Amber Teething necklace’s

I was incredibly sceptical about the Amber teething necklaces. Someone at my Husband’s work recommended them to him and gave him the link so he ordered one. I thought it was a total waste of money and probably wouldn’t work. However, my husband isn’t the kind of guy to buy into “New Age B****ks” (his words, not mine) but the fact that he’d gone to such effort made me think I ought to at least try the necklace out on our little one.

Much to his delight, I’ve had to eat my words. I cannot praise this small necklace enough. You can totally tell when my little one isn’t wearing her necklace. Without it she’s grimbly, she dribbles lots more and she constantly has her fingers in her mouth pressing against her gums. With it, she’s a delightful, smiley, happy child. In fact, several people have commented that she’s one of the happiest babies they have met and I often wonder if it isn’t down to this little necklace.

She also looks very cute when she’s wearing it and is just in her nappy. Like a little Oompaloompa or Pygmy Tribal Warrior! Annnyway, I couldn’t recommend the necklaces enough. Just don’t lose it at swimming like I did so we had to buy another one!

Amber Teething Necklaces

One point I hadn’t picked up on but have just seen whilst reading the blurb is to: Avoid getting the necklaces wet and occasionally allow the amber to recharge by exposing to natural sunlight.

This is NOT a sponsored post and I’m receiving no money or any other perks for recommending Amber necklaces. 

Exercise Strategies for Busy Mum’s

Anyone who knows me knows that I am the LAST person to give any advice about fitness. However, as it’s a new year (how can we already be two weeks through 2012!?!?!) I thought I’d do a quick post on the strategies I’m trying to use. I’m having a bit of trouble making time to do exercise in an already packed schedule, but I am desperate to lose the extra baby weight because I can’t afford a brand new wardrobe!

Often I find it’s really difficult to carve out a dedicated hour to do some exercise. I’m trying to combine it with doing other things like going for a walk with friends instead of sitting in a coffee shop eating cake and drinking calorie rich drinks! I’m also trying to change my mindset to think that actually, exercise is really important for me because without it I’m not going to be as fit and healthy as I need to be to look after my family.

I use all the classic tips like, walking whenever I can, taking the stairs and not the lifts, etc. I’m also trying to do 10-20 minutes of yoga every evening. I don’t need to leave the house for this and I can fit this in at the end of the day. I have a yoga DVD (in fact I have a few fitness DVD’s, but this is the only one I can cope with at the moment!) which has exercise sessions that are all 10 minutes long. Doing small bite sized chunks means I’m more likely to do it.

I have a pedometer which I bought from Amazon. It cost me a tenner and it’s been an enlightening experience. I try to walk during lunchtime, even if its just for 15 minutes. I can average about 8,000 steps a day if I make a concerted effort but it’s normally between 5000 and 6000. You are supposed to do 10,000 steps to be healthy and 15,000 steps to lose any weight. Unfortunately I just don’t have two hours a day to dedicate to walking but I figure that something is better than nothing.

I have signed up to a dancing class. I have negotiated with my husband that when our little one is in bed I can have an hour on a Tuesday evening to go to a dance class. It starts at 8pm and finishes at 9pm, so by the end I am practically crawling out of the door, but without doing the class I feel sluggish all week. Initially I felt guilty about going out for an hour, but I’ve learnt that this class makes me a better Mum because I need this time to make this investment in myself.

We have also tried a few times for my husband to take my little one to the “Dad’s time” class that is on a Saturday morning in our local Children’s centre. It only costs £1 and he gets a bacon sandwhich for his trouble and the opportunity to talk to other Dad’s about the joys of parenting. I get a whole hour to myself which I use to dash out on my bike for 30 mins and then come home to relax in a bath. I have to admit that this one only happens once a month if I’m lucky, but I’m realising that once a month is better than never!

Having said all this, I do know the statistic that says that to lose weight it’s 40% exercise and 60% diet. I am trying my best to focus on my diet, but as a busy working Mum, sometimes the best laid plans fly out the window. I’m learning not to be so hard on myself though, sometimes I have to recognise that I’m only human and to be human means to make mistakes. Although, next time you see me happily munching on a cake, feel free to poke me in the ribs and remind me it all goes straight to my thighs :-D!

