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Monday, 27 October 2014

Gift ideas from Bacon Flavoured Jam

I think handmade gifts are a beautiful way of welcoming a new arrival into the world but sadly I don't have the time, talent or patience to sit down and knit or sew something that looks good enough to give as a gift 

Thankfully, that's where Bacon Flavoured Jam comes in, it's certainly a name that wi Bacon Flavoured Jam sell a beautiful range of handmade items for baby, both men and women and also the home.

The lovely, Charlotte started Bacon Flavoured Jam back in 2012, originally a place to showcase her knitted and crochet crafts, before becoming expanding  online shop. Bacon Flavoured Jam sells a range of items including beautiful hand knitted baby booties and chunky warm scarves. 

I was recently sent some beautiful handmade bunting* for the little mans nursery. The bunting is available in a choice of colours and you can include a variety of optional embellishments such as buttons. 
The string of bunting measures 175cms long and each individual flag is 15cm in length. The length was very slightly too short for the wall in the little mans room so the bunting found it's way into my bedroom and low and behold, it's both the perfect fit for the headboard and the perfect match for the colours on the walls.
The bunting is so sweet and pretty. It's also really well made. The pattern is consistent and everything is finished off amazingly well. It costs £10.99 for the standard bunting with no embellishments which I don't think is bad at all. 

I love the shabby chic look of it and how versatile it is. It would be perfect for a nursery but looks just as nice in our bedroom. 
I'm really impressed with Bacon Flavoured Jam! From the super quick delivery and beautiful bunting to the lovely friendly owner, what more could you need?!

Next time you're looking for a new baby gift or you fancy some new unusual gloves, make sure you check out Bacon Flavoured Jam. 

The never ending laundry pile

Is it just me who literally feels like all they do is wash, dry and put away clothes?! 

I swear over night someone breaks into my house just to deposit another pile of dirty clothes in my washing basket. When it was just hubby and I, I could get away with 1 or 2 loads of washing each week but since the little man has graced us with his presence, that's turned into 1 or 2 loads a day! I literally feel like I'm constantly wading my way through laundry. The actual washing part isn't too traumatic, for me anyway, I can't comment for my brave little washing machine. It's the drying and putting away I find both time consuming and horrendously irritating. 

It's even more of a problem now the weather is worse. If I so much as think about putting a line of washing out, it pores down, so everything gets bunged into the tumble dryer. The hum of the dryer feels like friendly chatter of a friend and the little man watches the washing machine like the TV!
For the last week or two instead of putting our clothes away, Hubby and I had been piling them up at the bottom of our bed on the proviso that we'd do it later/tomorrow/when we had five minutes. Needless to say, it didn't happen.

Big mistake! 

One pile had become 7 massive piles, all of which has intermingled and become 'Clothes Mountain', a scary place were tights had become attached to bra hooks and solitary baby socks had hidden themselves under the bed. It was a sad, messy place. The final straw was when I realised Hubby was digging through Clothes Mountain on a morning to find clean socks because his sock drawer was empty. 

It took Hubby and I four very long hours to put all of the clothes away. It was such a waste of an evening. 
So, too reduced my stress levels and reduce the risk of 'Clothes Mountain' reappearing I've made myself a new little laundry resolution. I'm not going to do a million loads of washing each day, dry them and pile them up, instead I'm going to attempt to do ONE load from start to finish each day. 

WASH
DRY
FOLD
PUT AWAY

And if that doesn't work .... I'm either getting a cleaner or running away.

What laundry solutions do you have? How on earth do you manage if you have a large family?

*PR Collaboration*

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Halloween 2014 : Baby's first Halloween

I love this time of the year, I love the weather, the beautiful landscape and of course, Halloween! It's the little mans first Halloween this year so I've gone a little wild with fancy dress outfits for him and bought some Halloween decorative items for the house, oh and not to forget the pumpkins! I wanted to keep Halloween fun for the little man, clearly anything too scary was going to be no good for a baby.

I thought I'd share some of the things we've done for Halloween so far. 

