Baba + Boo - a review

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

We've been using cloth nappies for a while now and I've built up quite a collection (shh... don't tell my husband!). From pocket nappies and all-in-ones, aplix and popper, to bamboo two-part nappies and wraps; I've tried a fair few in the past four months.

So when we were offered the opportunity to review a Baba + Boo gift set I jumped at the chance to sample another brand of nappy. And such a pretty one at that. 

The set arrived beautifully packaged and I was thrilled to see we'd been sent the adorable 'Alfonso' from the new woodland creatures collection. For those of you not already acquainted with Alfonso, he is a gorgeous appliqué badger on a bright sunshine yellow 100% organic cotton t-shirt. He is matched perfectly to a black and white humbug stripe nappy. Just gorgeous.

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the t-shirt. Its a really thick, soft, organic cotton and you can just tell it will wash and last very well. The appliqué detail is of the highest quality and the colour combination works perfectly. I'm a big fan of yellow with grey anyway, so this set is perfect for me. 

One of the things I love most about Baba + Boo is that their designs are intended to be worn by both boys and girls. I've never been one to stick to 'blue for boys' so this really appeals to me.

Cloth nappy lovers among you will understand this predicament. I was so excited to try the nappy and t-shirt on Ayden I decided to forego the pre-wash and put it on him for long enough to take some photos. Well, wriggly baby + beautiful top and nappy to show off to their fullest = quite the challenge! He ended up in the nappy for quite a while and I was impressed after taking it off to find that, without any pre-washing, he didn't feel damp at all (despite a reasonable amount of wee!).

Once pre-washed (as cloth nappies should always be before first wear - naughty me!) the nappy will last a good three hours with one micro fibre insert, and up to six if you use both.

The nappy we were sent is part of the Baba + Boo classic range, designed to fit babies from approximately 8lb through to potty training. Its a pocket nappy, with a popper system that grows with your baby. I have quite a few pocket nappies and this compares very well in terms of fit - not too bulky, even with both inserts, and super soft. As with any brand, I had a bit of a fiddle round with the poppers to get the perfect fit around the waist and legs for Ayden; then we were good to go! 

The black and white stripes are so stylish and, as someone who likes to colour coordinate Ayden's nappy to the rest of his outfit (...just me?), I love how this would look great with the bold colours in his little wardrobe. 

Priced at £19.95 I think the set would make a fantastic gift - for established cloth nappy users, or for someone looking to try them out for the first time.

Its not only great products on offer at Baba + Boo, the customer service you receive is second to none. Pop by and say hi on Twitter, Facebook or visit the website.

A birthday in Candyland

Thursday, 5 December 2013

My daughter's birthday falls the week before Christmas and every year I'm determined to make sure her special day doesn't get lost amongst all the chaos leading up to the 25th. 

But, in case you hadn't already noticed (!), we're all about Christmas in this house. So why not embrace the fairy lights and come up with a theme that combines birthday fun and sparkles, with tinsel, candy canes and snowflakes.

My little Christmas princess also loves the board game Candyland, so I came up with the idea of a Christmas Candyland party. It was loads of fun to plan and really helped to get everyone into the Christmas spirit.

Plus, my little lady absolutely loved it... which, of course, is the most important thing!

My little birthday elf :)
The Candyland cake 

My handsome h-elf-er
Let it snow!

Meet Figgy Elf

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Just one look at the cheeky, kitsch Elf on the Shelf and I was sold!

Ok, so it didn't take much convincing, but Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without adding another family tradition to the already pretty comprehensive repertoire. 

Meet Figgy Elf. Figgy by name... frisky by nature. And he's been getting himself into all sorts of predicaments since he arrived. And he's only been here three days!

Day 1: all sweetness and light as he arrives letter in hand, bearing gifts of chocolate and literature... clever elf.

Day 2: swinging into town on day 2, Figgy is glad to be back

Day 3: Figgy acquaints himself with the Skylanders Giants. Wise move Figgy - they hold great power here ;)

Cheeky little elf. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Christmas traditions

I'll be the first to admit it. I'm a big kid. Which means me + Christmas = an over-excited, overgrown kid with an excuse to buy toys! It helps that I'm married to a big kid too, so that makes it all the more fun.

