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I keep meaning to review this toy and never seem to get round to it. It is such a lovely toy which my little baby really seems to love as does her older sister! It was bought for her by a friend when she was born and now comes with us to places in my changing bag. I have quite a few Lamaze toys which I had for both Millie and now Sophie and I think they are all lovely. They are very baby-oriented and help to improve their senses even from a very young age. This Panda is very simple and very lovely.
This is a panda's head on the top of a stick with little arms on it too. That sounds a bit odd and I suppose it actually is really but that doesn't stop a little baby from getting lots of enjoyment and entertainment out of this toy. The panda is a soft toy which is really friendly looking with big eyes and a nice smile. Because he is a panda he is black and white and I have been told by someone that new babies cannot distinguish different colours and shades so high contrast colours are best for babies so I expect that is why there are quite a lot of black and white toys and books available now. The stick is green and a little bit squashable. It crinkles and also inside the stick is the squeaker. It is lovely looking and not too big so I take this with us so that when I have to change a nappy I can give it to Sophie to hold and entertain herself with whilst I change her.
Can a baby play with it?
At first Sophie couldn't interact with this as she was too tiny but she would look at it and when I squeaked it it would get her attention. Millie spent a lot of time squeaking it and trying to get her sister's attention so it was nice a way for them to spend time together like this. Once Sophia became a bit bigger she likes to try to get hold of this. The only problem is that the stick is quite thick so it was hard for her to get her hands around it properly but she would grab hold of the arms and give it a good chew. She now can hold it herself and although you don't have to press too hard to make it squeak she struggles with this sometimes but when she does manage to get it to squeak she looks so delighted with herself and giggles away! It does get her attention and she does enjoy holding it, trying to squeak it and often giving it a chew too.
Is it practical?
There are lots of toys on the market for babies but a lot of them are plastic and this isn't really ideal for a tiny baby as they can hurt themselves on it but this is completely soft so she can have this with her and I don't have to worry that she will roll on top of it or bash herself on the head with it. Because it's soft it is really perfect for a baby. However, because it is soft it also means it's not that easy to clean, lots of drool and bits of milk have ended up on this making it a bit soggy. We have dried it with a hair dryer and on a radiator a few times and it looks OK but still a little stained but I suppose that is what you expect from a soft toy. The stick is a little too wide, perhaps if it was a little thinner it would have been better so Sophie could have held it sooner. The size of the toy as a whole is fine, big enough to get her attention and to give her a large area to focus on but not so big that it's too heavy for her to hold herself.
I have always thought that Lamaze toys are special. They seem to take a lot of care in designing their toys so that they will be suitable for new babies and help them to learn about textures, noises and so forth. This toy has been just as good as the other ones that we have and I am happy with it and glad I was bought it for Sophie. We enjoy using the squeak to get her attention and make her jump too which makes her giggle. It's nice watching her trying to make it squeak herself and seeing the delight on her face that it creates when she does enable it to make the noise. It is a little difficult for her to do herself yet but she is developing all the time and it's so sweet to see her improving with things, I know before I know it she'll be able to press this herself easily. It does seem to be well thought out. A friend of mine said it looked weird and I suppose it does as it is a head on a stick but that doesn't matter to a baby. The high contrast colours has grabbed Sophie's attention from very early on and she seems to really like this toy. I am happy with it, it's nice when a toy can stop a baby from crying and this one does just that.
Since our second baby has come along we have less space than ever. I am sometimes completely amazed by the amount of space which they take up and all of the many things that they come with. We needed to find a decent way to store all of the nappies, muslins, wipes and so forth that we just had piled up on a unit or in carrier bags under the cot. The space within our home is very limited so it had to be something small and also cheap as we don't have much spare money.
=== Buying the unit ===
We had a look through our Argos brochure to see if there was anything relevant for us to buy to help with the storage issue. There were plenty of options to look at like under bed storage, vacuum packed bags, baskets and so forth. We wanted something which could be hidden so now over flowing baskets but easily accessible so not really ideal having something under the cot so this set of drawers looked to be a perfect option for us. It cost £19.99 so wasn't too expensive and would be far cheaper than buying a wooden drawer unit. We ordered this online, it showed how many were available in our store and we reserved it. We were sent a text message with our reservation number on and then just went into store the next day. It was held for us for 2 days and then it would be released again. Upon collecting it, it didn't take long at all. We simply paid and then went to the collection desk. It comes ready made up so no flat pack but it does mean it's quite bulky to carry. I'm glad my husband was with me otherwise I would have struggled to get this to the car with a pushchair too. The buying process was very straight forward and simple.
=== First impressions ===
The unit measures Size H86, W32, D38cm. Our first impressions of it was that it looked like it was nice and slim so would fit perfectly in the nursery without taking up too much space or getting in the way of the door opening. It didn't look too bright or cheerful as it was just the plain white one. There were options to buy it in bright pink or vivid blue but we didn't want to add such a bright colour to the room. I actually quite liked the minimal look with it not being intrusive and bright but my husband said it looked cheap. I suppose it does look cheap but that is because it is and it doesn't really matter to me but I suppose if you are looking for something impressive looking then you probably don't want this one. I was pleased that it was easy to set up we didn't have to do anything to it, just take off the plastic wrapping and it was ready to be used. This is a huge bonus as my husband isn't the best at DIY so if it had have involved being constructed we would probably still be waiting for it to be ready now.
=== Using it ===
This is a very useful storage unit for us. It has wheels so you can move it around if you wish but we keep it in the one place. These wheels can be pulled out if you need it to remain in place but we haven't done that either. The drawers are plastic and have lips on the front which is where you grip them to pull them out. These are big enough to be able to do without it being a struggle. The drawers can come all the way out but this isn't something which can easily be done so if you're pulling the drawer open it's not likely to come all the way out as you need to give it a bit of a jiggle and adjust it a bit so it comes over the frame of the unit. Having them able to come all of the way out is really useful. We keep nappies and wipes and other things like that in the bottom two drawers and in the top ones we have toys so it's really useful to be able to pull out a drawer and carry it into the lounge for the girls to play with instead of having to carry the toys in arm loads. The drawers do hold a good amount and they are solid too. I don't worry about putting too much in as it seems solid unlike when we use our wooden drawers as they seem to bow under weight, these drawers seem much better than them despite the price being cheap. The drawers are very slightly see-through so you can see roughly what is in them but they're not completely see through and I like this because it doesn't show the chaos of the toys just being thrown in in a random fashion!
=== Who do I recommend it to? ===
I recommend this to you if you're looking for a cheap and easy way to store things. I think it would be ideal for students who don't have the budget to buy big furniture or don't have the skills to put together wooden items. I think it's perfect for children too as it's a good height so they can reach all of the drawers well and they are easy to pull out. They aren't likely to be overloaded as they're robust. I don't recommend it if you're looking for something stylish and fashionable that will make an impact, although you can buy this in several colours it isn't very smart looking and does look a little cheap.
=== Summary ===
This is a very good storage unit which I am very happy with. We have had it about a month now and it has proven to be very useful. It doesn't take up much room which is one of the main reasons why we chose this above other options as we don't have the room for a large unit. It is very easy to just start using right away with no construction necessary. We found it easy enough to purchase in the first place and now it's very easy to use. The drawers are sturdy and easy to pull out and use. It's good that they can come out too so you can move the drawer if you need to. We have found that this drawer unit has helped us with our storage problem. I wouldn't hesitate in buying another one of these in the future. It may not look the best but we were not looking for something stylish just something practical and that certainly is the case with this! It's helped us to put all the bits that come with babies away in a logical fashion that we are very happy with.
I really enjoy reading to Millie and sharing that quality time together. We visit the library regularly to choose new books and when I took Millie to the library last week she had a good look at all of the books before choosing this one. I think she chose it because the picture on the front is very cute. Since we have had this out of the library we have had to read this every day (sometimes more than once) and she really likes it and I have to admit so do I as it is a very cute book.
I think reading with a child is so important so they can learn all about words and the world around them as well as using their imaginations too but my favourite thing about reading with Millie is having some peaceful, quiet time together where we can both sit together and share a story after a day of running around. I think it's a lovely bonding time and this book has a nice story in it which ends nicely with a mummy and baby.
===What is the book about?===
This book is about a baby owl who looks very cute in the pictures but he really doesn't like his friends telling him that he is cute! The story begins with baby owl exploring the woods as he doesn't want anyone to bother him. But then he comes across Rabbit who picks him up and cuddles him telling him how cute and small he is. Baby owl then looks very cross and declares he is NOT cute and not small. He declares he is a huge and scary hunting machine. Then Fox comes along and pats him on the head saying how cute and fluffy he is. Baby Owl does not look happy at all and tells Fox that he is NOT cute and not fluffy and is a big hunting machine with see-in-the-dark eyes. When he sees Squirrel she also tells him he's cute with big baby eyes. Again this makes Baby Owl upset and he really shouts that he is NOT cute and doesn't have big baby eyes! When his Mummy comes along she says that of course he isn't cute and reassures him that he is a huge, scary sleek, sharp-eyed hunting machine. This makes baby Owl stop and think and then begins to cry that he is cute and his Mummy picks him up and puts him to bed. As he nods off to sleep she whispers that he is cute and wishes him goodnight.
