Thursday, 9 June 2016

Exploring New Food

how to get toddlers to try new food
It comes as no surprise to anyone who has met me or who reads this blog that I love food. Therefore I was all over making exciting food for my little man. I chose to go down the baby led weaning route, that failed. Then I tried to spoon feed, that failed. In fact he showed zero interest in food until he was a year old, literally zero interest. I tried really plain food. I tried exciting food. The fact was he was happy with breast milk, straight from the 'cow' and that is all he would entertain. Then when he finally decided he wanted to eat he would try and eat most things; melanzane parmigiana, tapas, dauphinoise, lamb kofta, pizza, spinach and pea rolls, all vegetables, as long as they were in risotto form. Needless to say it was a dream, we could stop at any cafe or restaurant in Paris and he would eat from our plate, I tried not to be smug mummy but truthfully I was a little smug.
how to get toddlers to try new food
When we came to the UK that all changed, almost overnight he decided he would reduce his list of foods to almost zero again. He started wanting chips all the time, which was odd as previously he had refused them. He stopped eating vegetables, risotto, eggs, cheese, most things really. Ahhhhh this was my payback for the smug mummy thing right? I started to get smart, I would sneak other green veg into pesto. I started to make 'meat' balls from soya mince and purees vegetables. Quite frankly at the age of two I did not want to get into food battles, I did not want food to become a bargaining chip, nor did I want to start negotiating on food. As I talk to my friends and family it is very obvious that most of us have food issues, even if we don't care to admit it, in some way shape or form. Most of our grown up baggage stems from childhood so I am keen to reduce the baggage I give to Sebastian to the minimum. 
how to get toddlers to try new food
He is now two and a bit and his language skills are amazeballs, we have real conversations and discuss some quite complex issues so I thought at this point we could try again to get him to revert to that eat and try anything guy again. The other factor that prompted me to try again was poo. Yes I am a parent this is a toddler related post and I will from time to time talk about poo, not in a graphic way but it may come up. The truth is this limited diet of his was not helping his digestive system and some days he would really cry and suffer attempting to poop.

We took some much needed family time and went away. It might seem to be the opposite of the attitude of 'hey they are on holiday let them eat what they like' but the truth is it is a holiday so everyone is in a good mood and there is no schedule to keep to. At home if he went hungry and had to go to creche or have had friends over I would be upset and on edge about his mood so for us holidays made perfect sense. 
how to get toddlers to try new food
I used the psychology of just saying what all the great things were on the table instead of focusing on what he was not getting. Of course he asked for his bread but that was met with, "No not today, today we have this". I was met with a lot of no I don't like it so I did what I always do with him and turned to books, this way we could chat about the story and what the characters were feeling and draw on that. We read Green Eggs and Ham, this initially backfired when he demanded green eggs. The other technique I use with all things is you don't have to. Quite simply it is this; you don't have to put your socks on if you don't want to but then you cannot play in the park, you don't have to get a new nappy but I will not play this game whilst you are smelly, you don't have to eat any of this food but you will be hungry if you don't, this is what everyone is having. So far it is working, I think it is because it puts choice back in their court, they live in a world of restrictions so feeling it is their choice is a good thing. "Please don't get wise to this Sebastian, it is mummy's winning hand".
how to get toddlers to try new food
There are so many wonderful things toddlers do but their ability to pass out while eating is one of my faves, too cute, I am glad that Joe managed to snap these pics on the phone! This happened when we went to Busaba Eathai a Thai restaurant in Manchester. It is a chain so I recommend that you find your local one. All the food was great and the kids menu was only 5.95 for 3 courses and a really fun way to try new food. Sebastian's main course came with a bowl of steamed veggies and a Thai roti, such a healthy option for children, I hate when the little's menu is stuff we would never eat ourselves.

