mum life, Unlikely mum makes

Unlikely mum makes: gift boxes

I love Christmas so much, so there’s really any excuse to make something festive in this house. All the more so if I make it, and can recycle/upcycle at the same time.

A couple of years ago, I decided to try and make use of my Birchboxes, which were just lying around gathering dust after I’d removed all the fab products. I didn’t want to throw them away as lots of them had lovely cute patterns on, and I felt they could be used for something else, I just wasn’t sure what… until Christmas came around!

My bright idea was to turn them into festive gift boxes which would hopefully look better than the badly wrapped parcels I give out, which tend to look more like fish suppers than gifts!

What I use them for:

  • Gift boxes for smaller items like makeup and cosmetics
  • Alternative selection boxes
  • Christmas eve boxes

How I do it:

There’s literally 2 steps in this! Though there’s probably a fancier way of doing it that would look super professional but I’m a – not super professional and b – a novice craftsperson, so this is my max talent at the moment!

All you need is:

  1. Wrapping paper
  2. Sellotape
  3. Scissors
  4. Label/nametag or similar

Part 1 – Wrap the gift box

All you have to do is wrap the outside of each part of the box, taking care on the edges and the inside to ensure the paper doesn’t bunch, preventing you from closing the box!

Handmade-christmas-gift-boxes

Part 2 – decide how to label and decorate the gift box

The first year I did this, I opted to use regular gift tags for my boxes. Last year, I used a sheer paper and simply wrote on it with a silver pen. This year, I’m opting to paint some wooden letters and stick them on to some boxes, and use bows and string to decorate others.

The beauty of this is that you can decorate the boxes however you like. In fact, you don’t even need to go for a festive theme, meaning they are the gift box that keeps on giving!

mum life, Unlikely mum makes

Unlikely Mum Makes: Homemade Candles

This last week I’ve been particularly busy doing the big house clean in preparation for winter. You know, the big clean you do before the Christmas tree goes up?

So once the cleaning was done it was time to jump right into the Christmas spirit. This year I decided to start making some Christmas candles as I love nothing more than the smell of Christmas in the house! Plus they make great little stocking fillers (if made well!). After posting my attempts on Instagram, a few people were keen to see how I did it. Candles are surprisingly simple to make if you know how.

I chose to make some orange & cinnamon and mulled wine scented candles, but there are loads of Christmas and wintry scents you can make. Here’s how to make your own Christmas candles exactly like I did:

What you need

Homemade-candles-christmas

  • Soy wax
  • Tin can
  • A pot and some boiling water
  • Candle wicks
  • Blue tac
  • Coloured crayons
  • Glass jar, tumbler or similar

How to make your candles

1. The first thing to do is set up the pot and water to start heating. Then grab your tin can – I used a soup can, but I guess anything of a similar size and metal will do. Fill the can with wax as much as you can, then place into a water bath to start melting. I bought a big 2kg bag of soy wax, which does plenty. You can also use paraffin wax (I think this might be cheaper in some instances?) but soy wax is more natural. I found that a 1kg bag makes about 10 of the candles made below.

You’ll notice as the wax starts to melt that it evaporates slightly, and at this point it’s best to top up the tin a bit. I topped up my tin 2-3 times in order to get 3 candles from the one tin.

Important point: remember to keep stirring your wax!

2. Now it’s time to set up your candle(s). You can use a glass tumbler or dish from the likes of Ikea if you’d like, however I opted to recycle some dessert glasses. There’s a leading brand that makes said desserts, and the likes of Aldi and other supermarkets stock their own brand dessert pots and cheesecakes which come in similar glass containers.

Whatever you choose, you need to fix the candle wick to your candle jar/glass. I I found pre-fixed  candle wicks ones on Amazon which came with stickers and a wick holder, the ideal kit for beginners. Take one fixed wick, add some Blu tac to the underside of the fixing, and stick to the bottom of your jar. Repeat this for however many candles you choose to make.

3. While the wax is melting, chop up some bits of your chosen colour of crayon to add to the tin. It’s worth bearing in mind that the soy wax candles are really white, so if you’re going for a red candle for example, I’d recommend adding some red and some brown crayon in there to achieve the desired colour. You don’t have to add colour, the candles still look fab white, but it helps to distinguish the scents if you’re going to try a few different ones. I chose to make one batch red, and one batch orange. Although I could have definitely added more brown to the red one as it came out paler than I’d hoped!

