Saturday 14 October 2017

Throwing the Ultimate Adult Halloween Party!

Are you excited for Halloween? I am! If you've been reading my posts the past few weeks, or know me at all you will know I LOVE Halloween.

The love for me goes as far back as I remember- the costumes, sweets, movies... I loved it all as a child, and once I was an adult the Halloween parties were the best. I've spent so many embarrassing Halloween nights "out out" in town dressed as zombie-this or spooky-that, and many more dressed up and watching scary films with friends at their houses.

If you're looking to throw a Halloween party for the grown ups this year (because sometimes we deserve a night to dress up and have a glass of wine or two in the spirit of scariness!) you can check out these awesome ideas to make it a party to remember.

How amazing do those cocktails look? You can find even more party ideas for your grown up Halloween bash here!

Disclosure: This has been a collaborative post. Halloween pack provided by Festive Lights.

Monster Island [Film Review]

"It's spooky but fun, and a little scary. But fun scary! Can we watch it again tomorrow?" (Isla)

Monster Island is a fantastic new family film coming out this month, right in time for Halloween. Bought to you by the producer of Top Cat Begins and the writer of Madagascar, it is a wonderful animated feature with a lot of laughs and just the right amount of fright, and we were thrilled to be lucky enough receive a copy to review.

I've been doing everything I can to get Isla into the spooky Halloween spirit- if you've been reading my other posts you can tell it's one of my favourite times of year- and this film was the perfect vibe to get her in the mood. Every week for one day a week, we snuggle up after her afternoon nap and have a bowl of popcorn and a film, and she'd been eyeing Monster Island up suspiciously since it had come in the post.

The film follows Lucas, a young boy who isn't having the best time in the human world- but once he finds out he isn't exactly human he leaves to find his real roots and discovers Monster Island, a wonderfully vibrant world full of more tentacles than a seafood salad, fangs, and a villain so well written you'll be booing him off the screen (Isla did, several times!).

The movie is rated PG so I sat with her- I was worried some of the monsters might be a bit too scary for her, but even at 2 and a half years old Isla wasn't phased. She absolutely loved telling me about all the weird and wonderful things she was seeing and could follow along really well with the story. Even as an adult, I found it hard to look away. It's a seriously enjoyable film for the whole family.

Monster Island is due for release on the 16th October!

We received a copy of Monster Island in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions are my own. Pictures provided and owned by Kaleidoscope Film Distribution.

Is it my fault she's shy?

When I was a child, I can remember feeling nervous in big groups. I would get very anxious about whether or not I would fit in, and I would panic and think about all the things that could go wrong. For a large period, I was terrified of going out or taking the bus or having to use the phone. Usually, once I acclimatised I was okay and I was quite good at smiling and pretending my heart wasn't trying to break out of my chest.

This reflects pretty heavily on my personality as an adult. I have pretty severe social anxiety and don't have very many friends at all- I've always panicked about what people think of me, reading between the lines and creating a situation in my head which leads me to believe people don't want to be around me.

In a lucid moment, I always know I'm being ridiculous and as I was as a child, I'm still very good at forcing myself to just get on with it.

The hardest part of it all, is seeing my toddler be shy. Once a super outgoing pre-walker who had no sense of "stranger danger" in the slightest, Isla is now terrified of new people and experiences. I take her to the soft play and she is very anxious about playing with other children.

You can see that she really wants to join in and be a part of it all, and she talks furiously about going to meet new friend and asking me if she can play with the boys and girls.. it's just once she's beside them she panics and runs back to me.

She is similar to how I was, and once she gets used to a new place or being around someone new, she can relax... but it's heartbreaking when she sobs into my lap and I don't know how to reassure her.

I honestly believe it is my fault. What if she has picked up the vibe from me? I've only taken her to toddler group twice and that is a new development that took me 24 months to be brave enough to do. Can she tell I'm terrified? I worry my own anxiety and shyness has stopped her getting socialised outside her circle of friends and family. I do try very very hard to make a point of being friendly and chatty to everyone we meet so she see's they aren't frightening.

I'm doing everything I can now. Isla recently had her 2.5 year review with the health visitor team who were shocked by how advanced her speech and mental development is. They said she is on par with a four year old but in order to keep her from playing up and struggling in future, I needed to try offer her more situations to "get it all out" and use her skills. So I took the plunge and have finally started taking her to toddler group every week.

