29 September 2015

The Role of the Social Worker Assistant

Social workers are a vital part of a happy, healthy, functioning society.

They assist vulnerable people and children through the really hard parts of life and help them through a crisis while also working to safeguard them from harm.

They could be working with a variety of people from young parents to those addicted to substances to carers but often they specialize in one field.

Sometimes, social workers need to work with other outside sources such as the police and hospitals and can sometimes have to make some very tough calls which can result in a parent losing access to their child or a person being put through other special measures to ensure their safety.

Because this role is so demanding, social worker assistants are now helping to make the field of social work much more efficient and productive by taking on some duties that the social worker simply does not have time to deal with.

They work with qualified social workers to maintain the high standards of quality of care for those needing it and are therefore absolutely paramount to society.

Photo by David Castillo Dominici from freedigitalphotos.net

The role of the social worker assistant can include: 

Social workers simply do not have the time to deal with the administrative side of their roles, such as report writing, and therefore social worker assistants take over these duties.

Other responsibilities can include contacting potential clients and setting up appointments, writing up actions plans and basic administration.

Meeting directly with clients
Social worker assistants often visit clients in their home or other environments and inform them about the services available, assist them with tasks such as paperwork and help them through actions plans that have been drawn up for them. They also offer support, guidance and counselling to those in crisis on a one-to-one basis.

Supporting the social worker
Professionally supporting the social worker through hard cases and motivating them is a major part of the role of social worker assistant. By removing many of the miscellaneous tasks it allows them to be highly energized for their duties and therefore provide the best quality of care. Social worker assistants also keep up to date with changes in legislation and therefore can assist the social worker competently and legally.

Working in the community
Social worker assistants are visible in the local community and often are the first port of call for clients and other health care professionals. Because they do not specialize in any one field like many social workers they deal with many people in hospitals, care homes and other settings.

Milkysnugz: Hugz Your Baby Will Love!

Milkysnugz are wonderfully cute. They are a fun range of cuddly comforters for your babies bottle that come with lots of loving hugz. Made to help with the breastfeeding journey and the new Universal Collection take 98% of baby bottles on the market, including sipper spout & sports cap bottles too.

If used from birth, babies build a bond with their Milkysnugz not their feeding aid and , when pressed against the breast, they will take on the mothers scent, making it easier for a baby to latch to the bottle for feeding. 

As babies grow, they learn to grasp onto bottles and eventually hold them with the help of the Milkysnugz which helps to develop fine motor skills so they can become independent feeders. When older, Milkysnugz help make the transition from bottles to spouts a doddle as the baby associates with the Milkysnugz and not with what's hiding inside. 

On the left, the original Milkysnugz and on the right, the new universal Milkysnugz
Milkysnugz are also fully machine washable at 30 degrees so it doesn't matter if they are attacked by a dribble monster as they can just be popped into the washing machine. Made from the highest quality materials and a zip fastener underneath which allows for easy access to the bottle, they are very soft and long lasting with a full CE certification.  

The new Universal Milkysnugz have been designed to fit 98% of the baby bottles on the current market which means, no matter what bottle or sippy cup you choose to use for your baby, it will more than likely, fit into the Milkysnugz for hugz and cuddles. 

Available in six adorable characters, Benji The Bliss Bear, Dash The Dog, Elliot The Elephant, Rosie The Rabbit, Mason The Mouse and Humphrey The Hippo, Milkysnugz provide a comfort to your baby during feeding time and as a companion to snuggle up with. 

Joseph has been lucky to try out his very own Milkysnugz, receiving Elliot The Elephant to snuggle up to as he has his bottle. This is a super cute elephant that wears a cute orange outfit and has little green feet and ears. Joseph loves gripping Elliot by the ear as he sups his bottle and then squeezes him tight for a loving hug. 

We use Tommee Tippee bottles and these fit into the Milkysnugz with ease. You just simply unzip the bottom, push the bottle in to place and zip it back up. And there you have it, a cuddly friend for your baby to snuggle with and a way to help your baby learn to drink their own bottle. 

I am really happy that Joseph has taken to using a Milkysnugz so well, now being able to confidently hold his own bottle at feeding time which frees up my time to actually do everything else around the house. As we all know, a mothers work is never done. 