4. Once your wax and colour has all melted, turn off the heat and remove the tin from the water bath. Now choose your scent and add around 2ml (not quite half a teaspoon) of it to the melted wax. I used fragranced oils, opting for mulled wine for my red candles and orange & cinnamon for my orange ones. If you’re keen on keeping things more natural you can use essential oils rather than fragrance oils. Stir in your chosen scents well, so the fragrance mixes evenly in the wax.

5. Now it’s time to pour the wax into the jar. Be careful to hold onto the wick so it doesn’t bend or float around in the wax. Once filled, tie your wick around a pencil or use a wick holder to keep the wick evenly in the middle of the candle.

Once all your candles are filled and wicks firmly in place, simply sit back and relax – you’ve got about 2 hours or more for your candles to set! I left mine for most of the day just to be sure. Once set, remove the wick holder/pencils and trim your wick to the desired length (no more than an inch above the wax).

6. For decoration, I simply used some Christmas ribbon (from Aldi, however you can get similar ribbon almost anywhere for around the same price) and glue dots to hold in place on the glass. If you’re feeling more adventurous, why not decorate with glitter and glue, snow spray and stencils or draw with a marker if you’re quite the artistic type.

Hey presto, you just made a Christmas candle!

Unlikely-mum-makes-festive-candles-homemade

 

children-in-need-fundraising-nursery
mum life, nursery, Parenting

Children in Need Week at Nursery

It’s that time of year again folks; the Children in Need Appeal takes place this Friday. It must be an age thing, but it feels like it really wasn’t a whole year since the last one.

For the uninitiated, Children in Need (CIN) is a UK charity which supports disadvantaged children and young people in the country. Their goal is to ensure every child feels happy, safe, and has the chance to reach their full potential, no matter their circumstances. Every year, an appeal show is held on the BBC on the third Friday of November, to encourage donations from across the UK. The appeal show usually starts around 7pm and lasts all evening, with special episodes of soaps and popular TV programmes, musical performances, and lots of short clips from some of the children who have benefitted from CIN, which are sure to make you cry.

Above this, many organisations of various sizes take part too, from retailers like Greggs and ASDA to schools, youth clubs, workplaces and more. As the charity focuses on children, it makes sense that Travis’ nursery would be involved, with a week of fundraising activities for him to take part in.

I never thought I’d be the type of mum that got excited at the prospect of all the different activities and things you have to do for your kids to be a part of something, but I actually bloody love it. I think part of me is genuinely excited because I loved those days myself as a child, and probably wish I could still join Travis at nursery with his dress up, parties, baking and so on. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it feels like we have to remember to do something, wear something or bring something extra to nursery every other week, which gets hard to keep track of. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Besides, how can you be upset at a whole week of fundraising activities for disadvantaged children when your son attends a private nursery and has all he ever needs (and more besides!) at home?

Here’s how our week of fundraising looks to be shaping up: (I hope to add photos from each day as we go!)

Pyjama Party

Travis doesn’t attend nursery on Mondays, so we missed the Teddy Bear’s Picnic day, but there are still 4 fun days for him to get involved in, starting with Tuesday’s Pyjama Party! Really though, could there be a more perfect fundraising activity for mums? Literally just send your child out in their jammies, meaning you don’t have to think about an outfit for the day.
Bonus for them: they get a comfy nap at that time of day
Bonus for mum and dad: slightly less laundry

Playroom Theme

I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a clue what this theme was meant to be to start with. I thought playroom themes were things you searched for on Pinterest, offering a world of dreams for kids, but something which you couldn’t actually afford to implement. Turns out in this instance it simply means dressing up like your favourite toys, teddy bears in particular as Pudsey the bear is the CIN mascot. We opted for some Pudsey ears, socks and top, though as you can imagine the ears lasted about 1.5 seconds!

Crazy Hair Day

I think this is is probably another ideal theme for parents. I mean, just don’t brush your kids hair in the morning, right? Travis is in desperate need of a haircut, as he is currently sporting some curls around his neck, despite still having about 4 strands of hair on the top of his head, so his hair already looks crazy enough on a daily basis. However I might get a bit creative with some of his dad’s hair wax or maybe some hair makeup which can easily wash out.

