Monday, 12 August 2013

Making life easier

One of the little things that makes my life a whole lot easier is online food shopping, especially since returning to work. I did this whilst on maternity leave too, so I haven't had to do a big food shop in well over a year. Yes, I realise this concept has been around for a while now, but it's something that a lot of people I speak to seem to think is a bit of a hassle. After you've set up your initial list of favourites, it's a breeze to compile your shop each week. Personally I would much rather spend time making the most of my weekend than trawling the supermarket aisles with the masses on a Saturday morning, but each to their own (and I know some people enjoy it)!

I have been using Ocado which I find great - I rarely get substituted items and the delivery drivers are friendly and helpful. The prices are matched to Tesco so the perception I had of them being too expensive was fortunately incorrect. If you have a browse online before placing your first order, you can usually find an online discount code and get around £20-£25 off your first delivery. There is a minimum spend, but a couple of packs of nappies normally gets you over the threshold!

These are a few of my top baby buys from Ocado:

Waitrose Bottom Butter Enriched Baby Wipes - lovely baby wipes which have a gorgeous vanilla smell, I don't find I need to use many of these during a nappy change because they are so thick. They are £2.54 for a pack of 64, but currently (and often) on offer at 2 for £4.

Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter - this cream soothes, protects and pampers your baby's skin, and contains olive oil and chamomile to protect against nappy rash. I have read it is also brilliant as a face cream - I can't vouch for this personally but could be worth a try for bargain skincare! £2.89 a tub or 2 for £4 at the moment (you can combine this with the baby wipes on the multibuy offer).

Waitrose Baby Care Cleansing Cotton Wool Balls - a dull but essential item for any mum and baby! No one wants tiny cotton wool balls that fall apart with a droplet of water on them. These cotton wool balls are large and soft, perfect for changing time and bath time. £1.32 for a pack of 80.

'That's Not My Monkey' book - what baby doesn't love these books?! Currently £3.99 (£2 off the RRP of £5.99), great to add to your basket as a treat for your little one or a last minute birthday present for a young reader.

All of the above can be found at - they will be in my basket this week too!

Happy shopping x

Thursday, 27 June 2013

My favourite websites & blogs

I have really enjoyed discovering new individual websites and blogs over the last few months - there are some great ones out there. I wanted to share a few of them, as they are lovely to browse when you (finally!) get to put your feet up with a cup of tea/glass of wine.... - This shop is local to me, but also does free nationwide delivery on all orders. They stock some fab baby brands - Pink Lining, Bugaboo and Label Label are just a few. The service there is really friendly and orders always arrive speedily. - again this shop isn't too far from where I live, but you can browse their website and order products online. They sell 100% cotton organic baby products which make lovely baby gifts. Baby J has the Hug Me Knitted Bear which is very cute! - a great range of handmade baby items, including blankets, bibs and bags. The prints are gorgeous and unique, while you can have products personalised to your requirements. We have a blanket with baby J's name embroidered on which I'm sure he will keep for a very long time. - this website has lovely ideas for keeping little ones entertained, and they're not expensive either. One post I found very helpful was the Top Toy List for Babies and Toddlers, which has some excellent ideas for 1st birthday presents if you are a bit stuck! - I love this style blog, which covers fashion for pregnancy and motherhood. The clothes and accessories featured are affordable and wearable, giving you new style ideas if you are stuck in a rut during or after your pregnancy. I often take tips from this blog, it is a bad influence as I end up treating myself when I shouldn't...

I hope you enjoy looking at these, if anyone else has recommendations for blogs or websites I would love to hear them.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Avon calling...

I've been a bit quiet of late with returning to work - lots of respect to the mums who make it look easy juggling everything! I think baby J and I have got the hang of our morning routine now, and I'm just about looking presentable when I get into the office...

After a busy couple of weeks, it was lovely to be offered some products from Avon to try when I was in need of some pampering. I haven't ever used Avon before - my recollection of the brand was the Avon ladies who knocked at your door to sell you various products! Things have obviously moved on a lot since then, and Avon is constantly introducing new products on a par with the most innovative cosmetics brands. I was amazed at the prices too, there are loads of great offers so perfect for mums on a budget. Here's my thoughts on a few products that I have been trialling:

Advance Techniques Heat Protection Styler (currently £1.80) - this protects hair from heat damage caused by hair dryers and straighteners, both of which I use frequently! So it was perfect for me, detangling and protecting my hair without leaving it greasy.

Advance Techniques 360 Nourishment Moroccan Argan Oil (currently £3.30) - a leave in treatment, this serum is suitable for use on both wet and dry hair. I found it smoothed my hair and left it shinier without being too heavy. A tiny blob was just the right amount, so this is excellent value for money.

Advance Techniques Daily Shine Mirror Shine Spray (currently £1.99) - this lightweight spray made my fine hair look glossy without weighing it down. A bargain for less than £2, this could compete with products 5 times the price!

