Monday 27 April 2015

Gardening around kids

Since we had the boys it's been quite tricky to work in the garden.  I don't know if it's the personality or age of our boys but actually managing to get anything beyond the absolute basics in the garden has proven hard.  They are far more interested in mucking about and getting messy...

When Ethan was a tiny baby I remember Pete mowing the lawn whilst he was in a sling.  In fact, I remember him doing the same when Felix was tiny, Ethan playing in in his "cafe" and Felix in the tula baby carrier!

Once Felix got to be a bit older it was much much harder.  He's such a pickle, always into things.  Last year we had a really big problem with him picking up stones, trying to eat them and throwing bigger ones around.  Not content with trying to eat mud or sand once or twice he would eat handfuls over and over again.  Pulling down plants, stamping in flowerbeds.. Really it's a wonder our garden looks as good as it does!

We are the first to admit we are not really "gardeners".  We like a nice garden.  We enjoy being in one, looking at it out of the window.  Truthfully though?  We don't want to put too much effort in.  It just isn't us!  We'd much rather be playing with the boys out there.  We've designed our garden to fit in with us so it takes minimal effort.  We prune and trim when it needs doing, we tidy the leaves when they fall but you won't find us out there making our fingers green for hours.  Our boys won't allow it and we don't want it!

Thanks for keeping the lawn trimmed Mum & Dad!!
Probably the most important thing to keep on top of is the lawn.  As long as the lawn looks neat it's surprising what else you can get away with! We found it was well worth investing in a good strimmer.  Secondly, it's a good idea to research lawnmowers and find one that suits your garden.  Our lawn is quite small so we new we'd be fine with a small flymo type lawnmower.  Once you've got those two bits of essential equipment, get out there as often as you can during the spring/summer/autumn months and mow away!  On a personal note I've found that if you mow every week or every other week it takes a lot less time to mow.  Leave it a month or more and you'll have a tougher job on your hands!

What do you find most essential in the garden?

Friday 24 April 2015

Real Family Holidays - the affordable way to take a family break!

Since my Ethan started at school in September 2013 we have become very restricted with regards to holidays, much like most of the families in this country.  Prior to this we would go on holiday during term time to take advantage of the cheaper prices.  We were very lucky and would go for a week away in the Summer in France or the UK, a week in Centreparcs in October and maybe a long weekend away somewhere at some point in the year.  Because it was cheaper, we could afford to!  We managed to fit in one more cheeky Centreparcs break once Ethan had started at school because he wasn't 5 until July '14 so legally we didn't have to have him in school.. but now he's in Year One and rapidly heading towards 6, it's a different ball game.

I hate to be restricted in this way.  I personally feel that holidays are incredibly beneficial for families.  Not essential maybe, but very important.  Holidays mean a change of scenery, time together, a chance to get away from every day chores that take up our time, new experiences, new languages, new food.  Holidays create memories that all of us treasure and look back on forever.  Think of some of your favorite memories from your childhood or in fact your life in general..  Most of mine are from time spent away with family and friends and I bet yours are too!

I understand supply and demand.  I know why travel companies up prices in the school holidays but it is still maddening to most of us.  If you do take your child out of school you can now be fined (though I have heard whispers that something might be being done to change all of this).  For some of us, the risk of a fine is one worth taking.  My husband and I are a bit goody goody really and being fined does put us off.  We're also not comfortable with the idea of phoning the school and pretending Ethan is ill for a week.  In no way would I want to make my child lie and show them that lying is OK. So.  We are stuck.  Holidays in the school holidays it is.  Or no holidays at all.

For this reason, when I read about Real Family Holidays earlier this year I pretty much lept up and whooped for joy!  Finally a company who want to make holidays accessible to all!

Who are Real Family Holidays?  Well, they are part of the Field Studies Council?  Not heard of them before?  Well, they are a registered charity who are "dedicated to helping people enjoy nature".  If you studied Geology or Geography at A Level or higher, chances are you took a field trip and stayed at one of their locations around the country to complete some field work.  This is where the idea came from.  The FSC have lots of locations in the UK which are used by schools/collages/universities in term time but during school holidays, these places are left empty of students.  Why not fill them with families who need a break from their towns and cities, want a chance to get close to nature and have a family holiday that doesn't cost the earth?!

From £20 per person per night (including all your food and accommodation) you can get away to a variety of places around the UK during the holidays.  You can't get much cheaper than that!  The FSC have buildings in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Yorkshire, Wales, Surrey, Somerset and Devon.  A good selection!

We decided to visit one of their Welsh locations, Dale Fort in Dale, Pembrokeshire.  We felt it would be a good distance from us in Somerset.  The location in Somerset felt too close to home.  Anything further than a couple of hours drive too far away (Felix is not yet 2) and Devon is somewhere we visit quite often.

