrated toy mobile phone but I'd be happier if she was using a hands-free kit!!!  When we are chasing Daddy and Lara around the streets she likes to grab onto the handle bars and wiggle them but at present I'm in charge of the steering from the handlebars behind.  And the steering... does it live up to the name "Dream Touch"?  Well yes.  I'm far more impressed with the smoothness of the ride than I ever was with Lara's older trike or any I've tried at toddler groups.  I think a lot of the gentleness of the ride is also to do with the rubber wheels which seem to absorb a lot of the sound and bumps from the pavement... it certainly sounds a lot less bumpy and trundly (is that a word?) than Lara's trike did.

Smart Trike also like to boast about how easy it is to assemble the Dream Touch 4-in-1 Trike and I think Mr. B. and Lara would agree.  OK, so it took them a bit more than a minute to assemble but that was largely due to Lara "helping" her Daddy!!! However, a few minutes later the Smart Trike was complete and they were still on talking terms so it can't have been that stressful to assemble!

For me, the Smart Trike oozes quality. From the ease of use... to the quality of the safety clips.  From the soft rubber handles for Holly to the thickness and finish of the fabric.   Little things like the feeling of the sun shade as you move it backwards and forwards... it just feels smooth and easy to use. I have absolutely no doubt that at around £100 it is good value for money as it is certainly built to last and will see Holly through until she is 3 years old.

Disclaimer: Holly was sent her Smart Trike to review but all our thoughts and feedback are our own.

Carla Daly Childrens Wall Art

As well as decorating the girls playroom (very slowly!) I am also looking to give Holly's nursery a little bit of a refresh now that she approaches her first birthday. Holly's nursery is jungle themed and so when Carla Daly contacted me to take a look at her range of children's wall art, I couldn't resist these two jungle cartoons.

Carla makes height charts and educational posters as well but there were so many of the funny animal prints in her wall art range that I was spoiled for choice. People sometimes dismiss art for a baby or child's room but I have wanted pictures on Holly's nursery wall from day one. To start with we had a simple A4 picture tacked to the wall and then this was joined by a one of her big sister's hand prints but now it is time for something a little more grown up and in keeping with the jungle theme.

Holly's two bedroom pictures are each 12 inches by 6 inches. They come as high quality unframed prints on thick watercolour paper (incredibly well packaged to avoid damage) and I put them each into wooden frames to match the rest of Holly's room. You can choose to get the pieces of art personalised for your child too, should you wish.

The first of the prints is a funny giraffe print called "Chillin" which features a giraffe chilling out in a pond with his friend! The other, "Jungle Tigers" is my absolute favourite from the range and it features two cheeky tiger faces peeping from the bushes. Carla's cartoon style is just what I was looking for on the nursery walls and I think they are both a hit with Holly (I know her big sister thinks they are good fun).

Carla's wall art prints cost around £13 each and I think they make a great addition to the nursery.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Neom Luxury Organics Tranquility Bath Foam

About an hour ago I had a bath. OK, so thats nothing new (I'm not that stinky) but on a Thursday that bath is the one thing that drives me to get through the day. Thursday is my day off work. My day off should be relaxing... but it isn't! I spend a Thursday morning taking my toddler and preschooler to swimming lessons. In the afternoon I take Holly out and about then come home to finish of the weeks chores. By the time Mr. B. gets home from work I am totally worn out... I hand off both girls to him and disappear for that short half-hour of me time. The bath. Mellow Time.

Today's bath was made all the more mellow by the addition of my latest find - Neom Luxury Organic Tranquility Bath Foam.

Tranquility Bath Foam

The Tranquility bath foam is perfect for the run-up to bedtime because the blend of organic essential oils is calming and relaxing... it helps me in the wind-down period and is a perfect way to recover from the stresses of the day. the philosophy behind Neom Luxury Organics is exactly my mantra - natural and organic cosmetics don't have to sacrifice quality, luxury or incredible fragrances. Natural oils make some of the most amazing scents on the planet and I have been known to sit on the edge of the bath sniffing the bottle while my bath runs!

