Friday 29 January 2016

Godiva chocolates review

When I had Ophelia I was sent a congratulations box of Godiva chocolates. This made my day as chocolates are my weakness.

In our house we are chocolate enthusiasts. In fact hubby makes his own chocolate truffles and he's rather good at it, if I do say so myself. He experiments with different flavours and they are so tasty. Because of this we have become chocolate snobs if you could call us that. We have developed a great taste for good chocolate and are now quite picky with what we buy.

I was sent the Christmas Truffle Gift Box which is actually on sale at the moment. There were 12 truffles inside with 6 different flavours. It included the amere, caramel sale, speculoos, mousse de lait, praline amande and mousse vanille miel.

As soon as I opened the box, I was greeted with a sweet smell that had my mouth salivating. It took all my willpower not to scoff the lot in one go. Obviously I had to share with hubby.

His favourite was the amere. He adores dark chocolate and tends to only eat chocolate that is over 70%. This truffle was 72% chocolate so it was right up his street. It had a dark chocolate ganache covered in dark chocolate and topped with dark chocolate flakes. I have to say I don't normally like dark chocolate but I certainly enjoyed this one. It was soft and creamy. Even though it was a strong taste, I think the soft ganache made it tasty.

My favourite was the speculoos. It had a cinnamon biscuit mousse centre which was covered with milk chocolate and topped with a biscuit crunch. I loved the texture of the truffle.  I really like the taste of cinnamon so I enjoyed the hint that was present in this truffle. 

With Valentine's day around the corner, there are lots of different gifts on the Godiva website you can choose from. Even though people find it old fashioned, I still think there is something so classic and romantic about receiving a beautiful box of chocolates. I think chocolate has been too commercialised. Back in the day it was considered a luxury and that's why I adore seeing a beautiful box of chocolates. 

I've chosen my top picks from their Valentine's Day section. Honestly their boxes are so pretty and look exquisite. There's something very special about them. 

From top left to right and then bottom left to right:

1) Chocolate Gift Box 21 pcs - This is one of my favourites. The box is beautiful and it's full of seasonal favourites.

2) Day Fabric Heart Chocolate Gift Box - This is by far my favourite from the collection. It oozes valentine's day. It's simply stunning, so elegant. 

3) Coeur Iconique Purple Limited Edition Set - These instantly jumped out to me due to their pretty packaging. I love the colour pop and contrast. I'm sure you could find use for these boxes after you've devoured the chocolates.

4) Valentine's Heart Shaped Gift Box 14 pcs - This is perfect for valentine's day. The pretty pink heart shaped box is ideal and whats inside is even better.

5) Heart Shaped Chocolate Carres Box of 6 pcs - I like this gift as again I think you could reuse the box but it's perfect as a token gift for the less adventurous chocolate lovers out there.

I hope your mouth is watering as much as mine is right now. Which of the Valentine's gifts I have chosen is your favourite?

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Shhhh don't tell anyone but i'm a superhero!

It's about time I shared my secret with you. As the title says I'm a self proclaimed superhero. My superhero name is 'mum the amazing'. Everyday I disguise myself as your average joe mum of 2 but I unleash my powers 24/7 without my children realising just how special I am.

Here are my powers:

1) Super Strength - I can manage to lift 2 children and a change bag at the same time whilst walking around. I can lift buggies with one hand whilst holding the baby in the other.

2) Super Hearing - I have the ability to hear any cry or wimper whether it be from my own children or someone else's. I can be awoken from a sleep at the faintest of sounds through my super, dog like hearing.

3) Super Speed - I have the ability to wash and get dressed faster than you've ever imagined. I also have the speed to run as fast as I can when my toddler runs away from me.

4) Super Sight - I actually have eyes in the back of my head. I can manage to see everything that's going on even when my children think I'm not looking.

5) Super Power - I can make any bad things go away. I get rid of lions, tigers, bears, monsters, witches. You name it, I can take it on. 

