Guest post: John Lewis Spring Summer 2016 Trend preview

John Lewis trendsMy sister and Aunty extraordinaire was lucky enough to preview John Lewis’ Spring/Summer 2016 collection. Here she’s picked her favourites for Scrip (3 years old) and D (7 months) before they hit the stores. There are a lot of cute animals in here – you have been warned.

Just as I was thinking it could be time to let myself feel a little bit Christmassy, along comes the John Lewis Spring Summer 2016 Trend event, and a chance to skip over the next few months of chilliness and see what styles Scrip and Little D could be sporting when the sun shines again.

First up here’s a classic dog walking a dinosaur on a lead t-shirt. Oh – and they’re on their way to the museum.


You might look at this and think… nightmare to wash – but imagine how it will look for the first ten – okay, five – minutes of wear! And that’s a pantaloon suit hidden behind…

John Lewis Spring Summer 2016 trends

John Lewis Spring Summer 2016 trends

These have to be one of Little D’s first pairs of shoes please sis – imagine him looking down and seeing such happy lions on his feet :)


Cheeky seagulls on a nautically-striped dress – perfect for Cornwall (especially with those long sleeves for chilly pre-summer days)


And talking about summer – here’s an essential – and if you need to wear wellies why not choose to wear ones with sharks’ tails on the back…


Pull on a tutu, and you’re ready for anything, is a life-motto I’m happy to pass onto Scrip. And if it’s a goldy-peachy-sparkly tutu, the sky is the limit! Don’t be surprised if this ends up underneath a certain Christmas tree this year.


Very French, in my view – and perfect for our next family holiday, wherever it may take us!


Watch out, zebras crossing! And they look very stylish doing it… as will Little D when he wears this number.

John Lewis Spring Summer 2015 trends

And finally… feast your eyes on this amazing fluff-tastic dream of a dress. Warm enough to wear now over jeans or leggings, cool enough to wear FOREVER. Oh, and it goes up to a very stretchy age 14. Just saying!


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27 random things babies like

Things babies likeBaby D has reached seven months. He’s starting to sit on his own (but still prefers lying down), is having much more fun splashing in the bath and loves his nursery rhymes. He’s also started to play a little growling game – where he growls and I growl a reply and he growls back and so on. Hours of fun.

Although I keep being told not to compare my big baby and my little one, I have noticed that Scrip liked a lot of the same things at his age. And they’re mostly random. Here’s a snaphot:

  1. Pigeons
  2. Chewing paper
  3. Bubbles
  4. Winding the Bobbin Up
  5. Pulling socks off
  6. TV news graphics
  7. iPhones
  8. iPads
  9. i-anythings
  10. Balls
  11. Ella’s Kitchen
  12. Staring at older children
  13. Glasses on people’s faces
  14. Glasses to drink out of
  15. Chewing baby spoons
  16. Sucking tea spoons
  17. Swings
  18. The Jumperoo
  19. Mirrors
  20. String
  21. Hair
  22. Earrings
  23. Bracelets
  24. Calpol
  25. Calpol syringes
  26. Peepo
  27. Empty baby wipe packets

And five things they definitely don’t:

  1. Putting tops on
  2. The end of bath time
  3. Leaving arms to go into pushchairs or carseats
  4. Hats
  5. Courgette
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Driving (me crazy) – on the road again

DrivingWith wet winter weather closing in, when I’m struggling to please both the little ones I sometimes bundle them into the car for a bit of a drive. We may only end up at a big supermarket or a garden centre slightly out of the way, but I find the drive calms them down a bit (particularly if I relent and let Scrip’s tunes blare out) and also gives me a bit of headspace.

