Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Healthier halloween chocolate spider web cake - Sykes Cottages Healthy Halloween Treat !

Oliver loves cake - who doesn't? So when I was asked by Sykes Cottages if I'd like to have a go at creating a healthy halloween treat I instantly thought yay! (If you've never heard of Sykes Cottages you must go have a little look, they've got some gorgeous holiday cottages on offer) But then the problem came, what healthy halloween treat?! oh gosh. So I decided to adjust it a little to make it a 'healthier treat', a 'healthier' than your average chocolate cake! So here it goes.... 
I started by asking Oliver what treat he would like for halloween and he replied with 'a GIANT chocolate spider web cake' - oh ok, thanks Oliver, as usual something nice and easy to do. Don't think I can do the 'giant' but I shall give the chocolate spider web cake a go... a healthier go!
So firstly I wanted to create a sugar-free chocolate sponge cake?
Ingredients: 200g self raising flour, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, 200g low fat margarine, 3 medium eggs, little bit of semi-skimmed milk, 100g natvia.

So that's a little healthier, right?!?!
Put it all in a bowl and mix it all together until its as Oliver says, 'really smooth'. Pop it into a cake tin and put it in the oven at gas mark 4 for what seems like forever!!
For the alternative to icing I've decided to throw together a weird mixture and see what it ends up like, so in the cupboard we had peanut butter which I've never let Oliver have and I can't eat anymore due to breastfeeding Isabelle who's got cows milk protein allergy, so might aswell see if we can make some use of it!?
Ingredients: 4 table spoons of peanut butter, 2.5 table spoons of soft cheese, 1 and a half table spoons of maple syrup, 8oz greek style yoghurt and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Mix the peanut butter and yoghurt together until combined, add the maple syrup and cream cheese, finally adding the vanilla extract and keep mixing until its all smooth..... and guess what I've no idea what this tastes like! haha, I can't actually eat it due to the dairy included in the ingredients so the taste test has been done by Oliver - who's 5 and he says its 'yummy', so it must be yummy right? He also loved putting it all over the cake but that wasn't his fav bit!

Cover the top of the cake in the 'peanut butter yoghurt messy stuff' and then it's time to decorate! Oliver decided on the spiderweb theme... but how on earth was I going to manage that in a healthy way? Then I realised Oliver loves Yo-Yo bears so why not use those!?
So here's what it ended up like.....(Oliver's best bit was getting to eat leftover bits of yo-yo bears straight away!) Around the outside, we've used raisins to make it even healthier treat!

We didn't really have time to work out how to make a spider for the cake so Oliver's kindly said we can use one of his toy ones BUT we can't eat it and he needs it back as soon as possible! (probably so he can leave it on my pillow again because he knows I'm terrified of spiders?! Daddy's idea by the way and no, no no no, Michael it was not funny, it will never be funny and I will get both of you back for it... just a matter of time...).
If you try and make this and it goes wrong by following my instructions I accept absolutely no responsibility :)

I know that this isn't the 'healthiest' of all halloween healthy treats but I like to think we've found a healthier way to enjoy a chocolate cake!
But to add a little healthy we have also got an orange - oops we emptied out the good stuff and filled it with green monster jelly mwahahaha! well Halloween is meant to be fun isn't it!?

We have really enjoyed making this cake so big thank you to Sykes Cottages for getting us involved!
Happy Halloween!
Mary-Kate, x

This post was written to be my entry for the Sykes Cottages Healthy Halloween treat competition - Oliver was sent a lovely reciepe book and we were compensated for the cost of the ingredients, Oliver says 'we really want to win!' Our opinion is that we think Sykes Cottages are a great website offering gorgeous cottages from coastal to countryside - there's something for everyone. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

#5StepWeaning plan by Cow & Gate

We're very excited that we have been chosen as one of the ambassadors for Cow & Gate 5 Step Weaning online plan which if you haven't already seen you must take a look - it definitely came at the right time as I know I'm a second time mum but every baby is so so different and I litterally forgot 'how' I weaned Oliver, that and the fact Isabelle has cows milk protein allergy I just felt like I needed some help. We were sent a box of cow & gate goodies as well as some weaning accessories and a supermarket voucher to help us on our weaning journey.
If you're about to start weaning or even if you've started and feeling a little out of your depth - I know I did both times but more so with my second due to allergies, then this could really help you, so far its definitely helped us!