6) Super Healing - I have the ability to make any baddies feel better with just one of my kisses.

7) Super Energy - I can survive on hardly any sleep. Sleeping is for losers. I can perform all tasks after having little or no sleep. I can appear energetic and enthusiastic too.

8) Super Stare - If anyone dares to give me a disapproving look when my toddler is having an almighty meltdown whilst we are out or when I am breastfeeding in public, I am able to unleash the most deadly of stares known to mankind. It'll send shivers down even the toughest cookies spines. 

9) Super Body - I am able to split myself in 2. Seriously, I can manage to do more than 1 thing at a time. I can breastfeed my baby whilst entertaining my toddler. My body can manoeuvre itself into all sorts of positions to accommodate the needs of my children.

10) Super state of mind - Sometimes things are tough, even for us superheroes, however I have the ability to count to 10 and make it all go away. I have the ability to appear as cheery as Mary Poppins even when I want to physically attack someone. I have the patience of a saint and the calmness of a peaceful lake. 

So there you have it. My secret is out. I'm not gonna lie, being this superhero is genuinely the toughest job in the world and that is why only special people can be one. There are times when my powers disappear and I breakdown but that's only when it is the end of the world as we know it! 

I'm sure lots of you can relate to this and i've got a very strong feeling that I am not the only 'mum the amazing' out there. I reckon there's a huge clan of us, unleashing our powers everyday. I encourage you to show yourself, embrace your powers and realise just how special and amazing you are. 

If you too are a superhero, i'd love to hear from you. Show me your pictures of you unleashing your powers. Send me your powers on twitter or write them in the comments below. Please use our secret hashtag #mumtheamazing

Can't wait to hear from you!! I know I am not alone xx


Monday 18 January 2016

Shalimar Baby Box

Whilst searching on instagram with #flatlay, I stumbled across a beautiful account. I was immediately drawn to the prettiness and colours on the page and I had to find out more. The account was for the Australian subscription baby box company called Shalimar Baby Box . Even though it's an Australian  company, the box can be shipped internationally. Follow their gorgeous instagram account by clicking here, Shalimar on instagram.

Subscription boxes are becoming increasingly popular especially for baby products. I know of a few back home in the UK but I knew from the stunning photographs on instagram that there was something very special about this particular one. I had to get in contact and find out more.

Nicole, who is a mum of 2, set up Shalimar baby box and believes that all baby gifts should be unique. I couldn't agree more. Some of the best baby gifts I have received have been ones that you would not find on the high street. They are more personal and feel more special and thought out. Each baby box that is sent out is handpicked from small businesses. Again I think this is great as it's putting support into smaller companies. The boxes cater for newborns to age 9 months but they are looking to increase this to 2 years in the near future.

I was lucky enough to be sent a one off subscription box to review. I couldn't wait to receive it. I had it sent to my mums house in Australia where I am currently staying but they do offer international delivery. Postage within Australia is free (always a bonus in my opinion) and international delivery is $13 per parcel, which is very reasonable.

My package arrived and I couldn't have predicted what would be inside. It was the most beautifully wrapped post I have ever received. It was simply exquisite. If you know me personally, you will know I am a sucker for wrapping presents with pretty things, so as you can imagine I was delighted to receive this. I literally didn't want to open it. I could have stared at it all day. 

I received 5 items in my box for Ophelia who is currently 8 weeks old. I had a bow for her hair, a garland for her room, a bib, bloomer pants and a soap for me. The gift for me was a lovely little surprise. 

My favourite item in the box was the dribble bib. I absolutely love the pattern on it. Ophelia's nursery back home is decorated with an african safari theme so this is perfect. It's not one I have seen anywhere before which I guess is what makes these boxes so unique and why I instantly fell in love with them. I think it looks pretty good on her but then I am biased.

My second favourite item was this garland. I've never seen anything like it before. I love the pastel colours on it and the tassel. I can't wait to get it back to the UK and in her nursery.

This is Ophelia in her bow. I think I need to put this on her all the time as she is always being called a boy because of her lack of hair!!!

