Mellow Mummy: March 2016 : Taking life as it comes...

Thursday 31 March 2016

Skinfix - Skincare for Eczema Relief

Poor old Holly is still duffering from dry skin.  I'm trying to remember, but I think Lara's super-dry skin had passed by the time she was 4 and yet Holly, as she approaches her 4th birthday, seems to be suffering with awfully dry skin on her tummy and chest, as well as red blotchy dry hands.  At this age it can be hard to keep on top of dry skin because Holly is so independent that she has to be in charge of deciding when to apply cream, and what cream she will put up with.  Recently we have been trying a new brand called Skinfix which is available exclusively in Boots and which is specifically designed as remedy and prevention of dry skin and eczema for the whole family.

Skinfix products are around 98% natural and yet incredibly powerful.  Take the fragrance-free Eczema balm for instance, it is thick and steroid-free and provides Holly instant relief on the backs of her hands just before she goes to bed (which is when it seems to be most sore).  Holly doesn't like any creams that leave a residue so she was a little hesitant about applying a barrier balm but it does obviously soothe her skin so she is sticking with it.


Also in the evenings and mornings we are using Skinfix Soothing Lotion which is a very light fluid which is instantly absorbed and doesn't leave a residue on the skin.  On the first day that we used the Skinfix lotion, when Holly woke up the next morning, her skin was totally different - not dry and bumpy at all but smooth and soft.  Nearly unrecognisable!  Over the past fortnight we have found that we only have to use this lotion every other day to keep on top of the dry skin on her body.  Awesome.  The only problem we have is that because it is fragrance-free, the appeal to Holly isn't that strong so she doesn't actively seek the lotion out herself, we have to remind her.

Skinfix also make this pump-bottle soothing wash.  Due to Holly's particularly dry skin at present, we've really reduced the number of bath-times (we are convinced that our hard water is the cause of Holly's skin problems) but we do encourage Holly to wash with gentle bathtime products during the week.  The Skinfix soothing wash is specially designed for people who suffer from dry and sensitive skin so that it doesn't strip the skin of the oils it needs to stay moist and supple.  The wash is fragrance-free and is made using jojoba oil, aloe vera, apricot kernel and coconut cleansers - all natural ways to stay clean and well moisturised.  Again, the scent of a washing gel is something that really encourages Holly to wash well so she hasn't been that wowed by Skinfix and I'm sure that she probably doesn't even notice the difference that a kind body wash makes to her skin over the brightly coloured, strong-scented kids products she sometimes borrows from her sister...but I do!

Skinfix soothing products can now be found in Boots behind the pharmacy counter.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Building Princess Castles #StreamTeam

This long weekend just gone was a bit of a luxury - we had nothing that we HAD to do. We only get a weekend like this once or twice a year and I can't begin to tell you how much fun it is to do almost exactly nothing as a family together.  We filled our days with gardening, crafts, castles and princesses and a bit of sneaky TV together.


The girls spent much of their weekend creating things.  We lifted out the Mega Bloks and both Lara and Holly enjoyed constructing princess towers and magical castles.  As they had so much fun building, we thought we would watch something princessy on Netflix.  I convinced the girls to watch Enhanted - a Disney movie that is not quite animation, and not quite drama but something in between.  The movie was a total hit.  From sparkly dresses to wicked stepmothers and a true love's kiss, Enchanted had everything that that my girls look for in a movie but it was a little bit more grown up than their usual animated fare.

As we were in the mood for construction kits I lifted out Lara's lego kits.  Lara has built up quite a collection of different Lego friends sets and Holly is just beginning to show an interest in joining in with her big sister when she creates new Lego friends scenes.  As the weekend came to a close and the girls curled up on the sofa after their bath, we discovered a couple of new Lego Friends : The Power of Friendship Netflix original episodes.  Holly and Lara both watched in awe as the friends prevented trouble on their summer camp!

On the same construction theme, I've hunted out a few more kids favourites on Netflix.  You can find Lego City, Lego Chima, Ninjago and Bionicle all on Netflix. Or, if you're into fairy tales, princesses and castles like my two girls then why not try the original Cinderella, or the fairytale cheese of Ella Enchanted.

Disclosure: This post was written using inspiration from Netflix as part of their Stream Team.

