Organic September

Organic September is the UK’s biggest celebration of all things organic, the Soil Association is encouraging us all to choose organic so we can all support a kinder, greener and better food system.  This September they’ve encouraged us to make small changes that have a big impact on the environment; by switching one household item to organic we can make a big difference.  Check out the #organicseptember twitterfeeds and you might even bag yourself a bargain with discounts and trials available before the end of the month.

I’m celebrating Organic September on the blog by introducing you guys to some potential small changes.

You may remember a while back I looked at some of the small changes parents could make when bringing their bundle of joy into the world with my Eco Parenting from Birth to Toddler series.

Now it’s the turn of the grownups with a glorious set of organic goodies to choose your ‘change one thing’ from!

ORGANIC SEPTEMBER

1) Haircare

We’ve been using some of Aubrey Organics products for a while now, you might remember our suncare review earlier in the year.  There’s big talk about going ‘no shampoo’ (no-poo!) but that’s not for everyone and switching to haircare products that are better for the environment could be a good way to make the transition to more ethical haircare in the long term.  I’ve been using the delicious smelling Aubrey Organics Tea Tree and Primrose shampoo this week and this is one organic switch that’s good on the purse too, as this is cheaper than my usual salon shampoo and smells better to boot!  Organic Tea Tree Oil purifies the scalp whilst the addition of Organic blue green Algae strengthens the hair fibres and Organic Primrose Oil gently moisturises.  A little goes a long way and this is one product ‘switch’ that new mums experiencing hair loss might want to consider as blue green algae has hair growth promoting properties.

Aubrey

2) A treat for mother and baby

I heard about Lavera organic baby products from a friend in Germany; now available in the UK, making a switch from some of the better known baby oil producers to an Organic producer has benefits for the environment as well as mother and baby.  Lavera Baby & Kinder Organic Neutral Skin Oil contains many organic oils, especially evening primrose oil & organic olive oil to make sure your babies skin is moisturised thoroughly & protected, as the combination of organic oils is perfect in soothing irritated skin, including eczema this is a multi-use product that could take you from baby massage to a post-shower treat for mum (or dad!) Joss still loves me doing her baby massage routine and it can be great for taming tantrums too, this oil is rich but penetrates the skin without leaving greasy hands, infact it left my hands gorgeously soft!

lavera oil

3) Organic Eggs

Of course the Organic standards are not just related to clothing and beauty but to food too.  The Happy Egg Co bring us free range happy eggs from happy hens in addition to recipes and nutritional tips on their brilliantly bright site.  They now bring us Organic eggs too produced by hens fed an organic diet free from GMO’s, pesticides and other additives and graze on organic land. As with all happy egg hens the ‘girls’ that produce organic eggs have a full, enriched, and happy life so if you made this switch you’d also benefit from knowing that you’re supporting animal welfare, oh and you can make tastier treats too, like these cupcakes I made with a half dozen Organic Happy Eggs, yum!

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4) Eco-beauty

Oriflame’s eco-beauty range brings natural Swedish beauty products to the UK.  As well as a smoothing day cream and night cream I reviewed their eco-beauty smoothing eye cream; a lightweight and natural Organic formula that smooths fine lines and reduces puffiness and dark circles around the eye – I liked that it is unscented and it has a lovely lightweight texture too.  Starting with a small change to organic skincare with changing a facial product is a small change with big results for your skin regime.

Oriflame eco beauty

5) Organic cotton clothing

Where possible I love to choose organic cotton, it has an unbeatable softness and washes beautifully.  I have added this organic cotton waterfall cardigan from Traidcraft to my Christmas wishlist, I have many of their long sleeves tees and they wash and wear so well that I just know this will make a great addition to my wardrobe, in rose and burgundy I just need to choose a colour now!

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Disclaimer:  All of the products featured were sent to myself for review purposes or chosen for my wishlist and all views are my own

Beachcombing Finds from Northumberland

It’s no secret that I adore the Northumberland Coast (and the sea, I guess my blog theme is a dead giveaway) and our recent stay at Druridge Bay was pretty much the perfect first family holiday for three outdoorsy people.  I was hoping that we’d be lucky in our beachcombing efforts as my Joss is definitely her mother’s daughter for picking up and collecting treasures.  I had no idea that we’d come home with such an amazing haul of beachcombing finds from Northumberland though!

Inspired by Manneskjur’s recent post introducing Folklings I felt I simply had to curate our finds from our four days on the beach into something that captured their natural beauty.

My top six tips for serious beachcombers would be:

  • Go early in the day to see the beach undisturbed and pick up the best finds
  • Be alive to the fact that the beach is an eco-system, respect it and don’t disturb natural habitats
  • Take only what you will treasure and use (we plan to make a mobile for Joss’ room with our finds)
  • The best finds often wash up after a stormy night, I was disappointed to see rain on day 3 of our holiday but we gathered some gorgeous big clam shells later that day
  • Take a mesh bag so you can rinse your finds gently in the sea and carry them home
  • Find out more when you get home. Joss was so interested in the shells but I didn’t know the names for all of them, did you know for example that the holes in slipper shells are caused by sea snails burrowing in?!