Superhero & Princess Party

This one we might have a little trouble with. Travis had a Thor outfit for Halloween, kindly bought for his birthday by his uncle. Said Thor outfit was made a little on the neat side, but it worked for a Halloween party we went to the weekend before Halloween. By the time actual Halloween rolled around (a whole 4 days later) Travis had outgrown the outfit, so much so we couldn’t even fasten the poppers around the crotch. Delightful. And unfortunately now since Halloween has passed and Christmas is a mere 6 weeks away (I can’t wait!), there doesn’t seem to be any glimpse of a superhero in sight in any of the shops! And the superhero clothing that does seem to be on offer is few and far between in Travis’ size. Stay tuned to find out how this one ends up!

do-dont-dunkeld-scotland
Lists, mum life

Do’s and Don’ts in Dunkeld

At the end of October the other half and I managed to escape for a quick getaway to the beautiful village of Dunkeld in Perthshire. The overnight stay was a gift from Craig’s parents for our engagement earlier in the year.

This was the last possible weekend to book our stay, so in true last minute Unlikely Mum style, we squeezed our visit in between work shifts and babysitters and headed for a very short romantic date night essentially.

Although we didn’t have much time to spend there, we definitely made the most of what we could, and noted some pointers for anyone else looking to travel around this area – particularly on a short timescale. I’d definitely recommend visiting Dunkeld and the surrounding area as it’s such a beautiful and mainly unspoilt part of Scotland, with lots to still see and do for tourists.

DO head to Howie’s Bistro

20181026_185645

This lovely little bistro was recommended to us by a taxi driver, and it was defintely worth the hype. I had some mushroom starter that I couldnt pronounce if you paid me (pictured) and a vegetarian moussaka. The other half opted for soup (it was souper cold. See what I did there?) and a massive chicken burger. There was so much food that neither of us could manage a dessert, despite the choices being mouthwatering. They have a healthy collection of gins for a smallish restaurant, and a decent choice of beers, wines and other spirits too. Howie’s Bistro is definitely a winner in my book

DON’T go out without planning how to get home

We may have picked up some dining tips from our taxi driver, but she also told us that she was only working until 10pm. On a Friday night. I will never get used to taxi companies/taxi drivers in remote areas not being available 24/7. Dunkeld also has buses running to various locations, and there’s a train station not too far outside Dunkeld, but if you aren’t staying right in the centre of the village, then it pays to check with the local transport and taxi drivers, so you’re not left stranded when the pub shuts!

DO head to nearby Birnam

We took a short drive into Birnam the next day (from the main village it would have been a nice walk, but we were staying just too far away for that). It’s another small and beautiful village, and one which boasts the Beatrix Potter Exhibition & Garden. I didn’t realise that Beatrix Potter had a connection with Perthshire until we visited, so it was really interesting to find out more. The garden is also cute and quaint, with various characters of the author’s appearing in statue form throughout the garden.

DO visit in Autumn

Maybe it’s just my love of the orange, yellow and red hues, or maybe Autumn is just the best time to visit Dunkeld. It’s so beautiful and picturesque, and the views will take your breath away. Plus, Autumn means it’s hit-and-miss weather-wise, but perfect for exploring out of season once the rest of the tourists have gone home to find their thermals.

DON’T go for just one day

I can’t stress enough the fact we really crammed our visit. There was so much we left unseen, and so many activities on offer that we had to pass up. Within our hotel alone there was the opportunity to quad bike, clay pigeon shoot or walk through some of the lovely nature trails. Other nearby visitor attractions include the Scottish Liqueur Centre in Bankfoot, Active Kids Adventure Park in Stanley and much more.

DO bring a camera

I’m so glad I brought my camera, even though we only had time to capture a few snaps in the morning. As I said, Dunkeld and the surrounding area is so picturesque, a camera is a must-have for any keen photographer. Plus, if you arrive at the right time of year, you might snap some deer as well as the usual pheasants, grouse and other Scottish wildlife which are in abundance in this neck of the woods.

dunkeld-scotland-travel-tips

makeup-birchbox-subscription
Lists, mum life

My Top 5 Birchbox Makeup Finds

I’ve been signed up to Birchbox for over 2 years now, and every time I think about cancelling, they seem to send me a brand new product I love. Don’t get me wrong, I have loads of stuff I probably will never use again (if I’ve even tried it yet!) but I’ve managed to discover a few great makeup products that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise known about, least of all tried. As this was my sole reason for signing up to this beauty subscription service, I’ve got to say it’s been good value for money so far!

