Tag Archives: Green Mums

Back to school blues

15 Apr

As the Easter Holidays draw to a close, mums around the country breathe a sigh of relief as that first day back at school looms ever closer.  As much as I like to get back into a normal routine, part of me dreads the end of the holidays.  Yes, there’s no doubt it is chaos in my house at the moment.  I have hardly touched the housework in two weeks and my Green Mums work has been very neglected BUT we have had so much fun!

We haven’t been out and about every day.  I’m a firm believer that children should have time to invent their own play and my daughter is definitely a child that needs time for this.  She loves to draw whilst listening to audio books and to make up games with her little brother so there has been a fair bit of that during the holidays.

Here are a few of my favourite moments from Easter. I haven’t recorded any photos of me scoffing chocolate but I guess that would come into this category too!

Cotehele House in Cornwall

We have had National Trust membership since before we had children. We think it is great value for money and they put on some lovely activities for children during the holidays.  Of all the properties that we have visited, all over the country, Cotehele has got to be our favourite.  It has a fantastic orchard which is a great space to run around looking for wildlife. The gardens are gorgeous and very varied. With a formal terraced garden, croquet lawn and a sloping garden that meanders its way downhill there is something for everyone. You can also walk through the woods to a working mill and on certain days the children can try their hand at making bread.  During the holidays they always put in a lot of effort into children’s activities.  On the day that we were there they had a family workshop making miniature gardens.  Both Lily and Thomas loved this and got so engrossed with creating their little patch of Eden.

Two very happy children with their miniature gardens!

Enjoying the spring flowers at Cotehele in Cornwall

We went to Dorset for a few days with our parents. What a beautiful place (not quite as beautiful as Cornwall but then I’m going to say that, being a cornish lass!).  One of my favourite spots would have to be Lulworth Cove. It is such a dramatic place and yet so peaceful (despite all the crowds).  It has a surreal feel about it and it’s not like anywhere else I have ever visited.

Lulworth Cove

Another of our favourite spots in Dorset was Abbotsbury. This is a beautiful little village but it’s main appeal are the three tourist attractions located just on the outskirts. We visited two of these, The Subtropical Gardens and the Children’s Farm. There is also a Swannery but we didn’t get time to visit this one.  The Subtropical Gardens are 20 acres of  hidden paradise containing many rare and exotic plants.  Just beautiful, even in spring.  I would love to go back in the summer too.  They had an Easter Egg Hunt on when we were there which was a great way to keep those little toddler legs moving around the garden!

The Abbotsbury Children’s Farm was a big hit with the children. It is advertised as being for under 11′s and I would say they have pitched this right.  It is a small compact little farm and perfect for younger children.  Lily fell in love with a baby goat and wanted to bring him home. She still talks about him a week later…. They have two lovely play areas outside and an indoor play area for those rainy days.  Thomas loved driving the toy tractors and we all had a good bounce around on the space-hoppers.  There were even adult sized ones, so no excuse not to join in! The cafe on site serves local produce and was very family friendly and tasty too! We would definitely go here again if we return to Dorset.

A special moment for Thomas. His first time on a pony!

It’s not just the days out that I will remember though.  I want to remember the little things like lying in our fantastic den that we made whilst reading ‘ The Folk of the Faraway Tree’ and spending time in the garden looking for tadpoles and frogs followed by a picnic lunch on the lawn. We’ve enjoyed the lazy lie-ins and not having to rush off for the school-run. We’ve had time to paint, bake and make lots of mess and I wish it didn’t have to end. Bring on the summer holidays!

What have been your favourite moments of the holidays?

Bambino Mio – Miosolo cloth nappy review

12 Apr


We went into our testing of the MioSolo slightly sceptical having tried and known lots of others who had previously tried Bambino Mio and been less than impressed. When getting into conversations with others about cloth I’ve often heard ‘Oh we tried the Bambino Mios because they were the most popular but really didn’t like them and gave up, so  I have to admit to not being hugely hopeful and positive about trying their newest offering.
Then we tried it.
The MioSolo is a change for Bambino Mio from their usual two-part nappies and is a birth to potty all in one with an attached tuck-in insert that goes into a back pocket and an extra optional booster that goes into the same pocket (think Tots Bots Easyfit if you’re confused).
The MioSolo has become one of our most reached for nappies. The fit is lovely, it looks comfy and soft but snug enough at the same time to ensure no leakage. I had a play with the poppers to adjust size and was pleasantly surprised to see how small the nappy can be adjusted  without looking like it would be bulky on a small baby. The drying time is not the quickest of our nappies but being microfibre you’re still not looking at a huge amount of time and it will easily dry on an airer in a warm room overnight.
I was also surprised by the absorbency of the MioSolo when using the included optional booster and we happily used it as an ‘out and about’ nappy without leaks and my little boy still remaining comfy and dry.If you need extra absorbency there is plenty of room within the pocket to add a bamboo booster but we never needed one.
The only fault we found with the MioSolo was that it started to look slightly tatty after a few washes. It’s easy to see how if you had a full set of these from birth to potty that they wouldn’t end up looking particularly nice. We noticed slight fading and fraying of velcro after around 5 washes. However this doesn’t affect the function of the nappy at all and wouldn’t be too much of a problem at all unless you’re fussy (like me). Overall, we love the MioSolo!

