Thursday, 31 March 2016

Every minute counts

We all know that children grow up fast and we all try to make the most of every moment we have together because as great as every new stage is, it does all seem to pass in the blink of an eye when you look back.

I've been a working mum for over two years now, having gone back to work when Ethan was eight months old. A combination of needs and wants, I do not regret the decision but that doesn't mean I don't have days where I feel working mum guilt.

No matter your circumstances, I'm sure every mum has guilt over something; heck, the media make sure we do. Not being there every day with them, because you have to work. Not breastfeeding them from birth. Any number of ways that can make us feel like we have failed. And it's not just the media - a lot of the time, this sense of getting things wrong, fear of missing out or worry that we have failed our children in some way comes from within.

I personally know that we made the right decision for us, for Ethan and for me. If things had been different, who knows, but what I do know is that Ethan is a very sociable, happy boy who gains so much from his preschool days, and nursery previously, and I do not doubt that he has developed more with this as part of his daily routine than if he had just had me at home with him every day.

There's two stories in the news agenda right now that have made me put this post together. The first being an announcement from Save The Children about how years 0 to 3 are so crucial for the development of children and the need for teachers to be in place at nurseries to make sure the children have as much support and guidance during these crucial developmental years.

In theory, it sounds great. But really, do we need to put more pressure, more structure on our children when they are so young? And in practice, doing this would inevitably increase nursery costs at a time when they are sky high and already prohibitive for so many parents (although, as I've said before, you can't really put a price on the cost of childcare for your little one).

There's always arguments for and against different approaches, and really it's made me reflect on my own responsibility as a parent to provide and support and nurture my son. I don't have any formal qualifications, but I know Ethan and I also want to make sure that I know more about his developmental milestones and ways in which I can support him. I hold my hands up and admit that having Ethan in nursery does give some relief as I know that they know what he needs to learn and ways in which to encourage this. It's terrible, but it's true - they're the professionals and I know, and can see, how they are supporting him on every level, so in some part, it alleviates my working mum guilt.

But I should, and want, to do more for him.

I know they say that children don't come with a guide book, but really there's a lot of advice out there - various books and of course, blogs like this and all the ones I read for ideas, advice, support and escapism - and I don't want to fail Ethan by not making the time to do more.

Speaking of time, the second news story that caught my attention was new research from Hollywood Bowl about the average time families spend together. Again, not a new topic, but apparently families today spend just 38 minutes together on the average week day. A combination of work, school and a packed timetable of other activities means that we all have less time to catch up together - and then technology often gets in the way.

Sound familiar?

I'm holding my hands up again and saying that I am guilty of this - either being too busy rushing around or too lazy and spending too much time online or watching TV - and it's something else that's been on mind of late.

I think the main problem is getting into a routine that doesn't really work. I'm all about planning and keeping things on track, but not to the extent that bad habits become every day habits, as they have of late. Every day of the week is much the same for us, in how we get up and ready and out the door, to what we do when we come back in the evening. And whilst we're always in the same room for a couple of hours before Ethan's bedtime routine starts, it's not the best quality time.

So I'm making a few small changes, to make a big difference. What would be an occasional thing - eating dinner from trays in the lounge - has actually become the norm for us during the week, and at weekends, for longer than I can remember. Perhaps forever.

But not any more.

I love our dining room, which serves various functions but we call it the dining room so it should really be used for that purpose. I've bought some new tableware (I shared a couple of bits yesterday and have another post coming about a beautiful range I've started collecting) and we are going to sit down, at the table, and enjoy meals together each evening. During the week is particularly important to me, so we can focus on talking to each other and enjoying some time, not distracted, as us three. I used to have dinner with my parents every night at home, from a young age until I left for university, so I don't really know why we've fallen into this habit of using the lounge as the complete centre of where we spend our time.

It's a simple thing but I really do think it's a change that's needed and something we can all look forward to and enjoy.

How do you feel about this latest research? Do you agree with the findings? How do you make time for spending time together as a family?


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Life & Loves Lately #5 - Easter family fun and a trip to London

I haven't written a life and loves round up type post in a while, but there's lots to share and things to tell you about so sit back with a cup of tea and I'll fill you in on things from my little corner of the world...

Of course, it's just been Easter weekend and we had a lovely time - hope you did too! In fact, I'd go so far as to say it was the best Easter we've had. We don't usually do very much but I think as Ethan gets older, it's nice to get involved with special dates and occasions.

