July 2012 | Modern Mummy

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Monkey World, Dorset: A Review

Last week Daisy and I  set off on what turned out to be a bit of a mammoth day trip to Dorset to pay Monkey World a visit.

Monkey World is a sanctuary that rehabilitates neglected and abused monkeys into natural living groups and environments. It works hand in hand with governments across the world to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild into peoples' homes as pets - and does a fab job too.

They have over 240 monkeys at the park at the moment, from eleven different species, including orangutans (my fave), chimps and gibbons, all of whom are all kept in huge enclosures with ample viewing spots (mostly outdoor, but some indoor - bring your waterproofs just in case if rain is forecast!). The enclosures are labelled with information about each individual primate living in it, which I thought was a lovely touch - despite some of their stories being really sad - and the super knowledgeable staff give talks about the different species they look after throughout the day.

There are plenty of cafes and picnic spots dotted around the park, as well as lots of children's play areas (for both big and little kids) and crazy golf (for even bigger kids)! The gift shop is by far the best gift shop I have ever been to, not only is the variety of gifts brilliant (they sell everything from pocket money treats to sterling silver jewellery), the displays are just brilliant too, and everything is ridiculously reasonably priced; I would have paid a lot more for the goodies we took home with us, especially knowing that all profits made from entrance fees and the shop go directly towards the rescue and rehabilitation of the primates. Even if you don't make it down to the park, you can do some monkey shopping online here!

If you are a monkey fan, a trip to Monkey World is an absolute must. It is in Wareham, Dorset and is open every day of the year (except Christmas Day). We found the trip a bit too much to do in just one day (the majority of travel from London is on A-roads rather than motorways which made the 110 mile journey down there a lot slower than we expected) - however, there is HEAPS to do in the local area/on the way down there and back - a trip to Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park, which is only 40 miles away, perhaps? Or how about spending a day on the Jurassic Coastline of Dorset and East Devon? - so why not book into a local hotel or campsite and make a weekend of it? xoxox

NB This is NOT a sponsored post. We were not given free entry or any monetary payment in exchange for this review.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Daily Outfit ♥ Checked Shirt

Red checked shirt, Mama by H&M

...the very beautiful and very pregnant Reese Witherspoon who was recently spotted at Los Angeles International Airport wearing a casual checked shirt over an Isabella Oliver ruched tank with rolled up boyfriend jeans and pumps.
Dress up Reese's casual look by buttoning your shirt right up and pairing with 
skinny jeans, low heels and girlie jewellery.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Dolls Houses Shop: A Review

I know I like to bang on (and on) about how much I love wooden toys and how I am a massive supporter of small businesses, but I really hope that by doing so I have managed to turn some of you into fans of both too. Wooden toys have so much more character than their plastic alternatives - and last so much longer! - and I would so much rather give my hard earned pennies to a small, local shop than line the corporate fat cats' already bulging pockets.

Yesterday the postman delivered my incredibly lucky Daisy Moo the most beautiful dolls house - courtesy of Dolls Houses Shop, a family run business specialising in wooden children's dolls houses and accessories.

The Twinkle Tower makes a perfect first dolls house, and is equally perfect for bedrooms with limited space. It is beautifully crafted and stands at three storeys high (made up of a kitchen, a living room and a bedroom). It comes with all the necessary furniture (including a teeny tiny teapot and cupcakes!) and a perfectly crafted Princess doll. Other dolls and accessories are also available on the website but really aren't needed with this house, and it is an absolute bargain at only £30.99. It comes ready assembled and would make the most fabulous present for any little girl; Daisy is already head over heels in love with hers.

If your mini-me turns out to be a big dolls house fan and you want to upgrade to a full size house in the future then you needn't spend hours trawling the internet for the best deal (I have already done that!). The Dolls Houses Shop has a wonderful selection of different houses ranging from the Fairy Tower, retailing at £27.99, to the AMAZING London Mansion, which costs £190 but in my opinion is worth every single penny! 

I have already decided to treat madam to the Lavender Dolls House for Christmas, which is a wisteria clad, double fronted cottage (pretty much my dream home) and 'middle of the range' both size and price wise - on sale for £76.99.

The best bit is that the dolls, furniture and accessories are perfectly priced as pocket money treats (starting at only £1.95!), so you can encourage your children to be on their best behaviour or help around the house in order to grow their collection. 

The Dolls Houses website can be found here, and the company is also on Twitter (here) and Facebook (here).

Pay them a visit..... you won't be disappointed xoxox 

NB Daisy was sent a Twinkle Tower dolls house in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Pregnancy: How to Stay Cool in Hot Weather

HURRAY for the Summer! It only took 91 days longer than it should have to arrive (I am reliably informed) but at long last it is here, and we must enjoy it before it is snatched away from us and winter descends on us yet again....