Please share your toddler eating stories with me, tips, tricks or just getting frustration off your chest, anything goes.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

How To Make Stone Coasters

how to make stone coasters
Sometimes I will spend days and weeks planning a craft project, cutting fabric, thinking about materials, size, shape, the whole nine yards, (is that a golf expression & if so what does it mean). Then there are times like these when I just have a light bulb moment and there is little to no skill involved in the execution. This was one of those times, with so much DIY and heavy lifting to do in the house it was nice to have a break. In my recent post on How To Choose The Right Floor I said that I ordered many samples when I was making a decision. Well fast forward a month or so and we were clearing up ready for another round of building work, (stairs and said floor), when Joe waved the sample in front of me and said, "should I chuck these?" I like that he knows me well enough not to throw anything out before triple checking with me. 
how to make stone coasters
Well I had that light bulb moment as I suddenly remembered I had sticky cork pads that I picked up ages ago and had not found the right project to use them....until now.
how to make stone coasters
So here is the how to, pay attention this is the tricky part. Peel the cork pads off their backing and stick onto the back of your stone/slate samples. Once more in case you missed it, that went peel, stick, use. 
how to make stone coasters
I was in real need of coasters and I am not a fan of many the designs you can find in stores so this is a real win for me. I have also recently discovered I have a real issue about asking people to use coasters in my home, I guess I just don't want to be 'that' person. I need to get over it as it is not really a bad thing to be that person, the person who says, hey I saved up for this please don't wreck it.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

How To Get A Good Nights Sleep

how to choose a mattress
I have real difficulty in getting to sleep, in fact I have battled with insomnia for years, but more on that another time, needless to say once I manage to get to sleep I want to stay asleep and I want that sleep to be a good one. Making the environment that you sleep in as perfect as possible is key to your comfort, of course your mattress plays a huge part in your comfort, that is why I was delighted to partner with Button & Sprung on this.
how to choose a mattress
I have suffered with a bad back for many years, (yes this coupled with insomnia I know lucky girl), so as soon as I could afford a new mattress I bought one, the best I could afford at the time. Memory foam was the hot new thing and thought that this would be the best thing for my back. As it turned out the mattress was very comfortable but it had a few drawbacks; it did not breathe so I get really hot and according to the Sleep Council if you are too hot your core temperature will not go down which is essential for you switch on the 'sleep mechanism'. Another issue was that it was a little too squishy which meant I couldn't move around as freely and I felt my back was unsupported, so although the initial feeling of comfort was a good thing the mattress was actually hindering my sleep and my back's health - an utter fail! A good bed frame and mattress is key so I saved up and bought a really solid bed frame,  my family has grown and toddlers sleep where they like and that usually means your bed so I bought a kingsize bed frame.  This was a good thing as the guys over at Button & Sprung recommend buying the biggest mattress you can fit into your bedroom as the Sleep Council confirms we move a lot during our sleep cycles.

You may have the most loving relationship, but having enough space to sleep is one of the most important factors. Also if you are starting a family, no matter how strong your resolve or firm your intentions - you often find more bodies in the bed come morning than were there when the night began.
how to choose a mattress
So now to choose the right mattress for me and my growing family? The firmness of your mattress is always a hot topic and it is generally stated that a firm mattress is a good thing but working with Button & Sprung I have learned that a firm mattress is a completely subjective thing.

As a rule of thumb the heavier you are, the firmer your mattress should be. The mattress needs to be firmer to balance out your body weight. The lighter a person, the softer and more yielding a mattress should be.

To get the correct support, your body weight needs to engage the springs. Then you get the support in the correct areas of your neck, shoulders, lower back, bottom and hips.

A light person on a firm mattress is not heavy enough to engage the springs: because the springs are not being engaged, they offer no support. A heavier person on a soft mattress engages the springs too much, so the springs stop working and give no support.

As a guide to finding the correct level of support a mattress is giving you, lie on your back, then slide the flat of your hand under the arch of your back. If there is a large space then the mattress is not giving you enough support and is too firm. If you can’t get your hand under your back then you are over engaging the springs and the mattress is too soft. Your hand should slide in easily while your back touches the mattress.

So after establishing that my memory foam mattress was not suitable for me, it made me too hot at night and there was definite roll in. What do I mean by roll in? Well quite simply you start off in your own space and roll into your partner, it is a case of sweetheart I love you but I need my space now! So what is left in mattress world? Open Coil Mattresses - these are what I always think of as the standard mattress, springs connected by a wire frame. I have had many years of sleeping on open coil mattresses, enough years to know that you roll into your partner and it does not take long before you have a lumpy springs in your back. 
how to choose a mattress

I have now been introduced to Pocket Sprung. What is that? The springs are sewn into individual pockets these are ideal because the support is spread over the entire mattress and it will stop you rolling into your partner, unless you want to of course!