I think the run up to Christmas is almost more exciting than the big day itself. I love everything about it. The planning, shopping (mostly online these days), the food, baking too much, decorations, the smells... why does everything smell better with cinnamon in it?

Yep, Christmas is, hands down, my favourite time of year.

Over the last few years we've built up a pretty impressive repertoire of festive traditions, but I'm always open to more. I could spend days just scrolling my way through Pinterest taking in all the craft ideas, recipes and pictures of beautifully wrapped gifts etc.

Most of our family traditions are pretty standard, but I look forward to them every single year:

  • we watch Christmas movies every Friday night for at least a month before Christmas (the frequency of this increases as we get closer to the big day! It'll be more like three per day by 20th December)
  • we bake, make and decorate our own gingerbead house on Christmas Eve. We deviated from this last year and bought a pre-made kit. It was nowhere near as good as homemade gingerbread. Lesson learnt ;)
  • we go for a walk around the village we live in with torches on Christmas Eve, trying to spot Santa and his reindeer in the sky
  • we scatter reindeer food on the front lawn (muesli mixed with glitter) 
  • while the beanies are in the bath, one of Santa's elves leaves a Christmas box under the tree - inside it are new pyjamas, a Christmas movie and new story book and snacks
  • once we're done with the contents of the Christmas box, we read The Night Before Christmas and its bedtime for small people
  • oh, and Santa always leaves snowy, glittery footprints by the fireplace when he visits ;)

This year, we've added one more tradition to the list for the run up to Christmas Day. Good old Elf on the Shelf.

I'd not heard of it until this year but, as soon as I saw that kitsch little elf and the hilarious ideas on Pinterest, I knew I had to start this tradition in our house. So far my husband and I have had great fun coming up with ideas and the beanies can't wait to find him in the morning.

I think this might become a firm favourite.

What are your family Christmas traditions?

Remembering my Dad

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Every so often, something will happen during your day that just knocks you sideways. You didn't see it coming and you're not prepared.

This morning I've been tidying up some paperwork and in amongst the reams of bank statements, colourful paintings and scribbled notes, I found this...

My dad died four years ago - when my oldest two beans were just two and one year old. I'm determined they don't forget him. 

The night he died I sat and wrote him a poem. I haven't written a poem since school - and will probably never write another one - but the words just tumbled out of me, almost without any conscious thought from me.

The poem explains what he meant to me and I wanted to put it here so that my children can read it one day and remember him all over again.

Why aren't you here?
I watched you fade. Why didn't I know that my chance to tell you so much was fading too?
I will live with so much regret, but so many happy memories.
My hero. My playmate.
The humour we shared I will never replace. I hope you knew how precious it was to me.
Quietly wise. Endlessly strong.
The constant for us all
and I don't know how to function without you.
I so wish I had told you all this when I could have.
I will always remember you as the fighter you were - you are.
Always with dignity and a twinkle in your eye.
Gramps, Dad, BG, Dim... My Dad. 
A huge hole, never to be filled. 
But maybe a chance to express
all the love, respect and honour you deserve.

Sigh deeply Dad.
Breathe easy now.

Ayden will never get to meet him, but every day he reminds me a little more of his gramps.  

He was the funniest, wisest man and my absolute hero. I miss him every day.

Christmas gift guide for girls

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Glitter, cute and fluffy. The key criteria for any gift to please my lovely little five year old lady.

Luckily, I love nothing more than shopping for pretty things, so we're a match made in heaven :)

This year I think my little princess has really come into her own, in terms of knowing what she does and doesn't like to do/play with. In other words, she can be a bossy little monkey when she wants to be! But, growing up with an older brother, she's often been swayed by what he likes. She can name each and every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, has watched hours upon hours of Mario Bros gameplay and has an impressive line of Lego creations on the shelf in her bedroom.

This year she's developed her love for all things creative. She will spend hours making badges, painting, colouring, writing and illustrating mini books and would happily live in cloud of glitter and pompoms given half a chance. Despite owning a Nintendo DS and having access to her brother's Wii U and the family iPad etc, she much prefers the good, old-fashioned creative activities and I really want to encourage this. 

