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If someone had told me this is what lunchtimes would involve, I wouldn’t have believed them

She might have just turned 3, but BB is itching to start school. She asks me daily what colour her uniform will be (I don’t know because it depends which over-subscribed school we actually manage to get her into), who will collect her and pick her up (again I don’t know because it depends how far away said school is) and can she go to the school in Time For School on Cbeebies (at last a question I can actually answer – no.) Being an August baby by this time next year she will be in reception class, but until then I’ve got to come up with ways to satisfy her school curiosity or suffer death by questioning. So when aplaceforeverything.co.uk asked me to review LEGO’s latest lunch box set, launched to celebrate the release of the LEGO movie, I had an idea: we could start, like school, having ‘packed lunch’ at home (pictured). This is a brilliant idea, even if I do say so myself. I realise it’s a total waste of cling film, but the look on her face as she unwraps each item and says ‘wow’ is worth it (also pictured). […]

By |September 15th, 2014|Family life, Food, Money, Parenting, Reviews, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Aldi maternity clothes: you could get more than you bargained for

As a forces child I spent several years living in Germany, where our local supermarket was Aldi. I used to like going there because of the bins of totally non-supermarket and often pointless items, like watering cans in the shape of gnomes and solar sunflowers for the garden we didn’t have, which ran up the middle of the shop. As of next week those UK bins are now going to contain a ‘capsule’ collection of maternity and baby clothes, and I’ve been sent a few by way of sneak preview. There are dresses (£11.99, pictured), leggings (£6), tops (£9.99) and even a nappy changing bag (£14.99). The range is part of Aldi’s ‘specialbuys’ collection, which go in store every Thursday and Sunday and are only available while stocks last. It will be interesting to see how long these stocks last. […]

By |September 12th, 2014|Beauty, Breast feeding, Family life, Fashion, Parenting, Pregnancy, Reviews|0 Comments

Pregnancy after multiple miscarriage: it’s no surprise my waist has expanded this week

Week: 32 Waist: 38.5 inches (+0.5 inches) Feeling: Crampy legged I’m pleased to be able to report my craving for chicken soup now appears to have passed. In fact I don’t think I’ll be eating any for a very long time. Instead I’m eating and drinking other things it would never occur to me to consume normally, like squash (the liquid kind). I’ve been ridiculously thirsty throughout the entire pregnancy, and lately I’ve really been fancying squash, which I haven’t drunk for years. So when the nice people at Vimto kindly sent me some samples of their new no added sugar Squeezy water enhancer they came at the perfect time. […]

Pregnancy after multiple miscarriage: hello third trimester

Week: 28 Waist: 37 inches (-0.5 inches…again!) Feeling: Coming down with a cold, worst luck The quest for decent maternity clothes continues. When I was expecting BB in 2011 there was a plethora of inspiring ranges to choose from, and I remember having to rein myself in to curb the spending. What’s changed? Last month I ordered four tops from H&M – nothing fancy, several vests and a ‘smart’ top – but the fabric was so thin it was virtually transparent so I sent them straight back again. Instead I’ve spent the last few weeks in a (non-maternity) maxi dress from Peacocks, which is just the ticket in this hot weather. Sadly this isn’t going to see me into autumn though, and it was while pondering this that I stumbled upon what actually appears to be a nice selection of affordable outfits to house my growing bump. And you’ll never guess where from: Asda. That’s right, you did read correctly. […]

What’s wrong with a big pot yoghurt poured into a bowl and eaten with a spoon?

It’s been almost 10 years since Ella’s Kitchen pioneered the squeezable ‘pouch puree’ baby food concept and despite claims the format is no match for real fruit/veg and is no substitute for a ‘proper meal’ blah blah blah it’s fair to say the market is now awash with copycat brands. Which is why I was surprised to discover that gourmet yoghurt brand The Collective’s new Suckies are the first fresh branded yoghurt pouches on the market for kids. You’d think Petits Filous or someone would have thought of it before – why has it taken so long? Needless to say BB’s eyes lit up when a polystyrene box full of samples landed on our mat for the purposes of review this week. Like Ella’s Kitchen, Suckies come in brightly coloured pouches which became instantly referred to by BB – and no doubt countless toddlers – as ‘the red one’ and the ‘green one’ as opposed to their proper names. […]