Monday 28 March 2016

Running Footcare - Injury Treatment and Prevention Ideas (by a very injured runner)

It is 5 weeks now since I have run anywhere.  I injured myself during a half marathon back in February and recovery is long and slow and I'm not feeling very mellow about it.  I had been training for my first marathon (now not going to happen) and had been building up the miles. Being on the injury bench isn't much fun but it has given me a chance to reflect on what running does for my fitness and to think a little harder about the everyday stretches and TLC that my legs and feet need when I'm running.

Carnation Footcare sent me a few samples from their range of first aid and injury prevention products suitable for runners hoping to fend off, or recover from injury!  They are all available from  I shall spare you the photos of my manky feet and hobbly legs but I've been giving these runners products a go...

First up I tried the Carnation Hydro Blister - this was back in the week immediately following my half marathon and my toes and the inside of my arches were covered in blisters (new shoes didn't agree with me). The Hydro Blister is a little plaster that you place over the blister to protect it as it heals so that it doesn't rub further. I found the plasters to be a welcome relief in the days after the race and I'll be tempted to have some around for after every race.

As I haven't been running these past few weeks, and as I've been given prescribed orthotics for my running shoes, I offered my Carnation Pressure Relief insoles to Mr. B. who regularly suffers from sore heels when he runs.  These insoles are designed to help relief the pressure not just on your feet but through the whole body as you run or walk; Mr. B. felt a difference when he wore them - their cushioning effect which bounces back takes a bit of getting used to but every runner knows that a bit of cushioning is very welcome, especially on a long run!  I think Mr. B. should also check out Carnation's long life heel pads too in order to try and tackle his running niggles.

Perhaps most impressive from the Carnation Footcare range is this simple-looking gadget which I've decided should become part of my post-run routine from now on.  The nifty Carnation PediRoller is a plastic roller that allows you to exercise your foot in a way that can help prevent a number of common runners injuries, and which can speed up recovery too.  I've been using it to help me exercise my feet when I've been otherwise unable to stretch (I was more or less sofa-bound for a while!).  By rolling your feet over the the roller and causing a curve in your foot, you can help stretch the calves and achilles which helps you fend off shin splints and plantar faciitis which, if you get it, can be incredibly painful.

I have too sorely learned the lesson that upping your running mileage can cause you injury so from now on I'm going to be a little more careful about trying to ensure I stretch and exercise to combat injury and pain.

Saturday 26 March 2016

U Hugs Customisable Dolls Review

U Hugs dolls have been a massive hit in our house with both Lara and Holly. We were sent two to review but I will admit that when browsing Toys R Us for birthday present ideas last weekend, I was tempted to add to the girls collection. U Hugs dolls from Flair are brightly coloured, stylised dolls which feature lots of little removable pins for clothes, accessories and styling so that you can mix and match them, chop and change them and change them until your heart's content.  And my, oh my, Lara changes her U Hugs around a lot.

U Hugs are designed for children from about 6-10 years old and I think Lara (nearly 7) is just about the perfect age to appreciate them.  She likes the bold style and less girly colours but is still drawn in by the need to dress, tweak and create her own styles for these dolls.

The U Hugs dolls come in their own presentation pack with about 12 different pins such as jewellery, hair accessories, clothes, eyes, lips etc.  Their arms, shoes and even their body are also pins.  Each pin (more of a plug) is easy to rotate out of place and push back in again.  It took Lara a little while to get the hang of it and she needed help at first but now she knows how to twist them in and out herself and only asked for help with the cloak/shawl type things which do require quite a bit of dexterity to line everything up into place.

I think U Hugs probably do work best when you have a couple that you can mix and match.  Each box gives an idea of shapes and pieces you can change to totally change the doll's character - they even recommend new names.  Lara and Holly both like the idea that you can move hair and eyes from one coloured doll to another.  Given the care and attention that Lara takes choosing the next combination of clothes and accessories, I think I may have a little fashionista on my hands.

I recommend keeping the box of your U-Hugs doll to keep all the pins in, some of them are hard to find once they've been put to one side.  If you are looking for a very sneaky place to store them - some of the dolls have a little cavity inside and even a patch on the body can be popped out and swapped for another one to cover over the little secrets stored inside.

I think U Hugs are a very clever set of dolls that appeal to girls who think they are "too old" for traditional dollies!  Find out more about the U Hugs characters on their Youtube channel.