Beachcombing Finds from Northumberland

Beachcombing Finds from Northumberland

Beachcombing Finds from Northumberland Beachcombing Finds from Northumberland Beachcombing Finds from Northumberland Beachcombing Finds from Northumberland

 

Mums' Days



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Holidaying with a toddler in the UK

We holidayed in Druridge Bay this week and in part I want to use this post to say thank you to Alison and Phil who own Poppy Cottage as we really enjoyed our stay at their gorgeous cottage by the sea; the location is stunning and with  surrounding Farm land on one side and the wild Northumberland coast on the other we were spoilt for choice with local walks with a warm and welcoming holiday home to return to each day, a must on an occasionally chilly Autumn day!

I promised in my last post to say a bit about glamping at Druridge Bay with The Bells of Hemscott.  Alison and Phil started to offer a glamping experience from their working farm this summer and this is something we definately want to return for when Joss is a little older.  Knowing what the calm and cosy interior of Poppy Cottage offers with fab soft furnishings and carefully chosen accessories I have a feeling the tents will offer a similarly welcoming experience.  Judging by what we’ve seen and heard on the travel blogging scene visitors to the site have enjoyed dark starry skies, fresh air and stunning scenery with comfort and a warm bed!

Photo from The Bells of Hemscott website

Photo from The Bells of Hemscott website

And so on to or holiday photos, our first real family holiday taking us from brooding sea fret and bluster to a rare afternoon of bright sunny sunshine!

Holidaying with a toddler in the UK

Joss is really interested in shapes at the moment so we made a huge circle in the sand

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This little fella had washed up on the dry sand so we carefully returned him

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Autumn is definitely coming

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We left the buggy at home and carried her the four mile round trip to the local farm shop, holidaying with a toddler in the UK is a breeze with a sling!

 

sling at druridge bay

Need to identify this gorgeous sea bird, anyone know?

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Brooding skies

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And out came the sun and blue clouds

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Joss likes to yell “Joss is running” when she’s, well, running!

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We spent most of our time on the beach rockpooling and we have brought back some amazing shells to add to our beachcomber finds series (turns out Joss treasures shells as much as I do – yes!)

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This is my photo of the holiday, I love how she’s supporting her weight on Daddy, the vibrancy of the pools and their intense concentration, magic

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And finally, sandy chops, a sign of a great time!

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holiday sand face

Our stay begins at Poppy Cottage

This week we’re taking time out from research and project work and taking a family holiday at Druridge Bay on the beautiful Northumberland Coast.  Poppy Cottage is a literal stones throw away from the most glorious coastline, its site is a working farm and September is fabulous for quiet walks and blowing the cobwebs away.

As we live near an urban farm Joss has loved seeing farming on a bigger scale, with diggers, tractors and different breeds of livestock than we’re used to its a country mouse’s dream!

Sadly Joss is loaded with cold and don’t we know it, a bad nights sleep was much more bearable for these views though and I’ll be sharing more of our holiday snaps as the week goes on.

The Farm itself at Hemscott Hill has also seen camping action this summer with some brilliant bell tents set up, more on those later but suffice to say their pitch is in a beautiful part of the world!

I’m off for a glass of red and a spot of reading before we’re back to exploring again tomorrow!

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Traidcraft for a fair trade Christmas 2014

I know, I know I said the C word in September but it’s for a brilliant cause!

Traidcraft for a fair trade Christmas 2014

Traidcraft just launched their Christmas 2014 catalogue and it’s jam packed with gifts that keep on giving from their producer partners across the world.  When you buy from Traidcraft for a fair trade Christmas 2014 you’re helping to transform the lives of poor producers in the developing world by enabling them to use their skills and resources to trade their way out of poverty.

For example Gospel House in Madampe, Southern Sri Lanka, seeks to provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged young people, often with no educational qualifications.

Skills training for continuing development enables many to move on to other jobs.

Wooden toys

Many of the handmade fair trade wooden toys on offer at the Traidcraft online shop are made at Gospel House; with this an absolute best seller for Traidcraft we were very happy to review their beautifully hand crafted fair trade wooden bus…and now the wheels on the bus really do go round and round all day long in this house!

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Fairly traded and handmade, it makes a long lasting and unique gift.

With a removable roof, two floors and a little wooden driver and 24 wooden passengers, the hand painted quality shines through and this is a sustainable gift worth every penny at £49; this is a gift that will grow with little ones as they develop role play and I daresay I’ve quite enjoyed pootling about with the little people too!

It’s a moving bus and zooms quite nicely on our wooden floors; of course when the weather has been good we’ve taken all the people for a bus journey outdoors too!