The scents which contribute to the mellowness are a blend of English Lavender, Jasmine and Sweet Basil. I did find though that the scent quickly fades once you have run the bath. But actually, I don't think that really matters. Once I'm in the bath I look for a non-oily mix but which doesn't dry the skin and the Neom luxury Organics bath foam does just that. Afterwards my skin feels as relaxed as I am and I'm sure this is to do with the active ingredients of Aloe Leaf, Marshmallow, Sweet Almond and Coconut.

At £20 for a 200ml bottle, the Tranquility Bath Foam is certainly an indulgence but my, oh my, does it feel good at the end of a Thursday evening! I do love it though and if the scent lasted that little longer once I was in the bath then I think it would have a permanent role in my Thursday evening ritual.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Personalised Kids Apron - Made By Jude

Sometimes I bliming love being a blogger; one of the reasons why I do what I do is because I enjoy finding out about new and exciting places to buy products for babies and children and Made By Jude is one such awesome new find.

Jude has launched her own online business to sell handmade taggy blankets, dribble bibs, children's aprons and personalised items.  Jude contacted me to try out some of her handmade products for babies and children and I knew instantly that, since Holly has just started to join me and Lara in the kitchen, that Holly NEEDED a personalised apron from Jude!

Holly's personalised Apron is incredibly simple in design but it is so much better quality than anything you could buy in a shop... from the quality of the fabric (a nice thick cotton twill) to the handy pocket at the front (good for putting grubby spoons in).  My favourite feature (other than Holly's name embroidered across the front) is the simple mechanism for adjusting the length of the neck-tie... why don't more aprons have these??? This simple thing means that, although the apron is quite large for Holly now, I can adjust it so that it sits well across her front and, as she grows it will grow with her... it is certainly big enough for Lara to use so there will be many years of use ahead of us.

Jude also sent Lara a sample of her handmade toy cloth nappy (great timing for Real Nappy Week this week).  I think this is one of the most genius things on the planet.  I can see it being a good way for Jude to use small pieces of fabric up but the outcome is a toy suitable for a doll or a teddy bear which gets your child into eco-role-play!  I have always thought it a little disappointing that the only nappies that Lara's doll Rosie gets to use are toy disposable nappies.  At first, I let Lara try using Holly's cloth nappies but they were much too huge for her doll.  It is great that Lara can join in with our green way of life through role-play and the handmade toy nappy looks very similar to some of our different brands of pop-together cloth nappies!  The dolls cloth nappy costs £4.

You can find Jude and her handmade products at and on Facebook.  Do take a look at her products.

Contigo Kids Leakproof Drinking Bottles

These innovative kids drinks bottles from Contigo® are a revalation for us! Not only are they chunky, sturdy, bright and fun but they also save me a lot of headaches with their clever techniques for preventing leaks.

The Contigo® travel range is not exclusively for kids but the range of bright colours definitely appeals to Lara and the clever technology is perfect for preschoolers who like to run around.

Lara's Striker bottle has an AUTOSPOUT® button which releases the spout when she needs it. This makes the bottle perfect for taking with us on days out because I can shove it into my changing bag or at the bottom of the buggy and not have to worry about the spout getting dirty as it is hidden away. When the spout is closed, Contigo® claim that it is 100% leak proof... and so far I would agree - another reason why I'm happy to keep it in the bottom of my changing bag. Lara seems to get great pleasure out of popping the spout open and closing it again!

Lara's favourite bottle though is the Runabout bottle which has an AUTOSEAL® lid which magically closes between sips. Lara has to press the button in order to drink and as she releases the button, the lid closes. Despite being called the runabout (and yes, it is good for a preschooler who wants to run about with it) actually the thing I love most about this cup is that Lara can take it up to bed with her and leave it on her bedside table without any risk of knocking the water over in her sleep. Additionally, when her little sister is roaming the house free, I know that there is no harm in her grabbing Lara's bottle because she can't throw water all over herself. I will admit that I had been getting very bored of mopping up water from that cup on Lara's bedside table EVERY morning until this Contigo® came into our lives. THANK YOU!!!