These picks are super girly and cute, with a few thrown in to encourage her arty side.

clockwise from top left: Miss Francis tutu pettiskirt | Tildo easel (The Toy Centre) | Orange fox lip balm (David and Goliath | Noodoll Ricestorm

My little lady will turn six just before Christmas and I think she'll feel like the belle of the ball at her party in this Miss Francis smokey silver tutu pettiskirt. I love the colour - it could be worn with so many things. Just beautiful.

As much as I love encouraging her love of all things arty, my kitchen table is ALWAYS covered in paper, pens, stickers... you name it. Hopefully this Tildo height adjustable easel, from The Toy Centre, will help to contain the clutter a little bit. As well as helping her to feel like a 'real artist'.

Ok, so the adorable Noodoll Ricestorm might be a little bit more for me... but I know my daughter will love him too. How could anyone not love this little guy!?

My little lady seems to be growing faster than the other two beanies put together at the moment and is growing out of her clothes wallet-weepingly fast. So she could definitely do with a few new dresses and outfits to see her into the new year. These are just a couple of the gorgeous items I have my eye on for her wardrobe.

clockwise from top left: Ava and Luc bunny print dress | Galt Fashion Designer set (Mulberry Bush) | Maxomorra strawberry print long sleeve tshirt (Barnyard Kids) | KitSound mini buddy owl speaker (Amazon)
If you saw my Christmas gift guide for babies, you'll know that we're huge fans of Ava and Luc bright prints, so I've got my eye on this gorgeous bunny print, A-line dress. It would be perfect for layering in the colder months, with long sleeve tees, tights and boots and (as long as she doesn't grow out of it in five minutes!) it'll be great for spring and summer too.

The Maxomorra strawberry print top is equally bold, bright and unique. Perfect for standing out in the crowd this winter.

We're huge books worms in this house and I couldn't not include the latest offering from Julia Donaldson, as its right up my daughter's street! 

Sugarlump and the Unicorn (Amazon)
Glitter... check. Cute... check. Fluffy... check. 

Hopefully this will help anyone buying for a little girl this Christmas. I'd love to hear your suggestions too :)

Christmas gift guide for babies

Thursday, 14 November 2013

It's November, which means it's Christmas. That's my rule on this tiny slice of the interweb and I'm sticking to it ;)

Partly to indulge my inner-child and love of Christmas, and also in a bid to organise my ass, I'm planning a series of Christmas gift guides / wishlists for each member of my family.

As it will be his very first Christmas, I thought I'd start with the tiniest family member. Plus, he's too small to have any opinion on the matter, so this allows me to be entirely selfish and create my own wishlist for him.

I've always been interested in kids fashion and love shopping for the beanies. More so than shopping for myself... most of the time.

I like to buy unique, quality items that stand out from the crowd and last well. I've discovered some amazing brands recently which satisfy this criteria perfectly; mostly via one of my new favourite mummy bloggers, Jools at Dancing with dirty feet.

I'm really into bright quirky prints for bambeanie at the moment and these picks are perfect for injecting a bit of colour into his winter wardrobe.

clockwise from top left: Maxomorra cloud print tshirt (Nel a Ned) | Slugs & Snails fun guy boys tights | Ava and Luc Pip the Duck playsuit (Daisy Chain Baby) | Green Cotton star print trousers (Daisy Chain Baby)

I love the idea of tights for boys, so will definitely be picking up a few pairs of Slugs to keep my little man warm and cosy in the colder months.

At six months, there are only so many toys a baby needs. Bambeanie has plenty of colourful (noisy!) toys handed down from his big brother and sister to satisfy the plastic quota for one household. So I have my eye on some more aesthetically pleasing toys to put under the tree this year.

clockwise from top left: Kid O fox wobble (Nel a Ned) | Noah activity ark (Not on the highstreet) | Traditional alphabet blocks (Izzy's Attic) | Vilac Manon pull along toy (Nel a Ned)
My children still, at the grand old ages of five and seven, spend hours playing with building blocks, so I think the vintage style alphabet blocks will be a big hit. And how cute is that little fox...?

This is cheating a bit, as I've already placed my order and it's not strictly a Christmas gift; but I couldn't not include it. We will shortly (as soon as the delivery guy arrives) be the proud owners of a TotsBots limited edition gingerbread man easyfit nappy...