For more information about the characters, visit the Milkysnugz website where you can also purchase them with free UK delivery. 

28 September 2015

Goodness Gracious Baby Food Pouches

When I'm not making baby food from scratch, I use pouches to make sure that Joseph gets a full wholesome meal. It annoys me though that the food flavours are always a little boring with no adventure on new tastes from around the world and you never actually know what has or hasn't been added in the way of salt, sugar and additives. 

So I'm glad to see that there is now a change...

Goodness Gracious Foods serves up an innovative line of baby food using recipes that come from the kitchen of founder Katherine Gubbins. Katherine tested the meals and flavours on her little ones to make sure that each recipe tastes great and adds those essential daily nutrients to the diets of babies. 

The recipes used are based on the 5,000-year-old Indian health system of Ayurveda which means that only 100% organic food is used and the introduction of new grains, flavours and spices to make sure that little ones are getting to try something new that is not only healthy but is nutritionally balanced too. 

Joseph has loved getting to grips with new flavours. The 4 month+ range consists of normal foods such as apples and pears but better that they are packed full of pure fruit. These have been great as little dessert treats for Joseph.

There are then more adventurous tastes like Apple, Apricot & Cinnamon Puree, Banana, Plum & Quinoa Puree and Carrot, Broccoli, Pea & Quinoa Puree. These are great as not only does it mean that babies get to try spices but new grains too that will help to develop their palate as they grow. From a sweet meal to a veggie delicacy. 

For babies that are over 8 month old, they can sample Chicken, Sweet Potato, Spinach Purée with Mint & Lemon Juice. Although Joseph is just over 7 month old, I tried him with this and it was, by far his favourite. With the fragrant mint and the citrus zing of lemon, it gives him a whole new taste sensation.

I love that the spinach hasn't been fully puréed and still has some texture to it thus giving Joseph another hurdle to get over in how to chew the spinach and break it down. Although I obviously haven't tasted it myself, from the delightful smell of the meal, I can tell that Joseph is getting a wholesome, full, rounded meal to devour. 

There is then a pouch for babies over a year old. This is Mango, Coconut Milk and Brown Rice Purée which Joseph hasn't tried yet as he isn't old enough. Packed with essential nutrients, bursting with vitamins and minerals whilst having 0% additives, 0% added sugar and  0% added salt. 

In all honesty, I think the Goodness Gracious baby food is amazing. The different flavours in spices and grains for babies to try and the fact that they are healthier than other pouches with no salt or sugar added to them. 

I think it would be great if more flavours were added to the range so that babies could get to try even more, maybe that's a way to reach out to in the future, but for now, Joseph has been enjoying these pouches. His favourite being the Chicken, Sweet Potato, Spinach Purée with Mint & Lemon Juice as it gives him meaty goodness, a fragrant flavour and a kick from the lemon and mint for a meal that he truly enjoys.

You can find out more information on the Goodness Gracious Foods website where you can also purchase any of the pouches too. 

27 September 2015

How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night

You can't! 

Well that was a short post, now on to something fun. Oh, I'd better explain myself eh?!...

Some babies don't sleep. They just don't. 

You will read about all these miracle cures to getting a good nights sleep, but at the end of the day, if your baby isn't ready to sleep through, nothing will help him. Not even selling your soul to the devil himself. 

To be honest, most babies won't sleep through when teeny tiny (unless you are one of those lucky parents... I don't like you and all that sleep you're getting!) but I think that a lot of people read these parenting books and magazines which give tips and 'sure fire ways' and assume they'll be back to getting a restful night in no time. 

And being really honest right now, some babies just aren't capable of it. Sleeping through the night that is. And it's nothing to do with your parenting skills, you don't have a faulty baby that needs returning to the stork, it's just the way things are sometimes. Some babies just aren't ready to have a full uninterrupted night. 

You can try ways to help but these may just leave you feeling deflated if they don't work. Okay, you may be the lucky one that catches a break with one of the strategies, but most don't work as like I said above, your baby isn't ready and nothing will help them get those zzz's. 

