I’m really happy to have a new competition to share with you all! One lucky reader will be able to win a Joy and Joe Baby turquoise stretchy baby wrap with an ‘out and about caravan’ design.
Joy and Joe specialise in fabric baby wrap carriers, and all of their baby slings are specially handmade in UK by Bolton based mums. The Joy & Joe baby wrap carrier™ is totally natural and without any buckles or straps, you just secure the carrier by wrapping and simply tying the ends around your waist once or twice. Joy and Joe baby wrap carrier™ is available in one size, as this fits most people. This means it can easily be transferred between Mum and Dad if you are out and about and both want to share the job of carrying around the baby.
The wraps combine the ideas behind baby-wearing and kangaroo care(skin to skin care) and let your baby stay close to you while you have your hands free to get on with whatever you need to do.
Joy & Joe baby wrap carrier™ is a safe, soft & comfortable baby wrap which is ideal for any new born or little ones and can be used up to 16 kg. It is breathable and offers great support to the wearers back and perfect positions for the baby, all while looking chic! Made of 100% cotton, Joy & Joe baby wrap carrier™ is available in a variety of colours so you can accessorize your outfits.
If you have a browse through the website you can see more of the designs on offer. You can also have a look at their Youtube channel if you want to see some practical demonstrations of how to put your baby in and out of the carrier.
The design available to win is this funky turquoise “Out and About” Caravan design shown below. I love this; it is so bright and funky. It makes me wish my little ones were that little bit younger so I could have one myself! It’s from the Panelled-J collection which retail from just £23
MoneySuperMarket are running a Room for Improvement competition to see how we can make over a room in the house on a budget of £50. We have recently been trying to decorate the upstairs of our house so this is great timing! After living in our house for over a year now, we still have quite a bit to do but we are slowly getting there.
I decided to use the budget to liven up my boys’ room a bit. It had recently been painted but still lacked the finishing touches to make it look more appealing, as it was pretty boring – as you can see below!
Before we painted it blue, it was even worse, but I don’t even have any pictures of that. But just imagine it, very old fashioned grannyish flowery wallpaper which was ripped off in places by my toddler – not really what a nearly 5 year old boy would like!
So with my budget of £50 kindly provided by MoneySuperMarket, I set off to Dunelm Mill with my oldest boy to have a look around and choose a few things to add a bit of character to the room.
He chose a new bedding set with numbers on it, a small rocket rug, and his favourite new addition to his bedroom – a plush red car cushion.
This cost me £19.99 for the rug and £9.99 for the car cushion (both shown above), and £8.99 for the duvet set.
I have just seen these items are quite a bit cheaper on the website thought! Should have checked before I went! Did not really expect such vastly different prices in store to online with it being the same company and not massively impressed with that, but I will know for next time! I had been meaning to go and have a look around the big new(ish) Greenford store for a while and just wanted to pick the things up today rather than waiting for delivery.
I also got a Finding Nemo wall sticker from e-Bay which my son had asked for before, as fishes match well with his blue walls.
We also took out the old pine chest of drawers that was hanging around in there not matching with the rest of the furniture, and that created a bit more space.
So here is the new look:
I think it is a definite improvement. It has a bit more character now and looks less boring.
You can see more details of the competition here. All the entries will be shown on the Pinterest board here.
He is a medium sized fluffy bear with a removable pouch inside which can be microwaved. The pouch is filled with natural wheat and pure lavender essential oil, so is very relaxing and cosy to sleep with. The pouch takes only 60 seconds to warm. It does get quite hot when coming out of the microwave, although not enough to burn yourself but you do have to be careful. It is very easy to get the pouch in and out, and it is fastened in securely with velcro on the front of the bear.
The bear is not suitable for children under 3 years because of the heating element of it, and I would agree with this also on the grounds that some of his fluff may come loose or shed a little, but for older children it is fine if you can trust them to be sensible with it.
I have used it with my 4 (nearly 5) year old and not had any concerns about him having it. I don’t let them play with the bear during the day, but just bring it out at bed time to give a soothing and relaxing atmosphere to his bed.
When the pouch is heated the lavender aroma is definitely noticeable, but not too over powering. Lavender has traditionally been used as a sleep aid and is also said to be effective for anxiety and restlessness. I find the smell of lavender really nice because I remember having so many lavender bushes in our garden when I was small, with lots of butterflies on, so it does bring me quite a relaxing mental image.