As it turns out the number of springs in your mattress is a little like the thread count on sheets, the higher the count the nicer the sheets feel and the more coils the comfier the mattress. So here are some more things that I am looking forward to. Button & Sprung use all natural materials so the cotton and wool will stop all that overheating. 
I am really looking forward to the new mattress arriving then I can tell you what a great nights sleep I am having and show you just how to style the hell out of a bed.

Monday, 30 May 2016

How To Stay Healthy When You Cannot Be Bothered

Let me start of by saying this is in no way a post about being thin, having a thigh gap, (what the hell kind of crap is a thigh gap anyway), or diets and food fads. This is a post about staying fit, and word to the wise you can be fit and healthy in a variety of body shapes and weights. In fact one of the few reasons I can think of for maintaining my weight is I have a great collection of clothes now and cannot afford to buy new stuff, I digress, lets talk health. 

Aside from the constant media onslaught on what we should not eat and exercise regimes that change your life in 3 minutes two things are at the heart of health. Eat a varied and well balanced diet and exercise, simple right? Wrong, you see I don't like exercise. That is not true I don't mind exercising I just get bored doing it. The gym, classes, running all of those things are useful in a bid to stay healthy but they don't suit me. I often joke that I don't exercise because I am lazy, this is in reality far from truthful. The truth is it bores me, I can walk for miles if I have a destination in mind, a purpose. So that is what I do I give my exercise with purpose, I will share my tips with you now.
  • WALK - it sounds basic but it is one of the best things you can do and the easiest thing to integrate into your day. Once you start walking places that you would normally bus/car/tram/taxi to you will be surprised how much more you can walk. I also walk the dog. If you don't have one offer to walk a friend's dog or join a dog network, there are a bunch where you get to share a dog, trust me it is a real thing, ask Google.
  • TAKE THE STAIRS - Another simple one and as it turns out often faster than the escalator or waiting for the lift. I am quite the beast now and if it is only a couple of flights I can lift the pousette complete with child up the stairs.
  • DANCE - This is something that I used to do all the time and then I had a child and I stopped going out in the night. A lack of childcare does not need to stop me dancing. Turn the music up and prance around your kitchen. It makes cooking and cleaning way more fun and you can be super energetic about it because you are not worrying about what your moves look like to those around you.
  • GARDEN - This is not only good cardio it also tones muscles. If you don't have a garden that does not matter there are many community gardens who are always on the look out for volunteers. 
So you see you don't have to invest in equipment, drink any isotonic drinks or join a gym to be healthy.  

Thursday, 26 May 2016

How To Choose The Right Floor

How To Choose A Lounge Floor Natural Slate
Ever since I bought my first house I have been a fan of simply ripping up carpet and sanding floorboards. Simple, effective and cheap! However in this house I have found myself looking at practicalities, I have even found myself laying carpet. 

After spending a winter in this beautiful but cold and draughty house it became immediately apparent that simply sanding the floorboards in the lounge would not offer sufficient insulation. The cellars are under the lounge and we were actually getting a breeze, not a draught, an actual breeze. So I began to look at the alternatives. Laminate? No thank you it would would look so out of place given the age our home. Carpet? There are many carpets on the market but I live in a semi rural location with a dog, toddler and a garden, a carpet in a reception room is not a practical option. I considered solid wood flooring which I thought would be the look and feel of floorboards but with added insulation, I was mistaken. After ordering countless samples I discovered that solid wood flooring looks like laminate but costs more, what is the point in that?
How To Choose A Lounge Floor Natural Slate
After feeling a little fatigued on the flooring front I suddenly had an epiphany, a stone floor.I decided to go to Mandarin Stone to look at my options. I was overwhelmed by the choice there but I kept being drawn to the slate flooring. There are so many advantages to having a slate floor in a reception room that I was surprised I had not thought of it sooner. Okay so I know what you are all thinking so let's get it out of the way; "won't a slate floor be cold under foot?" Well actually yes it won't be as warm as carpet or wood but it is not as cold as you might think. Slate is a thick, dense natural stone, it is laid on hardboard and a waterproof membrane so the cellar draught will be well and truly taken care of. There are so many benefits of a slate floor in a lounge, it is super hard wearing so it will stand up to the dog and little ones tramping all over it.
How To Choose A Lounge Floor Natural Slate

