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

Sunday 30 June 2013

Content and Calm Traykit Review

This is the TrayKit by Content & Calm.  It is a great travel item for children which is suitable for taking on aeroplanes or in cars.  On one hand the Traykit is a handy carry-on bag for your child to take with them all the little nick nacks that are vital when you're on the move.  And on the other, it folds out as a really useful tray that dangles from the chair in front.

Lara took her TrayKit with her on our latest 2000 mile road trip down to the South of France last month.  Lara packed into it her colouring book and pencils, a reading book, a writing book, a small cuddly toy (the poor old bear had to be squeezed in at times!) and a few DVDs for watching while we were driving long journeys.  I think Lara really enjoyed carrying her Traykit with her and she loved the sense of purpose and ownership of something she could keep with her in the car.

I think the TrayKit is primarily designed for use on an aeroplane and the tray, when fully folded out has quite a good stretch from the seat in front.  The tray has a raised edge all the way around so that pencils and toys won't roll off it - genius!  I found it to be a little unstable when strapped to the headrest of the car seat but it was stable enough for Lara to place her books on... I probably wouldn't have trusted her to balance a drink on it.  The surface is wipe-clean so it wouldn't matter so much if there were spillages!

On the whole, I think the TrayKit was a success while we were on our travels but I think there are a couple of areas where I would like to see it improved as it evolves - slightly more useful pockets and a more stable way of attaching to a car seat are high on my list.  I think Lara would have liked to see some bigger pockets, or fold out pockets inside... she also struggled a bit with the zip on the rounded corners of the satchel.

Lara is really looking forward to using her TrayKit again later in the summer.  The Content & Calm TrayKit costs around £25 and is available in a range of different pink or blue patterns.

Thursday 27 June 2013

What's Your Bedtime Routine?

What is your bedtime routine? In the Mellow household I had been really worried about how a bedtime routine with two was going to work but for the first 13 months things seemed to have naturally found a rhythm with Lara and Holly both going to bed more or less at the same time now. If you've read this morning's blog post you will know that we are currently struggling a bit with Holly at bedtimes so maybe it is time for a rethink?

Fairy Non-Bio recently conducted some research into little one's bedtimes. They found that bedtime is usually Mum's domain, compared to dads. I was really interested to hear that their research showed that among working mums, such as me, an active involvement in bedtime was seen as a priority (although most working mums admit that bedtime happens later and sometimes things such as an evening bath have to be skipped in order to fit in the rest of the bedtime routine).

Fairy Non-Bio found that 1 in 10 parents they spoke to found that bedtime was a cause of stress and tension in their families. I know that in our house right now, bedtime can drag. Lara likes to have LOTS of stories and will often try and squeeze in a bit of play, or 'spotting' before she has to settle down to sleep (as I type this Mr. B. is rushing upstairs for the 3rd time this evening to try and coax her back into bed. Holly thinks that the world has too much to offer her to waste her time sleeping and will scream and scream until she physically can't stand up any more. Lullabies, rocking, music and soothing scents don't seem to be helping her right now. Bedtimes could be mellower... I'll admit.

But for me, as with 8 out of 10 of the mums that Fairy Non-Bio spoke to, the best part of Lara's nightly routine is the bedtime story because it is the very last part of the routine and helps to calm her down and settle her off to sleep. Lara loves to hear a story. Lara loves books. In fact, one of the main reasons why I'm in the process or decorating the play room is so that we have a room that can house Lara's massive children's book collection!

To celebrate the importance of bedtime reading, Fairy Non-Bio is currently running an on-pack promotion where parents can write in for three new Timmy Time books, developed exclusively for Fairy Non-Bio. To me, this is FABULOUS news because in summer 2010 they previously joined forces with Timmy Time and we collected all of the Timmy Time books and they proved so popular that a couple of months ago the books started disintegrating because we had read them so often (and taken them with us abroad on holiday)... I suspect I can recite the books by heart now so I am looking forward to some new Timmy Time books!

You can find out more about Timmy Time at and about Fairy Non Bio at

Cot, Bed or Bunkbeds?

We are back from a scrumptiously lovely week in the South of France.  We stayed in a small apartment overlooking the mediterranean; Lara stayed in a bunk bed which she found phenomenally exciting and poor old Holly was limited to her lumpy bumpy travel cot for for 10 nights in a row... the poor sausage.