Travelling to Cornwall every few months and Kent a bit more frequently they’ve both got used to longish drives, and luckily neither has been sick (so far). We play eye spy with Scrip and baby D seems content looking out of the window or dozing, as long as we have regular breaks. Continue reading

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11 reasons #pbloggers are pretty awesome

pbloggersOk, so I may be writing this after a large glass of red and a full night’s sleep (please let it happen again!!) but it’s good to indulge in a little positive navel gazing every now and again. And this isn’t really about me but about the vast community that are #pbloggers. This is why I’m proud to be a part of it:

  1. With pbloggers it’s all about collaboration not competition – generally people are seen as peers and not rivals. People will often happily share good opportunities.
  2. Many are ace online and know every social media tool and trick out there (and a lot know coding, too).
  3. They’re pretty good at design as well – there’s such a range of beautiful blogs out there.
  4. Who else can you turn to about a niggling issue with your baby or child and be sure of getting a quick, helpful answer (or a bit of support)?
  5. Their blogs make the most entertaining reading – they can be funny, heart-wrenching, angry or uplifting.
  6. And without formal training they know how to weave a great story or listicle out of any review or product.
  7. Who else is up and chatting at 3am when my eyes are drooping and my husband is gently snoring? There’s even a #3amclub hashtag.
  8. pbloggers are always helpful to newbie bloggers, sharing their vast blogging knowledge.
  9. Some have also taken their experience to new heights by talking eloquently to vast audiences.
  10. And most aren’t afraid to share warts and all the highs and lows of parenting, even if their Instagram feed sometimes makes life look more Hatley than Horrid Henry.
  11. I’m constantly entertained and most importantly inspired by them.
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Mini Afternoon Tea at Reform Social & Grill

Mini Afternoon TeaWith a special trip into central London and a date with her Aunty, this was always going to be a popular way to spend an afternoon (a set of Frozen jewellery even made an appearance). But the children’s afternoon tea at the Reform Social & Grill (part of the Mandeville Hotel) was certainly a real hit with Scrip.

We’ve been for afternoon tea before as a family and she has enjoyed sharing some of our sandwiches and cakes (what’s not to like?). But this was her own meal, perfectly presented and carefully designed around what children really love to eat.

While my sister and I were enjoying a champagne tea (well, why not?) Scrip was served with her own tin lunchbox (a nice touch as she loved opening it up for the big reveal) filled with goodies. These included fish finger and sweet ketchup and smooth peanut butter and homemade jam sandwiches; BBQ chicken slider; fruit and chocolate chip scone; chocolate and marshmallow lollipop; jelly and custard pot and a Reform jammy dodger with cream. And instead of tea she had strawberry milk with a gingerbread man dipper.

We went at the end of the day so that she would be hungry, and she was. But I have to say with so many sweet things on offer she only wanted a few bites of the sandwiches before moving on to everything else. So watch out for that if you go! Not to mention her preoccupation with ensuring her Frozen ring, necklace and bracelet were all on correctly.

She reported that she enjoyed everything although I’d say the gingerbread dipper was a firm favourite. We liked all of ours, too. Everything felt freshly prepared and tasted good.

We had a booth, which was comfy and accommodated a pre-schooler and a baby well. The atmosphere was relaxed and not too formal although the lights did go down a bit later (we arrived at 5pm) when it became more of a grown up occasion.

We ended up taking a doggy bag home, which didn’t last for long. For a meal out we’d usually opt for a known crowd-pleaser like Pizza Express but this was a real treat for all of us and one I’d repeat (Frozen ring, necklace and bracelet in place).

Thank you for our tea!
Mini Afternoon tea at Reform Social & Grill costs £12.50 and is available Mon – Fri 3pm – 5.30pm, Sat 12pm – 5pm and Sun 12pm – 5.30pm
Reform Social & Grill, Mandeville Hotel, Mandeville Place, London. W1U 2BE
0207 224 1624

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Hornits, nom noms and Tractor Ted – Family Playtime

Talk to Mums CollageIt’s not every day you get to create lanterns with Art Attack’s Lloyd Warbey, have a snowball fight, a face paint and round it all off by doing the monster mash. Welcome to Family Playtime from Talk to Mums – a chance for 3 year old Scrip to indulge in some serious playing and for my husband and I (and baby D) to get to know some new products and companies.