Slate offers up a variety of different options in terms of colour and style to suit anything from full on  rustic to a contemporary look.
How To Choose A Lounge Floor Natural Slate

Let's talk about price. After looking at so many flooring options the price of slate is not bad. It is certainly one of the cheaper options when it comes to real stone. It was even cheaper than many of the solid wood flooring that I looked at. I will have to down tools though and let a pro fit it unlike a wooden floor I do not feel confident to lay it myself so you do need to take installation costs into account, however a good slate floor can last you a lifetime and solid wood flooring will not.
How To Choose A Lounge Floor Natural Slate
The staff at the Wilmslow showroom of Mandarin Stone really were above and beyond. I was torn between 3 different ranges. I was able to move the tile samples around the store to see them in different lights, they were very accommodating to my indecisive nature. They prepared 3 different quotes for each range, for two different pattern styles. You see you can lay your flooring in a variety of patterns, different patterns are available depending on the tile you choose. All in all I had 6 quotes in front of me and there was not much between them so I went with my gut and chose the Rustic Grey.
How To Choose A Lounge Floor Natural Slate
My lounge will be a deep blue with lots of dark furniture and the rustic grey offered up a real variation in colour with flecks of rust and sage, I cannot wait to see it in my home!

And this is the pattern I decided on for the tiles.
How To Choose A Lounge Floor Natural Slate
I felt like somewhat of a stone expert after leaving the showroom, okay that is an exaggeration but the staff really spoke to me in great detail about the different stones, how to care for them and gave me information for my fitter. I left with many samples, even a sample of the sub straight so that my builder can have a look at it prior to fitting.

So when you look into choosing a floor these are the questions you need to ask yourself;
  • What is my budget?
  • Is this a high traffic area?
  • How long do I need my flooring to last?
  • What insulation do I need from the flooring?
After I had answered all of these questions the answer was unequivocally slate. If you are worried that a slate floor will stop your lounge looking warm and cozy keep your eyes peeled as after I have decorated and styled the space you will change you mind.

*this post was worked on for Mandarin Stone but all of the opinions are honest and my own.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

How To Curate The Perfect Library For The Loo

small toilet design solutions
I really want to show you a complete before and after of this room, we changed a lot and it was the first room we painted. There is a house renovation lesson here, who'd of thunk it but this toilet, this tiny room was integral to so much plumbing that needs to be done on the third floor. So some of my freshly painted space now needs to be destroyed. Also I made a fools error, I installed a very smart toilet and neglected to tile behind it so when people wash their hands they make splash marks on my nice wall. So I need to find the perfect tiles, take out the toilet, tile the wall and re fit the toilet. Yes this room is more work than I bargained for.
small toilet design solutions
So you might be asking yourself what we did on the toilet before the age of the smartphone, well we read books. Okay okay I hear you, you are thinking are we not on the loo to well, wee and poo, (I said wee & poo we are all grown ups here and can deal with that). The truth is that sometimes we need to take a little longer and wouldn't it be nice to have a distraction to hand. Secondly if you have a busy life then you have to steal every moment you can to have some quality time and who am I to judge. 
small toilet design solutions

So here are the key points when choosing books for your loo.
  1. You need books that are instantly entertaining. If you require a book that you need 'to get into' then you may have a problem and you should consult a doctor.
  2. Short stories, these are something that the reader can pick up and put down.
  3. Poetry, again poetry is something the reader can flick though and finish within a reasonable time frame.
  4. Travel Guides, wouldn't it be great to not be tied down by your physical location. You might be on the loo but your mind can travel the world.
  5. Anecdote books, these are great for the loo as you can normally dip into at any point in the book and still find a bit of enjoyment.
  6. Very very funny books. Sometimes even if you are out of sync with the narrative an extremely funny book is still entertaining, plus laughter may help you along.
  7. Plain old silly picture books, cat yoga, bunny suicides, that type of thing.
small toilet design solutions
small toilet design solutions
I have added in a few other essentials to my loo such as flannels to act as micro hand towels , soap, hand cream and some ornaments as every inch of your home deserves to be beautiful.
small toilet design solutions
small toilet design solutions