My 4 year old is not a bad sleeper anyway, but he does like the bear and it’s nice for him to have something special to help him relax at bedtime. Especially when we have cold weather this will be nice to snuggle up to, with it being heated.
Recently we were sent a selection of tea from teapigs who are a green and ethical company, with a massive range of good quality teas. All their teas are real whole leaf teas and come in special “tea temples” which give you the same convenience a tea bag would, but allow enough room for the whole tea leaves to infuse.
We made some delicious iced tea with these, and I will share with you the easy method how to make iced tea.
The people at teapigs wanted us to explore how their teas could be used in different ways, especially as ingredients for iced teas and cocktails. In the Summer when we get sunny days, iced tea is so refreshing. I love iced tea but for some reason it had never occurred to me to have a go at making it myself! It’s a great alternative to drinking juice or lemonade on hot days, as it’s all natural and less than 3 calories per cup! It has been really handy to just make a jug and keep it available in the fridge, and that also works out a lot cheaper than buying ready made bottles of iced tea from the newsagents.
As you can see above, the method of making iced tea is pretty simple:
How to make iced tea
Place your tea temples / tea bags into a jug or glass, one per person
Cover with hot water
Leave to brew for 3 minutes
Top with cold water and ice
Sweeten if you like, with elderflower cordial or honey
Garnish with fresh fruit
Have a look here to see all the teas which are recommended for iced tea. My favourite is the super fruits.
If you fancy making some iced tea of your own, I am happy to say teapigs have given me a code to treat my readers to 15% off* at www.teapigs.co.uk using the code BLOGGERS12
(*enter code at checkout. discount does not apply to 80g matcha tins or gifts and cheeky deals as these are already discounted)
Over the Bank Holiday with the weather being so nice for a change, we really wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before – somewhere outdoors, and preferably near the sea. My husband said he fancied seeing the White Cliffs of Dover, so we checked the journey time, which was only 2 hours from London (a little less than I would have guessed) and decided to set off the next morning for our day out in Dover.
When choosing a day out, I normally look carefully and try to choose somewhere with loads of children’s activities and features to keep the little ones entertained, but this trip was quite refreshing because it was more back to basics, and had no all singing all dancing flashing lights and entertainment for the boys, just sun, sea, and fresh air – and they absolutely loved it. It felt like a great adventure for them, and I’m thinking we should do this kind of trip more!
We set off in the morning and enjoyed the drive down as it was such a sunny day, and there’s lots of countryside and scenery to enjoy en-route so the 2 hours drive went pretty quick. As we approached Dover we could see the sea in the distance, and drove past the ports which the boys found really exciting seeing all the ferries coming and going.
There was a massive queue of traffic to get into the car park for the White Cliffs, so we decided to go along the road a little to St Margaret’s Bay, a small village nearby, where we could stop and have some lunch and go along to South Foreland Lighthouse
Here are the boys having lunch at the tea room at the Pines Gardens at St Margaret’s Bay. The lunch was lovely. The bread of the cheese baguettes was so nice and soft.
We didn’t have a chance to go into the gardens themselves as we wanted to get on towards the lighthouse but we did have a quick look at the fish pond just outside.
The next task was to try and find somewhere to park where we did not have too far to get to the lighthouse. Some of the information we had found suggested walking directly from St Margaret’s Bay for a one mile walk compared to a 2 mile walk if you go along the cliff edge from the Visitor Centre at the White Cliffs. One mile sounds okay, but we soon noticed the path was pretty uneven and hilly, and with two kids to push in a buggy, it didn’t look like it was going to be ideal. Luckily we managed to find somewhere a bit nearer. There is a road called Lighthouse Road which is marked as having no access to the lighthouse, but if you go down it then you can park much closer with only a small footpath to go down. This is definitely a much easier option for families with small children.
The boys were really excited to get going!
Lovely to be out in the countryside surrounded by so much greenery and open space.
So very soon we arrived at South Foreland Lighthouse, which is a National Trust property. It is right by the sea and you have amazing views while walking around nearby the lighthouse.
My little one looking out over the sea. You can see loads of ships coming out, and see all the way over to France. It was very relaxing to sit and look out and feel the sea breeze.
To go up to the top of the lighthouse there’s a charge of 5 pounds per adult. We did this but to be honest that may not have been worth it for us on this occasion, because we didn’t stay up there too long. It was not easy keeping an eye on the little ones up there and I worry they will end up throwing themselves off the balcony! For those with slightly older children, you can go on a tour where they will tell you all about the working of the lighthouse as you go up. The guides were friendly and seemed willing to tailor this to however much level of detail will be suitable for your family and the age groups you have with you.