Both of the Contigo® bottles we tried are dishwasher safe in the top rack of the dishwasher. The Striker bottle has a straw inside it which easily comes apart and can be placed into the cutlery rack for cleaning.

Prices start at £13.99 which seemed like a lot originally, for a drinks bottle but after a few weeks of use, I am quite genuinely of the opinion that these bottles are good value for money and I always choose one of these over the £4.99 supermarket bottle Lara had before. The Contigo® Travel range is available from Amazon and John Lewis.


Friday, 19 April 2013

P&G and Asda Clean Water Campaign

P&G has partnered with Asda and for every pack of a P&G product purchased, they will donate one day’s clean drinking water though the P&G Asda Clean Water Campaign.

Whilst most of the readers of Mellow Mummy are fortunate enough to have safe, clean water available at our fingertips, 2,000 children worldwide die as a result of diseases that cause diarrhoea by drinking contaminated water every day. This means that more children die from diarrheal illnesses such as cholera and dysentery, than from HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. P&G has been working to combat the crisis through its purification technology – little sachets that can transform 10 litres of contaminated water into something that is clean and safe to drink in just 30 minutes. You can see the magic in action below and I'm going to try and give it a whirl myself this weekend:

Until the 8th of May you can make a difference too just by doing your normal weekly shopping because for every P&G product bought in store at ASDA, P&G will donate the wherewithal to produce a day's clean drinking water. After the 8th May, a number of P&G products including brands Gillette, Ariel, Fairy and Pantene® which bear the 1 pack = 1 day’s clean drinking water logo will continue to trigger a donation the programme.

For people that do not wish to purchase but would like to participate, you can visit and throughout the campaign, every like or share will trigger a donation of a day’s drinking water to the CSDW Programme.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Bailey Button Butterfly Ugg Boots - 100% Lara

Lara has been pestering me for a pair of boots for ages ("Mummy, I want some snuggly boots like yours") but Lara has been blessed with fat calves, just like her Mummy, so boots don't often fit... to be honest, I hadn't entertained the idea of UGG boots for her until UGG contacted us to try out some of their toddler and kids UGG boots.

The Bailey Button Butterly Boots for toddlers are, I will admit, an extravagance at £100 but when you're nearly 4 things don't get much better than a pair of soft, purple, fleecy, butterfly print, shimmery boots, do they? These boots are Lara's dream shoe. Purple and with butterflys. The only trouble is that now Lara wants to wear them all of the time as slippers, trainers and every day shoes and there is absolutely no way I am going to let her wear these UGGs to nursery. The first time Lara jumps in a muddy puddle wearing them, I will probably break.

Lara's favourite element of her new boots is the rubberised butterfly-shaped button which she finds really fascinating.  To me, the most fascinating thing is the name.  These Bailey Button boots are not only perfectly made for Lara, but named after her too!

Now that the weather is warmer, I'm wondering how much Lara will really want to wear her snuggly UGG boots.  I know that my own fleecy boots are beginning to feel a bit warm when I go to work and I'm on the lookout for a more summery pair of shoes.

Note: We were sent the UGG boots for review but that doesn't stop this being a fun and honest read.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Cooking With Kids :: Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Lara and I seem to spend increasing amounts of time together in the kitchen.  Even if I am preparing an adult-only dish (something I do very rarely, even with a baby in the house) Lara likes to help me chop, measure, stir and fry.

Our latest discover is the Great British Chefs website who have an entire section of kids recipes, or for kids.  The 100+ family-friendly recipes are all contributed by some of the biggest names in UK gastronomy with the likes of Galton Blackiston, Shaun Rankin and Nathan Outlaw.

