more-eco-friendly-mum-lockdown
Lists, mum life

Becoming more eco-friendly in lockdown

I’m never sure what the latest buzzword is when talking about being kinder to the planet – reducing my carbon footprint? Yes, I’m certainly trying to do that. Net zero carbon – feels like a made up BoJo phrase. Environmentally-friendly is good but a bit old-school, not to mention a pain to spell, so I’ve settled for eco-friendly.

Whatever the appropriate term, I’m trying to become more conscious of my (and my family’s) consumption and waste during lockdown. I know that makes it sound like I’m on poo-watch (only for the toddler) but I’m really taking a more general overview of our whole lives and boy, are we bad to the planet without even realising!

Here’s how I’m trying to combat that by making small, eco-friendly changes to our day to day lives.
(Any products mentioned are purely my opinion – I haven’t been paid or incentivised to use anything)

Personal care

It really irks me that a lot of the beauty world care about creating products that are made naturally, with no animal products or testing, yet they are put into non-recyclable bottles, containers and packaging. I’m also aware that over the years I’ve been conditioned to believe I need stuff I don’t, and that the things I’ve been told are good for me, like a specific shampoo and conditioner set or aerosol deodorant, aren’t particularly good for the environment.

Shampoo/Conditioner – I tried some shampoo and conditioner bars from a local ethical food shop, Made Guid, which focuses on sustainable, low carbon products and local makers. However, this particular kind didn’t work well for me at all – I have long thick hair and I was there for half the day trying to get the bar through my hair, and it still never felt particularly clean after. But I will persevere and try and find another brand whilst still on lockdown – so nobody can see any greasy or frizzy side effects!

Native-unearthed-deoderant-balm-glass-jarDeodorant – I already wrote a review about Native Unearthed Activated Charcoal deodorant balm, which I absolutely loved. It was a surprise tester product I received in a Birchbox months ago but I will be looking to purchase it again from another store or find a similar alternative locally.

Skincare – There have been horror stories about face wipes for years, but the fact they are convenient meant I usually kept a pack lying around the house. However, since using Liz Earle hot cloth polish for over a year, I’ve never felt the need to use wipes. The cloths are reusable, machine washable and lift off even the most stubborn makeup. The cleanser is brilliant and I’ve noticed much less breakouts since using. Plus I bought a big tube last autumn and I’m still using it daily – value and less packaging!

Kiddycare – I won’t lie, my child is still in disposable nappies which I know is a massive problem in terms of landfill and the fact they aren’t biodegradable. We are trying our damndest to potty train, but he’s not having it yet. I can’t conceive using cloth nappies because I think it’s more than my washing machine or household plumbing system could take rinsing poo into, but maybe they could make nappies that are more biodegradable?

We’ve also switched from using sponges to flannels to wash, again from the reusable/washable point and we try to stick to products in recycled packaging, not giving into demands for overly-plastic cartoon-looking bubble baths and the like.

Next steps – moving onto things like bamboo toothbrushes (we can do it!), hairbrushes etc and more natural body care products which can be refilled or use less packaging. I already have bamboo makeup brushes so we’re making progress! Plus find that ideal shampoo bar for my hair.

Food

Less meat consumption – All the vegans out there will probably be outraged at the amount of meat we eat as a family. However, since the start of the year, we’ve been trying to change mindsets and attitudes. Having said that, it’s only really filtered to us parents for the moment as I want my child to be able to experience lots of different foods and nutrients and let him decide what he does and doesn’t like. I’m sure many toddler parents will attest to tantrums over food, and so taking away things he likes right now just feels like an unnecessary battle to us. Whilst he eats sausages (if he could have them for every meal, he would), we have been trying to eat one veggie and one vegan meal a week. Admittedly, this has become much harder in lockdown, with many of our regular foods suddenly not in stock (pasta-gate anyone?) but we are still trying nonetheless. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a place of complete veggie or vegan diet but we are also conscious to ensure the meat we do eat is Scottish, and locally produced where possible.

strawberry-sustainable-food-lockdownSustainable food – This was previously a buzzword I used consistently for a catering client in a past life, but actually I’m focusing on caring more about where our food comes from and what it contributes in terms of carbon footprint, local economy and of course, health. Part of this is making changes such as using the local butcher for meat (easier in lockdown as I can walk to the shop in 2 minutes) and checking the origins of my food in the supermarket. Why buy raspberries from Spain when there’s a plentiful amount grown in Scotland? And do you really need a mango that’s travelled halfway around the world when there’s perfectly good fruit grown locally?