The boys were mainly happier just exploring and running around in the area outside. There is a little boat which children can get inside and play about on, which they loved especially the 3 year old. They also have kites freely available for any visitors to borrow and use. They are just kept outside the shop in a little treasure chest and you just help yourself!
I love kites! Seeing them flying in the blue sky on a sunny day is just such a nice sight, but somehow I had not actually taken the boys to fly kites before! They were really excited to have a go, and after a few attempts, we managed to get it going.
We also took the chance to have a cup of tea and some scones and cakes while we were there. It came with proper china crockery which is a nice touch! The boys had Victoria Sponge cake which they enjoyed.
We still hadn’t been to see the White Cliffs by this point, and it was starting to get a bit late. We couldn’t go without seeing those as its a major landmark! So we went back over and by that time the car park situation was much better.
It’s a beautiful view! I love these pics my husband took of my 4 year old at the cliffs.
Soon it was time to start heading back home, but we had a great day. I would definitely recommend the area for any families wanting to get away from the city for a bit and have some fresh air and countryside. This was pretty different from the usual “seaside” experience which we have done before. Much quieter, really peaceful and a bit rural.
We are thinking of going camping soon and this day out really gave me a taste for doing the more simple, natural and back to basics kind of activities with the kids, so I’m now starting to think of all the different areas we could explore within the UK.
Linking up to:
Carcraft want to know what the nations favourite driving song is, and they are running a poll to find out! You can find out more here and why not join in by tweeting your favourite with #carcraftsingalongsongs or posting on their Facebook page.
We love listening to the radio in the car, especially on a nice sunny day, driving along and listening to Kiss FM or Capital is quite relaxing. If we can get the kids to sleep in the back then its like quality time for me and their dad. I like a lot of the songs which are out at the moment, some of my favourites are Justin Timberlake “Mirrors”, any Bruno Mars songs, or Pitbull and Christina Aguilera “Feel This Moment.” My 4 year old even has his favourite songs to listen to in the car too, he loves Will. I. Am and Britney “Scream & Shout.”
But what we also really like is listening to some of the old skool stuff, when they have the Kisstory hour on Kiss it’s always fun to listen and remember the songs. My husband would probably pick his favourite as “No Diggity” by Blackstreet but as for me, my ultimate favourite has to be TLC. It’s not an easy choice cos there are a lot of songs I love listening to in the car, but I have been a TLC fan for years and I feel they have stood the test of time!
When I hear them come on the radio it always boosts my mood so for my ultimate driving song to make me happy in the car, I am going to vote for TLC – Waterfalls because this is such a classic song of theirs.
Here’s the video – go on, have a listen, bring back some memories! 😀
I have been rewarded with vouchers for sharing this Campaign from Carcraft.
Recently BundleBean sent me a brilliant BundleBean Go! to try out. This is a really versatile item that can be used in so many ways. The primary use for me was as a foot muff for the buggy and also as a picnic blanket or play mat for in the garden, but it can also be used on car seats, baby carriers or as a cover for babies in a bike seat!
We were sent the blue spot design, which I love as it is nice and bright and cheerful. They also have it in pink spots, plain black, or red stars.
One side of the BundleBean has the design on it and is a lovely soft fleecy material, and the other side is waterproof. It is reversible, although the recommended way is with the waterproof on the outside but I found it works fine both ways as it does not make a difference to the way the attachment works.
Here you can see it put on the buggy both ways:
It is attached simply by using velcro around the back of the buggy. There are two velcro strips which can be made into loops and attached to the buggy frame, or they can simply be attached to each other to hold the BundleBean in place. The 2nd method is what I did and found it so easy, especially compared to foot muffs I have had in the past which you have to thread all the buggy straps through and take some effort to put on and off.
The BundleBean is really convenient and easy and that is what I liked the most about it. Especially with the changing weather we have at the moment, you don’t know what to expect so its handy to be able to just put the footmuff on or off in one minute without any faffing around at all. If you wanted to quickly change it from the buggy to the car seat or the baby carrier, this can be done really easily and quickly.
It is also very small and not bulky at all, so fits easily in the basket of the buggy and is really easy to just fold up and take out with you.
It has a pocked on the front, which comes in handy for keeping essential bits and pieces, as demonstrated here by our cuddly dinosaur 😀
One of the features I was most interested in is that it can be used as a picnic blanket. We love a good picnic, so that seems so handy! I do love that you don’t have to take a million different things out with you, but can use this same one to serve different purposes.
