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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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Great Looking Skin On Little Sleep

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post | Posted on 16-01-2015

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The constant struggle for someone who is busy and on-the-go is how to keep your skin looking flawless even when you aren’t getting the proper amount of sleep. These tips will help your skin stay perfect even when you’re yawning all day.

1. Moisturize

Dry, flaky skin is never the way to go, and boosting your skin’s moisture content will help you look awake and perky too. Use a moisturizing cream that will let you achieve a delicate and clear skin. You can also use effective skin products that prevent break-outs. If you have particularly dry spots on your face, try using oil in that area.

2. Eat well

The only thing worse than not sleeping enough, is not eating well. Focus on nutrition and healthy fats to keep your skin looking great. Leafy greens like spinach and kale, berries, and fiber-rich foods are great nutrition that will make your skin look firm and clear. Healthy fats like avocado and nuts will brighten up your complexion. Eating healthy is important especially if you aren’t getting enough hours of sleep.

3. Use the right products

Treat your skin kindly and it will look great. In addition to moisturizing, make sure you use a gentle cleanser to get the day’s grit and grime off your face. Ensure that you take off all makeup before heading to sleep with a liquid cleanser or a makeup removing wipe. When blemishes arise, swiftly treat them with a product to reduce redness and swelling. Additionally, try a night cream to maximize your moisturizing during the overnight hours.

4. Morning improvements

If you wake up after a few hours of sleep looking a bit haggard, perk up with a product that has tea ingredients or peppermint oil. Keep a spoon in the freezer and press it to your under eye area when you wake up in the morning to reduce puffiness and dark circles.

Keep these tips in mind during those busy, sleepless times and you’ll keep your skin looking fresh and bright, even when you haven’t gotten the amount of sleep you really need.

Pregnancy: The First Trimester

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Pregnancy, Product Reviews | Posted on 28-11-2013

