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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

My Ultimate Baby Kit | By a Mum of 3

Now I have three children, I can reflect over the infant products we have accumulated over time and consider what I deem to be an 'essential'. I'm oh so aware about how the baby product market changes and each new product is 'a must-have', endorsed by celebrities or other parents. This is a round up of products that we have found to be useful and would recommend.

photo collage showing the products mentioned below: 1. the whisbear, 2. jumperoo, 3. lindam bed rail, 4. mamma pads, 5. tommee tippee electric steriliser, 6. theraline yinnie nursing pillow, 7, babein stretchy wrap and 8. phil and teds navigator 2 buggy


1. The Whisbear
Back in 2012 I wasn't aware of anything like this. As a first time parent, baby products and those from new companies weren't really on my radar. White noise is really soothing and this sweet little bear attaches to the cot or can be placed directly in the cot with the baby. It isn't a rainbow of colours so it doesn't overstimulate the baby, plus it looks lovely in any room.

2. Fisher-Price Jumperoo
For Lily and Alexander, the Jumperoo was in use a LOT. I can still hear the musical tunes in my head! They just loved bouncing, but Freyja doesn't so much. We have used it with her, but it didn't remain assembled for very long. It does take up floor space but if it works, it works. If only Freyja would allow me to put her down...somewhere!

3. Lindam Bed rail
We co-sleep and bedshare and have done so with all three children for varying amounts of time. We started with doubts but realised it worked for us. This bed rail provides us peace of mind, especially for the days that the baby isn't capable of moving around of course.

4. Theraline Mamma Pads
These almost invisible nursing pads have been useful now Freyja is approaching her first birthday, especially on the occasion that she feeds less at night. They adhere to skin without any adhesive but require a wash before reapplying so I didn't try them when I needed to use breastfeeding pads during the day due to convenience.

5. Tommee Tippee Electric Steriliser
Chemical-free cleaning of dummies and bottles (5 of them in one go). So quick and so much quicker than cold-water sterilising I used to do with breast pump accessories.

6. Theraline Yinnie Breastfeeding Pillow
With Lily I used a cumbersome V-shaped pillow which didn't confom to the shape of her body and didn't make the experience of feeding a premature baby any easier. The Yinnie's shape wraps around my waist, offering both of us comfort thanks to the microbeads inside. I certainly haven't felt like throwing this breastfeeding pillow out of the window!

7. Babein Stretchy Wrap
I didn't discover stretchy wraps until I did a lot of research during my second pregnancy. With Lily we used a Babasling, which is less than ideal due to the position of the baby within the carrier, plus I am useless at doing anything with a lot of weight on just one side of me. My first Lollipop stretchy wrap in petrol blue was a game-changer, once I learnt how to tie it! I practised using a cuddly toy rabbit first. Rob and I took turns with using the carrier and received many glances and kind compliments. Being hands free and soothing a baby or simply carrying around a sleeping baby is a life-saver. Freyja enjoyed being snuggled up in the Babein stretchy wrap which promoted lots of sleep and cuddles. I would definitely recommend a wrap to any new parent.

8. Phil & Teds Navigator II
This adaptable double in-line buggy has served us well. We bought it just after Lily turned two and then added the carrycot when Alexander arrived. Now our third child Freyja sits at the front, leaving the bottom seat free for school bags or Alexander if he gets tired from walking. As much as I am looking forward to just using a simple, lighter, single pushchair we absolutely appreciate the robustness of this buggy and its all-terrain tyres. It may not look like a high street-only pushchair, but it suits us down to the (New Forest) ground. I would recommend it to anyone who has more than one child, for its practicality, longevity and oodles of space to stuff snacks, nappies and toys.

It won't be long until these items are no longer used by us. but they will be passed on to friends and relatives and I will absolutely recommend them.
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Monday, 6 November 2017

Living Arrows | Baking with Lily

Welcome back to Living Arrows, a post which celebrates childhood. I intend on creating as many of these weekly photos as possible because they are great to reflect on all together.

The project originally took its name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran ~
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth"

After last posts' moan about never-ending lurgys I would love to say that we are all fine and healthy now, but now we are past the stomach bug we are on to having colds. Plus Freyja is teething (does it ever end?) so she has a runny nose, cold or no cold.
But it hasn't stopped us getting out and about and it certainly hasn't stopped Lily from helping me make a blackberry and apple crumble. We picked so many blackberries the last time we were at the PYO farm that I froze bags full of berries, ready for such baking.
Rather than getting her fingers mucky with flour and butter, Lily used the pastry cutter which the children got me for my recent birthday. I saw Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) using one and I though aside from using a food processer which I don't own, a pastry cutter could make crumbles even easier. No more rubbing fat into flour using your fingers. This could be a game-changer for me, since Freyja loves to interrupt me at the worst possible times!