===Why I like the story===
I like his story because it reminds me of a typical child who wants to be bigger and bolder than they are. Millie doesn't like it if I refer to her as little but then when I try to encourage her to be a big girl she gets all baby-like which is exactly what Baby Owl does in this book and it comes across really well. I also like the way the story concludes with the owl going to bed and saying goodnight because we like to read a story at bed time and I always find it easier to get Millie to unwind if a story concludes with the character going to sleep! In this book the owl does give little facts about what owls do such as it having see in the dark eyes and wings that are silent and so forth. This may just seem like part of the story but in reality it is teaching children about the traits of owls so they are able to learn a little whilst enjoying the story.
The pages of this book are nice and big. It is about A4 size and the illustrations are nice and bright with colours being quite true to life with the owls being brown, the fox red and so forth no dramatic psychedelic colours here. It looks like they're painted in water colour and the animals all have nice faces with lots of expressions. They really are well painted, it's lovely to be able to read their expressions and sit with Millie discussing what the animals must be thinking. The writing is all in black and this varies in size depending upon the words, the words that are emphasised are big and bold, some in capitals. On one page the writing is in a very large font so you can really tell how loudly the little owl must be talking! Wherever there is writing there is no background picture so usually the picture is at the bottom and then fades away and the writing is at the top. This makes it clear for children to be able to see and read. It is well laid out.
===What we like about reading this===
When we read this Millie is able to try to read along. The layout of the pages make it possible for her to be able to read the words clearly especially when they are the large ones! At the moment Millie is very interested in punctuation and keeps pointing out the speech marks and exclamation marks so we have spoken about them together and what it means. The words within this story are quite short so Millie is able to sound them out and she can almost read the whole book by herself the only word she really struggles with is 'machine' but this book is helping her to learn that. When we read this together we now know it so well that Millie likes to read the Baby Owl's words and really over emphasises the dramatic outbursts! It's nice that it's only a short story too as it gives us more time to talk about the pictures and what the owl must be thinking whereas when we read longer books we tend to just keep going with the story and don't have the time to stop to talk about it.
We have had this book out of the library for a week now and Millie doesn't want to take it back so I think we'll end up buying this for her birthday. I can really see why she likes it so much as it's a really fun book to read with lots of ability to emphasise words and really play the drama of the owl being frustrated. This book is good for children because it does have a few facts about owls although it is only subtle and I find that being subtle is the best way at the moment to teach Millie anything otherwise she seems to get frustrated that I'm trying to help her so just goes quiet so subtle facts like within this book is the way forward for us at the moment! The colours are all true to life too but that doesn't make it dull as there are lots of flowers and big yellow beaks that brighten up the brown of the owls.
I think that the best thing about this book is the fact that the writing is so easy to follow. Millie is at a stage now where she is eager to read on her own and really wants to be independent with her reading but so many of the books we have has writing which is small or too many words in a row so it's intimidating for her and she can easily lose her place. The words within this book are spaced out well and are very clear. It is lovely to sit and listen to her reading to herself. We do of course enjoy reading this together too though because it is so lovely and we always have a laugh about how loudly Owl talks.
There is no complicated story in this so it's easy for a tired mind to follow without being confused or having to really concentrate hard so it is a perfect bedtime read especially as it concludes with the owl going to sleep.
This book that we have is in paperback format and is about 25 pages long I think it is also available in board format which I think would be lovely for a baby to have. Millie is fine with paperback but if you are reading this to a toddler then be careful as paperback books are easy to rip so board book format may be better. It's retail price is £5.99 although it is available at the moment on Amazon for £5. I do think it's worth £5 as it's a lovely story with very nice illustrations that really do add to the story.
Sometimes I really love nothing more than a nice soak in the bath and really enjoy being able to unwind. For Christmas this year my husband and I made each other a stocking with the aim to have £5 spent on the contents inside and we had to have 5 items. This was a nice little challenge to make it fun and thoughtful and my lovely husband had put this in as one of my 5 items. He said that it was on offer for £1 which is brilliant, sometimes it is in supermarkets for twice that price. I am very pleased that he bought this one as it is just so lovely and I have really enjoyed my baths since I have added this.
Ahhh bath time!
I have a bit of a hectic life at the minute with having two little girls to look after and it's not very often I get the time to take a few minutes to myself. Before Christmas I was beginning to get a little stressed and my anxiety that I suffered from previously was beginning to come back. I did revisit my counsellor to discuss my feelings and one thing that I talked through was just how much I feel like I need to have some down time. I know when I have a new baby I'm not going to be able to spend a lot of time on myself but I really felt the need to start getting some peace. My counsellor suggested that I could try finding 20 minutes every day to switch off from my responsibilities and relax and when I got home from my counselling session I spoke to my husband about it and he agreed that it was a good idea. There just doesn't seem to be anything that compares to taking time out and spending that time surrounded by nice warm water which is full of fluffy bubbles. I always feel much calmer after bath time and think it is important to take this time out for myself.
Radox in the bath
I have always liked Radox because whenever I have used it I have found that it creates lots of lovely bubbles and the aromas are lovely. It is often that the ingredients within the products have special herbal qualities that can help you to feel relaxed or invigorated and I have always liked that in these products. I have previously had several bath soaks from Radox as well as some shower gels and some salts too, they always seem to be very reliable. I was very pleased when I was bought this as I haven't tried this one before and I do like anything that's pink so I just knew it would be lovely!
This bath soak comes in a bottle which is typical of Radox. It is a tall, slim bottle with a screw cap lid. On the front is a picture of a rose with a little white swirl around it which looks as though it's the aroma of the rose rising up into the steam of a bath. The bottle is see-through and the bubble bath inside is a lovely, calming pale pink. This looks nice on my windowsill. I put this in the bath as the taps are running, I put it in where the water is hitting the bath so that it creates the best effect. I tend to put in one splash of it as this seems to be enough. I do give it a bit of a swish round to help create the bubbles but normally it will just create good bubbles without needing much input at all. Other brands I have found need a good swish but not these! The bubbles soon build up and the scent is beautiful and does fill the bathroom.
It is a lovely, light scent. It is of roses but not in an 'old lady' style but more in a gentle, sweet fashion that is so lovely to inhale. I love just breathing it in and feeling myself relax. When I get into a bath that is full of these lovely bubbles it is so welcoming and warming. The bubbles are nice and soft and instead of just popping when you emerge yourself in the bath they stay around and almost cushion you. They are lovely and they do stay. Usually by the end of my 20 minute soak they will have began to decrease in volume but they have never completely disappeared which is so rare for a bubble bath!
I find that when I bathe in this the bath water feels much softer and I feel a lot more relaxed. I have had a few baths without any bubbles in and it just feels like it is missing something, as soon as I have a bath with these in I realise that it is these, you can't have a bath without bubbles and get the same relaxed feel in my opinion. It is so nice to lie back in these and listen to the sounds the bubbles make as they slowly pop.
How I feel afterwards
I do definitely feel a lot more relaxed after having a bath with these. I think because they really bubble up very well it is a lovely feeling and just makes the bath so welcoming and comfortable it does feel luxurious and that is why this is a brilliant product because you get all of that for just £1! I always feel very clean and nice after bathing with this in the bath but the smell doesn't stay around on my skin which is no bad thing as it would clash with my perfume anyway!
One thing I Have noticed, however, is if I use this every day then my skin feels a bit dry. I did a little experiment and had 3 days where I didn't use any and the dryness cleared up so now I try to just use this once a day or make sure I moisturise after using it. I'm not sure why this is but I have found it with a few of the other Radox products too but I don't ever stop using them as the benefits far outweigh a bit of dry skin, I just make sure I take care of my skin afterwards.
One point to make about this is that when it begins to run out it can be difficult to get the rest of the soak out because the lid is rounded so you can't stand it upside down. It can take a few minutes for the cream to make its way out and when you have a 20 minute bath limit before you need to be 'mummy' again every minute counts so this can be a little frustrating, I try to prop the bottle upside down amongst bath toys about 30 minutes before bath time and usually that is sufficient!
Conclusion from me
I have always liked Radox products and this one hasn't let me down at all it is just lovely. I really do adore having a bath and really think it is important for me to have that bit of time to myself where i can feel as though I am just relaxing and in a nice environment. The smell and comfort of this product is lovely and really has helped me to find the ability to unwind like I need. I am so pleased that I was bought this as I really like it. Some Radox products are very strong smelling but this is much more subtle and sweet. I am really happy with this and I do look forward to my 20 minutes of 'me time' every day. When I do have a bath without this in then it really just doesn't make me feel as relaxed afterwards, there is something very special about this product and I know that next time I see it for just £1 I will be buying more to stock up! I just love it!
I do love our Quinny Buzz and like to take our baby out on long walks. I have found it a little difficult to keep the drinks in my change bag at the bottom of the travel system or to try to hold a drink as we walk. I thought it would be far more practical to have a cup holder. I was actually bought this as a 'treat' for Christmas, it may not seem like a special present but it certainly is so very practical that I love it! We have used it a lot already and know it will be very well used over the time that we use this travel system.
