Friday, 30 August 2013

I'm part of MrsCraftyB's September Takeover!

I'm very pleased to say that I'm taking part in the lovely MrsCraftyB's September Takeover and my post has gone live today! 

Annie is looking after her new bubdle of joy (welcome to the world Issac!) so bob across to her blog and see what some of her mummy / crafty friends have been up to.

To see my post on how to make your very own felt covered notebook, photo album or scrapbook, just visit the following link (apologies for the lack of blog finese here, I've been unwell and can't access my computer at the moment so relying on my phone!):


Bizzy the Butterfly audiobook review

From a young age, I've loved books and even had them in the bath, so it's one thing I really want to pass on to Ethan and if you ask me, it's never too early to start inspiring a passion for reading.

I met the lovely Emily Longmore on Twitter (you can tweet her @BizzyButterfly here and follow her on Facebook here) and was excited to hear about her fun, educational collection of audiobooks, books, CD's and 'bookeos' specially developed for babies and toddlers.

Combining spoken word with music, illustrations and games, Emily has created an imaginative, multi-sensory experience for young ones that follows Bizzy the butterfly and her adventures in the big, big garden.

The first story in this exciting new series - Bizzy the Butterfly and the Creepy Crawly Co-operating Caterpillar' - has been launched and can be bought on Amazon as a CD - perfect for playing in the car - or downloaded so you can play it at any time from your phone when you need to entertain your little one.

Emily kindly sent me the audiobook on CD, beautifully wrapped with purple ribbon, inside a purple envelope, along with some recipe cards, stickers and an information leaflet.

As soon as I put the CD on, Ethan turned towards the speakers, eyes wide, wondering where the lovely piano music was coming from. The story then begins and is interspersed with bubbly theme music throughout. The Bizzy the Butterfly and the Creepy Crawly Co-operating Caterpillar poses questions such as 'which colour flower is your favourite?', so you can interact with your child as they join in the story. There's also a sweet little song which you can learn and sing along with next time you listen to the story. Obviously, at 17 weeks old, Ethan's singing voice hasn't quite come in just yet so it's down to mummy to learn the words but as Ethan loves music already, I'm sure he'll enjoy listening to me practice!

What's nice about this new concept is how it's more than just a story. Bizzy's website is full of other fun ideas including baking, blog posts and you can even buy bibs and bodysuits with the characters on.

I loved the CD, which lasts just over 13 minutes in total, and I am sure Ethan will enjoy listening to the story and music more and more as he gets older. It's a lovely concept and I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops and to hear the other tales in the busy life of Bizzy the Butterfly and her garden gang.

Let your child join Bizzy on all of her adventures in the big, big garden and they're sure to have fun whilst learning and letting their imaginations grow. ‘Bizzy the Butterfly and the Creepy Crawly Co-operating Caterpillar’ is the first title in the ‘Bizzy the Butterfly’ set of audiobooks, and is available to download now as an MP3 here for just £1.50 or alternatively, you can buy it on CD for just £3.

* Note: I was sent the audiobook CD free of charge for the purposes of this review but all opinions are my own.


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Going for geek

Having recently watched all the series of The Big Bang Theory and having bought some new glasses that are a little bookish in their style, I'm really going in for this whole 'geek' look at the moment.

At a time when geeks have never been more cool - which in itself is a bit contradictory - it's one trend that really fits me. I was a bit of a boffin (as the cool kids called it) at school, head always in a book, I was friends with most groups including the nerdy ones and even now, I have a few geeky-type interests.

I often find with trends that they just don't work on me, they're too out there for me to pull off or you need to buy quite a few items of clothing or accessories to get the look. However, going for geek in the style stakes seems to be a perfect fit for me - I have quite a few things that can work with this, along with a few new pieces I've bought to take me into autumn. I love the fact it's easy to do, it's a comfortable style that you can do subtly or full on and it's also flattering on my kind of shape (read: not a stick figure).

I've tried a couple of looks and think that playing up to my inner geekness will be a fun way to wear shirts, jumpers and converse trainers as the months get cooler.