Ready for bed on holiday... but soooo not sleepy!

Ever since we got back from holiday Holly has been a total nightmare in her cot.  She won't settle and she keeps standing up.  She reaches for anything she can possibly get hold of from her cot.  I've had to remove the baby monitor (she reached the power cable) and the lamp (she reached the cable) and tuck the window blind in.  And so now I'm thinking about moving Holly into a bed.  I know, it is incredibly early but Lara was only 16 months when I moved her... and Holly is now 14 months.

chocolate before bedtime = bedtime disaster
We only recently bough Lara her own full-sized wooden bed so I think that bunkbeds for the girls are out of the question.  And we've only recently bought a metal bed  as a guest bed for the shiny new fusion guest room / play room.  So really, I'm resistant to buying another bed right now and I'm tempted to see if Holly can last it out in her cot.

From the very day Holly was born I've been excited about the day that the two girls would move into a room together.  I have fond memories of sharing a room with my sister (and throwing things at her from the top bunk of our bunk beds) and I can't wait for my two girls to share.  I'm interested to know people's experiences of moving a younger sibling in with their older brother or sister.  Is it too young to move Holly in with Lara if the two of them will interfere with each other's bedtime routine? Will each other's presence disturb them at night? If Holly moves into a bed, will she get up and wake her sister up?

Disclosure: This is a featured post but it is my own words and I hope it is still fun to read!

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Talking 'Bees' With Preschoolers and Disney's the Hive

Disney’s The Hive toys have teamed up with bee charity Adopt-a-Hive in a brand new campaign to raise awareness for the plight of wild bees in the UK. Together with the popularity of this favourite Disney TV programme, the campaign will be gaining support for wild bees and educating children and families about how they can help the issue.  Recently I was given the opportunity to interview Tony Gray (an expert in all things Bee) about how we can get our children involved in the campaign.

Disney's The Hive Playset

Me: My daughter loves to spend time planting vegetables in the garden but this year she has asked to grow some flowers (Fine by me because flowers attract insects who help to pollinate the vegetables!) – what flowers would you recommend for a preschooler to plant if she wants to invite bees into our garden?

Tony Gray: I would suggest open flowers such as French marigolds and Foxgloves. They are really easy to grow, bees love them and they flower for a long time. Thyme and Marjoram are also very good because not only do the bees love them but you can use these herbs in your cooking too! Why not get your daughter to find out which flowers bloom every month of the year and plant those. It’s fun to discover each month but is also a challenging task!

Me: How would you reason with an angry four year old who thinks that bees are frightening?

Tony Gray: Explain to your daughter that without them there wouldn’t be any fruit, apples, pears, strawberries or raspberries. However, it’s not a bad idea if children have a healthy respect for bees and don’t just grab them – they will sting if this happens. The trick is to look but don’t touch!

Explain to your daughter how the bees find flowers by doing the ‘waggle dance’. The number of waggles they do is the distance and the angle that they cut across the circle of the flower to line up with the angle of the sun. Your daughter will also be interested to know that bees have five eyes, one of which can see polarised light, and even when it’s cloudy.

Children of four are just starting to discover things so encourage them in their exploration. An interesting fact for little ones is that it takes 50,000 trips to a flower to make a jar of honey. Finally, my advice is to try to not be frightened yourself when bees are buzzing around as this will make children scared also!

Me: Are bees really fluffy?

Only bumblebees are fluffy and there are 50 species of these in the UK. Honeybees are smooth but have furry backs when they first pupate. They lose this hair as they grow older. They also have special long hairs on their back legs that they use to transport pollen. You can see these bags quite easily as they fly into a hive.

Me: In The Hive, the bees have a strong family bond and friendships with other insects.  What lessons can we learn about community and family from bees?

Tony Gray: Naturally bees are not really linked to any other insect. They do however have a strong hive identity, which is linked to the pheromones (chemicals) that the queen secretes.  I don’t think we can really learn about community and family since they are so alien to mammals. However a colony as a super-organism is amazing. We need to marvel at the diversity of nature.

To find out more about how you can help save the bees with Disney’s The Hive toys, visit

Monday 24 June 2013

The One With The Hello Kitty Birthday Cake...

... and a very happy 4 year old daughter!