By |July 23rd, 2014|Family life, Food, Health, Money, Parenting, Recipes, Reviews, Weaning|0 Comments

Pregnancy after multiple miscarriage: I’ve gone over to the elastic side

Week: 25 Waist: 38 inches (+ 2 whole inches!!) Feeling: Properly pregnant owing to new ‘over the bump’ jeans My plan to make do with low-rise jeans for the duration of the pregnancy has been thwarted: the button on my Levi’s simply won’t stretch any further and, not wanting to ruin them, I’ve gone over to the elastic side. I’m talking full-on maternity jeans with an ‘over the bump’ elastic panel (below – I’ll spare you a picture of me actually in them – it’s not a pretty sight). Misery Guts laughed out loud when he saw them and I can’t say I blame him. They weren’t what I intended to buy at all. I intended to find a non-maternity pair that simply fitted, but when the sales assistant in JoJo Maman Bebe enthusiastically encouraged me to try them on I was too polite to refuse. Oh. Lordy. They are sooo comfortable I was instantly converted. I knew as soon as I pulled them up and before I looked in the mirror I had to have them – I didn’t care what they looked like. Like my over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder maternity bra, which also isn’t a pretty sight. […]

Days out in East Sussex: Drusillas Park

With the weather hotting up we’ve been making a concerted effort to explore the often-overlooked attractions right on our doorstep [...]

By |June 18th, 2014|Family days out, Family life, Money, Parenting, Reviews, Travel|4 Comments

Pregnancy after multiple miscarriage: it’s time to dress the bump

Week: 20 Waist: 35 inches Feeling: Optimistic with spells of nausea There’s no getting away from it: at 20 weeks pregnant it’s time to dress the bump. So far, being superstitious and fearing that buying maternity clothes will make something go wrong, I’ve cautiously bought a three-pack of maternity vests from New Look (pictured), but that’s not going to cut it for much longer. I’m literally busting out of everything else that involves a waist. A trip to both Mothercare and New Look left me decidedly underwhelmed – think dull coloured tops (Mothercare) and poor quality fabric (New Look). And I’m simply not prepared to spend Isabella Oliver-level cash on clothes I’ll wear for less than six months. Where are the hot pink tees and empire-line linens of my imagination? So I’m going to do exactly what I did when I was expecting BB: cover my bump with a maternity vest, stick to low rise jeans and take to the internet to find non-maternity clothes that can fit over the top. And I’m particularly pleased with one little find: Joe Browns. […]

I’m in drastic need of some hair-spiration

There’s something about going on holiday that makes you come back and want to start again, with a new refreshed outlook on life. It’s been more than a week since we returned from Portugal and I’m still doing my best to maintain that post-holiday glow, mainly by slapping on the after sun twice a day. But having actually had time to peruse the fashion mags filled with summer trends while on said holiday, I’ve had my annual ‘it’s high time to change something about my appearance’ attack. The problem is, I might be creative with the written word but I’m pretty useless when it comes to being creative fashion-wise. The whole thing frightens me. Take my hair for example; it’s been the same for years. The only time in the last four years I have deviated from a centre parting and straightened sides was on my wedding day (pictured), when I enlisted the help of someone who actually knew what they were doing, and last summer when my (very creative) friend neatly plaited it for me (also pictured). Even though she painstakingly told and showed me exactly what to do, I still can’t recreate those plaits. And I’ve tried, I really have. […]

By |June 4th, 2014|Beauty, Family life, Fashion, Parenting, Reviews|0 Comments

Top Bananas! The best family recipes ever

At last. It may have taken two years but Mumsnet has finally compiled a cookbook featuring Mumsnetter’s best recipes, which means no more bookmarking pages from the website and balancing my laptop precariously next to the kitchen sink while attempting to recreate the concoctions. The compendium of wise is called Top Bananas! and features the tried and tested recipes of more than 300 mums with dishes ranging from basic Broccoli Balls to Luscious Lamb Shanks. As well as speedy suppers you can create while simultaneously emptying the washing machine and doing general mum things, there’s proper meals for the grown-ups even Misery Guts is game to try. My favourite bit is the chapter devoted to unashamedly unhealthy but rite-of-passage party treats such as Ice Cream Cone Cakes and Party Toffee Popcorn, which will surely send the anti-sugar brigade into overdrive. I can’t actually remember the last time I saw such naughty recipes in a family cookbook – probably my mum’s good old 1980s Jane Asher party cakes book. […]

