Friday, 31 January 2014

Update on home life, New Year, January blues, my attempt to lose weight and become a yummy mummy not a slummy mummy! and what we have achieved in the year since my blog began.

I wanted to say Hello as I don't feel like I have done for a while. I've done a few review posts but not actually written about how life is going. It's probably not best to start writing that post when you are in the depths of the January blues though!

This year I have decided that my goal is to lose weight. I have started my local Slimming World group and I am slowing (very slowly) losing weight. As there is going to be no more children I have decided to try and regain some parts of my poor broken body and become a yummy mummy not a slummy mummy. Easier said than done but I need a bit of me back for myself if that makes sense. At home I am Mummy, in the school playground I still don't have a name as I am called Ella's mummy or William's mummy, I do the usual mummy jobs at home and I look after the children but I feel I've lost myself. I've become comfortable in the body that I have and along with that comes the essential slummy mummy wardrobe of comfortable trousers and tops all in a different shade of dark. I need to snap out of it and do this for me, make myself feel good again and enjoy life as my babies grow up.

Talking of my 'babies', in the past couple of months I have had to apply for one Infant school place and one Secondary school place for this September. It's scary stuff I can tell you. If that wasn't bad enough I have one in college now too. Enough to make you feel extremely old! We are so proud of what our eldest has achieved in the past year.

At the age of 9 years old he was diagnosed with ADHD with autistic traits. His current Junior school that he was in told us they didn't want him back in the following September (nice!) and so for his last year of Junior school he spent his time split between a new school and a specialist education centre who were able to help him. From there we were advised by some people that he needed a specialist secondary school but we didn't believe it and he went onto a mainstream secondary school with a statement of special needs. He had 15 hours help a week although it seemed like the school gave us much more help than they needed to. All of the teachers were so helpful and supportive. They all had time for our son, we had regular meetings, they phoned me for anything and I did the same too. They put up with my sons 'quirky' behaviour, the trousers tucked into the socks, the little noises he made in class. All of which did stop at certain points. Yes, he got in trouble but I'm sure no more than any other teenage boy or girl in that school and probably less than some too! He forgot homework constantly and most days he didn't even have a pen because he had left it somewhere the day before. Despite all of this he got through five years of secondary school and last year past his GCSE's and got into college. I would like to go back five years to the people that said he wouldn't do it, but we look forwards not backwards. I also can't thank the teachers of that school enough for getting him through to his GCSE's, I don't know where we would be without them. This takes us on to where he is now, college. We are so proud of his achievements, I'm sure he still doesn't have a pen when needed and he still won't take a bus on his own so walks over an hour to get there in all weathers. He hardly sleeps still and he struggles to get up in the morning without help but we wouldn't change him! Well done on a fab year from our eldest child and yet still more challenges that I am sure he will throw at us. Also a big shout out to the Farnham Knights american football team that he has joined. Again, it's a struggle to get him there some weeks for training and I am looking forward to hopefully see him play in some matches but it is a huge achievement in itself for him to have become part of a team sport and motivate himself to get involved.

My eldest and his girlfriend at their end of school Prom, July 2013

Farnham Knights training session, picture tweeted by Jeff Reinebold, Sky Sports NFL analyst. 

So as eldest child moves onwards and upwards so do the others. Why can't they stay small? Next year I will have one child in each of the Infants, Juniors, Seniors and College and I will be looking at Nursery school for my youngest too. I will be a redundant Mummy as my babies fly the nest to get their own little bit of independence at school. What then? What do I do? I'm Mummy, I have been for the past 17 years nearly, when there is no children at home I will then assume the role of 'clean up operation after a major incident' AKA life with children, but why do I bother when 5 minutes after they arrive home from school is it a bomb site again?! Of course I will still be needed to look after them for many years to come and when they need money or when they need their clothes washing!

October 2013, my middle 3 outside St Pauls Cathedral where we were attending a family christening. 

OH and eldest at the NFL match at Wembley last October. Another match booked for this year too, they loved it! 