Dale Fort is a converted Victorian Military Fort right on the Pembrokeshire cost.  From the base you can easily explore beaches and countryside and even visit the famous bird islands of Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm.  The accommodation consists of a mixture of twin/3 bed/dormitory style rooms, so great for families and groups.  Toilet & shower facilities are close to rooms and in some cases in rooms.  There is a quiet lounge for visiting adults and a common room for children.  These rooms house coffee/tea making facilities, TVs and games.

A free activity is offered for each day, at Dale Fort these activities include rock pooling, pond dipping and wild art.

The centre also offers a field for sports and a lawn/decked area for relaxation in nice weather.

We visited during the first week of the Easter holidays.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't great during our stay, it was rather cold and very windy.. but this was unlucky!! For the people staying during the second week I'll bet it was a different story!  Despite the weather we were very impressed.

We found Dale Fort easy to find.  Once you reach the village of Dale it's quite a long thin road you have to rive down to reach the fort but it's very quiet so this was no issue.  There was plenty of parking once we'd arrived.

The welcome we received was very friendly.  In fact, all contact we had with staff during our stay was fantastic.  They were all friendly and very very helpful.  I felt they were excellent at dealing with young children and you certainly felt they were available to you, should you need them.  We were shown to our room which was one of the dormitory style rooms which could sleep up to 5 people (or more!).  The room was an excellent size.  There was one set of bunkbeds, a high sleeper and two single beds underneath.  Plenty of room for us to set up Felix's travel cot, a large desk, a chest of draws, wardrobe, chairs, sink and our own shower and loo.  An excellent set up!

Dale Fort Real Family Holidays

Felix still drinks a lot of milk so we were very pleased to find a small fridge available in the common room and adult lounge.  We were assured that it was absolutely fine for us to store milk there and just advised to write our name on it.

Once we had settled into our room and been for a little explore around the centre it was time for our first meal.  Meals with Real Family Holidays are a little like a school dinner experience but I mean that in a positive light.  The evening meal was served between 6-7pm.  Breakfast was between 8-9 am and packed lunch making facilities and supplies were available in the mornings until a little after breakfast time.  Homemade cake, tea & coffee were available at all times in the common rooms.  All of the families staying at the centre eat in the same room (but there are separate tables) and the food is served from a hatch (this is where it feels a bit like school dinners!) with water, squash, tea/coffee, sauces, cutlery, napkins and fruit available on the tables.  The menu changes each day with one main choice, a vegetarian option and the option of a jacket potato and toppings if you don't fancy the main option.  A pudding is also provided in the evening.

Dale Fort Real Family Holidays

We found the food to be great!  Yes, it's not Michelin standard but it was more than acceptable,  Tasty, warm.  Just what you need after a busy day.  Ethan loved going up to the hatch and asking for his food.  We loved all eating together and not having to cook or wash up (you do help by taking your dirty plates through to the wash up area).  Because the boys are still young there aren't many times we all manage to eat as a family of four so this was a lovely chance for us all.

The trickiest thing about our stay was that we were all in the same room.  Felix is not yet two and not the easiest sleeper at the best of times.  I would be lying if I didn't say sharing a room was hard.  However, if he were a little older I know this would not be a problem.  Or even if he had a different personality!! The fact is he's a light sleeper and very switched on.  Other kids are out like a light and hardly wake!  Thankfully the room was big enough for us to put one light on once the boys were asleep so we could read, chat quietly and have a cheeky pint.  WiFi was available too!

Our second day dawned and we all excitedly attended breakfast.  There was plenty on offer. A cooked breakfast with all the trimmings, cereal, fruit, drinks.  We filled ourselves up!! Once we'd eaten we visited the packed lunch making room (down a corridor from the dining room) and were VERY impressed with the choice!  Just about every sandwich filling you could ever think of was on offer.  I mean it! Marmite, jam, cheese, phili spread, egg mayo, tuna mayo, cheese savory, coronation chicken, branston pickle and the list goes on.  There was plenty of bread, brown and white, masses of salad and veg, fruit and heaps of cakes and biscuits.  You just made as much as you wanted and bagged it up for later!!

After making our packed lunch we went for a stroll into the village.  It took about 20 minutes to walk there (it'd be a bit quicker without young ones in tow) and once there we visited a cafe as Felix had fallen asleep.  Pete and I read whilst Ethan did a bit of Minecraft!! Chill out time.  After that we headed back up to the Fort to eat our lunch in our room and then do some more exploring!  In the afternoon Ethan and I took part in that day's free activity.  We'd decided it'd probably be a bit too structured for Felix (again, this will depend on the activity and your child!) so Pete took him for a walk.

Dale Fort Real Family Holidays

Ethan and I met the FSC employees who were running the activity in the Dale Fort library.  That day it was just Ethan and I taking part in the activity and we were asked if we'd like to go pond dipping or rock pooling.  Ethan and I decided rock pooling would be more exciting.  We then grabbed a load of equipment (I borrowed some waterproof trousers.  Waterproofs and wellies are available for hire during your stay) and off we set.