I recently read an article about trying to get babies to sleep through and it made me angry (which is the main reason that I wrote this post). Apparently, some expert was saying that all babies are capable of sleeping through the night from the age of 3 months. 

I call bull!

I don't agree at all. I totally and utterly disagree with that and here's why. 

A baby is not a robot that follows along a pathway set out by some doctor and they'll all play along and sleep at night and do every milestone at exactly the same time as other babies. They grow differently, they learn differently and, as I said above, some babies just cannot sleep through the night.

And have you had a baby with colic? Trying to get a colicy baby to sleep at all is hard work let alone getting them to sleep all night. 

The article I read goes on to say that it's not a case of letting your baby cry it out and ignoring them but actually it was. As I read more it became apparent that this was exactly what was happening. 

Now tell me, if your baby cried at 3 month old. Could you ignore him? I sure couldn't. And I wouldn't either. 

So in summary, if your baby doesn't sleep through the night, don't feel like a failure because some post or book tells you that your baby should be. Just remember that no amount of controlled crying or cutting down the amount of milk you give during the night, if your baby wants to wake he will do regardless. 

And you know what, they'll sleep through... eventually... 

26 September 2015

Spooktacular Deals at Aldi

Out of all the big holidays, apart from Christmas of course, Halloween is the favourite in our family. We love nothing more than donning a spooky costume, fixing  the house up with gruesome decorations and handing out sweets to the monsters that visit. 

And Aldi know just how much us families love the scary day and have brought us a whole host of spooktacular deals on Halloween items. We were sent a range of their party stock and some extra goodies that are sure to scare.

The Party Range
There is so much to choose from, the assorted partyware (from 89p) are available in 2 designs and can get table cloths, plates, bowls, bups, napkins and loot bags. We were sent a pack of each that will come in handy as the boys are having a Halloween tea party with a couple of their friends and these will just help to set the scene a bit more. 

We also received a fab serving dish (£6.99) which is hand-painted with a gloss finish. You can choose from a 3 Pack Spider Web Bowls, Rectangular Divided Serving Dish or Large Pumpkin Plate. The pumpkin plate is great and will be a fab place to put nibbles and treats on the big day.  

Ding Dong Doorbell
These bright and noisy doorbells (£6.99) are great and will scare any trick or treaters out of their skin. You can pick between a Skull, Witch or Vampire design, of which we got the skull one, and they all talk, have light up eyes and stick out their tongues and are sure to scare your little socks off. 

Have a watch of this video to see just one of the examples of what it says...

By Candle Light
The beautiful LED tealight holders are fab as, although they look like candles, they are in fact battery operated and have a speckley light to make it look like an actual candle. Depicting a gruesome sight on the front and glowing with a spooky light. Being only £1.79 each, they are a must have to make your house a spooky dark space but without using actual candles. 

Aldi also has a huge range of Halloween costumes for adults and children as well as treats and much more in store from the 1st October. Check out the Aldi website for more information. 

24 September 2015

Fly Through The Weekly Shop With Trolley Bags

I love food shopping. I love getting to see the food in the flesh and creating menus and recipes for the week as I walk around the supermarket, trying new foods and inventing more plates for the kids to try. I hate packing it up when going through the tills though. 

Trying to quickly pack items as they are scanned whilst also trying to get similar products packed together means that I end up with about 4 different bags on the go and no way of holding them all. This is made even more impossible if going through a self-service check-out. 

I end up with fridge, freezer and cupboard food all mixed together which is then a pain to sort when home. I once forgot what I had packed where and got home to find my tub of yummy ice cream had been turned to soup after sharing bag space with a hot rotisserie chicken, doh'.

That's why I think that Trolley Bags are the bag of the future. The make packing a breeze. The patented system of four reusable bags are revolutionising the way people pack their groceries. Coming in 2 sizes, express and original, for either the small or normal sized trolleys. 

Trolley Bags are four different sized bags that are connected together with Velcro along the integrated rails. They are fab as they can be placed open and upright in the shopping trolley which means that you can easily sort groceries with 2 hands making going through the tills half the time. 

