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Ella’s Kitchen – a weaning guide

April 17, 2014

Ella’s Kitchen are our go to brand for baby food and have been since Finn started weaning. I love their philosophy of natural ingredients that are simply cooked. No fuss, no faff.

We started weaning at 4 months when we just couldn’t keep up with Finn’s appetite. He’d breastfeed then bottle feed a ridiculous amount. He could take 2 breastfeeds and 15 ounces of milk in a couple of hours. Within a couple of days of baby rice, he was a much happier and settled baby. I cooked a lot of fruit and veg over the next few weeks but I didn’t always have the time to prepare every meal – especially now that I am back at work (quite evidently I don’t even have time to blog anymore!). Ella’s Kitchen products, therefore, are always in my cupboard.

They have launched a new digital weaning guide that is downloadable in order to help parents embarking on any stage of the weaning process. I love anything that helps me get my head around this nerve-wracking and confusing time so I have been using it loads!

Finn is 8 months now so we’re quite far into the weaning process, stage 2 in fact but I still use the guide even now. For example, I couldn’t remember what he was allowed now – eggs? dairy? meat & fish? but there is a while wealth of information that has helped me to develop a menu of sorts for Finn.

Breakfast: Ella’s Kitchen porridge (banana or strawberry, mango & banana – anything else will be spat out) with fruit puree. We were sent some of the new range from Ella’s Kitchen which are suitable for first tastes from 4 months but I still like to use them now as a topping for his porridge.

Breakfast with the new peaches pouch

Breakfast with the new peaches pouch

Nom

Nom

Mmm...breakfast

Mmm…breakfast

All gone!

All gone!

Snack: Ella’s Kitchen puffits, the raspberry & vanilla one. I’ve never been sent these, I buy them myself & Finn loves them. I was initially worried about him choking on them but they almost dissolve in his mouth so he’s fine gumming them.

Lunch – Pasta. I sometimes make my own pasta sauce for Finn but when I don’t have the time we use the first tastes vegetable pouches. He likes the sweet potato one best. Again, not the traditional way of using it but I like the consistency of it for pasta and Finn loves it too.

Dinner: Whatever is around & quick as tea time is manic! Craig’s on his own most tea times and has to feed Sam as well. Quite often we will use pouches, especially if I’ve forgotten to pull something out of the freezer the night before. Judge away at us using ready made food – I’m happy and confident in the products we use (yes I genuinely do use and spend my own money on Ella’s Kitchen products as I believe they are the best on the market) and we both work so have limited time to spend in the kitchen. As Finn grows he’ll be eating more what we eat which will be better. At the moment I kind of forget to portion up our food before seasoning it and adding half a tonne of chilli powder! I’m getting better though. Finn does love curried lentils.

Drinks: He only had 2 bottles a day now, morning and night. Water with all meals and snacks. I despise juice for babies. Despise it.

I have just noticed that there are biscuits in the Ella’s Kitchen range that I haven’t seen stocked at our local Asda. Think I’ll go hunting for them this weekend. Like his Mum, Finn does love a nice biscuit!

If you want to check out the weaning guide head over to the Ella’s Kitchen website. As a regular user (even before it was pointed out to me) I definitely recommend it.

Disclosure: I was sent 4 pouches of the new first tastes range to try & the cutest weaning spoon you ever did see. I wasn’t told what to write. I would like to say though that I honestly buy Ella’s Kitchen products above all others. Finn loves them, I love their ethos & they are reasonably priced – especially when on offer at Asda.

On life: with Sam

March 15, 2014

If it’s not Finn who’s up at the arse crack of dawn then it’s Sam. There’s some sort of brotherly conspiracy to ensure I have 6 hours or less of sleep. Last night: 5 hours. I’m exhausted. Especially as I’m back at work now, but that’s a whole different post I’ve not had time to write yet.

We’re using the time productively this morning though. Finn’s whizzing around in his walker looking for yet more food whilst Sam & I discuss life.

Me: What do you want to do as a job when you get older?
Sam: The housework. I’ll wash up and clean the clothes all the time.

Me: Do you think you’ll get married?
Sam: Who too?!
Me: Anyone. It could be someone you know now or someone you meet when you’re older.
Sam: I already know who I’m going to marry. Cinderella!

Me: And will you & Cinderella have children?
Sam: Yes. And I’ll kiss them on the nose and tell them I love them. Then I’ll kiss Cinderella! *collapses into giggles* I’ll kiss a girl!!