We took a short walk from the centre down to one of the small beaches nearby.  It took about 10 minutes to get there and whilst a little steep at times, it was an easy walk for Ethan (who's 5) to manage.  Once down on the beach we headed to the rocks to find the rock pools and see what we could find!

Dale Fort Real Family Holidays

The staff were full of information and were absolutely brilliant with Ethan who wouldn't stop talking and singing at them.  Honestly, they were a delight!  We found heaps of creatures.  Ethan impressed everyone by correctly identifying barnacles, anemones and limpets!  We found fish (Blennies), crabs and even some tiny, very cute starfish! Ethan was in his element and we had a fantastic time.  I don't think Pete had it so easy controlling Felix back at the fort!!

Once we arrived back we all hung out in the common room.  The boys enjoyed seeing some other children in there.. then before we knew it it was time for our evening meal!  We had fish and chips with fruit salad for pudding.   Classic!  After tea Pete took Felix back to our room to get him settled down for the night.  I took Ethan off to the adult quiet room as there was no one else there.  We enjoyed a bit of TV together for a bit (I had a coffee!) and then we nestled into one of the sofas and I read him a few chapters of his book.  After that it was up to bed where he settled down quite easily and Pete and I could relax in (dark) peace for a bit!

On our final day we took part in the morning activity which was Wild Art.  We all trekked down to the beach in Dale village and set about collecting whatever we could find.  Ethan had asked me if he could make a mobile so we found bits of drift wood and shells.  It was sunnier but still windy and a bit chilly so we didn't hang around too long- Felix was starting to get cold and grumpy!  We found a good selection of stuff and with the help of the staff who provided string and scissors I was able to create quite a good mobile with Ethan!

Dale Fort Real Family Holidays

After the activity we decided to start making our way home as we had a 2.5 hour drive ahead.  Whilst we would have liked to stay for longer than two nights at Dale Fort we suspected in advance that it would be quite hard work with Felix being so young still, all of us in one room.  We were right.  However, on our journey home Pete and I both expressed that whilst it was hard work looking after him there, we would do it again in a heartbeat.  We're just going to wait a year or two!

The boys enjoyed themselves no end which is what it's all about really.  Ethan didn't want to leave.  he really took to the staff and they to him!  He loved being able to take part in making his own packed lunch and rambling around getting mucky and exploring the beaches.

Since getting back I have told so many friends and family about Real Family Holidays.  Everyone I tell is so impressed with the price.  I think it's such a fantastic idea and we truly recommend it.  If your children are aged 3-4 upwards I think it'd be perfect.  There's little else you can do in this country for this price, food and accommodation included.

The different centres around the country offer different times for stays but they are all set during the school holidays.  There is something for everyone!

Thinking of going?  Great.  You won't regret it!! All I would say is to remember it's an outdoors/activity based holiday so pack for all weathers and don't pack your nicest clothes and you'll be fine!

Funky Kid Friday - Tale Of My Boy

One of my greatest Insta buddies is Sooby of +Standing Bythewall fame.  You probably already follow her.  In my opinion (and many other people's too, I'm sure!) she has one of the best feeds on there so you must go check her out.  Anyway, Sooby sent us a package of gorgeousness this week, her little Penn had grown out of a fantastic Tale of A Boy romper and she passed it on to Felix!

We had to get it on straight away and it looked amazing.  Felix wore it for gymnastics class this week and it proved to be great for leaping around, walking the beam and bouncing!  It also looked pretty damn cool in our sunny garden!

Tale of A Boy, Sunjellies, Jelly Shoes

Tale of A Boy, Sunjellies, Jelly Shoes

Romper - Tale of A Boy

That brings me to the weather - hasn't it been stunning this week?  I don't want it to end!  It feels like summer is here.  Longer evenings, that warm smell in the air.  Birdsong.  Blue sky.  Ice creams.  Heaven.  It doesn't matter what season it is, I enjoy each one when it rolls around.  I adore the smells of Autumn, the mists of November.  Crisp cold walks in Winter.  Buds on the trees in Spring.  But there's something about the thought of summer coming along.  I just feel a smidge more alive and motivated!! And when it comes to the blog, that's a good thing!

The good weather has meant the jelly shoes are out!

Sun Jellies, Sunjellies, Jelly Shoes, Jellies, Meduse

Jellies - SunJellies

On a slightly amusing note, Felix fell asleep on the living room floor on Tuesday - at least he looked cool whilst snoozing!

Stitched Up Apparel, Chapter One, The Bamboo Design

Ice Ice Baby t shirt - Chapter One
Elephant teether - Chapter One
Constellation leggings - Stitched Up Apparel

I hope your weeks have been lovely.  Don't forget to link up your cool kids below! Tweet me your link and I'll retweet! x

Monday 20 April 2015

Fitted furniture? It fits in!