=== Details ===
This cup holder is adaptable to various Quinny models including the Mood, the Buzz and the Zap Xtra. I don't know if you could get it to fit to other frames too as I haven't tried that but it may be worth experimenting with one if you are in a store. It is made from quite a tough, black plastic so it blends in well with the frame of the travel system. It is 12cm tall so will hold a good height bottle or beaker and it is very light weight so won't make your travel system seem off balance with it being on one side. It costs about £20 in Mothercare but my husband said he bought it from a pram shop near us and it was only £9.99 so that is a bargain. I'm not sure if I would have been too happy with him spending £20 on one as that seems like a lot of money.
=== Making life easy ===
Prior to having this cup holder I would have to keep my drink's bottle or the baby's bottle within my change bag. This isn't a huge big deal because my change bag is nice and large but it does become a problem when I have to keep stopping and unzipping the bag and faffing around as my little one doesn't like me to stop, even if she is asleep she will soon open her eyes as soon as she notices that the wheels aren't moving and begins to scream so if I can do anything to stop that horrible ear-piercing cry that gets me dirty looks from others then I will! This cup holder has helped make life easier. It's very easy to attach to the frame, it can clip onto the inside or the outside of it, I prefer to have it on the outside as it feels like it is out of the way rather than it being on the inside where I may manage to knock it when reaching into the car seat to tuck a blanket in. It's easy to do, you snap it onto the frame and then angle it to how you would like it to sit. The fact it can be angled is great because depending upon where you put it on the frame it may not be at the correct angle to hold a beaker properly so being able to rotate it is great and it doesn't end up rotating when you don't want it too either it's very solid and stiff so will stay in place. It is now so much easier to just have a drink to hand where I can pick it up right away.
=== In practical terms ===
In practical terms the first time I used this i didn't take it off when I folded down the travel system and the drink came straight out and since then I have been taking it off each time I fold it down which isn't too practical but isn't a huge hardship. I have experimented a bit and noticed that if I put it in a specific place on the frame then I am able to collapse it with it still being in place so this is something worth experimenting with as it does make it easier to be able to just fold it down without remembering to take it apart. It is a good wide holder so it will hold a variety of bottles and beakers. We haven't had a bottle yet that doesn't fit in here, I had a Starbucks in it a couple of days ago and it fitted perfectly!
=== In conclusion ===
I really don't know why these travel systems don't come with all the bits you need. We spent a lot of money on one in the first place and now we have been adding to it to buy items which we consider to be important like the weather guard and now this cup holder so really it should just come with the item when you buy it. I am really glad that I have one now, it's brilliant to have, it definitely makes it a lot more practical whilst walking to be able to have a drink to hand and one that is held so securely too. Previously it would be a little difficult to stop and start all the time whilst getting a drink and now it's not! I have no need as I can happily carry on pushing the pushchair along whilst opening my drink and popping it back in the holder without any problems. It does seem to be very good quality and is shaped in a way which gives it protection with the lips of the product being rounded. I think it's a very good product, very pleased I was bought it and think it's going to get a lot of use out of it.
Whilst I was pregnant I bought a variety of maternity clothes from different brands and usually went for the cheapest options seeing as I knew I would not be wearing them for very long and that money was tight. I chose quite a lot from New Look which were lovely but I also did buy a few items from Next as a 'treat' to myself and what a treat these were! Very disappointing and not at all comfortable at all! I was regretful that I had spent my money on such a poor piece of clothing it is just a good job I didn't have to wear them for very long!
=== Buying the Next leggings ===
I don't find that maternity clothes are that appealing, so many of them just look like big tents and with little style so when I went into Next it was lovely to see that they had tops and dresses that were colourful and had patterns on them. I was going to buy a top but my husband very kindly reminded me that I already had several tops and what I was short on was leg wear so I was sensible and instead of going for a lovely floral top I looked at the leggings instead. I now wish I'd stuck to a top!!
I chose these leggings because they were over the bump ones. Some of the trousers I had were under the bump and these were fine but I was a little concerned that they would soon star to dig in a bit and that some of them after having been washed were starting to fall a bit short so didn't look the best. I thought it would be a change to buy over the bump ones. I usually fit in size 6-8 clothes so I bought the size 8 leggings. They were £12. The sizes started from 8 and went up to about 20 I think so a good range for lots of different shapes. There were 3 colour options too navy, grey and black. I went for black as I thought it would be more likely to go with the few maternity clothes I had.
=== Wearing them ===
These leggings are made from 92% viscose which I don't even know what that is and 8% elastine. These two materials combined give a good stretchy effect which slide onto your legs and grip to your skin like leggings should. When I first put them on I found that they had that nice tight feeling like leggings do but that the top of them with the over bump stretchy bit was far from being tight. It was a really large section of material which was so baggy that when I put a top on I could see the baggyness of the bump section beneath it. I also noticed that they were quite long on me, it wasn't too long that it was a problem as I am quite tall but if you are petite or only wear flat shoes then you may struggle with them and may need to take them up.
I thought I would give the leggings the benefit of the doubt and decided that perhaps the bump part was so baggy because my bump wasn't big enough yet. I Had thought, however, that the bump section would be more like the leggings so would cling to the bump and just expand over time as the bump grew but it didn't look like that at all, it looked like a great big baggy bit of material with no support that was just getting in the way. I didn't feel comfortable in these at all and felt very self conscious indeed. I hoped that as pregnancy progressed they would fit better.
=== The test of time ===
Over time, however, it didn't improve, even when my bump was pretty large and in the last few weeks these leggings still felt far too big in the tummy area and also in the thigh too, it looks like these are designed with a bit too much space! I know that body shape changes a lot whilst you are pregnant but these leggings over compensate, the thigh area had lots of room in it which just made my legs look fat and then the bump area was just overly baggy and didn't support the bump in anyway. I just kept hoping that because they are Next that they must work out eventually and be comfortable and fit properly but they just didn't.
Even after many washes and when the bump was it's biggest these never fit me in a comfortable manner. I was so disappointed by them. They made me feel frumpy and were not at all discreet with the great big flapping over bump part! I took to only wearing them when I didn't have to go out anywhere but never really wanted to it just happened to be when everything else was in the wash that I turned to these.
I wore them a few times and asked my husband his opinion he kept saying it looked like I needed to grow into them and asked where there was so much slack in the thigh/groin area. It was as though they weren't pulled up high enough. It really wasn't a good look and for my husband to notice these things it must have been rather obvious!
=== In summary ===
In terms of quality they are not very good at all because they are not well designed. They did get washed a lot and didn't lose their 'shape' although there wasn't much shape to begin with but the material didn't bobble up at least so that is something! They were soft too which was nice against my skin but that is about all that is positive about them.
I was very disappointed by these. I know in future should I ever need maternity wear again that I shall not be heading to Next for my leggings! Leggings are supposed to be comfort clothes but not these that's for sure! I hope that they get a new designer in to make them more comfortable and a better design because they are not very good at all at the moment. Save your money and shop elsewhere.
I love baking cakes now! I love trying new recipes and baking away with Millie helping me. I have had many disasters but it's all been so enjoyable to do. Over the little while that I have built on my baking skills I have bought and been bought many books. This is one which was bought for me and although there are some fantastic cakes in here it is not one of my favourite books and that is mainly because they all seem a little too challenging for me as I don't have huge amounts of confidence in the kitchen. It is still a lovely book to look through though.
Baking and me
Previously I didn't know how to bake at all. When I was growing up I didn't do any baking with family members and when I had Millie I really wanted to be able to bake and have her join in. I didn't know what I was doing at all though and we had some disasters. I didn't realise that the measurements are actually important and if you get them wrong then the whole bake can be a complete disaster! When I was ill for a while I spent a lot of time looking through books and magazines and decided that one thing i would do once better would be to really make a start at learning how to bake by teaching myself through the books. I now find it very therapeutic to bake, it is so nice to focus on something which has clear steps and then a lovely (hopefully lovely anyway!!) outcome at the end. I am really enjoying teaching myself what to do and I love that Millie often helps me out too so she is creating some lovely memories but also learning a skill that I hope she will build on and be better than I am! I am still not hugely confident at what I do whilst baking but I am starting to progress to more difficult things. I just wish that I had more time to do it but juggling two children is making it difficult to have the ability to concentrate in the kitchen. I have missed baking so I have still been getting my cake fix by reading lots of books and circling recipes that I intend to tackle once I am able to spend a good amount of time in the kitchen making lovely things!
Why I got this book
I was bought this book as a gift. If I had have looked through it in a shop I wouldn't have chosen it and this is because it has quite a lot of difficult cakes or that they at least look very difficult so this puts me off. I would have been too intimidated to buy it but now that I do have it I am glad that I was bought it because I have attempted one of the cakes and I do think that it gives me something different to aim for and I like the feel of the book with the stories behind the cakes.
Who are Clandestine?
I had never heard of Clandestine before but I really like the idea of it! This book is written by Lynn Hill who writes the introduction which tells us all about what the society is about. The idea of it is that it is a meeting where amateur bakers make cakes and all get together to share their bakes and to talk about cake but it is all secret! The location of the venue is kept secret until the very last minute! Lynn Hill first set it up in Leeds in 2010 and she had a good turn out and now it has spread from beyond Leeds to various locations and it has become popular. I really like the idea of this, how nice for people to get together over cake. For me it isn't good because I like to know everything so I can plan so not knowing the venue in advance isn't any good for my anxiety but I can imagine if you can be spontaneous and aren't OCD over things like me that it would be a lovely meeting! The locations that the Leeds group meet in seem really unique such as old fashioned train stations and a castle and things. I think this is a really lovely idea and a way to get people in a community together and of course baking! So this book has recipes presented by the members of the clubs around the UK.
