When I was growing up I always had short hair, so I never learnt blow-drying techniques or ‘hair-up’ ones either. When I got to Uni I had the classic ‘Rachel’ cut and then in my ‘baby-years’ as a Mama was all about the high-pony tail, show me someone who has time for much else!
Now my Smalls can almost get themselves dressed on a morning, and if I haul my bottom out of bed in time, I can just about get it together to wash and blow dry my hair into a semi-decent state before the school run!
I was recommended a hairdryer by a friend a few years ago and I now can’t travel without it, it’s that good. I often get asked if I straighten my hair and the answer is, I don’t!
My hairdryer, along with these other two items do all the work for me, which saves me SO much time, which as a Mama is what it’s all about. And ask anyone who’s ever done my hair, it’s not naturally straight and they’ll also tell you it’s a total pain to dry!
So here are the three pink things that adorn my dressing table that save my hair-style life on a daily basis
1 – The Parlux hairdryer
The hairdryer to end all hairdryers. The Parlux are pricey, at around £100 a pop, but I’ve had mine three years already and it’s already paid for itself. It’s powerful and while it doesn’t dry my hair any quicker than any other hair dryer, it dries it much better and makes it a lot straighter.
2 – The Tangle Teezer
Not only does the Tangle Teezer save my life when it comes to swimming lessons, as the peace it buys me from the big girls screaming from it not ‘pulling’ on their hair when I use it is immeasurable, but it totally stops my hair getting split ends as it de-tangles rather than snaps the knots. We may have four of these in our house!!
3 – V05 Heat Protect spray
The V05 Heat Protect Spray is one of the best heat protectors I’ve used and I find it so much better than an oil based serum for styling too. The Argan oil ones tend to leave my hair a touch greasy, where as this one protects and leaves it shiny!
Maybe I’m drawn to pink, maybe these products are pink because the marketing folks are so clever at their jobs they know their target market spot on! Whatever the reason, they work for me and give me a little bit of joy in my life when I spy them collectively, accidentally, matching on my dressing table!
What are your go to hair items of choice that you can’t live without, I’d love to hear them!
The lovely folks at Spruce Moose in Harrogate invited me into their fab treatment rooms lasts week to try out their individual lashes treatment.
The gorgeous space they have at Westgate House, at the site of the Everyman Cinema, opposite Pizza Express, is really quite large, the treatment rooms are over two floors, with lots of space and a feeling of relaxed luxury.
I’ve never tried lash extensions before so was a little unsure what to expect but the lovely Katie set my ease reassuring me that it was a relaxing treatment, and she was totally right.
They simply attached individual false eyelashes to the base of my existing lashes with a dot of glue. The precision in the placing is key and Katie did a marvellous job with mine.
All I had to do was lay still for around 45 minutes with my eyes closed – pretty ideal when you’re a Mama if you ask me!
Katie placed a strip-pad under my eye (I guess so she could see the lashes better) and set about gently applying the lashes.
Once finished I was amazed, she showed me the finished look in the mirror and it was such a transformation, I was really surprised what a difference it had made!
My eyes were lots more defined and it made the shape of them so much nicer too, plus it was really natural, and they didn’t look ‘false’ at all to me. Just longer and lusher than before.
The aftercare treatment is really simple too, just don’t use oil based eye-make-up remover near them and be careful not to rub them, else they will come out. They’re expected to last two weeks, but will start falling out, just as normal eyelashes would over that time.
They’d be perfect for a weekend away or a special occasion, although some people have them all the time, a little like getting their nails done. I’m really tempted as I know I’ll miss mine once they’re gone!
Looks Amazing and Saves Time
Plus they have the advantage of saving you time both morning and night, as there’s no need for mascara (though you can use it if you want – I haven’t) and therefore no need to take off the eye make-up at night either! Double bonus!
I like that they make me feel like I have some make-up on, without having any make-up on and instantly make me look more awake! A real bonus as a sleep deprived Mama!
Overall, I really loved the treatment it was relaxing to have done and the benefits were really impressive.