Additionally, by buying local from butchers, fishmongers (ew, maybe you, but not I!), bakers or greengrocers, we are contributing to the local economy (more buzzwords!) and more importantly, local people who’s livelihoods have no doubt been affected by coronavirus.

Food packaging – This has been a bugbear of mine for a while – why do you need to put something frozen, which is already sealed in a cardboard box, inside a plastic wrapper too? Some things are happily frozen in the cardboard without the plastic and that seems fine, so I’m not sure what the problem is. Also, things that come in foil trays or plastic tubs – with card sleeves over the top? Or mostly anything for kids – multipack cartons of juice wrapped in never-ending plastic for instance.

I’ve long since abandoned the little poly bags for loose fruit and veg and can safely say they taste no different having journeyed bareback in the trolley. And of course I use bags for life or reuse plastic ones from the ever-growing bag cupboard. Now I’m taking the next steps of consciously not buying heavily and unnecessarily wrapped products. Those little multipacks of fruit shoot? No thanks, diluting juice only (Travis may hate me but thems the breaks!). Plastic inside cardboard? You’re not clogging up my bin thanks!

Any packaging in fact
So anyone living in the UK will probably agree that it’s been surprising to see how much packaging – even recyclable stuff – we encounter on a weekly basis. The council have stopped collecting recycling bins, but I’ve still been filling my blue bin (lol, filled it weeks ago rather) and have been keeping the dry recycling in my house until the bins are collected again. The problem is, it’s made me see how much excess packaging there actually is. With everybody ordering online at the moment, everything comes with extra bubble wrap, plastic outers, and boxes within boxes (probably just Amazon) which are wholly unnecessary.

Next steps – I’m on a mission to reduce our packaging, and if that’s not possible then at least reuse or repurpose what we have. While we’re in lockdown we may as well attempt a few Blue Peter projects with all the boxes and loo rolls and egg cartons lying around. Or I may start using the boxes to pack away old things we don’t use very often, ever in the hope we may be able to move house once lockdown is over!

Cleaning

Tools – I bought a bamboo brush for the house a couple of months ago and I’ve found that it’s a pretty good, sturdy brush. Not like the cheap ones you get (even though it only cost me a fiver!). It’s also meant that I’m hoovering the kitchen/hall/other laminate floors less often which is a win in terms of electricity usage.

Products – I’ve made the conscious decision to buy less (and eventually no) disinfectant wipes. Admittedly this has been nudged along thanks to panic buying at the beginning of lockdown. I had been a massive fan of Flash Wipes for cleaning the toilet in particular (who wants to reuse a cloth full of the whole house’s pee?) but obviously this is terrible in terms of environment. So for the greater good I’ve got myself a ‘toilet cloth’ which shall be used, cleaned and reused for only the aforementioned.

I have also resisted “Hinching” because although I love a good hack as much as the next person, I don’t believe in needing 40 different cleaning products when just 4 will do. I’m not into the mass consumerism of cleaning and sometimes the old ways just are the best. Vinegar and water is fine to clean my windows with and one disinfectant spray can disinfect every room. I’m not a Mrs Hinch basher – I love Zoflora too, and think it’s a fantastic multi-purpose product but I don’t need 5 other things if I have that.

Next steps – I really want to try a laundry egg as I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. Plus from what I can tell, they save you money as well as the environment, so it’s a double winner.

pinterest-become-more-eco-friendly-lockdown

mum life, Parenting

How I’m Surviving Lockdown as a Toddler Mum

I’ve been thinking a lot about the UK lockdown lately, and my very mixed feelings about it all. There are plenty of reasons to enjoy this somewhat forced family/household time but that doesn’t mean its easy – especially if you work full time and have a toddler.

The main way I’ve been trying to survive is by trying to stick to some sort of routine. This is easier said than done for a lot of people, I know, but generally toddlers will still want about 11/12 hours of sleep at night and three square meals a day (and umpteen snacks too!) so we’ve continued to plan around that for the most part, keeping bedtime as close to normal as possible. Although I’m not a savage, I’m not waking him up before 7am when there’s no nursery to go to!