We went for a little jaunt to the local woods the other day to get some fun Halloween photos using some of his fancy dress outfits.
I picked up the Skeleton romper suit from Nutmeg at Morrisons for £6. 
The little man was sat under a tree from which the leaves kept falling and me and my super speedy fingers managed to catch a leave as it fell onto the top of his head. 
Whilst I went for the cute look with the Skeleton outfit, I decided to make something a little less traditional for him too. 

Can you remember that awful horror film Child's Play from the late 1980's? 
Well here's my very own mini Chucky! Albeit a little less sinister than the real one.

For this outfit I bought an ginger wig from a shop on Ebay for £4 and got a friend of mine to create an iron on 'Good Guys' transfer which I added to the front of a pair of plain dungarees. The dungarees, top and shoes were all items we already had. The dungarees and t shirt were originally from John Lewis but I don't ever remember the little man wearing them. 

Oh and the blood stained plastic knife cost £1.49 from another Ebay store. I'm quite impressed with how good he looked, though I'm sure he will hate me in years to come - just wait until he's bringing girlfriends home!
Sainsburys had some fab pumpkins in this year. I bought one big one and then three of their 'munchkins' which are super cute tiny pumpkins!
This year we had some help with the pumpkin carving in the form of OXO Good Grips fruit scoop set*. The double scoop set is perfect for hollowing out your pumpkin!

The scoops are really tough with edges sharp enough to scoop out the flesh of your pumpkin. As well as being perfect for pumpkins the larger of the scoops is ideal for using with watermelon and mangos while the smaller of the two can be used for kiwis or even baked potatoes. The scoops get between the skin and fruit so nothing is wasted, they're much easier to use and more effective than a spoon. 

You can pick up the set of two for £10 at House of Fraser and they come with a lifetime guarantee! OXO clearly have faith in their product. 
It appears we have a pumpkin fan! The little man thoroughly enjoyed ramming pumpkin into his mouth and rolling it round the floor. 

I haven't gone too mad with the decorative items as A - we don't have the space - do you know how much space baby toys take up?! and B - little hands cause mischief! The little man is into EVERYTHING and loves to chew anything he shouldn't so I daren't leave anything lying round that isn't an absolute essential.
I picked up these fab little bits from the Poundshop! 

I think they are complete bargains at £1 each. The tea light holders are really good quality and look great when the living room is dark. 
I might have also accidentally bought myself a Yankee candle to celebrate the occasion, I told my hubby it's fine though, it's only a small one!
What are you doing for Halloween this year?



Friday, 24 October 2014

Indian Supermeals by Zainab Jagot Ahmed

I have loved the weaning experience with the little man. We've had such fun and thankfully he's gone through the transition from milk to food amazingly well. I've enjoyed hunting out recipes and using my own ideas but in all honesty some of the flavours and ideas have been a little bland and boring. I was asked if I'd like to review something rather exciting - the Indian Supermeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family* by Zainab Jagot Ahmed. I haven't seen any other Indian-themed babyfood cookbooks on the market, so I was rather intrigued by the idea. 

It's a relatively new book, having only been published in September this year. It's a bright and easy to read book which contains a varied selection of recipes are simple to make,  rich nutrients and suitable for  young sensitive palate and tummy. The book also features a whole host of information on Superfoods and food groups which in itself, is a really interesting read. 

The book is easy to read and the layout is clear and concise (which is fantastic for those of us who get confused easily!). The recipes are written in simple terms and are really easy to follow. I'm also really impressed with the photography, which is bright, eye catching and realistic. 

The recipes in the book can be used from stage 2 of weaning onwards and seems like a great way to introduce your little person to a varied world of flavours and tastes. The recipes are divided into stages – stage 2 (7 months plus), stage 3 (10 months plus), stage 4 (1-3 years plus) and the school years (3-5 years) but obviously they can be eaten by the whole family too. 
The book is split into categories -  veggie supermeals, fish supermeals, finger food supermeals, sweet supermeals, meat supermeals, family supermeals and quick kids supermeals, so if there's something specific you're after you can easily find it. Each recipe also has details about whether it can be frozen, the servings it gives and how long it takes to make. 