Last week Lara turned 4 (although, looking at her you'd say she was heading for 16).  We took Lara to choose her new bike and then we went for a day out at Wellington Country Park.  In true 'National Picnic Week' style we enjoyed a picnic together by the lake.

This weekend was a much less peaceful affair.  On Friday night I set to creating Lara's Hello Kitty birthday cake.  This time last year I made the epic Winne the Pooh cake in my spare time on maternity leave while baby Holly was sleeping.  This year I'm back at work and Holly barely gives us a spare minute to ourselves so making a cake is a little more of a rush but, despite being finished a full 24 hours later than planned, the cake seemed to be a success.

Hello Kitty Birthday Cake
Hello Kitty Birthday Cake

I will admit that I cheated a little and, after much umming and aaahing I decided to buy a Hello Kitty cake tin from ebay because I wasn't convinced that I would be able to get the correct shape for her face.  I'm glad I did.

The cake itself is a chocolate sponge made using the basic sponge recipe from the Great British Bake Off Showstoppers book (its a 4 egg sponge) and I'm beginning to learn that the secret to a good sponge is to cook it for a long time in a low oven... mine took about an hour to cook.

The cake is covered with a very thin layer of marzipan and then a layer of white fondant.  The eyes, whiskers and bow are made with pre-coloured ready to roll icing but I coloured the nose myself (I wasn't going to buy a whole pack of yellow icing for just the nose!)  The bow is outlined using an edible icing pen.

Lara's Hello Kitty themed party went incredibly well and all the children were phenomenally well behaved.  We played a Hello Kitty treasure hunt, pass the parcel and Pin-the-bow-on-the-Hello-Kitty.  Everyone went home smiling.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Kiddy Click'n Move 3 Buggy and Travel System Review

I'm really enjoying seeing how Kiddy's products evolve over time.  The Kiddy Click'n Move 3 is the latest incarnation of their successful buggy and travel system.  You can use the Click'n Move chassis with a buggy seat like we do, with any of the Kiddy infant carrier car seats or with a Kiddy carrycot.

Click'n Move 3 pushchair

Holly is at an age now where she enjoys looking out at the world from her buggy but, depending on how clingy she is feeling that day, it is nice that she can also face towards me in the Click'n Move 3.  The seat unit is incredibly easy to take on and off or to recline (my old travel system used to always bring me to tears every time I had to adjust it).

Click'n Move 3 from behind

When the Click'n Move 3 first arrived, three things immediately struck me:-

1. It is phenomenally light. The aluminium chassis means it is so light compared to any other travel system I've touched.  This means it is easy to manouvre and also means it is easy to get in and out of the car.
2. It is very narrow.  This is the first buggy I've owned which fits through both my internal and external doors with ease.
3. The handlebars have a massive range of heights.  This is brilliant for me because I always always suffer with the height of handlebars.  As a tall woman there aren't many buggies whose handlebars go high enough for me but I think the Click'n Move would be just as good for the more petite parents out there.

Click'n Move 3 from side

Holly seems really comfortable sitting upright in the Click'n Move although there is a good level of recline.  I found the 5-point harness easy to fit and adjust and the straps seem both sturdy and comfy.

My favourite feature of the Click'n Move 3 is the large sun canopy which stretches a long way down over the buggy to provide plenty of protection.  I'm also really impressed with the removable bumper bar.  Not only is it easy to take on and off but it also unzips to reveal a light weight raincover for the lower body; the Click'n Move does come with a raincover but this little extra in the bumper bar is great for unexpected showers or just to provide a little protection for the legs.

Little gripes about the Click'n Move include the fact that it doesn't collapse to a very compact shape.  It is an improvement over my old travel system but I would say that there isn't much room for shopping in my boot once the buggy is in there.  I also found the storage basket underneath the buggy to be hard to reach.  Although it is a good sized space that it zips closed (and is even lockable with a small padlock through the zip) I found that for such a spacious buggy, the storage area seems small and a very long way from the handlebars which aren't ideal for hanging a changing bag from.  I quite often end up pretty much sitting on the floor when I want to put something in or out of the storage area!

The suspension on the Click'n Move is also really impressive, there is a lot of bounce in the buggy as you push it over the pavement or 'off-road' and you know what... it feels good!  All in all, I'm really happy with the Click'n Move 3 pushchair and I think that if you are planning a Kiddy car seat then it would be a perfect travel system solution from birth for use as a pram as well.