My geek chic must-haves include:

1) shirt / blouse or loose tshirt
2) cardigan or jumper
3) slim jeans or skirt & tights
4) Converse or ballet pumps or ankle boots
5) Statement necklace & studs & rings & friendship bracelets (keeping it stylish)
6) Satchel bag 
7) Eyeliner & lipstick (always my must-haves!)
It all began with my glasses...

Here are a couple of my new purchases to help me dial up the nerd without looking frumpy:

My next wardrobe buy has to be something tartan; it's a cute print for the season and set to be a big style statement soon.

So, what do you think of this trend and will you be going a little bit geek this autumn?


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Treat Yourself Tuesday's: Coconut Oil Hair Saviour

There's been a lot of buzz on the beauty circuit about coconut oil and reading up on the subject, it does seem that it can really work wonders however you use it. From health benefits when used in cooking and baking to being a natural, effective moisturiser, coconut oil seems to be a must-have for anyone who wants a beauty treat.

I started looking into the benefits of coconut oil as I'm interested in DIY beauty treatments and heard it's a good scalp treatment, which is music to my ears as I hate the treatments I have for my psoriasis as they smell awful and really dry my hair out.

So, this is the first of my Treat Yourself Tuesday's where I'm going to look into simple, natural treatments you can try at home to give yourself a little beauty boost.

If you believe the hype, the benefits of coconut oil include the following:

- Contains Vitamin E which helps rebuild protein in hair that's often lost through heat and styling
- Keeps hair shiny and builds strength
- Can be used as a deep conditioning treatment for hair and scalp
- Has a long shelf life, unlike other hair care products
- Can be used as a medicinal treatment for dandruff and scalp complaints, including psoriasis, plus it's anti-fungal
- Smells good enough to eat which means your hair / skin will too

What to look for when buying coconut oil:

- Choose 100% organic, extra virgin oil to be sure it is completely pure and not hampered by any refinement processes
- Buy it in glass containers because plastic containers may seep BPA and parabens into the oil

How to use it as a hair mask:

1) Take a small amount of oil, around the size of a grape, and rub it into your hands until it melts.
2) Start by massaging into your scalp, rubbing it all over from the front of your head to the back.
3) Divide your hair into two sections and work the oil through the lengths and down to the ends. Use as much oil as you need for your thickness and length - just make sure it's all well covered but not drenched, a little oil goes a long way.
4) Tie your hair back with a clip / clasp instead of a hair tie as these can sometimes damage your hair.
5) Leave to soak into your hair for at least an hour. For extra nourishment, let the oil do its thing overnight or pop a plastic hair cap over the top and use a hair dryer to gently heat the treatment.
6) Apply some shampoo straight to your hair, rinse then repeat. Follow with your usual conditioner and style as per normal.

I've followed the method above a couple of times in the past week and have been pleased with the results. For my psoriasis, it has thoroughly moisturised my scalp and helped soften the flakes, but I have had to really shampoo my hair to remove it all afterwards. The lengths of my hair have felt soft and much more manageable. My tip would be to adapt the application method to your own hair's needs. If you have a problem scalp, either greasy or dandruff, massage the oil thoroughly into your scalp, just make sure you really shampoo afterwards. If your hair is very dry at the ends, apply a little more oil and leave for longer.

I've also used it as a skin moisturiser, just rubbing a small amount into dry areas like my elbows, and it's been absorbed well. It's a cheap treatment to use as a little oil is all you need each time, it really makes a difference and you know it's natural so it can only do good things for you.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Project playroom - complete!

Two weeks ago, I blogged about my idea to turn our spare room into a playroom for Ethan and I'm proud to say, after a weekend of wallpapering and painting and having put the last touches to the room over the past few days, it's finished.

As mentioned in my earlier post, hubs and I loved dinosaurs when we were young and Ethan better had too as he now has a room filled with them! From some stylish, fun wallpaper that will stand the test of time to wall stickers, cuddly toys, door hangers and picture frames, Ethan can spend hours counting all the stegosauruses and T-Rex's he now has in his brand new playroom.