The soap has the most amazing smell. It reminds me of being in a spa. It's more of a scrub soap which is great for removing dead skin. It was nice to have a little pamper for myself.

Ophelia hasn't had a chance to wear her bloomers yet as the weather has been too hot but when she does I will post a picture.

I'm sure you can see how individual and tailor made these boxes are. There are various subscriptions you can take up which you can read about in more detail on the website, subscriptions. Another thing that sets these boxes apart from the rest is that you can buy them as a one off gift. I think they'd make a beautiful baby shower gift or new baby gift. It's lovely to be able to have the flexibility to just send one box without being tied in to a contract.

I'm so happy with my box. I'll definitely be looking to get more for myself and as gifts for my friends when they are expecting a new baby. For now I will just carry on admiring their immaculate instagram account. 


Saturday 16 January 2016

Outerwear with Target Dry

Just before I had Ophelia, I was sent a gorgeous coat from Target Dry to review and a fleece for Eva. Target Dry is a brand from Belfast who specialse in outdoor clothing. Their signature items are the range called Mac in a Sac. I must admit I hadn't heard of the brand before.

I was allowed to choose a jacket myself which I was really pleased about. There was a good range to choose from and I was torn between two. I either wanted the Kendal (shown below) or the Darcey.
 Kendal Womens Waterproof Cotton Jacket
In the end I chose the Darcey. It's similar to a black one I have from Joules but the one I have doesn't have a hood. That's why I was drawn to this one. I live in my Joules one but on a rainy day it's useless, unless I take an umbrella out. With two children now I'd rather have less things to carry so a coat with a hood is ideal.

The jacket has a few features. It's windproof, water repellent and it has a 2 way front zip. It must've rained for almost a month so I got a chance to test it out properly. I definetly stayed dry whilst I was wearing it. I also found it quite warm which I was surprised about as the jacket is very thin. It's extremey lightweight to wear which means it's a verstaile jacket that can be worn in a lot of weather conditions. It's easy to add layers underneath for extreme weather.

I love the style of it. As i've mentioned previously, it reminds me of my Joules jacket. The inside lining has a lovely pattern to it and you can roll up the sleeves to show it off. It fits really well and is comfortable to wear.

The jacket is currently on sale for 47.99 which you can get from their online store here, Darcey.

I was also allowed to pick something for Eva. There are some really cute coats on their website with gorgeous prints. This one below was one of my favourites on the site.
Evie Girls Printed Rain Jacket
However, I decided to choose a fleece because Eva didn't have one. Eva loves nothing more than mountain walks with her dog and let's face it, that can be very cold in our winters. I chose the Juno fleece in ocean blue.
As you may already know we booked a last minute trip to Australia to visit my mum and sisters, after losing an immediate family member back in the UK. Because of our swift exit I left all the pictures for my blog post on my computer at home so I will have to add them to show you when I return. Eva looked great in it. The colour is very vibrant and looked fab against her wellies and dog walking gear. For now here is a picture of it from their website.
Juno Girls Sherpa Fleece
The fleece costs 15.99 at the moment. Eva loves wearing it. It fits very well and keeps her warm. The material is very soft which she loves stroking and snuggling up to. It's great for putting layers underneath it or wearing it underneath a coat. I love the fact it has a full length zip rather than a half zip as when she gets too hot from running around, I simply undo the jacket to cool her down without having to take it off.
Have you heard of the brand before? What are your essential outerwear products?


Friday 15 January 2016

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

I don't get to come to Australia and visit my mum often but when I do come I try and come around Christmas and New Year. There's one place that I love to visit if I'm here at this time and that is the Hunter Valley Garden's Christmas Lights. I've been twice before and I have to say they never dissapoint. 

I find the Australians in general tend to outdo us Brits when it comes to christmas lights. The displays people put up in their front gardens put our string lights around one window to shame.

