A cross is painted on our door. Keep away everyone! I am spending all day cleaning runny little noses! Summer colds suck!
Linking up to #wickedwednesday with brummymummyof2.co.uk
Getting the children to sleep during the summer months is a complete nightmare. Cries of 'But it's still light outside!' can be heard up and down the country at maximum volume on repeat until the sun finally disappears from behind the curtains.
So what can we do to help create a cosy, dark environment for our kids to fall asleep on long, bright summer nights? One word: Blackout.
Firstly if you have thin curtains which allow lots of light to come trough you need to line them with blackout fabric. No need to sew, just safety pin it onto the back. This will block a lot of light but unless your curtains sit flush to the window and extend well past the frames a lot of light will still come in due to 'light creep' (Husband's technical term for light creeping around the curtains).
To get maximum blackout potential you also need to install a blackout roller blind behind the curtain. We are talking double blackout here! Made to measure rollerblinds are available in lots of different colours at exceptionally reasonable prices.
As you can see from the before and after pictures above the blind makes a huge difference.
If you are dealing with a loft room and need to shade tricky roof windows it really pays to buy a decent blind (I spent 2yrs cursing Husband's ill fitting roof blind flooding the room with sun at the crack of dawn so you can trust me on this!). You can buy perfect fit blinds from the VELUX brand. The Itzala range of roof blinds are available in blackout and if you want to theme them to match your child's bedroom go for the Disney range which features 12 different designs including Winnie the Pooh, Bambi, Disney Princesses to name just a few. If you want to go high tech you can choose remote control blinds! Very cool.
It helps to keep other upstairs rooms as dark as possible to stop further 'light creep' around the bedroom doorframe. We didn't fancy a rollerblind on our landing so instead went for wide slat wooden blinds which are made to measure so fit perfectly and have tapes along the cord joints to block even more light. They look really attractive and expensive when actually they are super cheap!
You can even create small blackout spaces for daytime naps with the Snoozeshade. This pram blackout cover is great for instantly creating a dark environment over car seats and prams so babies and children can fall asleep easily when out and about. The breathable fabric means it is perfect for the summer months and much safer than chucking a blanket over the pram which can cause overheating. A little zip on the front allows you to keep an eye on them without disturbing them.
If you are going away or staying with friends and family chances are they won't have blackout blinds fitted. But luckily there is a travel blackout blind available. Hurrah! The Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind uses suction cups to stick to any window up to a maximum size of 130cm x 198cm. It folds up nice and small so you can take a cosy, dark room with you anywhere, even abroad on holiday.
And if all else fails I have been informed that tin foil (shiny side facing outwards) completely covering the window does the job. Probably not a permanent solution unless your child wants to live in a room resembling a science lab, but will help you out as a quick fix until the blackout blind you've ordered arrives.
Remember when installing blinds in any room to make sure all cords feature easy break chain connectors and are secured to the wall with cleats to avoid accident and injury.
This is a collaborative post
Cleaning is my nemesis. It always has been. As a teenager my room was the bane of my clean freak Mother's life. In fact I put my rejection of the duster down to her. When you live in a house resembling a sterile laboratory where socks and underwear are ironed, sofas continually plumped to the point where sitting down on them is frowned upon it can send one of two way; embrace or reject. My brother embraced but I turned to the dark side, or the light depending how you look at it.
Saying all this I do try my best to keep the house presentable, it is generally clean and tidy at all times (don't look behind the sofa) - I just loathe every minute of it! I had a cleaner come in once a week for 6weeks after my C section with Little I. I wasn't able to keep on top of the house while recovering from the op and she was a godsend. I went into a state of mourning when the 6 weeks were up and the housework reverted back to me.
So when Fantastic Services asked if I would like to review one of their services I did a small jig of excitement and immediately requested a Spring clean. Someone else cleaning my house = awesome.
Fantastic services offer a range of household services from handymen and decorators to gardeners and cleaners. The domestic cleaning branch is called Fantastic Cleaners and they were coming to sort out my cobwebs.
Booking was easy. I was contacted by a friendly representative who asked about my cleaning needs and priorities (everything!) and booked me in for 6hrs of cleaning. It would take a team of 3 people 2hrs to spring clean my home focusing on the bathroom and kitchen areas. I received an email to confirm everything. Very easy.
Having the cleaners booked was a great incentive to clear out the clutter which accumulates around the place. It was great to have a clear out and get the place in shape.
On the morning of the clean the team arrived on time and I showed the lead cleaner around my home. She made my year by stating that it was already very clean (I should have recorded her to play back to Mother) but 6hrs would be tight to clean every room of our three bed semi, but they would do their best. Priorities were the kitchen, bathroom and upstairs bedrooms.
The friendly team then filed in armed with all the cleaning supplies needed for the job and their own vacuum cleaner and mop and off they went. Little I and I retired to the garden and left them to transform my home. Little I was very interested in what was going on and kept peering through the windows to receive smiles and waves from the cleaning team.