Here’s my little one relaxing on the BundleBean and having some snacks and a drink. What is really good with the design is that with one side being waterproof, if it has been slightly damp on the grass then the fleece side stays totally dry for the child to sit on, so it’s ideal for changeable weather.
When using it as a picnic mat I did wish it was slightly bigger, but it is a good size for one baby or toddler to sit on. It would be ideal for a young baby to lie on out in the garden or park while the rest of the family are eating their picnic!
The BundleBean Go! is a really clever product that can be used in so many ways. It is very well made and looks like a good quality item that will last. I would definitely recommend it to any parent.
Save The Children are starting a campaign to raise awareness of the effects of malnutrition on education:
The information displayed here is really saddening. Education is perhaps an aspect we might not have considered immediately, when thinking of malnutrition, but so many children are suffering due to this and it is affecting their ability to read and learn. Save The Children are publishing a new report today, entitled Food for Thought showing the massive impact that nutrition is having on so many children’s education worldwide. Together with Britmums and many of their bloggers, I have joined them to try and raise awareness of this issue.
Access to education and the ability to read makes a massive difference in any child’s life, and it is so wrong that children are missing out on this opportunity because they do not have enough food to eat to keep their brains and bodies nourished ready to learn. There is enough food for everyone, if only it was distributed fairly. When I think how much food we buy without thinking, and how much sometimes gets wasted, I feel so ashamed to think of these children and to think of the mother’s worrying about when and where they will next find food for their child.
Here are some case studies I would like to share from Save The Children. This is the story of Kasturi, aged 8 from India:
Kasturi is the youngest daughter of Srinivas and Lakshmi, who worked as agricultural labourers in Andhra Pradesh until Lakshmi became pregnant with twins and Srinivas found it impossible to find work. They moved to town with their eldest daughter, Sangeeta, and Lakshmi gave birth to twins, one of whom died after ten months. While Lakshmi was pregnant and when Kasturi was small, the family struggled to make ends meet and couldn’t afford to buy nutritious food. While Sangeeta is doing well at school, Kasturi is struggling.
Chandra Kala, Kasturi’s teacher
“I’ve been Kasturi’s teacher for two years now. Her learning’s very slow and there’s been no major improvement. She has difficulty writing but can identify alphabets and pictures.
Even though she’s in Class 3 now, Kasturi still struggles with words and maths. She can’t even keep up with the class 2 students.
Sangeeta was one of our bright students in the primary school. She was very active and still is. I hear a lot of good things about her from her teachers in High School.
A lack of proper food usually hampers children’s ability to grasp things and slows down the pace of learning. There are a lot of children like Kasturi.”
Srinivas, Kasturi’s father
“We went through a very bad phase in life. We had very little to eat and there were times when we were hungry for days. I felt very sad as I couldn’t provide for my pregnant wife.”
Lakshmi, Kasturi’s mother
“I use to breastfeed my children but my milk wasn’t enough for both of them [the twins]. We didn’t have enough food then.”
This is the story of Nyagol, a mother of 6 in South Sudan
All of Nyaguol’s six children, except the youngest two, are enrolled at the primary school in their village. However, they’re often too hungry and sick to go to attend, or too weak to concentrate on their lessons. Floods, drought and ongoing inter-communal violence have led to severe food shortages in the area. Often the family goes for days without food. Last year, Nyaguol’s youngest daughter, two- year-old Nyakuoth, was given peanut paste as part of Save the Children’s nutrition programme. Although she’s stronger now, Nyaguol is worried that lack of food is hampering her development. Nyaguol is a member of Save the Children’s Mother to Mother Support Group in Ukau village. The group received childcare training, for example, about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for a baby’s first six months, how to introduce complementary foods, and about good health and hygiene practices. Their role is to pass on this information to other women in their community.
Nyaguol story in her own words
Our main problem here is insecurity. Last year there were also floods and drought, so people don’t have enough food. Whenever you want to go to find food you’re worried because of the fighting. People are just running here and there and aren’t able to find enough food for their children to survive. This has been a problem for very many years. Each year we hope it will be better but each year there are problems.
All of our crops were swept away in last year’s floods, so we have nothing. All I can do is try to earn a bit of money and then go and buy enough sorghum in the market to feed my children for one day. We mainly eat sorghum. We don’t have a mill to grind it so we grind it by hand and give it to the children.