30degree heat is great when you've got nothing to do and are lounging around on holiday, drinking cocktails and working on your tan, but it's a different thing altogether when you're knocked up and you feel like a great big sweaty beached whale. Without coming over all boring and responsible and naggy on you, it really is vitally important for both your health and your unborn baby's that you take extra special care when the sun is out.

First of all a couple of relevant facts:

-  When you're pregnant your blood supply increases as your bump grows and extra pressure is put on your heart as it pumps the extra blood to your baby, as well as all your vital organs. All the extra blood can result in you feeling hotter in the summer months - and as your body heat goes up and your body sweats to cool itself down, your veins dilate, lowering your blood pressure. This means that you are more likely to feel faint and dizzy in the hot weather - plus the sweating can also lead to dehydration which will make you feel extra woozy and wobbly.  

- There is evidence that a rise in your body temperature can be detrimental to your developing baby, particularly in the first trimester, which is why you are advised to avoid hot baths and to keep out of the sun for prolonged periods.

- When you are pregnant, your hormones cause your skin to be more sensitive and you are more likely to burn and suffer from heat rashes when in the sun. Pregnancy related pigmentation changes in your skin are also more likely to develop.

With all that in mind..... here are some Tips on How to Stay Cool

Keep out of the midday sun.
This might sound really obvious but it really is super important. Avoiding being outside during the hottest part of the day is sensible if you don't want to overheat, so save venturing out to do outdoor chores and exercise (ahem! If you are that way inclined!) for cooler times of the day.

While you are on maternity leave, you might think it would be nice to improve your tan, but sunbathing really isn't a good idea when you're pregnant for reasons I've already listed - you are more likely to overheat, burn, develop heat rash and dehydrate. 

Why not spend a few hours in a lovely air conditioned spot, like a shopping centre! It's a great excuse to spend some money on yourself and your bump!

Whether you choose to adhere to advice or not, whenever you're outside during the Summer, make sure you wear sunscreen.
Stay hydrated.
It is SO EASY to become dehydrated in the Summer, preggers or not, but as a woman 'In The Club' you are even more in need of plenty of fluids. You should be drinking 8 to 10 glasses a day anyway but top this up when it's hot. Water, squash, iced herbal tea and ice lollies are perfect. Avoid caffeine and salty foods as they will dehydrate you even more. 

Something I have found a god-send in this heat is a water spray. You can buy special cans in Boots, or just fill up an empty misting bottle (available from all good garden centres!!) with water and keep it in the fridge. Spritzing your face, neck and limbs has an instant cooling effect and if you keep a can/bottle in your handbag while you're out and about you can do it as often as you like. Running your wrists under cold water also has a similar effect.

I know this is easier said than done, especially when you are at work, or at running around after your family at home, but you will feel so much more physically exhausted in the heat so stopping for a break and putting your feet up is really, really important. Did you hear that, bosses and other halves all over the world? Its REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT. Grab a nap if you can, and actually *do* put your feet up as this will help control the lovely pregnancy swellings we are all prone to. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Wear natural materials.
What you wear can make a GINORMOUS difference to how you feel in hot weather. Natural or 'breathable' fibres, such as cotton and linen, help sweat evaporate from your skin and in the process helps prevent heat rash so invest in some clothes (and undercrackers) made of natural materials if you can. 

Lighter colours reflect the heat away which also helps keep you cool and a loose fit enables air to circulate around your skin, making you feel less hot and claustrophobic.

At home.
Buy a fan or two. You can get them so cheaply these days and I promise it will be money well spent. Have a portable one to hand wherever you are, and/or a larger one pointed at you whenever you stop! Open ALL THE WINDOWS at the front and back of your house (to get a draught blowing through) and keep curtains closed during the day (not the loveliest, I know, but it really does help keep the temperature down). A friend also recommends putting your pillow cases in the freezer before bed to help you drift off into a blissfully chilly sleep.

Thats it for now - please feel free to comment with any other tips you might have! Keep cool, hot mamas xoxox

Maternity Wear Special: Wrap Around Tops

I recently published a Daily Outfit post featuring the iconic Isabella Oliver Wrap Around Top.

Wrap around tops are just PERFECT when you're expecting; they grow with your bump and are comfortable at every stage of your pregnancy so make an excellent, and great value for money, choice of maternity top - plus the style is super flattering on both boobs and bump.

If you choose a good quality designer, such as Isabella Oliver, you can rest assured that the clothes you buy will last your entire pregnancy - and beyond. 

Post-pregnancy, unless you're one of the very lucky ones, it can take a while for you to regain your pre-pregnancy figure (this especially relates to your boobs if you're breastfeeding!) so this style of top works really well and continues to look great, giving you the flexibility to cover up as much as you want to and tighten the wrap as your figure shrinks. Non-maternity tops may ride up and expose bits of your belly you're not quite ready for the world to see!