It's a small step, but I'm already seeing improvements in her- she is keener on other children besides the ones she already knew, and she was even brave enough to play away from me at our last session.

If anyone has any tips or just knows what I'm going through do share in the comments or tweet me. I need some reassurance that it isn't forever and she won't always be shy...!

Thank you for reading.

Steph xo

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Nimble Milk Buster- Review and Giveaway

As I've been breastfeeding Archer, I've only really used bottles on rare occasions, using milk from a breast pump. I recently went into my cupboards to move some bits around and I found my bottles were a mess- they looked greasy and grimy and when I opened one, they really smelt!

How had this happened?! I hadn't used them for ages, but I had washed them and put them all away dry. I could literally smear the grease with my fingers. Apparently, because my breast milk is high in fat, it can leave a residue film across all my pump parts and bottles. It can even happen with formula.

It was perfect timing really for me to test out the milk buster sprays by Nimble. The handy spray is designed to get into all the nooks and crannies of bottles and tiny pump parts (as well as bowls and spoons if you're weaning!) and get rid of the cloudy smelly residue, leaving them crystal clear and germ free as the day they were bought.

To make the test fair, I took out two of the bottles we have yet to use and filled them both with some pumped breast milk and gave them a shake, then left them to sit for an hour.

(splashed with milk)

I then washed and rinsed one in just water, and the other using the cleaning technique on the back of the milk buster bottle.

I was honestly sceptical at first, but after having to re wash all my bottles and pump parts multiple times between uses, I was willing to try anything.

(After washing)

The difference was clear almost instantly- the bottle on the right was with milk buster. Look at how crystal clear the teat is compared to the already cloudy bottle on the left! I wash and sterilise so thoroughly but the difference really is as clear as day using milk buster.

You can buy it in full size bottles and a handy travel size which you can throw into any travel or changing bag. You can also rest assured as the product is plant based, so no chemical nasties.

Now, if you're interested I'm offering two readers the chance to win a full sized bottle of Milk Buster to try for yourself! Enter in the widget below!

Milk Buster by Nimble

I recieved a full sized and travel bottle of milk buster in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own, and all photos are my own unless stated otherwise.

Prize to be supplied directly by brand. All entrants must be UK residents aged 18+ and supply valid contact details. Winners will be selected at random and contacted by myself. Winners will need to confirm details by responding within 14 days or winner will be re-selected.

Monday 9 October 2017

Spider Grab- Toddler Friendly Activities

Carrying on the theme of Halloween, we've been playing a new sensory game this week- Spider Grab!

The whole thing only cost around £2.50 and took less than five minutes to put together, and Isla has been playing with it for days now.

I found this small storage basket in Poundland, as well as the crochet wool/string and some spiders. I weaved the string through the holes and then placed the spiders in the bottom of the basket.

The idea is that the string makes it quite challenging to collect the spiders as they get tangled, and with it being pulled taut Isla had to weave her hand around to reach the bottom. It's a lovely activity to help develop fine motor skills and to develop problem solving skills.

With the spiders and the string "web" it's a lovely themed activity for the season. We've also tried putting conkers in the bottom, and doing it timed! You can also make it harder by adding more string or using tweezers instead of fingers.

Halloween is getting so close now!

Steph xo

Weaning with Archer- Apple & Carrot baby food recipe

Archer hit 4 months at the start of October, and along with his age and the signs he's been giving us for weeks now, we've decided to start introducing him to purees! How exciting!

Isla was early to be weaned as well- we started her at 16 weeks. They're both just exceptionally hungry children and even with me breast feeding this time around, there was no denying Archer felt ready to join in with the good stuff.

So, I'm inviting you to follow along with our weaning journey. I'll be sharing recipes, tips and tricks, and how he gets along with it all.

This past week, Archer has had tastes of avocado pureed with breast milk, bananas, and parsnip puree. I've been homemaking all of his food so far and once he hits around 6 months I will start mixing in some elements of baby led weaning.

Apple and Carrot Puree Recipe

- One medium Gala apple (Gala apples have a mild, sweet taste)
- One medium carrot
- 1.5 oz breast milk (optional, to make a creamier texture. You can mix in formula when serving if you prefer)

Start by peeling, and then chopping your apple and carrot. I choose to steam most of the fruit and veg I work with so chopping it as small as possible helps with cooking times- it also helps when blending later.