They are amazing and with the new 5p bag tax to be implemented on 5th October, they are environmentally beneficial and a cost effective solution for shoppers. No having to mess with carrier bags, hoping they don't snap and having to pay 5p for the pleasure, you can now have a set of 4 bags that will save you time and money. 

With the new bag tax arriving shortly, Trolley Bags are giving one of my readers the chance to win a set of these fab bags for themselves. So, for your chance to win a set of original Trolley Bags, just simply enter below using the embedded Twitter link. 

All the details are on the Twitter post which is below. Please remember to check my full T&C's here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the required entries will be disqualified. 

Ends 9am on the 2nd October 2015.

22 September 2015

Weaning: Spinach & Ricotta Pasta Bake Recipe

When it comes to weaning you baby, there are so many things to factor in. Will you use spoon-led weaning, baby-led weaning or a mix of both? Will you buy jars or pouches or will you make your own? 

We decided to do a mix of everything and so far it seems to be working very well. Joseph will have one meal a day whereby he feeds himself, this is usually vegetables, cheese and baby crackers, and then his other main meal (not including breakfast as that's porridge or Weetabix of some sort) is usually what ever we are having, just puréed up in the blender. Using pouches only when we're having something that he cannot eat. 

That face you pull when you realise that dinner is just vegetables!
So, when it comes to making our own baby food, this becomes another mine field to contend with. What they'e allowed at certain ages, how much of it, what's bad for them, salt intake and so on and so forth. 

For me, I prefer to limit the amount of meat Joseph intakes. I find meat to be a harsh on little tummies and so Joseph will only have it a couple of days a week, other than that, it's veggie dishes delight and I've had to master making these fun and tasty without compromising goodness.  

And a firm favourite in our household has been my homemade Spinach & Ricotta Pasta Bake recipe which I have done for all 3 of the boys over the years. What's more, the kids eat it still, just in an unblended form. Here's the super simple instructions on how it's made:

Base Ingredients
100g ricotta cheese
50g spinach
200g fresh pasta

Extra Ingredients
Any other veg, we used peas and green peppers in the recipe below
Cream/milk to get the right thickness for your baby/child

1.  Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water and cook until soft (add any other veg here also)
2.  Add the spinach to the pan until wilted and the drain the pasta, veg and spinach
3.  Place in an oven dish and add the ricotta
4.  Bake in the oven at 190c until a crisp top has formed
5.  Place into blender and blend till you get the right consistency, adding milk or cream if it's
     too thick
6.  Split into portions for your child (this makes 3 portions for Joseph) and freeze

Note: You don't actually have to oven bake, it can be made without that step but I like to do this for an extra punch of flavour.

As you can see, Joseph loves this recipe and so do I because it is healthy and and super tasty too. Not only that but I can make this base and then add any other flavour I like to give him a bit of a change. Sometimes adding other vegetables, parsnip for a nice sweet flavour or peas and peppers like above with Joseph much prefers. 

As I'm part of the Vital Baby Weaning Warriors team, over the coming weeks, I'll be sharing more recipes for the baby food I make and showing how you can make delicious meals at home for your little darlings. 

Do you make your own baby food? I'd love to see some more suggestions that I can try out.

21 September 2015

Bissell Thrifty Home Hacks‏

As a mum of 3, I have built up an arsenal of hacks in the home to save me time, space and cleaning whilst also saving me money as I now use a lot of pantry cupboard items as cleaning products. Today I share with you some of the thrifty home hacks‏ from Bissell that aim to help around the house when it comes to toys, stains, cleaning and picking up broken glass. 

Did you know for instance, that lemon is the king of cleaners. Not only can you use it to get your taps clean and shiny by putting half a lemon squished into them for around half an hour before rinsing and buffing, but it can be used to clean your microwave roof also. Simply use a damp cloth with water and lemon juice to wipe the area clean. The lemon will help to clean the area as well as sanitising the microwave.

Fizzy pop is a pain in the bum to remove, and being a cola lover and very clumsy, I am forever scrubbing it up from the floor with no avail. With the Bissell hacks it makes cleaning a less hard work as there is no scrubbing needed. Just use a roller towel to absorb the excess soda then pour a little Soda Water on a cloth to dilute spilled liquid then vacuum the excess. 