Lara and I liked the look of a LOT of the recipes on the Great British Chefs website but our first challenge was a recipe by Matthew Tomkinson for Bacon Stuffed Spuds.

I won't divulge the entire recipe here but let me give you an idea of the ingredients:-

4 baking potatoes, large
1 large onion, very finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, very finely sliced
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
1 leek
1 red pepper, diced
1 head of broccoli
100g of mature cheddar
2 tbsp of olive oil
3 pinches of salt
1 pinch of black pepper

This recipe was a good starting point for Lara because it required few complex skills other than chopping, grating and mashing.  The recipe was easy to follow and all of the measurements seemed to work well for us.  Lara doesn't eat leek so we replaced the garnish with a sprinkling of flat-leaf parsley.  Lara, Holly, Mr. B. and myself all very much enjoyed the potatoes and agreed that we will DEFINITELY be cooking this recipe again in the future.


If you can get past the over-Tesco-fication of the Great British Chefs website, it is a wonderful resource for recipes for children that are much more grown-up than many I've seen before.  To me, cooking with my girls isn't just about cakes and biscuits but about passing on real skills and sharing a love of healthy, tasty food.

Monday, 15 April 2013

5 Reasons Why I Shop Online

Online shopping is a common theme on my blog and quite often I'm involved in discussions on Facebook and the like about the decline of the high street vs the rise of home shopping so here is a list of reasons why I choose to shop online.

1. Weekends are sacred. I don't want to spend the few family days that I have browsing round shops. I want to spend them at theme parks, playgrounds, crafting, baking, pretending to be a princess... You know the thing. When I shop online I can arrange for parcels to be delivered to me at work, or at the weekend so I don't have to brave the shops with two children in tow.

My parcel stash - my home shopping legacy!

2. Ease of return. Most of the online mail order companies I have ever used are incredibly easy to return items to if they are wrong, or if they don't fit. If I shop for clothes for the girls in a high street store I almost always end up having to find time to go back another day to make a return. Some online retailers offer free returns, others even pay the postage costs for you but in general it is easier for me to get to a post office than a shop!

3. The Internet is home to an amazing array of small retailers. One of the things I enjoy most about being a blogger is that I get to find out about lots of small and exciting retailers of clothes, toys and baby products. The rise of online shopping means that I have a much wider range of products to choose from and I can find out about and buy from talented individuals from other parts of the country such as Made By Jude with whom I previously could never have done business.

Holly modelling her handmade apron from Made by Jude

4. Availability. Online I can almost always find out before I commit to buy, whether or not the item I want is available. This means a lot to me. In the days before online shopping I can think of many, many situations in which I parted with money, or placed an order, only to find out that there would be a delay of days, if not weeks... Sometimes the convenience of being able to check stock availability means you can buy a present or an emergency item of holiday clothing with only a day or twos notice.

5. Range. If you shop online with a big mail order catalogue or a big high street brand name then you have access to their full range of products when they may only stock a small range in store. as a very tall woman with very big feet I usually find that stores don't regularly stock my sizes but the same brand online will have their full range available.

For these reasons, I'd say that since returning to work in January, about 90% of my non-grocery shopping takes place online.

NOTE: This is a collaborative post with K&Co but that doesn't stop it being fun to read

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Scootrix Scooter Noise Maker Review

The Handpicked Collection always have something quirky in their new catalogues that surprises me and this brand new scooter accessory from Scootrix is our latest find.

The Scootrix Noisemaker is a small rubberised attachment that clips over any scooter's handlebars.  It has four buttons which, when pressed, make four different sound effects at quite some volume which allow your child to be heard when they are whizzing along on their scooters.

For Lara, the novelty is in the noises.  She particularly enjoys the police siren and the star-wars-esque laser-style sound effects.  Lara likes to unclip the Noisemaker and take it with her indoors!!!

