I have to admit I find stocking fillers to be one of the most exciting things about Christmas. I really do! There is something about little gifts, knick knacks and things that are maybe just to put a smile on a family member’s face that excite me beyond belief. Both of my boys have huge stockings that I fill to the brim with chocolates, little gifts, useful things like socks and pants and even clementines! I have put together a list of stocking fillers for children to enjoy and delight in… I’ll let you do the fruit and chocolate for yourself!
As before from left to right:
1. Farmyard Nail transfers from Worldwide Co £4.95
Last year I bought these for Roo and I plan to buy some more this year as he loved them! There are loads of different styles but this was the one we had and everyone (including all of his preschool teachers!) loved them – plus, they lasted forever!
2. Earring Tattoos from B*Ink’d from $4.00
These are such a great stocking filler for a young girl who doesn’t have her ears pierced… or even a young boy!
3. Djeco stickers from £3.00
Stickers, can you really ever go wrong with them? These are my favourite from Djeco, you can get pretty much anything, but they are all super stylish and perfect for adding to drawings to make a really old story!
4. Nanoblock figures from £8.00
Nanoblocks are the newest craze, forget lego! Tiny blocks that you fit together to make one awesome toy – perfect for little crafters.
5. Magical slate from Moulin Roty £3.00
What child doesn’t love to draw and watch the image magically wipe away. These are the most stylish from Moulin Roty.
6. Djeco Origami faces £8.00
I love origami, especially for little ones. It’s the perfect way to get chilled out and craft without having lots of mess.
7. Dragon hand transfers from Worldwide Co £4.95
We also had a version of this last year, Roo thought it was hilarious to put on my hand and pretend to have a monster hand… it was wonderful fun.
8. Sonny Angels Xmas figures from €8.95
The ultimate collectors item, a great little gift for any child who loves figures or loves to have these beautiful Sonny Angel figures on display.
9. MIBO Paper pop out animals £7.00
I have recently bought the Christmas version of these (not for a stocking filler, but as a build up to Christmas craft) and they are very easy for children to do, but sturdy enough to play with (gently) afterwards!
10. Magical dragon eggs from MuddyFeet £5.57
Add a touch of magic to your child’s stocking.
11. 32 ways to dress a … colour pad from Wee Gallery $4.95
For the creative kids who love to draw. The possibilities are limitless with these little drawing books.
12. Scribble Downs scratch transfers activity pad £2.99
Do you remember these as children? I don’t but my boy’s godmother and I recently bought a few from a Christmas fair because she remembered them and said how much fun she thought they were as a child. This is ideal for the boys because they are still in that ‘scribble’ stage, but they can create the best pictures here!
What’s happening to baby this week?
Baby’s weight growth is beginning to increase while length growth is slowing down, but baby is around the same size as a large cabbage! The lungs and digestive tract are almost fully developed,and can track light from inside your uterus now. If you shine a light on your stomach, baby may well follow it (it’s something to give a go while you are lying in bed at night!) Though this founds like baby’s vision is well developed, she won’t be able to see much when she is born with only a distance of 20-30cm. The volume of amniotic fluid is decreasing as baby gets bigger and take up more room in the uterus. Breathlessness isn’t unusual at this stage of pregnancy as your uterus is squashing your diaphragm! This should ease off at around 34 weeks for most women.
The reality: How have I been feeling this week?
Ha. Breathless? No. High up? No. This baby is down low and pushing more on my cervix than on my diaphragm… though she does have a tendency to bob up and down, over the last few days she has been a bit higher. I haven’t had anymore pains fortunately but I am hoping that baby is planning on coming a little bit early if she insists on riding so low all the time!
Stomach accident, constipation and farting are the names of the game this week… I’m one sexy beast if ever there has been one! I’m also beginning to feel that heels are a no go, unfortunately I feel that after an evening out I have hippo feet that are so filled with fluid I can’t wriggle my toes without hearing sloshing. Great for the party season!
Chilli as always, but unfortunately I have still gone off food a little bit this week… I am eating like a piglet, but nothing really excites me anymore. How depressing at this time of year!
The bad, adorable and downright funny.
My husband came and gave me a kiss on the cheek just before we got into bed and said, ‘Thank you darling, thank you so much.’ I was totally confused and replied, ‘What for?’ to which he replied, ‘Farting in the door way before you came up the stairs so I was hit in the face with a great waft just before I came up… you are a lovely wife!’…. Hmmm, no sexy time tonight then.
