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.

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.

Gyros-babs-glasgow
mum life, Mum's finds, Reviews

Baby friendly restaurants: Babs

The first time I took the little one to Glasgow it was to visit my workplace, and I packed up about half the house in the car to take with me. Nowadays, we seem to have nailed the organisation of the changing bag and feeds, so going to Glasgow for a shop or catch up with friends is becoming an easier and more regular occurrence.

That being said, there are still some considerations to be made, such as baby-friendly places to feed and change the wee one. For instance, having not being a frequenter of baby-change facilities until recently, I had no idea of what to look out for and/or expect. In most instances, baby-change is shoved into the disabled toilet, to maximise on space and possibly to avoid the presumption that only mums would be changing nappies. Some places offer this with a convenient route to the loos which can be navigated toward with a pram, others have thought the layout through a little less which can be a problem generally, not just in terms of nappy changing time!

So, I’ve decided to start making it my mission to take note of baby-friendly restaurants, coffee houses etc, mostly for my own reference as baby brain has rotted my short-term memory, but also in case others might find it useful. The first place I took notice of in Glasgow was Babs.

Babs is, as you can imagine, a kebab restaurant. Not to be confused with a kebab takeaway joint you’d find yourself slevering your order out at 2am, this place is fresh, quaint and focuses on more traditional Turkish and Greek kebabs. I was keen to give it a try, particularly for Gyros which I haven’t eaten since a holiday to Greece in about 2005.

Gyros-babs-glasgowAnyone into interior decor, or ambience of restaurants would be charmed by this place, with its painted tiles with blues and teracotta colour palettes, and choice Greek and Turkish style ornaments. But let’s be honest, that’s not why we were there. Even if the wee fella was obsessed with the intricate tile pattern on the wall. To cut an incredibly boring story short, the food was delicious. The chicken gyros was exactly as I hoped it would be – juicy chicken with crisp salad and refreshing tzaziki. I would definitely go back to this restaurant for food even without baby.

The staff couldn’t have been more accommodating when it came to finding us a suitable table and making sure we were ok. We ended up sitting right at the window (another plus for the wee man as he is the nosiest boy around), which is on ground level, as opposed to the booth areas which are all up a couple of steps. The changing facilities were also close to the entrance, and where we were sitting, so we didn’t have to go trekking with a pram or bumping into people with changing bags as I carried Travis to the loo. The waitresses were taken with the wee man, chatting away to him as he charmed them with smiles and flutters of those long eyelashes of his. They couldn’t do enough to help us, and happily helped when we needed a means of cooling down his bottle.

We visited Babs on a Thursday at lunchtime just as a walk-in, so I’m not sure if you’d need to book in advance for evenings or weekends. However I’d definitely recommend Babs as a nice lunch spot for those with little ones. It’s handy as it’s right in the city centre, not too far from any shops, and is conveniently placed between both Queen Street and Central stations so it’s not too far to trek with the pram.

 

the-missing-girl-novel
mum life, Mum time, Reviews

Book review: The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana

I don’t think I’ve written a book review since I was at high school, and even then it was reluctantly written as part of my higher coursework. I absolutely used to love reading when I was younger, and loved nothing better than a book that got under your skin or into your heart. However I didn’t always feel like I could put into words the amount of enjoyment from any given book.

the-missing-girl-novelI’m giving it a go now, as a book hasn’t gripped me as much as Jenny Quintana’s The Missing Girl in a long, long time. Part of that might have something to do with the fact that I’ve not read at this rate in a long time either, but I digress!

The debut novel by Quintana is a mystery, unfolded by Anna Flores, sister of a missing girl. The basic premise is – without giving away any spoilers – that a pre-teen Anna dotes on her older sister Gabriella. She seems well liked in her local village, and is the most beautiful girl ever, according to her younger sister. As the title suggests, one day Gabriella goes missing, simply disappearing without a trace.

30 years later, the girls’ mother passes away, and Anna makes a return to her hometown to bury her mother and hopefully dig up some clues and solve the mystery as to what happened to her sister back in 1982. After a lot of suspicion, possibilities and theories, the mystery is finally solved at the very end.

There are quite a few things I love about this book, both in terms of the actual plot of the story and the way it was written. Quintana opted for a split chronological narrative, with chapters alternating between 1982 and 2012. This adds to the tension as you know that at some point 1982 Gabriella is going to go missing, but you don’t know the how’s and the why’s. Similarly it helps build up a better character picture, as you almost feel like you’re reliving the memories with Anna.

The other thing that I really enjoyed was how the story was completely told from the viewpoint of Anna Flores. This meant Quintana hopped between the thoughts, feelings and understandings of the situation as both an adult and a 12 year old girl. She captures the essence of a pre-pubescent girl perfectly, giving an insight as to how a young girl in the 80s perceives everything from relationships between family and friends to understanding arguments and reasoning.

Considering I’ve not been much of a reader in the past decade (I blame uni textbooks, they were enough to put anyone off), I genuinely couldn’t put this novel down. I devoured it in just 2 weeks, which when you consider I also have a demanding 4 month old baby, is some testament to the author. Completely gripping to the last page, I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a book that keeps you on your toes and guessing every possible theory.

I read the book via Kindle, as it was on a special offer at the time, but the book is also available in paperback, audiobook and hardback. For more about Jenny Quintana, you can find her on Twitter.