I made some Easter baskets up as gifts containing a Yankee candle and some assorted chocolate treats, and we had an egg hunt at home which Ethan really enjoyed. He also had an Easter basket which contained more than just chocolate - a Gruffalo card game, a t-shirt and a colour-in superhero cape, so plenty to keep him busy.

Ethan was also sent a lovely finger puppet book, Hippity Hoppity Little Bunny (£4.99), and some pages out of a fun sounding book called Make It By The Book (£7.99), both from Parragon Books. The first went down very well (he's always liked these finger puppet books) and the latter is such a great idea.

It's a craft book filled with 80 projects that you can trade or reproduce and is one that I will certainly be picking up, to help with rainy weekends. We didn't get chance to make the cardboard bunny this weekend as we were pretty busy and it was waiting for us when we came home from a few days away, but I'm sure we'll give it a go soon.

I've also found this great activity book for dads plus there's a few Disney craft books, including this Pixar one that Ethan would go potty for, so lots of creative projects to be enjoy.

On Good Friday, we headed to Frankie and Benny's for breakfast - we love it there and I can highly recommend the new Veggie Stacker, great if you love avocado as much as me and very filling - then we went to see Kung Fu Panda 3. It was only Ethan's second cinema trip but he loves Po and so thought the film was brilliant. Daddy did too!

On Saturday, we went on the train to London with my Mother-in-Law and despite a fair few tantrums, Ethan really did enjoy getting to go on the big train (he said it was Gordon we were travelling on, and waved at the driver, then when we got a black cab at Euston, he told us we were in Thomas the Taxi).

He really was getting in a grump - perhaps he was tired? - but perked up a lot when we went to a park just around the corner from our hotel.

He had a LOT of fun!

We then went out for a late lunch before a spot of shopping in Covent Garden. It's always been one of my favourite places to visit and even more so now there's a Kikki K shop there too...!

I couldn't resist buying a few bits and pieces, including their new paper lovers book, but that's all I'm going to tell you for now - I'll share a stationery haul with you soon, promise.

We spent the night at the hotel and it was nice to have a change of pace, and plenty of time together. We were staying at Holiday Inn Bloomsbury and I'd really recommend it to any family planning a stay in London. It was a minute walk from Russell Square Underground (on the Picadilly line, so well connected), the staff were very friendly and helpful, Ethan received a pirate pack of things to do and the rooms and facilities were nice. The beds were very comfy too, and our little guy really enjoyed the stay.

On Sunday, we braved the Underground (I love it but felt nervous with a toddler in tow!) and we hopped over to the Natural History Museum, being one of my favourite places in London. Ethan was suitably impressed by the dinosaurs and we timed everything right, to avoid the sudden heavy showers that hit.

It was a fun but tiring morning and being Easter Sunday, everything else was closed so we had a quick rest back at the hotel then met both my in-laws to go to Rules in Covent Garden for a lovely meal. Ethan was a star there, playing with the new Toy Story figures we picked up in the Disney Store, and my Mother-in-Law and I indulged in a cocktail or three - their 'Kate Middleton' being my favourite. Hic.

Easter Monday, we headed home and it was nice to get back to a tidy house and eager pets. We had a few hours just chilling out - I pottered about, unpacking this and putting away some new things we had brought back - before popping to the cinema again, this time to see Zootropolis. Ethan's Nanny had bought him the main character, Nick the fox, and he thoroughly enjoyed the film - and the popcorn!

It was such a lovely break and I am feeling so positive with the new season and new things to look forward to.

These are one of the things I've picked up for our home recently. They're just £10 in Asda at the moment for the set, the crate and the straws and they are just too cute to my mind.

I'm thinking that these will be great for serving guests drinks over the summer - fresh fruit juice for Ethan, something a bit bubbly for the adults.

In fact, I think the new Eisberg Alchohol Free Wine Sauvignon Blanc would go rather nicely with some crushed ice in one of these mini milk bottles.

I was sent this to try and try it I did, with some girlfriends the other weekend. We were trying on Bridesmaids dresses early the next morning so this was something nice for us to enjoy but didn't leave us with a fuzzy head the next day (not a good idea when changing in and out of dresses in a hot and stuffy changing room!).

It received a raised eyebrow or two, and three out of four of us enjoyed it as a relaxed drink. We agreed that it would be good as a spritzer in particular and I think they were surprised at how 'wine like' it actually tasted. Certainly worth a try if you're looking for an alternative, more grown-up tasting drink (plus it's only 28 cals per glass).