The lights cost 27 dollars for an adult and 22 for a child. Children under 3 are free. There are other ticketing options available. They are on until the 26th January with extended evening hours until 10pm. Also at the moment they have an extra display on within the christmas lights spectacular which is called mega creatures. There's lots of lifelike Dinasour and creepy crawlies all around the gardens.

Myself, hubby, Eva and Ophelia all went. We arrived about 8pm, just as it was getting dark. At first look we thought parking was going to be a nightmare but there is a huge field that you can park in, so we found a space very easily. We used the stroller for Ophelia and we could manoeuvre it around with no problems at all.

Every year there are new lights added to the already vast display. This year the new additions are a fairy garden, a music room, santa's plane, a whale, a unicorn (this was a big hit with us) and an improved candy land. 

There is also a children's play zone located about half way through the gardens which is full of fun inflatables. There is a $5 dollar charge per person for this. In that same area is an amazing creepy crawly world which Eva absolutley loved. We couldn't get her out of there. The colours are just mesmerizing for children. 

The light's themselves are truly amazing. I can only describe it as giving you that same feeling Disneyworld does. It's magical, enchanting and excitng. Eva's favourites were Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella and My Little Pony. The hubby loved the 12 days of chritsmas and I loved the Sydney and Paris displays.

After we'd been around the lights we stopped in the food area and had a scrummy wood fired pizza but I can't remember the name of the company. There were a few food and drink stalls to choose from.

Overall, we loved the experience. It's a great, family night out and can be enjoyed for people of all ages. The gardens were very easy to get around with a stroller. The only thing Eva didn't like was the dinasours. They frightened her but I guess that's an age thing. If she was older i'm sure she would love them. If we lived here, we would most certainly make it a christmas family tradition to go and see the lights every year. I am just so grateful that I have been able to take my children to see it. Ironically, I've never actually visited the gardens in the daytime. Seeing as we are here until the middle of March, I am hoping to finally visit in the day.


Monday 11 January 2016

Summer Infant Ume One Stroller Review

If there was one piece of advice I was given when I was pregnant with my first child that I wish we'd listened to, it was to invest in a decent stroller not a pram. We didn't listen and of course brought a pram and then a stroller. I had no idea that strollers could be used from newborn. We did use our pram but only for the car seat attachment. In fact I don't think we ever used it as an actual pram. The stroller we brought wasn't cheap by any means and I can't say it was anything special.

I was asked if I would like to review the Summer Infant UME One Stroller. I jumped at the chance as I had just had my 2nd child, Ophelia and it said that it was suitable for newborns. I was very curious to see how much I would use one in the winter. 

I was over excited when it arrived. My husband and I unboxed it together. I have got a video of this but i'm currently in Australia and the video is on my computer back home in the UK, so i'll add it to this post as soon as i'm back. The stroller was very well packaged and compact. It comes with 4 pieces overall which are the 2 wheels, the main body of the stroller and the canopy. We attached the 2 front wheels which was easy as they just push on and lock in place. The canopy then just slides onto the 2 slots on either side of the stroller. This is all it takes to set it up and it's ready to go.

The first thing I noticed was how lightweight the stroller was. I can quite easily lift it one handed. This is a huge bonus in my opinion as my previous one was heavy and bulky. I've got 2 children now, one of which is a toddler who never stands still, so the fact that I can lift this stroller one handed is extremely helpful. 

I really like the style and pattern of the stroller. It's modern and stylish but isn't too girly. As much as i'd love a very girly looking stroller, I know my hubby wouldn't. 

The stroller is quite possibly one of the easiest i've ever used when it comes to putting it up and collapsing it down. To open it up you unclip the side bar and just use your foot to push down at the back and hey presto it's up. To collapse to you pull a lever at your arm level and it goes down. It's honestly so much easier than I'm describing it. 

The stroller has a very good size basket. When I first looked at it,  I thought it was quite small but I can actually fit a lot in there. There is also a very handy pocket on the back of the stroller near the height of the handles which fits all of your essentials such as car keys, purse etc. It even has a zip feature inside to secure your valuables.