Many thanks to Jen Furmage, Cloth Nappy Advisor in Plymouth for sending us this review

Butterfly Biscuits. Sweet Treats for a Fairy Birthday Party

11 Apr

These biscuits are so easy to make and are great for children to help with. They love rolling out the dough and decorating them.  We made these for Lily’s fairy birthday party which is in a couple of weeks.  We left some without icing and popped them in the freezer so we can decorate them the day before the party.

Here is the recipe if you want to give them a try.  You can use any cookie cutters to make whatever shapes you like.  The fun is definitely in the decorating though, we had pink icing EVERYWHERE!

6 oz butter

3  1/2 oz caster sugar

One egg yolk

9  1/2 oz plain flour

Method:

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Beat in the egg yolk.  Sift in the flour and bring together the dough.

Wrap dough in cling film and put in the fridge for 10 mins before rolling out and cutting.

Bake in the oven at 190 degrees for 10 minutes.

Say Poo to Poverty with our Real Nappy Week event!

4 Apr

Real Nappy Week 2012 is from 16th – 20th April.  We’ve got lots of nappy events scheduled for the Plymouth area but we are also planning something which anyone can take part in.

We are holding an event called ‘Real Nappies are great, pass it on and make a change!’ You can view our event page on Facebook here.  Basically, we are asking lovers of real nappies to have a look through their nappy stash and see if they have any nappies they no longer want.  If you find you have some you no longer need, why not pass one on to a friend and see if you can convert them to cloth?

If you don’t know someone who can use them then we know of a fantastic charity who can! Operation Sunshine South West are based very near to us in Tavistock and they send practical aid to people in East Africa who are living in desperate poverty. They also supervise the distribution of all donated items so they KNOW that their work makes a difference.

One of the items they are always desperate for is cloth nappies.  They work with orphanages, hospitals and refugee camps and cloth nappies are always in short supply.  At the moment they are fashioning nappies out of bits of cut up towelling and they have told us they would be very grateful for ANY cloth nappies.  This includes pre-folds, terry squares, pocket nappies, two-part nappies and wraps – basically, whatever you can spare.

We are asking people to bring any unwanted nappies along to our Plymouth events during Real Nappy Week but if you are not local you can still help out.  We will be arranging a delivery to Operation Sunshine at the end of April so up until the end of the month you can send these nappies directly to us and we’ll do the rest. You can find our address here. We understand that the container will be leaving for Africa in May. We’ll keep you up to date with how your nappies have helped, so look out for more blogs later in the year.

You can find out more about Operation Sunshine here

Please say Poo to Poverty and help make children’s lives better in Africa.

Children’s Easter craft – Cotton Wool Lambs

28 Mar
Image

Cotton Wool Lambs

How cute are these?  We love this little lamb family and had great fun making them. All you need is:

Empty Toilet Rolls

Cotton Wool balls or pads

Card

Black Pen

PVA glue

They are so easy to make and a lovely little activity for young children.  Just stick your cotton wool all over the toilet roll and then secure it to some card feet.  I have to say ours is not secured very well but is lightly held in place with sellotape.  Design your own face and arms and stick these onto the toilet rolls with PVA glue.  Hey presto, you have a little lamb family.

We used these to act out the story to Little Baa This book has been a favourite of both our children. Such a lovely story of a little lamb that gets separated from its mother.  Don’t worry, it does have a happy ending!

These little lambs would look lovely filled with chocolate eggs on Easter Day!

Play Merrily toy review, Djeco Jigsaws

23 Mar

We were recently sent some puzzles to review by a lovely lady called Merry.  Merry sells a huge range of toys on her website Play Merrily and, like us, they are a family business – her’s started from her kitchen cupboard! She has such a wide range of good quality toys on her website, many are that little bit different and not the sort of thing we would find on the high street in Plymouth.

We were sent two Djeco puzzles. One was a 54 piece Fairy Castle Jigsaw and the other, a 54 piece Pirate Ship, the perfect choice for our 5 year old and 3 year old.  Our 3 year old son Thomas, is a puzzle fanatic – he loves them! I thought he might struggle a little with this one as it is a lot of pieces for a just turned 3 year old.  He loved it! The picture on this puzzle is so intricate that it kept him fascinated for ages the first time he put it together and now he keeps coming back to it time and time again. There are so many hidden stories in this puzzle and so many amusing things happening when you look closely.