Scrip loved it and amazingly still had enough energy to scoot around North London afterwards, and we found it really interesting. Here are a few of our highlights:

Trying out the Mini Hornit children’s horn – perfect for scooters or bikes this has over 20 different sounds (including some crowd-pleasing body ones) and 5 different light settings (good for these darker evenings). It attaches simply and quickly and comes in a rainbow of colour options. At £15 this would make a great present.

Tasting new NomNoms – a range of healthy world food meals for both children and adults. I love the idea of encouraging the children to taste a range of food and these use herbs and spices as seasoning rather than added salt, sugar or preservatives. The five meals in the range are a Tiny Tagine, Little Laksa, Tiny Thali and two Tiny Tiffins. And the interesting thing is that they’ve created both a child and adult version of the same meal, which plays to another food rule of eating together and eating the same thing (the adults get an extra spice or masala pack if they want to add even more flavour). Scrip happily tucked into a tagine at the same time as me. They’re available from

If you’ve had a little wannabe farmer in your lives you’ll have heard of Tractor Ted. The books have gone down very well as presents in the past. Tractor Ted introduces children to the farming world and features harvest time, sowing the fields, rearing livestock and so on. But unlike many children’s programmes, Tractor Ted uses real life farming footage with Ted being the only animation. They’ve recently had some successful regional cinema screenings which they may continue into next year.

Kinnerton Chocolate was particularly popular with all the family! They make character chocolate and are the only brand in the UK who can guarantee some of these to be completely nut free – great for parties. There were some favourite characters like Frozen and Peppa Pig and some advent calendars (is it that time already?!)

Crystal Holidays were there talking about their family ski holidays. We used to go regularly but haven’t been for the last few years, for obvious reasons! It was good to get some info about what might be available – including childcare and the best places to go. I also like their Family Guide to the Mountain which has everything you’d need to know, even for complete beginners.

We also heard about the Good Toy Guide which suggests the best toys to promote children’s development. It was really interesting and Scrip quickly got to work on some puzzles – the kind of thing she obviously enjoyed but I wouldn’t ordinarily think about buying. It was a good reminder to be open minded.

We also met Homesense, Indigo Face Painting and Return to Glory. Thanks Talk to Mums for a fab, fun-filled day!

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My 7 newborn inessentials

Newborn inessentialsAs expectant mothers, we’ve all pored over Baby Centre (actually ‘Center’ usually) articles on products you absolutely MUST have for your newborn. And for some reason both times I’ve felt like everything I need has to be bought BEFORE the baby arrives – as if I’ll be house-bound for weeks and months after (I wasn’t) and as if Amazon isn’t handily there for some night feed purchasing (it certainly was).

So you’ve got the Moses basket/fancy sleeping cushion/co-sleeper, a mountain of coloured muslins and enough newborn nappies to fill your shiny new cot. But what about the real essentials that no one talks about? The things that are going to keep you sane and functioning for the first few months? Here are what I’d call my newborn (in)essentials:

  1. A portable phone charger – because, let’s face it, the iPhone/smartphone is your constant companion. For night feed browsing and spending (see above), for arranging coffee dates, for finding the baby massage class and for uploading adorable sleeping baby shots.
  2. Eye cream – you might not be able to fake sleep but you might want to help your eyes while you adjust to being up at odd times and falling asleep in the middle of Homes Under the Hammer.
  3. Your local coffee shop loyalty card – OK you’re spending a bit on large lattes (and a small sliver of carrot cake) but look, you’re getting a free one each week so it’s all worth it! And you can now say ‘the usual’ to the owner which feels quite nice.
  4. A nice rain coat (that covers your bottom) – even if your baby has a summer birthday you still need to be prepared. I learnt the hard way that there’s no holding an umbrella when you’re pushing a pram. They have a raincover, you have a pack-a-mac or something lovely from Seasalt if you’ve got yourself organised.
  5. A remote control with working batteries – boxsets are your friends. As is daytime TV. My favourite thing was/is to clog up our Sky Planner with episodes of Frasier. Great for feeding in front of and for watching as your baby falls asleep on you (and you drift off too).
  6. Decent biscuits – none of your plain Rich Tea nonsense. You’ll probably be eating one handed for a while and there’s no easier and more filling snack/breakfast/lunch/dinner. Just make sure there are some wholesome oats (and chocolate chips) in there.
  7. A corkscrew – or even better, buy screw top wine that you can open with one hand (only kidding – you’ll need to pop the baby in the bouncer for this one ;-)).