Get 40% Off at Spruce Moose
The best news is if you’d like to have your eyelashes done with the individual lash treatment you can get an exclusive 40% off with this blog post! All you need to do is quote HarrogateMama40 when you make a booking. Which means instead of the treatment being £42.00 it’s just £25.20 – a total bargain!
Spruce Moose is the only salon in the UK that offers a membership, giving members a 40% discount off ALL treatments, every time you visit! That means for £9.99 per month you are guaranteed your 40% discount (plus there is NO CONTRACT!).
Discount Code for 40% Off
You can also get 40% off any other FIRST treatment at Spruce Moose too by just quoting HarrogateMama40 when you book!
Disclaimer: Spruce Moose invited me to have my eyelashes done with their compliments.
With the marvellous Jamie Oliver doing all he can for promoting healthy hot school lunches for kids, lunch boxes are getting a little over looked. With the return to school I thought I’d cover the topic of Packed Lunches!
Hot Diners vs Packed Lunch
My Smalls have a mix of hot dinners and packed lunches as they are slightly fussy about their menu choices/like to assert their independent tastes! Bearing in mind you never really get to see what goes in other packed lunch boxes I thought I’d share mine. I have no idea if I’ve been getting them right for all these years or not?!
I like to think I make them nutritionally balanced as I know how important getting the right balance of nutrients and vitamins are but getting them to eat those vital things is sometimes easier said than done!
It’s miles easier for me if they have school meals as there is no thinking, shopping, planning, preparing and remembering involved in the whole process and I know they’re nutritional balanced. However, when they do have packed lunches I try my best to make them to a reasonable standard but catering to their tastes is always tricky!
I’ve only recently learned that it’s recommended by the Department of Health that children age 6 months to 5 years take vitamins A, C and D daily. So to make sure the Small Boy is eating a healthy lunch and also getting his essential vitamins I’ve been giving him Halib orange multi-vitamin softies once a day.
They come in a soft, bite-sized, round orange, chewy form and he totally loves them so they must be great tasting. It’s the Halib orange Softies Omega3 and multi-vitamins for kids age 3-7 that he’s been trying. He’s so taken with them he now asks everyday, ‘can I have my orange thingy now Mummy?’ I’m so pleased he enjoys them and I know they’re really benefiting him too. Win, win!
The Big Girls have cottoned on that they must taste great if he’s asking for them, so have started taking the Haliborange Softies Multivitamins Everyday Health for age 3-12 years too – they’re strawberry shaped and flavoured and are also proving a huge daily hit!
You can see why they’re the UK’s number one supplements brand – they even have a ‘great taste’ guarantee which entitles you to your money back if your child doesn’t like the taste!
Carrot and Courgette Savoury Flapjack
Finding food they all love to go in their packed lunches is a challenge! One thing they do all love is this carrot and courgette savoury flapjack from the baby led weaning cookbook. It’s really simple to make and it freezes too – so I batch it up and just pop it in from the freezer the night before and it’s defrosted in time for them to enjoy it at lunchtime.
What goes in the Smalls packed lunch boxes?
The Big Girls have also downloaded this cute little App that lets them animate their plasticine models (that’s a whole other post) into a short film and I’ve been dying to have a go myself! So the packed lunch box filling seemed perfect for this. This short clip shows what goes into their packed lunches on a usual day.
My camera work is a little sketchy, but hopefully you can see what’s in their boxes easily!
In case the technology fails you – here is a closer look what’s inside…
a no added sugar Fruit Shoot drink or Innocent Kids Fruit Smoothie
Last September I started to use Stamptastic to label up the kids school uniform. Well one year on I thought I’d let you know how it’d fared as a labelling tool…
How did Stamptasic Labelling Fare?
The bottom line is I’m really, really pleased! Yes, some of the ink has faded so it’s not as clear as it was a year ago, but after a year of washing, twice a week, followed by a tumble dry it’s fared pretty well.
You can see below the original stamping – and here’s how it is a year on!
While the top is slightly greyer (!) the ink is still readable!
The great thing is I’ve used the stamp and ink a good few times since, for school trips and have even ordered another acrylic stamp for the Small Boy’s things!