Monday 21 March 2016

Movie Review :: Peter & Wendy

Today sees the release, on DVD, of Peter and Wendy.  This is a new re-telling of the classic tale of Peter Pan which premiered on ITV over Christmas.  I watched the movie with Lara this weekend and you know what, I really really enjoyed it.  As someone who previously studied movies (but who also enjoys watching them for fun), I found Peter and Wendy to be moving, inspiring and incredibly cleverly constructed.

Peter and Wendy is based, very closely on the story of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.  The twist in the tale is that the story is retold through the eyes of Lucy Rose, a young teen who is undergoing heart surgery at Great Ormond Street hospital.  As Lucy reads her copy of Peter Pan to the other children on the ward, she is transported into the world of Neverland.  In Neverland Lucy appears as Wendy and in fact, almost all of the characters in the story are people that Lucy meets in real life - from her Doctor (Hook) to her mother (Mrs. Darling) and all of the children on the ward.

As the story progresses and Lucy approaches her surgery, the story flicks ever more frequently between real-life and Neverland.  It is never quite clear whether Neverland is a hallucination or a dream but the two worlds start to blur as Wendy's life increasingly approaches danger.  I found the whole experience immersing - to see Peter Pan and Hook battling over a pile of hospital beds was quite fascinating!

Much of the movie is filmed in the dark and, to be honest, it is quite a dark film so Lara found it intimidating and a bit too full of peril; she stopped watching at about half way because she found the near-drowning scenes too scary.  And it is just as well because I think Lara may have found the end of the movie very emotional as one of the children on the ward does die.  However, I felt the movie was packed with emotion and tenderness throughout.  I thought it dealt really well with the anxiousness of Lucy's Mum and the early teen romantic tension of Wendy and Peter.

Holly was most taken with Tinkerbell the fairy who is played by Paloma Faith - a fascinating casting that works incredibly well.  Captain Hook (the Doctor) was also took me most of the movie to realise that I recognised Stanley Tucci from the Hunger Games.

I think the 12 certificate on Peter and Wendy is probably best given the fighting, fear and emotion of the movie.  I loved it though and I thought it did very well to stay close to the original plot of the story.  Very clever.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Personalised Jewellery for Mum from Kaya

My two girls really spoiled me on Mothers day with hand-made cards and gifts but a couple of days later, a very special Mother's day gift arrived in the post from Kaya Jewellery - a personalised family tree pendant.

Tucked away in this tempting little presentation box is a personalised silver pendant made especially for me to celebrate being a Mum!

Kaya Jewellery make and deliver a wide range of beautiful Mum jewellery as well as personalised jewellery gifts for babies and children. From christening bracelets to eternity necklaces, if I had the cash, I'd order a whole host of pendants and bracelets and charms for me and my two daughters.

I was most taken by Kaya's Tree of Life and Family Tree pendants which both feature tree designs in a circular silver pendant.

This Family Tree Necklace captures the magic of my family perfectly.  It is made from Sterling Silver and can be ordered with three different lengths of chain.  The pendant is about 1 inch in diameter and can be engraved with upto 6 names of your choice (there is a character limit) to truely personalise it to your family.  I think this is a really treasured gift that, when I wear it, will remind me of my family at all times - it makes me proud to be Mummy!

As Kaya hand make their jewellery to order, you can expect a few days between ordering and receipt of your personalised gift but mine was super quick and it is definitely worth the wait.  I'm now very tempted to order a similar pendant for each of the girls as a special Easter gift.  If you are on the lookout for matching Mum and Daughter jewellery (or even for three generations) then Kaya make bracelet and necklace sets specifically designed to be worn by multiple generations.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Make your own personalised chocolate bar!

This weekend Lara made her own chocolate bar with an Easter theme using a fun chocolate picture maker kit from Zimpli Kids.  While Lara's first ever attempt at drawing chocolate art using molten chocolate may not be as precise and well-refined as the examples on the Zimpli Kids website (and the amazing Elsa picture below), I was quite genuinely impressed by Lara's handiwork and we all enjoyed eating it!

The Zimpli Kids chocolate picture maker kit includes a rectangular plastic mould in which to create your chocolate bar, a set of sample templates to trace over and some packs of white, dark and milk chocolate from which to create your masterpiece.  You melt the chocolate in warm tap water and then make a small snip in the sachet from which you squeeze the chocolate.  The chocolate is gluten-free and veggie-friendly.