We've been in our house for over 10 years now and in the last few months we've started to think about the possibility of moving.   We're in no rush, we have enough room, but the boys are growing older, getting bigger, and we would like to have somewhere a little larger one day!

As moving has been at the back of my mind, I've started to pay a little more attention to the houses for sale in the local paper and online.  Something that's struck me is that quite a few houses seem to have built in furniture such as wardrobes.  Built in furniture has never been something that's really appealed to me, in my mind it brings up memories of dated decor and, quite frankly, bad taste.  The houses I've seen advertised with fitted furniture mostly seem to fit into this category as well.  Which got me thinking.. Sometimes, it does make sense to have fitted furniture or wardrobes built in.  There are some rooms that really do lend themselves to it, perhaps wardrobes fitted either side of a fireplace in a bedroom.  Still, if I were to have built in wardrobes, I'd want them to look good.  I'd want them to fit in. Not stick out like a sore thumb!  After all, that's the point of built in furniture, isn't it?  To save space and to fit in!

Having a bit of a browse online I have managed to find one place that offers modern fitted furniture.  Urban Wardrobes.  They seem to have a pretty well rounded collection to me.  There are classic ranges like the Windsor shaker style range.  I can see that working really well in period properties - I've always wanted a 1930's house, I could see this range fitting in!

Urban Wardrobes, Fitted Furniture, Shaker Style, Windsor

If you're looking for something really modern, they have that covered too.  Take the Liverpool Street range, I could see that looking fantastic in a city flat!

Urban Wardrobes, Fitted Furniture, Modern, Liverpool Street

Something I'm really loving the look of is their range of built in bookcases.  I could see these working in any home!  I really want to have white walls and exposed floor boards in my next house.  I wouldn't mind adding in one of these too then I wouldn't have to limit myself to how many books I keep anymore!

Urban Wardrobes, Fitted Furniture, Modern, fitted bookcase

Do you make plans for your next house?  It can't just be me!  Any thoughts on fitted furniture?

Friday 17 April 2015

Funky Kid Friday - Outlandish sunnies!

I've seen a few people post pics on Instagram with them or their children with these wacky yet cool "mouse" style shades.  They have flip shades on them, you flip them up and it looks like the sunglasses have mouse ears!!

I thought they looked brilliant, out-there but with a hint of style.  Well, I decided to track some down.  I usually find these things are best found on eBay and I was right.  A quick search for "mouse glasses" and I found what I was looking for.  I found them in several colours so I ordered three pairs (so Felix, Ethan and I can all wear them at the same time, naturally!!).  I ordered black, white and yellow.  The yellow have yet to arrive but the black and white pair arrived at the weekend.

Felix hasn't seen them yet but Ethan is very taken with them, in fact he wore the black pair to bed one night!!

They do look funny.  I think there's a hint of Lady GaGa, someone mentioned Jonny Depp as Willy Wonka which I can see.  I think they are fun though and children love silly don't they.

What do you think?  Not everyone's taste, I know!

Mouse Sun Glasses, Mini Rodini, Snake Socks, Mini Dressing

Stripped top - charity shop
Strong man top (underneath) - Mini Rodini 
Pug leggings - Mini Rodini
Snake Socks - Mini Dressing at Greenberry Kids
Sunglasses - eBay

Felix was perfecting his poses this week as well!! Haha.

Mini rodini, The Bamboo Design, Katvig, Haute is Handmade

Giraffe Hat - Mini Rodini
Stripped top - Vintage Katvig
Bloomer Shorts - Shop Haute
Penguin shoes - Crocs

Curly Hair Don't Care, Kenzie Jaws, Monochrome, Belle and the Bear, Moccasins

Curls Gone Wild tee - Kenzie Jaws
Leggings - H&M
Socks - as above
Mocs - Belle & The Bear

We've had some beautiful post this week.  Instagram introduces me to so many wonderful handmade clothing brands.  Something I've been waiting for for ages was our Greyham NYC order which arrived a couple of days ago.  I'm very impressed, the quality is lovely and the designs are adorable.  I love how the labels have cute magnets attached on them with the same images as the tshirts.

Greyham NYC, Milk De La Milk, Bonne Nuit

Care to share your little one's style from this week?  Link up below!  By the way, are you following me on Instagram?  Come along and join in!  I'm currently hosting a giveaway for a pair of beautiful handmade sandal style moccasins made by Monkey & Mole.  Size 5.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!


Saturday 11 April 2015

Instaspiration - Chapter One

Yay! I love writing this feature.  How can I not?!  Instagram is just about my favorite online "place".  I can whittle away many an hour there.  Buying things as a result of seeing them on there is impossible to avoid.