If you don’t have white tops you can easily stamp on to the clothes labels which works just as well!
Easy to Use and Durable
The ease and durability of the product means I really would recommend it! It’s worked really well for us! The two perfect qualities you want from labelling your kids school uniform!
I’ll be cracking on with this Summer’s labelling pretty soon, as I have all the Small Boy’s school uniform and kit to label for September. All the sobs!
Here’s the original post if you want to find out more…
I’ve just finished labelling up the school uniform for the start of the year with Stamptastic. Nothing puts a spring in your step quite like getting everything ready for back to school!
In the past I’ve always bought iron-on name labels, to be honest they are a bit of a faff, sometimes they last all year and sometimes they come off in the tumble dryer after a few weeks!
This year I’ve tried Stamptastic which is a stamp and ink labelling approach! I can tell you it has been a breeze, it took me about 20 minutes to do three sets of two children’s school uniform, shoes, PE kits, Brownie trousers, packed lunches and gymnastics gear! It’s the quickest and easiest that I have ever labelled kit!
You simply order your acyrilic stamp with the name of your choice and an ink pad, and when it comes stamp it in the ink and press on to a light coloured part of the item you want to label. Simple as that! The acyrillic stamps are £10 each and the special ink block is £12. Postage is free.
The proof of the labelling comes in the washing for me, so I’ll be posting a follow up at the end of term to see how they’ve fared! In the meantime I’m delighted with my ink pad and stampers and the hours it’s saved me slogging over a hot iron! Thank you Stamptastic!
Which labelling method do you think works best? This is certainly the quickest and easiest I’ve found to date, have you tried it?
Disclaimer: Stamptastic kindly provided the stamp and ink for me to review the product with their compliments. The views are my own.
A little while ago I made a solo seven-hour round car trip on my own with a pre-schooler! Fortunately it all went fairly smoothly and I had some amazing top tips before I left. So I’m sharing my experiences in this post in case you’re looking for ways to survive such a journey this summer!
1.) Pack Well
I took two canvas style shopping bags with me and propped them, open, in the front seat next to me as the driver. One was full of toys and activities and the other food and drink! With the Small Boy in the back it made it much easier for me to reach and find things easily to pass to him.
2.) Toys to take
Toys that were a hit were things I’d packaged up well before I went. I filled sandwich bags with little characters that the Small Boy could have fun opening and getting out and putting away again! A soft cloth bag filled with random hits of the moment including sunglasses, super hero character, pretend mobile phones. And small books are always a winner!
3.) Package up the food well
I realised I didn’t want to be chucking food and snacks back to the Small Boy for the whole journey so I packaged it up in smaller containers so he could help himself without having too much in one go. The jelly babies in these little pots were a life saver!
4.) Non-spill drinks
I took water in sippy cups, even though the Small Boy has long since been out of them and I also took Fruit Shoots which are nicely sealed so he could pop up and down the lid without help! Phew! Luckily I timed the drink giving well too – as I didn’t want him being dehydrated but equally didn’t want to stop for toilet trips every five minutes!
4.) Take a bin
I used a plastic bag and opened it up on to the floor of the passengers footwell so I could easily throw unwanted bits and bobs into it. My empties as well as the Small Boys. I find if the car stays semi-organised I feel like I’m more in control.
5.) iPad/DVD player with headphones
What did the Mamas of the world do before iPads? It’s a question I often ponder, and not just on long car journeys! Ours is an iPad mounted on to the headrest in-front to avoid any travel sickness from looking down. The headphones are for my own sanity as I’m not sure I can take three hours of Disney Moana songs blaring out at me, as much as I love her. I had the radio on in the front and we were all happy, for the one and a half hour duration of a film anyway!
6.) iPad/DVD charger!
I remembered the charger, which was helpful as we neared our destination since it was soon to run out of power. Luckily the charger plugged into the car whilst we were driving and charged the iPad at the same time as watching so no time lost there! Phew!
