Halloween, a family tradition

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Last year’s photo, a six month old Jossy dressed as a frog, comments ensued about child cruelty and even haha, roadkill :/ but nothing can take the fun out of the 31st October for me. As a child we did something special every year, a spooky tea, or a visit to the local Farm for ghost stories and a lantern parade. Never trick or treating, which my parents see as ‘begging’ but it was always a really exciting time of year, not least because it’s closely followed by Bonfire Night, and soon after talk of Christmas!

I’m not sure what we’ll do for a costume this year, but I know we’ll enjoy creating our own special memories of this magical night!

Greenfrog Product Review

In my quest for eco-friendly household products I recently came across Greenfrog Natural Soap Products. Soapnuts are environmentally friendly, sustainably produced and bio-degradable with their natural cleaning properties coming from nature’s detergent, saponin, which soapnuts are rich in they make a great non-toxic home cleaner. I am new to soapnuts and their derived products, but wanted to give them a go in our home. I had some questions, like whether they would smell clean, would they be as effective as other cleaners, and with these questions in mind I undertook a test of Greenfrog products!

Greenfrog’s range currently comprises of laundry soapnuts, natural washing up liquid, liquid soap and kitchen cleaner. The products are free from nasty chemicals, have naturally anti-microbial and antibacterial properties and can be used instead of laundry detergent for soft, clean clothes on sensitive skin.

Here’s what we tested, over the course of a fairly average week in our busy household:

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First up was the bag of soap nuts, these really intrigued me, they look like wrinkled hazelnuts and smelled a little like vinegar, but they are in fact little gems. Through using cloth nappies I learned that when things are clean and detergent build up free they should smell like nothing at all, and that bubbles are just to make us think things are clean, so I quite like clean washing without the smell of flowers or other strong smells, the soap nuts did their job with two big loads of family washing, the instructions were easy to follow and I was delighted by how everything was cleaned. I also tried them with a nappy wash as we’re fairly low soiled at the mo, and again was impressed with the results, the nappies didn’t smell of anything at all which is what we want!

Next up was the cleaning spray, with a really lovely lasting neroli and geranium scent this made me feel happy to be cleaning! I’ve tried lots of natural cleaners, I haven’t used anything that did as good a job of degreasing in the kitchen as this spray, and we all loved the smell, this was definately my favourite product, and one we will use again! I can see why this was shortlisted for ‘Best New Natural Living and Home Product’ at The Natural and Organic Awards 2013! Our kitchen has never looked so clean!

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Geranium features again in the handwash, alongside mint and aloe vera with softening honey too, a lovely creamy handwash with a peppermint kick, low foaming for a fast but clean wash.

Last up, the washing up liquid, lemon and neroli, both naturally anti-bacterial, this was easy to get along with, I like a low foam for the dishes as it makes drying them so much easier!

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This is a really impressive range, I would like to try experimenting with different oil blends alongside the laundry nuts for our less soiled cloth nappies as I think with teatree we would get a great antibacterial clean, I’ll be seeking some advice on this one, and heading to our local Greenfrog stockist in York as this is easily the best eco range we’ve tried!

Play ideas meme

As you know I’m quite new to blogging but I have seen some brilliant linkies, including the weekly ones I take part in, from Podcast Dove and Ethan’s Escapades.

I love the sharing nature of blogging and wanted to get some ideas from other parents about toddler play ideas. We are short of space, on a budget and have a little girl who is very very active. I thought I’d start a toddler play Monday meme and seek my first tagee this week.

So here we go with our three questions:

What’s the activity?
How do we do it?
What did your little one enjoy about it?

What’s the activity?

We tried a spot of highchair cornflour gloop! We heard about this at our local Children’s Centre and thought the highchair could be a good place to contain the gloop til we source a cheap messy play tray!

How do we do it?

Mix two heaped tablespoons of cornflour with water until you have a gloop in a cup, or mix it straight onto the tray like we did for floury then wet fun! Then get your hands in, get little plastic toys in or a cheap paintbrush!

What did your little one enjoy about it?

Joss loved the gloop despite an uncertain start, look at her face! The gloop is so strange it looks wet but feels solid and you can move it around but if you try to scoop it it runs like water through your hands! Hard to describe, you’ll have to try it yourself!

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Its pretty easy to clean up but do be aware it could be drain clogging so try to scoop as much as you can into an empty milk carton!

If you’d like to get involved and don’t want to wait to be tagged then grab my blog meme button! The next blogger to post next Monday will be In The Playroom – I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with!

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Nursery Trader VIP Membership Competition

Nursery Trader’s Bump to Toddler competition runs just three times a year and is the biggest competition of its kind in the children’s industry. It is supported by companies both large and small and offers the winner the opportunity to win over £6k worth of baby and toddler gear – everything from baby carriers to pushchairs, changing bags to toddler suitcases, nappies to clothing vouchers and much more. There really is something for everyone.