Stick-to-routine-toddler-mum

I don’t dispute this is harder to stick to for those with infants, older children or multiple kids (you are walking superheroes every day never mind during a lockdown. Send me your address and I’ll post you a medal). With that in mind it brings me to the next thing I think helps me cope: my privileged situation.

I am under absolutely no illusion that I’ve actually managed to get a pretty good deal out of this lock down situation. One toddler, who sticks to a routine for the most part, my full time job allowing me to work from home and a partner with the same means that we’re not worrying about paying the bills or losing all sense of time and day. The structure is comforting, although the grass definitely looks greener when the sun comes out and families are spending their time together in the garden while we’re stuck in and draining all of Sky’s Internet capacity.

Core-hours-working-mum-toddler

Which is why I also try to stick to my core working hours where possible. As I said, its office hours so whilst I’m meant to be working 8.30 till 5 I like to ensure for the most part it’s kept that way so we can still have family time around that. Of course if my toddler is throwing a tantrum or just needs some love and extra attention at 2.45, then you’ll be sure I’ll be with him and make up my work time later.

One of my big positives about the lockdown is the lack of commute. I lose at least two hours every work day in traffic, so I’ve held onto this extra time and cherished it. Normally, I’ll only see my little man for half an hour in the morning and an hour at night during the week (I see him less than I see the traffic) so there’s no way I’m complaining at all this extra time I get to see him and spend with him – even if I have to concentrate on work for a lot of it.

During regular commute time I like to still ensure I’m awake in the morning (although I give myself a bit more of a lie in than normal, I’m not a robot) and make the most of the early morning – particularly if the males in the house are still asleep. I’ll tidy a bit, exercise in some way (the earlier I can be outside to run like Phoebe Buffay, the less other daily exercisers will see me) and take my time getting ready in the morning. Sometimes I’ll make everyone breakfast and be like that picture perfect mum and others I’ll just make myself a strong coffee and sit quietly till they get up!

Cooking-during-lockdown-toddler-mum

I’ve also taken to cooking more of the dinners now I’m home. One thing I’ve been totally spoilt for since Travis was born is the cooking. For most of Craig’s shift pattern, he’s home at teatime with my dinner usually waiting on me coming in, so I’ve taken back some of the responsibility now I’m home at that time. I do enjoy cooking and there’s no doubt I’m the food prepper in terms of the big shop and planning for the week, although its not usually me making it!

With my extra evening hour I also like to spend more quality time with my little man. Whether thats playing with his favourite toys, doing something new or simply sitting together to watch his favourite cartoons and eat our dinner, I’m cherishing this precious lockdown time.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and roses, and lockdown has absolutely had me in tears at points but I think the routine and the positivity definitely help. I’ve found myself wondering if I’m doing enough for my little man, as I’ve not been doing any sort of home schooling because he’s only two and I’m not a teacher, but I don’t want him to be left behind when he does go back to nursery.

Similarly I’ve been stressing myself trying to potty train him because, quite frankly, I thought he would be ready by now and every mum ever has suggested that this is the perfect time to do it. We’ve invested in all the right tools and books and charts but honestly it’s so hard to keep on top of “do you need a wee?” and sitting on the potty (him, not me) when you’re knee deep in a monthly report.

And then there’s all the household stuff. Some parents have managed clearouts, redecorated rooms, redone their gardens and built their kids tree houses or reached Mrs Hinch levels of cleaning. I’m just barely scraping by at the normal rushed level of housework and so it makes me feel a bit inadequate. But after a bit of reflection, usually in a nice long bath, I’m reminded that everybody’s situation is different, and that not all parents cope the same way. Heck even in this household no two parents are coping the same way! So I try not to be too hard on myself and all the things I think (or Instagram or Facebook or Pinterest thinks) I should be doing and just try to make sure everyone is happy and safe.

I just have to remember that when there’s a wee guy having a full blown tantrum when I’m on a conference call, or all my friends are posting their home schooling pictures, or my boss asks for something at 5.15pm or when my toddler wakes four times in the night or when we can’t have friends and family in our home or when the dishes aren’t done…. you get the picture!