 Along with all of the ongoing tidying, cleaning, washing, cooking etc.... Is the ongoing extension work! This time last year we had just received the go ahead from planning permission and were digging the foundations ourselves. Since then the build is complete but there is still so much internal work that needs doing. This is a job that could have been done in a few months if we had the funds but doing bits and pieces ourselves means that it is still an ongoing project. My main gripe bring that we still don't have our second bathroom and it is currently a storage room. We really need it but at the moment funds say otherwise. I just want it all finished now! Slow and steady definitely seems to be the motto for this project! :-(

Extension work so far, both new bedrooms complete and occupied. Outside needs tidying up (still trying to persuade OH that we need astro turf in the back garden!) and new bathroom still needed! 

Alongside various other family outings, family gatherings, birthdays etc.... the past year was a whirlwind of mostly house renovations. OH would work all week then at the weekends helping on the house and the year just disappeared.

This year I am looking forward to getting it all finished, more family gatherings, outings and watching the children grow even more than they already have. Oh and losing that weight!!!!

Some pictures from throughout 2013.

Thursday, 30 January 2014


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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

NO ADDED SUGAR baby and children's clothing brand review. A sweet and trendy brand of must have wardrobe pieces. Classic collections and trendy, slogan tops amongst designer, fashionable pieces for the young trendsetters

No Added Sugar has grown so fast as a company in the time that I have known the brand and in the time that I have been buying their clothing. The company started in 2001 in London after Deborah Medhurst (company founder) had a simple desire to create witty baby t-shirts. The company grew from a small range of baby t-shirts being produced and Deborah calling various shops/stores for appointments to see if they would stock her range. The response was amazing and all buyers placed an order. Deborah soon found that she was taking one then two and then more and more postal bags of orders to the Post Office, all managed from their loft at home supplying businesses as well as offering a postal service to customers. Soon they were launching a full collection in 2007 and they fast grew into the company that it is now, working from their barn in the Hampshire countryside and also stocking stores globally with their collections. Catering for babies and children from 0-12 years the range has expanded over the years and in more recent years has seen the addition of accessories to outfits too.

                    No Added Sugar A/W 2006 collection                          No Added Sugar A/W 2007                                                                                                                                collection

It was in 2004 that I started buying No Added Sugar. A small shop locally to me stocked some items and I had a one year old daughter that needed clothes. I can remember her first No Added Sugar piece which was a pink playsuit which said 'Born to be Spoilt' in big lettering and then in small lettering underneath it said 'All major credit cards accepted'! The No Added Sugar logo embroidered on one leg and a small No Added Sugar red label on the outside of the neck area too. This is where my obsession began and it grew fast.

Where my buying began, the Born to be Spoilt playsuit

The envelope neck playsuits and baby tops were a lovely thick good quality material made from 100% premium interlock cotton and are always available in an array of classic slogans as well as new ranges every season. 

I was a particular fan of their lambswool jumpers and also their sweaters. My daughter had 2 lambswool jumpers. One was a baby pink colour with a heart tattoo design on the front and Mummy and Daddy written on it (was also available in baby blue) and also a bright pink one with Hell Raiser written on the front (pictured). The sweaters were equally as nice. We had a baby pink one with Sweet Enough written on the front. I would love to see some of the old classics make a re-appearance, especially the lambswool jumpers!

 The lambswool Hell Raiser jumper                   A glimpse of the Yummy Mummy long sleeve                                                                                                                top

Long sleeved 'Enjoy Chocolate' slogan top, same style as their classic 'Enjoy Milk' baby top

Slogan t-shirts that have remained classics over the years are 'Mummy's New Man',  'My Heart Belongs to Daddy',  'Pirate',  'Menace' and 'Enjoy Milk'. Along with newer designs with every season No Added Sugar never fail to bring out a collection that has you wanting it all and more. 

 This was a gorgeous 2 piece floaty top and bloomers set from 2008                  'L plate' playsuit

'Mummy's arm candy' pink striped top, one of my favourites! 