Steam the carrots for around 10 minutes before adding the apple- the carrot cooks faster and you'll lose a lot of the apples juices if you put them in too soon. Once the apple is added, steam for around another 10 minutes.

If you have a low capacity blender like mine, add in around half the steamed bits and blitz on low before adding in the rest. Keep stopping to mix in the larger lumps until none can be found, forming a puree.

I prefer purees to be a bit creamier and I find they blend smoother if I add in breast milk- plus, it makes the flavour a little more familiar for Archer. Add in around an oz to two oz, dependant on how thick or thin you need the mixture.

(Alternatively, add in some formula when serving if that's what baby drinks, it will also make it creamier and add the familiar taste!)

I put around 1.5oz of food in each storage pot for now as that's around what Archer eats. Once he's eating more, I'll start making enough to freeze and store.

What was the first thing your little one ate? If they try apples and carrots let me knw how they get along!

Steph xo


Wednesday 4 October 2017

Toddler Favourites- September 2017

September is over and gone already- and boy did it go fast. We were gone for a week in Great Yarmouth, Isla started attending a playgroup every  and we've had barely five minutes to stop and notice we're now in October.

A lot of the things Isla has talked about and enjoyed this month were discovered on our holiday! It was the first one we've been on where she actually understood what was going on and we had a wonderful time. With that said, here are Isla's favourite's from September.

1. The Aquarium

Watching penguins at the aquarium.

During our trip to Yarmouth, we visited the Sea Life Aquarium. We've been to pretty much all their branches now it feels like! Isla was always quite young though and didn't overly get the point before, but this visit she was loving life. She ran around collecting stamps, learning, and searching for Nemo and Dory who we found at the end. It was weeks ago and she's still talking about it like it was the best day of her life. I'll be doing a post about the aquarium later this month.

2. The Clever Sleeping Bag

We stayed in a static on our holiday, and with the adult to child ratio... Isla ended up needing to be in a travel cot. Some toddlers her age are still in cots and use the travel version, but she's been using a big girl bed since around 18 months old so we spent months looking out for a travel alternative comfier than a sleeping bag. We found this- and honestly it's amazing. She was comfy and warm and it's the perfect size for 2-5 year olds. It wraps up compact and she loves the fact it has ponies on it.

3. Magazines

Mostly because of the gifts, but she does get a good kick from the pictures and stickers too! Isla got several magazines this month- Peter Rabbit, and a Swashbuckle one being her favourites. She finally got her hands on some "Gem's Jewels" (Swashbuckle fans will know) thanks to that mag and they were great for quiet time on our holiday too.

What're your little ones enjoying at the moment? Let me know!


Tuesday 3 October 2017

Monochrome Nursery Accessories with Minene

Anyone walking into my home, looking at my Instagram or even this blog can instantly tell I have a huge love for anything monochrome. I think it's stylish, bold and just makes a room look clean and bright. I love a white background, bold blacks and with this in mind, I was absolutely thrilled when the lovely team at Minene offered me some of their monochrome range to review.

I was instantly drawn to this gorgeous rug. A lovely white rug with the alphabet embossed as the main feature- it really is perfect. It's becoming a regular feature in all my posed photo's of the kids as it embodies everything I love about the monochrome style.

It's the perfect style for most rooms and is currently residing in our play area in the living room. Isla and Archer both have space to lay and play or sit together, it has helped encourage Isla to keep all her toys in one place and she loves looking at the letters and trying to learn what each of them is.

Once Archer is bigger and able to play upstairs, we are going to incorporate it into his nursery which coincidentally is also black white and grey.

We were also sent a lovely monochrome storage basket for Archer, which is the perfect size to hold his small collection of toys. It's nice to have a special place for his bits, as Isla has all her designated toy boxes across the rooms of the house she plays in. It's also lovely and soft with a slight quilted texture meaning as he's began to roll, he can actually grab at it himself to tip it over and get to his toys, and because it is soft I don't have to worry about him being hurt in doing so.

Most nursery items seem to be either bright blue or bright pink these days, and I do have a lot of items which are nice and colourful, but my heart truly rests with monochrome so it's been so refreshing having something fit so nicely in with the theme of my homes decor whilst still being aimed towards the children.

Minene have a whole monochrome range available, as well as so many other items for the little ones- I thoroughly recommend you give them a visit here.