I probably shouldn't be as excited as I am about this. But I can't help it. It's adorable. I tracked down some stock at The Cotton Nappy Companybut be quick - once they're gone, they're gone.

I'm sure I'll add plenty more items to my wish list for Ayden between now and the big day, but these should keep me going for now.

If you have a baby to buy for this Christmas, please share your gift ideas below. I'd love to see them :)

Bambeanie at six months

Monday, 11 November 2013

Half a year. Just over in fact. So hard to believe that my tiny bambeanie is half way to one year old!

He is the most delightful little man. Always happy. Well, most of the time ;) 

In the last month he's well and truly mastered rolling over. He was a bit slow on the uptake with that one, but now there's no stopping him. 

He sits up really steadily now too and very pleased about it he is too. So much so that woe betide anyone that lies him on his back if he wants to be sat upright like everyone else!

Solids are going well - he loves his food. He's tried lots of different fruits and vegetables - sweet potatoes and butternut squash are his favourites. He had a roast chicken dinner along with the rest of the family yesterday, which went down very well indeed.

He's eating two meals a day, with three breastfeeds in between. This isn't counting the night-time comfort feeds, of which there are more than I would like (!) He seems to wake once or twice (occasionally more) and I guess this is because of his teeth. There doesn't seem to be anything else bothering him.... he goes back to sleep pretty easily, so its not too bad.

In the last couple of days he's really found his voice and now talks to us all the time. It's the cutest thing and officially my favourite sound ever! He babbles away at the kitchen table, in his cot, when you're changing his nappy. All the time! Much to the delight of his older brother and sister, who think it's hilarious.

He's so strong on his legs (and has been from a very young age), so I wouldn't be surprised if he was pretty young to walk. His sister was only 10 months. He certainly isn't showing any interest in getting up onto his knees to crawl yet.

His favourite toy at the moment is definitely Sophie. Those spindly giraffe legs are getting a good old chewing, that's for sure. 

On that note, no sign of any teeth yet. Some days I'm amazed at the amount of dribble he produces, so they can't be that far off. Apart from waking at night, he doesn't seem overly bothered by his teeth yet. Fingers crossed it stays that way. He's been wearing his amber necklace, so maybe that's having an effect too...

I love all stages of babyhood - each one is wonderful for different reasons. But, at the moment, I feel like Ayden is doing something new every day. New noises, facial expressions, different things make him laugh (he has the best chuckle ever!). I can't wait to see what he does tomorrow :)

Weaning favourites - Ella's Kitchen

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The lovely people at Ella's Kitchen were kind enough to send us a few products from their range of baby food and we couldn't have been happier to try them out!

We're big fans of Ella's Kitchen. I have been for years, after giving all three of my babies various products from the range. I love the flavour combinations and the fact the brand sources the best possible organic ingredients for its products. But, more than that, the brand ethos of creating healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. As a mum, this is so important to me. 

We were sent a selection of the fruit and veg pouches, for ages four months plus (stage 1). These are ideal for us as Ayden has only recently started solids. So far, the sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples and blueberries was a big hit. Small thing, but I love the colour of this particular pouch too. Easily swayed? Me!?

Raspberry and vanilla puffits... could a snack sound any more appealing!? I think not. 

I had spotted these in my local supermarket and thought that as soon as bambeanie turns seven months (the recommended age stated on the packaging) I'd definitely pick them up for him (and me) to try; so I was very excited to see these inside the package we were sent. 

We're not quite ready for these yet, but will be sampling them pretty much the very second he turns seven months old!

We were also sent a few items to try when he moves on to lumpier foods, as well as some toddler snacks in the form of the nibbly fingers fruit sticks. My five-year old is still a big Ella's fan - she loves the fruit pouches - and she made a bee-line for these. Whether there will be any left for Ayden to try when he's old enough remains to be seen.

I love that Ella's Kitchen explores more exotic flavours for weeny ones. I'm a big believer in introducing babies to what we might consider more 'grown up' stronger flavours (provided they are ready to try them and its safe to do so, of course). Who said babies only like bland flavours and plain food anyway? My older two have enjoyed foods like houmous, pesto, olives, curry, paella etc from a young age. 