Today I'm going to share with you a brand I stumbled upon the other day.  I think I might have heard about them once before a while ago but I must have forgotten to follow.  Clicking on something someone else had posted I found myself there.  And then I found myself placing a big order!

I'd like to introduce you to Chapter One.  Chapter One stock their own handmade teething jewelry and accessories and a range of very cool statement tees.

I've got into teething jewelry big time.  When I had Ethan is was in it's infancy.  These days there are a few larger well known brands but there are also quite a few smaller brands popping up.  The choice of beads and thread has really improved and the jewelry made is so gorgeous that I would happily wear it whether it was child safe or not (please note, but child safe I still mean supervised).  Felix is teething a bit again at the moment because his back molars are coming through, so he's been quite chewy again.  In my experience though, loads of children enjoy chewing beyond baby and toddlerhood!  Ethan has quite a few chewy necklaces and bangles.  He doesn't always chew on them but it's nice to know he won't wreck them if he does chew on them and it stops him sucking/chewing on his sleeves (kids eh?!).

Chapter One Teething Jewelry

I ordered a necklace for me to wear.  Something else I like is that if the necklaces are pulled on they just come undone from the safety clasp.  Even if Felix never chews on this necklace at least I know he won't break it!

Chapter One Teething Jewelry

I ordered a bracelet as well, either for me or one of the boys,  I'm hoping it'll be big enough for me to wear it.  My wrists are pretty small!

I couldn't resist ordering one of the tees.  It was a tricky choice but I opted for one of the ice lolly prints because I think it'll look fab in the summer!

Chapter One T shirts

I can't wait for my order to arrive.  In the meantime I think you should go check them out!

Friday 10 April 2015

"Natural" Beauty

I'm not much of a beauty blogger.  I don't think I ever will be.  There's a good reason for that.

I'm the kind of person who likes to find what I like and then stick to it.  I like to find the "perfect" products for me, and once I have, I don't change from them unless there is a problem (like they no longer work for me, the 'recipe' changes or they are no longer available).  This renders me pretty rubbish as a beauty blogger because beauty bloggers are always trying out new products to tell their readers about.  I'm sure that each of them have their favorites that they stick to in the main, but I have some rules when it comes to beauty products that would make this hard for me.

I've always preferred more "natural" products.  Now, don't worry, I'm not going to go all "only natural is good and man made is bad" on you.  After all, poisons occur in nature and many modern medience save lives.  I just want to try to avoid as many unnecessary chemicals entering my body as possible.  I'm not die hard.  I'm not on a "clean living" diet (though I've never smoked, don't drink alcohol to excess, don't drink milk, only eat small amounts of meat and only have 1 or two black coffees a day).  Something I have noticed though is that the fewer ingredients a body product has, they more my skin and my families skins like it!

So, what prompted this?  As I said above, I've always liked natural.  I've also always liked beauty.  I started a "beauty" regime of cleansing, toning and moisterising aged 11.  Including eye cream!  I have also dyed my hair since the age of 12.  Probably the worst thing I do!!  I used to be a huge Lush fan.  They've always touted their products as natural although I am now wise to their practices - there are far better and cheaper products out there!  Last summer I heard all about the No Poo revolution via the wonderful Lulastic & The Hippyshake (I adore her blog, I would like to be Lucy!).  I gave it a good old go, going without the poo.  All in all, I didn't find it too bad.  I was already using a sulfate free shampoo and have only ever washed my hair every 4/5 days so it was OK.  The thing I really struggled with was the smell.  It didn't smell bad but it didn't smell "nice" or "clean".  Pete kept moaning that my hair was stinky.  It was hot as well and I just didn't feel as clean.  It might have been psychosomatic but it wasn't making me feel good.  I was just on the cusp of a really bad bout of anxiety as well so after 4 weeks I packed it in.

No Poo wasn't for me then.. but it did open my eyes and make me aware of what is in products, even ones reported to be natural.  I started doing a lot of research into SLS and all it's names.  What is SLS?  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a detergent  and surfactant (breaks surface tension and aids foaming) which is used in many products from shampoo to toothpaste to engine cleaner!  It goes by many names such as sodium laureth sulfate, Sodium dodecyl sulfate, ammonium laurly sulfate.  Now, lots of people claim it is a carcinogen and other studies dismiss this.  What is known, though, is that it is an irritant and people with sensitive skin can react to it in large enough quantities.  Considering it is in so many products, I've decided to try to reduce how much I come into contact with.  Everyone in our household has sensitive skin, prone to irritation and dry skin.  Things I've noticed since using products without SLS are:

- My skin is softer and I can often go without any body moisturiser
- Dry patches occur less often and clear up more quickly
- The weird spotty bumpy things on my upper arms have gone after about 20 years!
- Eczema has improved in my boys 
- My Dad's dry scalp has improved (he has suffered for years, I bought him a hemp soap shampoo bar and it's improved!)

