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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

It's gonna be a bright, bright Spring/Summer thanks to Cath Kidston

I have a slight addiction. To pretty things, to stationery but, in particular, to Cath Kidston. Her cheery prints, bold designs and modern take on the vintage look have well and truly captured my heart.

I've long since longed to have CK related things but it's been the past year or so that I have started to build my collection and with every new season and every new launch, my love, and addiction, only grows stronger.

I like adding pieces from across the prints that catch my eye - be it a pen in one design or a skirt in another. I prefer eclectic rather than matchy-matchy.

Last season, there was many a piece that caught my eye and most of these designs were, and still are, in the sale but it's a new year and this week saw a breath of fresh air breeze through the stores and across the website as the new Spring/Summer collection landed.

And, as a CK fan, it's just breathtaking.

As excited as a kid at Christmas, I was quick to discover the new prints Cath would be bringing in and as soon as they launched, I was online, pouring over my favourite prints and even checking out my local CK concession to visit some of the new pieces in person. Yes, visit. I'm that sad.

So, what do you need to know?

Well, there's a lot to enjoy in the new collection and I really believe there's something for everyone, whether you're a bit modern vintage obsessed like me or if you just like a nice floral pattern now and then.

There's an incredible 13 - yes 13! - new prints to enjoy across bags, fashion and homeware. There's two real stand-out designs in my opinion - Clouds and Paradise Florals - but also because they are featured across the most products so clearly Cath thinks they'll be winners too.

My top Cloud print picks:

My top Paradise Florals picks:

There's also Spots and Dots, Patchwork Spot and Hearts for those partial to polka dot prints, then Cranham, Rainbow Rose, Painted Daisy and River Daisy for floral fans, plus Farm, River and Beacon View for those who like her more quirky, feature designs and a very different print, Wicker, for those who perhaps prefer a simpler, classic look.

There's also Ric Rac which features as an accent on products across some of the other new patterns and again offers a really different look for CK and it's one of my favourite this season.

My pick of the rest of the new prints:

The whole Spring/Summer collection feels so fresh and has me yearning for sunshine and picnics. I snapped up a couple of things pre-Christmas when some of the new prints were first teased and then my rather lovely husband surprised me with the Cloud dress I had been dreaming of...

Monday, 19 January 2015

My January PIP post: choosing 'me time'

You know that when you become a parent, life will change. Of course. Everyone tells you it will and you're not silly - you know that life as you know it will be different once a bouncing baby comes into the picture. How could it not?

Change isn't necessarily a bad thing though. Change is good. And becoming a parent is probably both the biggest and the best change you can experience.

But you're still you.

You don't have a complete personality change overnight. Yes, overtime you may become a know-it-all when it comes to Timmy Time plot points and have a new found interest in talking gibberish, but you still, by-and-large, like the same things you did BC - before child.

So, it's an obvious thing to an outsider perhaps to say that you need time to be 'you' now and then. But as a parent, this is a concept that often comes with a big old helping of guilt.

Time is a rare thing when you're a busy mum and there's never enough hours in the day it seems. If you're like me, you'll find yourself with a bit of a split personality at times, keeping one eye on the little one and ready to read a book / play cars / stop them from falling into the fireplace at a moment's warning, and another on your iPad / the TV / painting your nails.

Day to day, the only time to do the things you need to and want to do is to find a way to do them that either involves your children or can be done when they're around.

Either that or wait until they've gone to bed. Which, in the case of Ethan, would be far too late.

On Friday, I had a day off as I had to swap my usual non-working day due to a meeting that had been scheduled. The nursery couldn't take Ethan on that day so hubs looked after him in my place, which meant on Friday, he was still due to go to nursery as normal.

Now, I could have taken Ethan out of nursery and spent the day with him, as I usually would on my usual non-working day. But instead, I decided to make the most of my free day.

I'd wanted some time for a while just to potter around, twiddle with my blog, catch up on some reading, write up some recipes, plan a few things in my diary, set our family planner and so on, such is the geek in me. And some laundry, washing up and other household bits and bobs.

But I felt guilty.

Guilty because I was extremely excited by the thought and freedom a day at home, on my own, would offer.