Despite the name of the book it isn't filled with just Indian inspired recipes, there's a little bit of everything, including both British and Italian choices so don't panic that you'll be feeding your baby something spicy everyday! 

Zainab Jagot Ahmed, author of the book is a parent herself and the book has been created with the help of her own daughter, so it's rather refreshing to receive baby hints and tips from someone who is actually a parent! 

We've tried a few of the recipes from the book so far, though I've only remembered to photograph two! The Creamy Sweet Potato dream was a massive hit, and I suspect the little man would have licked his bowl clean, had he been able too! I'd never have thought to use sweet potato in a dessert, let alone with coconut milk (which I was surprised to learn, contains a lauric acid which is usually found in breast milk!) 


I'll definitely use the book for more meal ideas for all of us and can't wait to work my way through the tasty recipes. It'll work nicely with the restart of my diet (yes again!) and give us all a healthy kick over the winter period. I'll be looking out for the recipes which help boost our immune systems and attempt to prevent those dreaded winter colds.

The book is a hardback and costs £14.99 on Amazon. I actually think that's a pretty reasonable price considering the vast amount of information the book holds. I'm very impressed with the book, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone about to start stage 2 of weaning.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Halloween 2014 : Baby friendly Halloween crafts

On a rare recent occasion when both Hubby and I were with the little man we decided to attempt a craft morning. Not surprisingly, you're pretty restricted with the standard of 'arts and crafts' you can create with an almost 9 month old. Regardless though, he loves getting messy, throwing things around and generally causing a mini whirlwind in my living room. 

From quite a young age, I've taken the little man to both messy and sensory play at our local Children's Centre. He absolutely loves it. He loves being in the thick of the mess and muddle and I feel he really benefits from it . He's learnt to interact with other children and is keen to get involved and explore his surroundings. I think it's helped his independence - he doesn't want to be hanging round Mammy, he wants to hang out with his pals and scurries off to play as soon as we arrive whilst I'm abandoned in the corner trying to pretend I'm a cool parent!

I think it's important to help his senses develop as early as possible and encourage both learning and play as part of our daily routine. 

For our most recent crafty session we brought in some leaves from outdoors (it's much snugglier playing with leaves in the cosy house than our blustery garden!) and got out the paper and paints and let the little man go mad!
He now picks up things really well, once his Daddy had shown him there was paint in the dish there was no stopping him - hand, feet and paint everywhere!
He enjoyed dipping the leaves into the paint and smearing it on the paper, himself and his Dad. His dexterity and grip is great now. He can get things where he wants them in an instant, I'm looking forward to future collages and 'creating'. The little mans Daddy and I both think we have some kind of Kirsty Allsop streak, we enjoy creating and making, it doesn't very often go to plan, but it's lots of fun trying!
So what masterpieces did we end up with?

Well, I'm not sure I have a child genius on my hand or that he's going to make millions selling his art work, but, he thoroughly enjoyed himself and we ended up some rather cute pictures to keep in his memory box. 
Creative play doesn't have to cost the earth, it's can be a cheap and effective way of helping your child learn to explore their own imagination. It encourages wonderful ideas and games and most importantly, it creates beautiful smiles. 

In years to come I'm hoping encouraging creative play will have helped with the little mans development in some shape or form. There are many studies and documents which suggest it helps with the problem solving part of the brain and helps children to use their creative flare to express their feelings and emotions. Whether or not that's true and whether he ends up an artist, a musician or a bin man, I'll still remember the fun and messy times we've had as he grows up. 

Oh, and in case you're wondering - the paint did come out of his clothes!



ToyellaBadgeComp zps7631f58f Calling all Bloggers: Have a #ToyellaChristmas and win £150 in Toys (CD: 25/10/2014)

This is my entry into the #ToyellaChristmas Blogger Competition.


Monday, 20 October 2014

Halloween 2014 : Simple Creepy Cookies

We've been getting into the swing of things for the little mans first Halloween.

It's been costume and pumpkins galore in our house and while I was in the Halloween spirit I decided to make some simple Halloween cookies.