Cath Kidston high tops - To Become Mum

It wouldn't be a life and loves round up without a spot of Cath. You may have spotted these beauties in my recent new season Cath Kidston print round up, and now they are mine - just £28 too. Look like Converse, have a pretty print and are far more comfortable to walk around in all day (they passed the London test!).

Cath Kidston bags - To Become Mum

And, because Ethan and I are THAT COOL, we were wearing matching CK combos all weekend.

How flippin' cute (and grown up looking) is he?!

That's it for now, before I end up giving you a strain from all the scrolling. I hope you enjoyed my latest update and don't forget you can follow me on Instagram for more pics and posts about our day to day lives.

I've linked this post to Living Arrows and The Ordinary Moments.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Our Easter plans and taking a toddler to London

The four day weekend is almost upon us and the Easter bunny will be hopping by with some chocolate treats too if we're lucky.

Today, Ethan has an Easter parade at preschool, where he's donning the Easter bonnet I made him, then our Easter plans fall into two parts. Tomorrow, we will be having our own Easter celebration at home, as we will be away in London from Saturday. 

I'd like to do a spot of baking if we can, like we did last year with help from the Co-op's cupcake kits, and then we have an Easter egg hunt planned. It's something that's really easy to set up at home but if you're time pressed to get everything together, pick up an Easter egg hunt kit like this and you're good to go.

It comes complete with lots of small and extra small hollow chocolate eggs, cut-out bunny paw prints and clue sheets that you can write on to help your little ones sniff out their treats.

I think Ethan is really going to have a lot of fun with this.

I popped to my local Co-op - as they're always good for a change or to find seasonal ideas - and we'll be starting Good Friday with hot cross buns because, why not?

I was going to pick up a lamb joint or some salmon, but I'm going for a twist for our Easter meal this year; lamb tagine and fresh veggies. I wanted something easy to put together as we've got quite a busy day and I like this twist on lamb.

Whilst there, I also picked up some blooms - how cute are these little fellas? And just £3 too.

Excuse the poor lighting - they had just started to bloom first thing and I had to snap them
For more Easter inspiration from the Co-op, pop across to here.

Then comes Easter part two - a toddler in London!

I love London and whilst I go quite a bit for work so it loses a little shine, I still love seeing all the sights. I haven't had the chance to be a tourist in London in years in fact but this weekend, we are going away with my in-laws - and Ethan too.

Mummy has the Kikki K store on her must-see list.

Daddy wants the Disney Store on Oxford Street.

Nanny and Grandad are taking us to their favourite restaurant, Rules, in Covent Garden.

But what about Ethan?

To be honest, I haven't a clue what to do with a toddler in the big smoke. It's always so busy when I go and even though I like the underground, going with Ethan kind of terrifies me (I'm told we will be getting taxis places, so we can avoid this part).

Growing up, we would go on coach trips from my home town in Hampshire to London, and Natural History Museum is one of my favourite places to go. Ethan loves dinosaurs so I think this will be on our list - it's free and there's a Great Barrier Reef 3D experience on at the moment too - plus the London Transport Museum is supposed to be great for kids too and the Shrek experience sounds really fun.

I'm also thinking maybe an open top bus tour will be a good way of seeing the sights?

The last time we went to London 'just for fun'... way before Ethan!

Some kind blogger peeps jumped in to help me out, and share their posts on planning a great day out, or weekend, in London with a toddler in tow.

So, if you're interested, may I recommend:

(love the sound of the Peter Pan playground!)

I'll be sure to share plenty of photos from our weekend away, and my advice too after (hopefully) surviving our London break.

We've been telling Ethan that we're going on Thomas (Tank Engine) to London to see the Queen, so he's pretty excited...


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Giving healthy habits a kick-start with Nutribuddy

Three months into the new year, and how many of us are still going strong on the resolution front? Be honest…

I’ve been quite good with the resolutions I made – or rather my aim to make rememberlutions - 

Although, I'll admit, I did indulge in the Easter bake sale at work. It was for charity. And it would have been rude not to.

For me, I always need something to give me a push in the right direction. I know what I need to do to eat better - plan more, always have key fresh ingredients in, add variety but don't go overboard as I won't stick to anything if I can't have something to take care of cravings now and then.

A life without chocolate is a life not worth living!

However, I was certainly in a rut and that's why I decided to give things a real kick-start - with help from Nutribuddy.