It really does make a fantastic maternity wardrobe staple, perfect for any situation. Work wise it looks fab with tailored trousers and suit jacket, during the day it can be dressed down with jeans and ballet pumps, and the plunging neckline makes it a perfect choice for a glamourous evening event - just go for a bold colour and team it with a sexy pencil skirt and heels.

Isabella Oliver stock lots of different varieties and colours, including a ruched version, a t-shirt one (with higher neckline) and also a stunning dress - all with choices of different length sleeves, ranging from capped ones to full length. Although putting one on for the first time can be a bit daunting, once you get the hang of it (see the video below), it really is worth it as it is a very stylish and elegant piece of clothing indeed.



Jubilee Gardens, Twickenham





(and it only took 32 years!)

Yesterday Daisy and I visited the new Jubilee Gardens on Twickenham Riverside for the first time since its official opening on 23 June.

We went armed with a picnic and some factor 50 and got there a little before midday.

The gardens have been developed after many, many years of arguments deliberation about what to do with the old site of the Twickenham swimming baths. 32 years in fact. The location, set above road level and overlooking the River Thames, is beautiful (hence the many, many years of deliberation about what to do with it) and now consists of a cafe, a playground, a lovely lawn bordered by lots of plants and loads of deckchairs (I do love deckchairs).

Being the school holidays the park was packed, which was really lovely to see. Lots of mamas and their offspring enjoying the summer sunshine and finally enjoying what has been a sorely neglected, derelict piece of land for over three decades.

The cafe and children's play area are the same ones as have been on the site for the last year (still no swings in the park, grrrrrrr) but  it is brilliant to finally have the land regenerated and creating a public garden for the community to share was a great idea.

Its the ideal place for a family morning out, and a spot of lunch break sunbathing on the deckchairs for the hard working people of Twickenham town centre! Plus the iconic Twickenham Ice Cream Van is parked but a 30 second walk away. What could be more perfect?

Its only fault? The severe lack of shade..... not good when you are of pasty complexion like myself or, more importantly, you are trying to protect the skin of your small people in 30 degree heat like I was yesterday. Rows of trees have been planted on the raised patio overlooking the embankment which, I would imagine, will provide shade in the years to come once they are better established. But in the meantime we had to join the other parents and picnic on the concrete in the shade the cafe.... not the most comfortable, and very limited space!

That aside, thank goodness Richmond council and the residents of Twickenham have finally stopped their bickering and done something with this prime spot. Make sure you get out and enjoy it xoxox 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Daily Outfit ♥ Pretty in Pink

Simple t-shirts in girlie colours with pretty details like this
plaited tie are perfect for a summer's day.
Tops with button down fronts are excellent for breast feeding so will last 
you beyond your pregnancy!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park : A Review

I swear, if I were to go on Mastermind, Peppa Pig would be My Subject. I know everything about that bloody pig and her family and her friends.... and its all down to a certain small person's big obsession with the programme. Our house is FULL to BURSTING of Peppa Pig paraphernalia, books, toys, games. Seriously, its creator must be a multi billionaire. (Note to self: come up with children's character and write some stories etc etc).

On Saturday, after talking about it for a loooooong time, the Modern Mummy family finally paid Peppa Pig World a visit. I can actually hear some of you gasping with horror - 'on a SATURDAY!' 'on the FIRST DAY OF THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS?!' 'on the FIRST DAY OF NICE WEATHER SO FAR THIS YEAR?!?!?!!'

Yes. Yes we did. We set off early in the morning, hit no traffic whatsoever, and got to Paultons Park a little before opening at 10am.

We flew into a parking space in the car park (excellently directed by parking attendants), sped straight into the theme park (with our pre-paid tickets, defo a good idea) and were off in the direction of its star attraction within seconds of the park officially opening.

Peppa Pig World is just a small section of Paulton's Park (more about the other stuff later). Its a five minute walk from the entrance and is made up of seven rides (including Miss Rabbit's Helicopter Flight and George's Dinosaur Adventure), indoor and outdoor play areas, lots of things to see, such as Daddy Pig flipping pancakes in Peppa's House, and the obligatory cafes and gift shop. Even I got excited as we walked up to the entrance and I heard the Peppa theme tune playing! Daisy looked as if she was about to burst, just seeing the sign, and the first of many huge figurines that are scattered around.

I was a bit disappointed not to be allowed on some of the rides because I'm pregnant (especially as the entrance fee is £21+ for anyone over 1m in height - surely us fat mamas should be classed as a concession and pay a reduced price if we're not allowed to go on anything?). Of course I expected to not be allowed on any of the big rides in Paultons Park, but those in Peppa Pig World are for children from 12 months so I was pretty shocked to be sent away from a 0.5mile an hour helicopter ride after half an hour of queueing. Thankfully Himself was on hand to take Daisy on; I'd have been mighty peeved if I'd not been able to take her on anything. There would most definitely have been lots of tears, probably from a hormonal mother as well as an unhappy child!