For adults there is also a good reason to own a Noisemaker.  Lots of parents take their children our in public on their scooters; I know we see lots of children on the school run and we often take Lara to the park on her scooter.  The Scootrix Noisemaker is handy if your child is on a pavement and wants to notify another pedestrian that they are behind them, a bit like a bell, but with crazier noises!!!

I like the fact that the Noisemaker is easily removable and that the volume is genuinely loud enough to be heard when out on the pavement but I think the noise might take some pedestrians by surprise.

The Scootrix Noisemaker costs £9.95 from The Handpicked Collection who have some great gift ideas for kids.

Baby Napiers natural skincare for babies

Holly is just showing signs of sensitive skin... She lasted a lot longer than her sister, perhaps because we have been more picky about the bath and skin products that we have used on her since birth and always tend to use natural and organic skincare for both of our girls these days. Napiers, a big name in UK natural health and skincare, asked us to review some of the products from the Baby Napiers range.

We tried out the Baby Napiers Little Flower Baby Bath Wash which is an extremely mild baby wash and bubble bath that won't strip the oils from your baby's skin. The active ingredients are chickweed, chamomile, lavender and mandarin peel which, combined, should also give the wash a great scent but in fact I found it to be so mild that the scent wasn't strong at all, barely noticeable, especially once it is used in the bath.

The Little Flower natural baby wash is great for us because Holly loves bubbles but usually we can't have bubble bath because the girls share a bath and most bubbles irritate Lara's skin. we can use the Baby Napiers bubbles and I'm pleasantly surprised how well it foams. I think it is most effective when used as a body wash though, it cleans well and leaves the girls skin unaffected. It is mild enough to be used as a shampoo too.

After the bath we have been using the Baby Napiers Clever Chickweed Cooling Cream which is designed to soothe dry and irritates skin. The timing has been effect for us because Holly has just been showing signs of dry skin (I put this down to the fact that now she is walking we tends to get into more messy situations so needs a bath more often... We only normally bathe the girls a couple of times a week to prevent dry skin).

The Cooling Cream also has a barely perceptible scent but the texture of the cream is nice... It's not runny but certainly not too thick to rub in. On Holly's skin it absorbs quickly and I've noticed that Holly gives a noticeable sigh of relief when I apply it to her arms.

Both of the Baby Napiers products we tried were good baby staples for those looking to use natural baby cosmetics. I haven't been blown away by them, and would have preferred a stronger natural scent but they are effective and affordable. Napiers offer free delivery when you spend over £20 and they also sell a gorgeous wicker basket that you can fill with baby products to make a beautiful gift basket.

Mellow Mummy readers can get a 10& discount at Napiers using the code MELLOW13

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Travel Inspiration for Preschoolers

It is quite some time since we last took a long-haul flights with Lara and now that we are a family of four, the idea of a long flight with two children is quite frankly terrifying.  This year our long-haul is by road but however you travel, finding enough entertainment and inspiration for children during those long miles is a challenge.  Emirates sent Lara one of their new toy kits which are designed for preschoolers to see whether it inspired her.

The Emirates toy kit includes a rucksack and a Dr. Suess paperback book (ours was 'I can read with my eyes shut' which Lara absolutely loved and even attempted to read with me!!!).  There is also a Quiksilver folio which includes a notepad and pen as well as lots of activity sheets about their trip.  And finally there is the blanket which is wrapped by the very cool 'Fly With Me' monster who is a fluffy companion for your kids.

I was totally taken aback when Lara first opened her Emirates rucksack... literally seconds later she had curled up on the living room floor under her blanket, wearing her eye mask and cuddling her new-found monster friend for a little nap!!!  It was evident that Lara was instantly inspired.

Lara's monster is called Worzel.  Apparently he likes climbing hills, shouting and making noise but he hates smelly socks!!!

The one disappointment in the Emirates Toy Kit was the Quiksilver folio which I didn't feel fitted the same sort of age range as the other products.  The writing was too small for Lara to be interested in and the surf theme was a bit grown up for her.  Some of the activity sheets would be great for older children to help them think about and document their travels but for Lara they were just pages for her to scribble on.