This book includes recipes from various people in the club but also some tips too. The contents include:
Icings and frostings
So it's quite nice to have the various kinds of cakes broken down into sections so you can easily find something. I don't know about you but I'm always quick to turn to the chocolate section! At the beginning of each chapter there is information about what is to come for example how some of the cakes coming up will keep a few days and are quick and easy to make or that they are more challenging and so forth.
The majority of recipes come with a beautiful photograph of the finished product next to them but there are some recipes which have no photos at all and I find that so disappointing. I won't ever bake a recipe if it hasn't got a photo, mainly because it is the photo which sells a cake to me. Some of them I have no idea what they'll even look like such as the pumpkin cake and so forth so it would be nice to have a picture. The pictures that they do have are really nice looking such as displayed on a cake stand with little plates next to them or ready cut on a rustic shopping board. It makes them look very real, not as though they've been photographed in a studio but rather in a home. The recipes tell you at the beginning which club it is from for example The Isle of Man CCC or the Devon CCC, I must admit I am sure the Leeds CCC has more recipes in than any other club. The name of the cake is big and bold at the top and the name of the person who has baked it is beneath along with a short introduction about how they came to making the cakes and maybe a tip or two about alternative ingredients you can choose and things. It's nice to see that there are recipes from both men and women too. The recipe is well laid out with information down one side about ingredients and how many it serves. It is in grams, which is fine as my scales convert but it would be useful to have ounces too for those who work in ounces. There are little bits of information next to it too such as advice about the brand or whether it's optional or not. The actual recipe is set out in bullet points. There are no step by step pictures or anything. It talks in quite easy to understand language with not too much technical talk. They are easy enough to follow, but the majority of cakes have lots of bullet points which does make it look quite daunting especially as these bullet points are several lines long so it makes me feel a bit afraid of starting one! I have tried to not be put off by them, what I do is actually read what it says and then I realise some of the bullet points are very straight forward, just because it is worded in a long winded manner doesn't mean it is difficult!
My experience with the recipes
Now when I am looking through this book I feel intimidated as the cakes look fantastic and perfect so it makes me afraid that I won't be able to achieve it. They look like there is so much to do and the recipes do look quite long-winded but I have overcome my fear and I have baked from this book at last! The one I made was the smoked chilli chocolate cake. I mainly chose this one because the picture looks amazing, so gooey and soft that I just couldn't resist it. The recipe looked a bit daunting but once I read through it I decided I could achieve it. The recipe had a variety of cooking things that I hadn't used before like ground almonds and smoked chilli. I found it hard to find the smoked chilli that was mentioned but did eventually send my husband out to hunt it down! Following the recipe was straight forward and it was enjoyable to make. It did take quite a while as there was several steps to it and lots of cooling down and so forth but because it was well written I was able to follow it without panicking! The result was a really beautiful chocolate cake that tasted lovely! We were really pleased and I have now made it twice and everyone who has sampled it really like it! I am yet to make anything else from this book because they do seem long winded but I am hoping over Christmas that I will be able to have time to try another, the next recipe I am hoping to complete is a passion fruit cake. This recipe goes over two pages so is a bit scary but I am up for a challenge!
There are tips in this book which are just great! Because I am teaching myself as I go along I don't know why some things go wrong like if a cake doesn't rise properly or if it goes soggy in the middle and this book has tips which cover these problems. It is so useful to see how you can avoid a soggy middle and how to make a cake rise properly. I find these really useful and it's helped to answer some questions really. The icing section is only one page which was a bit disappointing I was hoping for more but this one page just tells you very basically how to make a glace icing, how to make cream cheese frosting and how to make buttercream. I'm a bit disappointed by this as it would have been nice to have piping techniques and advice on sugar paste and others, it looks like it was put in as an after thought when really they could have extended it a bit to make it more useful.
What I think
This book has some amazing looking cakes in it. When you flick through quickly you feel intimidated as they all look so good! Cakes included are huge, I never knew there were so many cakes! There really is something for all taste buds in this, there is an Amaretto cream cake, sultana cake, vanilla chocolate cake, chocolate honeycomb truffle cake and many more even an Italian wedding cake! I think what is great is that some recipes are fairly straight forward like the sultana cake so if you're like me and not too confident then you can try that but then there are real challenges in here too so you can build up to it or if you are a great baker then you'll thrive with this book! There are lots of recipes, I think it would be good to have a rating on them in terms of how easy they are so you can see right away whether you're having a big challenge or not, that would definitely be a good way this book could be improved. I would also improve it by having photographs of every cake in here. I am always put off by a recipe if they don't have a photo of the finished article.
When I have followed the recipe I found it quite easy to do but I did have to really concentrate as there was lots of wording in the bullet points. The book is hardback and it does actually like flat which is useful so when I followed the recipe it stayed open at the correct page instead of flicking shut like some books that aren't spiral bound do. I was pleased with the finish of the cake it was lovely. I made it by myself as I had to concentrate, in future I will be having Millie assist me so she can learn what to do too. I do love baking when it includes her, I love to think we are creating nice memories together.
I am giving the book 4 stars because it could be improved by having a rating next to the recipes so you can see how difficult it is and I would also like the icing section to be improved, one page is not sufficient enough, it would have been useful to have some techniques of piping and things in that section too. I would definitely add pictures to all recipes too.
In summary this is a nice book to look at that may be daunting as the recipes look intimidating and the cakes look stunning but it is quite nice to have recipes available that are a bit of a challenge and will create a wow piece for a party or something! I'm glad I was bought it. It costs £20 but you can probably find it for cheaper if you have a look around.
Last year I bought the original Nativity DVD for us to watch and we all enjoyed it. It was lovely to sit together and watch a modern Christmas film and it was packed full of music and laughter that all of us enjoyed so when I saw that the second film was out on DVD I couldn't not buy it! It was on offer in Tesco as part of the 2 for £20 offer. I wouldn't normally spend £10 on a film but because it is a special Christmas one and because we had enjoyed the first one I decided it was worth it, sadly I think I should have saved my money.
In the first film Nativity was all about a school called St Bernadette's in which the children were pretty average and, compared to another school, they looked to be failing individuals with no hopes. When a new teaching assistant came to the school he helped to inspire the children to put on the best nativity in the area with the hope to get a better review than their rival school. The film was full of lots of laughter, the humour was great and it had a nice feel-good feeling behind it. It was nice to watch a Christmas film which the children could enjoy but also us adults enjoyed too!
When I saw this I couldn't resist it after knowing how much both myself and Millie had enjoyed the first one! Spending £10 on a DVD is not something I tend to do but I thought it would be a nice treat which would help get us in the Christmas spirit. The running time was an hour and 40which I thought was quite long for a child's film but Millie insisted that she would sit through it. She does normally enjoy sitting watching films but towards the end her attention can start to wander but I hoped that this would captivate her enough to get her really interested.
The first thing I noticed when this started was that the teacher from the last film wasn't in it which is a shame as I think he's a great actor but instead the main teacher was played by David Tenant who I don't think was anywhere near as good which is such a shame. The film begins with David Tenant's character talking with his heavily pregnant wife about how excited he is about starting his new job as a teacher. It then goes to the school where Mr Poppy the teaching assistant is causing chaos and the headteacher (played by Pam ferris) informs him that he needs to stop scaring away the teachers that he works with. Mr Poppy finds out about a competition A Song For Christmas which will see school choirs across the country compete in a competition where they can win £10,000, a chance to record a single and the chance to get to Christmas number 1. This competition is to be held in a castle in Wales but what's this? They only have 1 day to get the audition video in.
Mr Poppy then has to encourage the new teacher to back him up on this idea. He cobbles together some children who have various talents and before you know it they are on a bus heading to Wales- we don't actually see the audition video so it was almost as if the script writer forgot about this detail. They are all excited as they are going to be competing against their usual rivals but also a big choir from London which is headed by Mr Peterson's (David Tenant's character) twin brother who has an OBE and is ever so successful.
But of course things don't go to plan and they find themselves getting lost and having to trek through Welsh countryside trying to find the castle and then they aren't allowed in due to not having registered early enough... the chaos continues.
What disappointed me about this was that it had so many bits missing from it. For example the school went from not even having sent in an audition video to suddenly turning up to the castle late and performing on stage with costumes and a song and they also knew the song for another act's piece too. It felt as though they concentrate far too much on the trek through the countryside rather than any preparation they had. The trek through the countryside went on for far too long and it was during this point that my mind- never mind Millie's- wandered and I began to wish it would hurry up and get to the main part of the show. It got really silly with the things they did and became more of a silly half an hour than a decent film. I was also disappointed in the amount of padding that took place. It showed us the various acts taking part in the competition and usually you may expect to see little clips of one or two songs but in this there were full sets of about 6 songs so it was just a bit too much, it felt more like we were watching a version of The X Factor. I know that in a DVD like this you don't expect it to be 100% believable and it does get a bit daft but this was just really too much.