I should point out that I’m in no way affiliated with Birchbox, I’ve not been asked to write this post by them and I don’t receive any commission or payment in kind from them, I just really love their service!

Here are the top 5 makeup products I’ve found thanks to Birchbox:

Benefit Bad Gal bang mascara
I am an absolute mascara fiend so I’m always very open to trying new mascaras in any shape or form. Having tried Benefit’s Roller Lash before, I knew I was in for good things. The Bad Gal Bang mascara does exactly what I want it to do, so it’s ideal for me. It’s thick and dramatic, and defines every last with minim clumps so it’s now a staple in my makeup bag, and I’ve made several repurchases through the Birchbox shop.

Beautaniq Beauty fill + tame eyebrow gel
This eyebrow gel was a complete game changer for me. I’d never succumbed to any eyebrow trends before, and have never had them waxed, threaded or even plucked. Make of that what you will, but with fair brows it’s never been a problem for me! However sometimes my brows are just too pale and there are patches which could do with a bit more hair. This is where Beautaniq Beauty brow gel comes in. Considering I use the blonde shade, it’s darker than any eyebrow pencil I’ve used before, or would normally choose myself. However the shade works with the rest of my makeup and provides the finishing touches without creating obviously fake looking brows.

Model Co highlighter trio
This isn’t something I use every day, but instead only when I’m going out and want to contour my face (ain’t nobody got time for that on a work morning with a 1 year old!). So much so, I’ve only just run out of my original Birchbox sample which I received about 18 months ago! I love the creamy texture of the Model Co highlighter trio and the shine that it leaves on the skin. It’s so easy to blend that even a novice like me can do it!

Dirty Little Secret eye shadow crayon in Gold Plated
This is a fairly recent Birchbox makeup treat, and one I fell in love with since I received it! The DLS eyeshadow crayon originally came with 2 shade options, and subscribers were invited to choose their preference in the month before it was due to arrive in the box. I’m glad I chose gold plated as I feel like it makes my blue eyes pop. It’s a great shade for a sweep of colour during the daytime and mixed with other shades to bring life to a smoky look in the evening.

LOC (Love of Colour) lip pencil in Bohemian Rose
This was in one of my first event Birchboxes, and this particular shade was in partnership with Millie Mackintosh. It’s so light and summery and is the shade of pink I think goes with pretty much anything. I’m not sure if this exact shade of this LOC lip pencil is still available to buy, but I’d recommend trying one of their other shades just because it’s so creamy and nourishing.

mum life

At What Point is it ok to Admit You’re Exhausted

Let’s be honest, whether you have one kid or 10, we all know it’s no easy feat raising a child or children. There’s a reason the saying “it takes a village ” exists. However the times are constantly changing and unless you are to the manor born, have retired parents or win the lottery, it becomes more and more likely you will have to go back to work to provide for your child if nothing else.

I enjoy my job, I really do, and I thrive when I can get stuck into a task and give my full focus and efforts to a project. And while that may have been second nature before, it takes a little more focus and added extras (hello, caffeine drip!) To get you there when you’ve got a whole other role to play after 5pm. And then it starts over again. You have this whole little being you created, who relies on you 100% for everything, who loves and cherishes and thrives off you, needing that same focus, enthusiasm and ambition.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you’re used to being so always-on and filling every day with 100% energy, enthusiasm and activity both with your child and at work, what point is it ok to say you’re exhausted?

I didn’t say I was exhausted when my house went on fire
For the months of displacement, recovery, anxiety, rebuilding and dealing with insurance companies (a job in itself fyi), I never said I was exhausted. When I had half an hour of sleep and couldn’t close my eyes because of adrenaline and fear, much less sleep, I didn’t say I was struggling. When I couldnt sleep properly for days after and had to cope with a baby who just got their first set of jags, I seemed to be coping. So there sets a precedent.