The 4 hacks in the photo above are my favourites though. I have 3 boys, 3 messy messy boys and so knowing that plastic toys (such as figures and Lego, none electrical toys) can easily go through the dishwasher, saves me loads of time as I now don't need to stand at the sink washing them all by hand. 

Broken glass is not only annoying but can be dangerous also when having a little one crawling around. Bissell makes picking up glass the best thing sliced bread, literally in fact as, to pick up shards of glass, just press a slice of bread into the floor and this will pick up any rouge fragments.

I love these tips and how easy it makes cleaning and saving time at home. And to help with the cleaning a little more, Bissell are offering one of my readers the chance to win a clean up bundle worth £30. The bundle consists of Bissell Carpet & Upholstery Aerosol, Tough Stain Pre Cleaner an Bissell Dirt & Odour Heavy Traffic Carpet Foam to keep you house stain free. 

For your chance to win, you just need to pop over to my Facebook page and let me know any cleaning hacks that you have. All the details are on the Facebook post which is also below. Please remember to check my full T&C's here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the required entries will be disqualified.

***WIN***Would you like to win a Bissell UK Clean Up Bundle worth £30 to coincide with my post about thrifty home...

20 September 2015

Kleenbots Disposable Nappies

When you first find out you're expecting your first child, nappies will be one thing you have to think about. When I had my first son, I relied on the packaging to tell me which size I needed and went for the biggest known brand I could think of as, if they're the most well known, then they should be the best, right?! Well no, not exactly.

You would think that buying nappies was easy, just go to the supermarket, pick a pack up and pay. There, you're done. But no... there is so much to think about. You have to consider the fit, the dryness, comfort when baby starts to move and of course price, just to name a few factors.

Now being a mum of 3, over the years I have used just about every nappy brand known to man so when a new brand comes along, I just had to give it a try to see how it works for my baby in comparison to other brands.

So, Kleenbots...

The Kleenbots project started in 2013 in Wales and they sourced materials, designed and manufactured the products until they developed a nappy which they thought was the best around. Not only that but they made sure that they didn't break the bank also.

The nappies come in small (3-7kg), medium (5-10kg), large (9-14kg) and extra-large (12-16kg) which are slightly different to other known brands sizings and so to make sure you get the correct fit, Kleenbots offer a free sample of their nappies (just a small charge for P&P to pay) and that way, you can check fit and quality for yourself before buying a box full.

On first use of the nappies, I noted just how thin they were. This gave me mixed feelings as it could either mean that they will need changing more often or that they are super absorbent. Luckily for us, it was the latter, and even over night, these thin, very soft nappies held their own and there were no leakages at all.

What's more, Kleenbots nappies have a wetness indicator on the front of them so you know exactly when they need changing. I love this as it means that I know exactly when the nappy is getting full and it keeps my little one dry and comfortable without a risk of leaking. 

Overall, I am thoroughly happy with Kleenbots nappies. The wetness indicator is fantastic, especially when we're out and about, the elasticated waist means that Joseph can move around in comfort and it gives me peace of mind that we wont be suffering a 'poonami' any time soon as the nappies cling to him, without being too tight.

Out of everything though, the best part of the nappies was the elasticity and comfort around the legs. Joseph has little chunky legs and other nappies have always left him with red marks where the nappy has pressed in to the skin. With Kleenbots this hasn't happened at all. They are super soft around the legs and Joseph can move around and explore as much as he wants without risk of pressure from the nappy or discomfort.

What's more, they are reasonably priced too. Delivering a box of disposable nappies directly to your door saving you having to make time to go to the supermarket and pick them up, lugging a big box home with you. All this whilst giving you exceptional quality and fantastic value too. You can check out the Kleenbots website for more information. 

19 September 2015

End Loneliness With Sunrise Living

Recently I was invited to join in with the campaign to end loneliness and invite an elderly relative for dinner so they're not alone and have at least some family interaction for a bit. I knew straight away that I would invite my mother in law down for a family meal with us.

My mother in law has recently undergone heart surgery and so cannot do loads. She spends the most part in her flat pottering around but, as she lives on her own, I can imagine how lonely it must be from time to time. 