The chocolate sachets contain real belgian chocolate and the end result is properly yummy (unlike some kids chocolate gifts we've tried before!).  I mean, properly yummy. The small chocolate maker kit comes with a small bag of dark chocolate for drawing outlines, a small bag of white chocolate for filling in your picture and a larger bag of milk chocolate for the background.  We found that there wasn't quite enough milk chocolate to be able to adequately fill in the picture so that it made a nice thick bar - Lara had to be quite sparing with the chocolate and spread it thinly if she were to get the full picture filled in.

The kit is suitable for children from about 4 years upwards.  Really, the only limiting factor is the ability to draw.. with chocolate.  This is easier said than done.  It took Lara quite a while to gain confidence with the chocolate and I think we also cut too big a hole in the sachet for her to draw accurately.  We will learn though!  We also learned to be patient; Lara wanted to eat her creation as soon as possible but it wouldn't come out of the mould.  We had to wait out the full 30 minutes of cooling time and then it easily pushed out of the mould.  Within seconds of taking the photos, the chocolate had been devoured.

Lara chose a simple Easter egg design for her first attempt at chocolate pictures but some of the stencils provided are far more intricate and will take a fair bit of practice.  There is no limit to the creativity you can attempt - all you need is a suitably sized picture that you can trace over.  This gives you the opportunity to make any design you like (remembering that any text you write needs to be created in mirror image as you draw with the chocolate).  I think that a personalised chocolate picture would make a BRILLIANT Easter gift for friends and family and this is a fun activity that everyone can get involved in.

I certainly can't wait to give it a try myself.  It would be nice to know where I could buy replacement sachets of the chocolate that are just as easy to melt and squeeze.


Friday 18 March 2016

#StreamTeam The Button Interviews #1

This month the Netflix Stream Team were all challenged to let their children take over their blog so that we could take a day off from blogging.  Lara and Holly chose to take over my video camera and they interviewed each other on the topics of "Netflix" and "What makes Mummy so wonderful".

As you can see below, I think Holly has a career on Newsnight ahead of her.  She is also a charmer.

Thursday 17 March 2016

#LightentheLoad with Ecover

This week is a busy one.  Work is bonkers at present, I've got a series of medical appointments, a meeting at school and to top it off, Mr. B. is away from home.  I'm juggling.  It is on weeks like this that I'm glad I'm naturally a fairly well organised person and things such as keeping on top of the laundry are so ingrained into my routine that I don't need to juggle the chores so much as keep them ticking.  That said, the laundry is time consuming so I've welcomed the arrival of some tips from Ecover of how to lighten the load of the weekly wash with their Non-Bio Concentrated Laundry Liquid.

I haven't blogged a lot about cleaning, nor about the environment for a good while but those who have been following for some time will know that trying to make a few green savings here and there is one of the things I like to do.  Ecover's plant-based Non-Bio Concentrated Laundry Liquid is one of the products I use to help keep my family's laundry clean without making such a big dent on the environment.  Actually, one of the main reasons I like to use Ecover is because I've found it to be very gentle on the girl's skin (they both have incredibly sensitive skin).

Ecover know that we can't escape the laundry duties forever but that with a few simple steps you can take some of the drudgery out of the task and make the load faster, smarter and more environmentally friendly.

First up, Ecover recommend that every once in a while you run a cleaning cycle in your washing machine to help it keep working at its best - you can't get laundry clean inside a washing machine that is itself dirty!  It is a VERY long time since I've done this to my machine so I filled it full of an entire bottle of white vinegar and ran it through a hot wash.  Lots of the unpleasant gunk in the door seals worked loose and the washing machine does seem to have a bit of extra sparkle.  I was worried that the entire machine would smell of vinegar but it is surprisingly odour-free!

Next up, Ecover recommend that you keep on top of the washing loads by creating a weekly schedule.  Apart from staying organised, they've also noticed that a schedule means you are more likely to wash full loads which can save you a couple of loads of washing a week.  This means less water and detergent used.  Yay.  Planning ahead also helps reduce the feeling of rush - I tend to schedule my wash to complete while I'm out at work so that it finishes as I step through the door in the evening.