Aside from that, we had a great day. The sun shone, Daisy cuddled The Real Peppa and George (no seriously! They weren't people dressed up! They were real! Ask Daisy!), the longest we had to queue for a ride was half an hour, and I was bought this ace mug from the gift shop. (The gift shop is genuinely really good, by the way. Not overpriced at all, and lots more Peppa tat than you can find in normal shops/online - the Mummy and Daddy Pig stuff (clothes, socks, mugs and toys) are Peppa Pig World exclusives!)

Paultons Park itself was also fantastic. Himself had a brilliant time on all the thrill rides, including Magma and The Edge. There was also plenty more rides for the little ones, a huge under cover bouncy castle and trampolines, a water park, lots of birds and animals to see (including dinosaurs!!) and beautiful gardens to explore.

We all had a fab time - it really is a great day out for all the family, from babies to grandparents, and it's only 70 miles out of London down the M3, so perfectly do-able as a day trip for all of you that are from my neck of the woods.

For those of you that are slightly further afield, there is a Premier Inn just outside the park which I have very kindly looked into on your behalf, and has lots of deals on entry and overnight stays.

If you have a Peppa Pig obsessed son or daughter, this is definitely a trip you are going to have to make. They will LOVE it. And don't tell anyone, but I actually really enjoyed myself too.


My top tips for the day?

- Bring a packed lunch. There are loads of gorgeous picnic spots around the park - and a good selection of food outlets, which are admittedly very reasonably priced - but I'm a geek and much prefer to take plenty of food that I know me and my family will like. If you do fancy treating yourself and eating there, have a wander around. The cafe in Peppa Pig World was ridiculously busy, but other restaurants and kiosks had no queues whatsoever.

- Pay the Water Kingdom a visit. It is BRILLIANT. Pack a swimsuit for the kids and let them run riot in the fully enclosed mini water park full of sprinklers and water jets. There are shops on site that sell costumes and towels (at a price!) for emergencies - or you can just pretend you're back in the 80s and let your children run around in their pants like I did! Chuh, who cares?!

- Pre-book your tickets; not only will it knock a bit off the price, it means you can skip out the sales kiosks altogether and go straight to the entrance gate.

NB This is not a sponsored post. We were not given free tickets in exchange for a review or any other form of payment, monetary or otherwise.


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Daily Outfit ♥ Scarlet Woman

Flip flops, £19.99, Reef
Wrap around tops are PERFECT early maternity clothes, and if you buy from a quality store such as Isabella Oliver, it will grow with you and last your entire pregnancy. Keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming post dedicated to wrap around tops.
Shop for maternity jeans in the same way you do for ordinary jeans - don't accept anything less than perfect. You want them to fit comfortably and make your bum look HAWT!

Flip flops will become your best friend during pregnancy - even when the weather is cold and wet like it is this Summer! No bending down needed in order to put them on - and no fiddly laces or buckles to contend with.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Getting ready for the Olympics: Super Glittery Union Jack Flags

Last month, Daisy and I were sent a fantastic Canon Pixma printer and the Creative Park Premium software to review. It couldn't have come at a better time, what with the torrential rain we have been subjected to recently, and we have spent many a day indoors, hiding from the miserable grey skies, staying warm and dry and getting our craft on. Owwwww!

During the Jubilee weekend, we blogged about making beeeeaaaauuutiful Royal crowns, and today we kept on with our British theme and made some super glittery Union Jack flags to wave at the telly once the Olympics have started in ten days time.

Creative Park Premium, which we used for this project, comes with the purchase of any Canon Pixma printer and it really is a genius piece of software to have if you like crafting but have limited time! It is constantly updated with ideas of things to make, and gives you all the instructions you need to make them which is fab for a busy mama that doesn't have long periods of time to devote to being crafty.

We spent 40 minutes making our flags today, and I always find that 30-40 minutes is the ideal duration for craft sessions with pre-schoolers. We printed off the flag pieces and instructions, carefully cut out the templates and chose to glam ours up with lots of glue and glitter before putting the pieces together and coming up with this bad boy!!!!

Daisy was delighted with it..... can you tell? xoxox 


The Real Meaning of Organic

There are a fair few things I'm uber passionate about in life and one of them (arguably the one I am most passionate about!) is good food.

When I say good food, I'm referring to delicious food, nutritious and healthy food, food purchased from local, independent retailers, excellent Michelin starred meals served to me in first class restaurants, cakes baked by my two year old and served to me on a picnic blanket in the garden. 