Sunrise Senior Living who provide residential care, organised the End Loneliness Campaign for bloggers to make sure, for at least a bit of time, the an elderly person is with family, interacting and enjoying the company of family members rather than being at home. You can see what other bloggers have written about by searching #DontDineAlone on social media.

So, we set the date and planned a huge Sunday roast for the family. We regularly invite my husbands mum down for dinner, but it's usually for special events, birthdays, Christmas, that kind of thing, so most of the rest of the time, she will be at home, so it was nice to see the smile on her face when we asked her to attend our dinner.

Armed with enough food to feed a small army, I set out to create a 3 course menu, perfect for all of us and our tastes. For starter, butternut squash soup with crusty bread. Shortly followed by a hearty chicken roast dinner, and since I'm a true Yorkshire girl, this included a mountain of Yorkshire puds, homemade of course. Dessert was trifle. Why not I thought. It gave the boys and I something to prepare the day before and meant that Joseph could also tuck into it after his dinner. 

The whole family enjoyed eating together at the table, chatting about television, news and a bit of football thrown in, just enjoying each others company. 

And then it got to the competitive bit... Monopoly... The Monopoly: Leeds Edition to be precise. 

As we all know, Monopoly takes an age to play so this went on for a good few hours, cheers when we won a big pot of money from the 'free parking' square. Moaning coming from the hubby as he, once again, landed on a plot with a hotel, and just altogether having fun. 

For me, not only was it great that we got to spend the day with my husbands mum, but it meant that we got to talk about the things she likes, do something different and just relax knowing that for that day, she was with her family and knew how appreciated she is. 

After agreeing just how good it was, we decided that it would now be a weekly thing. Every Sunday, the mother in law will come down and we'll have a lovely roast followed by getting to beat the hubby at a board game. 

A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, as one big happy family...

18 September 2015

Dr Brown's Natural Flow Green Bottle and Soother Set Giveaway

Over the years, I have tried almost all of the brands of bottles you could think of and when it comes to combating colic and wind, Dr Brown's bottles are the front runner to help ease the symptoms and pain caused by these. 

Dr Brown's Natural Flow bottles feature a patented internal vent which has been designed to create no vacuum in the bottle thus reducing air bubbles in the formula which helps to reduce colic, burping and wind. Also because there is no vacuum in the bottle, it also stops teats collapsing in too so stops you having a grumpy baby. 

When using them with Joseph he would drink formula a lot better and even a lot quicker than usual as he was no longer having to ingest air bubbles too. Winding was easy and there was no groaning after his feed as he was now content with no trapped wind and his colic seemed to settle down. They truly are life savers when it comes to feeding time.

To celebrate the fact that they are a wonder product, I am fortunate enough to be able to offer you this prize of a Dr Brown's green bottle and soother gift set. This Special Edition set comprises of one Natural Flow Baby bottle, a Prevent soother and Clip. 

For your chance to win a special edition Dr Brown's Natural Flow Green Bottle and Soother Set enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

Please remember to check our full T&C's here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the required entries will be disqualified. After any mandatory entries, others will open up to give you extra entries. You do not have to enter by all methods but these will give you extra entries into the competition if you do. 

And please, if you are commenting on the blog as 'anonymous' can you please write your name in the comment otherwise I cannot count your entry.

Ends midnight 4th October 2015

14 September 2015

How To Design A Space Saving Nursery

When it comes to decorating Joseph's nursery, I wanted to go a little different this time round. With him being our third child, I didn't want to go with the normal white and basic furniture and instead chose to go for a colourful theme which would work to grow with him.

This was going to be a stretch though as Joseph, being in the room on his own, has the smallest room so all the furniture has to have a purpose and something that will actually be used. Space saving furniture is a must or products that can double up as something else too. Utilising wall space by having a lot of shelves to free up the floor for more necessary items.

He's our last child so I wanted to go out with a bang as it were. A blast of colour and no expense spared when it comes to kitting out his room that would be his as he grows and gains his own little personality along the way. 

Products : Modern nursery/kids room by Boori Europe
Products by Boori Europe

So I have started looking around to find my inspiration. Searching for photos of rooms that others have designed, ones that I liked, disliked, that I could use parts of to go into my own design for Joseph's room. After a bit of browsing, I came across quite a few that I like and our design was born from there.