Naturals Cherry Blossom Daily Hair Refresher (currently £1.20) - I used this on second day hair before straightening. The smell was lovely and fresh, and my hair was smoother. Very useful for those days where you're in a rush with no time to wash your hair!

Soft & Glow Sunkissed Airbrush Spray (currently £2.60) - this self tan was easy to apply, with a pump action spray. It dried very quickly, so ideal for putting on before bed or getting dressed. The spray is clear, so you have to be careful that you don't apply it twice anywhere! After a couple of applications I had a light glow, so this product would be best suited to paler skintones.

Skin So Soft Original Dry Oil Spray (currently £1.99) - the smell of this reminded me of holidays, which is always a positive thing! It was absorbed very easily, leaving my skin soft and with a gorgeous sheen.

Solutions Truly Radiant Vibes Brightening Eye Roller (currently half price at £5) - any gadget fans will like this! It has a vibrating roller ball to smooth in the cream and illuminate the eye area, reducing the appearance of dark circles. The cream has a hint of colour so you can look like you've had your full 8 hours sleep even if it's not true....

Infinitize mascara (currently half price at £4.99) - this mascara contains lash sculpting, lengthening fibres and curling molecules to help shape and set lash curve and length for 24 hours. I found the brush very good at coating every lash, and it would be great for those with thick lashes who are looking for length and curl. My stumpy lashes needed a bit of extra help in the thickening department so this wasn't perfect for me, but definitely a good one for lash coverage and length!

Spectralash mascara (£10) - dial this up to control the amount of mascara loaded onto the brush, so you can decide whether you want a day or evening look. I used this on level 3, as I have short eyelashes that also need volume. I used 2 coats with no clumping and my lashes looked longer and thicker.

Ideal Flawless Skin Loving Beauty Balm (currently £6.99) - every make up brand has a BB cream now, and I have tried quite a few. I loved this one - the light coverage evened out my skin and gave it a healthy glow. The ivory shade was just right for my skin tone, as I often find similar products too orangey. This is easy to apply quickly, and with the addition of mascara and blusher you'll be good to go in a rush.

Glazewear Dazzle Lip Gloss (£6) - this lip gloss was light and non sticky, leaving my lips smooth with a natural looking shine. I tried shade Pink Radiance which is a pretty pale pink.

Naturals Kids Mango Body Wash and Bubble Bath (currently half price at £1.25) - this fruity bubble bath had a lovely smell. It produced lots of bubbles which baby J loved, and didn't dry out his skin. 

Fragrance Spritz (various scents - currently £2) - these sprays are suitable for home and body, so a good multi tasker! The spray gave the house a lovely smell without being overpowering or artificial. Good for those days where you have a guest over and no time to clean, as the freshness will distract from the dust on the coffee table...

If you fancy trying any of the above then it's easy to find your local Avon representative and order from the comfort of your sofa - just go to:

Or to browse new products:

Happy shopping!x

N.B. These samples were sent to me for free, but the review is impartial and all opinions are my own. Many thanks to Rhiannon at Avon.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Money no object?!

I was having a think recently about baby products that I could potentially buy if money was no object! The market for premium baby items seems to have boomed in the last few years - many parents go crazy for top end products for their off spring or follow what celebrities have bought. Here are a few things that I've spotted whilst browsing online (but not actually purchased in case you were wondering!)...

Anya Hindmarch Baby Emergency Kit (£275) - this luxurious piece of kit comes with a changing mat, and pre labelled compartments to keep all those essentials to hand.

Pacapod Coromandel leather changing bag (£195) - you would be hard pushed to tell this gorgeous tan leather bag is actually a changing bag! Complete with the signature pods and a changing mat, it has space for everything you need to keep you and baby happy on trips out.

Brora cashmere baby blanket (£139) - made of the finest Scottish cashmere, this will keep baby warm and cosy all year round.

4moms Mamaroo bouncer (£199.95) - this amazingly hi-tech bouncer copies the bouncing and swaying movements that a mother holding their baby would use. With 5 different (car ride, kangaroo, tree swing, rock-a-bye and ocean), this could be a godsend for the baby who won't settle unless they are being held!

Wishbone Flip (£104) - this 3 in 1 toy is a rocker, ride on and walker, so less clutter and more multi tasking. It looks great and is made from sustainably grown wood.

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Silver Cross Surf Aston Martin Limited Edition pushchair (£2000) - the ultimate in luxury pushchairs, Rochelle from The Saturdays is rumoured to have received this as a gift from one of the JLS boys. The chassis is aluminium and magnesium, while top grade leather has been used on the seat unit and carrycot. Unfortunately it looks as though this is already sold out, as only 800 were made to ensure exclusivity!

I'm sure there are many more out there - so keep those credit cards under control and remember the baby period is relatively short! However, if you really love something...x

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Born Free Product Review

I was recently lucky enough to be sent some samples to try from a company called Born Free, who produce a range of bottles, drinking cups and accessories for babies and toddlers. They were one of the first companies to develop products without the harmful chemicals BPA and PVC, providing parents with peace of mind when feeding their babies.