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Joss has had hours of fun taking all the people out, commenting on their unique hairstyles and sweet rosy cheeks, putting them in and out of their handy calico storage bag.

I loved hearing her making them “chat on the bus” and she even got a few of them sharing a hug while they queued up to board!  When she finally realised that each of the people has a matching person we found that matching clothing and hairstyles brought new fun to the game!  Because Joss is at an age where she’s learning about colours the vibrant clothing on each little man and woman helps with her play and development and she liked counting the buttons on the jackets and the pockets too.

All aboard, ding ding!!

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And much more

I kept the new catalogue by my bed this week and perused the gift ideas thinking about family members and friends and what they might like to receive.  There’s so much more than toys and games on offer, from homeware and decorations to fashion and food there’s something for everyone!  What are you waiting for, head on over to Traidcraft and start your fair trade Christmas planning!

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Study and stay smart with Smiggle, Dodo Pad and Helix

Smiggle is dedicated to creating original, fun and affordable stationery. The brand’s products are focused on bold colour, quirky graphics, good value, innovation and most of all – giving fans the tools they need to have fun at school, college and uni!

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I recently reviewed Dodo Acad-Pad and Maped Helix Maths Set – these will keep me organised and help me plan my time, not an easy task when juggling with family life too. If you’re in need of some help check out my top tips for study from home parents while you’re here!

Smiggle UK (2)

 

5 reasons for needing to say sorry to Sarah & Duck

An open letter to Sarah Gomes Harris and Tim O’Sullivan (creators of Sarah and Duck)

Dear Sarah and Tim,

I must apologise for saying that Sarah reminded me of sinister ol’ Salad Fingers, I still find it odd that she’s seven but lives alone with a duck but I can let that slide, I made those comments before my daughter was old enough for me to sit down and watch the show with her and it now has a special place in my heart, in Charlie and Lola style I am extremely absolutely sorry.

sarah and duck

I have turned over a new leaf and stopped picking faults with Cbeebies shows, I adore them and here are my 5 reasons for needing to say sorry to Sarah & Duck:

1) Scarf lady’s bag

A talking bag, genius,sheer eccentricity…I hope that when I am old and confused I will live much like Scarf Lady with a house full of woolen items and a talking bag to correct me, oh and a pet donkey, and a weeping woolen tree to harvest more yarn…

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2) Sarah’s love of sea cows

From about the age of five or six my brother was obsessed with sea cows or manatees, thanks to Sarah and Duck now Joss is too, I like to think of this as a family tradition now and it wouldn’t have continued without this show

3) Sarah’s fireworks dance

Hearing Joss sing this cracks me up, the lyrics are simple but it’s soooo sweet “this is my fireworks dance, I do it when there are fireworks…fireworks, fireworks,fireworks, fireworks”

4) Problem solving

This show is all about solving life’s little problems, Sarah goes to the library to seek answers to life’s many troubles – why are donkeys sad? Why does bug like buttons? The answers are lovely – “donkeys are friendly animals, they look sad but they are not.  As long as they get lots of carrots and hugs they are quite happy”

5) Northern accents in kids tv

There aren’t enough Northern accents heard on kids TV so this is a big plus point, I love Sarah saying ‘hallo’ – it’s like a breath of fresh air!

Mums' Days

Why I had to go through PND to find myself – PND support

I have a guest post up with Beth from Betty and the Bumps today, she asked me to share my experiences of becoming a mother and how this is different from my life before; here’s a short extract, if you’d like to read more pop over and say hi on Beth’s blog!

People are surprised when I say that PND was the making of me, but it forced me to confront some uncomfortable truths about myself. It revealed my ‘true self’ – I found a great strength in myself, a strength and new resilience I didn’t know I had, but I also had to confront my selfishness and perfectionism and this was not an easy task. For a while I wondered why I didn’t do this during pregnancy, to prepare myself and our family unit, but I think I buried my head in the sand, I was afraid to say that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be ready to be a mother

Joss farm

Last days of summer party food

It doesn’t seem fair that Autumn is upon us, especially when our summer fruits are still in season!  Our last days of summer party food were a welcome break from blackberry picking this weekend!

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This weekend we enjoyed some great summer produce, much of it from Aldi, and I thought this would make brilliant budget party fayre, full of flavour and great value too.

This Cypriot chicken dish is so simple, chicken on the bone cooked for 20 minutes then topped for the final 20 minutes with a mix of garlic, fresh parsley, fresh basil, homegrown toms and half a small block of feta crumbled.  Served with pittas gently baked in parchment for ten minutes with oil, garlic and basil this made for a really tasty dinner.

Last days of summer party food

Later over a glass of red wine and to see out the last of the summer evenings we shared a platter of goats cheese, fresh figs (in Aldi’s Super Six and really delicious) marinated olives and some fantastic physalis that  hubby picked up in town, divine.

Last days of summer party food

What seasonal food have you enjoyed this summer?