For me, I liked the thought of having cream walls and then adding colour around this afterwards. This would mean that no matter how he changed in the future, we could just change accessories, pictures and materials and it would suit any new theme. 

My first thought is to have beautiful wood coloured furniture that would stand out and then add accessories to give the colour. What's more, if I buy a cotbed rather than a regular cot, this will also help for the room to grow as Joseph does as it can be changed to a junior bed when he has outgrown the cot.

So that's the basics sorted, plain walls with wooden furniture. Now just for everything else...

Mr Fox nursery : Eclectic style nursery/kids room by Kinderoo Childrens Interiors
Mr Fox nursery by Kinderoo Childrens Interiors

What colour should I go for? It's so hard to choose. Blue is a bit boring on it's own and is very much the 'norm' when it comes to decorating a boys bedroom. I love this Mr Fox design. Who'd have thought that blue and orange would have worked so well. I would have never put them together myself. 

After much searching and spending (oops, sorry hubby!), I have he base of Joseph's room. Going with a duck-egg blue and mint green colour scheme with personalised pictures and artwork on the wall. Finding furniture that saves space was quite hard though. 

Most nursery furniture sets came as a pack of 3, a cot, set of drawers and a changing unit. Eventually we found one that we loved that not only gave the option of being able to be turned into a junior bed when needed, but it had a huge drawer underneath, perfect for storing blankets and spare bedtime items, and a changer that fits to the top of the cot. This means that it takes up less space in his room as we now no longer need to find storage for these items. 

I'll be glad when it's finally done and I can share the finished room with you and eventually get Joseph into his own bedroom. 

11 September 2015

Energizer Re-Imagination Challenge

When it comes to children and crafting, we could spend a fortune at shops buying craft items and things to use whilst creating our masterpieces. But this week, we have been challenged to create our own items using old and recycled products in the Energizer Re-Imagination Challenge to celebrate their brand new Energizer EcoAdvanced which are the world's first battery made with 4% recycled batteries.

Energizer EcoAdvanced batteries are the highest performing, most responsible alkaline batteries (vs. Energizer's other alkaline batteries) so you can enjoy great performance whilst creating less impact on the planet. Containing 4% recycled materials by total weight (which is nearly 10% of a key active ingredient), Energizer are hoping that by the year 2025, they can increase the amount of recycled battery material ten-fold to 40% to make them even better for our planet. 

So, to enter the Energizer Re-Imagination Challenge, we were sent a box of craft items to help us on our way to re-imagining something. And for this, we went for household products and empty containers. Do you realise just how many boxes and tubs are wasted once they are emptied? I think nearly every day we throw away a box in our house. Okay, it goes in to our recycling bin but I've now realised that we can put these to good use by creating something with them. 

One of the items that features the most... the toilet paper inner tube...

This is an amazing little cardboard tube that we use to create so many different things which you'll see below. We decided to create our own little pirate world, with swords, binoculars and animals to spy on too. Check out our photos to see how these came out. 

Creating with household items is so easy. Just grab whatever you can salvage and get to work. Some of the things we have used are toilet roll and kitchen roll inners, buttons, milk cartons and cereal boxes.

You can't be a pirate without a pair of binoculars, so we got creative and made our very own pair. 2 toilet roll inners were painted and then we connected them together by stringing up some buttons and putting small holes in the sides of the tubes. Whilst the paint was drying, the boys enjoyed an ice lolly each so that we could then use the sticks as part of the design. Painting them and sticking them to the top with a pompom acting as the zoom in/out button. And there you have it, binoculars fit for any pirate.

Octopuses, Bats and Crabs
We used a kitchen roll tube to make the octopus. By painting it and then sticking on the face with some decorative items. We then cut out thin lines at the bottom and curled them outwards slightly to create 8 tentacles adding sequins at the bottom to give it a shiny gleam. 

The boys loved making the bird the most. We painted the whole tube and then cut off about an inch of the toilet roll tube which will be used for the body. We then used the rest of the tube for the wings by cutting it down the middle and laying it flat. We drew and then cut out the bird wings, sticking them to the body with glue. Adding small buttons for eyes, some pompoms that we cut in half for its fluffy head and feather sequins on the wings. 