There’s no way to make any money here unless you have a net and can catch fish in the river to sell at market. But when you put your net in the river you don’t know what you’ll be able to catch. You don’t know what there will be to eat tomorrow. You just hope there’ll be some way to feed your children.
My mind runs mad thinking about what my children are going to eat today and what they’ll eat tomorrow because I have nowhere to go and get food for my children. I can’t go very far to find work because it’s not safe and I’m worried that I might be killed while I’m collecting firewood.
This really is food for thought for all of us, and a reality check for some of the small things we may worry about. Not to know whether or not the children will be able to eat is such a heartbreaking situation.
Please join the Britmums #foodforthought Twitter chat on Tuesday 28th May 2013 from 1-2pm (full details here) marking the launch of Save the Children’s latest report on child nutrition and education. We will be talking about the importance of nutrition for education and learning to read.
Also please click here to sign the Save the Children petition, to show your support for this cause. The petition is to urge the G8 leaders to tackle this issue, in the hope that we could be the generation to stop this hunger crisis.
Brent Lodge Park in Hanwell is locally known as Bunny Park. We went for a day out recently as it is quite near to us and free to enter.
It’s a large park with animals to see, a playground for the children, a maze to explore, a cafe to buy ice cream and lots of greenery all around.
The animals we noticed first were the monkeys, and my younger two were especially interested in those. There are also exotic birds and some more animals that we didn’t have time to see like the bunnies and goats, and there is a reptile house with butterflies which I think you may have to pay a small amount to go in.
Then they were very eager to move onto the playground. There is quite a variety of equipment, not so much for very young toddlers as some of the equipment is a little high up to climb, but my littler ones were fine with some help.
After the playground, we moved on to the maze which was probably my boys favourite thing. They had not been in a real maze before, but were very eager to try it out.
It’s a great place to let the toddlers run around, and really fun for them following all the path ways around and chasing each other.
When you reach the end there is a small tower with stairs, so you can go up and look out over the rest of the maze. There’s my oldest at the top, as he reached there before me!
Here they are all, hiding underneath the tower. (It’s raised a bit off the ground)
Its a lovely free day out for anyone not too far away. You don’t feel as though you are in the middle of the city, you get a bit of a rural feel and an escape from the usual hustle and bustle of life and with all the different features like the maze and the animals, it is more exciting than just your average park.
There is a car park next door which is also free to use. Make sure you come out of the car park and turn left, to take you directly into the main area of the park. The first time we went, we entered from the car park itself but that is a really long way round to get to where most of the exciting bits are. There is another playground at that end, and if you have more time to take a stroll and explore, then it would be worth having a look around that side too.
I was given the chance to choose a personalised poster from Paper Themes to review. They have quite a wide variety of designs for occasions like weddings and births and some just to be personalised with your families details or memories.
I chose the Around the world poster which is a world map, personalised with mine and my husbands names and the date of our marriage. I love maps, I just find them quite fascinating to look out. We have a giant set of world map wall stickers in the kids playroom too so I thought it would be nice for me and my husband to have one of our own.
The poster is a brownish old world map kind of colour, and comes with the map left all in plain white because the concept is that you can mark off each country as you visit, so that over time you fill in more and more. This is quite a novelty and fun concept, which did appeal to me because we always fondly remember the trips we have been on in the past, and for the last few years having the kids quite close together, we have not had much opportunity to travel, so we are looking forward to next time we will get a chance to go somewhere exciting, and we often think of the places we would like to go.
I coloured in the countries we have already visited together (America, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia – and the UK since we live here). There are others we have been to separately but I’ve not included those since its supposed to be our travels as a couple or a family. I have to admit, I love colouring in – I find it quite relaxing and I always sneak the chance to do a bit in the kids colouring books, so I quite liked this aspect of it. I coloured it with pencil crayon, which did not show up quite as well as I had hoped so I’m not sure if felt tips would have been better. The texture of the poster is a bit shiny, so it’s hard to know what medium would have been best really.
The poster is 297 x 420mm (which is the size of an A3 sheet) and comes unframed. The thickness is like a thick paper, it shouldn’t tear or rip but it’s not extremely thick. It should be fine in any frame. The price on the website is currently at £25, which seems to be standard for all of their personalised posters.
I have now bought a frame for it, so here you can see how it looks on the wall:
When ordered, the poster comes rolled up and carefully wrapped in tissue, very nicely presented. I see these as being an ideal gift item for those who you want something a bit quirky and different.
Now we are just looking forward to filling in a few more countries on the map! 🙂
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