By |May 30th, 2014|Books, Family life, Food, Health, Parenting, Recipes, Reviews, Weaning|0 Comments

Rushing about with class bears and cameras: we’re all at it

We’re back. A week of lounging, swimming, eating and sleeping in Portugal (Timmy the class bear included, pictured) has done the trick: Misery Guts is (temporarily) less miserable, I’m (temporarily) less tired and BB is bursting with memories of ice cream licking and swimming pool splashing. The addition of Timmy to our party has certainly caused a stir among Mumsnetters. After my last post about class teddy bears having a lot to answer for – and letting the side down in spite of myself by taking the damn thing on holiday to snap in various enviable locations – featured as Mumsnet’s blog of the day, the Twitterati went mad. It seems we’re all at it – rushing around with kids, class mascots and cameras in tow in a bid to illustrate action-packed accounts of the bear’s stay at our house at a day’s notice. It’s like having homework all over again. Needless to say I haven’t actually written up Timmy’s diary entry or printed out the pictures yet – like homework, it’s still hanging over me to do. […]

By |May 28th, 2014|Family life, Food, Health, Parenting, Reviews, Travel|0 Comments

‘I’ve bought cheaper second hand cars than this pushchair’

At £450, I’ve bought cheaper second hand cars than Quinny’s latest Buzz pushchair, which parenting website Made For Mums has asked me to put through its paces and review for all the newbies out there. I thought I’d share my (highly scientific) findings with you too, in case you’re also in the market for a set of (mummy-powered) wheels. It might be pricey, but if trips out are going to involve a pushchair from now on, my advice is this: you might as well invest in one that’s going to see you through from birth. This one comes with everything you need to get started: the pushchair itself, a from-birth inlay, adaptors for a Maxi Cosi car seat or Quinny carry cot, a shopping basket that will comfortably hold two bags of supermarket shopping (pictured), a rain cover and a sun canopy. Oh, and a parasol clip. […]

By |May 12th, 2014|Exercise, Family life, Parenting, Reviews, Travel|2 Comments

A spring walk in the bluebells: Butcher’s Wood, West Sussex

If you're looking for the perfect place see spring time bluebells in all their glory I've got just the spot: Butcher’s [...]

Happy free-from Easter!

Following on from my last post about free-from sausages and how going without gluten and dairy doesn’t mean going without per se, it turns out the same can be said for chocolate. And Easter eggs. Until six months ago health food shops were alien to me: the sort of places that emit the same waft as you pass by the door (what is that smell? The ryvita? The flax?) and are piled high with daunting looking bags of unidentifiable brown stuff. Until I went in with a list written by my nutritional therapist and actually knew what I was looking for, that is. Admittedly chocolate was not on that list, however one cannot help but notice bright shiny chocolatey-looking packaging amongst the aforementioned unidentifiable brown stuff. And so I discovered Booja-Booja, which not only sells luxury chocolates and seasonal treats like Easter eggs (made in Kashmir and filled with truffles, pictured) but ice cream too. […]

By |April 16th, 2014|Family life, Food, Health, Parenting, Reviews|0 Comments

By’eck! I’ve just eaten a squasage

That’s right, a squasage. Also known as a square sausage. That’s what gluten free sausage brand Heck have been busy making in time for the barbecue season, because it doesn’t fall through the rungs of the grill only to be burned to a crisp and lost forever, or roll off the side of the barbie onto the grass (pictured). We haven’t dusted down our barbecue yet, so I’ve been eating mine between two soft and thick slices of (gluten free) bread. It may not look like a traditional sausage sandwich – as BB was fast to point out – but it tastes just the same and makes spreading the ketchup even easier. When embarking on Project No Nasties last autumn I thought living free-from would also mean going without, but when it comes to sausages I’ve found an ever better offering than the standard shelves. […]

By |April 14th, 2014|Family life, Food, Health, Parenting, Recipes, Reviews|0 Comments