What newborn inessentials would you add to the list?

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Trying out Heavenly Organics Coconut Squishies

Coconut SquishiesThese should be called Coconut Smoothies according to Scrip, who now asks for one as soon as she catches sight of them. I’m pleased to say my 6 month old enjoys them just as much. They’re the latest baby feeding range from Heavenly Organics – I wrote about their Wafer Wisps last year which were also a crowd pleaser.

These are pouches – a very familiar and handy format for parents – containing a blend of coconut milk, organic fruit, a bit of lemon juice and added calcium. Each pack provides one portion of the famous ‘five a day’.

It’s interesting to see coconut milk in children’s food – it’s certainly been popular with adults over the last few years. It’s rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals and is lactose free, so good for allergies or intolerances. And I have to admit, I had a try and thought the banana, apple and strawberry in particular was pretty tasty – shades of a virgin pina colada!

I also like its consistency – not too runny and a good first food. So another pouch to add to the weaning repertoire. I do promise I’ll get round to making my own delicious weaning foods soon…

Heavenly Coconut Squishies are now available from Ocado at £3.00 for a pack of four 90g pouches and £1.00 for an individual 90g pouch. They come in two flavours:

* Banana, apple, mango – and coconut milk
* Banana, apple, strawberry – and coconut milk

Shauna Blair, a mum of three and a lover of organic food, created the Heavenly range in response to the limited range of healthy, organic baby food in her native Northern Ireland. Her children also have allergies so her range bears this in mind.

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Breastfeeding bars for energy and nutrients – Nutrimum

Nutrimum breastfeeding barsNext week marks the six month mark for baby D, and six months of me breastfeeding him. I’ve always said I’d like to try and get to this stage for both children and I’m pleased I have. It hasn’t been an easy ride this time and I have to admit it’s still not always comfortable with him, I think because of his tongue tie. But I’ve mostly enjoyed it and he seems to be doing well.

My weight loss this time has been gradual – certainly a lot slower than first time around when I was back in regular clothes by now. I’m still rocking the maternity jeans with belts and rotating my breastfeeding tops and oversized t-shirts. I’d like to lose more and more quickly – but I know that’s not a great idea when breastfeeding and I also know that whatever I do my body isn’t letting go of much weight around my middle while I’m feeding.

I’m still pretty hungry but I’m over the initial coffee and cake (or pain au chocolat) stage now and trying to snack on fruit, nuts and seeds. I also have an oaty breastfeeding bar most days. I did try and make my own – through Pinterest and online research I found some homemade ideas – but I’ve found there’s always a taste compromise with the healthier bars.

So I tend to go for a Nutrimum bar which is tasty and filling. It also gives you the right amount and range of vitamins and minerals so you don’t need to take another supplement when breastfeeding. They come in two flavours – Cranberry & Chocolate or Red Berries (my favourite). I don’t remember anything like this being available first time around, three years ago.

I first discovered Nutrimum through Boots Parenting Club and then I was invited to a Nutrimum event which was a Q&A and cookery session at Food at 52 – a great venue, even if it is the other side of London from here. In the company of TV Dietician, Lucy Jones, and Midwife and Blogger, Clemmie Hooper, we made a day’s worth of meals designed to be simple but nutritious for pregnant and breastfeeding women. We put together scrambled eggs with feta, rainbow salad with chicken (or tofu for the veggies like me), a fish dish and a smoothie packed full of good ingredients.

