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.

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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!

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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

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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My salt scrub recipe for smooth pins!

Hello sunshine, time to get my skin tip top with my salt scrub recipe!

lavender rosemary scrub

Measure out your wet and dry ingredients depending on the size of your storage pot which should have a nice well fitting lid, I use an empty Lush pot but a clean jam jar would do.  To measure pour your salt into the pot you’ll be storing in and leave a centimetre gap at the top for your oils, use roughly five tablespoons of olive or almond oil for every half cup of salt.  To prepare the fresh rosemary and lavender I simply snip the dried flowers and fresh stems with scissors, I used five drops of lavender oil for a 50ml pot.

Mix everything together well and pop into your pot, and away to the shower you go!

lavender rosemary scrub in pot

I make a similar scrub in a gorgeous pink here

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8 tips for life as a no car family with kids

Can you really do family life as a no car household? We live life as a no car family and get by just fine, but there are some things to think about and some things I wish I’d known about along the way to starting our family.

Here’s our lowdown to life as a no car family with kid!

8 tips for life as a no car family

1) Choose the right pram or buggy / pushchair for public transport

We chose our Silvercross Surf because it’s really nippy for public transport, with narrow back wheels and great all terrain turning it was a must for us, a pram needs to fit into tight spaces on buses and metros when you’re a car free family and ours is a breeze to push, I do a lot of walking so a nice easy steer is essential. The suspension allows for greater volumes of ‘stuff’ to be carried too. Downside? Really small space underneath for shopping, see solution in tip three!

2) Good coats and shoes are vital

Toddlers walk reallllly slowly! Consequently the whole family really needs decent coats and shoes, you can’t dash about with a toddler so you need to be well prepared for the weather, my toddler loves the rain, me, not so much, so I need a good raincoat to keep me dry so I don’t get as bothered by the downpour!

3) Make shopping easier with better storage

I invested in a great pram friendly shopping net that lets me use all thes space under the pram saving me having to shop daily, it’s not always easy to get it home but this way I can carry more than I’d manage just under the pram and it spreads the weight to avoid a dangerous shopping bag buggy tip that we’ve all seen happen and fretted over.

4) Plan ahead

So you can’t just nip to the shops for an extra pack of nappies/wipes/food whatever… When you can’t get out as easily as you might if you had a car you do need to plan ahead a little but it’s not a big deal if you get in the habit of list making and thinking ahead.

5) Make the most of gym-free exercise

No really, getting out and about in the fresh air without the luxury of a car is great exercise!

6) Relax your schedule

You just can’t do as much when you can’t hop here and there by car, but it’s actually quite nice to enjoy life at a toddler pace. So Joss and I only manage to get out for one activity each day? So what? She likes to nap at home in the afternoons and I like to cook, everyone wins and there’s none of that rushing about. I won’t lie and say some days we do miss out on things, another toddler group, softplay or we can’t ‘pop’ to the shops or swimming pool, but it’s all she’s ever known and she loves public transport!

7) Take a break mama/dada

I only learned this recently, yes you want to get the 2pm bus home and you’re tired but don’t rush about. I have learned to take the time to stop for a break before we head back, it’s not light work pushing a pram the 20 minutes home so Joss and I often stop to enjoy a drink or a sit down on a bench somewhere to just catch our breath before we head off again, lesson learned, I’ve got the energy to chase her about when we get home instead of flopping down knackered!

8) Consider carrying them

And finally, you could do worse than consider a sling as a public transport using / walk everywhere parent! Our baby carrier is so well used and has grown with her, it’s invaluable for days out without a car!

What about you? Do you have a car? Do you sometimes leave it home to enjoy a ride on the bus or train, or to walk? What are your tips?

Fresh Lemon Balm Tea Recipe

Fresh lemon balm tea recipe

My fresh lemon balm tea recipe was a happy accident in the end, in the beginning it was a very very strange accident.

We bought a huge bunch of herb seeds in May and Joss and I planted them up. One pot ‘Melissa Officinalis’ did nothing at all. We planted everything outside and forgot about it, until a few weeks ago when Daddy declared that a patch of mint had now sprouted.

Ah, that must be the melissa I said (what do I know about plants?!) and so we enjoyed a rather odd mint sauce with our potatoes.

I was starving so didn’t mention the odd taste.

It’s not mint. Melissa Officinalis is lemon balm, hence our lemon sauce with our potatoes, not tasty.

What is rather tasty is this tea, and it’s lovely lemon scent makes it a really relaxing and refreshing summer drink, lovely enjoyed cool with ice too. Part of the mint family it’s also good for the digestive system, and is anti-viral so if you’re under the weather could give you a nice pick me up, and lets face it, tea is always a tonic!
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Natural Cleaning Products Part One

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There are some eco-brands that I use for home cleaning, but as it’s the season of spring cleaning I thought I’d share some eco-ideas that have multi-uses and reduce the need for lots of different products using lots of packaging.  This is a mini series so part one covers vinegar, lemon, bicarb and salt and part two will be back with borax and more!