Lily standing at the kitchen counter, using a metal pastry cutter to make a crumble topping using flour, oats, butter and sugar.

Thanks for stopping by!

Living Arrows
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Thursday, 2 November 2017

First Tunnels Trestle Staging Review

We've been lucky to have been sent this wooden trestle staging table from Lancashire-based First Tunnels in return for a review. 

Title image trestle staging table

Rob set about with assembling the trestle staging which is delivered minus any instructions. The fact that it can fold away for easy storage suggests that it will be really simple. It certainly was; no toolkit, no Alan key, no turning the air blue with frustration! The trestle staging was delivered as a single item and took mere minutes to assemble, using the metal pins at each corner to support the folding wooden legs and the lower shelf just slides in. I found it quite heavy to lift on my own, so transporting it by hand could be a two-man job.

First Tunnels Trestle Staging Table Assembly

The trestle staging is made from planed, tanalised wood and you can be assured that First Tunnels only uses wood which has been sourced from well-managed or recyclable sources. First Tunnels is currently the only polytunnel company which is FSC® certified It had a few marks on the wood and a couple of frayed edges, but nothing a piece of sandpaper couldn't sort out. I'm sure it could be painted, but its new greenhouse home will protect it from the elements.

trestle staging assembled

Once the new potting station was assembled, Lily and her Grandma got straight to work. Gloves went on and the compost came out, ready to sow pumpkin seeds harvested from the ginormous pumpkin from the vegetable patch.

Lily the witch sowing pumpkin seeds

At 1.8 m (6ft) wide, 0.53m (1 ¾ft) deep x 0.77m (2 ½ft) high, this timber trestle staging offers enough space for propagator trays, pots and storage boxes and it is ideal for polytunnels, greenhouses, sheds or patios.

sowing pumpkin seeds trestle staging table

I'm looking forward to seeing the potting station throughout the different seasons now. Our photos were taken towards the end of October 2017, so the trestle staging was adorned with spooky pumpkins and squashes but by next summer it will probably be covered in pots of strawberries. We'll keep you posted next year. First impressions count and we'd be happy to recommend First Tunnels.

First Tunnels Trestle Staging

Thanks for reading.

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Monday, 16 October 2017

Aquabeads Disney Princess Playset | Review

Lily hasn't brought out the Aquabeads out of our creativity cupboard for a while now, so we were were offered the Aquabeads Disney Princess Set we could hardly say no!
Lily adores the characters, but one of the first things she said, whilst pointing to the Beast on the front of the box was "Where are the Princes?". She made a good point, for her age.

Aquabeads DIsney Princess Playset
The usual instructions of our previous Aquabeads playsets apply; create your design using the template or get creative, spray with water then leave to set.
The difference with the Disney Princess Playset is that it claims to only require 10 minutes until you can peel off your Aquabead design, using a special Bead Peeler.

Here is what you find inside the box:
  • 1 design table
  • 1 bead palette
  • 1 sprayer
  • 1 layout tray
  • 1 bead peeler
  • lots of solid and jewel beads
  • 2 dual-sided template sheets

inside the box

contents of the box

How we got on:

Lily got stuck in straight away, having decided to choose the Princess Aurora template. She added extras to the hairstyle and enjoyed getting creative beyond the official design.

using the playset

bead palette

Even when using Aquabead playsets which came with a bead applicator/dropper, Lily always preferred to pick up and place the beads using her fingers. Providing her fingers aren't wet, this method works well, otherwise the beads bunch together and they can then transfer the bittering agent onto her skin.This playset didn't come with a bead applicator at all this time, perhaps the Bead Peeler is the new, fun tool.

using fingers to collect and place the beads
The beads have a bittering agent to deter them from going in mouths. Lily is beyond that stage, but I have to remind her to pick any beads up as her baby sister would put them in her mouth.

using the bead peeler

We found that whilst the Bead Peeler worked well in principle, the outer beads need to be completely secure otherwise they are weak and could be pulled off. I think that the best results are yielded when the design is left on the layout tray longer than 10 minutes. I think, for that reason, an additional layout tray would be useful so that there is less waiting to create a new Disney Princess template.

As you can see, the Disney Princess templates are rather large, so there will be only so many that can be created using the beads provided.

Disney Princess Aquabeads style

lily's aquabead creation
Lily's jazzed up creation
Aquabeads remain a favourite of Lily's, even if the sound of skittering Aquabeads across the floor goes straight through me! If Aquabeads create a layout tray to minimise dropping the beads, that would be fantastic! 
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Living Arrows | Playdoh

Welcome back to Living Arrows, a post which celebrates childhood. I intend on creating as many of these weekly photos as possible because they are great to reflect on all together.