How to save money when buying the big things in life

February 27, 2014

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The other day I posted about the Negotiation Academy from webuyanycar.com that I attended last month. As well as having a delicious afternoon tea (diet be damned!) we were also treated to some fascinating talks and information from the panel of experts who appear on the online academy .

Financial expert Martin Chrimes discussed the purchasing of the big items in life – houses, cars etc.

1. Lay the foundations: decide what your budget is. Be sensible and only decide on what you can afford. Think about how the costs per month (if relevant) will affect your finances.

2. Beware if you are borrowing money to fund your purchase. Research the options available to you. In many cases financing is better arranged elsewhere. For example, if buying a car the finance they offer you will often be at a higher interest rate than with a bank. An added advantage to this is, if you have the money ready and don’t need to accept their financing, you are in a better position to negotiate.

3. Do your homework. Know what you can get for your money elsewhere. Research is so easy online nowadays. If you are looking for a house then you can check Right Move; for cars, Autotrader. Also, know the product you are purchasing.

4. When you find what you want don’t seem too eager. Be calm and collected.

5. When making your move, do it on your terms. Don’t listen to any sob stories the seller may give you ‘I need to hit my targets or I won’t get my bonus and my kids can’t have a bike for Christmas’ etc. Halve the initial offer and go from there.

6. Remember – you can always walk away! There will always be another car or another house. Don’t blow the budget to ‘save face’ or because you have invested time in it. If you do, it could have serious repercussions for years to come.   You need to love your big purchases, be it a house, a car or a holiday.

Good luck if you’re planning on negotiating! Pop along to the Negotiation Academy for more hints and tips. If it saves you money, let me know!

*Disclaimer; I was recompensed for my time and expenses in attending this event.*

My Slimming World journey so far

February 26, 2014

As any regular readers will know, I’m permanently on a quest to find the right diet for me. I’ve tried all sorts and so far, I’m still fat. Ace. When Finn was 8 weeks old my Mum decided to join Slimming World & asked if I wanted to go with her. Because it was spur of the moment decision I didn’t have time to over complicate things and just popped along to see more about it. Instant love! The plan seemed easy to follow, workable and proven. Why not, I gave it a shot.

After I had Sam it took me 11 months and an extreme meal replacement diet to get out of my maternity clothes. During that pregnancy I had eaten like a pig and piled on a good few stone. With Finn though I was more careful. In the end I put on about 1.5 stone and that came off within the first 3 weeks. I lost another half a stone or so (go breast feeding!) in the month after that. I felt much better but I was still 6 stone overweight! I joined Slimming World. Things have really fallen into place over the last few months. Want to see how well?

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Boom! (not sure where my 1 stone award has got to…)

As of today I’m 3lbs away from getting my 2 stone award. Last week I got my Club 10 after losing 10% of my body weight! That was a big moment. I still have a long, long way to go (I want to lose a total of 6 stone) but I finally feel it’s achievable. Motivating me at the moment are a huge number of Instagrammers and a surprisingly high number of Slimming World bloggers. I can’t believe how many there are! To keep me motivated I’ll be trying to update my journey here every week. I’ll also be posting one of my favourite recipes of the week. Hopefully I can keep on track and finally lose all this weight that has been dragging me down for so many years!

I’m gutted that I’ll be leaving my usual weigh in group this week. I normally attend on a Thursday morning with my Mum but with returning to work next week I can’t. Devastated. I’ll be heading to a new class next Thursday in the evening, hopefully with a friend who I’ll not name yet in case she doesn’t want people to know. I always find attending groups with friends helps – there’s that bit more motivation to do well.

Any tips on how to stay on the straight & narrow? Have you done SW before? Any advice would be greatly received!

How to negotiate…

February 25, 2014

Last month I was lucky enough to attend a Negotiation Academy run by webuyanycar.com. They have set up this online academy to help everyone get not only the best deal on a new car, but also arm us with skills for negotiating in any purchasing situation, how to shop for the best deal, how to get the most for your money and how to spot those little ‘dodgy’ deals that a garage can sometimes pull.

The experts who appear on the website and give advice were on hand to talk us through these skills and honestly, it was an eye opener! I am not a natural bargainer. I want to please people, I want them to like me, I want to appear affluent and I don’t want to look stupid. Pretty ridiculous when you think you will (most likely) never see these people again.