I had another scan this week! So exciting! Not only did I get to see baby in a wonderful 4D scan, but I also got to see a bit of her personality… stubborn and cheeky, keeping her hands in front of her face, no matter what we did!
Though my energy is a bit better, I’m struggling with the lesser effects of iron tablets… needless to say it isn’t too pleasant.
I have put together a little gift guide for girls, though because I abhor gender stereotypes I couldn’t help but add that this could be for boys too! Toby would no doubt love a lot of these things as he always seems to like the ‘girls’ products just as much as he does his cars! So, my 2014 guide gift for girls!
From left to right:
1. Janod Portable bakery £59.99
I love portable wooden sets, they are perfect for Mamas who can’t stand loads of clutter (me) and for little ones who want to take things with them (every child!!) This bakery is the perfect patisserie for any little lady!
2. Victorian Doll House from Plan Toys £249.99
I love Plan Toys, there is something so wonderful about knowing that not only have you got a wonderfully designed dollhouse, but also a purchase that gives back to the community it was made in and has been made in a genuinely ethical way. Read up on Plan toys here.
3. Little Bu wristlet nail polish gift set £75.00
This is the ultimate set from Little Bu, the amazing non toxic and wash off nail polish. I love love love it! Little Bu have provided 1 top coat, 1 base coat, a nail care kit and 8 gorgeous colours in this pack. Perfect!
4. Seedling Make your own Dolly kit £24.00
Children love to make and design things, there really isn’t anything more fun. This is one of my favourite Create it Yourself sets from Seedling, though they make so many. The dolls are a great size for cuddling after you have designed them too!
5. Maileg bunny from £14.95
I have recently purchased a Maileg bunny and 3 mice for my little bump to decorate her nursery and give her something soft to cuddle and play with. I adore the design and I love that they are so beautifully made with delicate fabrics – the perfect gift for a special little lady. They come in a variety of styles and sizes to suit every need.
6. Velvet Moon Coral Dress £95
I love Gorgeous always have such wonderful party dresses and occasion wear for girls. This is my favourite piece from their current collection, I think any little girl would love the flower details and back bow!
7. Vilac puzzles from £16.99
Vilac shaped puzzles are not only thick cut and beautiful for kids but they are also wonderful pieces of art work. I love this particular one it is called Flower girls and is just so pretty! There are lots of different styles to suit every little lady.
8. NICI Minilotta Bath time doll £24.95
MiniLotta is a favourite in our house. You can take her in the bath with you and she dry’s quickly and without any misshaping. Read all about her here.
9. Pigmee liberty print doll €38.00
Pigmée liberty print dolls are totally unique and made from the most wonderful fabric. You can read about them here but they are perfect for any little girl’s room.
10. Sewing kit from Moulin Roty £35.00
This sewing kit from Moulin Roty comes with a gift set box and it’s very own knitting pins. I wrote all about it here, it’s perfect for a budding crafter.
I always think at this time of year we are all inundated with pretty dresses and outfits for girls, which I’m not complaining about, I can’t wait to dress my little lady up, but I can’t help feel as a Mama to two little gentlemen that there isn’t as much for boys to dress up at Christmas time!
With Reuben and Toby having better social calendars than me at this time of year (no really: birthday parties, plays and rehearsals, preschool and nursery parties and all other manner of things!) I really wanted them to have something special for the Christmas season that was comfortable and practical for them to wear to special events or even just to be a bit more smart casual with chinos and a big chunky knit!
That is where Ana from the fabulous Lace & Ribbons boutique has really come in and saved my bacon by sending over these adorable shirts from Bonnet à Pompon, a super chic Spanish brand. The shirts are 100% cotton and look just right with chinos and a big chunky jumper or even fitted trousers and braces for the party look… not that they stay looking so adorable but still!
I especially love the peter pan collars on the shirts, they are adorable and so sleek, but something you seldom see on little boy’s shirts… another thing that bugs me!
You can buy from the Bonnet à Pompon range here at the brilliant Lace & Ribbons, who have a full range of Christmas party wear for boys and girls!
This is something that I find to be a really uncomfortable topic of late. I follow a lot (and boy do I mean a LOT!) of parenting sites, groups and forums and I feel like lately I’ve become more and more aware of people posting about other’s reactions to the news of their latest pregnancy or that they are trying to conceive again in a less than positive way. Maybe it’s because I’m more sensitive about it at the moment.
So, how many kids is too many? Who decided there was a limit for each person and at what point did we become China circa 1985?