I’ve included a link below for exercise classes and events that happen in and around Basingstoke. If you have any strategies for exercise or know of any other classes, please add in the comments. Good luck with your fitness strategies for 2012!

Exercise for Mum’s

Other Relevant Blog Posts

http://www.allbabyadvice-blog.com/index.php/2011/11/keeping-fit-with-my-fitbit-ultra/

My Meal Planning in 2012

Following on from yesterdays post about the joy of Slow cookers, I thought I’d follow up with a post about meal planning.

Meal planning is one of the things that helps our family keep on track and stops us from reaching into the cupboard and eating the quickest, easiest and normally most unhealthy, food we can find. I’ve been meal planning for several years but it was more a case of buying in food for the week and choosing which meal we wanted as and when. Now I’m back at work, we have less money and we have a baby, things have needed to be planned better. We’ve started to use the concept of having a certain type of meal each evening. Ours is:

  • Monday – Vegetarian
  • Tuesday – Slow Cooker (We have activities on Tues evening so we need something very quick)
  • Wednesday – Fish
  • Thursday – Pasta with homemade pasta sauce (we have more activities on Thurs evening so need something very quick here too)
  • Friday – Takeout/Dineout/Homemade Pizza/whatever we can find in the freezer
  • Saturday – I normally put in a fancy dish that takes a bit more time if we aren’t out and about
  • Sunday – Roast

This means that I no longer need to think about meals nor do I have to constantly answer my husband’s questions asking what we are having for dinner that evening. He knows that if it’s Monday, its vegetarian (his particular pet hate, but I think we are getting there slowly! What is it about some men and vegetables? lol). If it’s Wednesday it’s fish. Sometimes we chop and change Tues and Thurs so have a slow cooker meal on a Thurs instead of Tues. He knows that if he comes home on a Tues and the house doesn’t smell of slow cooked food, we are having pasta.

We use the MealBoard Application on iTunes as we both have iPAD’s (the iPADS’s have been our one indulgence in the past couple of years!). It allows me to add breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for each day. I love this because it ensures that we don’t waste that much food and reminds me to ensure that we have healthy snacks available. It also allows me to create templates based on one or two week’s existing meal plans, so I can just copy in a template for future weeks and move things around as I like. I don’t use the templates as often as I could because I like to keep as much variety in our meals as possible. You can sync the application to other Apple products which means that my husband can immediately check what we are having for dinner on any given day, and often he will start the cooking if I’m not back in time.

The MealBoard Application works for us but there are many other types of meal planning tools that you could use.

Using Meal Board and shopping online means that I can plan our meals and shopping in about 5 minutes now. I estimate that this planning gives me about an hour to two hours a week back with my family. Meal planning also helps me to ensure that we have at least one portion of fish a week, at least one vegetarian meal a week and that we are eating as much variety as we can.

I’ve enclosed a few links below that you might find interesting reading…

Sainsburys Meal Planning and Meal Ideas (I really like this site. They have some great recipes that are quick, cheap and easy to make).

Back to the Basics: Meal Planning I love Simple Mom’s website. It’s an American site but she has some great ideas and really appeals to my planning and organising nature.

Imperfect, Flexible, Doable Meal Blueprint

The six meal shuffle: extremely simple meal planning This is also an American website but Megan has some great tips and ideas.

3 Fail proof ways to stick to meal planning An American website but still some great ideas.

 

The Marshmallow Test – The Secrets of Self-Control in Children

I’ve been reading a number of Parenting Books in an effort to try to be a good parent. Not sure if it’s working, but I’ve read a lot of really interesting stuff. Enclosed is a link about the “marshmallow test” which I read about in “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. Although this book was written by an American author his findings are still very interesting. The book was written over 40 years ago so much has been written about this test since.

The concept of the Marshmallow Test is that you place a marshmallow in front of a 4 year old for 15 minutes. The tester tells the child that if they can wait 15 minutes before eating the marshmallow they will be allowed two marshmallow’s, rather than just the one in front of them. Those children that were able to resist grabbing the marshmallow placed in front of them had better life outcomes.