You can buy a Kiddy carrycot to fit on the Click'n Move 3 wheels and the Kiddy Evolution Pro infant carrier car seat is specifically designed to integrate with it.  The Click'n Move 3 is available in 4 colours - ours is Stone.

Click'n Move 3 bumper bar

You can follow Kiddy UK on facebook and twitter.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Annabel Karmel Quick & Easy Toddler Recipes Book Review

Annabel Karmel's latest book is released today - Quick & Easy Toddler Recipes is a book perfect for our family as it features simple tasty recipes suitable for Holly, for Lara and the whole family.

I now own quite an array of Annabel Karmel cookery books - I like her simple approach to food without stressing too much about whether something is officially 'healthy' or officially 'fun'; it means that her recipe books aren't patronising.  Quick & Easy Toddler Recipes is a book for parents of toddlers and preschoolers but the recipes are suitable for all the rest of the family too, in fact there are lots of my own favourites in there such as Nasi Goreng and Sticky Lamb Chops.

The book features ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and pudding.  None of the recipes take up more than one page so they are very simple to follow.  There are a couple of recipe ideas that I recognise from Annabel's other books for slightly older children but I also find it quite comforting to see some recognisable flavour combinations from her weaning books which build upon baby recipes and turn them into dishes for more grown up children.

Chicken Tagliatelle Ragu

The photography throughout the book is perfect for getting Lara inspired by the food.  She will quite happily browse the book for ideas for her own dinner and will come away with a week's worth of ideas of things she wants to eat.  Recent quick wins have been the Peach and Rasberry Crumbles and Tagliatelle Ragu which we made with chicken mince which was a first for us.

I don't think there are any groundbreaking recipes in Annabel Karmel's Quick & Easy Toddler recipes but several of her oriental style recipes are a little out of the ordinary (Orange and Soy Sole for instance) but for me I like to have this book as a means of mealtime inspiration for the girls.

Quick & Easy Toddler Recipes is available in both hardback and Kindle edition on Amazon.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Little Learners Baby Book Review

Holly loves a good book. Quite often, when I pick her up from nursery in the evening she is sitting quietly in the corner with a book on her lap! At home she is a monster when it comes to paperback books so we've had to hide all of Lara's books out of sight but Holly has a box of board books in the corner that she will often help herself to. Holly's current favourite book is Peek-a-Boo Rainbow which is a Little Learners board book.

Holly Reading Her Little Learners Peek-a-Boo Rainbow Book

Holly loves this book because the rainbow acts as a carrying handle and she can walk around the living room with it easily until she finds the right spot to sit and read. Each page features a colour of the rainbow with some plants and animals of that colour and a little hole through which you can get a sneak peek of the next page...peek-a-boo.

I love the gentle yet bright colours which are perfect for Holly's age. I love the page backgrounds which are prints of textured material so they look like you can touch them and I too think that the layered rainbow carrying handle is a stroke of genius, it means that Holly can get in and open the pages even with her tiny fingers.

Holly walking with a Little Learners baby board book

Holly loves the peek-a-boo holes and giggles when she turns a page. I also think that she really notices the relationship between the colours on the page and the colours in the rainbow at the top. I think that Peek-a-Boo Rainbow is a great board book for babies and toddlers from birth upwards.

Holly also has another Little Learners board book - Touch and Feel Let's Play. Holly seems to enjoy me reading this to her more than the other; she rarely takes it away to read alone and prefers to plonk herself down on my knees and then place the book in my hand. Let's Play features pages with well known toys such as dolls, building blocks, musical instruments and soft toys. Each page clearly labels the items and throughout the book there are textured areas for your baby to touch and explore. Rough, glittery, soft, bumpy and leathery. The colours of this book are once again bright yet subtle. I would say that the textured areas aren't immediately obvious to Holly and quite often she will miss them altogether and move on so I have to take her hand and help her find them.

Holly reading a Little Learners baby book

The complete Little Learners range of books for babies and preschoolers is available at major retailers such as WH Smith, Early Learning Centre, Tesco and Sainsburys as well as online at Amazon. The range features some brilliant looking finger puppet books.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Children's Book Review - The Toucan Brothers by Tor Freeman

The Toucan Brothers turned up at our house rather out of the blue but as soon as I laid eyes on it, I absolutely knew that it was going to be a hit with Lara who always enjoys reviewing new books.  The illustrations throughout the book instantly reminded me of the busy world of Richard Scarry (who I believe was a very strong inspiration behind Tor Freeman's illustrative style) and as I quickly scanned through the story I could see that the rhymes were fun and in some cases cheeky!