Natural Cleaning

Vinegar – cuts through grease and limescale

Fill your kettle with a cup of distilled white vinegar and leave overnight to tackle limescale, rinse thoroughly the next day.

A mix of equal quantities of white vinegar and water make an effective floor cleaner

You can clean your windows with white vinegar and rub dry with a newspaper scrunched up to get rid of any marks

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Lemons are your friend!

They give a really fresh smell when you integrate them into your cleaning regime

When we moved in to our flat the taps were limescaley and nothing shifted it, I cut a lemon in two and jammed each half over the end of the tap and left for two hours, when I came back the scale just rubbed away!

Lemon juice cleans stains from cutting boards rub the juice full strength onto the stain and let sit until the stain fades, then rinse and dry

You can clean hard water marks on glass shower doors with half a lemon

Bicarbonate of soda

Make a paste with a tablespoon of bicarb and water and pop it on a cloth to clean your sink, sparkling!

Repeat this to make a cleaning paste for pots and pans, to remove stains from cups and clean tarnished silver

A cup of bicarb in your fridge absorbs fridge odours

To clean grout make up a paste of 2 parts bicarb, one part vinegar or lemon juice (this will fizz!) apply the paste with a toothbrush, leave for 10 minutes and then rinse

Dampen the floor of your oven, sprinkle with bicarb and dampen again. Leave the mixture overnight then remove with a cloth and rinse with warm water

Table salt

Salt doesn’t scratch so it’s great for glassware, add some salt to a stain for extra abrasion and scrub

Pour salt mixed with hot water down your kitchen sink every few weeks to deodorize and keep grease from building up

A great one for coffee lovers, add salt and ice cubes to your stained coffee pot, swirl around for a minute and rinse, it scrubs away those stains!

 

Lunch Bags for Adults: Belo&Me Jute Bags Product Review

Remember those ‘little brown bag’ lunch bags everyone used to have?  I was looking for something that sort of size and shape for my work packed lunch and had an unsuccessful try at making my own too, then I saw this beauty from Belo & Me, eco-friendly and just the right size and shape I jumped at the opportunity to try one in the name of all things lunch!

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What is jute?

Jute is a soft plant fibre produced in India and Bangladesh.  It is the perfect eco-friendly option instead of using plastic or paper.  Plastic bags are not biodegradable and the manufacturing of paper bags requires large quantities of wood, meaning less trees on our planet. Jute has none of these problems and results in a hard wearing, strong, long lasting bag.

Why jute?

‘The average plastic carrier bag is used for five minutes, but takes 500 years to decompose’ (DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) – think of all the lunch outlets that send us away with a plastic or paper bag, that’s a lot of waste, people use reusable shopping bags, why not a reusable lunch bag?  Maybe it’s that they don’t want to be stuck with an empty bag post lunch?  This one folds up and fits in my work bag so that’s that problem solved!

What’s good about it?

Look how much space!  I fitted all this in and had room for a few cheeky snacks for Joss too!  (Ham cheese salad wrap and granola yogurt if you’re wondering!)

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Sturdy and hardwearing this will easily carry a small picnic for us in the summer and the range of designs means there’s something for everyone, popular owls, heart designs like mine, cupcakes and butterflies too.

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The price? 

£3.75 for a lunchbag with very reasonable P&P too.

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What’s also good is that the bags are handmade so you’re supporting a mama in her business endeavours as well as wearing your eco heart on your sleeve and your lunch in your hand!

Family Fever

Real Nappy Week 2014 Cloth Diapers Rock

What’s the story here? 25+ Mams and Dads and babies sat down together with changing mats and what’s that they’re holding in the air? Nappies! Cloth nappies to be exact.
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This week is real nappy week and we took part in the 2014 great cloth nappy change this weekend. As a real nappy user of almost two years now I wanted to point my readers to two of my earlier cloth nappy posts here and here

They highlight the benefits of cloth nappies and offer lots of handy tips too.

All major nappy retailers offer discounts and competitions through Real Nappy Week so if you’ve been thinking about going eco now is the time to try! There’s a great competition today with Babi Pur over on Facebook on the Real Nappy Week page!

Two years on our stash is still going strong, though I think potty training is nigh these will definitely be kept just incase we ever happen to decide to have another child as they have plenty of life in them yet, truly eco-friendly!

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Romanian Mum

Wonderful Washi Tapes and their Uses

Once something has a Hey Girl meme devoted to it you know it’s reached cult status, ladies and gents I give you Exhibit A:

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Washi tape is something of an obsession of mine, it’s eco-friendly;, made from rice, wheat or hemp paper, and as it’s non-plasticky it’s totally repositionable, tearable and removable, so pretty adaptable too.  Washi translates from the Japanese to Wa (Japanese) Shi (tape) and comes in a massive range of widths and designs, I buy mine from Ebay, but supermarkets and stationers are starting to get in on the trend.