7.) Good Sat Nav
Fortunately I knew mainly where I was going, but the driving near the end of the journey was, as it can be, a bit stressful. The Small Boy was getting restless and I was tiring and as wasn’t quite so sure where we were going at that fiddly last bit – so thank the Lord for Sat Nav!
8.) Stop for coffee and good food
We stopped both on the way down and the way back. I needed a break as much as the Small Boy. Driving a long way on your own is a big enough task, but trying to keep a pre-schooler happy in the process, is really hard. So I stopped and treated myself to a Starbucks and a pat on the back, the Small Boy ran off some steam and it really helped for the next phase.
9.) Explain the trip a lot
From past experience I have learnt that the Small People really don’t know what’s going on unless you tell them! I know it sounds obvious, but the reason they ask ‘are we nearly there yet’ all the time is because they have no idea about time or distance. I started telling the Small Boy a few days before the trip that it was a REALLY long way, and took lots and lots of time to get there, and it would be very boring, and a very long journey! I did say it’d be fun though as we can stop at a cafe, you can watch the iPad and you can have snacks and drinks and toys in your car seat too. I kept on updating him during the trip how far we had come and how far there was to go and telling him how well he was doing too, it seemed to help him understand a bit more.
10.) Look after yourself too
Don’t forget to consider yourself in all the planning too. Pack your sunglasses, tissues, wipes and water to have at hand for yourself. I ate well when I stopped, had a healthy, hot meal and some fruit, rather than a quick fix coffee and some biscuits, and felt much better for it. It’s perfectly okay to be proud of yourself for making the journey too! It’s a stressful one, so high five yourself for making it solo!
If like me you’re looking at the bikinis in the shops and thinking about your holiday wardrobe and panicking about how ‘beach ready’ your body is – then this one’s for you!
I tend to stay out of the ‘beach ready body’ debate. I think so long as you’re moderately healthy, which is different from what your body looks like, your doing fine. I do find it difficult that we as Mamas especially worry so much about what our body’s look like and what messages that means we are passing on to our Smalls. The media in all it’s forms, is constantly telling us how we should look.
Coming home from our Italian campsite last summer which was home to thousands of women from a range of nationalities, Dutch, German, Italian, Swiss, British I can report we’re all looking just perfect!
It was a family campsite, 90% of the women there were mums, mostly with children under ten, mostly with two or more kids and we were wading knee deep in the toddler pool and sitting on the shore in our swimwear as it was gloriously hot!
I was Mama-ing without make-up, with my pear-shaped chunky thighs, c-section over hang and boobs that have fed three small infants. And while I can’t admit to splashing into the sea carefree, as if I were Pamela Anderson in Baywatch, I did my best to try to ignore my inner thoughts telling me I wasn’t looking how I was ‘supposed’ to look.
Mama; in a bikini or a maxi dress, I’m still a Mama
I was witness to all sorts of body shapes from all sorts of nationalities in that pool. What struck me most was that none of what I saw tallied with the ‘beach ready’ images I’d been bombarded with before departure. Tummies were worn with strechmarks, over hangs and scars having housed the growth of a couple of humans, boobs were wobbly having provided food for a baby or two, hips were wide having sacrificed good diet and time to exercise to the much greater need for sleep recovery.
The biggest trick to not worrying about what your body looks like is not worrying what other people think your body looks like like. These are such good messages to pass on to our Smalls. We’re always telling them – ‘it doesn’t matter what they think’ well we need to start practising what we preach, it REALLY doesn’t matter what they think!
While we worry about our own figures way more than we should, we so rarely have anything to compare them to other than the mass media pictures of toned, non saggy women. Word up folks, those pictures you see are not of ‘normal’ women. Normal women are the ones I saw hanging around the holiday pool. Scooping up their little ones on to their we’ll worn hips, squashing their thighs into the sand to help build a sandcastles and pulling toddlers on to their soft tummys on a sunbed.
You are not fat or curvy or wobbly or saggy or scarred. You’re normal! Perfectly normal. This is your body, eat healthily, take a little exercise because it’s good for you, not because you want to be beach body ready – trust me you already are! Mamas you’re looking perfect! Pick up that bikini, wear it with pride and trust me that it really doesn’t matter what other people think of your body, it’s YOURS!