What Millie thought
Sometimes I don't enjoy films but Millie does and that makes me think it's worth it but with this Millie too showed her disappointment. She said she missed the other teacher from the first one and complained at one point that she was getting tired. Normally she is captivated by a film so for her to complain of being tired isn't a good sign or compliment to the film! I asked her if she'd like to watch it again some time, normally when she watches a film she says she wants to watch it again the next day (this is not great for me!) but she said probably not! This is such a shame, I really was hoping she'd liked it even if I didn't.
I am so disappointed by this! I had thought it was going to be great especially as the first one was so good but it is really disappointing. I know that films like this can be a bit silly but this one is just too much. It tries to do humour and emotion but it doesn't quite work for me, I think they should drop some of the silliness and it would be much better, you'd follow the morals in the story much better rather than being bombarded with crazy songs on the show and being bored throughout the middle section. There are a few bit which are suggested in this film but that are not followed up- such as them helping a rival pupil and how the original teacher left. I think that the acting from the little children in this show was great, really enjoyable to watch them and the songs were catchy which was nice. It wasn't CHirstmassy enough for me as there was no snow so you could really watch this any time of year, not much of a Christmas story here, more like the X Factor but with Christmas songs! I wasn't completely bored and the acting was good so I'm giving it 2 stars but I can't give anymore than that as it was so disappointing in several areas. If you see it for a reasonable price (under £5!) then buy it but in my opinion it's not worth 5 stars which is such a shame.
I'm really fussy when it comes to my hair and I like it to be styled in a specific manner. Sometimes, though, I don't have much time to spend getting ready as I have to get Millie out of the house to school so if I can find something that helps to save time then I always like to do so! This hair brush is brilliant as it helps me to style my hair in a manner that I like but also helps to speed up the process too. It is a very practical hair brush that works really well and is brilliant quality oh and it's pink so I just love it and am so glad that I bought it!
+++Style, style style!+++
Several years ago life was all about having hair as flat as possible. I spent a long time trying to get all of the life out of my hair by straightening it and using as many products as possible to try to make it lie flat. I used to have the time then to sit in front of my mirror with all my lotions and potions and straightening machines but now i don't have as much time and also I have found that my taste and fashion has changed anyway. I don't like to have my hair poker straight all of the time now. I do hate it to frizz up so I do need to tame it somewhat but I really prefer to have some volume in my hair, it's not all about having flat hair any more but big hair! I always have to blow dry my hair though after washing it else it has lots of frizz and looks wild but sometimes blow drying can take 10-15 minutes which may not seem like a big amount of time for some- it certainly isn't a great amount of time compared to how much time I would dedicate to my hair before I had Millie- but some mornings I am in a rush so if i can save time then I really need to! I was told by my hair dresser that I should look at getting a ceramic brush which would help improve the drying time. I didn't really take much notice of her and thought she was just trying to sell me something but then after a few mornings of being rushed out of the house with my hair semi-dry and looking so wild I had to cover it with a hat I decided to look into buying a ceramic brush as advised.
+++Choosing the brush+++
I didn't go to the shops to look for a ceramic brush. I hadn't heard of them before and thought they must be specialised so wouldn't know where to begin looking so I looked online and was surprised by how much choice there was! I ended up on Amazon and when I read reviews for them I realised that they would be a good investment as the design of them helps to circulate air so will help improve the drying time. I looked at several different brushes before deciding on this brand. I will be honest and say one of it's main selling points was the fact that it is pink! I just thought it looked so different to the others and anything that is pink is always a hit for me! When buying it there were four different sizes to choose from these included 43mm, 50mm 60mm and 25mm. I wasn't too sure which size to get but I only have quite thin hair so decided to go for the second smallest size as I thought that the bigger ones would be too big and may give my hair too much volume. The reviews on this brush were a bit hit and miss, some people had scored it highly whilst others had scored it low but to be honest the low reviews seemed to be people complaining more about the fact they hadn't read the small print properly and had expected more than one brush.
+++It's now mine!+++
When this brush arrived I was really excited by it and wanted to try it right away. Millie's eyes lit up when she saw it too because of the pink! What surprised me was how light weight it was. When I looked at it it looked quite big, it's about 25cm long so pretty big and the bristles are 43mm long so it's quite a chunky brush compared to my previous ones but when I picked it up i was so surprised by how light it was! This was a big relief as I really dislike heavy, cumbersome brushes that make my arms ache first thing in the morning! There are holes all over the head of the brush where the bristles come out and this is to help the air circulate. It is ceramic so it helps the air to remain warm. The handle is rubber with little grips on and it is so comfortable to hold. It is round but chunky so if you have to hold this and a hair dryer you won't be worried about dropping it as it's very easy to grip.
When using it for the first time it did take me a while to get used to how to position my hair on this to make it work properly. I had to work out the best way to pull it through my hair to have it work, if I had it too close to my scalp I would find bits of my hair would get tangles at the end and it was really painful and very frustrating as it would cause more frizz than previously! But after a few attempts I was able to work out how to use it best for me and now it's just effortless to use.
The main purpose of this brush was to cut back time and to give me smooth hair without taking away volume and I can say without a doubt that this hair brush has done just that! I was really conscious about cutting back time but not wanting it to mean my hair looked a mess and I am so grateful for this hair brush! There is something about the way it is designed and the material used that makes it speed up the drying process as when you run this through your hair it uses the air within it to circulate and this helps your hair to dry. It definitely takes away the frizz too! Some of the reviews I read complained that it gave them more frizz in their hair but all I've noticed is it makes it really soft and sometimes a bit static-like but a little spray of a conditioning spray soon sorts that out and it then falls perfectly again. I am actually really amazed by this brush! At the moment I am using my old brush whilst I am in hospital and I really miss it as it takes twice as long without it and it has made me realise just how comfortable this hair brush is to use!
I do love this hair brush but I can see that there may be a drawback or two to be had. One is that it is such a long handle that it was difficult at first to hold it properly as it was hard to control it but you do adjust to this. I find that holding it closer to the head the better as you get better control. Also, if you do get this stuck in your hair if you don't concentrate or you're not sure how best to use it then it's really painful and can be difficult to get it out of your hair as you may be uncurling some of your hair from the bristles and then another strand of hair next to it can get caught up in it! This is so frustrating but now that I have got used to this hair brush it doesn't happen very often at all. I don't think that there are any other drawbacks.
+++What I love+++
Well I absolutely adore that it cuts down on my drying time! Time suddenly seems to run away with me, i don't know what it is about having children but there are not enough hours in the day! I find it hard to believe that before Millie I used to spend an hour or so every morning getting ready. Now i'm lucky if I have ten minutes! I really miss being able to spend time on myself but it is great that there are products out there that can help to save time and this one definitely does. It is a great help and really does improve the drying time, I would say it now takes about 8 minutes to dry my hair whereas previously it was more like 12 and every minute counts for me in the mornings! I really like how comfortable it is to hold, the handle is really well designed with the rubber grooves in it so you can grip it really well. I think that the size of the bristles are perfect for my hair and help to tame it, if i had thicker hair or wanted lots of volume then I think the next size up would be good but for me this size is just right. It definitely helps to keep it straight, I don't use straighteners now as this really helps to keep it straight but wthout all the fuss of using something which is frying my hair! I also love the colour of it, it's pink and black but the pink is like a raspberry pink and this has little stripes of it through the handle too and it just looks really lovely, so much more interesting than a normal hair brush!
I spent £6 on this brush and I think it was more than worth it! There are similar brushes in my local supermarket at the moment for twice the price so i think I got a really good deal. I really like this brush it has so many positives. I think if you're fed up spending lots of time trying to dry your hair and then have to spend time straightening it too then you should look at buying one of these as it cuts down how long you need to dry your hair for and also means I don't have to straighten mine either as this works well at taking the frizz away. The only thing i would suggest is buying some conditioning spray or straigtening spray so that it helps to take the static out of your hair as sometimes this brush likes to add it in and that isn't a good look! I also like the name as it sounds like hedgehog which this brush is like as it's so bristly! I am really pleased that I bought this and highly recommend it. It's available on Amazon now in the four different sizes starting from £4.95 which i think is a very reasonable price to pay indeed. I am very pleased with this brush.
I am not a fan of dummies and I never needed to use any when Millie was a baby. I was pleased because I have friends who say it's very difficult to get a baby to give up their dummy and sometimes they end up waking in the night because they lose it and things so I was glad to not need one the first time round. This time, however, Sophie is not quite as easy a baby as Millie was! I am really struggling to find ways to keep her satisfied and so I decided to buy a dummy to see if it would help. Although these dummies look good quality I am not very satisfied with them, they haven't lived up to what I had hoped for!
There's quite a lot of debate around dummies, actually there's lots of debates about pretty much anything baby-related as it seems like you can debate anything from what pushchair is best to whether you believe in control crying or not. Never have I experienced so much debate and judgement than I have in motherhood! Anyway, I was always a bit worried about using dummies because I often hear people criticise them for making a baby be too reliant upon them or actually causing sleepless nights or having their teeth grow wrong or something. I suppose as with many things for every negative point there is a positive one too. The main purpose of a dummy is to help give your baby some comfort as it leads your baby to create the suckling motion like when they are feeding and it may also help with teething too so they can have a chew on it which can help with the pain of teething. There are lots to choose from too with them appearing in different sizes and some have little pictures on too so if you do choose to use a dummy you will have lots of choice.