Isabelle is allergic to dairy so her weaning is going to take slightly longer due to the fact we need to introduce one new thing at a time for 3 days before introducing something different just to make sure she's actually ok with it, she is having a skin prick test done next month so hopefully we will be able to introduce a few things then and not have to worry so much. She has reacted to a few other things randomly that had no milk in so we're just being super careful. Also if your baby has allergies then I'm thrilled to tell you that you can still follow Cow & Gate 5 step weaning, just cut out the 'problem' food!

very first spoonful of neocate spoon - baby rice
If you register for the Cow & Gate 5 Step Weaning plan then you will receieve some money off vouchers - which always come in handy don't they? Especially with the big C word coming up soon... don't worry I won't say it just yet! (maybe tomorrow or soon when I've got a 'C' gift guide for the blog). Also you will be able to track your babies likes and dislikes, which is a great way to remember what they actually liked, I don't know about you but I'm still exhausted since having my baby 7 months ago and my memory is seriously suffering so the fact that Cow & Gate will remember for me through the 5 Step Weaning plan is a big thumbs up from us!
Avocado and pear... she loved it!
A little bit about the plan...
Step one is first spoonfuls - goal to help your baby eat from their spoon and introduce those exciting first foods that will get spat in your face! Never will you think its cute to be spat at other than this time by the way... First tastes include carrots, pear, peas, apples and broccoli (which if your little one is allergic to dairy like mine, I'd suggest avoiding as it creates wind and my little girl along with others with cmpa can't handle broccoli).
Step two is introducing breakfast for your little ones, getting into a good daily routine of breakfast will help later on. Isabelle is super fussy at the moment, I've tried countless cereals but she just wants a mashed up banana for breakfast - we recently tried toast but she had terrible wind and was up alot that night so we're avoiding until after skin prick test. Good ideas are baby porridge with banana, pear or apple puree.
Step three is offering variety, introducing a wider variety of vegetables and fruit to your little ones meal times. Some of these are butternut squash, mango and tomatoe.
Step four is adding meat and fish (or alternatives) to your babies diet and includes recipes like sweet potatoe and lamb.
Step five is to establish your babies three meals per day, the aim being to put all the steps together to create a healthy three meal per day diet for your little one.

It's so important to remember that a face you might read as baby hating the food, might actually mean they like it - it's just new. Try everything again and again to see if your baby likes it, Isabelle hardly ever likes something straight away.

I love that the Cow and Gate website is really easy to use, you can be registered within minutes and creating your babies own weaning plan. They have special 'eaticons' to track your babies likes and dislikes. When I started weaning Isabelle I said I was going to make all of her food - this didn't last, trust me I woke up and smelt the roses baby poo and realised sometimes life is busy and you need to have that quick alternative back up in the cupboard or in your bag if you're off out.. you can't just say no to a hungry little baby... think it's fab that each recipe shows a Cow and Gate ready made alternative, fab for if you know your baby likes a certain food you've made and you're going out so would like to that some ready made with you.

Isabelle's average food day at 7 months old
Breakfast - mashed up banana (always try some baby cereal too but she closes her mouth)
Snack
- rice cakes
Lunch - mashed carrot/sweet potatoe and chicken and if we're at home she will have finger food dessert such as fruit she can hold herself and get super messy but if we're out or she's just really hungry I give her fruit puree as she gets it 'quicker' she likes avocado and pear or banana and apple, she seems to prefer two fruits mixed together.
Snack - finger foods such as carrot, crisps or baby biscuits.
Dinner - something like carrots, peas and pears or sweet potatoe, beetroot and quinola. followed by some fruit either finger foods or purees.

She's obviously still having lots of milk too, although I have noticed her wanting less and less lately. I've started to offer her water with every feed but we are yet to find a cup that she really likes using. I think being breastfed mostly she gets a bit confused when it comes to a beaker.
So far we absolutely love the #5StepWeaning plan and can't wait to try more of the reciepes suggested and also try some more of the Cow & Gate products.

We will definitely share some of the reciepes ideas suggested on the Cow & Gate 5 Step Weaning plan with you soon! And also Isabelle will put those products to the test and let you know what she thinks. She absolutely loves the apple and pear puree!

Are you following the 5 Step Weaning plan too? If so I'd love to know what your little ones favourites are so far.

Mary-Kate, x

please note that I was sent products and voucher to help me complete this review but all of the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

CupCake Nursing Pads Review!

Recently I was sent a new product from a brand I already love called Cake Lingerie, I've reviewed one of their nursing sets which you can find here!

The new product is CupCake nursing pads which are reuseable breast pads and I will add at this point that I've always said I'll never use resueable breast pads, it's safe to say I've eaten my words and completely changed my mind, they make perfect sense now.