I was right.  That night I read The Toucan Brothers to Lara and she immediately wanted me to read it again. In fact, for the last 10 days I think we must have read it to her at least twice every evening!  She is beginning to know the words off by heart.

The story is of two brothers who are honest and reliable plumbers (!) who get driven out of business by a new arrival in town - Flash Rover.  I guess it is a lesson about how cheaper doesn't necessarily mean better; and about how getting a job done properly and politely is always the better option.  I'm sure that there is a message in there about commercial pressures and competition but I think that may be a little lost on Lara right now.

I think that the attraction to Lara is the fun rhyme.  You may know how I feel about rhyming stories for kids... well, this one passed my test!  I found the rhyme easy to read throughout the whole book (there was only one line I felt was a bit unnatural) and most evenings I actually quite enjoy reading it to Lara.  I like to see Lara giggle when rabbit falls down the toilet and smile when the two Toucan brothers come to the rescue.

As Lara gets to know the story better she now spends more time exploring the pictures.  Each scene is so detailed and every time you look at a page you notice another amusing little detail.  The animal characters are all behaving like people and the style is recognisable from some of Tor Freeman's other books such as Showtime for Billie and Coco (which Lara loved, but I didn't enjoy anywhere near as much as The Toucan Brothers).

I think this book is great fun for children from about 3/4 right up to 11/12 year olds as there are different things that everyone can take away from it.

Sunday 9 June 2013

The PicnicChallenge - Spicy Chicken Florentine Ring REcipe

Lara and I were challenged to dream up a tasty and innovative picnic food recipe using some summery Unilever products. This spicy chicken florentine ring was inspired by a recent Pampered Chef party I hosted, its my own spicy twist and is incredibly easy to make. Lara enjoys laying out the ring of the dough and dolloping on the mixture. This ring works REALLY well when you chill it and eat it for lunch the next day... in fact, I think it tastes best that way.

spicy chicken florentine ring


225g skinless boneless pre-cooked chicken breasts
4 spring onions
1/2 a red pepper
280g frozen chopped spinach (weighed before defrosting)
1 egg
115g mature cheddar cheese, grated
3 tablespoons Hellmann's Mayonnaise with a Spark of Chilli
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 packets of chilled ready-to-roll croissant dough
3 tablespoons Colman's Sweet Chilli Mango Sauce

1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees centigrade (a little lower for a fan oven).
2. Coarsely chop the cooked chicken breasts into pieces about 1cm cubed. Chop the spring onions and red pepper into similar sized cubes.
3. Squeeze the defrosted spinach dry and then coarsely chop it and add it to the other ingredients.
4. Mix the Hellmann's Mayonnaise with a Spark of Chilli and the curry powder with the dry ingredients.
5. Lightly beat the egg and then add in two thirds of the grated cheese and mix everything together; add salt and pepper to taste.
6.On a large baking tray or pizza stone, lay out the triangles of croissant dough in a circle with the wide ends of the triangles in the centre to form a ring. Let the points of the triangles point outwards and dangle off the edge of the baking tray.
7. Spoon the chicken curry mixture onto each of the triangles into 12 lumps and then use the back of the spoon to spread the mixture out into a circle.

8. Fold the points of the triangles in and over the mixture, tucking them under the centre of the circle.
9. Brush the Colman's Sweet Chilli Mango Sauce over the ring to form a glaze and then sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.

10. Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 25 minutes until golden.
11. Once cooled, this makes a perfect picnic centre-piece (but if you can't find a picnic box big enough to fit it in, you can cut it into 12 chunks!) I like a little extra chilli sauce for dipping!

picnic spicy chicken ring

Friday 7 June 2013

Lara Joins...The Weekend Box Club

This weekend Lara and I spent quite some time together getting crafty, cooking and playing in the garden inspired by the contents of a Weekend Box.  The Weekend Box is a subscription club where, every fortnight, your child received a parcel packed with weekend ideas for children; creative, healthy and green activities to keep your little ones occupied throughout the weekend.