For the past couple of weeks, hubs and I have been trying to follow the Weight Loss Starter Kit programme. It combines three of their core products -  Sculpting Whey, Hunger Fix and Multivitamins - to create a pack that should give you a great start to losing weight, however you choose to go about it. It also gives you a saving of £10 if you'd bought all the items separately and you get a branded shaker too included, so you're good to go.

Scantily clad women in the advertising aside, I do like the whole ethos of Nutribuddy and the Little Book of Weightloss was supportive in tone and made me feel good about starting my trial. The right balance of information without being pushy.

The idea is to use the Sculpting Whey (£34.99 by itself for a month's supply) to make a shake to enjoy when you start to feel hungry, or as a meal replacement if you so wish. It contains whey protein, green tea, guarana and chromium, to curb your appetite, speed up your metabolism and provide a high does of protein.

Naturally, I chose the chocolate option and I'd recommend milk rather than water, which you can choose to use instead. It's not overly chocolatey and it's not very thick when mixed but it does have the sweet taste you need and I've found drinking these shakes really easy and effective too. I haven't had one every day, as I have been full from the rest of my diet but think it's easy to add this into your routine.

The Hunger Fix tablets (£24.99 for 90, so a month's worth) are what I've found to make a real noticeable different to how I feel during the day. You take one or two 15-60 minutes before each of your three main meals and it works to make you feel fuller, stopping you from over eating or too much snacking (something I find harder during the working day).

I'm not an expert, so here's what Nutribuddy say about their Hunger Fix tablets:

I can help you by keeping your hunger cravings at bay, making you feel fuller for longer. You are therefore less likely to snack on unhealthy chocolate bars and eat large food portions. This can lead to weight loss! 

My key ingredient is Glucomannan which comes from the root of the Konjac plant. Glucomannan is a natural ingredient which takes up space in your stomach and makes you feel full, therefore making you eat less. Glucomannan is also able to delay the emptying of your stomach which contributes to the feeling of fullness.

Glucomannan has a very low calorie content. It also reduces the absorption of protein and fat. Other health benefits of Hunger fix’s key ingredient include maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels.

I'd certainly keep up with these as they have helped me break some bad habits.

The Multivitamins (£15.99 for 30, take one a day) then make sure you get lots of good nutrients and I think even if you are eating well, it can't hurt to supplement your diet.

So, how have we both got on?

Well, when I'm good and I can be very good and this usually happens when I've planned ahead and prepared for the day the night before. I've been making sure that a) we eat breakfast (another challenge for us both) and b) it's a good breakfast (a home-made smoothie or greek yoghurt and fruit generally - see some of my other breakfast ideas here). I've made lunches too, using leftovers from meals (to reduce on wastage) or throwing together a salad with what we have.

The Nutribuddy kit has been easy to add into this routine and I do feel that it's helped us focus and really think about what we have been eating, with the shakes filling the snack gap and the Hunger Fix pills keeping us going for longer.

Weigh in wise, I can't say for sure as our scales have failed on us and I haven't been able to get a digital reading, but I think there's been a difference, at least in how we feel / what we have noticed. And I'd definitely say my husband looks leaner too.

We're going to keep on with the programme because we know it can work - it's just about having the right attitude.

I'm not a slave to any diet but I do want to take better care of myself, more often. For me, starting something like this has to be part of your lifestyle. You're great just the way you are, but if losing a bit of weight makes you feel better - particularly in terms of health - then that's great, and of course, you should go for it.

And doing it with a buddy will undoubtedly make it a lot easier too.

* Nutribuddy provided me with a starter kit but all thoughts are my own, you can always count on that! 


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Smoothies to go

I'm a big fan of juices and smoothies and have created a few of my own personal favourite recipes. I love how you can pack to many good things into one glass and you're all set.

Trouble is, juicing at home can be messy. And time consuming.

Now that spring has sprung, I'm keen to get back into my juicing but I know what I'm like - with a busy working week, I get around to being prepared once or twice at the start of the week, then I just get lazy and run out of time to get everything sorted and all three of us out the door.

In steps Love Smoothies.

I saw these at a local deli and was then personally introduced to these fruit and veg packed pouches at home.

Each pouch has the right mix of ingredients to make a nutritional smoothie in an instant, as you just take it straight from the freezer, add 500ml apple juice, blend for 30 seconds then drink.