2hrs later they were still going and they stayed a bit longer to finish off the last bits and bobs. How did my house look? It gleamed!
In the 2hrs my whole upstairs was cleaned and polished plus the majority of my downstairs, they ran out of time so my front room and dining room weren't quite finished but I dare you to find a trace of dust anywhere else.
Overall I was so impressed with the service and if I was working full time I would definitely have a weekly clean from them. Unfortunately I cannot justify it whilst I'm home with the kiddies (I've tried, Husband is having none of it). So I've decided to have them back before Christmas to give the house a facelift before the festive season.
This 6hr clean would have cost around £80. You can find out more about the full range of services offered by Fantastic Services online at fantasticservices.com
I received these services free of charge for review purposes but all opinions are my own.
On holiday we spent most of our time at the beach. The kids loved the freedom and there was so much fun to be had in the sea and sand. Here are my top 5 kids beach essentials to keep everyone smiling and safe
You don't notice just how strong the sun is on the beach due to the breeze. Sunsafe suits cover up most of the kids bodies protecting them from damaging rays. They are lightweight and keep the kids cool. The hats are a must for protecting their heads - especially Little I who still doesn't have much hair!
Of course the sunsuits don't cover up their whole body. So a good, water resistant suncream is needed for their arms, legs, feet and face. Enter Lavidal. Not only does this suncream block UVA and UVB rays it also blocks Infrared-A Rays which make up 30% of the sun's rays. Infrared-A is potentially the most harmful as it is the only ray which penetrates through to the subcutis layer of the skin.
Ladival sent us factor 50 for the kids and factor 30 for the adults. The kids bottle lasted all holiday. We reapplied once during our visits to the beach (or the pool/aqua park). The adult bottle finished a lot quicker as there were 3 of us using it and we are substantially larger than the kiddies.
The kids did not burn at all - the combination of sunsuits and Ladival was a winner. The adults did not fair so well! None of us burnt whilst using the Ladival but when it ran out I bought some Spanish brand from the supermarket... Yep you guessed it, Mum and Husband burnt!
It is quite pricey at £20 a bottle (200ml) but it is currently half price at Boots!
An umbrella with whirly spike thing to dig it into the sand (yes, that is the technical name)
Despite all the sun protection stuff above it is still really important to have some shade for the kids to limit their sun exposure to avoid sunstroke. We ate lunch and snacks in shade under the umberella. You probably have one of these nifty little spikes at home to keep your washing line in the ground. Well at the beach they are essential. We had 2 episodes of our umberella blowing across the beach before we ventured to the nearest shop to buy a spike for about 3€. Completely solved the problem.
Little I is still in nappies so the beach can be a little messy! We took some Huggies Little Swimmers with us. These nappies don't swell up when wet like standard nappies. But at the same time they don't hold liquid in - so don't make the mistake we did of putting the nappy on at the house before we left to the beach! Haha! But they do hold in number 2's - just about. You need to get them off as soon as they have been! We had a couple of near misses when she performed without us realising so the nappy was left on a bit too long.
Little I is currently in size 4 nappies so we used size 3/4 but they were a little tight and really hard to get on so next time I would try the next size up. Little I seemed comfy in them though and they didn't mark her skin or cause any rashes or marks. Plus they have fun Disney designs on. They kept our fun at maximum all day long.
A pack of Little Swimmers cost £5.99 but they are also currently half price at Boots!
Little E is fearless in the water but Little I is a little more timid. She like us to hold onto her in the water, which can get a little tiring. An inflatable boat solves the problem. We pop her in and float her about!
Bucket and spade
It's a classic but an absolutely must. Little I seems intent on knocking down the sandcastle before we finished building it but that was all part of the fun!
Our holiday to Spain feels like an age ago now and I'm starting to get back into the meal planning mindset. Last week I made the epic slow cooked lamb shanks again so check out the recipe here
This week I am focusing on getting back to low carb healthy eating as we have a few weddings coming up.
Monday: Beef teriyaki with stir fried veg and brown noodles
Tuesday: Turkey and lemon burgers with sweet potato wedges and carrots
Wednesday: Poached smoked haddock with brown rice and peas
Thursday: Slow cooked beef bouganion
Friday: Rainbow chilli
Saturday: Out at a wedding
Sunday: Roast chicken dinner
Little E's first proper haircut...
How did my baby get so big!!!
Not gonna cry...
Lamb shank is one of those dishes that if I see on a menu I simply have to order... Unless someone has committed the ultimate sin and stuck mint in the sauce.
My lamb shank recipe below is cooked in the slow cooker and I tend to chuck some veggies in too.
2 lamb shanks
1/2 bottle red wine
2 lamb stock cubes
3 garlic cloves
A sprig of rosemary
Salt and Pepper
Chop the onion, carrots and crush the garlic.
Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and brown the lamb shanks on each side for roughly 5minutes in total.
Transfer the meat and prepared veggies (not the garlic) to the slow cooker.