Pinterest-graphic-surviving-lockdown-toddler-mum

mum life

How I lost the baby weight

Whilst everyone is busy doing the 10 year challenge, I’ve been looking back just one year and seeing a total difference in myself inside and out. Funnily enough there aren’t too many pictures of me with all the baby weight, as I craftily shied away from pictures and let everyone focus on snapping wee Travis.

For me, it was important to lose the baby weight from both a health perspective (I took eating for 2 to an extreme and was particularly overweight) and to feel better in myself. If you’ve never had children, it’s hard to describe just what a miraculous change your body goes through, and the affect that can have on both your physical and mental health.

The things I really struggled with were things I’d read about but still wasn’t prepared to live with – the stretch marks and the sagginess. More so than the weight element, it was the shape of my body in this new form which caused me frustration, and which I struggled to accept. However I knew if I lost weight my shape would change, maybe not back to the exact way it was before, but into something more recognisable to me, a shape I was more familiar with.

Here’s how I did it:

how-to-lose-baby-weightStart off small

Just after my 6 week post-natal check, I was declared fit for exercise (by myself). At this point I decided to go back to my old faithful Clubbercise, and really get back into getting my blood pumping. My fitness instructor had started a variety of new classes in my 5 month absence and I was keen to give them a go. So I did a Clubbercise and Deep Hau5 class back to back, and I genuinely thought I was going to die.

The secret is to start off small. As soon as I  was able, I took Travis out in walks in his pram, to give us both fresh air and to get my legs moving. Walks do wonders for mental health and tired mums too, so it’s an all round win. Even if you’re just walking to the corner shop and back each day, I thoroughly recommend it to get some fresh air and your bones moving.

 

eat-well-lose-baby-weightGet what you give

I was very aware that I was still eating cake almost every day for at least the first 3 months of Travis’ life. In fact, I still eat more cake now than I ever did before he was born. However, I’m more in tune with the balance of it these days. If you constantly exercise, but constantly eat fatty, high calorie foods, chances are you’ll struggle to lose weight. So, after a few struggling exercise sessions, I started to cut my portion sizes down, add more veg to meals, and cut back on the cake.

I wish I could say I had a miracle diet and provide you with some magic recipes, but I found that just cutting back, and fuelling my body properly before exercise really helped. I didn’t cut anything out of my diet and I didn’t starve myself. Ok, so the pounds didn’t come crashing off, but slowly and steadily I got there.

Find a routine

Life as a mum revolves around routines, so why not an exercise routine too? It was much easier to find time to exercise or get out walking when I was still on maternity leave, but after I returned to work, things became more blurry and there seemed less hours in the day and more reasons (excuses) not to exercise. I found that sticking to the 3 same exercise classes on the same 2 days of the week worked impeccably for me. When I have a set time to exercise I can look forward to it (or sometimes dread it!) each week, plan childcare etc around it and generally see and feel my progress week on week. For me, routine is the key to keeping on track with any goals, so it made sense that it worked when I was trying to lose those parental pounds!

lose-baby-weightShare, don’t compare

The first few months post-partum were difficult in themselves, but I struggled with my body more so as I compared myself to Instamoms and super mummies who managed to get actual 6 packs just 12 weeks post-partum. Whether that was real or airbrushing, whether they had babies that slept all day to allow them to exercise, or nannies that looked after baby while the PT looked after mum, it didn’t matter to me. All I saw were mums who were able to go back to being who they were, in the visual sense anyway, before they went through the miracles of pregnancy or childbirth.

But lets face it, sitting comparing yourself to others and feeling sad, doesn’t actually do anything positive, does it? Why compare when you could put yourself out there, actually try and do your best for yourself? I found that approach difficult to take at first, but once I did, boy did it change things for the better. I know have a whole fab fit fam who I see every week, and we all encourage each other and compliment each other when we see a change in the other. Positivity is infectious and so much better than comparison and negativity!

 

That’s how I managed to lose the baby weight, with no miracle “cures” or magic exercises (although pelvic floor exercises are magic. Highly recommend if you want to get back to exercising!) How did you do it?

mum life

5 Reasons why Scots can’t do dry January

 

Our New Year keeps goingnew-year-dry-january
So we have our own word for new years eve, but did you also know we also get another bank holiday on January 2nd? The reason for this is primarily because we don’t stop drinking on the 1st, hogmanay is just a warm up go the celebrations

 

 

toast-rabbie-burns-dry-january

You can’t toast our bard without a tipple
Burns night, our annual celebration of the Scottish poet Rabbie Burns, takes place on 25th January each year and involves toasting a haggis. It would just be plain rude to do this without a dram.