Over the years since 2004, and 3 more children later!, No Added Sugar items have remained part of my children's wardrobes alongside other brands and styles. I tend to pick out the Roley Poley trousers for my son quite a lot at the moment as they are comfy, roomy and elasticated around the ankle which is good for a toddler on the go. These trousers are also roomy enough to accommodate a cloth bum, something that I find most manufacturers do not cater for these days and I know a lot of cloth bum Mums who have trouble finding trousers to fit. The Roley Poley trousers do the job and I am in love with the greys, teals and blues stripes we currently own. My 7 year old always looks good in a No Added Sugar dress or playsuit. Currently wearing the Cimbalom denim playsuit which is a short playsuit but in the winter we add tights and a long sleeve top so she can wear it all year round. A lovely dark denim with gold stitch and zip detailing. She also had a summer playsuit in a gorgeous floral design too. She would pick it to wear a lot as it was easy to wear, she only had to choose that rather than separate shorts and t-shirt, it was comfy and she loved it to go out and play. 

My daughters floral summer playsuit (Spring/Summer 2012) and wearing her 'Sangria' dress (Autumn/Winter 2012)

My youngest wearing Lozenge & Bigsmoke colour Roley Poley trousers & matching 'First Love' top (Spring/Summer 2013)

Roley Poley trousers in paddling pool & vanilla colour (Spring/Summer 2013). Roley Poley trousers feature a side packet to the leg with embroidered white No Added Sugar bunny ears logo popping out from the pocket.

The Autumn/Winter 2013 collection entitled Spirited was made up of the classic tops plus new slogan tops, gorgeous knitwear as well as tailored pieces, coats and also accessories. 

Prices for baby long sleeve tops are £22 and short sleeved tops are £18. (Some 50% off sale at the moment)
Roley Poley trousers are £32 (some styles £17.50 sale prices)
Dress prices vary between styles and range from £59-£79 (£22.50-£39.50 sale prices)
Baby boy knitwear ranges from £45 for the Bonny cardigan (currently £13.50 sale price) to £65 (£32.50 sale price) for the Fairweather Friend playsuit.

Current Autumn/Winter 2013 outfit, just a couple of pieces of what we have purchased recently. Dixy trousers with Tom Neat wool long sleeve top. A favourite outfit of ours at the moment. 

Prices are low on these items at the moment as they are currently running their winter sale. I have placed 2 orders recently, although these were all for my youngest son and I do need to try out some more clothes for the older children. 

Overall prices are higher than your average store but we have key items in our wardrobes amongst other brands, shopping in their sale is also good for stocking up on the key pieces that you loved. I do however tend to grab the No Added Sugar items from the wardrobe more often than not (if they are washed quick enough after their last use!) as I really love the styles. designs and colours at the moment. The fit is always good, they wear well and wash well too. For a few key staples to build and accessorize a wardrobe off I would say the pieces are worth it. For the look and good quality and for something different from the norm. 

I am currently eagerly awaiting the new Spring/Summer 2014 collection to see what there is and I am still keen to try out the coats/blankets from the Autumn/Winter collections too. 

They also have a fabulous annual sample sale every year at their base in Hampshire which I would love to get to this year as it always looks amazing from the pictures and there are amazing bargains to be had. 

I look forward to following the No Added Sugar brand in the years to come, as my youngest grows up from the baby clothes into the boys clothes and beyond, it continues to get bigger and better every year. Which isn't good for the bank balance but oh so good for the children's fashion market. 

Shop the entire No Added Sugar collection for current Autumn/Winter collection bargains and keep a look out for the new Spring/Summer collection coming soon. The website offers UK delivery as well as Europe, USA, UAE & Kuwait, Australia, New Zealand as well as lots of other destinations (please check the website for shipping details). 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The great baby changing bag debate! Reviews of Pink Lining, Babymel, Il Tutto and Skip Hop to name a few. So many to choose from.

I have decided that parenting is a minefield in itself but when it comes to choosing all of the equipment needed for when your new little bundle arrives it has become increasingly confusing over the years. In the 16 years since my firstborn arrived the choice that parents are given has become overwhelming and it's hard to know where to start when it comes to choosing prams, cots, car seats, and all of the other baby related paraphernalia needed!

It's even more scary when it's your first child. When you've done it once you either already have most of what is needed or if you find yourself making new purchases you at least know some of what you need to know and also what is essential and what isn't!

So I thought I would try and do a rundown on some changing bags. Over the years I have had many, many changing bags. I have even used everyday rucksacks, holdalls, shoulder bags etc.... any bag would make an ideal changing bag as long as you can fit every essential possible in it for your journey out with a young baby in tow. This is another part of the baby goods market that has grown increasingly over the years since I have been in the market for baby items. As well as most pram manufacturers these days making a changing bag to match their different pram styles there is also a huge market of change bag manufacturers out there to be found. Each giving their own individual style and purpose to the changing bag market.