Is it just me that this grinds on like a pestle and mortar in a spice shop? Really now, the only appropriate response to a pregnancy announcement or discussions of more children is CONGRATULATIONS! Other than that, zip it and keep your opinion schtum.
When I fell pregnant with Toby Reuben hadn’t quite turned one year old, in fact we found out about 3-4 weeks before his birthday. We were over the moon and with this only being our second child most people didn’t have anything to say other than the usual, ‘Oh that’s lovely news’. There was, however, one friend. A friend of my husbands, who we don’t really see anymore. Him and his wife had a child already and they had had a mountain of complications with the pregnancy, birth and sadly with their child, who was finally fighting fit and as wonderful as any child could be. Nothing was ever said directly to us, including a congratulations – my pregnancy news and subsequent bump were virtually ignored, but I did find out about a conversation had with close mutual friends and a family member that really frustrated me. To cut a long story short he expressed the opinion that he was horrified that we would be having another child so close to Reuben, that it wasn’t fair on Reuben and he would miss out because I would no doubt be unable to cope with a new baby and a toddler. Didn’t we know having a new baby was hard work? (Yes). Didn’t we understand that we might have to actually potty train while we had a new baby? (Yes). How would we cope financially? (like everyone else!) He also sincerely hoped I wasn’t planning to try breastfeeding with this baby (I was and did for 9 very happy months!)… what would Reuben do whilst I was doing that?! All sorts of things were wrong with us having another baby so soon according to this guy.
At first I was shocked when I found out. It seemed so odd. Who the hell did this guy think he was? How would we cope financially, didn’t I know it was hard work? How dare he! This was surely not the normal response to a pregnancy… and yet since falling pregnant with this baby (and the pregnancy I miscarried earlier in the year) it’s come to my attention that this really isn’t as uncommon a response as you would think!
This pregnancy, there have been more than just a few who have had anything but positive things to point out. Yes, my children are 19 months apart and yes, there will be 22 months between Toby and baby… I will have 3 children aged 3 years old and under. It will be hard, it will be tiring but it will also be the most wonderful, gratifying and rewarding thing in my life to date. It’s what I want and it’s what I have chosen. I hate to frighten you too, but I always planned on having AT LEAST five kids… yep, five.
A lot of people don’t think of it like that though. I’ve had more people ask was it an accident than I have congratulating me! I’m asked, ‘So is that it now?’ all the time (which is normal I suppose) but there is usually such shock that the answer isn’t an immediate ‘Yes, that is it, never again… good god we aren’t rabbits!’ If I’m with mummy friends and I return that question I’m frequently met with a ‘Ohh no, we won’t have anymore, we can’t afford it… I don’t want to make my children miss out on their activities and having the best things in life because we chose to have too many children.’ Again, what is too many? And how exactly do your children miss out on activities when they can have different activities with their siblings that will last forever? What’s wrong with not being a paid up member of every local club in return for hours spent at parks playing football or on swings with your family? When did quality family time become a hinderance to a child’s life?
It works on the flip side too, don’t get me wrong. I read a thread a few weeks back on a parenting site about a lady who had made a conscious decision to have only one child and wanted to know from other parent’s with only one if they had been treated to a similar animosity from other about their choice. The response was huge, so many people had been told they were being unfair and should be having more than one child, the child would be lonely and on and on and on. This isn’t a dog you know, it’s a human being, perfectly capable of making their own friend’s and finding alternative entertainment with their parents or toys. I respect their choice to have one child, it’s just not a choice that would work me.
I think it’s important to remember when someone tells you they are expecting, the answer is congratulations and not anything else, unless it is your uterus it isn’t your business what’s in there or how many times something has been in there.
Smile, congratulate and shut up.
We have started a bit of a family tradition over here, without even really realising we were doing it! A few years ago everyone told us that Center parcs was the place to go over the winter period because they did so much for little ones and the whole Christmas theme. Luckily for us, Toby’s birthday falls on the first weekend that they offer their special Winter Wonderland theme, so we take the weekend off, pile ourselves in the car and take the short trip to Center parcs to celebrate his birthday and visit Santa. While it’s not an extravagant trip, it’s one of my favourite weekends of the whole year, and it seems to be for the kids too. Reuben has made a special request that we go back for his birthday in March, which is now all booked up… exciting but scary with a possibly only 4 week old baby!