On the whole, I think Lara would be reasonably impressed if she were given one of these on her travels.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Hello Kitty Lunch Bag Review

Hello Kitty lunchbox
When I was approached by Internet Gift Store to review one of their lunch bags, it suddenly dawned on me that this time next week we will know which school Lara has been allocated a place at.  Eeek.  Before I know it we will be in the world of lunchboxes (or indeed school dinners!) and the struggle for ideas for what to put into her lunch each morning.

I've not owned a lunchbox since I was at school and things seem to have come on quite a lot with the lunch bag (a soft-sided container) seeming to be the current trend.  I had a really good browse through the range of lunch bags on the Internet Gift Store because I wanted to choose Lara a bag which would get her excited about the prospect of school - at present she seems to hate the idea ("I want to go to nursery for ever, Mummy").

And so I chose this Hello Kitty lunch bag.  There were lots of different Hello Kitty bags on offer along with lots of other favourite children's characters but this is probably the most bold and instantly recognisable of the lot.

Hello kitty lunch bag

Hello Kitty Drinks Bottle
The lunch bag is nothing out of the ordinary.  The main pocket is a rounded rectangle and is a decent enough size to fit a drink, sandwich, fruit and snacks into.  To test it out, I also got this metal Hello Kitty drinking flask which has a flip-top cover over the spout.  The bottle isn't insulated but the aluminium casing will help to keep drinks slightly cooler.  It is a 400ml bottle which is slightly smaller than I think I would want to regularly send her to school with but for the time being it will make a great container for her to carry with her throughout the day for when she needs a drink.

The Hello Kitty lunchbag zips up and has a carry handle.  There is also a small name tag at the bottom so that it will be identifiable when it is placed on a shelf with everyone else's lunch bags.  I'm hoping that simply having the lunch bag will get Lara excited about the prospect of "picnic" lunches with new school friends.  At £8.99 for the bag and £3.99 for the bottle, I think that it is a small price for a happy Lara!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Little Grippers Sock Review

Socks. I never suffered sock woes with Lara, but Holly gets through socks at such a rate! I must have had to go back to our local supermarket about 10 times so far to ask if anyone has found a missing sock.. Sometimes even a shoe! Little Grippers claim to have found an answer to my woes... their clever socks that stay put.

I'll admit that I've never tried a contraption that holds baby socks in place because I have worried that they might be uncomfortable for Holly to wear, or that they might add too much bulk should I want to put shoes in Holly to keep her warm. The beauty of the Little Grippers baby and toddler socks is that they don't need anything extra to hold them on... They are normal soft ribbed baby socks but with a line of their magic Stay On material around the top cuff of the sock which help them to stay up.

I can only describe the material of the stay on grip to be a bit like the thin line of nearly adhesive magic stuff that kept my nylon stockings up on the day I got married! The 'sticky' bit is invisible from the outside and is made of natural materials. My initial thoughts were that it would feel a bit uncomfy on Holly's ankles but then I remembered those wedding stockings and the fact that you simply couldn't feel anything at all, and that settled my mind.

The Little Grippers socks are great. Nothing awfully exciting on the outside (they are currently available in pink, blue, yellow and white) but they certainly do stay on well.  I chose Holy a pair for age 12-24 months and she is, admittedly, a bit small for them but despite the fact that they look enormous on her, they have never yet fallen off!.  I'm impressed enough to have started looking at their bigger girls school socks for later this year when Lara starts school.

Magic stay-on stuff around the ankle

Wild Weather Book Review

You may remember my new years resolution to get out in the fresh air with my girls at least once a week, whatever the weather.  Well, the Wild Weather Book has been a great inspiration for fun outside throughout the cold spell and I'm sure it will be a wonderful resource for Lara over the coming months and years.