I think this is a puzzle that will stay on our shelves for many years, it continues to capture his imagination every time.  The pieces are excellent quality and although it has now been used almost daily for a few weeks, it still looks like new.

The puzzle says it is for age 5+ and I would say this is about right.  I think the fact that he can manage it is purely down to his addiction to puzzles over the last few months.

The finished puzzle!

Fairy Castle Jigsaw

The second puzzle we were sent was the Fairy Castle Jigsaw  also from the Djeco range.  My 5 year old daughter tested this one out.  Lily has never been a fan of puzzles. She would much rather be doing something else than having to sit still for the time it takes to complete a puzzle! I didn’t really expect much interest from her when she saw this but she was instantly excited.  The jigsaw comes in a Castle-shaped box and I think this grabbed her from the start.

This puzzle has a beautiful design, with bright colours and intricate details. She was fascinated by all the little fairies flitting around in the picture and she quite happily sat and finished this puzzle with some help.  She has come back to it time and again, which is VERY unusual for Lily.  Again, I am sure this will be a puzzle that we keep for a long time.

These would make wonderful presents for children’s birthdays and at £9.95 I think that is a really reasonable price for a quality jigsaw.  You can also get free delivery over £15 which is always a winner for me.

Merry also writes a wonderful blog Patch of Puddles about Home Educating and Neonatal loss, I’m not sure how she finds the time but it is a wonderful read.  It is inspiring and heartwarming and when I read it, I find that it makes me want to be the best mother I can be.  I’m still working on that one….

Bambooty Easy One Size cloth nappy review

15 Mar

The Easy One Size Bambooty nappy

Trialling the Bambooty Easy One Size nappy has been a confusing experience for us. It’s not often a nappy leaves me reaching for a diagram not once but twice. Having tried lots and lots of nappies I can normally figure out how they work and are adjusted within seconds but not the Bambooty Easy One Size!It is worth noting that when on the largest setting,this nappy is easy and straightforward and pretty much exactly the same as any birth to potty nappy with popper closure to put on. It is also worth noting that the largest section is much larger than your standard large setting on a Birth to Potty. I would imagine Bambooty have done this because of the fact everyone mentions how small Bambooty sized nappies are. My little boy is in a Bambooty XL in sized but still not quite big enough for the largest fit in this nappy.I asked around a few people who also owned/had tried the Bambooty One Size and the first thing they all said was ‘I don’t like the folding!’ To adjust the nappy to medium you essentially popper down the nappy and then fold the front over, leaving the inner fabric of the nappy exposed and covering much of the print (and the prints ARE gorgeous,Bambooty introduced 2 new prints for the One Size aswell as the standard Bambooty prints and they are much too pretty to cover up).The newborn setting is again a complicated process and leaves the nappy looking bulky although a certain degree of bulkiness is always expected when using a Birth to Potty nappy on a newborn.

Fit aside, the One Size does have the features you would expect from a Bambooty. If you can figure out the folding, it is possible to get a really neat and snug fit. The poppers underneath the labels are  a real help for making sure you don’t get any wing-droop- we didn’t realise they were there until second read of the diagram and they improved the fit dramatically.

As with all Bambooty’s the inserts are sewn in (and includes an optional snap-in booster) and they are nice and absorbent,we never had a leak and the nappy is nice and trim under clothes although this might not be the case if you were using it on a small newborn.

I also noticed that the one size dries surprisingly quickly which considering they contain enough bamboo to make them as absorbent as they are is impressive and I expected a much longer drying time.

Overall a good, reliable nappy as long as you’re willing to invest a little bit of time and some diagram studying to get the fit right!

Thank you to Jen for this nappy review.  Jen is a real nappy advisor with the Devon Real Nappy Project

The lazy mother’s guide to housework

14 Mar
The Good Wife's Guide (1955)

The Good Wife's Guide (1955) (Photo credit: Peter Forret)

I read somewhere that doing housework with children under 5 is like shovelling snow whilst it is still snowing.  I can totally relate to this.  It feels like no sooner have you tidied up then the house is messy again. I am most definitely NOT a houseproud woman.  It might have been on my list of priorities BC (before children) but now I am more concerned with making sure the children are fed and watered and that we get to have some fun. Working from home probably doesn’t help, there are always too many demands on my time and I’m afraid housework comes very near to the bottom of my list!

I’m sure many other mummies feel like this  so here are a few tips I’ve found helpful when it comes to tackling housework in as little time as possible!

Have all the equipment to hand

Try to have a cleaning stash in the bathroom and the kitchen so that it is always there ready when you want to use it. If you run out of anything write it down so you remember to buy it when you go shopping.

Put on some music

For some reason I find it much easier to get in the mood for housework when I’ve got some good music playing, crank it up load so you can still hear it over the vacuum cleaner!