We usually visit Santa’s Winter Wonderland Workshop on the first day, and then celebrate Toby’s birthday the day after with presents and the such. We eat mince pies, get the log fire burning and spend our days splashing around the pool, taking family walks and enjoying spotting red squirrels and rabbits! We go on reindeer hunts (they do bring them in from a local zoo at the winter workshops, so we always get to find them) and write letters to Santa. I wanted to share a few of my favourite pictures with you from this past weekend, I really can’t wait for next year and it always gets us right into the mood of Christmas (though I’m banned from decorating the house until December 1st!).
I hope you liked looking at our pictures and that you will give Center Parcs a go one year? It really is worth it and it’s just what is needed to get the family away from technology and into the wild while everyone gets in the Christmas spirit!
There are lots and lots of things that any Mama would love, but at Christmas when you are expecting, I always think there are a few things that really make it special, a reminder that you are making this wonderful life and a treat for you. So from left to right here is my mama to be / new mama gift guide:
1. Midwife in a Box by the wonderful Natural Birthing Company £75.
I love this one because I have been using their products and they simply make you feel great. not only are they perfect for pregnancy but ideal for labour to help sooth and relax you (as much as is possible when you have a baby coming out of your hoo-haa anyway!) and afterwards for breastfeeding and helping to calm fraught nerves!
2. Lingerie set from Cake Lingerie from £40
There really is nothing worse than feeling fat and frumpy after you have just had a baby. Some ladies are really confident and accepting of their new figure, and others want something to make them feel special. I fall into the latter category and I would love to have some new lingerie to make me feel beautiful and special after baby.
3. Emily Evans body care gift set from 9 London £45
I love this set for it’s beautiful packaging just as much as for it’s wonderful scent and divinely softening lotion. 9 London are a lovely designer maternity brand and this is the perfect gift for a mama to be or new mama to encourage a bit of pampering!
4. Sterling silver personalised necklaces from Blue Dove Studio from £24
I love Blue Dove Studio jewellery, I think it is so lovely, and unique for each person. There are so many pieces to choose from in their Etsy shop, but this was one of my favourites!
5. Rowsley maternity jacket from Isabella Oliver £299.99
Ahh I have been lusting after this coat for a long time now and I still haven’t managed to get anyone to take the hint that I simply have to have it! Isabella Oliver are one of my favourite maternity brands because they offer quality clothing that can be used during pregnancy and forevermore! I love this coat, it’s bang on trend, and let’s face it, it’s never going to go out of style. So a new winter coat for her changing figure is the perfect gift.
6. Loveyush multipurpose nursing scarf from £27.50
I am going to be using a Loveyush nursing scarf and I can’t wait! Not only are they the perfect nursing scarf for babies who don’t appreciate covers over their heads, but the fabrics are so stylish and elegant. The scarf can act as a cover for your pram, stroller or even a car seat cover. You can wear this as a poncho, a scarf or a shawl, it’s so versatile and there is a fabric for everyone in their shop!
7. Unique piece of jewellery from Mom’s Own Milk from £20
I wrote about Mom’s Own milk jewellery not so long ago, and what I would recommend if you are buying for a mama to be instead of a new mama is that you take the opportunity to get a gift voucher for mama. Let her choose between breastmilk, placenta, umbilical cord or even first curl keepsake jewellery once baby is here.
8. Nursing pjs from mamamoosh £69.99
Good nursing pjs are so hard to find. These ones from Mamamoosh are ultra soft and have an easy to release clip to help with nursing on a night. They also do a matching dressing gown which I love, especially if Mama is due in the spring/autumn/winter months when the nights can be a bit more chilly.
What’s happening to baby this week?
Baby now weighs about 2 1/2 pounds (no wonder I feel so heavy!) and is a tad over 15 inches long from head to heel, making her about the size of a butternut squash! The muscles and lungs are continuing to mature, as is the brain. At this time in pregnancy, it’s important to support baby’s developing bones by and get lots of protein, vitamins C, folic acid, and iron into your diet. This trimester, about 250 milligrams of calcium are deposited in your baby’s hardening skeleton each day so it’s vital to make sure you drink your milk or find calcium another way!
The reality: How have I been feeling this week?
Goodness me it has all gone so quickly! The last week before I’m into ’30+ weeks’, the real home stretch. It just seems to be flying by. This week I have been feeling a little bit more energetic, though still not 100%. Hopefully this means that the iron tablets are working and my ferritin levels are increasing, otherwise I will be feeling incredibly anxious about the birth!