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As of today I am 15 weeks pregnant, and according to the app on my phone my baby is the size of an apple. I can confirm that my bump is definitely bigger than an apple, in fact its more the size of a bag of apples. I’ve had an obvious bump since about week 8 which meant there was a lot of baggy jumpers being worn before we announced at 12 weeks. Now these baggy jumpers are all a bit tighter than they were. I was aware that people showed a lot sooner in a second pregnancy, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be this obvious this soon.
I’ve been fairly lucky so far. All day nausea, yes. Actual sickness, thankfully not. Insomnia, yep. Discomfort, oh yes. Appetite, vague and intermittent, and rather limited. For the first few weeks I barely ate anything. Everything made me feel sick. I lived on Doritos. Nowadays I’m eating Pringles by the tube and drinking gallons of milk. Yes, I am enjoying these at the same time much to the alarm of friends. I’ve regained my taste for cups of tea which went for a long time. I can manage fruit again. But I can’t eat potatoes in any form, chicken when its still hot or pasta. I’m hoping these oddities will end soon and I’ll be ready to eat anything and everything come Christmas or my plate is going to look a little forlorn.
As you’d expect there have been a few products that have helped me get through the first dubious trimester, though sadly none of them are food based!
Bump Support Bands: Despite my bump making an appearance so soon maternity jeans were out of the question. I wore them for about a week when it got to the point that my regular jeans were digging in and by 6pm each night it was easier and comfier to sit there with them undone – not handy if you have to get the front door in a hurry! A week later and my bump seemed to rise up overnight and now my regular jeans fit again. Unfortunately my bump was missing out on the support from the stretchy band on my maternity jeans and my back was beginning to ache so I looked into support bands. The first one I found and tested out was from JoJo Maman Bebe and was their Multi-Use Bump Bandeau. The idea of this is to wear is either wear it over your regular jeans as a support for your bump in the early months, or use the clever buttons to fasten it to your regular jeans in later months so you don’t need to by maternity jeans. When fastened in to your jeans it makes them comfortable and you still get the support you need, without buying what are often expensive maternity jeans. Now I haven’t been able to test the button feature out – I’m not quite that big yet – but I did use it as a regular bump support. Despite getting a small I did find that this was still a little too large for me and wasn’t really providing support. It did keep my bump warm though! After this I tested out the Bump Band. This is simply a bump support which can also be worn beneath tops which may usually be too short to be worn when pregnant, providing you with a bit of modesty. I found the Bump Band was a much better fit at my current bump size, and with its claims to have 120% stretch it should last a long time yet. I think I’ll be using the Bump Band for now, but hopefully I can grow into the Bump Bandeau and try out its button fastens soon.
Bravado Bras: When I was pregnant with Little Man my breasts didn’t get any bigger. My first clue in hindsight that breast feeding wasn’t going to be particularly successful. We managed two difficult weeks of insufficient supply combined with formula top ups before he went on to just formula after my appendix decided to burst. When I found out I was pregnant again I decided that I’d certainly give breast feeding another go, but won’t worry if it all goes wrong and formula is a perfectly acceptable alternative, despite what the breast feeding mafia will have you believe. My breasts became tender and uncomfortable very quickly and by 10 weeks I was getting them measured, finding to my shock that they’d gone up 3 cup sizes already. I bought a couple of new bras and was told I’d probably need them measuring again in January. Two weeks later I’d outgrown the new bras. This was going to become expensive if I carried on at this rate! Bravado came to my rescue when they sent me a Bra and a Support Tank to review. My breasts have NEVER been so comfortable. The bra and tank I was sent can be used when pregnant or for feeding as they both feature drop away cups for access and skin to skin contact. They are both lightweight, seamless and insanely comfortable. I can’t tell I’m wearing them which is a vast improvement, even on the ones I bought in the correct size after being measured. Luckily for me, and my bank balance, the insane growth seems to have calmed down a little and I’ve been wearing the Bravado bras for three weeks now. Fingers crossed they last me a while longer – otherwise I’ll have to get online and order a few replacements.
Simple Skincare: I’ve always used Simple products on my sensitive skin. Their face wipes are brilliant and are my must have item, but I’ve used their exfoliater and their moisturiser creams too. I think we’ll all agree that in those first months of pregnancy we don’t exactly look our best. White faced and a little queasy is not a great combination, especially if you’re struggling to sleep and running around after a 3 year old all day. Simple sent me over some of their new Kind To Skin + range to test out and luckily for me it came just as I was looking a little worse for wear. Firstly I was sent some Moisture Boost Hydro Mist. This is a handy spray which you can use on your face when it needs a little boost and a refresh. It can be used over make up and is great for combating dehydration and tired looking skin. I loved this product. Handy to keep in your bag when you’re out and about and a great way to wake up in the morning. Very refreshing and it left my skin feeling instantly moisturised. They also sent me some Perfecting BB Cream. I’ve seen a lot about BB Creams in the media but never spotted one I’d risk using. Simple’s is perfect for sensitive skin so seemed the obvious choice. The cream is very light and blends in quickly. I love that it has SPF 15 protection and after applying it my skin looked much brighter and healthier. I don’t wear make up every day, in fact I rarely wear it at all, as I don’t like the feeling of foundation on my skin. This product gave me healthy glow without the heavy feeling of  make up. A pack of their Radiance Brightening Cleansing Wipes were also included. Like I said I love their wipes and typically use the “original” ones or occasionally the exfoliating ones. I’d never tried these before, but they cleaned my skin well and combined with the other products I managed to look healthy during my first trimester, as opposed to as dubious as I felt!
Astral Cream: Its not just the skin on your face that takes some battering when you’re pregnant. I was lucky enough to escape the stretch marks with Little Man but I’m not taking any chances so I want to keep my bump nice and moisturised too. I’ve been using a nice moisturising shower gel but I’ve also been using Astral Cream. This is a great little all over moisturiser that works really well on dry elbows and knees as well as hard working feet. It has been great to rub into my bump each night and has kept it sort and supple, well moisturised and protected. Astral Cream comes in three sizes – a 50ml handbag sized pot for when you’re on the go, a 200ml pot for travel and at home, and a mega 500ml pot for those addicts out there. I received the mega pot to review and its brilliant. I’ve been using on my bump but also on other dry skin areas, and I’ve even spotted my husband using it too. A great value product that really works.
What products couldn’t you live without in those early weeks of pregnancy?

