- April 6th, 8:06
We’ve been having a great first week of the Easter holidays and although the weather has taken a turn for the worse now, we still managed to do some lovely activities as a family while the sun was still shining and had oodles of fun at Willows Farm over the weekend (review below). Then my Mum came down to collect Florence and give me a break for a couple of days before we join them in Norwich for Easter. I kind of don’t know what to do with myself really? I’ve got no plans and am just having a lazy couple of days… How nice and probably for the last time in a couple of years I would say! I suppose I should be sorting things out for the baby and be planning my hospital bag (just in case) but I can’t really be bothered to be honest so I’ll do that next week instead!
I’m going to be writing a big piece about what to pack in three different bags and what bags to use but one thing I think I’ll definitely be including on the list is this silver jewellery impressions kit which you can buy from Zebra Ceramics in North London.
The impression kit (£10)
Basically it’s a kit which has everything you need to take prints from your baby as soon as he or she is born and then you can send them off and have a gorgeous piece of jewellery made with an imprint of your tiny ones very first hand or foot print! You buy the kit for £10 which is no bigger than a very thin book, make the prints (which are SUPER easy to do) and then post it back to them with your choice of jewellery which they will then make for you and send out to you! What could be easier than that and when will you ever get the chance to capture those tiny fingers and toes again! They will only be that small once!
Florence and I went to visit Zebra, which is a ceramic café with a difference a couple of months ago and we think there’s no better place for all your little ones printing needs! So, you’ll know about ceramic cafes; you go, you pay a studio fee, choose your item to paint and then you create! Zebra offer this service and you could easily spend many an afternoon wiling away time sitting in their lovely bright café sipping tea and watching your children having fun painting and playing! They also have a big toy box so when the art is over but you still want to finish a yummy cake and chat with friends the children won’t be bored and wanting to move on. In the sunshine they also have a pretty gorgeous garden out the back with play equipment and even if you don’t want to do any painting it’s a really great place to just go for coffee and a play! The staff are super helpful and knowledgeable about their business and will be able to assist you with everything from just giving tips to assisting you with hand prints and writing on your pieces. The fact that they are such a friendly team only makes the visit more enjoyable and we felt incredibly welcome and as if we were old friends even though we’d never been before. They knew their regular customers by name and greeted everyone coming in the door which was opening so often I wondered how they ever managed to fit everyone in. You can book a slot and I’d say if you definitely want to paint on a particular day it’s advisable for it was a mid week morning when we visited but you might have thought it was a weekend since it was so busy!
The thing about Zebra is that they are not just a ceramic café. They do so much more that that and that’s what makes them stand out above the rest. The services they offer include clay printing, 3D casting and specialised ceramics amongst many others! You can even hold a party there, no matter how old you are! For us, the service we sampled was their piece de resistance though; the silver prints are just totally unique! I’m not saying you can’t get something similar elsewhere because perhaps you can but the way they offer this service is so well organised and easy it surely would be hard to be beaten! You can of course go into the café and they will help you make your prints but for us, the fact we could take the kit away and do it at home without any hassle at all made it even better! You wouldn’t even need to visit the café in order to take advantage of the service and this means that even if you’re not London based it’s still open to you. I suggested before that you pack the kit in your hospital bag to take prints with your brand new baby and I think that’s a fabulous idea but we obviously decided to do ours at home one afternoon and we had great fun making the prints to send off. I’d worried I’d ruin it but it’s so easy I think even the most inept artist like myself would manage a good job and have a giggle doing it! The kit includes a wet wipe which you wipe over the hands and feet that you are printing from. It’s completely clear and to the naked eye appears as if nothing is on the skin at all but when you press down on the special paper up pops a perfect print like magic! Florence was in raptures watching her little hands and feet appear on the paper! We then sent it back to Rachel and Andrea at Zebra and hey presto, 21 days later our beautiful necklace charm arrived with a gorgeous little Florence hand print in the middle and her name along the side! Now that’s something we will keep forever and I can imagine she will even want to wear it herself when she’s older! It’s precious, absolutely precious and totally unique to us! How lucky are we! We love the service at Zebra and will be back in the summer for some more painting fun and to take our new baby to get involved for the first time too! I’m looking forward to it!
Charms are made from 99.9% pure silver with solid sterling silver accessories and are for either finger, hand or foot prints. Prices start at £69 and the print impression kit is £10 which is then redeemable against the item you choose. Ceramic items range from £3 – £40, studio fee of £5 per person. At Zebra they also have a comprehensive café with yummy treats, cater for parties and can assist with clay prints. Zebra also have an online shop so you do not need to be in London to experience their charm and they also have pop up locations from time to time. For more information please see their website www.zebraceramics.co.uk or call 0208 442 1314.