The colour palette is lime green, turquoise, grey and orange - it may sound odd but the tones really do work and we took inspiration from the wallpaper. We have a big Expedit bookcase from Ikea with some doors and drawers, some coloured baskets then lots of toys and special items including some of his Christening gifts out on display. I chose two big cushions in a ribbed velvety fabric as I thought he'd love the texture and we have some LED lights that give off a really nice glow. There's also a compact desk for hubs' Mac so he has somewhere to work if he needs quiet time.

Ethan and I have spent a couple of afternoons in the playroom now with his new activity mat and tummy time toy and I'm really pleased with how the room has turned out. It's bright, there's lots for Ethan to look at, and it's a multifunctional space.

Without further ado, may I introduce to you Ethan's playroom - enter at your own risk...

And look what we found this weekend in Next!...

It's a Pterodactyl lampshade! It's the perfect finishing touch and looks fantastic hanging from the ceiling.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Time for the big boy bed?

There's no denying it anymore - my little boy is not so little anymore. Goodbye newborn stage, hello grabbing things, rolling over and sitting up.

Ethan has outgrown his Moses basket and he's only got a couple of inches of wriggle room in his carrycot so we're going to have to move him into his nursery soon, into his first big boy bed - his cot.

He's been sleeping longer and longer at night as the weeks have passed but three or four times a week he wakes anytime between 3am and 5am for a feed before quickly falling asleep. He's also got really good at settling himself to sleep and only takes a few minutes to relax into sleep after some nattering and hand sucking once we lay him down.

I think he's probably more than ready to sleep by himself, in his cot, in his room (he is almost 16 weeks old now) but I'm a little sad to be sending him off at sleep time. I know I need to get over it and it'll be good for us, but I do anticipate a few nights of waking up every few minutes, clutching the baby monitor to my ear, desperately trying to hear little man breathing. Over anxious mother alert!

When did you move baby into their own room? How did you find having them sleep separate from you for the first time?

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Cornwall must sees - all recommendations welcome!

Hubs and I have never been to Cornwall before and after hearing countless tales of beautiful beaches and glorious weather from numerous friends, we've booked our first family holiday for mid-September which will also be our 3rd wedding anniversary.

We're staying at a Parkdean location near Newquay and hope to also visit Padstow and St Ives during the course of our five day break. If you've ever been to Cornwall, tell me what we simply must do, see, eat, drink and anything else you can think of.

I want to enjoy everything that's quintessentially Cornish, from ice cream to pasties, but perhaps leaving the surfing for the students. What sights must we go see? Where are the best beaches? Where can we take perfect pictures? Which pubs serve the best beer? Which cafes, restaurants and seaside bars offer the best nibbles and meals the south west coast has to offer?

All your suggestions are welcome so, answers on a postcard please!


Friday, 23 August 2013

The midway point of maternity leave

I've reached the midway point of my maternity leave and it's a milestone I've met with feelings of sadness.

I love my job and the plan was always to return in the New Year - a plan we prepared before we decided to have a baby, as we wanted to know what we would have to do to have enough money for everything we would need.

But now that baby isn't a hypothetical concept, it's Ethan, my beautiful baby boy who spends his days currently smiling and blowing raspberries at me, it's not quite so straightforward.

We've just chosen a nursery and confirmed his place for January so it's all official - I will be a working mum and Ethan will have full time childcare four days a week. They say it's always harder for the parents than the children when the time comes to sack the day time TV and partake in meetings and adult conversation again every day and I'm sure they're right.

I do believe that it's important for children to be around other children as much as possible from as early on as possible and the nursery we have chosen is bright, friendly and 'outstanding' according to Ofsted.

All of this helps but it still has hit me hard to know that I have four and a half months left with my little one where I am his only hug giver, bottle provider and play mate during weekdays. 

As I said a couple of weeks ago, I want to make the most of this precious time together as we will never have it again. So, thoughts of work are being pushed to the very back of my mind now and the most taxing thing I'll be thinking of in the coming weeks is learning the words to nursery rhymes as my knowledge is really poor in this area!