The project originally took its name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran ~
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth"

Our house seems to be coming down with one bug after another. October is probably the best month for getting a virus but so far there have been no days off school and fingers crossed half-term stays lurgy free!
Yesterday we had a mostly indoors day after a failed trip to the park as Freyja puked all over herself. So we cracked open the Playdoh which is probably Rob's least favourite thing that the kids enjoy playing with. Didn't bother him though as he was at work! The kids made jam tarts, currant buns and pancakes out of the brand new pots of Playdoh. You can guess the colour of the Playdoh now, can't you!

Lily playdoh


Alex playdough


As for Freyja, she entertained herself for a few minutes with toy broccoli and pots and pans.

poorly freyja


Living Arrows
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Monday, 9 October 2017

How to get #GuestBedReady

*This blog post is in collaboration with Bed Guru
Do you have a guest bed in your house?
At the moment, we do, but it's time as a guest bedroom is temporary before it officially becomes Freyja's bedroom. Freyja is 9 months old and sleeps in our room so for the moment we have a "spare room".

In a few days we will have one of my best friends to stay for a long weekend. He is pretty tall- 6ft something, so the sofa bed is out. What is it with sofa beds being advertised as doubles when they are just a generous single?
Bed Guru's #GuestBedReady campaign has given me the enthusiasm I need to sort out the spare room, which is inevitably where all the clutter gets dumped. I've been thinking about how to make the spare bedroom guest room ready to promise a comfortable stay (even if the kids do wake him up in the morning!). With 11 weeks to go until Christmas, it is time to consider getting your spare room ready for guests.

The bed:
Despite our spare bedroom being listed as a double, I do struggle to imagine a double bed positioned in there. With a built in cupboard and a chimney breast taking up space there is a limited number of orientations which a bed can go. If space wasn't at a premium I would be tempted to have a
guest bed from Bed Guru, or a divan with storage at the bottom would be ideal to store the additional bed linen which only gets brought out once in a while. A combination would be fantastic!

Bed Guru guest bed trundle

Talking about bed linen, I like to keep this side of things relatively neutral. White sheets, duvet cover and pillows suit my tastes and I can always add colours and textures using cushions and throws. A throw is a good idea to dress the guest bed, not only to make the whole room look well put together but it shows that you are considering your guests comfort too. Plus, they may need it especially during the colder months before the heating officially goes on.

guest bed ready bedside table Alex IKEA

Bedside table:
A decent bedside table could be a small unit or it could be an existing piece of furniture. In my case, we are using an IKEA Alex filing cabinet. Needs must! But whatever you choose, it needn't matter providing it has a decent table lamp  and access to additional plug points at the very least.
The bedside table ideally should be minimalistic with only a few items. I personally think that a good attractive, preferably angle-poised lamp for reading plus coaster and two decorative pieces is a good amount before the space can get cluttered. A book could be a nice detail too.
In terms of decorative features, one of these could be functional like a clock or perhaps it could be an artificial flower in a vase or a mildly scented candle.

Bedside table decor succulent Dunelm

Beside table sleep spray
I've added a sleep, pillow and body spray too

bedside table book
This is a lengthy book to read, and difficult to get into so it could help with sleep!

Towels:
I like to provide a fresh hand towel and a bath towel. Even if they don't use their own hand towel I offer their own as my guests may not fancy sharing the same one as two young kids and I don't blame them!
I try to get the guest towels as soft and fluffy as possible using non-bio laundry detergent and lavender scented fabric conditioner. Scratchy towels aren't ideal but I can blame hard water for that problem.

#GuestBedReady bedside table essentials
Towel IKEA, Desk Lamp Dunelm, Ornamental succulent Dunelm, Throw IKEA, Book 'Seveneves' Waterstones

Window dressing:
We have a black out roller blind on our guest bedroom window to ensure a good night's sleep plus it retains heat in the room for added comfort during the cooler months. During the daytime I have the window cracked open to let some fresh air circulate. Did you know that the ideal room temperature for a good nights sleep is 19 degrees C?

So there are my ideas to create a minimalistic guest bed room. Here is a brief checklist for you:

guest room checklist

Thanks for reading, do you have any tips for getting #GuestBedReady?

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Living Arrows | Fun at Manor Farm

Welcome back to Living Arrows, a post which celebrates childhood. I intend on creating as many of these weekly photos as possible because they are great to reflect on all together.

The project originally took its name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran ~
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth"

Yesterday we enjoyed a number of hours at Manor Farm near the River Hamble. We joined the farmyard walk which meant that we all had the opportunity to feed pigs, goats and cows whilst learning more about the farm and the upkeep. We left the tour as we had a very tired and emotional little boy but he perked up once we found the play area with tractors and slides.
Lily and Alex loved going down the slide together.

living arrows

living arrows slide

Thanks for stopping by.


Living Arrows
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