I didn’t say I was exhausted when I had tonsilitis
The first time you get ill as a parent is definitely an eye opener. You may think that you didn’t get muchsympathy for illness before but boy will that perception change when you have a newborn. They are still the most important thing and should come first, (I don’t disagree) but as if it isn’t hard enough adjusting to life with a tiny human, than you have to go and get ill and try to cope. But it was only tonsilitis. I get it a good 4/5 times a year. I know how to manage it, what to do, what to take. So everybody knew I’d be fine. How could I possibly be exhausted?

I didn’t say I was exhausted when I went back to work
No matter how we prepare, I think mammas can all agree that returning to work is a bit of a struggle. There’s a new level of tiredness unlocked when you return to work, not to mention a new routine to adjust to, and inevitably a change in your baby as they get used to a different kind of day. But still I kept calm and carried on then. Knowing that this was the logical next step, something that the majority of women have to do all the damn time, so what was my problem?

I didn’t say I was exhausted when I was left with routines, household chores, work and no long lies or catch up naps while daddy worked nights.
When daddy worked nights and mum was left in charge of wake up and bedtime routines, preparing food, clothes and necessities for the day, doing the nursery run, bath time and play time while somehow managing to organise herself and work in between, there was no utter of exhaustion. No cry for help. Just a conscience that said nobody else was going to do it, and nobody had time for my pity party anyway.

So what makes me think it’s ok to say it now?
Now I’m at the edge. I’ve never felt an illness like this before so I don’t know how to deal with it. With tonsilitis I know what to expect, how to manage it, how to cope. I’m grasping at straws here while Travis is ill as I’m so helpless with him too. They give you nothing for colds, except maybe cough syrup which the doctor admits has no curing powers. So I lie in pain waiting for sleep and when I get there, Travis wakes with his coughing. And before I know it it’s 5am and I’m basically just hoping for a nap in the next hour before I have to get up and rinse and repeat. I feel completely exhausted physically whilst being constantly mentally drained. Maybe I forget the severity of the tiredness in the first few weekend Travis life but this just seems tougher. I don’t feel like I can be a parent, a nurse, a house maid, a competent employee, a fiance, a friend, All at the same time as being an invalid. And I know there’s people out there who do all this on their own, who do all this with other kids in tow and I absolutely salute them because I don’t know how they do it. And I definitely don’t think I can say I’m exhausted when they have it so much harder.

And now I’ve lay awake for an extra hour writing this blog so I’m going to be even more exhausted. Go figure!

mum life, Reviews

Rimmel Volume Shake Mascara

One of my makeup must-haves is mascara, due to having been blessed with short, mostly blonde eyelashes. That means I’m always looking for a great new mascara, so I was delighted to be able to try Rimmel’s Volume Shake mascara.

Clumping is one of the most annoying and disappointing features of a mascara, but thankfully Rimmel’s Volume Shake mascara promises to stay clump-free. The promise is made clear on the product tube, which I found to be particularly heavy for a small 9ml makeup product. It made me wonder what lay inside!

Thankfully there were no nasty surprises awaiting, and the wand itself appeared to be lightweight and super bristly, which is just how I like it.
As I mentioned, my eyelashes are pretty blonde and invisible until coated with mascara, so I normally have to apply a few layers to get them looking visible and with some length. One thing I noted about the Volume Shake mascara is that no matter how many layers I coated my lashes with, the mascara refused to clump, which was great.

The only thing I would say is that for me, this is definitely a daytime mascara. In the evening, I prefer my lashes to be quite dark and dramatic, but this mascara is so light and airy that I found it near on impossible to achieve this sort of look, no matter how many coats I put on. Not that this put me off the mascara, as I definitely think it’s good for a more subtle daytime look, whether at work, out shopping, or even sitting in the sunshine on a nice summer’s day. I would definitely recommend it to friends for this sort of thing, and to those of my friends who don’t go for such a dramatic evening look.

 

 

*I’m a BzzAgent and got this product free to test. I wasn’t asked to provide a blog in exchange for the product or anything else, this is just purely my opinion.

mum life, Reviews

Simple Water Boost Hydrating Sheet Mask

*I was given this product in exchange for a review as part of a product testing experience, and was not required to write this post. This review is entirely my own opinion.

I was recently sent the new Simple Water Boost Hydrating Sheet Mask to review, and was excited to be included in this campaign as I love Simple products, particularly their makeup removing face wipes, which I religiously use every day.