Thursday, 22 August 2013

I'm as free as my hair

I've always had a thing for dying my hair. I remember, when I was in my teens, begging my mum to let me have highlights and eventually, around the age of 15, she said yes. When I was younger, I had hair so long I could almost sit on it but then when I started secondary school, I decided to have it cut super short, which was a big mistake - my first massive hair fail!

My natural colour is a light brown / dark blonde tone which used to get lighter in the summer, but I always wanted to be blonder. So, over the course of my late teens, blonder I went and I continued to grow my hair as long as I could. Then I decided to go for the oh-so-cool look of having ash blonde on the top half of my hair and dark brown on the lower layers. Actually, it looked alright and couldn't have been too bad as that's the style I was sporting when I first met Stephen!

I then tired of blonde and over the following 10 years, I have been dark brown, medium brown, bright red, plum, auburn, dark blonde, bright blonde, red again, dark brown again, my natural colour and currently I am going from highlights to full on blonde ambition again (I hope).

For those who know me, it's been a bit of a long running joke that I would have a different hair colour and / or style each time they saw me but in reality, I would try and change my look in some way every eight months or so. Sometimes because I had to gradually build colour to get the look I wanted to achieve or other times because I just wanted a complete image overhaul. And then there's roots to deal with, of course!

I've done it myself and I've been to the salon. I've had it long, I've had it layered and I've had it bobbed. I've been straight, wavy, curly and have even had a fringe more than once. I've also had some disasters such as the time when a hairdresser has left bleach on my hair too long and severely damaged it, so much so I had to lose six inches of length to even out the short top layers I was left with. It was pretty traumatic and not long after, I developed scalp psoriasis, so I've had a bit of an emotional time with my hair for the past couple of years.

It hasn't put me off dying my hair though but I think I'll be sticking to shades of blonde from now on. I think it's what suits me best and I want to grow it as long as I can. My hair is who I am - it's the one thing I can control, that and the make up I use. Hair is so connected with femininity and how we feel about ourselves and hoWhen w we look, which is why I think I've always used it as a way of expressing myself. It's like I want to make myself into someone new. That's certainly the way it started but now it's a way for me to give myself a boost and feel better about myself, as my psoriasis can really get me down (see my earlier post on this here).

Here's some of the hairstyles I've sported over the years...

 Back in 2004
 When I was 21
 My 22nd birthday
 I think this is my favourite look
 Me as a Spice Girl
 Natural colour
 Short and with a fringe - perhaps my most dramatic look ever
 Growing my fringe out
 I had purple hair for one night
 I'd love to go pink but luckily, this was just a wig
 I grew my hair and stopped dying it for a year and a half before our wedding
On our wedding day, blonde highlights and curls

 Love my hair here, in NewYork on our honeymoon
 I went for a fringe soon after the wedding as I was desperate to do something to my hair
 Before Christmas 2010, I went auburn
 I bit the bullet in 2011 and went red - I LOVED my hair this colour!
 Red and big curls - sadly, the dye just wouldn't stay and the colour kept fading fast
 This was the final hair do following the damage one hairdresser did - much shorter and much darker than I wanted. I'm smiling but dying a little on the inside.
 My the end of 2011, I had managed to grow my hair a little and lighten the colour.
 January 2012 and I had a fringe put in to cut away most of the remaining damage.
 Growing out the fringe and going lighter.
 Fed up, I went red again but the colour didn't last again. So I went a dark brown in Summer 2012 to counteract the red. Here I'm wearing hair extensions which gave a much needed confidence boost.
 December 2012 and happy because I had bump.
New hair extensions to match my lighter brown colour.
 March 2013 and my hair was getting longer.

 Highlights to lighten my look.
 My new mummy hair do - wash and leave hair to dry naturally, no time to blow dry!

 A little lighter following some more highlights, this was me last month.

So, in the words of Lady Gaga...

I just wanna be myself and I want you to love
Me for who I am
I just wanna be myself and I want you to know
I am my hair
I've had enough, this is my prayer
That I'll die livin' just as free as my hair
I've had enough, this is my prayer
That I'll die livin' just as free as my hair

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