In-grained stains are a regular feature in our house - particularly in clothes that Holly wears to nursery.  Rather than running your clothes through the wash multiple times to shift the stains, there are other products around the house that you can use to eliminate stains instead,  Shampoo can help remove greasey stains, hairspray can help remove biro and sliced bread can help remove make up stains.  For me, one of the most effective natural stain removers is a lemon - it doesn't work the wonders that some chemical whiteners can, but a whole lemon's worth of juice in a regular white wash does seem to help to keep our towels looking white rather than grey.

I'm a big fan of small natural alternatives than can make a difference around the house and if you've never tried some of the Ecover #LightentheLoad tips above, I'd really recommend giving them a try.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Huggybelt - Car Seat Belt Safety for Children

Since I stopped writing ParentWheels, I haven't blogged that much about child car safety, but that doesn't mean that I feel any less passionately about it.  Recently I've found myself in a car seat conundrum and I made the decision to buy a booster seat rather than a high-backed seat - something that made me feel guilty that I might not be offering Lara the highest level of safety that I can.  Huggybelt contacted me shortly after I bought the booster seat and asked me to try out their nifty gadget designed to improve child safety in the car when using the 3-point car seat belt.

The Huggybelt is a clip-in device designed to keep the car's seat belt in the optimum position to ensure safety in the event of a collision. As you know, a car seat belt is really designed to be used by adults.  That's why children have to stay in car seats until they are tall enough or old enough for their bodies to behave like adults' in the event of an accident.  When I moved Lara into the booster seat (and on the rare occasions when Holly has travelled in one) I really noticed that the adult belt sits very high across her shoulders and that this means that she has a lot more freedom of movement than she did in her high-backed seat (which holds the belt taught over the shoulder).  The Huggybelt is a little addition to the seatbelt which holds the belt comfortably above your child's shoulder and makes it more difficult for them to squirm away from the belt.  It is a portable, folding contraption that clips into one of your ISOFIX mounts, passes behind the back and then clips and wraps around the seatbelt.  It is quick to fit and portable so you can take it with you when travelling in other people's cars or taxis.

I found the Huggybelt very easy to fit.  My husband found it a bit tough to adjust the height so I think, if we choose to buy another, we will keep one permanently adjusted to Holly and one to Lara who is considerably taller.  You can use the Huggybelt with many group 2/3 seats to hold the seatbelt in place above the shoulder too but most of our car seats are ISOFIX themselves so we don't have a spare mount; many high-backed car seats do also have a feeder to hold the belt in place. Even after your child no longer needs to use a car seat (above 135cm or around 12 years old) you can use a Huggybelt to help keep the seat belt sitting comfortably across the shoulders.  Many children find the feeling of the belt against the neck to be irritating and then they are tempted to move the belt out of the way; the Huggybelt covers the belt with a padded area which reduces the likelihood of your child wanting to move the belt.

The Huggybelt has noticeably reduced the amount of wiggling and messing about that the girls do in the back seat.  Simply holding the belt against the shoulder reduces their ability to wrangle their way out of the belt to reach over to one another, or reach down for something they've dropped.  This reduction in movement is a good thing - it means that the belt is doing what it needs to do and, in the event of an accident, it could hold them in safely.

Huggybelt's safety figures and crash test videos make for interesting reading and watching. The results clearly show that if the 3-point belt is being used properly then it is far, far safer for your child.  And this is why I am very seriously considering buying a second Huggybelt for our travels.

You can find out more about the Huggybelt online, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Easter Bonnets, Nests, Eggs and More!

Holly has a bit of pressure on her when it comes to this year's Easter Bonnet parade at nursery.  For the last 4 years in a row, either Lara or Holly has won the annual Easter Bonnet competition and Holly would really like to win it again - this weekend she spent nearly a whole day creating things for her masterpiece this year.

I won't share our secret formula for winning the Easter Bonnet competition but I will say this - Holly is incredibly independent when it comes to homemade crafts.  When she sees her older sister cutting, glueing, sewing, shaping, painting and sticking she wants to do all of the things that her older sibling does.  Often I think she'll struggle with the concentration or dexterity required but she always surprises me.  Holly's Easter Bonnet this year is entirely of her own making.  She knew exactly what she wanted to do and told me what she needed.  When she has struggled, she has asked for help but in many cases she has just needed some tips on how to approach a problem - such as how to hold her ha taught while she sticks things on it.  I'm very proud of her, whether or not she is a winner!