Food to me is all about love and sharing and enjoyment. I like cooking from scratch, and feeding friends and family. I also like to support local businesses when buying ingredients and the quality of these ingredients, along with the welfare of those involved in producing them (animals and people included!) are really important to me.

Last week Organic UK Food invited me (and some other lovely other bloggers - Michelle from Utterly Scrummy, Laura from  How to Cook Good Food and Claire & Lucy from Crumbs) down to Helen Browning's organic farm in the Wiltshire Downs as part of their Organic, Naturally Different campaign, through which they are spreading the word about the real meaning of organic.

We had a truly fab day which included a tour of the fields of cows, pigs and sheep of Eastbrook farm, a wonderful lunch at the Michelin-recommended Royal Oak pub on site and, the highlight of my day, a wonderfully informative chat with Helen about her farming practices and why she chose to follow them when she took over the farm over twenty five years ago.

Helen Browning OBE (her OBE was awarded to her in 1998 for her contribution to organic farming) doesn't just run the 1337 acre farm, she is also CEO of The Soil Association, and listening to her speak with such knowledge and passion and commitment was an absolute joy. I have bought organic meat for as long as I can remember, admittedly out of habit more than for any other reason, and it was wonderful to be reminded of the reasons why organic is the way forward.

Helen said that the saying she goes by is "live like you're going to die tomorrow, farm like you're going to live forever" which summed it all up for me really. Organic farming is all about great tasting, natural food, high animal welfare and looking after our environment. Organic farming isn't about making a quick buck - it is a way of life, and a farming practice that takes a long time to establish and requires a great deal of dedication and patience.

So why is organic the way forward?

Organic farming doesn't involve pesticides and is therefore better for the environment - the soil is looked after and wildlife is encouraged. Natural methods such as crop rotation and the introduction of clover increases the fertility of the soil which, as a result, and together with the presence of natural predators, has a stronger resistance to pests and disease. 

Organic animals are happy animals! You should have seen the amazing saddleback pigs and freesian cows that came to meet us! They are reared in family groups and are encouraged to follow their natural instincts, living 'free range' and without free access to antibiotics or growth promotors.

Organic fruit and vegetables are entirely natural; they are free from GM, hydrogenated fats and not grown using artificial pesticides.

Speaking to Helen, Tim and those that work on the farm during the course of the day was so informative and a fantastic reminder as to why the benefits of organic really are endless.

Here are a few photos from our visit xoxox

Helen Browning's Organic meat is available from Ocado, Sainsbury's and Tesco. The farm and pub are both open for visitors all year round and will be hosting Pigstock (a weekend of camping, great food and music - with pigs!) from 16-19 August. I would thoroughly recommend a day (if not a whole weekend!) visiting the farm - it is an easy journey out of London and is set in the most beautiful English countryside - a perfect base for cycling and walking holidays. Email Carolyn in the office here for more details.

Organic UK Food can be found on Facebook here and Twitter here


Monday, 16 July 2012

The Only New Baby Shopping List You'll Need

I looooooove writing lists. There's something so satisfying about ticking things off as and when you do/buy them. 

When you get knocked up you are given MILLIONS of opportunities to write LOADS of different ones - The Maternity Clothes Essentials List, The Hospital Bag List, The Baby Names List, The Baby Shopping List. I'm going to write about them all on Modern Mummy over the upcoming months but today I'm going to focus on The New Baby Shopping List. Brace yourselves for a very long post!

When I fell pregnant with Daisy I was bombarded with ready written lists of stuff I HAD to buy. In baby books, pregnancy magazines, on websites. Signing up for the numerous baby clubs resulted in heaps of junk mail being emailed and posted out to me, each advertising the latest baby 'essential'. It is so easy to get carried away and buy one (or more!) of everything when you're a first time mum-to-be. Chances are you still have a decent disposable income and it's likely that, once bambino arrives, your finances will never be quite the same again. If you're like I was and you're not out buying new shoes every weekend anymore, you'll still have the urge to spend your hard earned cash on something shiny and new, and hunting out Baby Stuff can get a bit obsessive.

As a mum of one, and soon-to-be mum of two, I've compiled this list with the help of hindsight - plus the input of lots of people and publications - and genuinely believe it to be the most comprehensive and sensible list about at the moment. If you want a printer friendly version, feel free to ping me an email here and I'll send you out a word document.

I have divided the list into sub-categories and annotated it with some personal comments which I hope will help you make up your mind whether to buy certain things or not.