My skin has changed somewhat since I was a teen, and my beauty regimes have taken a bit of a knock on the head since becoming a mum, so I’m not as aware of new products or those which would specifically benefit my skin. With winter taking it’s toll, not to mention buckets full of snow in March, Simple’s Water Boost hydrating sheet mask could not have come at a better time for me.

I have to say I’m a bit of a sheet mask novice, tending to go for clay or peel-off masks, so I was a bit apprehensive at first. I found the process of unfolding the mask and placing it on my face correctly to be a bit fiddly, but that could be more to do with lack of practice than any shortcoming on the product’s part.

simple-hydration-boosting-sheet-mask
My face looking freakishly plastic with the mask on

After a small battle with the slippery sheet, I chilled out for 15 minutes with the mask on. The main thing I noticed was how instantly cooling the mask felt. I loved the smell of the mask too – nice, fresh, cucumber vibes.

There was quite a bit of excess when it was time to peel the mask off, which you’re instructed to either remove with a towel or rub into the skin. I opted for the latter and am glad I did as my skin felt lovely and soft for the rest of the day (I didn’t add any other products or makeup to my face all day).

I would definitely recommend this mask to others as it’s so gentle and fresh that I’m sure it would be fine with most skin types. I also think it definitely delivers its promise as my skin feels more refreshed not only visibly, but to the touch too.

mum life, Mum time

April challenge: the results

In April, I set myself the personal challenge to cut down on my caffeine intake. Note, not completely cut out caffeine, just cut down. This was a big step for me as I basically live on caffeine to help plug the gaps in sleep lost thanks to the joys of a newborn (I wouldn’t change it for the world).

I realised something probably had to change as I was getting headaches or would find myself being overly tired if I hadn’t had a particularly strong coffee or two. Plus, most of the time, I was accompanying my coffee with a biscuit, pastry, cake or something else I probably didn’t need to eat. So for the sake of my waistline, not to mention my wallet, I decided to start weaning off the coffee.

My aim was to trim down to just a couple of cups of instant coffee a day, and easing my bank balance by purchasing just 1 or 2 strong barista coffees a week. Here’s how I got on:

Week 1 (Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th)
I started off lightly in week one, trying to limit my coffee intake at home first. On a normal day I would have 3-4 cups of Azera, in addition to any barista coffees and cups of tea, so my first aim was to knock those down to just 1. I’m happy to report that I pretty much succeeded from this week onwards. By starting in good stead, it became easier later on. There was one day (the Saturday) which I was particularly struggling with lack of sleep from a bad night with the wee fella, so I did have more than one coffee that day. But in all, I made a good start to the challenge.

Week 2 (Monday 9th to Sunday 15th)
Week 2 was all about tackling the stronger coffee. At one point in the winter (the long, never-ending winter) I was getting coffee at cafes or takeout from the likes of Costa at least once a day. Partly to warm up, partly to wake up thanks to an unpredictable newborn, I ended up drinking a lot more caffeine and spending a lot more cash than I probably should on something that last for about 7 minutes. I knew this new habit was going to be hard to break, but that it would be worth it in the end. I definitely found myself wandering aimlessly around shops to avoid going and getting coffee, but I also noticed I had more cash in my bank, and we all know that every little helps when you’re on maternity leave!

Week 3 (Monday 16th to Sunday 22nd)
This week, all Travis classes started back after the Easter break, and we started swimming lessons for the first time (see April firsts for more on that) so I was worried I’d need more energy to get by. Did someone say caffeine dependency? In actual fact I found that because we were always busy in the day, I didn’t have time to go out of my way to get a takeout coffee or even really to think about coffee too much. I’d say this was probably my best week challenge wise, despite having more on and a more unsettled baby this week (he had a bad cough and cold which was tailing off and leaving some nappy issues!).

Week 4 (Monday 23rd to Sunday 29th)
I’d say this was where things started to get difficult again. I’d been on my best behaviour when Craig and I were away for the weekend, even opting for tea after a wee trek up the Nevis Range, but I somehow started to falter a bit. I was trying my best not to get takeout coffee but I most definitely didn’t manage to get down to just 1 or 2 a week. One thing I was proud of however, was returning to work on the Tuesday for a keep in touch day, and managing not to have a single coffee all day. I think it probably played havoc with me though – that and a sleepless night with Travis before work meant I slid rapidly downhill as the week progressed. By the Friday I’d had about 3 coffees (2 barista ones) by lunchtime.