I have been feeling incredibly heavy and like moving around is a huge effort (already!!), I’ve noticed that I get very stiff very quickly and I will be lying in a funny position, suddenly to find that I am stuck and need a bit of help to get up. Hopefully this is just the position the baby is lying in and not indicative of her being a huge baby… though it’s probably likely that I have gained so much excess weight it’s not helping (blame the chocolates!)!
I’m also feeling a touch useless this week. I can’t seem to keep on top of things, I have a million and one things to do and I just don’t seem to get round to them! Cooking, cleaning, running around after the boys, trying to decorate, being reminded that I shouldn’t move furniture or do too much, working, writing… the list never stops! I just want to curl up in a ball and relax after I’ve put the boys in bed, but you can guarantee that when I am feeling low after having done so, some idiot will point out what hasn’t been done around the house or what should have been done somewhere else. Me time is a luxury that I miss this week!
I feel mostly off food this week. I’ve still got a bit of a hankering for chilli but I just can’t honestly be bothered to cook anything nice for myself or eat it!
The bad, adorable and downright funny.
Reuben told me in a very loud voice during a shopping trip that I was “too huge” to go down the slides at Center Parcs. It could be because I have been saying it, and he did mean too huge as in too tall/grown up, but it was still amusing to hear this little voice reiterate how very rotund his mother has become during this pregnancy!!
The baby’s first ‘special’ teddy, which my mum has kindly bought for her, has arrived this week. It is so sweet and I can’t wait to see her fall in love with it the way the boys have with their Fudgy and Harold!
I still don’t feel like I have much energy, though it is better than last week (unless of course, I’m just more accustomed to the exhaustion). I also feel so heavy and keep getting back spasms when I walk about because baby is lying on my nerves in this pregnancy. Ouch.
Hmm, I haven’t even bought any Christmas cards yet, and already Reuben and Toby have started bringing them home from preschool and nursery! Some people clearly have far better organisational skills than me!
So, when we received another card on Tuesday I decided that I was going to have a look online for some really cool cards just for the boys to take to preschool/nursery that I know kids will love and get a real kick out of. I came across these fab DIY cards from MIBO.
Each card has a tear out template inside so that you can make your own MIBO animal (in this case a reindeer or polar bear!). I thought that these would be the perfect little card and gift for the boys little friends this year. After all, they are only little once and doing this kind of thing at Christmas is so much fun!
You can find the MIBO cards in lots of online boutiques, but I came across them here at Psikhouvanjou, a fab little boutique that is well worth looking into this Christmas!
You may remember my post from Mariann Hornyák a few months ago about baby wearing and how it can secure the bond that is born in the womb between mother and baby. I really loved the way that Mariann put across just how vulnerable to transition between being a baby in the womb to being born and essentially without the constant protection of a mother. Mariann has made me question my own parenting and my desire to hold my boys close as often as I can. Baby wearing will be even higher on my agenda after her beautiful words. I hope you enjoy her second article.
Why should I keep my baby close?
Do you have a place where you feel safe and warm? I feel really relaxed if I am cuddled by my husband. I also love the hugs from my father and mother and even my sister can make feel secure and happy. I am very lucky. I also like sitting in the window wearing a warm wool jumper, drinking hot chocolate and watching how the rain cleans the world. I feel safe in the house. Safe from the rain, from the cold wind.
Listening to the well known sound of your body can give the same safe feeling to your newborn. He was happy and relaxed in your womb. He had never felt hungry before being born to this noisy world. He was safe and warm.
Now he is cold, hungry, lonely. He does not have any knowledge of this world, his mother is the one who will make him learn the basics. His basic vocabulary will grow from the emotions he associates with actions that happen to him in his first year of life.
He will learn that he feels hungry, he is stressed, he is sleepy. But at the moment, he only knows that something is wrong and he needs his well known heartbeat. He needs his mother to change the situation. His tool to tell you that something is wrong that he signs through his face, gestures, mimics and small movements. If you can read his cues you will be able help him. He will sign you and he will learn that you respond. Or he will sign you once, twice, more and then he will be desperately in need of you and he starts crying. When you will respond. Or he will cry, you ignore it without the intention of helping him and he will learn that there is no use to tell you that he is unhappy because he will not get any help anyway.
It does not matter that you are really able to help or not. What matters that you respond gently ensuring him that you want to help and you do your best to make him calm and happy again.
If your baby is close to you, you can see his face all the time, you can sense his moves and the change in his breathing, you will be able to know him better. You will read him more easily. You will know what is wrong and what to do. You will be more confident. You become quickly the master of your own child.