What resonated with me most from the day was the talk from social psychologist, Dr Sandi Mann. She queried why I felt it was ok to haggle abroad (say in Egypt where I have been pretty successful at getting what I want for a bargain price) and not here? I don’t know! I have no idea what makes it so different but, armed with extensive notes, I will definitely be haggling for my next major purchase.

To give you a very quick overview for how to be confident during negotiations, and these can mean in any situation, not just purchasing something – so possibly getting that pay rise that is long overdue? A promotion? Negotiating salary when offered a new role? These tips can help you get what you deserve.

1. Ask for what you want with authority and confidence.

No one is going to negotiate with someone who looks worried, embarrassed, ill at ease or who is umming and ahhing. If you do that, they’ll know you don’t really mean it and they will get what they want. Not your ideal outcome.

2. Use your body language as a tool.

Engage with the person, subtly mirror their body language. Nod, make eye contact, lean in towards them (not too close, you don’t want to make them uncomfortable!).

3. Use silence as your friend.

If you’re anything like me then you will wiffle waffle like mad to fill a silence. Seriously, I have a problem. This can work completely against you in a negotiation situation. Explain what you want, sit back, embrace the silence and wait for them to come back with an answer. Don’t say ‘I want this’. (silence) ‘Well maybe I could go for this’ (silence) ‘Or even this’. Before you know, they’ve brought you down without even saying a word.

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I’ve not shared everything with you – there is much more fantastic information and advice on the website. Head over, learn, use it, rejoice & save money! Happy days!

I’ll be back later in the week with more top tips from the Negotiation Academy.

*Disclosure: I was recompensed for my time & expenses in attending this event*

Lookit where I am!

February 10, 2014

I’m guest posting over at Sim’s Life this weekend.

There is a recipe for a particularly delicious and low fat Slimming World curry so pop over & find out how to make this beauty.

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Whilst you’re there do go & have a nosy at what Sim is up to – she’s part of the Bury Blogger Massive and you have to be super cool and interesting to be a member. Naturally.

Finn – 6 months old!

January 31, 2014

How? How did my Littlest get to 6 whole months already?

This little boy (though currently suffering through his first proper cold) brings so much happiness to our lives. We tell him every day how much we love him, how he is our little joy. He laughs, we laugh and then I smother him in kisses. A beautiful baby can never be kissed too much you know.

Happy half birthday little man. You are very much loved by everyone who knows you.

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one month old

2 months old

3 months old

4 months old

5 months old

6 months caption

Vital statistics: approx. 21lbs, clothes aged 9-12 months. Eats: everything. 4 bottles plus 3 actual meals with desserts. Loves: bananas, being tickled (he is the most ticklish baby I’ve ever known!), his walker, chewing things, his brother. Hates: spinach, not having anything to chew on, waiting for food.

Sudocrem Moisturising Mousse – a review

January 29, 2014
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There’s nothing better than a baby fresh out of a bath, clean and smelling incredible. Look at this chunky body! Couldn’t you just squeeze him? I get to every day! Love it!

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We moisturise Finn after his baths. His skin has a tendency to be a little dry and we learnt the hard way with Sam that prevention is better than cure when it comes to scaly skin. Being all new and adorable I tend to stick to hypoallergenic, unscented moisturisers rather than have him smelling like a tart’s handbag. I have been surprised at how strong some of the ‘baby’ moisturisers are!

I recently received Sudocrem’s new moisturising mousse to review. I had tried their sun protection mousse a couple of years ago and liked it very much. The cold weather has been pretty hard on Finn’s skin. His dribbling is like a running tap and when you add in the wind chill, his cheeks have been getting chapped and sore.

I was really impressed with this. What seemed initially like a lot of mousse on my hand soaked easily into Finn’s skin with no greasy residue (I do worry about dropping him and a greasy slick of cream on his skin only adds to this!).

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Unlike normal Sudocrem, there was no scent to it so I could still smell Finn’s lovely, clean baby smell. I also put it on his cheeks to see if it would make any difference and it did. Within a couple of days his face was back to peachy pink without the angry red patches that had been around his cheeks, mouth and chin. The packaging does say that it protects the skin as well as moisturises which was evident here.

Plus points: Easily absorbed. Not strongly scented. No slippery skin (!). Effective. Easily dispensed. Not cold on application (like creams can be) so no startled baby. Doesn’t spill. Reasonable price (currently £3.99 on Amazon).