I may not have gotten completely to the target is set myself for my April challenge, but it’s clear I was consuming too much caffeine beforehand and I’m glad I’ve managed to cut that down quite substantially. I found that not only did my bank balance take kindly to the less frequent coffee stops, I also found myself losing more weight than I had done in any month since having Travis. In fact, since my exercise stayed the same (if not less) in April as in previous months, and since I made no conscious effort to make any other changes to my diet, I can only assume it was the lack of caffeine that contributed to the weight loss. With the lighter nights coming in and warmer days, I doubt I’ll crave coffee as much, as it’s not my go-to for a cool-down drink. That said, I did just purchase my first iced latte of the year today so hopefully I manage to keep a reign on that!

Exhibitions and shows, mum life, Reviews

Baby and Toddler Show

I was really excited to learn that the Made for Mums Baby and Toddler Show was going to be in Glasgow in April. I hadn’t been to anything like that whilst I was pregnant (truth be told, I don’t think there were any shows like that when I was expecting) so I was keen to go along and see what was on offer and what new products or services Travis and I could try.

So when tickets became available for the event, which took place from 27th-29th April, I just had to snap some up. Craig and I decided to go together with the wee man and by ordering tickets early enough, we also got the option to purchase a Made for Mums goody bag for just £5.

Goody goody
I was certainly impressed with the goody bag, which contained items for mums, babies and toddlers. There were a couple of travel size tubs of Palmer’s cocoa stretch mark cream, which I used religiously posts-partum and would definitely recommend for expectant mums, or those who still have newborns. Toddlers will certainly get endless enjoyment from the magazines included, which contain stories, puzzles, stickers, colouring fun and of course some toys too.

Baby centric
What I will say is that the show is definitely far more focused on babies than toddlers, and even more so at newborns. The back half of the show was taken up by the bigger items such as prams, pushchairs, car seats, cribs, cotbeds and other nursery furniture which most parents will already have sorted for their little one if they are already here! Obviously there’s some usefulness from car seats and pushchairs or strollers in larger sizes for kids moving from their first pram or car seat to ones more inline with their height and weight.

With many of the other stands, particularly the clothing stands, a lot of time and effort was put into presenting beautiful clothes for newborn, 0-3 months and in quite a lot of cases, up to 6 months. After that there was limited stock or simply none available at the show – bear in mind I attended on the first day so it was likely there was even less older age stock as the weekend went on. I found that disappointing as although Travis is only 6 months, he wears 9-12 or 12-18 month clothes, so we didn’t manage to get him any cute new outfits.

However, I wouldn’t let that put anyone off the show, as most clothing retailers were pretty apologetic and offered lots of information about their product ranges, sizes available etc.

Highlights for us
I would say that for us the highlights were certainly more focused on activities rather than products. We missed some of the demonstrations, but there were taster sessions of baby sensory and toddler sense which I’m sure Travis would have loved. Unfortunately he had a swimming lesson so we couldn’t make the show till after lunch – it’s a hard life for a busy baby!

We did manage to speak to the organisers of baby sensory at their stand and found a range of information including classes in our area. Along the same vein, there were numerous stands for other baby and toddler activities like swimming lessons and other play and development.

Another great point for us was all the photography stands, which are great for expectant mums too. Quite a few offered services such as a cake smash and other birthday or milestone photography or celebrations. We even spoke to a celebrationist who conducts naming ceremonies and other special celebrations for kids which are non-religious.

There were plenty of stands offering products and advice on weaning and offering sample foodstuffs, but again, Travis has been eating for a couple of months now so we had most of that stuff sorted. Similarly there were stalls focused on different teethers, educational toys and so on, but we felt that we already had enough in the way of those sorts of items, so didn’t really give those stalls our full attention.

Mum time!
I have to say though, I definitely came out of the show with the best experience. At one stand I had my makeup done (and duly bought one of their wonder products – original beauty glow), and also managed to get myself a massage with a lovely company called massage sense who provide services for parents and babies.

There was definitely a great balance for both mums and babies, including large changing and feeding stations to accommodate so many babies and buggies. I’d say this event was definitely a “must attend” for expectant mums, but if you’re pretty organised with your baby or toddler, you might not get as much from it unless you’re attending for something specific like a new pram/stroller.