The lovely mugs are also available to buy from Do You Punctuate too! The Harrogate Gin is from Harrogate Tipple and the Prosecco is Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference! Feeling thirsty? I am! 😜
Terms and conditions:
1.) The giveaway is for you to receive one Do You Punctuate “Love, Laughter, Prosecco and Gin’ print (which is unframed) delivered to an address of your choice.
2.) The giveaway will run from Friday 21 April 2017 until Sunday 23rd April at 23.59hrs.
3.) The winner will be contacted on Monday 24th April 2017 via Faecbook.
4.) The winner has 24 hours to respond before a new winner is selected.
5.) There is no cash alternative for the giveaway.
6.) Do You Punctuate will be responsible for the redemption of the giveaway, any matters arising must be taken up with them directly.
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11.) Harrogate Mama blog also reserves the right to choose a different winner in the case that the randomly chosen winner refuses to co-operate with rules, reply to winning email in 24 hour time period or does not have verifiable entries.
I’ve been a Mum for almost ten years now, and over that time I’ve had a few insights into how Mother’s Day goes down.
As a new Mum, I held the misguided belief that Mother’s Day was a day for everyone to be grateful for what I had done for them; from wiping their noses, to playing jigsaws, from hauling the food shop in from the car to loading the dishwasher, to nurturing and growing a tiny human to soothing them to sleep in the middle of the night. It was the one day I could put my feet up and hear everyone just say ‘ Thank you! You’re doing great!’
Well in years gone by it’s not always gone down like that. One memorable year I recall spending the whole day cleaning and vacuuming my car so I could then list it on AutoTrader – not how Mother’s Day was ever due to go down in my head.
So I’ve learnt now I’m coming up to my tenth Mother’s Day, the best way to get what you’d like from the day is to be totally explicit with your expectations! That way there’s no margin for error and everyone is happy come the end of the day! So here are the six golden rules for a successful Mother’s Day round ours!
1.) A Lie in
A totally uninterrupted lie in, on my own, where I can possibly sleep, or even read a few pages of an actual book.
2.) Breakfast in bed
Nothing too fancy, maybe a bit of granola, a croissant and a cup of tea.
3.) Thoughtful gifts from the Smalls
Usually the Smalls make something at school, Brownies or pre-school which fits the bill nicely. A homemade card, better still a thoughtful poem, that thanks me for the lovely things I do for them, if it makes me cry it’s a winner!
4.) Little gift
Yes a lovely bottle of perfume or a coveted necklace would be ideal, but I’m really not that bothered, 1, 2 and 3 are much more important to me, so a new mug or small box of chocolates and I’m happy. Honestly 😉
This is a personal one as Mr P doesn’t agree with buying flowers as ‘they just die’ 😬 So if I get just a small bunch I’m totally over the moon, as I know, he knows, it means I know, he’s really made an extra effort to do something that goes against his feelings just to make me happy!
6.) A little TLC
Not too much pampering, I don’t need whisking off on a Spa day – just to not have to clear the table, an offer of making up the packed lunches for tomorrow or bathing the kids. And it’s the offering that counts, I’m happy to do the things, just someone else thinking if I do it, then you don’t have to, is enough! Though to be honest, someone else doing the things is up there too! 😆
What’s on your explicit Mother’s Day list – have you had any shockers in the past?!
Apparently Meteorological Spring is here, but the real thing still seems like a little way off to me! Winter hurry up and be gone!
In the meantime here are a few things making my Spring Wishes Covet List!
1. Chanel No.5 L’eau
The iconic fragrance just got better, this (in my opinion) lighter version does exactly what it says it does ‘Tangy and Fresh, Sensual and Velvety, Vibrant and Sweet’. I love that it’s a long lasting scent too, like all Chanel fragrances. I absolutely adore it! But at £74 for a 50ml bottle it’ll have to wait a while before it makes an appearance on my dressing table!