Negatives: none found after a month of use.

Thumbs up from Finnbo!

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Sudocrem Moisturising Mousse comes in this spray bottle, like hair mousse (keep away from the older kids, folks!) and doesn’t contain any perfumes, colours, parabens or other preservatives. We like it a lot.

*Disclaimer – we were sent this for review but were not obligated to give a positive review. All opinions are ours.)s

A BoobieMilk breast feeding vest review

January 15, 2014

I’ve written before about how much I enjoyed breast feeding Sam and I was really looking forward to starting that journey again with Finn. It hasn’t been easy. To begin with Finn refused to eat and we were readmitted to hospital the day after being discharged because we’d had to resort to feeding him via teaspoon. Within a few hours though he had taken some formula then been established on the breast and we were away! We’ve had various issues (a blog post on their own) but one thing which has made things easier is this breast feeding vest, kindly given to me by the lovely Karen from BoobieMilk.

This is a fantastic online store for all  breast feeding needs, from bras and night wear to nursing necklaces and maternity support bands. They also sell gift vouchers which would be an ideal gift for any pregnant woman.

I received the Emma Jane long maternity and nursing vest in black. Throughout my pregnancy it was my go-to top as it was the only one which truly covered my huge bump! I wore it under tops when I was worried about flashing my belly, under shirts so I could keep them unbuttoned over said huge bump and during that horrendously hot summer (distant memory now!) when I had literally nothing else cool to wear.

BoobieMilk vest at 32 weeks pregnant, height of summer, with lovely Karen  (GrumpyishMum) after she'd hosted a surprise baby shower for me. Yes I did cry!

BoobieMilk vest at 32 weeks pregnant, height of summer, with lovely Karen (GrumpyishMum) after she’d hosted a surprise baby shower for me. Yes I did cry!

After having Finn though, it really came into its own. There is an additional built in bra shelf which means you don’t need to wear a bra with it and it keeps in any breast pads you may need. The shoulder straps are adjustable so you can make it as comfortable as you like. The top part (on top of the bra shelf) unclips from the straps and pulls down so you can easily and discreetly nurse your baby. I personally found that wearing it under another top made it most comfortable for me, as I could pull up the top one, lower this one and I wasn’t exposing anything I didn’t want to when I fed Finn in public.

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Discreet enough to feed at Giraffe

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Even when Finn pulled my outer top down, I was still covered

I had the size 18-20 which fitted fine over my bump and also when I wasn’t pregnant. I like to think this is due to the incredible elasticity of it, rather than I.m just as big as when I was pregnant! The top is also available in white.

If you are local to Karen, she also does home fittings for bras which is an invaluable service, as I know, having tried on a ridiculous number before actually finding one that fits!

Pop over to the http://boobiemilk.co.uk/ for a browse and say hi on their Facebook page here.

If you have any other breast feeding ‘must haves’ please let me know!

(Disclaimer: I was sent a vest for the purpose of a review but was not told what to write. All opinions are my own.)

Homemade Christmas!

December 17, 2013

I am the least crafty person in the world. Trust me. When an email from cartridgesave.co.uk dropped in my inbox about Christmas crafting I laughed and left it. A few days later, after a few glasses of wine, I thought ‘How hard could it be?!’ and accepted the challenge. There is a prize to win £500 for the best cracker but as we had no loo rolls in the house (we forgot and threw then out!) we’re out of that. I did want to share what we made as we’re so proud of ourselves!

cartridgesave.co.uk have created 6 downloadable (free) guides suitable for children to make various decorations, including the ill fated crackers. We went for the 3D tree decoration.

Instructions

Instructions

Cutting out trees

Sticking on balls and glitter

Sticking on balls and glitter

 

The finished article!

The finished article!

 

Ta daa!

Ta daa!

We had so much fun making this that after Sam put his jim jams on, he played some more. He sat ever so quietly, cutting, sticking and creating until almost 9pm. We didn’t have the heart to stop him when he was enjoying himself so much!

Drawing...

Drawing…

 

Cutting

Cutting

 

Super proud of his finished garland - with a celebratory bourbon biscuit!

Super proud of his finished garland – with a celebratory bourbon biscuit!

Thank you for sending the craft pack through – you may have just made a very uncrafty family, crafty!

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