Keep your newborn close every day. He is part of you, extension of your heart that beats outside of your body.
You can find Mariann on her wonderful website which is jam packed full of great information for expectant and new parents.
These recycled wool puppets from Green tulip are just so cute! They are hand made in Canada from up cycled clothing, so although they will always follow the same design for each style, no two will ever be exactly the same!
What I really love about this is that the company are genuinely making ethical toys for kids that they themselves can learn something from. This is a great way to introduce your little ones to the concept of recycling and why we want to do it.
You can order your favourite style of puppets here.
I think these T shirts are great! What a fun way to give Dads (or Mums) some chill out time while the kids play!
Designed by Michigan mama, Jessica, who first made one of these shirts for her husband just using Sharpies and a plain top. After driving on Daddy quickly became a favourite activity on lazy Saturday mornings or after he arrived home from work, Jessica posted a tutorial for a simple “Car Shirt” on her blog, The Blue Basket.
Finally, after a phenomenal response to the shirts, she decided to have the design printed onto the shirts and sell them!
Not only does Jessica design and make these fantastic shirts, but she also makes alphabet tracing shirts too, these are the perfect gifts for Dads this Christmas that will benefit your kids too!
You can get hold of one of these brilliant shirts here.
What’s happening to baby this week?
This week, baby weighs around 2 1/4 pounds and measures 14.8 inches from the top of her head to her heels. That is about the size of a large aubergine.
She now has eyelashes (hopefully they will be as long as her brother’s!) and can blink her eyes. As she can now see the light that filters through the womb you may notice more movements if you shine a torch over your bump! Her body is still fattening up and that brain is developing more neurons every second.
The reality: How have I been feeling this week?
Wow I am shattered this week! My iron and ferritin levels are still low as is my blood pressure, all of which adds up to a very tired me! On a hugely plus side I haven’t had many pains at all this week, I just feel swollen, fat and unattractive! Hello third trimester!
I have also been suffering the less glamorous effects of iron tablets, though with a continued obsession with chilli ramen that is hopefully going to improve. I still have to ‘keep my feet up and rest’ though that is so difficult with little children in the house. I will say that it is a miracle if I am still awake by 9pm, something that my night owl husband is totally confused by!
I’ve also found this week, and I think it is a team up of hormones and tiredness, but I have been very quick to get emotional and tear up, another natural part of pregnancy. Oh and elephant feet, I can’t forget to mention those!
Mmm chilli ramen. Delicious and helpful with keeping me hydrated, and avoiding the effects of iron tablets.
The bad, adorable and downright funny.
Ahh, pregnancy. You make me so attractive! Earlier this week I was sat in a restaurant with my mother and suddenly let out a very loud belch. Needless to say I was mortified, though I don’t think anyone but me noticed! Completely out of the blue and unexpected. Sexy.
The boys are still quite cuddly with my bump, though they still haven’t felt any kicks. Reuben keeps telling people there is a baby in my belly. Just in case they thought I was this rotund anyway!
The lack of energy thanks to my ferritin levels and low blood pressure. It hasn’t been fun with two energetic toddlers to entertain and an inability to actually rest. Lots of early nights have been required!
These little hand sewn dresses are so adorable!
The brand is the brain child of one lovely Mama in Palmyra, USA, called Danielle, who has always had a passion for sewing and making things. When she became a stay at home mama she decided it would be the perfect time to turn her hobby into a little shop, and what a great idea!
There is nothing better than warming soups to enjoy watching the fireworks on Bonfire night is there? I always like to have a mug to hand (along with a hot dog or something I have to say!)
I have popped down 5 of the best soups to enjoy for the whole family, read on to tantalise the taste buds!
You may remember I wrote about these wonderful dolls back in March – how time flies. Well anyway, if you don’t remember my original post about them you can read it here.
I have been waiting (impatiently!) for these fabulous dolls to reach the market production stage because, well honestly, I want one! I don’t often get excited over plush toys, but Lulla is far from just that and I honestly believe these should be in every hospital and home everywhere.
Only those who are or have been in the position of having a child in the SCBU unit can fully understand how hard it can be to cope with not being able to stay with their new born 24/7 and hold them close at a whim. We truly do take it for granted when we have perfectly healthy babies and make our way home with them the next day. The cold hard fact is that a lot of babies need that closeness to their mother, they need it to feel contact or hear a heartbeat just to survive, but if a baby is in an incubator and can’t be held close that can sometimes be denied.