 

 

Our cold remedy includes whiskyhot-toddie-dry-january
That’s right, if you’ve a cold or flu coming on, grab some whisky, heat up some lemonade and make yourself a hot toddie. Honey and lemons optional, whisky essential.

 

 

Whisky sauce is a staple food accompanimenthaggis-whisky-sauce-dry-january
Whether it’s Burns night and you’re having it with your haggis neaps and tatties, with your chicken Balmoral or as an alternative to traditional steak sauces, a creamy whisky sauce is a solid part of the winter diet. In fact, when you think about it, booze features in some of the best comfort foods – pass the red wine please!

 

It’s bloody Januarysnowflake-ice-cold-dry-january
Its cold, it’s dark and it’s depressing, so why would you want to give up something that can both warm you up and brighten those long dark nights? Especially if you’ve been given some posh booze for Christmas, it would be a shame not to give it a try!

mum life, Mum time

Birchbox Advent Calendar: Week 3

So obviously advent ended over a week ago now, but seeing as it’s been that time of year, we’ve been a bit preoccupied with all the festivities to share the last week of Birchbox goodies.

Week 3 of my advent calendar has brought more treats, partly because it’s actually 3 and a half weeks. I decided that a fourth week would be a bit pointless as there would only be 3 more products to share, so everything has been lumped into the one big festive post!

Birchbox-advent-calendar-3

Wunder 2 Perfect Selfie photo finishing powder
Wonder how some people achieve that totally flawless selfie on the gram? Well aside from filters, Wunder 2 have the solution in the form of an extremely white face powder. Apparently it transforms your skin to become poreless and blemish free in selfies. Ideal for all the Christmas and New year celebrations.

Lumene Nordic Glow Reveal peeling mask
This mask is full of vitamin c, arctic cloudberry and arctic spring water which will magically revive your skin and give you a glowing complexion. It smells so fresh, and Would appear to be the ideal product to follow a night of using the selfie powder product.

PK Prep pumping cream
This Philip Kingsley hair cream should be applied to towel dried hair before blow drying and styling, to and volume and thickness. I can’t say I need either of those things myself right now, although I would have been crying out for them this time last year when my hair was in a poor post-partum mess.

Brush works complexion sponge
No matter how much great makeup you have, you can’t achieve great looks without some good tools to apply it. This sponge is latex free and suitable for both liquid and powder, making it a great all-rounder

Makeup Forever step 1 skin equalizer
This soothing primer is part of makeup forevers range of complexion bases which are designed to smooth the skin before applying makeup.

BB hairdressers invisible oil
Bumble and bumbles heat protective hair primer should be applied to damp or dry hair before styling. This is just the tonic to all the heat damage from styling for various parties and festivities throughout December.

Winky Lux Mermaid Kitten palette – Ursula
This pigment is right up my street, not least because it has the word mermaid in it. The deep purply shimmering shade, which they coin squid-ink-liken, is part of the wider mermaid kitten palette, which I’m definitely interested in.

This Works In Transit camera close-up
Its just as well thus product came much later in the advent calendar as it promises to do the work of three products, as a mask, moisturiser and primer all in one. Ideally, it’s not like a regular mask as it just requires to be massaged and absorbed ahead of makeup application, like any moisturiser or primer.

OPI nail lacquer
As everyone knows, no Christmas look is complete without a good nail colour, so day 23 was a pleasant surprise. The shade And the Raven Cried Give Me More is, as the name suggests (?!!), a deep purple shade which matches nicely with the Winky Lux shade revealed a few days earlier.

Smashbox Always On liquid lipstick
What a way to finish the calendar than with a big brand and something we all need – a lasting lip colour. The shade stepping out is a neutral sort of nude brown which wouldn’t be my first choice, but is a safe staple for many.

 

*Disclaimer: I don’t receive any commission or pay in kind, cash or any other format. I just really enjoyed my advent calendar!

mum life, Mum time

Merry Ginmas!