Pour the wine into the frying pan you have just browned the shanks in. Add the stock cubes and crushed garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the stock cubes have dissolved.
Add the liquid to the slow cooker along with the Rosemary and salt and pepper.
Cook on low for 8hrs
Serve with mash and veggies (I used sweet potato mash)
I have been battling for the past few months with our old in-ear baby thermometer. The baby wriggles and refuses to let me take a reading and when I do get one it fluctuates all over the place. It has had it's day.
So time to test out some of the new infrared thermometer models which allow you take accurate forehead temperatures within a few seconds. Sounds infinitely better than poking a screaming baby in the ear.
The 3 models I have been sent to test out are the NUK 2in1 baby thermometer, Omron Gentle Temp 720 and Chicco My Touch. Let's put them through their paces...
NUK 2in1 Baby Thermometer £24.99
This is a dual thermometer which uses infrared technology to measure the temperature in the ear but also at the temple.
How does it look? The unit is compact and the rounded design means it fits in the hand comfortably. It has a little matching stand which keeps it upright. The sensor has a cap which fits snugly.
How does it work? It defaults to ear mode so if you want to use it to measure at the temple you have to change the mode - which isn't the most instinctual process but you get the hang of it. You pop the sensor against baby's temple and gently move it in a circular motion. The screen is not backlit so in a dark room it is difficult to read the screen but the tip does glow red/green to indicate fever which would be visible.
How long does it take? Readings take 5-8 seconds
Did the baby like it? She didn't seem to mind at all and it is quite easy to do when asleep.
Added extras? As mentioned the device has a fever alarm - the tip glows green for a normal reading and red for a high temperature plus you can measure surface temperatures (bath water, baby milk etc) using a different setting. It holds the past 25 readings in it's memory. When not in use the device shows the room temperature (it can be turned off completely to save battery life). Silent mode.
Pros: The stand makes it easy to use at a glance as a room thermometer.
Cons: It is annoying that it reverts back to ear mode everytime it is turned off.
Good all rounder - Great value for money
Omron Gentle Temp 720 £43.95
This is an infrared contactless device which measures forehead temperature.
How does it look: The unit is quite large and definitely the most medicinal looking device on test. It is long but sits in the hand well.
How does it work: It couldn't be more simple. You turn it on. Hold it 1-3cms from the centre of the forehead and press the start button. The screen is back lit so easy reading in the dark.
How long does it take? 1 second
Did the baby like it? My top tip with this one is do it discreetly! As soon as Little I saw the unit she wanted it. Trying to keep her still to take the reading (which only takes 1 second so you'd think it would be easy, right?) Luckily it does only take 1 second so at some point they usually do sit still for that long. It is perfect when they are sleeping as you don't need to touch them at all.
Added extras: The unit shows the room temperature when not in use and can also be used to measure surface temperatures. It holds 25 readings in the memory. Silent mode.
Pros: The speed of reading is virtually instantaneous. Plus you don't need to touch the child (just keep them still for 1second!) Genius.
Cons: It is quite large (you wouldn't want to carry it around in your bag) plus it is quite expensive. Most importantly it doesn't have a fever alarm.
Incredibly quick and easy to use - a professional unit.
Chicco My Touch £24.99
This is an infrared forehead thermometer with an unusual design.
How does it look? The smallest device I've seen, the My Touch is round and compact.
How does it work? The unusual device is designed to be held between 2 fingers and cradled against baby's temple. It is very simple to use. Turn it on, wait 2 seconds for calibration then press the scan button. You cradle against baby's temple moving slightly up and down. The unit beeps when finished and has a 3 colour fever alarm to alert high temperatures. The screen is not backlit so you need to rely on the fever alarm in the dark.
How long does it take? 5 seconds
Did the baby like it? She barely knew it was happening as I did it during a cuddle. We even took a selfie during one reading! Little E also decided it was her favourite because it is 'so cute!'. I never thought I would say this about a thermometer but she is right!
Added extras: 25 previous readings memory. Silent mode.
Pros: It is very compact so incredibly portable. I love the ergonomic design. The red, amber, green fever alarm (plus a sound alarm) makes it very clear to read.
Cons: No backlight, no surface or room temperature settings.
Overall verdict: 4/5
Unique design - Most portable
So they all get the same score! They all took forehead temperature accurately and efficiently - it is personal preference which added extras you like - plus how much budget you have to spend.
If you don't already have a room thermometer in the nursery and are on a budget the NUK is a good option but if you have a little bit more cash to spend the Omron is a very professional device.
Personally I will be keeping the Chicco My Touch in my change bag at all times - it is so compact and perfect for when out and about (it accompanied us on our family holiday to Spain last month!) In the medicine cabinet I'll keep the professional Omron - perfect for night time contactless readings.
Clink the links below to purchase via Amazon.co.uk
All products tested were sent for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
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So on holiday I asked for a small chocolate ice cream for the baby...
Artist, Baker and Blogger. Mum to my two beautiful, cheeky girls. Muddling my way through parenthood with equally cheeky Husband.