We’ve been gearing up for Easter! Last week I said about how we were going to decorate our own cards and eggs and we had so much fun doing them! We just had little packs from Asda, the eggs are £3 each and the cards £2. You get everything you need to make cards and decorate an Easter egg for a friend and the results have been brilliant! Look what we made and for more information on the products Asda have on offer for Easter take a look at their website www.asda.com.
I’m really looking forward to Saturday when we’ll be doing our Easter egg hunt with our friends and then on the Sunday a special one just for Florence! Because Florence’s birthday is so close to Christmas we saved some of her presents for Easter and she will be having lots of chocolates on the Saturday when her friends come over so our Sunday hunt will be super exciting with presents! She’s really into Baby Jake at the moment so one of her ‘prizes’ (as she calls presents) will be the Baby Jake: Going on an Adventure DVD (RRP £10.20). It’s only just been published by BBC Worldwide and from the 2nd of April has been available on DVD or to download digitally. With 7 different tales and lasting 75 minutes it’ll certainly keep Florence entertained! I don’t know what it is about other ‘little faces’ but children, Florence is no exception, just become super engaged with other children of different ages to them. In particular I see Florence fascinated by other people if they are a little bit older or a little bit younger than her and I’m sure that’s why she loves watching Baby Jake who has a special bond with his older brother. Also the theme tune is very catchy and we find ourselves singing it a lot of the time! I’ll bring you a proper review once we’ve watched the DVD but I know that she’s gonna love it just as I know she will adore the little Baby Jake Buddy (RRP £7.99) which to fit in with our Easter theme is dressed as Nibbles the Rabbit. He also comes with Pengy Quin and Sidney the Monkey outfits but we think Nibbles is the cutest! She ALWAYS points them out in the supermarket so I know he’ll be a hit and I can’t wait to see her face! There are lots of other toys in the Baby Jake range including a Musical TV, Memory Cards and the new Bumpety Bump Tractor. So here’s to a Yacki-yacki-yoggi and Goggi-Geha Easter!
I said last week that we would be visiting Willows Farm in St Albans to experience their Eggstravaganza for Easter and we had just the most terrific time! Even though I thought the programme looked great and I was really looking forward to going, the entrance fee had crossed my mind as a little bit steep for a farm. Upon arriving I immediately saw why Willows charges a little bit more than the average for it is not, by any means, just a farm to visit! They had gone all out on Easter decorations and that was just in the car park and pathways leading up to the entrance giving much excitement to the children, their faces were a picture! We made our way into the farm and saw from the vantage point of just inside which looks over the entire farm, the sheer vastness of the place! It really is huge which means all the animals have massive areas to roam and that’s obviously the most important bit! But then there was everything else as well! From Sheep shows, animal displays, the Easter Egg hunt (with chocolates for the little ones), tractor rides, sand pits, play equipment, animal handling, trampolining, bouncy castles, Frisbee golf, old fashioned fair ground rides especially for tiny ones in particular, panning for gold to win a medal, puppet shows, story telling, indoor play zones! I’m out of breath! Seriously this place has everything and it’s all included in the entrance price. This is not a visit to a farm which will be over in a couple of hours, this is a whole day out! Take a picnic, there are plenty of places to sit and eat with especially designed picnic tables that look like pig pens, sheep houses and cow sheds or take advantage of the BBQ or café food they run on site, the smells wafting from them are delicious! We loved it and I can imagine going back again and again for years to come. It took us just over half an hour to drive from East London but you can even get public transport all the way from the Capital so I think we may even try and organise a trip en masse with our little friends over the summer! I honestly can’t tell you how good this place is so you’ll have to take a look at our trip in pictures and yes! It absolutely IS as good as it looks!