 PINK LINING- Starting us off is Pink Lining. Established in 2001 by husband and wife team, Charlotte and Rufus Pearl it has grown from handstitching handbags for friends and colleagues in their basement flat to being stocked by Harrods and featuring in Vogue all within 6 months. Their range currently features the ever popular Yummy Mummy bag alongside Twin Bags, Mini Yummy Mummy bags, Wanderlust Rucksacks and more. There is also a range of accessories, On The Go items and a full range of childrens rucksacks, holdalls, wheelie cases, lunch bags and more.

I personally have owned the Yummy Mummy changing bag and a Norland Tote bag. The Norland Tote is no longer available from them although a similar style from them would be the Bramley Tote.


 I have found recently that Pink Lining are becoming more popular and the Yummy Mummy bag is the one I see most out of all of their change bags when I am out and about and is Pink Linings most popular bag. Currently available in six fabric designs on the Pink Lining website and also available in a John Lewis exclusive pattern on the John Lewis website. The bag features two large internal elasticated pockets for nappies, two thermo-insulated integrated bottle holders (keeps bottles warm/cold for up to 4 hours, subject to external temp), a slip pocket ideal for an iPhone/iPod, external front pocket that fastens with a popper, signature shocking pink, water resistant lining, external side pockets for easy access, pen loop, detachable and adjustable shoulder strap, padded water resistant change pad, wet bag, 2 zips for easy opening/closing and a key/dummy fob on stretchy elasticated ribbon.

Measuring 38cm length x 28cm high x 14cm width I found the Yummy Mummy bag to be a good sized change bag. I could fit everything in that I needed for one baby with room left over for any extras. The colours/patterns available are always lovely and colourful and geared to both boys/girls and Mummies that are looking for something that looks good as well as functions as it should and serves its purpose well. They are durable with a wipe clean 100% cotton laminated with EVA coating exterior and sturdy shoulder strap.

Pink Lining Yummy Mummy bag in purple dragonflies design

Change pad and wet bag are included

My first Pink Lining Yummy Mummy bag which was in the gorgeous navy bows design (no longer available), although now available in grey bows and cream bows on peppermint.

BABYMEL LONDON- Babymel London was established in 2006 by Melanie Marshall and Suzie Bergman, the co-founders of luxury change bag brand Storksak. They launched their first collection in Spring 2007 with the introduction of the Amanda bag. This bag still remains one of their best sellers. Their website carries a range of change bags as well as rucksacks and childrens bags.

I have owned the Babymel Big Slouchy in Tweed and also currently use the Babymel Satchel in the Mamas and Papas exclusive in hearts designs.

BIG SLOUCHY bag features four outer pockets, two internal pockets, wipe clean and water resistant lining, a change mat, and an insulated bottle holder. Its dimensions are 45cm height x 33cm width x 16cm depth. RRP £47

Babymel Big Slouchy bag in Tweed

Babymel Big Slouchy in use on the handle of my Stokke Xplory using the strollerstraps to attach.

SATCHEL bag features one built in insulated bottle pocket, two large storage compartments, two large internal storage pockets, wipe clean lining and a change mat. Its dimensions are 40cm height x 21.5cm width x 15.5cm depth.  RRP £42

Babymel London Satchel in Hearts, this is an exclusive Mamas and Papas print.

Both bags were fab and stylish and again they were roomy enough for what I needed plus room to spare. I prefer a wipe clean outer material which the two designs I chose did not have although the Big Slouchy is available in designs that do have a wipe clean outer material. A big advantage on the Babymel bags is the Babymel Strollerstraps, a patent pending invention which allows you to easily switch between shoulder and stroller. They are made with the highest quality velcro and a streamlined shape to fit most strollers.


Il Tutto was founded by Lucie Trinco. Il Tutto, luxury baby changing bags for mums, is an exciting brand for the style conscious mother - a woman who wants the practicality of a nappy bag hidden in the fa├žade of a cool, designer handbag. Meaning ‘everything' in Italian, Il Tutto handbags have been designed to carry literally ‘everything'.