* Pram/pushchair (suitable from birth) - and raincover
There are SO MANY to choose from, with prices ranging from tens of pounds to thousands of pounds (no joke!). It's entirely up to you which one you go for and how much you spend, of course, but a few things to take into consideration are:
- if you are going to be using public transport a lot, will it fit onto buses/trains etc ok?
- if you are a driver, will it fit into your car boot?
- how easy is it to fold up?
- is it lightweight?
- if you are planning a large family, can it convert into a double in the future?
- how much shopping/luggage can the basket/handles carry?
I would recommend going to a large department store and taking as many prams as you can for a 'test drive' before choosing - and then shop around for the best price. Make sure you do this fairly early on too, as some companies require 12+ weeks notice for orders, particularly on new models that are being released.
Most prams on the market include a raincover, but double check as a few don't. Also if you are buying second hand your seller might not be including one. It's not the end of the world as universal ones are available from department stores and on websites such as Amazon.

* Pram blankets/buggy footmuff  
Very often the matching, branded pram footmuffs are expensive - and they are not essential. You can get gorgeous loose and fitted blankets at a fraction of the price which do exactly the same job. Buggy Snuggle is a great example of a universal footmuff that is available in loads of different colours and patterns to match whichever pram you have.

* Car seat 
Obviously an essential if you have a car; not so essential if you don't! Once you've had your baby, hospitals - quite rightly - won't let you leave in a car without one. 
One related purchase we made for Daisy was a car seat base (a base that is permanently fixed to iso-points inside the car, which means the car seat just has to click into place to be fixed securely, rather than being fixed into place with seat belts every time). I must confess that I thought this was a bit of a gadget originally and, at £100, was a really frivolous spend but it turned out to be one of my best baby buys and saved so much time and stress. Watching friends struggle with seatbelts and worry that their babies weren't strapped in properly made me uber grateful that I splurged on a base.

* Moses basket & stand/crib - and moses/crib sheets 
If you have a friend or family member that can loan you a moses basket and stand, I would defo recommend it. Babies are only in moses baskets for three (ish) months - Daisy was only in hers for a matter of weeks as she liked to sleep in a star shape and it was too small for her. If you are buying your own then keep an eye open for sales and baby events, or even buy second hand - you can always buy a brand new mattress to replace an old one. Moses baskets are handy as it means you can carry a sleeping baby into different rooms of the house - obviously you can't do this with heavy wooden cribs and cots.
It goes without saying that you will also need bedding to go with your moses basket/crib - and it's worth noting that most moses basket sheets also fit the matresses in pram carrycots.

*Cot/Cotbed - and sheets
Once your small person has outgrown his or her moses basket or crib, they will need a cot. I would recommend spending a little bit more and getting a cotbed (a cot with removable sides that turns into a toddler bed and will last until he or she is five years old). Otherwise you will have the additional expense of purchasing a bed once your child has outgrown his or her cot. For us this was at eighteen months, when madam worked out how to scale the sides but hadn't mastered the art of landing on the bedroom floor gracefully. We made the decision to remove the cot sides so that she couldn't climb out and hurt herself in the middle of the night.
Again, bedding is essential - and a cot bumper is a good idea to prevent bumped heads in the event you have a little wriggler on your hands. 

*Changing bag and travel changing mat
We truly are spoilt for choice when it comes to changing bags. And why not? A woman with a handbag addiction is blatantly going to be interested in changing bags and prepared to spend a fortune. But the truth is, you don't have to. The Boots Parenting Club give you a free one when you join, which is perfectly adequate, albeit a bit ugly. 
My personal opinion? Treat yourself. It will become your new handbag; there's no point in carrying both around. You will have it with you all day, every day. So make sure you choose something durable and something you like! I made the mistake of going for a plain black iCandy one (to match my purple iCandy pram) when Daisy was little. My reasoning? Himself wouldn't want to carry a Cath Kidston stylee one around. Errrrrrrr, needless to say I shouldn't have worried. I can count on one hand the number of times he went out with the changing bag. This time round I am going GIRLIE.

* Baby Monitor
Daisy is two and a half and I still use mine. After much research at the time, I opted for the Angelcare monitor with movement detector (although I never actually set the movement detector mat up!). I have spoken to lots of new mums recently and this still seems to be the monitor of choice.
Monitors can be quite pricey but aren't essential from birth as baby will most likely be sleeping in with you for a good few months. Keep your eye open for deals and if you don't come across one when your due date is looming, hold tight! You will be so dissapointed if you discover you've missed out on a half price sale and the monitor you bought a few months previously is still in its box. 

FEEDING ESSENTIALS (for bottle feeding mamas)++
++I bottle fed Daisy and so feel unable to advise adequately on breast feeding. For more information on this feeding method, please visit my lovely friend Shannon's website, Birth Origins. Shannon is a neonatal nurse, as well as being a registered Doula in the US and is very passionate and knowledgeable about breast feeding.

