Saturday, 31 August 2013

Chicco tested for happiness update

It's so exciting to be part of the Chicco tested for happiness project.  Baby girl and I were so fortunate to be chosen as one of five testers a month or two ago, and will be part of the campaign for the next 12 months or so.

The campaign's now getting up and running; you can read my profile on the website here, as well as reading about all the other testers.  Chicco is posting regular updates on its Facebook feed too.

We were lucky enough to have a delivery of lots of Chicco products to test as part of the campaign a couple of weeks ago.  We hadn't had anything by Chicco before then, but I've been so impressed with everything in the range so far.  It's a really great value brand, with good quality and thoughtfully designed products.

Over the next 12 months all the happiness testers will review the products they receive, and you'll be able to read and see my first review of the Polly 2in1 highchair on the website soon.  Doing a video review of the highchair was a first for me and I was a bit nervous, but is something I really enjoyed and have vowed to do more of for this blog!

I'll also share reviews of my baby girl's most favourite Chicco products on this blog.  If I can figure out how to do it with Rafflecopter, I'll do a giveaway too.  Watch this space!

Disclaimer: I am a happiness tester for Chicco, but this blog post is not sponsored and is all my own thoughts.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Family holidays back in the 80s

We love taking our two kids to Center Parcs and always have great fun though (even though it's expensive!).  For one reason and another, I came across some pictures of me about the same age as our son on a family holiday.

When I was growing up, we didn't have loads of spare cash, although we never went without.  My Dad worked six days a week to make sure we went away and had a good Christmas - although I didn't realise or appreciate it at the time.

Back in the early 80s, caravan holidays were all the rage, and every year we made the long trek down to Devon for our annual holiday during Coventry fortnight.  Here I am at Ladram Bay in Devon:

Lovely decor!

It felt like we knew more people in Devon during that fortnight than we did at home.  Mum and Dad always seemed to be talking to people Dad worked with!  I also remember listening non-stop to Joni Mitchell and Lionel Richie all the way there.  The four hour journey explains why I still know all the words to Joni Mitchell's Blue album 30-odd years later.

Holidays in this country are so great.  I do wonder what our four year old would make of a brown velour static caravan though; I bet he'd love it if he was by the sea!

Where did you go on holiday as a child?  I'd love to know if you plan to take your kids back there too.

Monday, 26 August 2013

BEABA teether review

As baby girl approaches six months, we're firmly in the teething phase .  We still use our MAM cloth teether, but now baby girl is a bit older, she loves to hold onto things and put them in her mouth.

Step in the BEABA teether ring!

I love BEABA products and think they look great, well made and slightly quirky.  So I couldn't wait to try this teether on baby girl.

The teether comes in a clear reusable case to keep it clean when out and about.  It's a minimal design; the green section is hard plastic with grooves, and the purple section in flexible rubber with the logo embossed.  It can go in a steriliser and freezer and so far has come up like new every time I've washed it.

Most importantly, baby girl loves it.  She finds it easy to grip, pass from hand to hand  and likes to bite the purple and green sections.  We keep it in her car seat so she can play and use it on car journeys, which we hope alleviates the boredom for her as well as helping her gums and teeth.

Although quite expensive, I do recommend this teether.  It looks great and doesn't have any small parts to worry about falling off.  As it's sterilisable and has a case it is great when you're out and about too.

You can follow BEABA on Twitter @BEABA_UK, or on Facebook where they regularly share news, updates and competitions.

P.S.  If anyone knows how to pronounce BEABA, I'd love to know!  Is it bee-ba, be-ar-ba, bay-ba?  I have wondered everytime I see the teether!

Disclaimer: I won this product a while ago on Twitter, but BEABA was unaware of my intention to blog about it until after I published this post.

Friday, 16 August 2013

40 things to do before 40 - the first 10

This post has been in my head for a while, but somehow I've never finished it.. maybe I'm scared of putting it into words as it will mean I have to do it!

The prospect of being 40 in five years is slightly daunting, and with two kids time is slipping by quickly.  There's loads of stuff I'd like to do, so I'm setting myself a goal of 40 things to do before I'm 40 - care to join me?