Their website carries a range of changing bags, handbags and accessories. I have owned an Il Tutto Nico in nude and an Il Tutto Chiara in red leather. 

IL TUTTO NICO is the biggest change bag I have owned, it was an amazing size and was fab for overnight stays as well as every day use. It had 2 large carry handles that could be used for carrying on the shoulder too. Its features include zip out printed lining for easy washing, insulated bottle holder, waterproof changing mat with easy velcro closure, clear plastic zip pocket case for wet items, Il Tutto metallic silver monster teddy, large back zip pocket and roomy end pockets. It measures 43cm width x 29cm height x 21cm depth.

Il Tutto Nico in nude leather with a view of the inside of a Nico bag.

I have liked all the change bags I have owned for different reasons. The Il Tutto Nico in its nude leather outer looked fab and the other Il Tutto change bags follow suit in their luxury leather designs. The Nico is also available in Black, Navy, Berry and Red. 


Skip Hop was founded in 2003 by new parents who were overwhelmed by choice but ultimately few solutions satisfied what they needed. Now almost a decade on, Ellen and Michael Diamant are still inventing 'everything in its place' solutions that are smart, functional and great looking. 

I have had the Skip Hop Dash and Duo changing bags as well as the Skip Hop Zoo Lunchies bags and the Skip Hop Zoo Playspot playmat. Skip Hop also cover nursery, feeding, toys, bath and On the Go items. 

 SKIP HOP DASH- RRP around £60

Hangs neatly on a stroller & can be worn over the shoulder, Includes patented Shuttle Clips—leave the shoulder strap attached or remove it for a cleaner look, , Slip-resistant stroller strapsHidden magnets allow the flap to close in different ways, Adjustable shoulder strap includes soft, removable shoulder pad, Eleven pockets include a zippered personal pocket, Two side pockets for bottles or juice cups, Key fob & easy-access pen holders, Contrasting lining makes it easy to find everything inside, Cushioned changing pad, BPA-free, Phthalate-free. Dimension: 31cm width x 29cm height x 11cm depth

Again the Skip Hop bags also have built in straps to attach the bag to a pram handle as well as a large adjustable shoulder strap. I found them a good size inside and the outer material was easy to keep clean and come in a good variety of designs to choose from.

Skip Hop Dash

Skip Hop Dash in flowers design (no longer available) on the Bugaboo Bee Plus, attached using the Shuttle clips. 

Skip Hop Duo

I have had many changing bags over the years and I have covered just a few of the brands that are currently available on the market. Prices vary a lot deoending on brand, style, size and materials used and some of the brands featured range from around £33.99 up to £249 for certain styles of bags from the various brands mentioned Well known pram brands such as Bugaboo, Stokke, Silver Cross & Mamas and Papas have co ordinating changing bags to match their pram fabrics. There are also many other changing bag manufacturers including Ju-Ju-Be, Sugarjack, OiOi, Rosebud of London, Pacapod, Room Seven, Storksak and Lin and Leo.

Just a few of the other makes mentioned.

Pictured (from L-R); Lin and Leo BabyBag in turquoise,  Rosebud London in flying geese design and the Sugarjack Lily in Orange.

I hope these reviews can help in just one of the many choices that a parent to be has to make when choosing baby items for their new arrival.

Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year 2014. New Year, New You, New Bugaboo. Bugaboo Cameleon3 Henley & Bugaboo Cameleon3 Classic collection. Plus upcoming Bugaboo & Diesel collaboration. Celebrating the origins of Bugaboo

Happy New Year 2014. As we step into the New Year I have found myself in search of a new pram, again.
I'm not sure what to get yet but this news from Bugaboo coincides with my pram research quite well!

Currently standing in the Harrods pram department is the new Bugaboo Cameleon3 Henley edition, named after the location of the UK head office and exclusive to Great Britain. Dressed in a dark grey canvas with a dark blue micro fleece on the inside, a shiny grey adonised chassis and a leather look hand stitched handlebar and carry handle. The Cameleon3 Henley epitomises the style, history and charm of the great British countryside. Available exclusively at Harrods now and in selected retailers nationwide from 1st January 2014, the Cameleon3 Henley has a recommended retail price of £929. I visited Harrods over the Christmas period to take the children to see Santa but I did make a diversion into the nursery department for a closer look. As ever it is the fantastic Cameleon3 design but with that extra special detailing to it. The handle felt lovely and soft to touch and the microfleece inside gave an extra added comfort feel to the pram. The colour, although subtle, is still stylish and also practical and it looked stunning on its stand in Harrods. The Cameleon3 Henley will not disappoint.