We were kindly sent a selection of flavours - all of which have a mix of fruit and veg, and fun names too like Son Of A Peach and Berry Go Round - and we quickly whizzed a Broccoli and the Beast up for all three of us to try.

From the first go, we had to add some extra juice as our blender blades stopped rotating. The top advice for this is to add more juice - we used apple juice but coconut water or any other liquid would also work fine.

But once everything was blended, it was good to go and all three of us were fans from the first sip.

My tip is to use a straw, otherwise the mixture will stay quite frozen for a while.

Available to buy online, in multipack boxes - I have my eye on Flu Fighter and Ginger Ninja next - you can also get these from Ocado for £4.79 for five 140ml pouches, and Sainsbury's too I believe. Having juiced at home myself many a time, I think this is great value and such an easy option too.

I am a fast fan of these and may just have to switch where I shop so I can keep my freezer topped up with these smoothie stars.


Monday, 21 March 2016

Plan With Me Mondays #3 - how I get organised

For this week's #PlanWithMeMondays linky post, I thought I'd share the different ways I try and keep things organised.

Central to this, of course, is my planner. I really am using this as my go-to for all our family planning, be it my month to view diary to plan what we are doing, daily diary pages to organise each day in more detail and then sections for personal, work and blog planning.

Here's a few ideas for you...

DIARY I couldn't live without mine and I'm quite infamous for taking my time to find the 'right one' each new year. It has to be just so, as I use it every day and need to be able to organise things in a way that works with how my mind works. That's why my Kikki K time planner has come out on top for me this year.

Personally, I prefer a paper diary although I do also have Outlook for work purposes. With 'real' diaries, pick one that's the right size to suit your needs; small enough to fit in your handbag or large enough for you to plan out things in detail.

Use it to store important information and numbers, from doctors and dentists to national insurance, breakdown cover, road tax renewal dates - anything and everything you don't want to forget. You'll be glad to know you have all that information on hand, in one place, when the time comes you need it.

At the start of each new year, I transfer key dates across such as birthdays from my old diary to my 
new diary and I also remember to add things in like TV license payment dates, car service reminders and so on so that I always have a reminder ahead of time when something needs to be arranged or paid for.

NOTEBOOK My memory is a sieve if I don't write things down, particularly since having Ethan, so I always have a notebook on me. You can use your phone too if you're that way inclined but I like having a mini notepad to hand if I need to write off a quick shopping list or a reminder for later. A pen is also a must!

FAMILY CALENDAR We have a calendar in our dining room which we all add into as and when something new comes up and it has a column for each of us - Stephen, Ethan and myself - and even meals too. Little ones often have a busier calendar than we do, don't you think? There's always different appointments for them in the early days then parties as they get older.

We have The Gruffalo Family Planner and it's just brilliant. Colourful, spacious, with lots of stickers (great for giving rewards) and very good quality too, this is just the thing for us all to use.

You could also use a weekly plan, like this pad, and use it to write what everyone is doing or have a column for meals, chores and fun things. It may sound a bit extreme but it only take a couple of minutes to write and it helps you to sort out what needs to be done and when.

MEAL PLANNING This is something that can make a really big difference in terms of minimising wasted food and helping save some pennies too. It's also a great way to inspire yourself to try something new or give a new recipe a go without always relying on your usual go-to meals.

First of all, I'd recommend writing down a list of everything you already have in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. This will help you to use things up instead of always buying more than you need to doubling up on anything.

Then, you can take a look and see what meals you can already make from what you have, or what few things you need to get to make a complete meal.

If you've done your weekly plan, you can judge how many meals you need to account for so you don't buy too many fresh ingredients if you're only going to be eating at home five nights out of seven, or you can pick up enough if you need to take lunch to work with you.

I've been collecting recipes and keeping them in one place. I bought a recipe card box from Paperchase and whenever I see a recipe I want to try, I fill in a card and add it to my collection, when it comes to planning our food shop, I have a look through these cards and see what takes my fancy, then write a list of ingredients, thinking about where I can make the most of what I buy.

I then tend to use online shopping when planning a big shop or when it's a busy week. It's a great way to keep within your budget and to help you see what you've bought... and what you're missing. I like the fact you can save shopping lists to come back to, and how it remembers your favourites, which can make it a quick task.

EXPANDING FILE Although you can opt to go paperless with many bills, you will still have some paper copies and every house has documents that you need to keep safe.