While most of you are enjoying that lovely limbo in between Christmas and New Year, some of us have had to go back to work (boo!) but it has been made much more bearable by some of the great gifts I received for Christmas. As well as the usual bath sets, pyjamas and stationery, this year I unwrapped lots of gin!

As it’s the drink of the moment, I thought it only fair to give them a taste test and share the gin love. Here’s what I got:

 

Whitley Neil Rhubarb and Ginger Gin
Edinburgh Gin were the first I’d seen to tackle the different flavours like rhubarb, however most of their flavoured gins are in fact only gin liqueurs. This means they sit at around the 20% proof mark, rather than the typical 37-40% of the original clear spirit. However Whitley Neil have managed to perfect the distinct tart taste of rhubarb and ginger in a full-strength gin, sitting at 435 proof. It’s absolutely delicious with lemonade or a light tonic.

Boe Violet Gin
I’d originally tried this out one day, and quickly discovered it tastes like Parma Violets sweets. That may sway you one way or the other, but I loved those sweets as a child so it definitely gets a thumbs up from me. This one is best with lemonade, but will mainly suit sweeter tastes. You can’t beat a bit of Boe Violet gin to remind you of summer on these dark days.

Hortus Plum and Cinnamon Gin liqueur

I’d never heard of this gin let alone flavour until I unwrapped it on Christmas day. Turns out Hortus is Lidl’s brand of gin, and has actually beaten loads of more expensive gins in blind taste tests! So I’m looking forward to trying this gin liqueur and possibly adding it to a prosecco to ring in the bells!

 

Gin-themed Gifts

I also received some great gin-themed gifts, allowing me to transform my tipple, and even make my own!

Gin Mixers
In the absence of a flavoured gin, or just to switch things up a bit, these are the ideal replacement. I got a mixer set which I think is from Debenhams containing flavours including lime, raspberry, elderflower and rose water. Also perfect if you want to get in on the gin trend, but don’t actually like the traditional kind.

Make Your Own Gin Kit
This kit contains all the botanicals you need to make 8 batches of your own gin, using various berries and spices to make flavours you love. I only usually get through a couple of bottles of gin a year at home, so this gift could certainly last a while!

mum life

My Christmas Eve routine now I’m a mum

Ask me what my Christmas Eve routine consisted of just a couple of years ago and the answer would have been work up to the button, dash home to do last minute wrapping, get ready at the speed of light and head to the pub. While I can’t say much has changed in terms of rushing about, it has certainly changed dramatically in terms of what I get up to.

Here’s how Christmas Eve goes these days:

Work

If it’s a weekday it’s a work day! Hoping for the boss to get into the festive spirit and send us all home early, work on Christmas day is usually full of excited boys and girls who’s workload isn’t that full for some reason.
This year I baked some gingerbread cookies and Christmas cupcakes to share with everyone. My icing skills leave a lot to be desired – Mary Berry I am not – but it was good to try and make work a bit more festive!

Last minute visits
No matter the year, the day Christmas Eve falls or how far in advance I’ve bought gifts, there’s inevitably a dash to visit people and drop off presents at the last minute.

I also took a last minute trip to the shops (something I haven’t done since I worked I retail at Christmas) to buy a card for my other half as I’d shamelessly forgotten a card for my other half (shh, don’t tell him!)

Praying for a regular bedtime

As Travis is still so little, we don’t quite have the battle of wanting to stay up late for Santa, but by god I swear this child knows when something is going on in his parents life. Whether it’s wanting a bath post-bedtime, the chance to tidy up or just finish wrapping those presents, he has a sixth sense and either won’t go down to sleep or will wake-up frequently. This is why we’ll be going through our regular routine and praying for a normal bed time!

Present shifting
Before Travis, I could just wrap Christmas presents and leave them under the tree in the leas up to the big day.
Now we have to wait until Travis is in bed and shift everyone’s presents from the hiding place to the tree. I don’t envy Santa at all, that’s a shift in itself for one household never mind millions!

Bath time
Once everything has been done, finally a bit of mum time can resume. As any parent will tell you, much craved you-time must be used wisely, especially if your child is in bed! So this Christmas Eve I plan to cram absolutely everything into bath time; the usual routine (my legs will finally feel the chill of the cold Scottish winter), a cheeky gin, face mask, nail painting, blog reading and some catching up with friends.