The caribbean chicken with mangoes sounds delicious. I might even try to recreate that recipe myself for the whole family.

I was thrilled to be able to sample some more products from one of my favourite baby brands. Thank you Ella's Kitchen!

Baby minion

Monday, 4 November 2013

One day I might feel guilty about dressing my baby up as a minion and potentially embarrassing him by posting it on the internet for everyone to see... today is not that day :)

Hallo-wow, that was a lot of chocolate!

My creepy, kooky family

I can hardly believe Halloween has been and gone and we'll be heading out to watch the fireworks in some cold, soggy field tomorrow.

The year is passing way to fast for me... they say time flies when you're having fun and I am loving every split second of being home with my beanies. Being able to pick up the children from school every day and spend time with them is wonderful.

We had a great Halloween this year. We love Halloween - any excuse to decorate the house and get dressed up gets my vote. But this year was even more fun as we had my twin nephews to stay so the kids were even more excited than usual.

We spent the afternoon at a local farm, carving pumpkins and eating hotdogs and toffee apples. Its the first time we had been somewhere like this for Halloween; it was a great afternoon out and we'll definitely be going again next year.

My pretty little witch
Cousins :)

The evening was spent trick or treating, watching scary cartoons and eating our way through our own body weight in sweeties. Perfect :)

Count Dribula ;)

Sleep little vampire
Did you discover anything new to do this Halloween? I'd love to hear if you did...

Happy Halloween

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Weaning favourites - our review of Heinz baby food pouches

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Regular readers of my blog will know that I love to cook. So it goes without saying that I would enjoy preparing food for the bambeanie too. Mushed cod florentine anyone?

But who wants to carry a questionably-sealed pot of bright orange sweet potato and pear goop in their bag on a day out? Not me. I've made that mistake before and it didn't end well for me, or the contents of my change bag.

Sometimes convenience wins and you need something that you can grab, transport easily, reseal hygienically and that both you and your baby are happy with.

We were offered the chance to test out the new Heinz range of baby food pouches and it couldn't have come at a better time for us. Bambeanie has only just started solids, having turned six months a couple of weeks ago. 

We've tried a selection of food so far - from roasted butternut squash and pear, to broccoli, flaked salmon and Weetabix. He seems to have really enjoyed everything I have given him so far and doesn't seem phased when something I give him has a little more texture either, which I'm pleased about.

The fruit and savoury pouches we were sent are suitable for babies from four and seven months plus. We're not far off the seven month pouches, but he's not quite ready for them yet. 

Its Halloween this week, so of course I was going to try him with the pumpkin, sweet potato and apricot pouch first. It would be rude not to.

After enlisting the help of my five-year old Christmas angel (don't ask), we got started. You can watch our video review here and read on to see what we thought.

The good bits

  • The packaging is great. The pouches are convenient and easy to reseal. They're bright, eye catching and appealing. It's easy to read and tells me, at a glance, what's inside.
  • You can easily see how many of their 5-a-day baby will get from each pouch, as well as information about things like vitamin C content.
  • The flavours are varied and I like the combinations.
  • Ayden thoroughly enjoyed the food and happily munched his way through pretty much the whole pouch!

Not so sure...

  • This is entirely my weird thing, but I have issues with any pureed food that contains meat or fish. I don't know where it comes from... unless I've made and pureed it for him myself, I'm not keen. I'm like that with my own food too though, so its not exclusive to baby food. Meat in soup... not a fan. Dips made from mushed fish, like taramasalata... don't think so. Paté... no. Just no. So I wouldn't purchase any flavours containing beef or chicken, for example. I'd rather make my own meat and fish purees and stick to fruit and veg pouches.
  • I try to use organic fruit and veg when making purees myself. Its not essential, but I try to if possible. So if these were organic I'd be even happier to give them to my baby.

On a side note, I wouldn't say you have to think of these pouches as 'baby-only'. My daughter is a fan of fruit purees and the Heinz fruit pouches got a big thumbs up from her. Great for a quick and easy snack :)

The Heinz pouches are available from supermarkets and Boots, priced from 89p. You can find out more here.

*We were sent these pouches for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.