* Bottles, bottle brushes and sterilisers
For bottle feeding mamas, obvs, plus those mamas planning on combination feeding. 
Surprise surprise, there are loads out there to choose from - lots of long established, well known brands that your mums will remember, as well as lots of new brands with new, well researched theories behind their main selling points. Some people suggest buying a selection of bottles to see which ones your baby prefers, although I didn't and we didn't have any problems. 
If you are planning on combination feeding, teats that resemble your bosoms (mmm!) are a good idea (there are lots on the market) so that your mini me doesn't get confused when alternating between breast and bottle.
When it comes to sterilising, you have a choice between using steam (electric or microwave sterilisers), cold water (using tablets such as Milton) and boiling your bottles, so you don't actually have to buy a steriliser when you buy your bottles, although it definitely is the quickest and easiest option.
There are ALWAYS sales and deals on that include bottle and sterilising kits, Boots and Mothercare in particular have regular half price sales! If you want to try different bottles out before forking out on a full kit from the same brand, there are plenty of universal sterilisers out there too.

* Muslins and/or bibs
From a personal point of view, I much preferred muslins to bibs, pre-weaning. They are bigger, easier to put on your baby when feeding, and can be used for so much more than just to protect clothes from milk spillages and baby sick! I would recommend buying lots - I had about twenty and always had some in my changing bag. Supermarkets seem to be the cheapest place to buy them; although they are priced at less on some websites, by the time you take postage into account you would be better off picking a couple of packets up next time you're doing the weekly shop.


* Clothes
Most websites recommend 6 of everything (I have no idea why!). I recommend 14 of everything!!! Never underestimate the destructiveness of sick and poo! You will most likely get through two or three outfit changes a day, on a bad day it could be twice as much. My shopping list will include 14 babygros and 14 vests (the extra layer is essential for winter babies), a snowsuit or two, a cardigan or two, hats galore (both woolly for outside and soft cotton for inside - you lose most of your heat through your head and this counts for teeny tiny babies that have been used to 99.86 degree farenheit heat inside your womb too).

*Nappies and wipes etc
Whether you have opted for disposable or reuseable, you will need a stash of these ahead of your baby's arrival. I wouldn't go too crazy buying one brand, in case you or your baby don't get on with it.
I would recommend unperfumed wipes for sensitive skin (most are ,but double check) and once you've found your favourite then buy in bulk. The more you buy, the cheaper a packet works out as - and this is outside of special offers. Pampers Sensitive are £2.49 a packet in Tesco, or twelve packs for £14.99. During the Baby & Toddler Event, you can get two boxes of 12 packs for £20. Super bargain.  Especially when you realise just how many of these bad boys you get through.
Some people prefer to use cotton wool and water, which I did for the first few weeks, but was a useless combination when out and about!
Nappy sacks are also an essential. Milk poo stinks. Much worse than you can possibly imagine!++

++ For more info on cloth nappies, wander over to The Petit Mom. Helen, the Official Modern Mummy Cloth Nappy Correspondent, is a self confessed cloth nappy addict and THE person to speak to with any questions you might have! 

After my car seat base purchase, my discovery of Gro-bags and subsequent investment in MANY was definintely one of my best baby buys. Gro-bags are like little sleeping bags for your baby's body and legs that are worn like a dress, with head and arms poking out. These are a lifesaver when you have a wriggly little monkey that likes to kick his or her covers off during the night and as a result wakes up chilly (and disturbs your limited sleep too!). For all those due at the same time as me (November) - NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY! I have already found three in the end-of-season sale at TK Maxx, originally priced at £32 and down to £7 each.
Gro-bags (which is actually a brand name by the way - but are also made by many other companies) come in different togs, like duvets, so make sure you are buying the right one for the time of year.

(For baby, not you).
There are so many toys out there, most of which are a complete waste of time for newborns. I would suggest getting a play mat with lots of lovely, dangly things for your baby to look at and grab (apparently black and white toys are preferable for younger babies as they help them learn to focus. Bright, bold colours are great for six months plus. Lamaze Toys have a wonderful selection and are available everywhere!
Also, DO NOT LET YOUR HUSBAND/BOYFRIEND/PARTNER CONVINCE YOU THAT SOPHIE LE GIRAFFE IS A RIDICULOUSLY OVERPRICED GIMMICK. Every single mother I have met has bought their child a Sophie and every single child has loved her.

There are loads of things that you are told, and would THINK, are vital but really are not. I'll leave it up to you to make your mind up! In my opinion, these include the following:

*Pram sunshade
Certainly not necessary when you are using a carrycot on your pram chassis and something I used on the buggy once. Precariously placed muslins/blankets work equally well and fitting and angling them to the right position is much less time consuming! 

* Pram-carseat attachments 
These are the attachments that enable your car seat to fit your buggy chassis in place of the carry cot/seat. Very often these are thrown in, in pram deals, and they can be handy to move a sleeping baby from car to pram without disturbing them but I much preferred to risk waking Daisy so that she could lay flat on her back in her carry cot.