I picked up an expanding file from Paperchase and keep all important documents at the front, such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificate, paper driving license, insurance policies etc. then file any other letters in separate sections. If I need to find something, I know it's in there.

POST-ITS, LABELS, LISTS If you really want to get things in order, then you must get some post-it notes, list pads, labels and any other stationery bits and pieces that will help you to make notes, set reminders and generally keep tabs on things. Any excuse to buy stationery!

Lists are the only way I can feel calm as I know everything is written in one place, rather than having to remember everything. It's just not possible! It's also a great way to stay motivated as you tick things off.

Have lists for your shopping, your household tasks, your workload, your blog ideas... or keep one big list, whatever works with you. A handy notebook and pen in your handbag is always useful for jotting down something you think of on the go, or noting it on your phone works too.

Now, onto the linky...


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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Making an Easter bonnet

No doubt, if your child is at nursery, preschool or primary school, they will have been tasked with making an Easter bonnet.

That is, they need one and you'll have to make it (if they're particularly little).

I've never had to make something like this myself so I wasn't sure where to start. When I looked in Asda last week for inspiration, they didn't have any of the cool items they have in now to make a bonnet, including hat bases and all the trimmings (all really cheap too, so worth checking out if you're stuck).

So, instead we picked up a straw trilby hat for £4. Ethan loves hats and I figured that with careful decoration, we'd easily be able to revert the hat back after Easter so he can use this as a summer hat.

We had some tissue paper at home and I also had a few Easter egg paper shapes cut out plus feathers, so I figured there was enough to give this bonnet thing a go.

Ethan coloured in a polystyrene egg for means I fixed this with some elastic at the front of the hat, looping it through the holes. I then wrapped the tissue paper around the top and fixed with some sticky dots.

I added a banner to the front, Easter egg shapes to the sides and themed washi tape all the way round the circumference. I then topped if off with some coloured feathers and an Easter chick.

It's definitely looks home-made and it's bright and cheery - hopefully it will do the job!

I wanted to make an effort but also not worry too much as I know it will probably be a wreck by the end of the day.

Little man seems pleased with it too and I can't wait to see what fun they have doing their parade this week.


Saturday, 19 March 2016

Win a Ferrero Easter bundle!

This week, this little old blog of mine reached a milestone - 250k views. Wow.

Since its humble beginnings back in November 2012, I've written 748 posts (and counting) about the highs and lows of  mummyhood and everything I have known and loved along the way.

Whilst I know this latest milestone may not be much to other bloggers, it's still something I'm proud of.

And to celebrate this, and the impending long weekend (yay!) and chocolate-fest ahead (wahoo!) I have a giveaway for you...

The lovely people at Ferrero Rocher have passed me a chocolate bundle of treats to giveaway to one lucky winner in time for the four day weekend (postman permitting).

The prize bundle includes: 
Golden Gallery, Gran Rocher, Ferrero Collection, Raffaello, Ferrero Bunny and Coco eggs

I'm sure that this will last you a little while - depending on how much you like to share!

Here's a few details to get your mouth watering...

Ferrero Rocher Bunny: This cute bunny-shaped box of delights is back this Easter, filled with classic Ferrero Rocher treats, it is the perfect way to celebrate Easter. Whether you choose to share the delicious Ferrero Rochers with family and friends, or save them all for yourself, this Ferrero Rocher bunny is a must-have gift this spring.

Grand Ferrero Rocher: The Grand Ferrero Rocher (125g) is a timeless gift for any Ferrero lover. The deliciously thick, hazelnut speckled chocolate shell, with two classic Ferrero Rochers hidden inside, all wrapped in the classic gold foil makes this a gift sure to delight anyone with a sweet tooth.

Ferrero Eggs, Hazelnut and Cocoa: These mouth-watering Ferrero Eggs in either hazelnut or cocoa are ideal for sharing with family and friends this Easter. Each individual egg is filled with a creamy heart of either hazelnut or cocoa, and enveloped in a crispy wafer and smooth, irresistible chocolate.


The giveaway is live now and you can enter any time before midnight on Tuesday (22nd March 2016), via the different options below. The winner will be announced on Wednesday and their details passed quickly to the Easter bunny at Ferrero so hopefully you will get your goodies in time for the long weekend.

Good luck and thank you for reading To Become Mum!


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Friday, 18 March 2016

Spring time at Cath Kidston

I know that some of you fellow Cath Kidston addicts out there also received the new Spring catalogue earlier this week, so I've pulled together a few of my highlights.