National Eczema Week September 15-23rd

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 19-09-2012

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Eczema affects one in five children in the UK, with the majority of cases occurring before the age of 5. I had eczema as a child, and now at 30 it is still a condition that I suffer with, on a much smaller scale. With both my mother and her mother suffering too within their lives I am always on the lookout for any trace on Little Man. Rashes are common on children, especially at his age, but as parents we need to know what they are, whether they be chicken pox, the ever popular “its a virus”, or if its eczema.

Managing eczema is tricky. Flare ups recur time and time again, particularly if you are unsure as to what is the specific cause. Its important to get good support and help from your GP, but sadly almost half of parents of child suffers want better help from their doctor. As part of National Eczema Week the National Eczema Society (NES) has teamed up with skincare brand E45 to launch a new 3-step action plan and online resource to help parents and provide much needed advice easily.

The new guidelines, which were developed in association with NICE, begin with this 3-step action plan:

1. Apply emollient creams and ointments all over your child’s body 2 or 3 times a day – not just to the visibly affected areas.
2. When applying emollients use gentle strokes in the direction of hair growth to avoid irritating skin.
3. Use soap substitutes and an emollient bath oil to cleanse your child’s skin.

There is also a free online support programme – www.eczemaadvice.co.uk. This online resource gives parents advice on the use of emollients and how to apply them effectively, as well as providing tools to help parents monitor their child’s eczema. Online leaflets, videos and testimonials are also provided along with direct access to the NES Facebook page where parents can get advice, support and help from other parents in the same position.

Whilst the NES doesn’t endorse or promote any specific brands, E45 has long been a trusted brand for treating skin conditions. I remember my Gran using it and I’m pretty sure my Mum has a tub in her bathroom too. As well as offering products for adults the E45 Junior range is great for use with children. We have both the Foaming Bath Milk and the Moisturising Lotion. Little Man currently doesn’t suffer from eczema, but we use these products when he has particularly sensitive skin, such as nappy rash or one of those vague “its a virus” moments. Should he develop eczema we will certainly use them all the time, and I think the Eczema Advice website will be a fantastic and invaluable resource.

The E45 skincare range is available from most high street chemists and supermarkets.

Mothers Day Gift Guide

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 02-03-2012

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Mothers Day is just over a fortnight away – March 18th if you’re curious – so if you’re looking for something a bit different for you own Mum or your Mother In Law, or you want some inspiration for what to drop hints about for yourself, take a look at this lovely lot. You’re bound to find something to suit!

Hotel Chocolate
You can’t go wrong with a nice box of chocolates, and The Jewellery Box from Hotel Chocolat is a guaranteed hit. The box contains 10 individually wrapped chocolates – which were delicious by the way – and when they’re all gone it leaves a stylish box with mirrored lid that is perfect for storing your own treasures in. You can buy this gorgeous box from the Hotel Chocolat website.

So…? Perfume
For a slightly longer lasting gift how about a bottle of the classic So…? Perfume or a Body Spray? So…? has been around for years and its range gets larger every season. The Original So…? fragrance combines tangerine and orange blossom with vanilla, sandalwood and patchouli and has been a favourite in my house for a long time.  It is available in a 75ml body spray, a 100ml eau de toilette, or a choice of two gift sets from the So…? website.

Pinky Knits
If you’re after something a bit different for a Mum who enjoys crafts why not try a Pinky Knits Kit? Launched this year at Top Drawer the Pinky Knits Kit allows you to knit without using needles. In fact all you need are your fingers! Casting on is simple following the instructions on the side and then you work the wool to create a knitted “noodle”. This “noodle” can then be transformed into anything your imagination can come up with! There are instructions for making a snood or a coil twist scarf, but the “noodle” can easily be turned into a hat, a cushion cover, or even a bag! Pinky Knits Kits come in a range of colours and can be found online at their website.

Mama Baby Bliss
The Little Bag Of Mama Bliss is the ideal gift for Mums celebrating their first Mothers Day. The bag contains some “Ooh” Relaxing Bath Soak which as well as providing some much needed chilling out for Mum also aids post-natal healing with its calendula, aloe vera and  geranium. There is also a tube of “Aah” Soothing Mummy Baby balm which is perfect for soothing sore nipples or chapped skin. I use this on my eczema and its amazing, and my Mum is also using it on some flaky skin caused by an operation she had last year and its working a treat for both of us. Finally there is an “Uplifting Bliss Stick” which gives Mums a little boost when applied to pulse points. The Little Bag Of Mama Bliss can be found at the Mama Baby Bliss website a long with hints and tips for creating a blissful mama this Mothers Day.