One of my favourite features is how easily you can move the seating area up and down. It moves in one easy gesture. This is far simpler than my own stroller which is great for if you have your child sat up but want to lie them down without them noticing.

I love how the pushchair handles. I sound like i'm talking about a car but I suppose in theory it is for your little one. It pushes easily, it's a very smooth ride. It turns corners easily. It makes my older stroller feel like i'm pushing a tank or a huge 4 by 4 if you want to compare it to a car.

The canopy is also great as it can expand and therefore can be used as a bigger sunshade or a windbreaker.

I used the stroller a few times whilst at home in the UK and simply put Ophelia in a snowsuit and wrapped a blanket around her. She seemed warm, cosy and happy. Again those pictures are all at home so you will have to wait for those.

Overall, both hubby and I love the stroller. We've been using it for 6 weeks now. It was so simple to assemble and even more simple to put up and down. It's honestly much better than our old one which was from a leading UK mother and baby brand. I've also brought the stroller with me to Australia so keep your eyes peeled in the next few days for my review of using it whilst travelling. 

You can purchase the stroller on here on amazon, Summer Infant UME One Stroller and also get free delivery.


Wednesday 6 January 2016

A review of the Ardo Calypso Double Plus Breastpump

Before Ophelia was born I knew I was going to breastfeed. I had breastfed Eva for 9 months and loved every minute of it. With Eva, I breastfed and also expressed so that her dad could give her a bottle once a day.

If you've breastfed, you're more than likely to have considered expressing milk. Expressing can be beneficial in more ways than one. You can use expressed milk so that you can have the freedom to go places and allow other people to care for your baby. It can be used if you have latching on problems. Expressing also helps to maintain and increase your milk supply.  It is a great way for dads to start to develop a bond with their baby. You can also start building up a supply in your freezer so that when you start weaning your little one, you can use your milk with things such as cereals and porridge.

I was lucky enough to be asked if I would like to review the Calypso Double Plus Electric Breastpump made by Ardo. The pump has won lots of awards so I was looking forward to receiving it. When I was feeding Eva, I expressed a lot using a single pump so I was very keen to see the difference using a double pump.

What's in the box?
The box contains the breast pump unit, 3 different sized flanges to use, a bottle holder, a brush for cleaning, instruction manual and a mains adapter.

I found it very easy to setup and to be honest I didn't even have to read the manual. It seemed self explanatory to look at. The unit can be used by plugging into the mains or with batteries. I think this is a great feature as you can take the pump out with you if you are away from your baby for an extended period of time and your boobies end up engorged. I recently took it out with me to my works christmas party.

The pump has 2 different individual settings for vacuum and cycle. I think it's fab that you can adjust these individually as you may want to increase the speed but decrease the suction for example. This is ideal for when you are stimulating the breast and then you need to change the setting once the milk comes in. I have been using the pump with the soft massage insert which is very comfortable.

The pump has been made with 'vacuum seal' technology which provides a barrier against contamination. 

I must admit that at first I was a bit worried about double pumping. For some reason I had in my head that it may be painful. I couldn't have been more wrong. It's very easy to do, pain free and the main benefit is that it is done a lot quicker. For someone who has a toddler and a newborn baby, this feature is invaluable to me. Time is precious in my house as i'm sure you can appreciate. 

I've been using the pump now for over 6 weeks. I am really happy with it and would recommend it to anyone. I love the fact that it's a double pump or it can be used as a single pump. This makes the product much better value for money than others that are available. It gives you the flexibility that you need. I've used it many times in both capacities. When I first had Ophelia, I was using it as a double pump to relieve engorgement and to help with my milk supply. Once breastfeeding was established, I was using it as a single pump to express milk off for her dad to give her a bottle. When I don't have a lot of time, I double pump as I get twice as much milk in a short period of time.