The Wild Weather Book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield has lots of ideas of things for children (and adults) to do outdoors in rain, wind or snow so I no longer have any excuses for staying inside when the weather is, shall we say, challenging.

The book contains 72 'projects' from making your own decorative wind sock, to rain painting.  From snow angels to den making.  From rain instruments to mud pies.

I am actually slightly embarrassed to admit that every time Lara picks up and browses The Wild Weather Book she shudders and comments on the first page of the book which features some very muddy feet covered in gloopy rainy mud!  Lara has always been a bit funny with 'dirt' and it took her a very long time to get used to mixing food with her fingers.  The thought of mud on her feet seems to repulse her!  She definitely hasn't inherited that from me - I love to get messy, MUD is one of the things that memories are made of.

So I've taken it as a challenge that this year I am going to help Lara through lots of the projects in The Wild Weather Book to try and make her more relaxed around mud, around sticks and leaves and the real world!  I think challenge one will be project 19 from the book - outdoor adventures for the bath toys.  I bet Lara will cringe if I even suggest that she takes the bath toys outside.  Holly on the otherhand will love it and I think this is a great outdoor project because people of all ages can get involved.

I know that Daddy is looking forward to den building and making a tent out of a tarpaulin (something I remember well from my own childhood).  And, should we be blessed with any more random snowfall in April like we were this week, I'm hoping to teach Lara the joys of snow angels.

I would say that about half of the outdoor projects in The Wild Weather Book are things I would probably have tried with my girls over the years with or without the book but it is nice to have something to jog the memory.  As Lara grows up I expect her to browse the book herself and set about projects without our involvement.  And the other half of the projects are great inspiration... I'm poised here now with a roll of kitchen paper and some felt tips pens just in case it rains!!!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Test of Time

I blog a lot about baby products - it really is why Mellow Mummy started out. To me, as a second-time Mum, the real test of a product is to see whether I am still using it 3 to 4 years on with my second baby or, if it is a product that has worn out, whether I have invested in a replacement for baby number two. So, here are my current top 10 baby products I used and loved (and in most cases reviewed) with Lara and which have stood the test of time.

1. MAM Bottles
Holly and I tried almost every brand of bottle on the market to try and make her transition from boob to bottle less stressful. In the end we settled on the same MAM bottles that we used for Lara and came to the conclusion that Holly was always going to be a fussy feeder.

2. Bibetta Bibs
I've been a fan of the Bibetta flexible bib since the very first day we bought one. When I reviewed the Bibetta pelican bib with Lara I never expected to still be using them with Holly, nearly 4 years on. Again, I've tried a few different brands but the Bibetta bibs remain my most-used and most-recommended because they are so easy to wash and because they fold up nice and small in my changing bag. They are the only bib I've used which really keeps the girls clean and dry at mealtimes.

3. Tommee Tippee Explora Easy Grip Cup
Over the years I must now have tried somewhere in the region of 40 different toddler beakers and cups but there are only three cups I actually choose to still use now with Holly (two of them feature on this list). The Tommee Tippee Explora Easy Grip Cup isn't the girls favourite, nor is it the most compact but it is dependable... I never get any leaks from it when it is in my changing bag and the lid is the most user-friendly of any cup I've tried because it twists on.

4. Annabel Karmel Cup by Lindam
I am not 100% convinced that Lindam still make their plain red Annabel Karmel trainer cups any more but I know they certainly still sell on Amazon which is why I stocked up on a couple of replacement lids for our cups when Holly first moved to a beaker.  These cups are easy to use and have a lid which covers the whole spout.  My only complaint is that tiny teeth can be tempted to bite through the spouts.

5. Totseat
The totseat travel highchair remains my number one baby buy of all time! We haven't used it an awful lot for Holly (partly because we haven't eaten out with her so much in places that lack highchairs) but it still remains in my changing bag at all times for use as an emergency highchair.  It is so wonderfully compact that I can take it anywhere and be highchair-ready in a matter of seconds.