The latest competition is close to my heart, featuring cloth nappies from Fuzzibunz and slings from Beco and Moby. I think my favourite prize would have to be the Beco doll carrier, perfect for roleplaying little ones! It runs throughout the month of October and closes at 23:59 on 31st October – the winner is drawn on 1st November – an amazing early Christmas present for someone!

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The competition is open to all UK residents – Nursery Trader VIPs get 100 automatic entries into the competition so they don’t even have to fill the form in! NT VIP costs just £6 a year (less than 13p a week) and gives automatic entry into this and all competitions for 12 months, a £5 voucher for the PT shop, access to exclusive discount codes plus the ability to apply to test products for NT and join their ‘Living with’ team.
I have five of these VIP passes to give away, enter with my rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: UK entries only, winners will be notified by email within 24 hours of competition closing, NT is responsible for actioning prize passes and there is no cash alternative.

Silent Sunday after the Saturday that wasn’t silent…

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I need words for Silent Sunday this week, this photo was taken yesterday, would you believe just five minutes before this we experienced a mammoth toddler tantrum, the first really really big one outside the home?

Hmm, let’s see, I look a little flushed from the embarrassment and Mr B is keeping a close eye on the situation, but Joss, like nothing had happened, “nothing to see here folks! Just a baby enjoying icecream…”

You know that saying, my child is not giving me a hard time, my child is having a hard time? Yeah, that! Except Joss wasn’t having a hard time anymore and had a bear wafer.

I think we handled it well anyway, if a bit embarrassed it was over before it started and we all had some ice cream to cool off!

Arts and Crafts at The Laing Art Gallery

A short photo post today as I’ve been at work and am feeling a bit tired! This week Joss and I had a lovely afternoon out at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle, and looking back at my photos got me thinking that we don’t do enough art at home, mainly because we haven’t really got any materials since her last round of crayon eating, when she was probably that bit too young. She really enjoyed the light boxes, and the pots and pots of pencils, crayons and pens, lots to explore and lots of colours.
The Quentin Blake pictures on the walls were also a big hit, this little one looks like our Tobydog! I adore Quentin Blake’s illustrations so it was a treat for me too!
I have tasked myself with buying a few supplies this weekend, some pencils and pens and a piece of plastic sheeting, to compliment the paints and bits and bobs we do have at home, something to do on a rainy day, I think I’ll get some catalogues and photos too, so that we can have some themed sessions, as she loved the dogs at the Laing I think we’ll start with a ‘puppies’ theme! Photos from our sessions to follow over the coming weeks!

Small Steps Amazing Achievements – Animals!

A short photo post this week, Joss is wanting to walk more and more and it was so sweet to take her to see the animals at the Farm at the end of our street this week, we go all the time, but as she’s gaining confidence I’m learning to let her look and touch and not be so worried about her getting hurt or falling over!

Hello bunnies!

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Allow me to shine a light on your darkness! My experience of SAD or low winter mood

Joss and I popped out last night at 6:30, we went to the shops and came back at 7pm and our walk back looked like this (but less fuzzy, you try pushing a pram full of shopping and taking a photo!):

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And yesterday, a dull and grey day, was like this:

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Most people find it harder to get going in the winter, the days get shorter, as does the hours of sunlight and whether its the lack of melatonin/seratonin or the body’s circadian rhythm (your body uses the sun to time various important biological processes, including your mood, sleep, appetite, digestion and energy levels) it can leave us all feeling a bit, well, blah.

A few years ago I started to notice a pattern and so did my GP, during the winter I’d suffer from low mood and irritability, oversleeping and finding it hard to get started for the day. I have tried lots of things to combat this, lots of healthy food and getting out for walks during the day makes a difference, I love a crisp walk in the snow because of how the light reflects, but nothing has had as much of an impact as my lightbox. I pop it on for a few hours a day, it took some time to get used to it, not least of all because I have to avoid mirrors when it is in the room as it’s not a terribly flattering light, but the strong lights mimic that of the summer sun and for me it has made a difference to my mood. I get it out of the cupboard in October and it stays here until February. The blog post title is something Mr B says to me when I’ve forgotten to use the light for a day or two, I do sometimes need a reminder, but I now pop it on whilst blogging, doing uni work or cleaning the kitchen so it’s become a bit of a habit. My GP is sympathetic, he likened the dip in mood to hibernation, that humans too have a desire to hole up for winter, and some would rather just bed down and sleep through it until the sun comes out again. Well, as my work and family life is about more than just gathering nuts to see us through the frost that’s not really an option, so a sunlamp, mince and dumplings and hot toddy might have to just do!

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So here’s a bit more light after a bit of a grey post, my bright eyed girl in her winter scarf, I do like to wrap up warm, winter woolens, wellies and walks are a great boost alongside the sunlamp!

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Do you have any tips for getting through the long dull days?