Holly's hat has been created using craft kits and Easter themed craft materials from Yellow Moon - our one-stop shop for children's craft activities.  I think this is one of my very favourite times of year for crafting with the girls because there are so many fun ideas of things you can make.

Lara and Holly have decorated our dining room with a string of foam rabbits, each of whom is dressed in a different outfit.  One of these handsome rabbits has made it into Holly's Easter millinery!

My girls love working together in the front room - Lara helps with the more fiddly tasks such as peeling the backing off foam shapes.  Holly barks instructions, for instance to tell Lara what colour paint to use.

Yellow Moon's range of Easter craft activities this year range from spring animals (we loved painting wooden chicks and lambs but it did get VERY messy) to everything you need to lay on your own Easter egg hunt.  Lara and Holly have still got some special colour-your-own Easter egg presentation boxes to create, and some bunny rabbit mosaics.  But the girls most fell in love with these beautiful paper baskets which they very creatively filled with other Easter-themed materials.

These little spring baskets come in a set of 8.  The base folds and slides together (we used tape to make it sturdy enough to hold chocolate eggs!) and the handle is held in place using metal clips.  Lara and Holly chose to fill their baskets with coloured shredded tissue paper (a Yellow Moon staple) and topped with tiny glittery decorative eggs which come in a pack of 100.  The baskets look so cute that we have placed them in the window for everyone to see, alongside our daffodils and spring flowers.

We can't wait until Easter and I'm sure there will be lots more crafting to come!

Don't forget that you can earn between 5% and 20% cashback for your school on most Yellow Moon purchases.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Paw Patrol Pups and the Pirate Treasure

The Paw Patrol phenomenon took me by surprise at Christmas and now, as Easter approaches, I've found myself with two massive Paw Patrol fans who absolutely love the show.  A new set of 6 episodes of Paw Patrol adventures is coming to DVD tomorrow - Paw Patrol Pups and the Pirate Treasure.

Paw Patrol: Pups and the Pirate Treasure is releasing on DVD from 14th March 2016. The new DVD has a nautical theme with 6 episodes featuring pirates, pools and seaside adventures.  Join Ryder and his Paw Patrol pals this Easter on their mystery-solving adventures in their search for pirate treasure, when they discover a secret map!

The pups discover a secret pirate cave as part of a treasure hunt - both Lara and Holly loved this episode so much that they wanted to go on a treasure hunt of their own. Every episode features puzzles to solve and challenges that the pups have to overcome.

We love the fact that the paw patrol pups all have their own special skills and yet they always work together as a team to save the day.  On the DVD you will find:-


The DVD is out on Monday 14th March and would make a fabulous Easter gift as an alternative to sweet treats!

If you, like me, have Paw Patrol fans then why not download and print this Paw Patrol printable colouring activity sheets set which I have uploaded for you here.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

#Lechuza Spring Planting Ideas

This weekend I was inundated with cards and gifts from my two gorgeous girls - they embraced the idea of Mother's Day very enthusiastically this year.  One of the things that Holly was particularly keen to do was to plant me some flowers rather than to buy cut was mightily handy that we had just become the proud owners of two brand new Lechuza self-watering planters.

The girls chose some spring flowers and spring bulbs from the supermarket and brought them home to make them look a bit more snazzy and give them a home!  They worked together as a team.

Lechuza's range of table-top planters are all self-watering and they work by wicking water up from a well at the bottom of the planter and then up through a fabric string into the base of your plant pot.  This means that you can fill the reservoir with water and, over the course of a few days or weeks, your plant will suck up water when it needs it.  You can see how far the water level has dropped using the handy little marker in the corner of the pot.

The girls planted up this decorative flower into a Lechuza Mini-Deltini planter. The Deltini and Mini-Deltini planters come in a massive range of different colours that would suit almost any home decor but we LOVE this fun owl design!  Perfect for the kids.  This pot works by allowing the water to soak up through the absorbent substrate (they call it Lechuza-Pon) so you don't need to fill this pot with compost.

I think I am most taken with this simple cube design.  It has turned a very dull plant pot of spring bulbs into something very striking and you wouldn't believe how simple it was.  Fill with water...push the wick into the bottom of the normal plant pot...plonk plant pot into planter.  Easy!