Guilty because shouldn't I be the one to look after my child, if I'm free?

Guilty because any time with Ethan is special. Of course it is.

I did feel terribly selfish but I realised that having 'time out' is a good thing. It's not a commentary on me as a mother. Of course, I'd choose Ethan over anything and everything. But having a worn out, frazzled or unhappy mum isn't what my child deserves and as silly as it may sound, having a few hours where I could do anything I wanted without having to make a compromise could and did make all the difference.

That's right. I'm Kelly and I'm a perfectly imperfect parent. I admit that sometimes, I need my own space to do my own thing. Or nothing. Whatever I feel like. Because usually, my day is set to a timetable and what can seem like a never ending cycle of cooking, cleaning, tidying, playing, nappy changing... so having some time to myself is rare but needed every now and then.

We all need to take some time away, whether it's a bath at the end of the day or an afternoon at the cinema with our other half once every few months whilst your little one is with family. 

We need it and they need it too. So they can learn how to spend time with other people. So they know it's ok to be apart. So they can experience new things.

So we can both grow.

And it really is ok.

You can join in with January's Perfectly Imperfect Parent link up by going to this page and adding your link and please do pop back to read other people's posts and check out #perfectlyimperfectparent on Twitter. 

I'll be reading and sharing all the posts that you share and thank you for taking part!


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The Perfectly Imperfect Parent link up: January

Friday, 16 January 2015

My new Linky - The Perfectly Imperfect Parent

This is an idea that's been floating around my head for quite a few months now but I haven't had the time before to sit down, put pen to paper and really work out what it's all about.

Until now.

And I am so excited to share it with you. And a bit nervous, truth be told.

I know that there's a lot of other Linky's out there in the blogosphere, some of which I regularly take part in, like #MySundayPhoto, #SilentSunday, #MeandMine and #MeandYou, plus I love Jocelyn's Bring Back Paper idea and want to get involved, so I just didn't know whether I could make my idea work or if other people would want to post and link in with me.

But you don't know until you try. So, here I am. Introducing 'The Perfectly Imperfect Parent' blogger link up, new for 2015!

What's it all about then? What's an 'imperfect parent'?

Well, to me, it's all of us. We all want to be the best mum or dad that we can be but, sometimes, there's too much pressure to 'be perfect' - and often, this comes from within.

For a long time now, I have come across comments here and there from other bloggers and mums on Instagram or blog posts about how 'perfect' other people's lives seem to be or how much we wish we could be more organised / clean / creative / fun / stylish like the mums we see on our social feeds. It's great to see what other people are doing, to share ideas and to be inspired, as long as we don't take things too much to heart or as a negative comment on our own lives or way of doing things.

The reality is that what we see on social media is only a version of reality. Instagram comes with a filter and cropping function, sadly life does not. We might like to cut certain things out from view or put a colourful spin on things but life, and being a parent, is a mix of highs and lows, achievements and challenges, good and bad.

I think we can all be our own worst enemies, forgetting to take what we see or read with a pinch of salt and instead, we can end up measuring ourselves up against ideals that are very hard to obtain or uphold.

The idea of this new Linky is very much to 'keep it real' and celebrate what it really means to be a parent. No filters. Plenty of honesty. And a lot of support for other parents who are imperfectly perfect in their own way.

There's no such thing as a perfect mum or dad and we are all trying to do our best, in our own way. That's all we can do and we should celebrate this more rather than letting things make us feel like we're failing in some way. I started this blog because I wanted a place to share my thoughts, interests and memories and it has become a great support network. Becoming a mum or dad is a huge learning curve and you never stop learning how to become a parent so the more we can do to share the 'real' side of parenting, the better we will all feel.

The Perfectly Imperfect Parent is about celebrating YOU and giving you the chance to confess, reveal, share or rant about anything you want. Being a parent isn't all play-dates and perfectly presented and behaved children. It's not all lovingly made meals that your children eat up without question - sometimes said meal ends up on the floor, but that's ok. It's all ok. No-one is perfect and sharing our real experiences now and then is a great way to get things off your chest. There's no judgement here!

So, are you a PIP? (as I am affectionately calling us!)