The packaging is different, I really like the two eggs on the front of this complimentary packet and I think it really makes them stand out. Theres also milk bottles, ice cream sodas and grapefruit. The packaging is also 100% recycled which is good, helping the eco-friendly nature of this product.

The product itself is great, super soft and feels as if you're not actually wearing breast pads - the disposable ones sometimes make me itchy which obviously is incredibly annoying. They're organic cotton and washable, being super thin no one will actually know you're wearing them because they are designed to be discreet under your clothing leaving you confident that you'll remain wet patch free! The nursing pad itself has a pocket where you can pop in some liners if they're required. I've used them with and without liners and to be honest I prefer with because sometimes I leak alot and although they've always held it without the liners, I just like the extra protection. One/Two/Three liners can be added, depending on what your needs are which is great! You couldnt put two disposable pads on could you? Just wouldn't work like this. I wish I'd of had these months ago, especially when I had a little blister on my nipple! ouch ouch ouch. They would have really helped me. Fantastic addition to any breastfeeding mums life.
If you've always said no to reusable, why? I hated the idea of washing something in my washing machine thats dirty - how silly was that because my bra goes in there and without pads that will get bits of milk on! silly me. silly baby brain.

Price wise, for 2 x pairs of light nursing pads it will cost £9.90 and for 3 it will cost £16.90. The CupCake liners come in pack of two for £5.90 and you can buy them online at www.cakelingerie.com

As with all the reviews I do I wanted to use these for a bit before posting on here so I can give an honest review, I really like these I think they're discreet making you more confident and wash lovely, not losing that 'new' feeling against your skin.




Mary-Kate, x
please note that I was sent this complimentary packet for the review but all of the opinions are my own.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Clothies (burp cloths)

Isabelle is still breastfed but she's being topped up before bed with a bottle of prescription formula milk which is suitable for babies with cows milk protein allergy and she's been a very burpy baby so these burp cloths have come in very handy so far and I can see us using them for a long time to come. When she was suffering with the milk allergy and we didn't know, my goodness she had a lot of wind so these were fantastic to be able to hold infront of her or over our shoulder while winding her. (we spent alot of time winding her! That baby has done some massive burps for a little lady). It saved our clothes always having baby sick on. 
 As a mum herself, creator of Clothies, Sarah, has created an item that is both gorgeous and actually useful to new parents, something she wishes was around years ago. Have you ever experienced a burp cloth going wet really quickly? Making it actually pointless to even use it. Sarah had noticed the need for a burp cloth that could keep up with babies milk dribbles and therefore designed Clothies with their 100% cotton front and a fast drying micro fleece back they're ideal for windy babies and messy drinkers! (Isabelle's bottle of milk always runs down her neck, I don't think she's got the hang of the difference between breast and bottle).
We were sent a pack of 3 Clothies to review, in the Pink Zoo print which is white, grey and pink. One has animal prints on, another is plain pink and one is pink with white polka dots on it. Size wise they're generous at 18cm x 48cm.

Isabelle has very delicate skin so I love knowing that these are soft and gentle on her little face, she had terrible baby acne to begin with which was actually just due to the dairy allergy so we needed something that wasnt going to upset her skin. I like that you can machine wash these and I actually pop them into the tumble dryer with delicate items on a very low setting - I'm not sure if this is 'ok' but they've always been fine. I sometimes forget to take the washing out of the dryer when its finished... oops. So I have on occasion ironed the cotton side which is allowed but I've never ironed the fleece side as that isnt ok!  

These come packaged lovely and would make a fantastic gift for a new baby or a treat for your own baby because they're cute and why not? They fit nicely into a changing bag while some of my muslins just take up too much space and feel very wet after being used, I don't want that in my bag especially if you're out for the day, it makes much more sense to pop one of these fast drying burp cloths in your bag.


What we love the most about these? The bright designs, the softness and the way the wash up like new again and again. The only thing I'd suggest is maybe more versions that are unisex so either boy or girl could have them. I always like to say on reviews that it's an investment buy, hehe, if the item can be kept if you're planing to have another baby.

The price of these are £14.99 for a set of 3. They also do a Christmas range, so if you know a baby due just before they would make an ideal little gift. There's also free P&P - which I love! 

You can have a look at Clothies here :)

Mary-Kate, x 



please note that these burp cloths were sent to us for the purpose of this review but all of the views are our own.