Christmas specials
There are loads of Christmas specials on around this time of year and with a baby and a million other things to do, its not always possible to catch them live. The Last Leg, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Would I Lie to You have all been on this week and I’d like to catch one or two to get into the Christmas spirit!

Early bed
In the pre-baby days I would have never gone to bed before midnight on Christmas, but now, every minute of sleep is precious so I’ll be in bed as early as all the other things on my list allow! I’ve always been an early riser on Christmas, notoriously annoying my brother even into our 20s when we would come home for festivities, but it’s different waking early on your own terms rather than someone else’s.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Lists, mum life

Birchbox advent calendar: week 2

Another week in December has flown by already, and with it I’ve had another great batch of Birchbox treats from my advent house. This week has seen another mix of practical and fun treats appear behind the drawers. Here’s what I uncovered in the second week of advent:

Birchbox-makeup-advent-calendar

Amika soulfood nourishing mask
If there’s one thing your hair needs as the temperatures drop to freezing and below, it’s some TLC to protect against the harsh conditions. This soulfood mask provides the nourishment hair often lacks with lots of heat damage at this time of year.

Beauty Pro black peel charcoal mask
If your hair feels more dry and damaged in the winter, imagine how your face feels! There’s nothing quite like a charcoal mask to draw out imperfections and provide some much needed deep cleansing.

Tangle Teezer brush
Tangle teezer products are so handy for anyone with long hair. They are perfect for popping in your bag if you know you’re going to be out braving the wind and all sorts of other hair-tugging weather. I also like to use mine on the shower to remove tangles and ensure conditioner spreads right through my hair properly.

Pixi skin treats glow tonic
A glow can often be lacking in skin at this time of year due to late night partying/wrapping presents, harsh weather, central heating and over indulging in food and drink. So a lovely skin tonic is just what the doctor ordered!

Sank and Sky Australian Pink Clay exfoliating treatment
Sand and Sky products have featured in Birchboxes before, so I have a rough idea of what to expect with this one. Exfoliators are always needed at this time of year to get rid of dead cells, and what better way to do so than in a powerful mask form. The mask takes just 5 minutes to work its magic, using macadamia seeds to exfoliate while the pink clay clears your pores and Australian finger lime adds a freshness and glow to leave your face completely refreshed.

Nuxe Paris beautifying scented body lotion
This body lotion has a smell like you wouldn’t believe. The “Prodigieuse” scent is a beautiful blend of orange blossom, magnolia and vanilla, and leaves the skin bright and moisturised with a satin finish. I think I’ll definitely look into the full size version of this once my advent sample has ran out.

Lord and Berry Couture Kohl Kajal Eyeliner
This eyeliner is exactly how I like them – black as my soul! Although I prefer a liquid liner for eyelids, you can’t beat a bit of kohl for a quick fix and for that bottom lash line.

*Disclaimer, this is not sponsored or paid in any way, just doing it to share the love!

Lists, mum life

Top 6 Food & Drink Christmas Gifts

There are far too many great food and drink Christmas gifts out there to choose from, with many long-standing brands bringing out various specials just for the season. However, I’ve come across a few that are sure to hit the right spot with almost anyone this Christmas. Well, almost anyone in my family at least!

Ellis Gin

I discovered this gem at Helensburgh Winter Festival earlier in the month. Ellis gin is handmade in Glasgow and in small batches, with only a couple of flavours currently available. I opted to buy the bramble gin in a bauble for a Christmas gift, though they had plenty of choice in terms of bottle size and gift packs, with the option of a small bottle and glass, or gin and mixer combos. I love trying new things and supporting local makers so this is a no brainer if you like to give unique gifts that are made with love.

Johnnie Walker White Walker Limited Edition

If you’ve any Game of Thrones fan friends or family (over 18) then this will be sure to warm up their winter. The show has partnered with Scottish whisky Johnnie Walker for this limited edition collectors bottle named White Walker. A homage to the White Walkers on the show, this brand new whisky is best served straight from the freezer.

Dean’s Glitter Shortbread

Dean’s Shortbread is a fabulous, melt-in-the-mouth shortbread brand from Huntly in Scotland. Their traditional shortbread rounds can be found in many supermarkets, and they offer a great festive flavour range. However, their glitter shortbread adds some much needed sparkle to Christmas, without steering away from the traditional flavour. This one is sure to go down well with nans and for those ever expanding gifts for teachers, coaches, lollipop men/women, and anyone else society has told us we should be gifting at this time of year! With a £2.99 price tag it’s a perfect add-on for a bigger gift too.