Last Friday Lara was unwell and couldn't go to nursery so I stayed at home with her and we cracked open the Weekend Box. The little box came with everything we would need to complete two different craft activities, a gardening activity, cookery activity and a story activity... and it really was pretty much everything we needed.  In a regular box you receive 4 activities in each box.

At first I was a little sceptical about the concept of the Weekend Box but I think I've been won around.  As a family who already do quite a few craft activities together, actively encourage the girls to help us in the garden and ALWAYS have little helpers in the kitchen, I wasn't originally sure that the Weekend Box presented good value for money because many of the contents of the box are already things we have around the house.  But then when I thought about it I realised that with a regular subscription you aren't just paying for the materials to conduct the activities but also for the inspiration and the reference sheets - each activity comes with instructions on a printed sheet which can be used again and again.


OK, so we are quite unusual in that we have odds and ends of craft materials and gardening products available for the girls at most times but for many families, it would cost an awful lot of money to go out and buy full-sized versions of all of the materials provided in the Weekend Box and they may never be used again. So yes, now I've thought about it, I think that the Weekend Box is pretty good value for money, especially when you sign up to a regular delivery.

On Friday Lara got busy with the creative activities.  She made these fun pom pom animals from wool, PVA glue, sticky eyes and foam pieces.  Then Lara was inspired by a green activity which involved up-cycling fabric off-cuts to make fabric letters... she chose to decorate the letters from her own name.

On Saturday Lara and I planted Basil seeds in the garden in a recycled egg box.  Lara absolutely loves being out in the garden and always seems her happiest when planting and watering.


On Sunday Lara and I made carrot soup for lunch using our Weekend Box recipe and the special sachet of magic spices.  Unfortunately Lara was a grumpy boots and refused to try the soup she had made (she's always been a bit funny about soup... right from day one).  But me and Mr. B absolutely loved the soup!

We still have a story activity to do together which involves creating a story from the characters on the prompt sheet... perhaps we will do that as we drive off on our holiday!

For me one of the most admirable things about the Weekend Box is the green credentials.  100% of the contents of each box is recyclable and 95% of it came from recycled sources in the first place.  The instruction cards are all printed with acid- and alcohol-free inks on FSC approved paper.  Lots of the activities in the Weekend Boxes are designed to encourage in our children an interest in eco activities and the world around us.

I think that the Weekend Box would be perfect for children from about 3 years to 8 years and would work brilliantly well during school holidays when you need lots of inspiration for ideas for activities for children.  You can follow Weekend Box on Twitter (@WeekendBoxClub) or Facebook (/WeekendBoxClub) for exclusive content, competitions and much more!


Tuesday 4 June 2013

10 Exciting Products for Travelling With Kids This Summer

This week we are off on our travels again. I feel like I'm becoming a bit of a pro when it comes to travelling with kids! Here are a few of my favourite summer travel products for toddlers and preschoolers.

  1. Totseat
    The Totseat is an all time favourite in our household. It is a washable, squashable highchair that fits in your changing bag and is ideal for when you are going to be eating out at restaurants or staying in accommodation where there may not be a fixed highchair available.
    Lara in the Totseat