 

Keep Calm For Mums
Parenthood can be difficult and at the end of a long day Mums can often be left feeling fraught and reaching for the nearest bottle. If you need a helping hand to get your through those days get yourself a copy of “Keep Calm For Mums” from Summersdale Publishing. This lovely pink book is packed with witty and uplifting quotes which are sure to bring a smile to your face and get your through even the most nightmarish day. “Keep Calm For Mums” is available from all good bookshops, or direct from Summersdale.

Stockwell Ceramics
Stockwell Ceramics is based in Cornwall and they produce a range of buttons, pendants, brooches and earrings made from beautifully coloured ceramic. You might have spotted their items in the V&A in London, or The Natural History Museum. As well as their standard range they often create bespoke commissions, but I think my favourite of their items is this lovely bird brooch. You can view their range now at their website.

Period Features
If you’re looking for a gift with a slightly more classical look to it you’d be best going to Period Features. Period Features primarily sources products for period homes, such as wallpaper, furnishings and heritage paints. However they also do a range of classic items like napkins and feather dusters. I particularly like the French Soaps and the traditionally packaged bath salts. The soaps are traditionally hand made and look beautiful as a decoration as well as in use. The bath salts look exactly as you would expect in their period paper packets. Period Features can be found in Leek, Staffordshire or online.

TeaJay Tea
Every Mum I know loves a good cup of tea. I know I certainly do. Whilst I am typically more like to reach for my usual brand of tea, I do occasionally fancy something a bit different. Why not send your Mum some TeaJay Tea to try? Their teas are inspired by music so are all named after songs. They have a wide range of herbal, fruit and Rooibos to choose from which make ideal teas all year round – they can all be made into delicious ice teas during the summer months. I rather enjoyed the Corazon De Melon which is delicious mix of honey, melon and guava with a hint of strawberry. TeaJays tea can be bought in varying quantities at their website.

Honey Tree
Honey Tree are bespoke stationers who create personalised stationary, invitations, labels and sell unique artwork from their online store. For Mothers Day they have a lovely range of labels for those Mums who enjoy making jams and preserves, or their own drinks. Labels can have just an image on or text too are designed by you so you are getting exactly what you want. The quality is great and ordering couldn’t be simpler.

Limited Edition Prints are also available, and these make a lovely gift. There is a wide range available and they come either mounted or framed and mounted and are signed too. You will find prints that are kitchen and garden themed that any Mum would be proud to hang. I am a big fan of the Fork & Spoon print which I think would look great in the kitchen, or the range of Heart prints would be a great way to show your Mum just how much you care. You can view the full range of prints, and the array of labels at the Honey Tree website.

Wood And Willow
Wood And Willow is a small family run business and #SBS winner who sells items to “Make Your House A Home”.  They sell a beautiful range of gifts for both the house and garden, and also feature a lovely selection of UK Handmade items. You will be spoilt for choice on the Wood And Willow website when it comes to buying something for your Mum, or at other times of the year, but my favourites include the Heart Shaped Frame Trio and the Red Gingham Apron Set. The frame trio is off-white in colour and would be ideal for photos of Mum, Dad and Baby. The Apron Set comprises an apron, oven glove and quilted pot stand. It comes direct from France to add a little French chic to your kitchen. The Wood And Willow website can be found here.

Boots
If your Mum is in need of a little pampering and you’re thinking a nice gift set is the way to go then you can’t go wrong in Boots where there is a great range from Champney’s on offer.  My picks are the “Indulgence Oriental Opulence Travel Collection” and the “Best Of Spa” sets which both contain handy sized products including bath soaks, shower gels and hand creams. If you’re after a gift for a Soon-To-Be-Mum how about the “Extracts Fairtrade Mini Body Butter Collection” which will be perfect for keeping bump nice and soft, and includes a Cocoa Butter which is good for helping prevent stretch marks. A full range of Boots Gift Sets can be found in store, or online.