For the crab we used the bottom of an old milk carton. Cutting off the base and painting it red and then adding eyes and a mouth using craft supplies. I did want to make it choppers with card but the boys refused, saying he was a friendly crab and needed little fluffy feet instead. And then we were ready to go on our pirate journey, spying on creatures and sword fighting along the way. What a super way to use up household boxes and unused items to create something fun. 

Now For The Competition
Along with the release of the new EcoAdvanced batteries, Energizer are holding a campaign to encourage the nation to get involved in Energizer’s Re-imagination Challenge and attempt some upcycling at home. The #reimagiNATION challenge is super fun and 2 entrants who come up with the most imaginative creations will win a fantastic overnight stay at the Science Museum in London along with a GoPro camera, so they can film the whole experience, how cool is that?!

To coincide with this creative competition, I am giving away a £100 voucher to spend at Remade In Britain in my own giveaway. With a whole host of recycled products to choose, from homemade candles in jam jars, wooden coasters, clocks and storage crates to gifts and wedding decorations. 

For a chance to win, you just need to post below and tell me one thing in your house that you would like to upcycle (and enter through the Rafflecopter app so I have your details if you win) and like Energizer on Facebook. You will then open up another set of entry methods, you do not need to do these but will gain extra entries for doing so. 

Ends midnight 30th September 2015
Please remember to check our full T&C's here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the required entries will be disqualified. After any mandatory entries, others will open up to give you extra entries. You do not have to enter by all methods but these will give you extra entries into the competition if you do. 

And please, if you are commenting on the blog as 'anonymous' can you please write your name in the comment otherwise I cannot count your entry.

6 September 2015

Cow & Gate Friends Vegetable Pouches

Introducing veggies to children can be tricky as it either means boiling up small pans of each veg and blending it down or using jars which aren't always just veg. But now thanks to Cow & Gate's newest range, Friends, babies are in for a veggie treat with these 100% veg pouches. 

The Friends range begins with the veggie starter pack, four single vegetable varieties; cauliflower, pea, carrot and broccoli to introduce a variety of tastes at the early stages of weaning. For me, I love that they are 100% veg, no added salt, sugar, additives or preservatives and apart from the veg, use only water for cooking, that's it. 

Coming in pouches, these are resealable for use within 24 hours of opening. The pouches are ready to eat, steam cooked, with no mixing or disguising of vegetables with fruit and can be served warm or cold. 

As baby begins to enjoy and recognise the single vegetable tastes, the Friends range expands to vegetable varieties with other flavours and meats to try. 

Joseph has been weaning for a good 2 month now and loves his food. He loves trying all different flavours and I always try to mix them up a bit each time so he can try different combinations. We were sent the flavours from the Friends starter pack for Joseph to try and when they arrived, he got stuck in eating them and I took his facial expressions and spitting-out-ness to see what he thought of them. 

Although Joseph is now on full meals, he did enjoy eating the carrots, broccoli and cauliflower ones on their own and wolfed them down in no time. One pouch being just enough for his little tummy. The peas pouch wasn't one of his favourites as I think it was a little to thick and pea-y for him, he turned his nose up at this one but I did add some to a recipe I was doing for him and he liked it when mixed with other flavours. 

I liked how you could actually tell that they were proper, steam cooked, good for you, veg and they smelt like exactly what they were rather than just regular baby food. 

I also think that these are great for not only first tastes but for adding to homemade baby foods to bulk out the veg content. I regularly give Joseph what we are eating, just blend it down for him, but sometimes there isn't much veg depending on what we are having, so these would be great as a little added goodness to add to his meals. 

All in all, Joseph enjoyed most of the flavours on their own and I can imagine a baby that is just starting on their weaning journey will enjoy these tastes as opposed to fruity ones all the time. I will definitely be getting more of these pouches as not only can I feed him to them straight from the pouch whilst out and about, but I can use them in my own recipes too to give his food the extra veg content that he needs.   

You can visit the Cow & Gate website for more information about the Friends vegetable pouches.