However big or small, I'd love to hear what's going on in your world. You can share a post you have already written or you can write one specifically. You can share a photo which just sums things up for you at the moment - perhaps you took one photo of your angelic looking little one just moments before a full on temper tantrum hit, or you just want to share a photo of your daily life without cropping or editing out the pile of laundry that's sitting in the corner. You could want to get on your soapbox and have a bit of a rant about how mummy groups make you feel back at school or the Government's plans for childcare support.

Trivial or a big issue, funny or serious, light-hearted or emotive, this Linky is whatever you need it to be. It's all about being real,whatever that means to you. Good or bad, join in and tell us your perfectly imperfect parenting adventures.

How to get involved:

  • I will be sharing my first post on this subject on Monday and then going forward, this link up (which I have set up with InLinkz - crossed fingers!) will open on the first of each month for you to add your post links in as and when, and it will close at the end of the month. 
  • Feel free to get involved as and when you want / can during the month and do share this with other perfectly imperfect parents too - the more, the merrier. 
  • If you want to share more than one post each month then great, go ahead!
  • And don't forget to read, comment and share as many posts as you like that other people have shared. 
  • I will be reading all the posts that people add to the Linky and I'll also share them on Twitter too - just make sure you let me know when they've been added, by tweeting @tobecomemum.
  • You can also use this hashtag - #perfectlyimperfectparent

Here's the Linky badge if you'd like to share it on your blog (it would be FAB if you do!):

The Perfectly Imperfect Parent Linky Badge

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Breakfast to go - for my little guy

Yesterday, I wrote about how I have struggled to be enthusiastic when it comes to breakfast but also how I want this to change and I'm pleased to say that Ethan is quite the opposite and really enjoys his food, first thing in the morning or during the rest of the day.

He really isn't that fussy at all (just sometimes something may be a little lumpy or too chewy for his liking) and we never have any trouble feeding him first thing.

Anything goes and we've found that variety is key.

If we are at home, we will make some porridge or serve up some cereal. If we are out and about, we will grab some toast on the go or we will take one of the new Heinz baby breakfast pots (Ethan's favourite is banana and apple muesli).

And we will always follow up mid-morning with a sliced banana or some Marmite soldiers.

It's great to see that there's lots of choice out there too to help mums keep the first meal of the day interesting and to make sure there's convenient options too.

Heinz Baby has a great selection if you ask me - I didn't quite realise how good or extensive until they kindly sent me several products from across their breakfast range to try, as I was part of their baby ambassador scheme last year.

In the range is some creamy porridge (suitable from four months) which we used in the early days of weaning Ethan and will now use as a simple base for when Ethan may be teething or with some banana to make more of the meal, plus a few fruity variants.

There's also a couple of muesli flavours to try, with some soft oats and grains and pieces of fruit which are good for when you're trying to introduce more lumps to your little one's food. Ethan wasn't sure at first bit now he has got used to the texture, he really enjoys these.

As I mentioned, there's also porridge and muesli pots so you can take them away with you and they've also introduced a cereal biscuit that's good for breakfast. Now, Ethan has long been a fan of the Heinz biscotti so these have also gone down very well indeed!

I'd love to have shared more photos showing my little man enjoying his breakfast but he just doesn't like having his photo taken, particularly first thing (who does?!) and all my photos at the moment are blurred or of the back of his head.

It's great to know there's lots of options for him to keep breakfast healthy, varied and interesting and I think that's really the key to establishing good habits for the future.

* Thank you to Heinz for sending us our breakfast bundle - it's kept us going forever and Ethan loves it all.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Breakfast to go - for me

A while ago, I admitted to my dislike of breakfast. Whilst I am by and large a morning person, I don't generally feel like eating first thing and the choice of foods available just don't appeal.

Soggy cereal? Bleugh.

The breakfast foods that do appeal are the ones that you shouldn't really be indulging in every day - eggy bread, muffins, bacon sarnies... - so I was in the habit of skipping it altogether.

Until recently.

Last year, I tried to kick-start my mornings, spurred on by how well I had done during pregnancy to eat more regularly and by the delicious and good for you breakfast recipe ideas my friend Sam put together for me.