Willows Farm Village is open daily throughout the year from 10am to 5.30pm (For opening times during the Christmas period see website). Based in St Albans travel directions can be found on their site including information on public transport from London. Prices are changeable according to season. For more information about Willows Farm Village call 0870 129 9718 or visit www.willowsfarmvillage.com
If you’re still looking for some treats for the little ones this Easter and you, like us, want to add some non chocolate related items for presents then it’s definitely worth knowing that Asda have some absolutely fantastic toys and all for under £5! If you’re popping up there anyway to get some of the Easter craft items I mentioned above then you’ll see that throughout the store they are having a great £5 event with garden, home and DIY products also but for us it’s the toys that have been an absolute winner! There’s simply tons of items in the sale but a few of the things we think are just perfect for little Easter gifts are the Disney Princess Dolls (£5), Asda Play Balls (£4.85 or 2 for £8) and the little Lego boxes which start at just £2 for the mini figures! Great quality toys for a great little price, we’ve been super impressed! We can’t wait for the weather to hot up a bit and play with the balls in the paddling pool but for now we’ll settle for the indoor toys which are just as fun!
When the sunshine does decide to come back out and play there’s just one more Asda toy I think every garden could benefit from and even though I don’t have a garden, this is such a bargain, I’m seriously considering it to keep at my Mum’s! Florence would love a trampoline of her very own and for just £99, this 10ft, JumpKING trampoline which comes complete with safety net and can take up to 90kg of weight is a brilliant bargain! The price may be low but it is certainly not scrimping on safety having been made from top quality materials and offers maximum safety! When it beats any other competitor price why would you look anywhere else! Asda it is then! www.asda.com.
What a bargain! Just £99!
When we went to the farm we had the opportunity to use a really handy travel accessory; I simply couldn’t not tell you about it! A few months ago I talked about how handy I’ve found my Buggy Slip-a (a cover that wraps around mucky buggy wheels before you bring it in the house or pop it in the car boot) and recently I’ve discovered another product from the same company which is just as useful! It’s called a Scooter Slip-a and does the same thing but for little scooter wheels! Florence is a little bit obsessed by her scooter and she does very, very well scooting it has to be said, for just a tiny tot she’s brilliant on it! She does however like to take it with us whenever we go to the park, farm etc. It’s not too bad because it’s quite little and once folded up goes under my buggy snugly but it does get dirty and I don’t like my buggy basket to have mud in it because that’s where I also carry my food shopping! Enter the Buggy Slip-a! I could use carrier bags of course but that’s such a faff and doesn’t really do a great job whereas the slip-a folds up really small, wipes clean very easily and does a much better job than a carrier bag could! You just lay it flat, roll the scooter on, pull the cords which then slip over the handle bars then easily pop it over your shoulder and carry it like a bag! No muddy wet wheels to clean until at home and yet no transference of the mud! Love it!
The Scooter Slip-a has an RRP of £16.95, is 145cm x 135cm (without hem), is made from PU coated nylon with a rip stop nylon hem and has a polypropylene cord. Slip-a designs are launching their innovative new products including the Scooter and Buggy Slip-a this year. They can produce a small number now so if you are interested in getting one before the retail launch please email [email protected]. For more information on the entire range please see their website www.slip-adesigns.co.uk.
The Perfect Family Kitchen
All this farm talk makes me think of my perfect farm house kitchen… I don’t have one of course! I live in London in a two bedroom flat, you can barely swing my cat around our tiny kitchen, indeed; if he’s in there we have to come out! It’s just a little dream of mine, instead of counting sheep when I find myself sleep challenged I use the time to imagine what I’d do with a lottery win. I mix it up a bit with various amounts of winnings but it always starts off with the same beginning, my perfect house for my beautiful growing family and what comes at the heart of every house? The perfect kitchen of course! Jonny arrived home the other day after I’d had a sporadic cleaning episode (I’d even done inside the cupboards no one looks in) and I was kneading dough whilst wearing my red Laura Ashley gingham pinny. He said the smell of the clean house combined with the cooking, my pregnant bump, pinny and small child also in her cooking apron running round at my feet was the perfect picture of domesticity and made him think he was in an episode of ‘The Waltons’! Of course it wasn’t quite perfect because we haven’t won the lottery yet (and depressions in this day and age do not mean massive kitchens with seven children round the table) but when we do I will be baking, cooking, sitting, talking, watching my children play (perhaps not seven of them even then) and generally just being in my perfect dream kitchen which WILL be the perfect scene of domesticity! Well, until it needs cleaning of course!