Here's what you'll need -

Ingredients

2 oz of butter or magarine
4 oz of light brown sugar
1 medium egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 of plain flour
Decorations - I used pre coloured and pre made icing for speed

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 C

Line a baking tray with grease proof paper

In a mixing bowl, add the butter/margarine to the sugar and mix until it looks quite light in colour.
Stir in the egg and vanilla extract (I also added a little black food colouring to the mixture too).

Add the flour to the mixture and fold in.

Divide the mixture into similar sized lumps and put onto your baking tray. Make sure you leave plenty of space between as they do expand .. a lot!

Bake the cookies for around 10 minutes or until you smell smoke/they go brown/see fire!

Let your cookies cool properly on the baking tray before you even think about decorating.
To decorate I used Renshaw ready to roll icing, partly because I'm lazy and partly because I knew I'd never be able to make good colours using traditional icing sugar and food colouring.
A few weeks ago during my regular visit to Hobbycraft I found some cute little cookie cutters for a rather reasonable £1 so I used them to trim the randomly shaped edges from my cookies and also cut the icing once I'd rolled it out.
I'm no Delia Smith, but for a Halloween party I'm sure my cookies would make a nice little sweet addition.

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Little Hand Prints Posters‏ giveway

Little Hand Prints was created by Dave Williams who is a designer and illustrator based in Liverpool. 

The Little Hand Prints range consists of themed A-Z posters, ranging from Pirates and Sea Life to Safari Animals and Space. Each poster that is prnted is limited to a run of only 100, so in theory your print will be a very limited edition. 
Little Hand Prints also offers the option to customise the prints with a name of your child and you can also work directly with them to create a bespoke piece of your choice.

Little Hand Prints are offering one of my blog readers the chance to win a poster print of your choice. To enter the competition please complete the rafflecopter form below.



a Rafflecopter giveaway Terms & Conditions
Winner will be drawn via Rafflecopter entries.
Details will be verified and if found to be false ALL of your entries will be disqualified.
Winner will be contacted via email and Twitter (if your handle is provided).
You will have 14 days to respond to winning notification otherwise a new winner will be picked.
The prize will be arranged, produced and delivered by Little Hand Prints.

One winner is entitled to one standard print of their choice (RRP £12.50).

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Jacamo slouchy desert boots for men

It's an actual fact my husband hates shopping. Actually that's not really the truth., he just hates shopping with me. I like to peruse the shops, spending a good few hours wandering whilst accumulating bags. Hubby on the other hand will go into one shop, buy what he needs in 20 seconds flat and go home. Thankfully there's always the online option, at places like Jacamo, which means he gets less stressed with the actual shopping bit, and I can keep a watchful eye/give a helping with what he's purchasing. 
Jacamo is home to a huge selection of menswear brands in a wide range of sizes. Footwear goes up to a rather impressive UK size 15 which is fantastic for people such as my uncle. He's a large bloke, at just over 6"5 and has had issues shopping for both clothing and footwear his entire life. His feet are UK size 14 and back in the days before Jacamo he used to have to have his shoes special made, costing an absolute fortune.

Jacamo stock clothing sizes from small to 5xl and trousers with waist sizes of 34” to 62” and leg lengths of 27” up to 36”, so there's literally something for everyone, regardless of shape or size. 
My lucky hubby was recently given the chance to try out some footwear from Jacamo. After much deliberation ( a whole 10 minutes) he chose the Label J slouchy desert boots in the colour 'stone. The boots can be bought in either a standard fit or a wide fit. We went for the standard fit as hubby has quite slim feet.
The boots are much smarter than my 90's throw back husband would usually go for but they make a refreshing change to his footwear collection.
As well as the stone colour hubby chose, you can also buy the boots in a rich chocolate brown colour which look equally as nice. The boots can be dressed both up or down. They look great with dark navy jeans, but I suspect they'd look just as good with a smarter pair of trousers or chinos. 