Gumigem
How about a gift that’s both for Mum and for their little one? Jewellery wearing is generally a nightmare when you have a small child so most Mums forgo their collection until their children are older. With Gumigem you don’t need to! The stylish necklaces feature what look like solid stone pendants so are fashionable, but the “stone” is actually made from the same material as most traditional teethers. This means you can look stylish whilst your baby can safely chew on your necklace during times of teething, and if they do pull hard on it the safety catch at the back releases meaning no more strangling Mum! The necklaces come in four shapes and a range of beautiful colours, and are even worn by celebrity Mums like Denise Van Outen and Michelle Heaton. The full range can be viewed here but if you want to buy a Gumigem this Mothers Day I sell them with prices starting at £10, so get in touch for details!

Curvety
If you’re after clothing for that slightly curvier figure take a trip to the Curvety website. They stock a range of glamorous and fashionable clothing to dress your beautiful curves in style. From dresses, trousers and skirts to an amazing Bridal range as well as the all important shoes Curvety covers everything you could possibly want. In addition to their vast clothing range they also sell accessories including the gorgeous necklace you see below, which would look great on any woman, regardless of size. The full Curvety range can be found online.

The Old Bag Company
Perhaps a new bag is in order for Mum this year, but you want to get her something a little different. What about the “Sophie Canvas Bag” from the Old Bag Company? The bag comes with an array of pockets to store all Mum’s bits and pieces and has a waterproof liner in case of any spills. It’s machine washable and inside every bag is a message from the Old Bag Company children (who all the bags are named after) so you know you’re getting the genuine article. Available in six colour choices this bag is perfect as a handbag, shopper, beach bag, hand luggage or funky work bag. This bag, and the rest of the spotty and stripey range, can be found at the Old Bag Company website.

Swanky Maison
If you want to get your Mum something totally different whilst supporting new and up-and-coming UK designers head over to Swanky Maison. Swanky Maison is an online boutique that sells gifts and items for the home that have been designed and made here in the UK. The range of items on there is mind-blowing – I was on there for hours pouring over the gorgeous things – and I defy anyone to not find something they love. One of my favourite designers on there is ‘Red Brick Glass’. Based in Dorset, Wendy the founder of ‘Red Brick Glass’ creates a stunning array of glass items using a her kiln, finishing them all by hand and packaging them beautifully. I adore these glass lanterns, available in a set of three, with their delicate butterfly print on them which are fired in the kiln to ensure they won’t scratch off. I think these would look pretty in the garden, as centre pieces at a spring wedding, or just around the bath when Mum has that much deserved relaxing soak. ‘Red Brick Glass’ and a host of other talented designers can be found on the Swanky Maison e-boutique website.

Tesco Nail Varnish
If your children are just reaching an age where they understand the significance of Mothers Day and perhaps want to spend “their” money on a present for Mummy then Tesco might just have the answer. Their “All About Nails” range is perfectly priced at just 99p per bottle and they have large number of colours available from the brights to the on-trend pastels, and whilst the price is cheap the quality is fabulous. So come on Dads, why not nip out to the supermarket with your children this weekend and grab Mum a present they can buy themselves? ‘All About Nails’ is available now from your local Tesco store.

Yankee Candle
A Housewarmer candle from Yankee Candle is a gift that Mum, and the rest of the family, can enjoy for up to 150 hours. Presented in a large glass jar with glass lid this is an epic candle that will also make a lovely decorative feature in any room of the house. When it comes to scented candles I prefer something subtle to provide a nice background smell as opposed to something overpowering, so for me the ideal Yankee Candle would be the Vanilla Satin – a gentle classic fragrance. This fragrance, and others, is available in several sized candles from small tea-lights to the mighty large glass jars from the Yankee Candle website.

Afternoon Tea
She’s probably spent years slaving over your tea, and now she can have a fantastic time unwinding with a different type of tea, scones, and a selection of scrumptious cakes on her tea for two experience. Whether you opt for afternoon tea at Harrods or you whisk her away to any of 20 elegant rural locations across the UK, she’ll simply love this traditional treat. Tea For Two days out are available from the Buy-A-Gift website.