Want to know what my essential products are then?  Well, over the last few months I've tried quite a few brands but this is what I've settled on for now:

Hair care:

For the boys I'm using Good Bubble shampoo and conditioner.  The shampoo doesn't foam much but it works well.  It's gentle and smells lovely.  After experimenting with no poo, then some hemp shampoo bars, I've now gone back to shampoo in a bottle.  I've tried a few.  There's a really cool brand called Handmade Naturals.  They make a good shampoo.  I'm currently using DGJ's hair juice because I can buy it in the supermarket, it's a bit cheaper, gets good reviews and works really well on my hair.  Please note that none of these shampoos will foam as much as ones with SLS but they will get your hair clean!

Facial care:

Years of research has gone into what is good and what works well for my skin.  What I use now is really quite simple.  For my face I use a Japanese bamboo charcoal face sponge (you just wet it and rub it over your face!).  If I need to remove eyemake up coconut oil works wonders.  For moisturiser I use pure argon oil.  It needs to be the real deal but you only need two drops for your whole face.  So far 50ml has lasted me 6 months.  I have about 15ml left!

I have recently added snail gel into the mix. Dr Organic make one which has ingredients I'm happy with.  I read up on each of them before trying it! It tightens my skin and helps repair acne scars.  I've noticed that when spots appear they clear up in less than 24 hours since I started using it.  If you buy it in the 2 for 1 sales in Holland & Barrett it's not too pricey.

For eye cream I use.... coconut oil!!! Haha.  That stuff works for everything!  Just pop a bit under your eyes once or twice a day.  Only a little though.  If I want to exfoliate my face I used bicarbonate of soda!  It is hands down the best scrub I've ever used.  You don't need to rub it in much as it's surprisingly abrasive.  I used latex gloves on my hands when I apply it because I have very sensitive skin on my hands and it dries them out if I get it all over my hands.  I put some in the palm of my hand (I have a pot of it in the bathroom) and then I sprinkle some water on to make a paste.  I then apply the paste to my face and gently rub it.  Sometimes I leave it on for 10/15 minutes like a face mask.   I also use it as a scrub on my body if I feel I need it!

Lipcare.  I love Burts Bees lipsalves.  They are easy to find, not expensive and work very very well.  They are 100% natural as well.  I've also discovered Ki Yo Ko lipbalm lately.  A little more pricey but my goodness it's beautiful to look at!  It also works well.  I don't find it as long lasting as the Burts Bees but it gives a nice gloss, feels nice to put on, smells nice (no real fragrance, it's very gentle) and it just looks fantastic.  I love their ethos too.


For body moisturiser, if I need it (which I rarely do these days) I just use virgin coconut oil!  Cheap, good for your body, it works and it smells good!  In the shower I wash with shower gel from Organic Surge.  It does have sodium coco sulfate but I'm happy enough with that.  It foams nicely and they have some lovely fragrances.  I can also buy it with the food shop.  It's important to me that I can access products easily.  I also use Organic Surge for bubble bath.  For the boys I use Good Bubble wash and bubble bath.  Again, lovely smell and kind to their skin.  I don't use anything special to shave with, just shower gel!

For a deodorant I use a crystal deodorant by Naturally Fresh.  I've been amazed by this.  I can buy it easily in Waitrose or with my online food shop.  It works so well.  It doesn't stop you from sweating (which is good! Sweating is an essential, normal body process!) but it does prevent odor.  It works.  Honestly, before using it I felt I was quite smelly after a night in my bed.  I don't know what it is exactly, whether hubby and I make ourselves all stinky at night time.. I don't know if it's all the getting up and down with Felix, but either way, I'd wake up in the morning feeling smelly.  Since using this, no more smell.  I promise you!  I've not tested it in the heat of summer yet but I'm happy so far!

Hand washing - it's easy to buy lovely handmade soaps!  Loads of people sell them online or in little shops and the packaging is minimal!

Perfume.  I don't use much these days, but when I do, I prefer to use perfume oils like those sold by Sorcery Scents.  They are long lasting, you don't need much at all.

Hand cream.  This has probably been the hardest to find.  For years I've sworn by Hand Food by Soap and Glory.  Nothing else kept my hands feeling moisturised all day long.  I tried loads of different natural brands, Burts Bees, Neil's Yard, Handmade Naturals.  None of them were moisturising enough.  And then I found Dr Organic's Argon Oil hand cream.  This stuff is the dogs.  Honestly, it really works.  It smells nice and it's not full of nasties.  I researched every ingredient and am happy with each one!