Peaky Blinders Rum/Whisky/Gin

 Well Sadler’s Ales have gone all in with a range of Peaky Blinders spirits. Fans of Sadler’s and of the TV show will appreciate that there are several different gift options on offer, with variations of their spiced gin, spiced rum and whisky available to purchase. If you want to pay homage to the show and Thomas Shelby himself, then the Peaky Blinders gin is the ideal choice.

Saltire CandySaltire-candy-christmas-gift-food

Another great discovery from Helensburgh Winter Festival was Saltire Candy. They make all of your old fashioned boiled sweet favourites, all beautifully packaged forany occasion. They also had some flavoured fudge which we tried (the Hebridean sea salted caramel fudge was my favourite) and a few varieties of the traditional tablet and macaroon which looked like the perfect stocking filler. They were only a couple of pounds for each little bag. Plus you’re able to personalise many of their gifts too, for that extra special touch.

Fry’s selection box

A great gift for any chocolate lover in your house. It’s a collection of the three Fry’s favourites – chocolate cream, peppermint cream and turkish delight. Obviously the latter isn’t to everyone’s taste but I think Fry’s creams are fondly remembered by some of the older generation in our family for sure. I first found this gift in B&M but have since seen it pop up in a few stores and supermarkets, and it’s pretty inexpensive as far as Christmas gifts go – around the £2-3 mark you’d expect to pay for a selection box.

mum life, Mum's finds

Birchbox advent calendar: week one

First week of Advent calendar goodies!

Now the first week of Advent calendar madness is over, we have a toddler that I think has gained about a stone (he has FOUR advent calendars. Much to my dismay!). But we also have a collection of great new beauty products, thanks to my Birchbox advent calendar.

I always have good things to say about Birchbox, and their advent calendar is no exception. I previously missed out on these as they always sell out so quickly, but I was well prepared this year! I can’t comment on previous years but this year’s has definitely impressed me so far. Here are the first week’s treats:

Benefit roller lash
One of the many reasons I love Birchbox is that they regularly send out Benefit products. I’m a big fan of their mascaras so was delighted to find roller lash behind drawer number 1. Not only this, birchbox also tucked a little discount card inside the drawer offering 10% off any full sized products found in the calendar.

Pure papayacare papaya lips
Who doesn’t need a good lip balm at this time of year? Birchbox have got it spot on with their product choice, as it’s something I’ll use all month, thanks to the change in weather. It’s a really good lip balm, totally nourishing, and of course comes with the added bonus of smelling like papaya. Good job papayacare!

Rituals – the ritual of ayurveda hand balm
Again, I couldn’t think of a better choice of product for the current climate. The skin on my hands had actually started to break and bleed in November with the minus temperatures (I have since located my gloves thank goodness!) so it’s fair to say I was in desperate need of a good hand cream. The fragrance is Indian rose and almond oil which means the scent into too in your face, and the ingredients are also actually really soothing.

Birchbox-advent-calendar-2018

LOC – creamy eyeshadow stick
Now we’re getting onto some of the more fun items (not that the others aren’t fun, they are just more practical!) The eyeshadow stick is great for a daytime look and is easy to top up throughout the day. The shadeitwelf is also pretty neutral so I can see it working with a lot of different skin tones.

Caudalie – SOS thirst quenching serum
I personally always rely on the same moisturiser all year round, but am always keen to know of any other products which can work for my skin, especially in winter. I’m not normally one for seems but this is just the treat my face needs in this weather.

Chella – ivory lace highlighter
Everybody loves a good highlighter, no more so than at Christmas when everything is shimmering and sparkling. This handy highlighter stick is perfect for popping in your bag and taking along on that Christmas party night out.

Jiinju- exfoliating face pad
And last but not least, week 1 was rounded off with this beauty. What is the one essential we all need, no matter the makeup we use? That’s right, cleanser and makeup remover! I’m all for reusable cleansers, exfoliators etc, so this exfoliating pad is right up my street. Grab this little Korean beauty miracle and take it in the shower if you’re short on time.