Cosatto 3sixti highchair

You may have seen in a few photos on twitter Isabelle sitting in a rather lovely highchair, we both love it and now we've used it for a little while I'm going to tell you all about it. Being a second time mum, I obviously have experience of highchairs already and can compare this one to the one I used with Oliver, that little 'baby' of mine that is suddenly a 5 year old. wow. The highchair is the 3sixti by Cosatto which is a lovely company who sell various baby items which are different to your average boring plain colours, they're lively and fun. Oliver loves his robot car seat and we can't wait to get Isabelle a similar girly one. Oh and have you seen their ooba pram? I saw it in person for the first time at an event this week, Danni from It Started With A Squish had it and I don't think she noticed me admiring her pushchair but it looked great and I have a bit of pram envy going on right now. Her little girl looked very comfortable eating her breadstick in it! You should check out her review - Cosatto ooba
 Firstly I'll tell you about how easy it is to set up... Just so you know, I have never put something together successfully by myself before. Usually I get all excited that we've got something new, take things out of the box and give it a go... then get annoyed, give up and wait for Michael to come home and do it - at which point I've made him confused as I've tried to do some of it, mixing all the bits up. oops. So this time instead of just waiting for Michael to get home, what did I do?... That's right, I opened the box and guess what?! put it together myself! In only 15 minutes as well, how good is that? *pats self on head* then sings I don't need a man - until something else needs making or there's a spider to put outside, then Michael actually yes I do need you!! I can't take all the credit though because obviously Cosatto give you all the instructions you need, they make it very simple to follow and if I can do it - you can too!
And what do I do with this?
Is this what I do ?
I love the design we have, it's called 'Orange Sqaush' but I admit I took ages to decide which one to go for because there is so many lovely ones to choose from. I love that it isn't like a usual highchair with legs sticking out. At first I thought 'oh, no handy basket' well actually good because with Oliver's basket all I ever done was clean it out. Having a basket under a little ones highchair where they're going to drop food, you need to be prepared to clean it out all the time as little bits will get in there. Isabelle's go all over the floor and having no basket means it takes less time to clean up. Less time cleaning = happier me.

Isabelle likes to look at our fish tank, so she was delighted when I turned her chair around to see them then I can just turn it back around to face the table again, fantastic feature of the 3sixti. Oliver was delighted to learn that the seat can go around so if he moved to a different part of the room she could still watch him. We have a long room which is out living room and dining aread in one so this feature of 6 different positions is very handy for us. She likes to sit in the highchair with a few toys while I clean up, she hates the noise of my dyson. I admit I tried to hide from Oliver that the seat goes up and down easily but he questioned 'what does this do mummy?'.... Then I showed him and he says 'Weeeeeeee goes Isabelle up' ...' do you want to go back down now Isabelle?' *Isabelle chuckle* oh dear I think, we'll be here for some time now. We were.




The feature of the gas lift height positions is great as it will be able to have baby sitting up at the table, whatever table height you've got. Oliver is 5 years old and he cannot figure out that you need to push the seat unit down a little while pushing your foot on the button on the bass to make it work and go up or down so if you're worried that your older child will just keep moving them up and down - don't be. The tray is fantastic, there is 2 parts to it. With our one the top bit is orange to match the design and easily removes to be clean - oh it's been cleaned alot. The white bit of the tray has a cup section which at the moment Isabelle's cup doesn't fit in because of it's handles but when shes moved on to a bigger little girl cup then it will be perfect. There is also adjustable sections 1,2,3 for the tray to fit on meaning it will grow with your little person, allowing more space if required, the tray could also be moved to let your little one sit up at the table. Actually we haven't done this yet so I'll try that today and I'm sure she will love it.

Another thing I think is fantastic is the fact I can take all the padded cushion off and wipe it clean, it actually cleans nicely leaving no mucky bits of food. It's super simple to take off and put back on which Oliver's just wasn't and it became a nightmare to clean. Also fantastic if you're planning to have more babies as you can keep this clean and then store it away for next time. Oliver often fell asleep in his highchair so he would of loved the fact this one reclines with 3 different positions, suitable for babies from 6 months old. Which is when Isabelle started to use hers.
The last feature I must tell you about is the under base roller so you can move the highchair around to suit you, I take it into the kitchen so when I'm doing something Isabelle can sit there babbling away to me while eating a tasty Organix snack. I have tried to lift the highchair before and it is rather heavy but if you think about it the base needs to be heavy for safety reasons and if you move it about and get it in the right position the under base roller does move easily but you need to move it right.

So it's safe to say we absolutely love this highchair, it is stylish so looks good in our house and very importantly it's comfortable for Isabelle to sit in. The fact that I haven't walked into a leg and bent my little toe sideways is obviously a great plus! Gosh it hurts when that happens doesn't it?