I love anything a bit quirky and when Cath is playful with her designs, and the new season drops are pretty and fun too.

My pick of the prints
As always, there's a bit of something for everyone, whether you like cute ditsy patterns or full on bloom prints.

For a while, the gnome print has been teased (I have the mug already) and now, the dress and the skirt have been introduced - dibs on the skirt! And if you like the quirkier designs, Guards & Friends is a new take on her popular Guard print, with lots of fun for boys as well as their mums.

Daisy Bed is bright and beautiful - I have the foldaway backpack, which is great for days out to put everything in for Ethan plus my bits and bobs - and I love the contrast colour dress below.

The Highgate Rose dining set is absolutely stunning, in a lovely shade of blue, and sold as separate items.

Richmond Rose is a very elegant design and is available in a wide range of bags and clothing, including a chic three quarter-length sleeve jacket - perfect for summer weddings, as is the gorgeous envelope clutch I've picked out below (I personally have my eye on the dark navy polka dot version).

There's also a few super cute broderie items, that are just oh so ladylike and perfect for spring days.

My pick of the items

Pictured L-R:

How summery does this little lot look all together? It makes me want to pack up a picnic and head outdoors right now!

Overall, there's a lot of pretty items to enjoy, and I like the more premium introductions Cath has been bringing in to the handbag range, but there isn't too many items that I have the 'have to have' bug for at the moment, particularly fashion wise.

What do you think about the new collection? Are you going to wait and see what else she has up her design sleeve for summer?


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Safe as houses

I’ll never forget the time when Stephen bought us a new gas cooker just four days after I’d given birth.

He’d been making some dinner for us both, while I rested with our new bundle of joy. After a short while, we could make out the faint smell of gas and quickly realised it must be coming from the kitchen. Quick as anything, he helped me and baby Ethan up and had us stand in the porch, while he went to investigate and see where the gas was coming from.

He’d gone into superdad protective mode.

Our old gas cooker was positively ancient and I knew, as the main chef in our house, that the pilot flame was temperamental. I suspected that when Stephen had gone to check on our food, when slamming the oven door closed, the flame had blown out but the gas had continued to disperse.

Easily done.

But all that mattered to Stephen was our safety and within minutes, my Mother-in-Law had arrived to take Ethan and I to her house while he waited for the gas man to come round and double-check everything was ok.

Luckily, all was ok, and within an hour, we arrived home. To find that Stephen, cursing our archaic cooker, has ordered a new one to be delivered within days.

He wasn’t going to take any risks!

It’s a funny story to look back on, but I do not take for granted the fact that my husband is great in a crisis and will do whatever he has to in order to keep us safe.

His weekly smoke alarm tests are ongoing proof of that.

Unfortunately, not everyone has someone to look out for them or remind them to check things, like I do.

We know our neighbours to say hello to in passing, but in all honesty, most the people on our street are complete strangers; just familiar faces, despite the fact that we've lived there for almost 10 years.

That’s why I wanted to share the story of how we got our new cooker – to highlight the need to do regular safety checks in your home, and perhaps to think of others too.

CORGI HomePlan has a campaign to encourage people to make sure their neighbours are ok. 'How Safe Is Your Street' aims to raise awareness that anyone from single parents to elderly or vulnerable people could be just a few doors down street from you and might appreciate an occasional visit and the offer of a helping hand.

From taking in people’s bins to offering to check smoke alarms, it’s not a lot to ask really, and there’s an online hub full of ideas on how you can get involved.

As for us, we now have a carbon monoxide alarm installed as well as a smoke alarm. My family knew another family that had been tragically effected by carbon monoxide poisoning many years ago, and with the poor family in the news who lost their two children whilst on holiday for the same reason, Stephen wanted to put a safety measure in place.

That’s what superheroes do – protect people. And we can all be a superhero to someone.

* This isn’t a sponsored post although I was kindly sent a carbon monoxide alarm. It might not be the most glamourous of products to shout about but it could save our lives one day.


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Fuss free fake tan - Madame LA LA review

I'm what you might call an English rose. I have the complexion of Snow White. Or, if you're not being tactful, I'm a milk bottle.

Pale (and I like to think interesting). Rarely changing colour, other than to go a few shades of pink if I sit in the sun too long.

I've tried in the past to fake tan, with questionable results. Sure, it looks great the day after you've first applied it, but how about a few days in, when it's started going patchy?