Here’s a small selection from my own collection:

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What can you do with it?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, i.e. not on Pinterest, you can’t fail to see Washi crop up in people’s pins if you look closely.

What do you suggest?

Here’s one I made earlier, I used my tapes to cover a lightswitch cover, if I decide to change it I just remove and reposition, cut bits out to add decoration, or, as it’s made from paper and biodegrades, I see no reason why I couldn’t pop it in with my paper recycling.

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Sound Pinteresting?

See more ideas on my board, here
My favourite idea of the moment is from Le Jardin de Juliette, post here
Her Car track idea is ingenious and older kids could reposition it too!
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(from http://lejardindejuliette.blogspot.be/2012/09/washi-tape-car-track.html)

The Mum Tag

20 questions, ooh it’s like Mastermind – go! Katy from Modern Mummy tagged me in The Mum Tag, here are my responses, cue studio lights…

1. Are you a stay at home mum, or a working mum?
I’m a part time working part time studying Mam so a bit of both!

2. Would you have it any other way?
No, I don’t think so, I will be pleased to finish my Masters this month to take some pressure off but part time work strikes a good balance for me and a good balance for Joss too, being productive is a big part of my wellbeing and I get that through work and study. I was with my parents full time til I went to school and I think socialisation was missing though my parents made lots of sacrifices for us along the way and I was grateful for my upbringing it is healthy for children to mix regularly and in Joss’ case she also spends a day of the week with one of her sets of grandparents (alternating weekly) so she gets the best for all worlds!

3. Do you co-sleep?
We did up until Joss was ready for her own space at nine/ten months against lots of criticism from health professionals but we did so safely and it felt right for us. We still co-sleep occasionally and it was great for bonding and maximised sleep in the early months for all of us!

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4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?
Cloth nappies have served us really well from around ten weeks up to the potty training time that we’re probably nearing. Eco-friendly, efficient and moneysaving they have made life with no car and hence little chance of getting out at night to get more disposables much easier!

5. How many kids do you plan on having?
We don’t know, I am honest about my experience of postnatal depression contributing to the uncertainty, if and when the time is right we will decide on our plans as a family

6. Date night? How many per month?
A month? None! Maybe once every three months, but we try to do nice things after Joss’ bedtime a good few evenings a month, we’ve watched some brilliant TV series, currently we’re watching Salamander, will occasionally share a takeaway and try to catch up after a busy working day.

7. Your child’s favourite show?
The Adventures of Abney and Teal have brought together Joss’ love of porridge and the obscure! It’s all very genteel so I’m happy for her to enjoy it. She’s a big fan of the Tombiliboos from In The Night Garden too though.

8. Name one thing you bought before you had your baby and never ended up using?
Nothing! We bought really carefully, actually, scratch that, I bought lots of pairs of bootees but Joss has always loved to be barefoot!
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9. Your child’s favourite food?
Hands down got to be fruit everytimes, especially blueberries, the call of ‘bloobellies’ goes out many times a day! That said, as a treat we both love a bit of icecream!
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10. How many cars does your family have?
None, we have a low carbon footprint but it’s becoming important to us to learn to drive as Joss gets older, we might look at a car then, or just the occassional hire

11. Weight before, during and after pregnancy and now?
Cheeky! Before I was at my heaviest, during I felt really healthy and put on roughly a stone and after a year I started Slimming World to get to my current target weight of 10lb 7oz, a healthy weight for my height. I now eat a clean healthy diet and believe in not cutting out any major food groups, balance is kind to you and healthy too

12. Dream holiday with your kids?
Eventually we would love to go to America, perhaps the Canadian Pioneer tour, definitely Disneyworld, Joss would love to see Tramp!

tramp

13. Dream holiday without your kids?
Not something we’re interested in, we like to have new experiences through Joss’ eyes!

14. How has your life changed since having babies?
It’s more balanced, it was work, work, work sadly, and I look back on all that free time I had with longing, but Joss has brought in a balance now, I will relax and enjoy a cuppa while she and I play with lego or have a tea party together; I worry more and plan more but I also smile and laugh more too!

15. Finish the sentence: ‘It makes my heart melt to see……?’
Joss singing her favourite songs to her stuffed animals

16. Where do you shop for your kids?
We love H&M and Frugi for their cut for cloth fit

17. Favourite make up and skin care products?
I have a MAC habit and have done for years, I also love Lush skincare masks and shower gels and scrubs, I adore Kiehls skincare, nothing beats it for me!

18. Huggies or Pampers?
Neither! Cloth all the way!

19. Have you always wanted kids?
Yep, I’m a big kid at heart so they’ve always been part of the plan!

20. Best part about being a mum?
Sharing in the hopes and dreams of my little girl and her being my first thought in the morning and last at night, seeing her learn and grow and at the moment getting a kiss from her just makes any day sunny and bright!

I’m tagging:
Rachel from Activities 4 Kids
Vai from Rambling Through Parenthood
and Jada from Unique Young Mum

I hope you enjoy the Meme guys!