Make Up:

I've been a fan of mineral make up for years so once I started down this route I decided to buy only mineral make up.  For everything.  Foundations, eye shadows, mascara, lip stick, blusher.  These days you can get all of them in mineral form.  Probably the thing I miss most is lipstick, I've not found the mineral ones to be as good in colour choice.  But that's something that will improve over time I'm sure.  Lipstick is something that we lick off by accident, it's going straight into our bodies, so I decided it's an important one to change.  I buy almost all of my mineral make up from Lily Lolo.  Gorgeous packaging, good prices and great products.  I also use E.L.F minerals.

Sun Cream:

I've got to be honest and maybe a bit controversial here.  I don't slather myself and the boys in cream.. and do you know what?  We don't burn.  We try to stay out of direct sun in the heat of the day (think 11am-3pm).  I use lots of shade in the garden.  Keep a hat on them and some sort of clothing with sun  protection (you can buy clothing that gives SPF 50+ protection).  But.. if I do put some cream on I use Jason mineral sunscreen.  Something really great about mineral sunscreen is that it starts working as soon as you put it on as it forms a barrier on your skin.  This one absorbs nicely and it's mega expensive.

I think that completes my list!!! All in all, it's nice to know what works for us, what to buy and wear from.  It's like one less thing to fill my head with!! Also, my bathroom shelves are pretty uncluttered these days.  There aren't heaps of products.  I've decided to stick with bog standard colgate toothpaste because the boys hate the taste of the natural one I bought.  Pick your battles eh!  I also admit I still dye my hair at present... I know it's not great, but everyone's got to have a vice!!  Also, you know what?  We don't need to wash as much as we think we do.  We all share the bath water in our house, one bath washes all four of us.. and I'll admit that I don't always have a bath every night, sometimes a good basin wash with a flannel will do!! No one has told me I stink yet!  If you're looking to follow the really natural route, do check out Lulastic because she is an inspiration!

Funky Kid Friday & why I suck at blogging right now.

I love this linky.  It's like an adopted child.  It started as Trendy Toddler Tuesday when I took it over from Maria of Very Busy Mama fame.  I moved it to a Thursday and some point and it became Trendy Toddler Thursday.  Then I decided that as Ethan was getting older, he was no longer a toddler so I renamed it Trendy Thursday..  A few months ago I decided that Friday was a better day for me to host the linky so I moved it and renamed it Funky Kid Friday.  Which I like actually :-)  Anyway, since this linky started all that time ago, blogging has come on in leaps and bounds.  Almost everyone seems to be a blogger these days!! New linkys start up all the time and there are now heaps of kids fashion linkys out there - back in the day Trendy Toddler Tuesday was pretty much the only kids only style linky!!

It's always been a relatively small linky.  I think the most I've ever seen linked up to it would be about 10 people.  Number have been dwindling though.  I think that at the moment a lot of that is down to me.  I'm happy to host a linky but more work goes into it that you'd think.  Obviously there's the most important part, you've got to get a post written and live in a timely fashion.  You've got to embed the linky code so people have somewhere to link there post to.  That's the basics though.  Ideally you want to be tweeting people a day or two before linky day to remind them.  Then again on the day.  It helps also if you retweet their links once they've linked up and you really have to make a point to visit all of the linked up blog posts and comment.. because that's the point!

I know I've sucked big time at all of the above lately.  There have been a few occasions where I've not managed a post at all.  Many times when I don't even get around to visiting the blog posts that have been linked.  How awful is that?  It's no wonder people aren't bothering to link!  I feel awful about it.  Because I love this linky.. and I feel it's dying a death which is mostly my fault!

I won't lie.  I've been toying with packing it in.  Not blogging all together, but the linky.   After all, if no one's linking, what's the point?  But there's part of me that just can't give it up.  Not yet.

So, why am I finding it so hard?  It's a good question.  When I just had Ethan I used to find it relatively easy to find time to blog.  Once he was over a year old he slept well, most nights he was asleep by 7/7:30pm and he'd sleep until 6:30-7am.  Excepting the odd disturbed nights from teething or illness, he was pretty reliable sleep wise.  I knew that if I risked staying up until midnight or later to do some blog work that as long as I got to bed by 1am I'd more than likely still get 6+ hours sleep.  Just fine.  I didn't blog in the daytime with Ethan, he would only nap in his buggy and only in a cafe - funny child!  If I brought the buggy back home with him asleep in it he'd wake straight up!! So I used to walk around until he fell asleep and then sit in a cafe with a coffee and my book.. and he'd usually sleep for an hour.  Maybe two.  Total chill out time.  This again meant that when the evenings and nights came around I was ready to do some "work".   One child and two parents meant a fairly straightforward bedtime routine.  We'd take it in turns.  One of us would stay downstairs to cook our evening meal, the other would bath with Ethan, read to him and settle him in bed.  Usually we'd be eating our meal downstairs by 7:30pm and by 8pm I could get the laptop out.  When he was 3 Ethan started at preschool giving me time in the day to work on my blog.  Which was just as well because I fell pregnant with Felix and was totally done in by 7pm!!