It was interesting to see how we could easily get more nutrients into meals – even basic ones – but also to hear how it’s so difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals we need through food alone. I took a supplement throughout pregnancy and I take one now when I remember, but I do find it reassuring that the bars not only stave away hunger for me but also give me everything I need. I also like the taste – they’re sweet enough to feel like a treat.

My only criticism is that they’re expensive at £5 for a box of 5 – especially costly on a mat leave budget. But if you’re buying separate supplements and snacks, it might work out around the same cost.

Nutrimum also offer pregnancy products – there’s more on the Nutrimum website. Thanks for a fab and very interesting evening!

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My Liebster Award and nominations

liebster award

I love a good nose around new sites and getting to know their authors – which is funny as I don’t really put much personal info on my blog at all. Last month Jo Cormack of Emotionally Aware Feeding nominated me for a Liebster Award – thanks Jo! The Liebster Awards are a good way of getting to know new blogs and bloggers.

Jo is a therapist and expert in children’s eating – here’s my review of her fab book on counteracting food fussiness, War and Peas. She’s also a good person to follow on Twitter and Facebook as she regularly gives away great nuggets of helpful info.

So here are my answers to her questions:

1. What do you think is the secret to writing a great blog?
A tough one to start with! I think always having an awareness of who you want to read it really helps, trying to speak in your own voice and ensuring every post has a beginning, a middle and an end.

2. What advice would you give to someone who was contemplating starting a blog?
What are you waiting for? It’s free, is a great place for spare thoughts or making sense of your thoughts and it can grow and change with you.

3. What do you blog about?
I call myself a parenting blogger but it’s really everything that touches my life since becoming a mum. So anything from how I’m finding life with a one/two/three year old, to great (easy) recipes I love, to reviews of relevant products and experiences to the best children’s winter coat I can find. Plus a few rants.

4. Who is your favourite author and why?
My favourite book is The Awakening by Kate Chopin – it’s always stayed with me. On holiday I like a gripping read – I usually take a range of books including a Douglas Kennedy and I love finding new writers. But with a five month old, reading is a luxury!

5. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? You can have four guests, dead, alive, real or fictional.
Just four?! Queen Elizabeth I, Don Draper, Hilary Clinton and Oscar Wilde.

6. What is your favourite foodie memory?
Dinner at Gordon Ramsey’s, Royal Hospital Road. Delicious food and impeccable service.

7. What is your favourite place to eat out?
Now I’m a parent I would say Pizza Express is a real crowd pleaser.

8. What do you do to relax?
Reading, but see above! At the moment I love a good boxset before an early bedtime.

9. Do you have any pets?
No – but I’d love to have a dog.

10.  If you could spend a weekend in any city in the world, where would you choose?

11. Rice or pasta?
Pasta, all the way.

I nominate:

Maximum Output, Minimum Effort – a new blog by a friend (and relative) Katie, a mum of two who’s had her blog in the planning for a long time. She gives great inspiration for simple but delicious family dishes and treats.

What I Ate Last Night – reviews and recipes from a great friend and a fantastic cook. Some lovely recipes on here. She also has a rather good taste in kitchens 😉

Is it Wine O’clock Yet – introduced to me by Regan, Kath’s blog is about her two children, also a boy and a girl and also three years apart, or as she says: ‘Food, wine and family time’. It’s refreshingly honest and authentic.

And here are my questions – a mixture of foodie and non-foodie:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What would be your ideal holiday?
  3. Describe your ideal Saturday.
  4. What was your last text and who was it to?
  5. What’s your favourite cocktail?
  6. What’s your signature dinner party dish?
  7. What’s your favourite cookery show?
  8. How many cookery books do you actually use and what’s your favourite?
  9. Where would you really like to go on a date night?
  10. What’s your karaoke song?
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