Baby M's firsts, Reviews

Hartbeeps Mother and Baby Classes

So rather than new year, new me, I started 2018 focusing on all the new great things baby M could, should and would hopefully do in his first year of life (see 2018: A Year of Firsts). One of the main things I wanted baby M to experience was play and interaction with other babies, which is where Hartbeeps comes in.

I’d been looking at various classes, including the council baby massage and yoga classes which ultimately book out in about 5 seconds flat (where are these parents that are so bloody organised?!) So decided to see what else was on offer in our area. Hartbeeps immediately caught my attention as it focuses on baby play and letting them learn and explore at their own pace. Whilst other classes also offer this, it felt a bit different from the yoga and massage which focus on tested techniques with specific results – for example, some massage elements help digestion, breathing and so on, whilst some yoga moves help with the development of things like rolling, coordination and so on. So Hartbeeps essentially seemed like a break from all of that and a chance for baby M to have an hour to play with mum and a bunch of fun songs and toys to boot.

First impressions
Our first class was on 12th January and I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew there would be songs and bright colours but that was about it. Laura, the instructor, (or teacher? I’m not sure what the right term is!) was so friendly and welcoming right from the off. She explained the class was about mum and baby and not to worry about things like running late or sleeping babies. She also made it clear that this was a place for both mum and baby to forget about whatever else was going on that day or in general – no worries about laundry or groceries or visitors or anything. This class is designed as an escape for mum just as much as for baby.

What happens at class
Doesn’t necessarily stay at class. Parents are encouraged to continue play outside and sing the songs at home. Though part of the reason I signed up for Baby Bells is that it’s so easy not to play that way at home. Things like phonecalls and listen and cooking and all sorts distract us from getting completely lost in play. Also, I feel like I should always be doing something else. Play is most definitely vital for babies needs, growth and development but I was brought up to believe that play was what you did after all the other work/chores/school etc were finished. So I’m usually doing a load of washing or tidying up around baby M while we’ve got toys and playmats and all sorts out. I feel bad if I do and bad if I don’t!

Everything at Baby Bells was laid out and colourful, with mats arranged in a circle round the room. There are soft fleecy mats for baby to lie on and lovely circular ones for mum’s to plonk our bums on. In the centre of the room is the sparkly sunshine, containing a trove of baby fun underneath. With actual baby bells* and bubble machines and lights and feathers and much more, it’s hard to see how babies couldn’t get all their senses going at these classes.

*sleigh bells on a rattle

Baby benefits
Each class has it’s own theme, whether that be pirates and treasure or dinosaurs or anything in between. Songs and play then follow that theme. Basically each class is good for their imagination as no two weeks are the same. Some songs do get repeated (this is good for memory) but generally the set up remains the same with the journey different each time.

  • Songs are sung with actions which can include baby yoga or massage techniques, brilliant for development. There are familiar nursery rhymes like round and round the garden.
  • Dress up is one of my favourite parts not least because it provides a great photo opportunity. From sweatpants to frogs eyes and dinosaur tails, dress up accessories do wonders for the imagination and senses with new and different textures to touch
  • Tummy time each week over the big tummy ring, your lap or with a towel; however baby is comfiest. There are light-up toys, mirrors, shiny paper and different textures to discover
  • Quiet time at the end of class which involves putting out all the lights and having a lovely projected display, personal lights, bubbles and lullabies. This is perfect for calming baby after an exciting class and getting them ready for a nice long nap afterwards (thank you Hartbeeps!)

All in all, both Baby M and I absolutely loved Hartbeeps and now can’t wait for a Friday morning to go and play. All of the above benefits plus meeting other mums and babies makes for a happy wee boy and a happy mum going into the weekend. If there are Hartbeeps classes in your area I would strongly recommend giving them a go, particularly if you have someone like Laura taking the class.

 

Mum time, Reviews

Beauty Must Have – Nail Polish Holder

Tweexy-nail-polish-holderI’m all for beauty hacks, tips, and anything that generally makes life easier when it comes to your beauty regime.

Painting nails has always been one of my favourite aspects of beauty. Whether it’s my own or I’m painting a friends nails, I love trying out new colours, patterns and styles and dedicate time to taking care of my nails. However when painting nails, there’s always been one thing that’s bothered me – the nail polish bottle always gets in the way!

Minimising time, maximising space

Finally, the solution to this popped up on my Facebook newsfeed recently (thank you targeted ads!). The Tweexy wearable nail polish bottle has definitely come to my rescue. Worn on your fingers like some sort of knuckle-duster, it fits pretty much everyone thanks to the flexible rubber material it’s made from.

Just about any standard nail varnish pot will fit in it too, meaning you can use it with all of the nail polishes you already own. Smaller ones fit too, as you can see from the image above. I’ve even managed to fit in the big, rectangular Tanya Burr bottles I got from her beauty advent calendar. As someone who sits and paints my nails at the coffee table, at work, on a plane, or anywhere I can fit my hand, this product takes the worry off where I’ll sit the bottle. It also avoids the dance of having to try and hold the bottle whilst painting nails with said holding hand, in a minimal space situation.

The way the ring positions the nail polish bottle means you won’t spill any excess anywhere, and you free up your hands to paint or position your nails. Genius huh?