You can use the voucher code BW30 for 30% off any of their monochrome range too!

What colour theme did you choose for your child's play area? Do you love monochrome as much as me? Let me know!

Steph xo

I received both the storage basket and nursery rug in exchange for this post, in collaboration with Minene. All photos are my own, and all opinions expressed are my own honest thoughts.

Autumn Soup Sensory Bin- Toddler Friendly Activities

Autumn is finally here! Besides the fact that it means the spiders are also here, it really is my favourite time of year.

I've been trying over the course of the year to tell Isla all about the seasons we are in. She knows that in Spring, the flowers all come out, baby animals are born and it starts to get warmer. She also knows that in Summer the sun is hot and it's holiday time, and now it is Autumn I want to teach her about the changing leaves, harvest and cooler days.

We took a walk to playgroup on Monday, and on the way back I decided to start telling Isla about the leaves and conkers and she was fascinated. She started to pick up the leaves and tell me all about the colours- red, orange, brown... we took them all home and tried to think of something to do with them.

Lately, I've really started enjoying creating sensory bins for Isla- something to encourage her to explore new objects, textures and concepts. With this in mind, I decided we were going to have a play making "Autumn Soup".

We took all the leaves and conkers we'd found on our walk and mixed them with some nice warm water. I added in a teaspoon of ginger and a teaspoon of all spice to give the water a nice cosy smell and to make it look nice and brown and muddy (without needing to bring actual dirt indoors!). I then threw in some spoons and other kitchen bits and just let her explore the tub while we talked about what we had learnt about Autumn.

Isla absolutely loved it and has declared she loves Autumn the most, just like mummy.

What activities are you using to teach your little ones about this new season?

Steph xo

Monday 2 October 2017

Ecover Laundry Challenge

Do you ever feel like you're literally drowning in laundry? I do. I thought it was bad enough when it was just me and Jack- back then I was drowning in going out-out clothes- but since my first baby was born I feel the pile has been growing and growing at an alarming rate. We actually moved to our second home together WITH a designated box for laundry I hadn't managed to do!

Now that I have TWO children... well it's safe to say some laundry days I don't see much of Archer as he's small and easily lost in the mountains of clothes.

(This was just one week of clothing, sheets and muslin bits!)

My usual laundry routine involves sobbing and avoiding the matter starts on a Monday morning. I gather all the clothes from every laundry basket, random bedroom floors and the weird pile of socks my daughter likes to make down the side of the sofa. The laundry routine is literally never ending day by day.

I've had to convince my two year old that the washing machine is the most exciting thing in the world- she thinks it's a treat when I let her load it up now!

As my son is young, I've gotten used to using a completely separate cleaning product for him so that his sensitive skin is protected. I also separate Isla's bits as I used a certain softener for her and a different one for myself and Jack. That all sounds ridiculous right? It means I usually do 5-6 separate loads including towels, sheets, clothes... that's not even including when I wash soft toys or sofa cushions!

I've desperately sought out a detergent that means I can put all our clothes in together. It's a nightmare feeling like the washing machine and tumble drier are permanently on- but most scented products aren't suitable for sensitive baby skin, or aren't tough enough to get stains out of my toddlers clothes, or don't give that "fresh" laundry smell... nothing ticks all my boxes.

Recently I've been taking part in the Ecover laundry challenge with Britmums. I've switched my own products out to try the new non-bio detergent by Ecover for the past week and honestly it's made such a massive difference.

I've been able to get my laundry pile mostly depleted in three loads. Three! That's including towels, bed sheets, my clothes, Jack's work shirts, baby clothes- you name it. Not only smell amazing, it suits our varying needs as it's strong enough for whatever my toddler manages to embed into her clothes and soft enough to keep my sons babygros soft and fluffy for him.

I honestly don't think I'll be going back to my masses of powders and bottles- it made laundry more of a chore than it needs to be. If I stick with the Ecover, I'll be able to just throw everything in at once at the same temperature and it'll not only save time, it'll save us money as I won't be constantly doing little loads throughout the week.

Do you love or hate your laundry routine? Have you ever seen the fabled "bottom" of the laundry basket? Let me know!

This post is an entry for BritMums #EcoverLaundry challenge, sponsored by Ecover
© Under Our Roof
Blogger Templates by pipdig