Bugaboo Cameleon3 Henley edition in pushchair mode

Bugaboo Cameleon3 Henley edition with carrycot


This Spring Bugaboo returns to the great classics and introduces the Bugaboo Cameleon3 Classics collection Navy Blue and the Bugaboo Cameleon3 classic collection Khaki. The base fabrics and tailored fabric sets in navy blue and dark khaki feature an off white quilted lining inside an extendable sun canopy, the carrycot and the mattress. Elegant combinations for the perfect, sophisticated look. It goes to show that classics never go out of style.

From the 1st February 2014 for a period of two months the Bugaboo Cameleon3 Classics collection Khaki will be exclusively available in John Lewis and the Bugaboo Cameleon3 Classics collection Dark Navy will be exclusively available in Mothercare. The full Bugaboo Classic collection will be available in selected stores nationwide from 1st April 2014.

The Bugaboo Cameleon3 Classic collection retails at £849.

Having owned a Bugaboo Frog (no longer available) way back years ago I loved the quilting detail that it had inside and I am so pleased to see it make a comeback through the classic collection styling on the Cameleon3 base.

Bugaboo Cameleon3 Classic collection Khaki

Bugaboo Cameleon3 Classic collection Dark Navy


To celebrate the launch of the autumn 2013 collection of their multi-year collaboration with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, design brand Bugaboo bundles unique, never published hand drawn illustrations of Warhol’s SO series into a fun app. The So Many Stars – Andy Warhol app lets children acquaint themselves with the legendary pop artist’s world in a playful way.
The new app explores Warhol’s whimsical drawings from the 1950’s illustrating the concept of “So” and invites children to discover what happens inside of the “So” animations. That discovery starts when touching objects on the different pages, like making dogs grow, eating spaghetti and letting fish jump out of the water. There’s no right or wrong, it’s purely about discovering Andy Warhol’s world in a cheerful graphical way.

Available on the App Store or on The app is available at all other times for £1.99 and revenue generated by all sales will contribute generously to The Andy Warhol Foundation’s endowment from which it distributes grants in support of contemporary art.

Quick APP facts

*   available now!
*   for children 2 – 6 years old
*   available for iPad & iPad mini
*   19 interactive animations

Andy Warhol + Bugaboo Autumn 2013 Collection
The launch of the app coincides with the launch of the Andy Warhol + Bugaboo autumn 2013 collection. The collection highlights “Happy Bugs” and “So Many Stars” Collections that are based on artwork of the 1950’s, displaying cheerful hand drawn illustrations from Warhol’s pre-Pop period as a famed commercial illustrator in New York City. The “Happy Bugs” collection is now available in-store nationwide. "So Many Stars" is only available outside of the UK.  For a retailer near you, please visit the Bugaboo website and their handy stockist locator.

Bugaboo So Many Stars App


The new year looks promising: Bugaboo, the mobility brand known for its
breakthrough design of pushchairs, and iconic lifestyle brand Diesel today announce a 3-year
collaboration that will see the creation of three different collections. The first one is expected to hit
the market in Autumn 2014, and it is already clear that the new Bugaboo by Diesel will be
reflecting Diesel's irreverent spirit and approach.

Founder of Diesel, Renzo Rosso, says "Diesel is known for its alternative mindset and philosophy:
creativity, innovation, unpredictability. We like to apply our lifestyle approach to an array of
different products, we did it with cars (our Fiat 500) and motorbikes (our own Ducati Monster), now
it is time to tackle another ‘engine’, different from everything we've done so far, and we will
obviously do it in true Diesel DNA."

"We're very proud of this new collaboration, Diesel is such an authentic innovative brand,”
enthuses Max Barenbrug, Chief Design Officer and founder of Bugaboo. "Their inspiring
inventiveness and rebellious spirit will certainly give our designs a truly unexpected edge and we
look forward to launching our first collection together.”