I don't really mind being pale - I've  certainly not bothered enough to apply fiddly fake tan regularly - but whenever I have had some colour, whether naturally acquired or out of a bottle, I have liked the look.

On my face in particular, I feel I look healthier and a tan helps even out my skin tone.

My main issues with fake tan in general are:

- It's messy
- It's hard to apply
- It can develop to be patchy, or become patchy after a few days
- It can stain - your hands, clothes, bedding
- It has that biscuit smell to it, as it develops
- It feels uncomfortable to wear, particularly when it's warm
- It takes commitment to keep on top of the tan
- It doesn't always look natural

So, you may wonder why I was keen to try a new fake tan product - Madame LALA - just launched at Superdrug.

Well, I was told that this fake tan was different. And with two weddings coming up this summer, where I will be bridesmaid / Maid of Honour, with one dress being a pale pink, and both dates being just four days apart, I want to see if I can find a tanning option to add a bit of colour and to be easy enough to maintain between the two events.

Anything is worth a try and I was intrigued to see if this could be a fake tan that I could get on with.

Madame LA LA​ is a​n​ organic​ anti-ageing​ tanning and skincare brand. It was launched in London​​ in 2014​ by beauty entrepreneur Nicole Dash Jones​ and is now available at Superdrug as of last month. 

They contain lots of skin-loving ingredients, such as coco water & aloe for built-in hydration, and they claim to offer a natural fade and a streak free LA glow, all year round. The quick dry formula is designed for lighter skin tones and both products have a faint smell of coconuts.

I was kindly sent the West Coast Face Bronzing Serum (RRP £25 for 100ml, currently available with 1/3 off), a year round skincare product infused with tanning agent, to try out as well as the Self Tan Mousse (£29.99 for 200ml - also currently on offer), both in light to suit my skin tone.

First of all, I applied the face serum. You only need a pea sized amount, although I actually used a bit less the first time as it's very dark and a little seems to go a long way and absorbs fast.

After exfoliating and using a rich body moisturiser, particularly on dry areas like my elbows, I then applied the mousse. This time around, I focused on just my neck, arms and chest, leaving my lower body and legs as I have patches of psoriasis and won't be showing off my pins any time soon.

Top photos - before, with and without make up, Bottom photos - after applying the serum and the body mousse (no filters applied)

Again, the mousse was incredibly quick to apply and I was impressed with how easy it was to smooth on my skin. Because you can see the mousse have an immediate colour change effect on your skin, you can easily blend the colour and see if you have areas you might have missed.

You have to work quick though!

I didn't have any gloves or a mitt but I recommend that you try applying the mousse with one of these if you can. I had dark brown hands within just five minutes of applying the mousse on my body, and after scrubbing with minimal success, I found a useful tip online to say using bicarbonate of soda mixed with a little warm water to form a paste does the trick. And it did! After washing away the product build up on my hands, I applied hand cream and a small amount of the face serum mixed together to the tops and sides of my hands first, to try and ensure an even colour result.

And that was it. There was no sticky feeling to my skin, the scent was still subtle and more like coconuts than anything and I was ready to get on with the rest of my evening.

The advice says to avoid showering for at least 10 hours, and that the tan would last for 10 days.

Here's how I looked the next day:

So, you probably don't think I look particularly tanned but trust me, this is me with a light tan!

I'd certainly apply a little more next time of reapply the day after, to be sure the colour looks natural, but the results I saw and how easy it all was has me seriously impressed.

Having been a fake tan sceptic, here's my verdict on Madame LA LA against each of the key areas:

* APPLICATION - easy, quick to blend, fast drying and no sticky feeling (just use a mitt!), 5/5

* FEEL / SMELL - feels light on the skin and the smell starts of faint and as the colour develops, it does get stronger and slightly like biscuits, but really a lot fainter than other fake tans I have tried. 3/5

* TAN RESULT - really soft and natural, seems to be good to build up so you can be safe and not overdo it. 5/5

* TAN LONGEVITY - I've had no staining and the colour looks even a few days later. So far so good! 4/5

* OVERALL VERDICT? I was really impressed by Madame LA LA and liked the soft feel of the serum and quick to blend and dry application of the mousse. You don't need to use a lot of product each time you tan, so I expect that both products will last quite some time, depending on how often you top up (perhaps all summer long) making them a good investment. 

All opinions my own - thank you to Madame La La for the opportunity to review these new products. I may be a fake tan convert after all!

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