The designer behind this wonderful doll had a friend whose baby was in the SCBU unit in Iceland, and that is how Lulla came to be. The doll plays a real life recording of breathing and the heartbeat of a mother at rest, which has shown to help baby fall into a deep and restful sleep. What is really unique about this doll is that the recording will play for 8 hours before it switches off, unlike most products that will only play for 15 – 30 mins. This aids sleep and helps to encourage baby to sleep for longer, which can reduce SIDs and encourage a general wellbeing in your child (and reduce the bags under your eyes too!)
One of my favourite things about the doll is that it is unirace and unisex. No pink is for girls, blue is for boys, no black skinned doll, no white skinned doll. One doll that unites and encompasses everyone. The out layer of Lulla is soft natural cotton and the filling is hypoallergenic, plus the fabric of the doll has been designed to absorb Mama’s smell to promote a sense of wellbeing for the baby so if you sleep with the Lulla Doll in your bed during pregnancy and then give it to baby when he/she is born it will hold your smell.
So now I have your attention and you can see how awesome these dolls are, we want them on the market to buy yesterday, right?
Well Rórócare need your help to finalise the manufacture of this wonderful product. They are over the biggest hurdles and after 3 years of extensive testing and are ready to start raising funds to get this to the market by (hopefully) March. So, how can you help? Simply pre-order your doll, complete with a discount from their Indiegogo campaign site! It’s as simple as that, not only will you get your doll with a discount, but you will know that you have helped bring to production something that could literally save lives.
As part of the campaign, Lulla Doll’s are available as part of a special package offer with wall stickers (which you can buy alone too to jazz up your child’s room) and an absolutely amazing smelling room spray that I have used for Toby & Reuben to create a soothing atmosphere before bed. This really would be a wonderful gift to give to someone who is expecting or a young baby at Christmas time.
P.s – I feel like it’s important to share what kind of company this is, not only are they working to get this wonderful, life saving doll to market but they are also working closely with UNICEF to support them, with each purchase you are giving a severely malnourished child one portion of UNICEF Nutritious Therapeutic Milk. How wonderful is that?!
I don’t know about you, but personalised jewellery for me is something that is really special. I think most Mamas have something that is personalised for their children don’t they? I have little silver fingerprint charms that I cherish so much, but they are quite a popular choice and if you were looking for something a bit more unique, then they might not be for you.
This would though, oh boy, if you want different, then this is right up your street!
Mom’s Own Milk is a wonderful company that designs beautiful, unique jewellery using baby’s first curl, placenta, breast milk or umbilical cord. Like I said, totally unique!
The jewellery doesn’t look like you would think at all and is just a very discreet reminder for Mama of some of the most wonderful moments she has shared with her new baby. There is a piece to suit every desire, whether you wear charm bracelets, pendants or lockets.
The process is really fascinating too (you can read about it here), and is explained by the owner, breast feeding Mama, Vickie, who wanted a unique way to keepsake her memories! I think it’s super cool!
If this is your cup of tea, or you know someone who would love this and is after something totally 10000000% unique, then you can order via the company’s website here.
P.s – I am very tempted to order a first curl bead for each of the boys, I am forever worried I will loose their first curls and this is one way to ensure you won’t!
Every year I make a Christmas hamper with the boys for Grandparents, other family members and friends. It’s something that not only do I love doing, but it really means so much to the recipient because it has been homemade with love. I just don’t think you can beat it.
I always try to fill the hampers with things that I know the individuals will like (last year I included some chilli nuts for my in laws, but added sweet spiced nuts for my mum). I really think that a mixture of shop bought favourites, homemade treats and handmade crafts make the perfect hamper.
The other thing I start to look out for in mid October is hamper baskets. You can get them in so many places but the prices start to get hiked up early November time and you can get some wonderful, unique hampers from flea markets, charity shops and other such places. I also love looking out for uniquely shaped bottles, jars and gift boxes. I’ve had some that I will be using in this years hampers for years (mainly because my Mum insisted I kept them, promising they would come in handy one day – she was right, as per usual!) and originally they were home to a set of delightfully scented candles. They are now completely empty, scent free and still as lovely as the day I was given them. They will be just perfect for some homemade chocolates or nuts for Christmas.
Here is a little list of what I have come up with so far for this year’s hampers, I don’t know if I will be do all of them, but as I go I will have to add recipes and the such to the blog:
- Clementine and Vanilla Vodka – I wrote about this last year, and I couldn’t not include it in a hamper, especially as it has been requested by virtually everyone!