Here's my first 10:

  1. Run 5k without stopping.  I have never, ever done this!
  2. Take our kids to Disneyworld and the Space Centre in Florida
  3. Learn how to use a DSLR camera properly, and take some decent photographs
  4. Hand make a loaf of bread 
  5. Complete a CBT - I'd love to ride a scooter
  6. Maintain this blog for the next five years
  7. Have a night away from the kids somewhere nice with my husband
  8. Have makeup lessons.  I'm sure like most women, I feel as though I've never really mastered the art of makeup
  9. Have a colour consultation, where a specialist tells you the colours that suit you best
  10. Eat in a Michelin starred restaurant

Now these are written down, I need to get cracking on them.  Are there any you'd like to 'double up' on?  We could challenge each other!

I'd love to hear your ideas about what should go in the next 10.  Swimming with dolphins?  Climbing a mountain?  Getting a tattoo?  Skinny dipping?  There must be loads of things you'd like to do..

Friday, 9 August 2013

What do you say to a celebrity? Carfest moment!

Ever had a face-palm-plant moment whilst utterly star struck by a celebrity?

I like to think of myself as a down to earth person.  I'm not phased by presenting to groups, speaking in public or even my son having a meltdown in the supermarket.  So I was stunned to find myself completely star struck at Carfest North.

We'd gone up to the festival at Oulton Park for the weekend.  My husband and our son LOVE cars, so we were lucky enough to get tickets and go camping over the whole weekend.

On Saturday, we were walking round the paddock, where cars are parked so you can view them.  I was holding our son's hand.  He was covered in eating an ice cream.  I could see a small crowd of people about 25 metres ahead of us.

As I looked, I could see Chris Evans was there, posing for photos and chatting to people.

We walked slightly away from the crowd and I saw him get on the back of an electric buggy that was driving towards us.  He stopped right next to us, and I just stood there, inanely grinning at him. 

What should I say?  I could've tried, "hello", or "we're having a great time", or "we're big fans of your radio show" or "nice hat" or bloody well anything that normal people say to each other.  But instead, I just stood, goggle eyed, slightly sunburnt, grinning inanely and unable to take my eyes off him.

To his credit, he smiled at us, and told our son to let me have some of his ice cream.  And then he was gone.

Where on earth does normal sense go when faced with someone 'off the telly'?  I really wish I'd just said 'hello' and smiled at him.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Weaning Wednesday - more tastes

I posted last Wednesday about baby girl's first food tastes, and thought I'd follow it up with a few more recipe ideas this week.

But first, I had to share this picture:

She's had loads of different fruit and vegetables, and I thought she might like some yoghurt.  I was right!  It was very messy and went everywhere, but she loved it.  At her age I love the Plum Baby creamy fromage frais because they have no added sugar.  She only has a few spoonfuls at the moment, but as she's a hungry munchkin I can see this changing soon.

So, here's some more fruit and veg puree ideas for you.  We love:

  • Sweet potato and parsnip
  • Mashed potato (a good one to mix milk into)
  • Apple and pear (I usually add porridge to this as it can be thin)
  • Red pepper and butternut squash - I grill the red peppers and remove the skin and blend with steamed squash
  • Strawberry and banana

Next on our list to try are tomatoes and more green veg like courgettes.  I'll soon start adding in some other ingredients like wholewheat pasta to her meals too.  I'm sure she'll love them.

I'd love to hear about your weaning tips.  Do you have any spoons/bowls/recipes/bibs you love?  I sometimes get inspiration from Annabel Karmel, but don't always follow her advice to the letter - do you?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Chicco happiness testing

Chicco recently ran a competition at the Baby Expert website.  It was looking for five Mums to receive Chicco products, test them for happiness and review the products on a special Chicco microsite.

In the competition you had to describe a happy memory, and explain why you wanted to be a happiness tester.  I described finding out I was pregnant with our baby girl, and how being a second time (and first time!) Mum is exhausting yet exhilarating and how I still feel like I don't know anything, despite having two kids now.

One week after the closing date, I was utterly taken aback to receive a call from the lovely people who work in marketing for Chicco saying I was a winner.  My exact words were "You're kidding!".

So, over the next 12 months, baby girl and I will be lucky enough to feature on the Chicco Tested for Happiness website.  I'm sure our son will get a look in or two also!  You can follow our journey on the site, or link up to Chicco UK on Facebook where I'm sure they'll be sharing content.

I would absolutely love to know what you look for in product reviews for baby stuff.  I will be doing both written and video reviews, do you think the content should be different depending on the format?  Should I include techie details like size, weight, or do you care more about how a product feels and an emotional response to it?

Your views will help shape my reviews so please don't be shy; comment below or connect via Twitter @PiscesCate.