Baby Sophie just doesn't seem to enjoy sleeping and doesn't seem to know what she wants. I have really struggled over the last couple of weeks to get to know her and work out what her cries mean but at the moment I'm at a loss. It feels so helpless and also frustrating to not be able to settle her. Quite often if I give her a bottle she is content but then she will fall asleep on it and the milk dribbling out wakes her up so I thought that perhaps she isn't hungry when she is on the bottle like this but rather actually just liking the suckling motion. I decided that perhaps I could try getting her a dummy so that she could suck on it and then fall asleep but not be disturbed by the milk like she would in a bottle. I really hoped that this would help her. If you're reading this review and have any other tips please, please let me know!!
I have used MAM bottles before and so I do like this brand. When I went to Tesco's to look for a dummy I saw that MAM have several different ones to try. They had some with pictures on but I chose the most basic looking ones as I don't really want Sophie to look like she's being blinged up with a dummy. In the packet that I bought you get two dummies in a little case. These are very similar to the picture. One is all pink and the other is a very pale pink with a mid pink middle. They have lots of air holes in around them, some big, some little. They have a little plastic guard that you slip on to protect the teat and they both fit into the little plastic case which is useful for keeping them safe and clean.
As mentioned above these dummies have lots of air holes in which make it look like a pattern- four large ones and then lots of little ones in a circle so it is discrete. It is also shaped in a way that fits against the lips very gently. It is slightly rounded which means that when in place it doesn't rub up against the nose or lie flat on the lips which would cause it to rub still. I can see why people like these dummies for the shape of them is very good. It also has a special anti slip on the teat itself which helps it to stay in the baby's mouth apparently. I can't compare this to any other brands but apparently it is unique to MAM and is the softest sillicone teat around! It apparently always adapts to the position of the baby's mouth and has passed all kinds of tests to make it safe as well as good for the development of the teeth and jaw. It is nice to see that a lot of design elements have gone into this product considering it could be used constantly by your baby.
Baby Sophie using it
I always sterilise these before using them. Anything that goes in Sophie's mouth I try to do so. This is easy to do in the steriliser and then I pop it in the case to keep it clean when she isn't using it. The first time we used the dummy I was really surprised by how big it looked! These are suitable from 0 months plus but it looked really big against her little face and I was worried it would be uncomfortable and bump up against her nose but actually it didn't thanks to the shape of it. When she first had it in she sucked at it eagerly and then seemed distraught that the suckling wasn't producing milk. She screamed- a lot! I tried it with her a few times and eventually she seemed to get some comfort from it and would begin to fall asleep with it in her mouth. It got to the point that I would lie in bed and listen to her suckling and hope that she would doze off but then i would hear the suckling stop and I would hold my breath wondering if she was asleep or if she'd just spat it out. A few times it would have dropped out and she would soon stir and begin whimpering. Over the last two weeks I think it has only been successful about twice in helping her to go to sleep which is so disappointing and even then I have been on edge listening for the suckling to stop. If I ever try this during the day she won't have it at all, it only seems at night that she will tolerate it for any length of time which is odd. During the day she just gets frustrated as though she really just wants a bottle.
At the moment I have decided to not keep trying with these dummies as they don't seem to be comforting her like I had hoped for. I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong as such like maybe if she is pushing it away and screaming I take it away or do I persist and hope that she gets used to the idea of it giving comfort but right now it seems like she is more frustrated by it than anything and if she does ever tolerate it when she then does fall asleep she is upset if it drops out of her mouth!
At the moment I am unsure whether to carry on with trying to help Sophie to learn how to accept the dummy in the hope that it will give her some comfort. At the moment it doesn't seem like it is going to work and I do wonder how my friends managed to get their babies to fall asleep with one, all this talk about children being addicted to their dummies and I can't even get Sophie to keep it in for long at all!
I can see that these are good dummies which are made very well. They do seem soft and the shape of them is ideal for little faces. I still find that they do look a little too big for such a small baby but I suppose if I was to stick with them then in no time they would probably look too small as they grow so amazingly fast!
I am glad that I bought them to give them a go but I don't think that they are going to be for Sophie which is a shame as I was hoping she could find some comfort in suckling on one. I am tempted to try another brand but all of my friends say that these ones are the best.
I hope to find another way to comfort Sophie seeing as these aren't working. I'm not sure what else to try and it feels rather helpless on my part not knowing how to comfort my own baby but it seems that at night time she is only happy if she's falling asleep on a bottle but then she gets disturbed by the milk escaping as she sleeps! It is a shame that these dummies don't work for us but maybe it is saving me the problems in the long term of then trying to wean her off them.
It seems a long time since we bought this toothbrush for Millie. Whilst we were out in Boots a few days ago Millie saw this very toothbrush and was very excited by it saying that we should buy one for Baby Sophie. It brought back so many memories of when we'd bought this the first time round, how we'd tried to help Millie to learn how to brush her teeth and how grown up she'd seemed! I have just purchased another one for Baby Sophie even though I know it won't be for a few more years yet until she will be using it.
=== Teeth brushing ===
We all know how important it is to brush our teeth and as adults we just take it for granted that it's part of the routine that you do on a daily basis but for children it's a harder concept to accept at first. Teethbrushing is so important so that your teeth can be as healthy as possible and when Millie got her first tooth I was quick to start brushing it. When I did, however, she would become upset and try to push the brush away. It came to a point that she would start to whimper and become upset just by me getting the toothbrush out. A few friends said that I should have introduced the toothbrush earlier, even before she had teeth so that it was just part of the routine and so I hope that this time round I will do that with Sophie so it doesn't seem such a shock that I'm suddenly starting to brush her new teeth when they come through!
=== Mam tooth brush ===
I bought the toothbrush from Boots for Millie and again the latest one was also from Boots. There were different colours available but I bought pink (both times!) The toothbrush is quite a chunky one and has a bit of a wider handle than the other ones which is why it appealed to be originally. The handle is short so it is much more practical for little hands to hold and it has little raised patches on it at the bottom which is apparently a tongue cleaner but we have never used this part. The handle isn't just straight up and down but is a bit wavy which makes it look more appealing but I also think that this makes it easier for a little hand to grip. The head of the toothbrush is only small and slightly rounded which means that it is perfect for their little mouths- if you go too far then you won't be hurting them by jabbing them in the cheek because this is nicely rounded at the end rather than squared off like an adult's toothbrush is. The bristles are very soft but still firm so that they will still perform a scrubbing action but in a much softer fashion.
=== Using the brush in a little mouth ===
Sophie is only tiny still but I have actually introduced the toothbrush to her. We are yet to find any teeth to brush but every evening as part of the bed time routine (which is still chaotic and not very relaxing!) I do let her look at the toothbrush and try and hold it. I put it to her lips and she has had a little feel of the bristles with her gums. I am hoping that this is introducing her to the idea nice and early. When we used this toothbrush with Millie I found it really easy to use because of the shape of the head, I didn't worry that I was going to hurt her with it and the length of the handle meant I had good control when using it. When Millie would have a go at brushing her teeth herself she didn't have a problem with gripping it and I've got several pictures of her sitting with it in her mouth suckling on the bristles. It was a difficult thing for her to understand at first as she would want to just suck it and it was hard to get to her teeth as she would be sucking. We tried a few ways to get her to open her mouth properly and the best way was to make her giggle and then we would 'tickle her teeth' and we made it into a bit of a game. Eventually she became used to teeth brushing time but it did take a couple of weeks until she realised it wasn't scary and wouldn't hurt her. The fact that the toothbrush looks appealing I think helped as it is very bright and pink. I think the length of the bristles were very good I never had a problem making sure that all sides of her teeth were brushed properly so although it's small so it would fit into her mouth well it wasn't so small t hat it didn't cover the area. We never used the tongue brushing part, I don't even remember it on Millie's so perhaps it is a new addition.
=== Conclusion ===
I brush my teeth twice a day and don't think about it, it's just part of the routine and so when I introduced it to Millie and she didn't like it I was really surprised. Since then I have learnt and hope that this time round Sophie won't be quite as afraid of the new routine. The tooth brush is a very good one, there's something about it's shape, the short handle and the nicely rounded end of the brush which makes it very easy to use so perfect for little mouths. We have had other toothbrushes since for Millie but I still think that this one was one of the best we have had and I know before long we will be using it properly with Sophie too. It is very well designed and doesn't look intimidating to children because it is nice and bright. I recommend it and also advise to try to make it seem like a fun task which will help to take away that intimidation which some children associate with teeth brushing time like Millie used to.
I have just started using these sleep suits for baby Sophie who is now in size Tiny Baby clothes. I was bought these when she was born and I thought they were really sweet they are from Mothercare. Now that she can wear them it's really lovely as they are so cute. I had a very similar design when Millie was a baby but these seem to be the more 'up to date' version so when I see Sophie in these it reminds me of when Millie was little. I really like them, they are very good quality and a good fit.