* Bouncy chair 
EVERYONE told me I HAD to buy one. And I did. An all singing, all dancing, music playing, vibrating one, no less. Which cost me a small fortune. Surprise, surprise Daisy hated it. HATED IT!   

* Scratch mitts
The biggest waste of time ever. They don't stay on, end of. I do, however, appreciate their purpose, and would recommend babygros with cuffs that fold over to cover the hands instead.

As has probably become apparent in this blog post, my two main pieces of advice when it comes to baby purchases are:

1. Shop around for the best prices
2. Open your mind to universal products - everything can be so overpriced when branded. I know it's nice to have everything matching but it's not a necessity - especially when you are on a budget.

I hope this is helpful..... I will cover Mum-to-be Essentials in a separate post. Feedback most welcome xoxox


Daily Outfit ♥ Tribal

This style of maternity top, which is discreetly low cut but still covers your bust and has an empire line tie, is my absolute favourite. It is so flattering and so versatile! It can be worn with linen trousers, leggings or even bare legs and is available in three colours from maternity wear company Seraphine; hot pink, black or taupe. And the best bit is they are currently in the sale reduced from £42! Invest, INVEST!
Just because you're preggers, doesn't mean you can't be daring and wear prints! Stick to less busy, monochrome patterns if you're shy or go all out and invest in some
bright, bold, clashing colours if you dare.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Joy of Vintage

Another successful shopping morning at my favourite antiques market EVER.

I've found so many bargains and gems recently, I'm beginning to wonder whether I should just give up buying new things altogether. Vintage is most definitely the way foward.

 Today's (mini) haul included an enamel flour tin from the 1940s, which I am going to use to store cookie cutters and baking decorations, a beautiful 1970s Stonehenge stoneware platter decorated with gorgeous yellow primroses and a ginger beer bottle from the Clayton Brothers distillery that used to be in Pimlico (which is where my family are from). 

I could have spent a fortune - there were hundreds of stalls completely and utterly overflowing with vintage loveliness - but I am trying to be frugal at the moment and a mooch around in the sunshine (YES! there was SUNSHINE this morning!) with one of my bestest pals suited me just fine. The terrible traffic getting out of the car park and back onto the main road was even forgotton as I had my one of my favourite ever albums (Angus & Julia Stone's Down The Way) playing full blast and slices of chocolate and beetroot cake and courgette cake to keep me company.

And on that note I am going to leave you with my favourite track from that album. Enjoy xoxox

Sunbury Antiques Market is held at Kempton Race Course twice a month. If you live locally, you really must pay it a visit. Check upcoming dates here.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

A Day Trip to Brighton with my Little Lady

Friday was yet another rainy day for us poor Londoners but, after spending the best part of a week holed up indoors, we weren't going to let it stop us from heading out on an adventure! Daisy and I decided on an impromptu trip to the seaside - and aren't we glad we did because we ended up sunning ourselves on the beach under bright blue skies and in beautiful 22 degree heat!

We packed a bag - Daisy's brand spanking new overnight bag from Pink Lining, no less (it was the perfect size for some toys for the journey, a selection of snacks and a change of clothes in case madam got soaked in the rain or the sea!) - and set off in our raincoats and wellies.

The skies were grey and angry the whole way down there, and when we arrived on the Pier we were greeted by torrential rain.

But after a fish & chip lunch this great big yellow thing appeared in the sky and dried up all the puddles and we spent our afternoon playing on the beach! 

Thanks to Pink Lining for the Little Lady bag - it's absolutely fab. Perfect for a day trip or a night or two away, it's waterproof and hard wearing and has the most gorgeous lady bird design (also available in a robot design, a red bus & dinosaur design or in a yellow and white star pattern). Available from the Pink Lining website here and at prices ranging from £30 to £40. xoxox

Daily Outfit ♥ Pink to Make the Boys Wink

Black cardigan, £7 (sale), Mama by H&M
Longer, tunic style tops are super flattering (on boobs and bump!) and very easy to 
wear - just add leggings and flip flops (or heels if you dare!) and accessorise 
with your favourite statement jewellery

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Daily Outfit ♥ Animal Print

Animal print grey tee, non-maternity, £4, Primark
Khaki vest top, £7.99, Mama by H&M
Faux snake skin belt, worn under bust, £3.99, H&M
Skinny maternity jeans (just seen), £29.99, Mama by H&M
If you have a non-maternity top that you're not quite ready to give up, you can still wear it! Try layering a 
longer vest top underneath so that your bump isn't exposed 
Wear a belt under your bust to accentuate your bump. Accessories are also a great way of 
keeping on trend with the season's fashions
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