2. Flared Back Cashmere Jumper by Cocoa Cashmere
This gorgeously soft Cocoa Cashmere jumper is even nicer to the touch than it looks, when I spied it in John Lewis recently. It’s super soft and extremely wearable! It goes so perfectly with soft, blue, denim and would make sitting on the sofa, with a mug of tea, watching the Spring showers through the window dreamy! Incredibly wearable cashmere! At £185 it’s going to have to be a ‘lifer’ piece for me!
3. Topshop CRYSTAL Flatform Lace Up Trainers in blush Velvet
Loving the Velvet trend at the moment, just not sure how I was going to pull it off, but these trainers would be the perfect way! I love blush too! Just need the muddy puddles to go away before these beauties come out to play! These are on Topshop’s website for £26 – Mother’s Day is approaching…
Since starting my health kick in January I’ve been trying to exercise more and eat better. It’s not really a ‘rocket science’ way to loose weight, but it works!
Here are three things that have helped me on way;
1.) Cooking Family Meals From Scratch
Cooking new family meals is always a pain in the arse! Invariably the small people aren’t interested in something that ‘looks funny’, ‘might have vegetables in’ or ‘smells disgusting’. That paired with the effort it takes to shop for new store cupboard ingredients and the time it takes to learn and prepare a new recipe are sometimes quite frankly not worth the bother!
However, since it was January and the season for new ventures (and I was on a health kick) I decided to give it a go! Here are three family recipes that went down a storm with the kids, first, second and third time around!
I wasn’t sure about going to the effort of cleaning leeks and chopping fennel for a tuna pasta bake I could usually knock up in ten minutes, but this one was worth the effort. It has plenty of ‘hidden veg’ in it, it’s lower in calories than a normal cheese laden one and even Mr P enjoyed it!
This is an easy to prepare curry that tastes fab! I serve the grown ups and then add a small carton of natural yoghurt to the kids before dishing theirs up to cool it down a touch! They have even asked for seconds. Note: this recipes need doubling up on quantities as it’s written to only serve two people.
3.) Salmon Parcels from ‘Tom’s Daily Plan’ recipe book by Tom Daley
The kids love this dish as they each get a parcel on their plate to open! What’s more is that there’s lots of veg in it but it’s bright, tasty and not over cooked. The sweetcorn and sweet potato mean it’s obviously sweeter in taste which suits their pallet more and the salmon is really easy for them to eat! Family winner!
2.) Looking the Part
Exercising is never really a glamorous pass time (if you’re doing it properly anyway) but I found it helped me to have the right gear. So much so I spent some Christmas money on a new pair of Asics pink trainers, which make me smile when I look at them and still desperately don’t want to get dirty! Proving harder as the weeks go by!
This fab Nike top from the JD Williams Sportswear site has also been a winner, it’s great to have a warmer pull on as an outer layer when getting to the gym. It made me feel less self conscious when entering the gym and helped maintain my core temperature before I’d warmed up properly. It meant I could feel relaxed and comfortable whilst still looking and feeling gym ready! Plus the pockets mean you can keep your hands warm getting to and from places in it too!
For more of their sport range you can check out their full range online. It has also been the perfect (pre and post workout) school run cover-up, and looked the part for a pre-session coffee catch up with friends to boot! I love it!
I love the big hood on it, which makes it really warm if I’m heading out for a run, or, to be honest, for throwing on if I’m catching up on a bit of blogging while the heating’s off!
3.) Going for a run
As I mentioned in my Personal Trainer post, going to the gym has never really been my thing! Neither, to be honest, has running!
But on and off over the last couple of years I have tried to get out and head out for a bit of a run! I started with the couch to 5k programme on my phone and now I just try ‘run a minute, walk a minute’ for a longer distance. It’s gradually increasing to ‘run two minutes, walk a minute’ so it must be working a little bit!
It’s great to get out of the house and into the fresh air, even when it’s cold, and if you can go with a friend it’s even better as chatting your way around makes the distance seem much shorter! I always come home feeling good about myself and wondering why I don’t do it more often!
So, if you can bear it – pull your trainers on and have a quick walk/jog/run around the block – however far or near you go you’re lapping everyone on the sofa!
Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with JD Williams.