I imagine a stone floor which will keep everywhere cool in the summer months with the wooden French doors overlooking the garden wide open allowing a gentle breeze to waft the scents from lilac, lavender and lilies into the house! In front of the doors is big open space so the children can play and a couple of comfortable antique chairs with Liberty upholstery play host to my vantage point of the garden. Further into the kitchen will be a huge rustic table made from an old church door with wooden benches and miss-matching chairs to accommodate our many diners (I don’t know what exactly they’ll be dining on – I’m not a brilliant cook)! There will be wood block work tops, gold (real) taps over a Belfast sink, a free standing American style fridge and I will have a larder! I will use my designer yet chic cake mixer to make the yummy baking smells that will waft round the room and there will be cupboards upon cupboards of expensive and beautiful crockery! I will have more than one drawer (whoever designed my current kitchen was a schmuck), I will have a boot room just off the kitchen and my washing machine and tumble dryer will be in a discreet but matching utility room! In the middle of the wall by the vast window with bespoke curtains in another designer print is a free standing hand made solid oak Welsh Dresser with pottery made by my children, pieces I have collected and family photographs displayed proudly and on the opposite wall, the piece de resistance… My cooker! I’ve ummmed and aaahed over which type of range oven I will have but this week, after a fine introduction, I need no more debating for it will, without doubt be a La Cornue 1908! It is gas and can be turned off in the summer or kept on an economically low heat for warmth in the winter as well as of course being the perfect place to cook! Never again will I struggle to fit even the smallest of roast dinners in my oven for I shall be able to cater Sunday lunch for twenty if I wish! It looks amazing, classic and beautiful. Lying by it will be two cats purring and making my family kitchen the perfect family farmhouse kitchen!
Well a gal can dream can’t she!
The perfect cooker for my perfect kitchen – La Cornue 1908
We were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of La Cornue’s brand new 1908 and get a sneaky peak at our dream oven; we absolutely fell in love! La Cornue, world renowned artisan manufacturer, is famed for its ongoing dedication to quality and production and looking at the 1908 it’s easy to see why. The company was first established by Albert Dupuy and has moved through the generations of his family with Andre Xavier Dupuy now at the helm steering a family business which maintains its valued heritage whilst embracing modernism. La Cornue are the only hand crafted, bespoke range cooker manufacturers in the world and their brand new 1908 range cooker is the first of its size to feature the patented vaulted oven. It offers the home chef the opportunity to deliver the finest cuisine possible without compromising on aesthetic or valuable kitchen space. La Cornue say that their vaulted oven (it’s very impressive looking and reminiscent of a wine cellar) offers an innovative cooking style based on the premise that a closed environment produces better cooking results due to its air circulation. Previously the style has only been available in the much larger Chateau ranges so to be made available to the UK market with this more compact model is truly unique! It’s not just the farm house kitchen that could accommodate the 1908, it could easily slip into a chic London lifestyle and coming in an array of colours could be the perfect range for any kitchen! It is quite literally THE most impressive range cooker I have ever seen! Want one? Oh yes please!
The La Cornue 1908 starts from £7000. For more information please visit www.lacornue.co.uk.
Chef Valentine Warner was on hand to do the cooking on the 1908 at its launch and we have to say we enjoyed his food immensely. A great partnership between Valentine and the La Cornue 1908 produced some fantastic results and weren’t we lucky because we left with the gift of his latest cook book ‘The Good Table’. Perhaps it’s because he is a trained portrait painter with an eye for detail or maybe it’s simply that he is passionate about good wholesome cuisine, either way the book is absolutely inspiring for the kitchen and even my husband has been looking through it avidly. We’re big fans of Valentine’s other cook books and often make his delicious honey buns (I told him and he offered the tip of adding brandy – yum) so we can’t wait to try out some of the delicious recipes he offers up in ‘The Good Table’. He says the book is his heart on a plate and he wants to take us on a food adventure, not just provide recipes and pictures. He cooks good old favourites such as Toad in the Hole and brings in daring unusual dishes to the mix also! This is the journey of his own food heaven and the food he cooks at home. It looks delicious and yummy, which let’s face it, is a bit like him really. Quite a few of my gal pals were more than a little jealous that we got to meet Valentine and Florence beamed at his lovely comments to her, believe me, she doesn’t do that with everyone!
Valentine’s latest cook book which was published in September 2011 – Mitchell Beazley – £20
Forgetting dreaming about kitchens and getting down to baby business, I’m still mainly only thinking about what I need to prepare for the new arrival! Thank goodness then that we were super lucky and got given a lot of lovely things when we went to The Baby Show as a VIP blogger! In another of my many bags that I’ve spoken about I was gifted some really super looking things from ‘Bambino Mio’. They are predominantly a reusable nappy company and as some of you may know I am not a fan of the thought of a reusable nappy. I’ve not actually tried any on my own child mainly because when I’ve changed friends children wearing a reusable I’ve just thought they were pretty rubbish. Having said that, I have not tried ‘Bambino Mio’ and their brand does have a good rep so perhaps I should give them a whirl and write a review? I was recently challenged to give reusables a go for a review and looking at the products ‘Bambino Mio’ have sent me, I’m guessing if any are going to work for me it could be theirs, we’ll have to see won’t we! So, not being into reusables, I’d not really looked into such companies as ‘Bambino Mio’ and I didn’t really know about the other products they do; there are many!