We firstly tried out the Born Free Training Cup, which is designed to help with the transition from bottle to cup. The spout is teething friendly, which baby J definitely made the most of! It has an ActiveFlow vent, which means that wind is reduced as the baby controls the flow of liquid. Initially Baby J was unsure about the training cup, which I think was down to the different look of the bottle compared to his usual brand. However, he subsequently took to it well, finding the handles easy to hold and the spout comfortable to drink from. There were no leaks when the cup was thrown around and it was easy to take apart and put together when washing.

The second product tested was the Born Free Twist'n Pop Straw Cup, which was the first straw cup that I had tried with baby J. I wasn't sure what he would make of it, but he was very interested and started drinking his water from it straight away. The ergonomic shape of the cup meant he could grasp it easily, and the silicone straw and air vent made it easy and comfortable for him to drink from. The cap twists to open and close the straw and keep it clean. I found that even when tipped upside down with the cap in the open position, no water leaked out. So no pools of water to mop up from the floor, or soaking your changing bag when out!

We really enjoyed trying out the Born Free products, they look stylish while being practical and functional for both mum and baby. I have put the link to the Born Free website below, which provides full information on all their products.

N.B. These samples were sent to me for free, but the review is impartial and all opinions are my own. Many thanks to Corinna at B Public Relations.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ikea - not just flat pack hell...

When you think of Ikea, it often conjures up memories of bad experiences. Fighting your way through the crowds, arguing over which wardrobe to buy, and swearing as you realise the furniture you have just paid for is not going to fit in your car...

That aside, I have found Ikea great for children's toys and accessories since having baby J. My lovely sister bought him a selection of toys from there when he was born, and they are excellent value for money. It's hard to choose which to recommend as they are all great, but I have listed a few that should help babies and toddlers enjoy playtime even more than usual. If you can cheekily ask someone else heading there to get a few for you (therefore avoiding the chaos yourself) then even better!

Rocking moose £26 - this develops your child's sense of balance, but more importantly looks like great fun. Not a giant plastic eyesore in your living room either!

Bead maze £10 - pushing the beads around the maze is excellent for the development of fine motor skills.

Hammering block £8 - using the hammer to bang the pegs helps with developing those fine motor skills, along with hand/eye co-ordination.

Finger puppets £4 (for 10) - puppets are excellent for teaching babies about object permanence. When the puppet disappears and then returns, they learn that it still exists even when they cannot see it.

Vegetable set £7 - one for older toddlers, to encourage role play and imitation. Would be a lovely addition for a toddler who has a toy kitchen.

Farmyard set £20 - this also helps with role play skills, and recreates fun on the farm for animal lovers!

Train set £8 (20 pieces) - the Ikea train sets combine with other brands, so if you already have an expensive set you can add to it cheaply! Good for improving logical thinking skills.

Happy shopping! x

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Bathtime fun

Bath time can either be a source of fun or stress, depending on the mood of your baby! Initially baby J didn't like being bathed at all, and I dreaded the screams that would accompany it. After the first couple of weeks he started enjoying himself though, and bath time became a fun part of his evening routine. There were (and still are) a few things that made it easier for both of us, so here's a few recommendations:

Tippitoes Mini Bath - we used this for over 6 months, so it was really good value for money at £13.99. The support seat and foam headrest ensured baby J was comfortable, and made it easy for me to wash him while he splashed about.

Safety 1st Swivel Bath Seat - when baby J was around 6 months old, we moved him into the big bath with the use of this seat. As I often bath him on my own, this handy seat has helped me feel confident about keeping him upright and still having both hands free to wash him. He can splash around and play with his toys but without slipping over. The suction pads attach the seat securely to the bath, while it swivels for easy access to wash your baby. Around £8.95 from Amazon or John Lewis.

Bath thermometer - an essential for bath time, as a lot of new parents worry about getting the water just right! We found a cheap option as good as anything else around, a Duck Thermometer Card for around £4. Just dip it into the water and the liquid crystal display tells you with a minus sign, tick or plus sign whether the temperature is too cold, just right, or too hot.

Cussons Mum & Me products - obviously there are loads of baby products out there to choose from, but I really like this range. The products have always been great for baby J's skin, and I would recommend their baby bath and baby shampoo. These are frequently on offer in various supermarkets for half price, so if you wait until a baby event then you can stock up! I also like Asda Little Angels and Sainsburys Little Ones ranges, which again often have money off.

Baby towels - a soft towel is an essential to keep your baby dry and snuggly when they come out of the bath. You can obviously use any towel, but I like the hooded ones that Ikea do. They are a decent size, as some baby towels are so small that you only get a couple of months use out of them! The designs are cute and they are affordable at £7 each.

Bath toys - it wouldn't be as much fun without toys at bath time! When your baby is young, a few
simple toys usually do the trick. We have stacking cups, boats and ducks, which baby J loves playing with (and is usually still clutching one when he comes out of the bath!). I find that the supermarkets usually have a good range of these, and a brand called Munchkin has a wide range.

Happy bathing!