---What's in the pack?---
Within this pack you get 3 sleepsuits which in the pack I have are size tiny baby. You can also buy them in all sizes up to 18-24 so something for all babies! There are boy versions available too but these are no mistakingly very girlie! What I like most about them is that they are a little different- instead of the fastening poppers up the front they are at angles down the sides (on two anyway) which I think makes them look nicer as the patterns are not interrupted with buttons. One design does have the poppers down the front and this one is a raspberry pink with dark pink spots all over it. The other designs are similar in terms of colours. One has stripey sleeves, a white body, a pink popper section and a little motif of an elephant with a speech bubble coming out of it which says "I heart Mummy". The other one has is a pale pink with a darker pink collar and popper section this has a little tiny dark pink bird with a speech bubble that says "DADDY".
These sleepsuits have little built in scratch mits which you just fold over their hands and it protects them. This is so much easier than using actual scratch mits which Sophie just likes to somehow rub off and we keep losing them! These are so much better. I think they come on the first few sizes and then the larger sizes don't have them. The toe area is well designed it seems to be slightly wider and it looks like it fits much more comfortably than other brands do. They are made from 100% cotton and that explains why these are so soft to touch especially when they have been washed in the tumble dryer. Them being made from cotton is really important as it helps the skin to breathe which regulates body temperature so really important for little babies. So far I have washed these several times and they have remained in very good condition and shape.
---Sophie wearing them---
I always find sleep suits are very easy to use. They are so practical and help keep everything together. Sophie has a few 'proper' clothes but so far she has only been in sleepsuits and vests because they're just so much easier whilst she is so little. I have to admit that although I do love the design with the poppers down the side they are not quite as easy to put on than the ones with the poppers down the front as they don't lie flat. It is a little challenge to make sure that Sophie's foot is in the furthest away leg section and sometimes we have to have a couple of attempts but we always get there in the end! The poppers are easy to fasten, occasionally if I change her whilst she's asleep she will stir due to the poppers but usually she does stay asleep. The fit of these is very good although I think they are slightly bigger than other shop brand sizes of 'tiny baby' but this is fine as it means she will get more wear out of them and it's better for them to be too big than too small. Sometimes Sophie has a little wriggle around and her foot has appeared out of the space where the poppers don't meet and I think this is something to do with there being a little bit too much room in them. It's never disturbed her though which is strange as you'd think having your foot sticking out of a little hole would be uncomfortable but apparently not for a baby...! They do feel very comfortable because the fabric is so soft to touch and once we've got round the slightly more awkward positioning of the foot thanks to the side poppers it is a lovely outfit. The colours are really nice, soft raspberries and pale pinks that match really well. I think she looks very sweet wearing these.
---Compared to other brands---
Comparing these to other brands I think the quality is very good and I suppose you would expect that given that Mothercare is a shop which charges slightly higher than supermarkets and is a shop dedicated to baby-type products. The price of a packet of these is about £15 but you can sometimes find them on an offer of buy one pack get another at half price which then makes it very similar to the supermarkets. I think compared to the likes of Sainsbury's and Tesco's (Where I buy most of the children's clothes) that these are much better in terms of how well they wash. As I say they have been through the wash several times now and are still very soft, there is no sign of them bobbling up or shrinking or losing colour so I really like this. I know babies grow out of clothes very quickly but it's nice to have the clothes actually come out of the wash well. I think the shape of the toes is also better than the supermarket brands, it's as though it's been really well designed for a baby's comfort.
I don't normally buy Mothercare products because of the price difference compared to supermarket brands but when I do get them I really like them. I am pleased that I was bought this pack as they are very cute and the quality is great. One of my favourite features of these sleepsuits is the fact that the poppers are up the sides on two of them I like how it adds a different pattern/style to the sleepsuits although it does make it a little fiddly to get legs in and it is always much harder to change a nappy without waking the baby! The fit of these is slightly bigger than other brands but they do look very comfortable and was well. They are nice and soft against baby's skin and because they're 100% cotton it helps Sophie's skin to breathe. I like the pictures on these as they're really cute, the colours are lovely. It's nice to have girlie clothes which isn't just flowers. In my opinion these are really lovely sleepsuits which I'm pleased I was bought and I am giving them 5 stars.
I have just read this book and I loved it. I couldn't stop reading it and now I miss it!! I want to read more about Samantha! If you're looking for a book to read that is light hearted and funny yet has some depth to it too then check this out! It's brilliant!
Sophie Kinsella has written many books, some of her work is under her other name of Madeline Wickham. You may know her best for her Shop-a-holic series which was made into a film. Her style of writing is very chick-lit but has lots of humour and storylines that are a little less predictable than the usual chick lit books. She is one of my favourite authors.
The undomestic goddess is all about someone who has no clue how to even turn on her own oven yet suddenly finds herself accepting a job as a housekeeper. The main character is called Samantha and she is a lawyer in a top London firm. Her dreams have always been to become a partner with the firm and this is all she has ever focussed on. Her life is very, very hectic, she spends endless hours working and hasn't had a weekend off in years let alone a holiday. She is forever working but doesn't know any different so doesn't mind. On the day that she is due to find out if she is partner or not it suddenly becomes apparent that she has made a terrible mistake on one of her client's accounts and this mistake has cost them millions. In a daze, Samantha runs away. She gets on a train, ends up in a random village and gets taken in by a rather eccentric couple who mistake her for their new housekeeper. Too weary and dazed to explain who she really is Samantha finds herself accepting the job. She then has to try to learn how to cook, how to clean and things! She has help from the gardener Nathanial who she soon falls in love with and they begin to have a relationship. Meanwhile though she is constantly thinking about the mistake she made and wishing she could change things but at the same time she is appreciating having weekends away from working, nights off and actually being cared about by somebody. She does look into what her mistake was, she cannot help herself logging on to the computer and having a look at the Internet and then she realises that perhaps things are not quite so clear about her mistake. She then tries to set things straight.
This story is very easy to read. It is one which you can lie back on a beach or take to bed with you and lose yourself in without needing to look up long words or get your head around a complicated story. With saying this, it isn't just a flimsy love story either, there are various technical details to do with the law and things but these are not hard to get your head around and aren't constantly throughout the book. I would find that once I read one chapter I found it hard to not carry on and read the next, it was written in a way which made me really want to know what happened next and so often I would read this far longer than I intended to!
Opinion of the book
What I found made this book so enjoyable was the characters. They were really brilliantly created! They were really funny! They were quite eccentric at times and sometimes predictable in what they said/did but this made it exciting to read as it meant when something happened I would think oh no! What will they think to that! And so forth! I thought they were really funny and I liked the relationships between them, it was quite touching at times. Sometimes chick lit books are predictable but this wasn't really and it wasn't full of stories we've all read before, it was a little different and this made me enjoy it even more. I seriously could not put this book down, it was written in a way which flowed brilliantly, I didn't once get confused as to where we were or what was being spoken about so it was the kind of book that wasn't a struggle to get my head around which is what I like. When I read a book I like something easy to understand. The descriptions in this book were not over the top, they were just right and the flow of it was quite fast which made it enjoyable too, there was no time to get bored.
I really enjoyed reading this. I didn't guess the ending and I liked how there were several themes throughout the book about how she felt about her career, how she changed a bit, her relationships and so on. It made a very enjoyable read. If you have enjoyed Sophie Kinsella books before then you will love this and if you haven't then this is a good one to read to introduce you to her style.
I bought this car seat several years ago before Millie was born and am now using it again with baby Sophie. Because this car seat is such good quality, was never in an accident I saw no reason to buy a new one for when our second baby arrived. It is definitely a very good buy. At the time of buying it we were shocked by the expense but now I realise it has been very good value for money considering we have now used it for two babies and whilst it's in use we constantly use it.
=== Choosing a car seat ===
Newborn babies who travel home via car have their car seats checked by a midwife upon leaving hospital (or at least they do here!) the midwife helps the new mum to the car and checks that baby is secured properly and this is because car safety is extremely important for a new born. Before having Millie I didn't know anything about car seats, didn't know if they faced forward or backwards, if they went in the front or the back, how they were attached, what kind of price they would be... nothing! When I think about it I'm amazed how much I just did not know about before having a baby! When I was about 20 weeks pregnant we went to Toys R Us to look at their car seats and I was surprised that there are several different brands that you can buy. I had hoped I could just go in and pick one off the shelf and away we go but no it's much more complicated than that and I understand why. Choosing a car seat that works for you is really important and it's also vital that you get it fitted properly. We chose this brand in the end because it looked very well padded, it was adaptable to the pushchair that we were going to use and the members of staff said it was one of the safest. When we chose this a member of staff fitted it in our car and showed us how it worked. It doesn't just fit in with a complicated mechanism but fits on a base that you fit first and this just looked so practical I was really pleased. It cost us £110 for the seat and a further £80 for the base. I was absolutely shocked by the price it just seemed like an awful lot of money and there were other brands that we could have bought that were cheaper but for the reasons listed above we thought this was best for us.
I think when choosing a car seat the things you need to look for are whether it will fit in your car, will you be able to fit it each time, are you happy with the safety aspect of it and how long will it fit the baby for. This is a first size seat so it said it would be suitable until the baby is about 20lb so around 9-12 months but there are others that last for longer.