They gave me a swim nappy in ‘blue spot’ which is priced at £8.75. Now this I do see the point in! Swim nappies are terribly expensive (You’d pay that for a pack of 5) and they’re on and off so quick there’s literally no pointing not using a reusable. Of course these ones look a lot better than a normal nappy too and mean your little one looks, to all intents and purposes, as if he or she is just in a swim suit. I don’t know what sex baby I am having but I’d happily put a girl in this nappy even though they do actually make specific little girls ones too as well as full girls swimming costumes with the nappy built in!
‘Bambino Mio’ swim nappy in ‘blue spot’.
We’ll be going on holiday in September so that will probably be the first time we take the new baby swimming and I’ll be able to write a proper review of the product after then but to be honest, there’s not a lot to dislike! Funky prints, cotton lining for softness on baby skin, light weight and comfortable with elasticated wait band and leg cuffs to ensure no leakage and coming in sizes which range from 11lb to 34lb, I really can’t see why you’d use anything else?
‘Bambino Mio’ also sent me some of their own wet wipes and hand sanitiser and when the baby is born and I have properly tested them I shall write a proper review of everything but so far, they look, just like the swim nappy, pretty good!
For more information on any of the ‘Bambino Mio’ products please see their website http://uk.bambinomio.com/uk.
MY PREGNANCY DIARY WEEK 36
It’s just been a bit confusing this week really… Because last week I was measuring small the midwife I saw advised I needed an ‘emergency scan’. She then rang to say she couldn’t get me one for a couple of weeks which suggested it wasn’t much of an emergency at all? Although I’m not terribly worried (both Jonny and I are not big and Florence was little so it would stand to reason that I would be having another little baby), the word ‘emergency’ has made me stop and think a bit. I called my new friend and midwife extraordinaire, Nikki Khan who ran the pregnancy retreat I went on a couple of weeks ago and she was very reassuring. The midwife also managed to get the scan to be a few days earlier which is still a wait but better than before… When she came said she was feeling the baby with her hands and it felt ok, that it was just the tape measure which suggested there was a problem and both she and Nikki said the most important thing was that the baby is moving. It is. All the time! So, like I said, I’m not too worried. I’ve made an appointment at a birthing centre for the week after next just in case the scan shows any problems which might mean my home birth is out of the question!
Comfort is what I’m after at the moment and I’ve loved my ‘Melba Maternity’ pyjamas all the way through my pregnancy but now it’s getting to summer time and nearer the birth I thought I would try a lighter alternative in the form of a night dress. It was an obvious choice then to try something similar to the pyjamas because I’ve been so happy with them! My navy ‘Melba Maternity’ night dress is then I declare, my ‘Pregnancy Product of the Week’! It’s been just what I’ve been after on these unseasonably balmy March nights and perfect for my now huge bump! I’m definitely going to have it to hand for straight after the birth too because it’s very flattering, cooling (being made from 100% cotton) and has the perfect neckline for breast feeding! Exactly what you need from a night dress when you’ve just had a baby! It’s very understated but still looks really good and it’s the sort of night dress you could, if you wanted to, receive visitors while wearing and not feel too exposed! ‘Melba Maternity’ also make a matching robe which when bought with the night dress has a whopping discount making it just £15! The night dress washes well, looks good and does the job it’s supposed to do – can’t get much better than that from your night wear now can you?!
The ‘Melba Maternity’ night dress comes in sizes UK 8-10 to 16-18, is priced at £25 and comes in lilac or navy. They also make gorgeous camisoles, lingerie and knitwear among their other maternity items and for information on the full range please see their website www.melbamaternity.co.uk.
So, next week I’ll be talking hospital bags as I turn 37 weeks and full term in my pregnancy! Eeeek, still not organised! Perhaps preparing my hospital bags (yes, that’s right, bagS) and writing my birth plan (it will be short and sweet) will get my booty in gear a bit more! See you then…
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(All opinions and words, apart from those in green, are my own. I have not been paid for this article although I did receive some products to keep after I had reviewed them.)