Using Lechuza planters over the past couple of months has really re-inspired me to grow indoors.  I tend to plant a lot of edible plants outside over the summer but traditionally I've not bothered indoors because I never remember to water.  Self-watering planters may well be my solution to this problem!  I only have to remember to top them up with water infrequently and I think they look fab on my window ledges.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Pronamel for Children - Combatting Acid Erosion

Acid wear. It's not some kind of new high fashion styling. It's another name for acid erosion and it is happening to our teeth. As someone who used to drink a lot of fizzy drinks, I'm more than aware of the impact that acid erosion can have on an adult's teeth but until recently I hadn't really stopped to think about the effect on Lara and Holly's teeth.

Children's tooth enamel can be upto 50% thinner than adults and our regular eating habits can have a big impact on our oral health. A survey commissioned by Pronamel for Children found that 30% of parents give their children fruit as a snack and 27% give them biscuits. This in itself isn't necessarily a problem because even food and drink with high acid levels (such as fruit which contain fruit acids and natural sugars) can be healthy and safe provided that you don't snack on them for large parts of the day. The advice from Pronamel for Children is to ensure that you really limit the number and length of acid exposures that your children's teeth face throughout the day.

Lara, my 6 year old, has only recently shown an interest in fizzy drinks and we reserve them for special occasions, but it is easy to forget that orange squash, apple juice and grapefruit all have really high levels of acid in them too. And these are all things that my girls regularly drink or eat between meals. After reading through the research from Pronamel for Children, I'm trying to remind myself that milk, bananas, cheese and carrot sticks are all good alternatives. Thankfully, both Lara and Holly do willingly drink water throughout the day too. My girls brush twice a day, as recommended, but Professor David Bartlett from Kings College London Dental Institute also recommends the following tips for protecting your child's tooth enamel:

* Limit the number of occasions that your child has acidic foods and drinks in a day

* Avoid brushing right after eating or drinking acidic foods

* Nibble on a tiny piece of cheese or swill with water or milk after each meal

* For drinks, use a glass and a straw and finish the drink quickly

Pronamel for Children, like it's grown-up counterpart, is a toothpaste designed for 6-12 year olds that is specially formulated to help re-harden acid-softened enamel. It can be used by younger children in smaller amounts. Lara has found the flavour and texture of the toothpaste a bit of a shock compared to her existing brand but I seem to remember the same experience myself when I first tried Pronamel, from Sensodyne! This is a gentle toothpaste designed not to be too abrasive on kids' teeth and it does offer a feeling of re-assurance that you can do something to help your child to combat the effects of acid erosion so that they don't enter adulthood with a problem.

* we only use the teeniest tiniest amount of toothpaste on Holly's teeth

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Baby First Aid - Would You Know What to Do?

Would you know what to do if your baby were unconscious and not breathing? A baby not breathing is the most frightening scenario that many parents can think of. Three out of four parents in a St John Ambulance survey admit this and yet only one in four knows how to correctly administer baby CPR. Many of us may have learned our first aid skills through a workplace first aid course but baby CPR isn't performed in the same way as it is for adults and only 1 in 4 parents has learned how to do this specifically for babies.

St John Ambulance has launched Nursery Rhymes Inc., a campaign that teaches parents and parents to be about how to help a baby who’s stopped breathing. The campaign features everyone’s favourite nursery rhyme characters who’ve come together to create a memorable rhyme to explain the technique. Incy Wincy Spider, Humpty Dumpty, Jack & Jill, and the Cat & the Fiddle all appear in a TV ad sand a longer online video which is intended to make baby CPR truly unforgettable in just two minutes with a catchy song.

To celebrate the campaign, St John Ambulance is putting on special baby first aid courses for parents, carers, and parents-to-be for just £25 + VAT. To find your nearest course, or watch more first aid videos and advice, go to

If you are unsure how to perform CPR on a baby, you can also consult the St John Ambulance website for tips on first aid for parents. As a summary:-

1. Call 999/112 for an ambulance
If you’re on your own, you need to give one minute’s worth of CPR before you can call for help, taking your baby with you.
2. 5 puffs
Put your lips around their mouth and nose and blow steadily for up to one second. Give five puffs in total.
3. 30 pumps
Using two fingers in the centre of the chest, give 30 pumps at a rate of 100-120 per minute
4. Repeat, but with 2 puffs and 30 pumps until help arrives
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