===Fitting the seat===
With other car seats you fit the seat to your car so each time you get it out you have to disconnect it and then when you put it in you need to fit it again, to me this seems like a lot of hassle but this seat is different. You can buy this seat as cabriofix or isofix. We had the cabriofix one. This basically is the kind of connection you have in the car, if your car is not fitted with Isofix then you will need Cabriofix and this will fit in any car. You don't fit the seat but you fit a base and the seat clips into the base with ease. The base is a heavy, sturdy, piece which sits on the seat of the car and is fastened in. You use your seatbelt to secure it in place and I found it a little difficult at first but eventually it was really easy to do- it's like with most things, you just have to practice a couple of times and it will be fine. This base then sits on the seat and you put the car seat into this base. When the car seat is in the right place a little green dot appears so you know that it is secure. To lift it out you simply pull a lever at the back of the seat, see the green dot turn to red and then lift the seat upwards. This means you can remove the seat with your baby in it in a matter of seconds with no messing around. It's really such a great way to fit the seat I am so pleased with this how it fits. Now that I'm using it with Baby Sophie I can see how amazing this fitting is as I have even less time so wouldn't have the time to attach it all back whilst Millie waits and chances are the messing around would wake the baby up. This really is a very good selling point of this seat and it also makes the seat very secure and in place.
===As baby travels===
This car seat has a 'head hugger' which is an insert that is within the seat which has extra padding and head support. This is for when your baby is tiny, as your baby grows it will fill the space and you can remove the head hugger to give them more space. This is so well padded it was one of the first things I noticed when buying this seat as it just felt so comfortable. The seat has padded sides which protect your baby. The straps are expendable so that you can make them longer when your baby is bigger and it's easy to do just by pulling the straps and you then tighten them once baby is in by pulling the excess strap beneath the seat. It is important to make sure your baby is tightly secured, if there is excess straps then they are not as protected. It is always advised to put the blankets over the straps and not under too so that the straps are tighter. The straps have little padded cushions on them which you can take off if you wish but it makes them much more comfortable especially if your baby falls asleep and leans against them. This car seat faces backwards and this is something which is required by law- your baby must face backwards in a first size seat. Baby Sophie so far is travelling in this really well, she seems very comfortable and snug and has had lots of little sleeps whilst in here. I don't worry that she looked squashed or in an awkward position, it really does look comfortable and I remember being the same with Millie.
Whilst Sophie is in here I can take this seat and connect it to the set of wheels we have so from getting her out of the car I don't even need to wake her by moving her from one item to another like I would if she had a separate pram. Also, if I want to carry this then I can do by using the carrying handle. This can be pushed backwards so it is out of the way if you don't want to use it and it does give a little click when it has gone all the way back and this can wake baby so be warned! When it is sunny I pull out the sun shield which is tucked behind the seat and connects onto the handle. This gives a good amount of protection from the glare of the sun so when I think about it I think that this seat is really well designed with lots of baby practicalities thought through.
=== Cleaning it ===
The only downside with this seat is that it s difficult to clean but I think this is likely to be the case with all car seats. The material on the seat varies depending upon what the seat is you've bought but the one I have is a charcoal grey with little textured parts on it and so it is quite difficult to clean as if crumbs or bits of milk or baby sick gets into these textured parts it's really difficult to get it out. The head hugger removes so you can sponge it down better and can hoover beneath it if you wish and you can wipe it all down but it is really difficult to get it completely washed. I was lucky that Millie wasn't a sickly baby so we didn't have many incidents of trying to clean this seat but it is not the most straight forward to do.
I haven't ever used a different car seat so I can't compare this to other brands, I have never been tempted to try a different brand because I have always been so happy with this. It is a really very good brand and I am so happy that i bought it.
This car seat was really well designed with lots of things in mind, it isn't just a car seat but a comfortable and practical way to transport your baby safely. It has a sun visor built in that I didn't actually know about until Millie was about 3 months old and I saw other people with this car seat with one and I wondered where they got it from I had no idea it actually came with it! It is such a good idea and it was great to find! The extra padding is vital when your baby is tiny and it's great that this can be removed when they grow. At the moment, even with this padding, Baby Sophie looks really tiny in it but I know that before long she too will be filling this car seat!
Without a doubt the best part of this car seat is how easy it is to fit in your car. It is a fantastic idea that it is the base that you fit and the car seat just slots into it. This saves time and effort. I see some parents struggling with their car seats, trying to connect them back in whilst it's raining on them and their other children are complaining and it's great to know I can just pop it in the base and it's done! It is great how you just take it out and it will then connect onto the wheels we have or you can put it in a supermarket trolley. It is very practical.
Thinking of drawbacks I would say the fact it is difficult to clean is one and also it is really quite heavy. I know car seats have to be heavy to be safe but it is difficult when you are weak from having just given birth to then carry this as it can be heavy and after a few minutes of carrying it it can make you feel tired especially when the baby gets bigger and begins to fill it! The first few times I lifted it out of the base it was a bit awkward so that was something that was frustrating at first, I would find it hard to pull the lever with one hand whilst lifting it up with the other but over time I got used to it and was soon able to do this in a matter of seconds and I still think that it was faster than having to disconnect it all like you would with other brands.
In summary, I think that this is a brilliant car seat. Millie was in this until she was 12 months old as she was only small. I think babies have to be 21lb before they move into the next stage or have their heads over the top of the seat and she was in it for the first year of her life. Baby Sophie is a month old and will probably be in it for around a year too so when I think about it I think the price we paid was a very good one as we will have 2 year's worth of use out of it and it is just so practical and functional it is brilliant.
I highly recommend this car seat if you have a new baby.
My tiny baby is now just over 10 days old and doing really well. During these last 10 days we have had the chance to dress her lots and her wardrobe is rather limited but at least what it does consist of is very good quality items that fit her needs and her size very well. We bought these sleepsuits from Mothercare before she was born when we knew she was going to be small and I thought they were rather dull but now I can see just how practical they are and how cute they look on her that I can really see their benefits.
==Buying premature clothes==
One thing I found when looking for clothes for an early baby is that you don't have much choice at all. Mothercare is a huge brand so you would expect lots from them which is why I went to their website first to look for clothes for her. I was really surprised by the lack of items they have, in the premature section there were 13 items and the majority of these were things like hats and scratch mits. In terms of clothing there were two sets of sleepsuits- one for boys, one for girls and two sets of vests- again one for boys and one for girls. I was really surprised. Also surprising is that there is nothing in neutral. I assume it's because people who have premature babies generally don't know in advance so only buy these clothes once the baby has arrived but I still think it's rather strange to just have pink and blue options. We bought them in both pink and blue seeing as we didn't know what the baby would be and figured it wouldn't really matter and they would be used anyway but I would have preferred to buy neutral. I am sure there are other options on other pages but I thought Mothercare would be very reliable and so didn't bother to look elsewhere.
==What you get==
Within this set you get 3 tiny sleep suits. These come in 3 different patterns. One is white with little pink clouds, one is just pale pink and the other is pale pink stripes with fawn accents- the blue pack is the same but with blue. These sleepsuits are different to others as they are more like romper suits as they don't have enclosed feet. I am not sure if this is a summer design or if it's because premature babies need to have easy access to them so the feet need to be available. They do look very, very cute and are very soft to touch.
A baby in a premature unit often needs lots of care and may have machines and wires and tubes feeding through to them so they need clothing which is suitable for this kind of early beginning. These sleep suits are designed with the needs of a new baby in mind, it is very cleverly thought through. Instead of having poppers to fasten it they have little soft hook and eyes so that you can undress the baby without it disturbing them. I find them really easy to do and think all sleep suits should be like this! They also un do all the way down, I think most sleep suits do, but this means it lies completely flat so you can dress the baby easier. The label is also on the outside so it won't irritate their skin. These are all really little details but they are very important ones and since my baby has worn them I can really appreciate what difference these things make.
==Modelling the suits==
Baby Sophie looks very cute in these whether it is the blue ones or the pink ones they both look lovely! They are designed to fit a baby of 4lb. Sophie was nearer to 5lb when born but lost weight rather quickly and these fit absolutely fine even with the odd piece of medical equipment feeding in there too. They are a very good size which surprised me to be honest as I used to find Mothercare clothing to be too big but these are very well designed. I have found it quite scary dressing such a small baby and thinking that I will hurt her as she is so tiny but these sleep suits have enabled me to dress her as easily as possible and without much hassle. There have been times that I have been able to dress her without her even waking up as very little jiggling around needs to be done.
We have only had these in use for 11 days so I shall update my review when necessary to see how well they last, however, so far they have been washed extremely well. They are designed to handle the very high hospital wash of 95degrees and they have come out of the wash several times and remained in very good condition and just as soft. To be honest you probably won't need to wash these all that long anyway as your baby will soon be in the next size up but it is very good to know that you can put them through the hospital wash and they will still remain in very good condition.
== Conclusion ==
These sleepsuits were rather boring when I looked at them on the website. I had been hoping for something more interesting with pictures on but actually now these are in use I really love them, I like how well designed they are with the needs of a new baby who may be requiring specialist attention at the forefront. These have proven to be very good and very practical. I think it is a shame that Mothercare didn't have more on offer to choose from. These cost £14 which is actually a very good price to pay for something which is so very well designed so I'm happy with that price.