I like the fact that it can be battery operated. As I mentioned earlier I took it on a night out with me. It's also very quiet. This was very helpful on my night out as I wanted to be as discreet as I could be. It's marketed as the quietest pump available and I have to say that it's definitely quieter than the previous breastpump I owned.

I'm really happy with the product. In fact it was one of the first things I packed in my suitcase to bring with me on my holiday to Australia. Head over to their website to view all the products they have on offer and to find out more information about the calypso pump, Ardo.

Have you used a breastpump before? Have you heard of this brand?


Sunday 3 January 2016

My postnatal stay in hospital

I've written about my labour and birth with Ophelia so my next installment is all about my post natal stay at the hospital. 

On Saturday 21st November, I spent the rest of the day after giving birth to Ophelia just staring at her and feeling on top of the world (aside from the cesarean pain). I was feeling like most mothers should. I was happy, proud, just beaming with joy. My husband went and collected our older daughter Eva and brought her in to meet her new sister. We wanted her to be the first person to meet her. She loved her but didn't want a cuddle. I lay looking at my family with so much emotion at what I had achieved and I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have such a perfect family. Eva was unhappy when she realised I had to stay in hospital but I assured her I would be seeing her the next day when she would be coming to collect us to bring us home. 

That night I was on a high care ward because I had a cesarean. There were 3 of us new mums and babies in there. When I had my observations checked I kept having a temperature. I didn't seem to bothered by it as I was so focused on my new daughter. I didn't get much sleep as I was getting used to looking after a newborn baby again and also as I was on a shared ward it was rather loud so I didn't get much rest even when Ophelia was sleeping. Not to worry, I thought. I'm only here for 1 night and I'll be back in my own comfy bed tommorow...

The next morning I woke up and received some rubbish news. After having our bloods taken both Ophelia and I were showing signs of an infection. They thought it was something that had been passed on before labour. I didn't mind too much as I thought we could be given antibiotics and be on our way back to our home. However, seeing as we both had to have IV antibiotics we then had to stay in hospital for 5 days. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The thought of staying in hospital for another 5 days was devestaing. All I wanted to do was go home. We were also moved from the ward we were on to another one which had 8 beds and they were always busy.

In the extra 5 days I was in hospital, I honestly thought I was starting to lose my mind. I was depressed. I cried all the time. I sat behind my curtain staring at the same things for what felt like an eternity. I managed to care for Ophelia in the way I should but I was desperately unhappy. If I had a visitor, I put on a brave face. I smiled, I laughed. Inside, I was screaming for help. One night, I was so upset and sleep deprived I considered walking out of the ward and never coming back. I got as far as the corridor doors. This wasn't because I didn't want Ophelia, I just didn't know what I was doing or thinking. The lack of sleep and unhappiness had completely messed with my head. This was not how family life was supposed to start.

I know you're probably reading this thinking 'well what's the big deal really? Lots of people go through this.' What I haven't mentioned is that I wasn't getting the support I needed and craved from my husband. My mother in law was terminally ill with a brain tumour and at the time she was in a hospice with days to live. He felt very torn as to where he should be. He spent most of his time at the hospice leaving me alone in the hospital. I had Ophelia on the Saturday and she passed away on the following Wednesday. She never got to meet Ophelia. What was worse is that I was stuck in the hospital at the time and I wasn't allowed to leave. It really was a terrible situation. 

I know you're probably reading this thinking I sound completely selfish and i'm some sort of dragon but there's a lot more to it than me just needing my husband. My mother in law had been diagnosed and battled this illness since I had found out I was pregnant. I guess I felt the pregnancy was forgotten about by family members and I wasn't getting any support or help. My husband had associated the pregnancy and Ophelia with his mum's illness and was pushing us away.

I don't want to get into the nitty gritty of it all as this post is about my post natal stay. I felt the need to discuss what happened with my mother in law and my husband so that you could understand how horrible I felt during that stay. I was alone, frightened and scared for how things would pan out. What should have been one of the most precious times of my life turned out to be a complete nightmare. This is why I am determined to make up for lost time.

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