Fast Forward to now.  Felix has been a whirlwind since the moment he got here.  He's not one to hang around or do things without fuss.  I should have known after giving birth to him less than 5 minutes after the midwife arrived at our house!! He was destined to be a pickle!! The midwife remarked on his strength when he was born.  He got a 10 on his APGAR which she said was rare in itself let alone after a (pretty much) unassisted home birth.  At three days old he rolled over by himself.  He walked at 10 months.  He's been noisy, vocal and (appears to us) very intelligent from the get go.  He's also a huge pain in the butt.  He's always moving.  Even asleep he moves constantly, even talking and crying in his sleep.  He doesn't sleep through the night.  At nearly 23 months old he's never slept through properly.  He will wake at least once and often several times.  He still has milk in the night.  He won't co sleep.  If we bring him in with us he stands up, opens the curtains, pulls my eyes open and shouts "Come on Muma, get up, stand up Muma, downstairs!".  He climbs on anything and everything.  I cannot let my eyes off him.  If he naps in the day time it might be as little as 10 minutes.  To be fair to him, it is often longer but very often only 45 minutes so, by the time I've got a few little jobs out the way, it's not long enough to get the laptop out and work!

The evening routines are solid but take MUCH longer.  Now one of us bathes with Felix and puts him to bed whilst the other stays downstairs with Ethan to do his reading and spellings.  Then the one who's put Felix to bed comes down to start cooking supper.  The other goes up with Ethan to put him to bed.  Once all of that is done, we usually sit down to eat at 8 or 8:30pm.  It very often is closer to 9pm and on a few occasions has even been 10pm!!  Once we've eaten, cleared up a bit and maybe had a chance to chat, catch up with each other, it's late and the last thing I want to do is work on the blog!!

On top of blog work I have other things to do these days that I didn't when I just had Ethan.  Ethan is at school now so there are things that go along with that, making sure uniform is ready, checking school emails, paperwork etc.  I have two massive bin bags of clothing and shoes to list on eBay that I never seem to get around to - as we're not planning a third I must sell the clothes Felix grows out of!!  Then there's other things, like the 2014 family photobook I've been trying to get around to making for ages.  Or emails that need replying too.. or craft projects I really want to work on.. or a stack of Molly Makes magazines that I've subscribed to since November but haven't yet read any of... or the 5 books I've started and not finished.  If I do start work on the blog I end up staying up until 1 or 2 am and then Felix wakes during the night and gets up for the day at 5:30am and I've only got 3 or 4 hours sleep... not enough!

Another thing to note about Felix.  He is ill.  Almost all of the time.  It's become a bit of a running joke with friends and family.  I'd noticed that he was often ill but became more acutely aware of it when my sister in law was diagnosed with cancer last year.  Due to her chemo treatment we had to be very careful about coming into contact with her if one of us or the kids was ill.  We would normally see her once a week at the weekend but that became very infrequent because Felix is ill so often.  I've started keeping track and in the last 10 months or so the longest stretch we've had between his illnesses is 8 days.  In the last two weeks (the school holidays) he has had a cold which lasted a week and a D&V bug which started on Tuesday and is still ongoing.

There is just SO much to do... and the fact is that things like Instagram are easier for me just now.  It's quicker, I get so much more interaction..

I'm not going to give up on Funky Kid yet.  I love this blog as I've said, and once Felix starts at preschool I really want to work on it properly, make more of a "job" out of it.  Maybe even make a living from it!! For that reason I don't want to let it go, I've got to keep it ticking over.

I'm sorry for this huge essay!! I just wanted to get some thoughts out, explain a few things.  To those of you who have stuck with me and the linky, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I appreciate it SO much.  I really am going to make more of an effort to make it worth your while for linking up.  I do love seeing you all link and all your adorable children!

Here's a few pics of mine from the last few days.  I hope a few of you will link up and show off your funky kids!

Red Balloons for Ryan vest - Indi Nook
Black leggings - Asda
Docs - eBay

Blue Super Peanut top - Bobo Choses AW14
Easter Rabbit leggings - Bowties & Candyfloss

Purple & white trousers - Plastisock
Yellow jellies - Sun Jellies

Pink Sandals - Saltwater Sandals
Red/Blue/White sandals - Beppi via eBay

Elephant leggings - Fred & Noah
Constellation leggings - Stitched Up Apparel 

Monochrome "buddy things" - Liten at
Harlequin leggings - H&M
Gunmetal moccs - Belle & The Bear (still looking great!)

Storm Boy cot sheet - Tobias & The Bear
Monochrome top - H&M (very old!)

Snake socks - Mini Dressing stocked at Greenberry Kids
Funky harem trousers - The Mini Classy

Striped top - Polarn O Pyret
Blue trousers - Liten

Scandi Cross vest - made by me
Rabbit leggings - as above

Love to you all!