This highchair retails for £165 which if you consider all of the features I feel is a good price, Oliver's cost about £100 back then so to have this one would of been much better value for money. Don't forget that with Cosatto you also get a free 4 year guarantee!

If you're looking for a highchair you can find out more about this lovely one by visiting Cosatto website 

I'd love to know what is your favourite Cosatto item?

Mary-Kate, x



We were sent the Cosatto 3Sixti for review but all of the opinions are our own. As a family we love this product.
Binky Linky

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Blogfest...

I am really excited to tell you that I am going to blogfest this year thanks to the lovely people at Ardo for sponsoring me to attend!
You may or may not already know that Ardo is one of my favourite brands so far and without them I wouldn't still be breastfeeding. Isabelle's got a cows milk protein allergy and we struggled to begin with.
The first pump I had was tommee tippee one which we brought at the baby show without looking into pumps and although I use their bottles and steriliser which I like, I definitely don't recommend that you buy the electric breastpump by tommee tippee because it sounds awful, ever so loud and it hurt me! Like actually HURT. Isabelle hadn't hurt me so then to get sore nipple from a machine was so irritating, I also got hardly any milk out of my breasts using the tommee tippee and I thought that there was something wrong with my boobs! But actually it was the pump and not me. It wasn't working properly and the brand never actually got around to sending me the replacement bit!

Ardo saved the day

by sending me a Calypso double electric breastpump which completely changed my experience of expressing breastmilk and has helped so much - it doesn't have to hurt and the noise doesn't have to be so unbareable! I can actually express one breast while Isabelle is on the other and she doesn't even realise, honestly it is that silent.

If you're pregnant and looking into breastpumps or currently breastfeeding and in need of a new pump, take a look at Ardo! I hadn't heard of them before but trust me they're amazing.

So because Ardo have helped me so much with my breastfeeding I am delighted to be going to blogfest as their blogger on the ground and I will be telling everyone I talk to how much Ardo have helped me. I'll be posting again soon to tell you a bit more about Ardo and their products.

Are you going to Blogfest?

Mary-Kate, x

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Do you have a little Octonauts fan?

Oliver absolutely loves Octonauts! He thinks they're great and I encourage him to watch them because I think the programme itself teaches them a lot about under the sea and helping other people. 

If you haven't heard of The Octonauts, where have you been? But fear not, you can turn Cbeebies on and meet Captain Barnacles, Kwazii, Peso and the rest of the gang. Oliver has books, dvds, toys which he uses in the bath and even the octopod which he loves so I was delighted to be able to get a family ticket to go to the very first Octonauts Live stage show to review which I will do straight after we've been early next year, it's called 'Octonauts and the deep sea volcano adventure' which is starting very soon and continuing into 2015 - are we really nearly in 2015?! When did that happen? Anyway I can't wait to see Octonauts! I haven't even told Oliver yet and I'm already telling you because I just couldn't wait any longer. Would you like to go too? Well just keep reading... 
In Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.


Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure
is produced by live children’s show supremos Fiery Light (joint venture by Fiery Angel and Limelight Productions), the team also behind the recent tours of the three successful Peppa Pig stage shows. (ahh Peppa pig, Oliver loved peppa and george, we can't wait for Isabelle to like them) Their most recent – Peppa Pig’s Big Splash - is currently on tour. It has broken box office records for a pre-school show and will return to the West End for fifth consecutive Christmas season at the Criterion Theatre this year. Other Fiery Light productions include the recent tour of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, LazyTown Live! and Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Oliver loves Roald Dahl since his uncle brought him a collection of books for his birthday, I really need to look out for shows to take Oliver to.
Director/adapter Richard Lewis said: ‘Octonauts is all about adventure and exploration which offers up a whole host of possibilities in a live environment. From the colourful characters and fantastic underwater setting to the amazing octopod where the Octonauts live, there’s great scope for a really unique, interactive theatre experience. We can’t wait to take fans on an adventure like never before.’
And Richard Lewis - we can't wait too!
Competition time

Now I feel double lucky today because I've been given the chance to let one of my readers win a family ticket to Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano adventure at a venue and date of their choice through the rafflecopter entry below. A family ticket is for 4 people, a minimum of 1 adult is required. There will be NO cash alternative and tickets are non-transerable. There is no accommodation or travel included.

For tour information please go to www.octonautslive.co.uk 



You can also go to their facebook page to see updates Octonauts Live facebook page
a Rafflecopter giveaway

good luck!

Mary-Kate, x