6. Kiddicare Travel Cot
I've tried a number of travel cots at different hotels across Europe and, those of a traditional design are all much of a muchness but our Kiddicare travel cot is dead simple to assemble and reasonably compact for its traditional style.  We have tried smaller, more portable travel cots but I still go back to this one, mainly because it is dependable.  The cot has a slightly padded base (but as always would benefit from a softer mattress) and has velcro to hold the mattress in place.  Simple.

7. Bumpsters
I never quite grasped the idea of the cot bumper with Lara and we discovered the Bumpsters quite late on and never got to make the most of them.  We used the Bumpsters cot bar bumpers from day one with Holly on her crib, and then later on her cot.  The genius of the bumpsters is that you can place them in the areas where your child needs them to protect their heads and limbs from bumping against the side of the cot or from sticking out through the bars... you aren't restricted to just using them at the head or the foot of the bed. They have been so successful that I bought a second set so I could cover more areas of the cot.

8. Brother Max Bath Toys
Our set of Brother Max bath toys came to live with us even before Lara was born and were a hit with her even in the very first days. One or two of the toys succumbed to limescale so we bought a new set before Holly was born.  The toys are all chunky and great for tiny hands to hold and shake and begin to explore water fun.

9. Brother Max 3-in-1 Digital Thermometer
My next family favourite is also by Brother Max.  Our 3-in-1 thermometer saw a lot of action for both Lara and Holly over the cold and flu season this winter and I am always grateful for the speed and ease of use. Lara thinks it is the greatest contraption on earth and actually requests that I take her temperature, sometimes totally out of the blue!

10. Bambino Mio Reusable Nappies
Sadly, since starting at nursery, we have had to stop using reusable nappies on Holly (it isn't worth the washing cycle if you are only using 1 or 2 nappies a day at home) but for the first 9 months of her life Holly had a cloth bum!  While we enjoyed using BumGenius nappies because of their simplicity, both myself and Mr. B. are agreed that the classic Bambino Mio two-fold nappies were still the most consistent, absorbent and reliable of our cloth nappies and having used them for two children now (and packed them away for a potential third), they have definitely worked well for us in terms of cost savings.

Obviously there are lots of toys, clothes and bed linen that we have kept hold of and loved and maybe I'll blog about them some day!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Selling and Saving

You may remember me blogging about how I was clearing out our guest room in order to turn it into a playroom.  Do you remember my master plan to make money out of all our unwanted junk and use the proceeds to pay off the mortgage?  Well I thought I would update you on how the selling and the saving is coming along.

So far my selling has raised us over £560 which has been paid straight to the mortgage.  OK, so that doesn't sound like an awful lot of money towards such a whopping great debt but over the course of the next 23 years that £560 will make a lot of a difference to the total amount we need to repay.

In the past month the sales have dried up a little so it is time to refocus and raid the cupboards again for more things to sell!  So the plan for the next few months is baby products and clothing...

packing up to sell baby things at the NCT sale

... during April I have decided to take part in my very first NCT Nearly New Sale.  I have lots of newborn and tiny baby clothes and toys that I am ready to pass on to new homes so I have spent this weekend washing, labelling and boxing up baby bits and pieces.  Our local NCT sale charges both an administration fee and a 30% commission so it remains to be seen how much money the sale makes towards the mortgage fund.

So then there is clothes.  And I'm not just talking baby clothes but my clothes and those of Mr. B which are in really good condition, just that we don't really wear them.  In the past I've attempted selling clothes in online auctions with little success, despite having a sister in law who used to sell like this on a grand scale (perhaps I need some more tips).  But there are other options if you are looking to sell your own clothes to make a little cash with the arrival of clothing trade-in sites such as Music Magpie.

this cupboard of clothes is the first place for me to start!

So next weekend I am going to empty out all of the wardrobes and drawers in our house and perform a full clothing audit to find all the clothes that haven't seen the light of day for years.  This, my friends, is the next stage of operation "pay the mortgage off".

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