- Peppermint creams made by the boys
- Handmade chocolates (you can use any number of moulds to give them a fun shape)
- Chocolate truffles – with or without alcohol added. Everyone thinks that these are really difficult to do but they are so easy and taste lovely!
- Christmas flavour vodka. Vodka is always an easy drink to take out flavour and I did try this last year. It wasn’t my bag, but my husband and father in law certainly seemed to appreciate the earthy taste!
- Salt dough tree decorations. So easy to do and great fun for the kids.
- Art work by the kids. Check out my pinterest board for suggestions.
- Limoncello. This is one my mother has made for a time now and it is lovely, so I want to give it a go this year with her recipe!
- Good old fashioned mince pies. The boys love making mince pies even though they aren’t too keen on eating them. I will dig out my recipe as I use a special rośe pastry that just makes them sooo scrummy!
- Christmas cake. Whenever I do this I never make it any later than the end of October/ beginning of November. That way it matures, and once sealed in an air tight container it’s amazing when it’s ready. I also get the boys to help me brush it with either sherry, whisky or (my personal favourite) cherry brandy) once a day! I usually add a few cheese from a local deli to go with the cake. Yum!
- Homemade cherry brandy
- Sloe Gin – there is so much to be said for taking the kids to pick sloes!
- Homemade Lemon curd
- Homemade chutneys. my favourite is a chilli and tomato jam that my mum makes. You can’t really have Christmas without cold cuts, cheese and chilli jam. Oooh!
- Homemade jams. This is something that Reuben helped me with last year, though I had to take most of the lead because of the extremely hot and dangerous sugar solutions. Just be careful if you do make this, but do give it a go.
- Handprint baubles. So simple and easy, this wild definitely be on the blog with a step by step tutorial, you really can’t beat it, especially for a very little one.
- Handmade cake pops
- Nut selections with homemade spices
- Homemade fudge
- Homemade Christmas card
- Handmade soaps or other bath smellies
There are literally thousands of things you could include, and it could be done to suit every single person’s needs. I tend to add more handmade trinkets from the boys for family members, but for friends I may make a tree decoration and fill the rest with cakes, sweet treats, boozy treats and generally tasty things for Christmas. It totally depends.
One thing that doesn’t change is keeping an eye out for those amazing little boxes, bottles, bags and things that you can use to make your hamper look all the more wonderful. If you are pushed for time for finding these things at markets and the such try these places like Etsy, Hobbycraft and local stationary or giftware shops.
This is such a cool Canadian brand that I am currently crushing on – I love their designs and the fact that they are all hand drawn makes them even better to me!
Each piece of clothing is produced in small quantities because of the nature of manufacture, so your kids are going to be getting something that is relatively unique. What makes the clothing even more unique is that the hand drawn patterns are screen printed. Made from organic cotton and truly delectable, you can find Double Yellow Line clothes here on Etsy.
P.s – be sure to check out those leggings, you should know by now if you are a regular reader that I have a slight obsession with unisex leggings and these are just another designer to add to my list of faves!
You probably carved your pumpkin a day or so ago, or you may even be like me and leave it until literally just before Halloween to keep it as fresh as possible, either way you now have a tonne of pumping that needs cooking (especially if you have more than one child!!) and no idea what to cook with it.
Well, first thing is first, get all the pumpkin flesh into the fridge until you know what you are doing. It doesn’t keep great outside of the fridge and is likely to be all slimy the following morning if you don’t! I thought I’d share my favourite pumpkin recipe. Highly unoriginal, its a soup. I just don’t think that you can beat soup at this time of year, it’s something that I always think is so darn tasty and filling, especially served with warm, crusty bread – which you could make yourself using pumpkin seeds. Just saying.
My favourite Pumpkin Soup:
2 onions, roughly chopped
1kg of pumpkin flesh, deseeded, stringy bits removed.
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 sweet potato, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic
800ml – 1L chicken or vegetable stock (I prefer chicken, but if you are vegetarian then you can use vegetable too!)
250ml cream (optional)
1- 1 1/2tsp curry powder
butter or oil for frying
Fry the onions and garlic in the butter/oil for a few minutes until they are turning translucent, then add the curry powder. Fry for 20 seconds.
Add the chopped carrots, pumpkin and sweet potato and fry for around 2 mins, just to warm and coat with the onion and curry mixture.
Add the stock and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, until everything is very soft. Blend. You can add cream if you want to, it does just finish off the soup perfectly, but if you are wanting a healthier version then don’t.
Enjoy, Harriet x