After the boots first outing my hubby commented about how comfy and hard wearing they seem. He mentioned that the soles feel cushioned and are quite thick and not at all flimsy. He did say the size is a little more generous than his usual size 8's but not to the point where they feel too big. He seems to think they'll go nicely with thicker socks in the colder weather.
The boots are suede well made and look like they will last. Both the design and colour choice make me think they're perfect for Autumn. I think they're pretty well priced at £65 and would make an ideal Christmas gift for an awkward other half .. like mine!
*Hubby was sent the boots to review. Opinions are our/his own*




Friday, 17 October 2014

National Arthritis Week: 12–19 October

Did you know around 10 million people in the UK have arthritis?

It's quite common for people to associate arthritic symptoms with old age but it actually affects people of all ages, including children and is a common condition which causes pain and inflammation in your joints.

Arthritis is something that's affected the females in my own family for years. My Grandmother suffered for many years before she died and sadly my Mam seems to have inherited it too, and the older she gets the worse her symptoms become. My Mam is a rather sprightly 60 year old who has taken a vast array of medication for the last 30 years due to severe Crohn's disease. Various Doctors and Consultants seem to think this has triggered the onset of Arthritis (her symptoms began apparent when she was around 40). Rather sadly, she struggles with simple tasks like removing a lid from a jar, making up a bottle for my little boy or simply doing up buttons. It's quite sad. 

Whilst I don't have Arthritis myself ( and fingers crossed it stays that way) I can relate to joint pain and stiffness as I suffer from Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine which is an extremely painful congenital disease which unfortunately for me was only diagnosed when I was 24. I'd suffered back problems since I was a young child but it was never picked up. I also have one leg slightly shorter than the other which has caused my hips to misaligned and Hypermobility - I'm such a joy!

First thing on a morning my Mam's hands are unuseable, she has to do a selection of exercises recommended by her Physio to 'get them started' so she can get dressed. 

The two main types of Arthritis are - 

Osteoarthritis - which affects the smooth cartilage lining of your joint, making movement more difficult than usual and causing pain and stiffness. It most commonly affects the hands, spine, knees and hips.

Rheumatoid arthritis - is an autoimmune disease which means your immune system attacks the cells in the lining of your joints by mistake, making them swollen, stiff and painful.

Obviously as there's history of Arthritis in my family, I think it's really important to be aware of the warning signs and ensure we're all aware of the condition. Pay attention to your body, if something doesn't quite feel right - it probably isn't, so go and get it checked!









Thursday, 16 October 2014

Cow & Gate #5stepweaning plan

From first spoonfuls to three meals a day
Cow & Gate have been helping parents feed their babies for 110 year, so they're fully aware of how messy, fun and frustrating it can be Their team of nutritionists and baby feeding advisors have created a simple online 5 step weaning plan to help take parents from those tentative first spoonfuls to three meals a day. It's the perfect resource for a first time Mammy like me. 

Each step includes recipe ideas, and tips and advice on each stage of weaning. If you register on the 5 step weaning plan you will also be sent money off coupons for Cow & Gate products which are all baby friendly and perfectly healthy for little tummies. 


The little man is 8 months old now and weaning for us is well underway. He eats three meals a day and will try anything, well anything other than Salmon, that's literally the only thing he's turned his nose up at. I remember his first little spoonfuls of food, thankfully he was very keen to try things and showed no reluctance. 

5 Step Weaning Plan steps -


Step 1 
First spoonfuls - the goal is to help your baby eat from a spoon and introduce Cow&Gate's top 10 first foods which include baby rice and a variety of fruit and vegetable purees. 

Step 2 
Introducing breakfast - establish a breakfast routine after their first morning milk feed.

Step 3 
Offering variety - give your baby a wider variety of fruits and vegetables.

Step 4
Meat, fish and alternatives - introducing the exiting new tastes and textures of meat, fish and vegetarian alternatives.

Step 5
Establishing 3 meals a day - putting the last 4 steps together 3 times a day.

You can get more in depth information and lots of helpful advice from the Cow & Gate website. I also wrote a weaning post a while ago if you'd like to take a look at my suggestions. 

Cow& Gate are also giving you the chance to win an Iphone 6!


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