Pool your resources

There’s no reason why the rest of the family can’t help with household chores.  By picking up after each other and putting things away, the house will already look neater and will be much easier to keep clean.

Set a timer

Give yourself a set time to do something. Set the timer on your phone for say 15 minutes and set yourself a target of what you would like to get done in those 15 minutes.

Multitask

As mums we are good at this aren’t we?  While the children are in the bath, give the sink a quick wash – while they are eating their tea empty the dishwasher. I’m sure we already do this anyway.

De-clutter

If your house is always cluttered, crowded and messy then it may be time for a sort-out.  Sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees if you have got too much stuff.  Set aside a time to have a good de-clutter and send some stuff off to the charity shop.

Concentrate on the kitchen

The kitchen is the busiest and most used room in our house.  I find if the kitchen is a disaster area then I just can’t cope with it. Everything takes longer because you have to clean surfaces and dishes before you can cook, or make a packed lunch.  Try to at least keep the counters clean and tidy and put the dishes in the dishwasher.

Make good use of your dishwasher

You can put all sorts of things in the dishwasher.  Put your oven racks and shelves in there and your compartments from your fridge.  Makes cleaning the oven and the fridge much easier!

Lighten the laundry load

Don’t wash clothes unless they are dirty, if they are still clean just fold them up and put them away for another day. When buying clothes look for clothing that requires minimum ironing. Talking of ironing…  you don’t really need to iron bedding and hankies do you!  Just as well my old gran isn’t around to hear me say that……

Have you got any other tips for saving time with housework?

£5 off for Mother’s Day with Wiggly Wigglers

6 Mar

Mother's Day Bouquets from Wiggly Wigglers

Would you like £5 off Mother’s Day Bouquets?

A lovely lady called Heather at Wiggly Wigglers has given us a special discount code for our Facebook customers. Receive £5 off any flower order placed up until 17th March by entering the code GREENMUMS during checkout.

I was lucky enough to receive some flowers from my friend which came from this company and they were SO lovely! They don’t just sell flowers though, they sell plants, seeds, wormeries and loads more. They have some fantastic products in their Eco Section – pop over and have a look!

Win a Spa Day at Cedar Falls Health Farm

28 Feb

Peace and tranquility await you at Cedar Falls

I’ve been lucky enough to stay at Cedar Falls in the past.  My mum and I went a couple of times, before the children arrived and I actually had time to myself!  Set in a stunning location in Somerset, Cedar Falls is a haven of peace and tranquility. From the moment you arrive it’s as if you have stepped back in time.  No televisions, no mobile phones and no laptops, just time to read, chat, relax and be pampered.

Banish any thoughts of stuffy, clinical health farms with carrot juice and colonic irrigation. Cedar Falls is more like a posh hotel with spa facilities. When you arrive you are given a big fluffy robe to wear for the duration of your visit and if it is your first stay you will be given a guided tour of the spa from one of the friendly members of staff. There are many exercise and fitness classes available which are all included in the cost of your stay.  Treatments are available for an extra fee and, having tried a few I can highly recommend then.  The therapists are wonderful, very friendly and they truly go out of their way to make you feel relaxed.

In between yoga or massage you can chill in the hot tub, pool, steam room, sauna or swimming pool. We used to spend a lot of time lazing in the indoor or outdoor pool, reading and chatting.  I can’t actually think of a better way to unwind than a visit here.

The food at Cedar Falls is fantastic. Lunch is buffet style and there’s no teeny tiny portions here. Just help yourself to whatever you want. We don’t all go to a health farm to count calories do we! Dinner is a 3 course meal, with wine if you want it. I can usually be persuaded to have a glass or two…

The Competition Prize

Cedar Falls have kindly donated a spa day to one lucky winner! The prize is worth up to £95 and included in your package is the following:

  • Full use of spa facilities and fitness classes
  • A delicious lunch
  • A lovely cosy robe to lounge in during your stay
  • £5 voucher towards treatments of your choice

Closing date for the competition is Friday 16th March, just in time for Mother’s Day!

To enter the competition, just answer this question and email your answer to me at tracy@greenmums.co.uk

Cedar Falls offers a wide range of beauty and holistic treatments. “How long does the Signature Ritual Treatment last”?

For one extra entry please tweet the following:

I would love to win a spa day at Cedar Falls Health Farm with @greenmumsdevon and @CedarFallsUK  http://wp.me/pSvQH-hG

Terms and conditions:

The prize is subject to availability
By entering the competition you are agreeing to both Green Mums and Cedar Falls adding you to an email database for newsletter purposes, you will be given the option to unsubscribe at any time
We promise not to give your details to any other companies
The winner will be notified by telephone or email
All enquiries regarding your booking etc. should be directed to Cedar Falls
The winner will be drawn after 7pm on the closing date using Random.org
Automated entries will not be accepted


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