  2. Content & Calm Traykit
    The Traykit from Content and Calm is part backpack, part tray. It is perfect for use on long plane, train or car journeys as it folds out further than a traditional tray to create a place for your child to play or eat from.
    Traykit in the car
  3. Trunki
    We've tried other kids suitcases but nothing quite comes close to the Trunki. Both of our girls will be taking their Trunki suitcases with them this summer. It gives them a sense of ownership and they are great for sitting on while Mum and Dad drag them through hotel lobbies and airport lounges!
    Lara on the Trunki
  4. Contigo Kids Drinks Bottle
    When you're travelling, the last thing you want is a leaky drinks bottle in your bag but during summer holidays it is important to keep the kids hydrated. While we are travelling by car this summer we are going to take Lara's Contigo Kids drinks bottles because they are leak-proof so won't spill everywhere over the back seat!
    Lara drinking from a leak-proof cup
  5. Snoozeshade Plus
    My favourite buggy shade, the Snoozeshade Plus - I won't go on holiday without it! This lightweight buggy and pushchair cover keeps baby out of the sun with high UPF protection and also helps to provide a shady place for them to fall asleep when you're on the move. Very easy to fit and to remove when you want to reach into the buggy.
    Lara posing with the Snoozeshade Plus on the buggy
  6. Lindam Flexiguard
    Our Lindam Flexiguard was originally bought as a spare for the Grandparents house but it folds up so compact that it is ideal for us to put in the car and take with us on holiday. As a travel stair gate it works well to block off access to undesirable parts of a hotel room or holiday let.
    Lindam Flexiguard
  7. Baby Banz
    I will admit that the Baby Banz sunglasses weren't a great hit with Lara who used to always pull them off instantly. But Holly seems to tolerate them for a lot longer and it is comforting to know that her eyes are protected from the sun when on holiday.
    Looking cool in the Baby Banz
  8. Splash About UV Sun Protection Suits
    We bought our girls matching Splash About UV sun protection suits for our winter holiday to provide high UV protection across their bodies in the sun when they were splashing by the pool or the beach. Splash About sell suits suitable for babies and children and they are stretchy and easy to put on.
    Matching Splash About UV Protection Suits
  9. Content & Calm Cot Canopy Breeze
    The Cot Canopy Breeze is a versatile shade which covers an entire cot, cotbed or travel cot. For us it is ideal for taking on a sunny holiday because it can provide shade and darkness for our baby girl at a time in the evening when our holiday bedroom would otherwise be bright. It is tall enough that Holly can still stand up in it (with a very cool teepee type hanging mechanism) and has quick access if we need to attend to her during the night.
    Cot Canopy Breeze
  10. Dream Tubes
    The Dream Tubes bed guard are so compact that I don't mind fitting them into the luggage just in case we need them. They comprise a fitted bed sheet with two inflatable tubes which act as a natural bed rail on both sides. This is great for children who may still roll out of bed when they are in an unfamiliar location.
    Dream Tubes

Other things we are planning on taking with us include the Flexibath folding baby bath, a Kiddicare travel cot and a set of mOmma plastic spoons and forks.

What are your top travel items for holidays with young children?

Sunday 2 June 2013

My Mellow Indian Takeaway Restaurant Experience with JUST EAT

One of the ways that we stay Mellow in the Mellow household is by chilling out with an occasional takeaway. Yes, we love our food and we all love cooking (including the girls) but as a working family, evenings can be pretty hectic and I'll admit that we do indulge in a takeaway pretty often... so much so that Lara has started being our decision maker on takeaway night and we let her choose what type of food we are all going to enjoy!

This week we have been trying out a new way of ordering. JUST EAT rang me to introduce the Mellow household to the joys of online takeway ordering and asked us to review one of our local Indian restaurants. JUST EAT brings together thousands of UK takeaway restaurants in one place for you to order online for delivery or collection. For us, the service seemed ideal because it meant we could pay by credit card online so no cash had to change hands (myself and Mr. B very rarely use cash for anything these days).

We got home from work on Tuesday and logged on to the JUST EAT website from my laptop (we could have used the JUST EAT app on the ipad too). I browsed the complete menus of three different local Indian restaurants. We were particularly fascinated to see a local takeaway called Rangamati because we pass it every weekend but had never even seen the menu before; it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give them a whirl.

Browsing the menu on JUST EAT was easy. I found the fact that the entire menu was on one page to be a bit unwealdy even though there were links to help you navigate to particular areas of the menu such as breads, main dishes or chefs specials. The checkout process was incredibly simple and I was able to enter my card details and checkout within a minute. I really liked the fact that the website asked me to sit and wait until the chef at the restaurant had acknowledged and accepted my order - while it may seem a little unintuitive in a modern website to leave the user sitting waiting, I actually found it quite comforting to know that a real human being was receiving my order.

Our order arrived well within the predicted time period that JUST EAT had said when I ordered. It felt slightly weird not to be handing over any cash when the delivery driver gave us our food.

Lara, as usual, was extremely excited when the "curry man" arrived and had been rushing around setting the table for the previous 30 minutes! Lara's favourite curry dish to order is a yellow chicken (in this instance I ordered her a chicken passanda) but both girls devour poppadoms too. The curry from Rangamati was good; nothing outstanding but perfectly acceptable... though I probably wouldn't ditch my previous favourite Indian takeaway, Shapla Tandoori! Thankfully they also offer online ordering through JUST EAT. Bonus.

Every single last scrap of our meal was eaten and we all had full, happy tummies.

Disclosure: This blog post was written in collaboration with JUST EAT.
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