But then, I got back into bad habits of not eating or just grabbing a cereal bar.

So, in an attempt to 'shake up my wake up' (again), I've been reading lots of blogs and recipe books to gain some inspiration and I now have two favourite options to enjoy (along with Sam's Sweet Potato Hash and Spicy Egg Cups recipes).

I love how easy this recipe is and how really, anything goes, depending on what you like.

I'm a fan of porridge (but not of cleaning the bowl afterwards!) and I know how good oats are for you, being packed full of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, providing slow release energy and helping to lower cholesterol levels.

So, overnight oats are a great option as you do all the prep the night before and you know exactly what you're eating as you've put together all the lovely ingredients yourself.

The main tip I've learned is to mix one part oats to one part fluid, be it almond, hazlenut or standard milk or even fruit juice. This makes the right consistency for me, particularly when adding a mashed banana and / or peanut butter.

It's a really solid breakfast and will fill you up pretty quickly, so vary the amount of oats and fluid you use according to your preferences.

These airtight containers are a useful choice for storing your overnight oats and they look great on display in your kitchen too. I picked a pack of three up in Asda for just £3.50 - bargain!

My second breakfast recipe of the moment also makes a great brunch or lunch. I based it on all the things I like to eat and it's a savoury option as I often find overly sweet things put me off a little in the morning, so I'm sure to eat all of this without any complaint whatsoever.

This is just de-lish. I ADORE avocados and find all sorts of ways to add them to my meals and this dish makes good use of them for sure.

I like the fact you can make this in next to no time, or pre-prepare (save for the avocados) ready to take to the office for 'deskfast' the next day, and you can have it simple or 'jazz' it up according to taste. I want to have a go at making my own houmous as it's another food I can't get enough of but for now, I've found a great paprika spiced one that adds even more flavour to this.

I have one slice of bread if it's breakfast time or two if it's brunch / lunch, and a couple of rashers of cheeky crispy bacon can't hurt now and again either. You could also add a poached egg if you wanted to make even more of it - whatever you fancy.

I'm quite looking forward to mornings now!

Tomorrow, I'm sharing some of Ethan's favourite breakfasts, at home and on the go...

Monday, 12 January 2015

A chocolate treat that's good for your hair

Being a bit of a beauty addict, I love finding new things to try . There's always a buzz of excitement when you find something new on the shelf that catches your eye, be it a new product or a new brand you haven't heard of before.

I like discovering new beauty things from blogs or personal recommendations and that's how I came across Faith in Nature. It's an award-winning natural beauty collection which uses natural ingredients to give you great results whilst also being kind on the environment. Their products are vegan friendly and guaranteed cruelty free. They're also free from artificial colours, fragrances, parabens and SLES plus many have certified organic ingredients.

Sounds great, right? Particularly if you're conscious of what you're putting on your skin or the impact of what you use may have on the environment.

The thing which had me sold though was the rave reviews their range of shampoos and conditioners have received. As you may know, I struggle with psoriasis and have had scalp psoriasis for almost four years now. I've looked into lots of different solutions and theories behind treating this and there seems to be a very good case for using products with less chemicals and more natural cleansers and moisturisers, so when I saw that several of the Faith in Nature products had received great feedback from people who either have the same complaint as me or who just want healthy, happy hair, I was eager to jump in the shower and try these for myself.

I was even more eager when I came across the chocolate shampoo and conditioner. Now, it's January and many of us are trying to be good so the idea of still having chocolate every other day, albeit in a shower treat, is certainly tempting. And trust me, these products smell like the real thing.

The novelty of the chocolate shampoo aside, I've really enjoyed using these products as they seem to help soothe my scalp and remove any nasty scale bits from my hair and they seem to be really gentle too. My hair is fine and dry and my new cherry red shade seems to be sticking around longer than it has in the past, so I'm really pleased with my new Faith in Nature haircare routine.

There's lots of good reasons to check these beauties out and there's a scent, or solution, for every hair type. The chocolate products are different and enjoyable and for this itchy headed beauty addict, they've been a particularly nice treat at a good price (£5.50 for 400ml).

* Thank you to Faith in Nature for the opportunity to give their products a whirl.