This is the best link I could find which explains self control in children and links to the concept of the Marshmallow Test: http://healthland.time.com/2011/09/06/the-secrets-of-self-control-the-marshmallow-test-40-years-later/

There has been a lot of research around this if you are interested in discovering more. I would recommend reading “Emotional Intelligence”. It is pretty heavy going though and one of the downsides is that the author doesn’t describe what you can do to help your child improve their self control (although I haven’t finished the book yet!). This is something I am researching and plan to do a future post on.

I thought this was fascinating and that some of you might be interested. Let me know your thoughts.

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Christmas!!!! (Food, Presents & Pampering)

Are you suddenly realising that it’s only 4 weeks to Christmas? Yup, me too. I’ve managed to book the Christmas food delivery slot today, but because I’d left it quite late (when did the 19th of November become late for Christmas bookings???) I didn’t get any of the slots I wanted. Ho hum.

I’m only just starting to think about Christmas Presents (children seem to speed up time because normally I’m way more organised than this!) but I think this year that I’m going to try to buy local as much as possible. The list below are some ideas of local places where you can get fantastic hand crafted presents. I’ve also included a few ideas that might help your Christmas go a little bit more smoothly.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions to share.

Christmas Presents

Butterflies and Cupcakes

A lovely family business that do some beautiful items. They operate from Tadley but can deliver depending on how close you live to Tadley.

The best items they do are:

  • Name Hangings that are priced at £1.50 per letter
  • Name Plaques (up to 6 letters or more depending in name) at £8.50 and includes an animal character E.g. giraffe, tiger, etc.
  • Christmas Stockings are £12.50 but take a while so last orders for them are the second week in December

Little Rosies Tea Shop (Elm Tree Garden Centre on the way to Tadley) has a shop attached to it with some really nice present ideas.

Basingstoke Discovery Centre “Our Shop”, town centre. Lots of original items including snow globes and wooden Christmas Tree Decorations.

Alison’s Wonderland, Viables Craft Centre. The shop is attached to the Parlour tea rooms so you can browse with a cuppa in hand. Alison is lovely and very friendly.

Ma Humbug’s, Viables craft centre. Quaint old school sweet shop who will make up sweet boxes for you. Yummy!

Pots2Paint, Viables craft centre. If you are looking for that unique present for the Grandparents then this place will be perfect for you. Check out their website for more details (click on their name and it should take you straight through).

Childhood’s Dream, Winchester. I know I keep raving about this little shop (see the NHM facebook page), but I love it! Lots of wooden, old school toys that retain their value so if your children look after them, you can sell them on easily when they grow out/become bored with them.

Local Mummy Businesses – A list of local Mum businesses in the area that make gifts that would be perfect for Christmas.

Christmas Food

Vegetable/Fruit Boxes

We use Able and Cole box delivery close to Christmas because they deliver right to your door, regardless of the weather conditions which is so worth the £1 delivery charge. They also do a Baby and Toddler box of Veg and Fruit. It can be quite pricey but at least you know you are getting good vegetables, etc. As well as fruit and veg they also deliver diverse things like mince pies, Ella’s baby food and organic cleaning products. They deliver right up to December 23rd. Riverford also deliver boxes to the area.

Local Farm Shops

There are lots of farm shops in and around Basingstoke. Check out the Farm Shop page on NorthHantsMum to find one near you.

Christmas Pampering

If you are already exhausted with the drama of “Christmas with Children” check out the Mobile Beautician Page or Mobile Hairdressers Page on NorthHantsMum. These wonderful ladies will travel to your house and pamper you in your home. Some of them are even being kind enough to offer you a discount if you mention NorthHantsMum!

Hope this has given you some inspiration. I will post up a few more posts about Christmas, but I’m sure you are being bombarded about it from everywhere else so I’ll try not to lay it on too thick.

Good Luck!

NorthHantsMum

Play Dough Recipes

Stretchy Dough 

  • 3lb self-raising flour
  • approx. 1 and a quarter pints of water

Mix together until dough is formed. Knead well.

Makes an elastic dough that the children will enjoy pulling and stretching.

Will not keep for any length of time though.

http://childmindinghelp.co.uk/freeresources/PSE/stretchydough.html

Giltter Play Dough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • Food coloring gel
  • Glitter

Mix all ingredients with the exception of the glitter in a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a ball (sounds cryptic, but you will know when it happens). Remove from heat, but dough ball in a large bowl. Add the glitter and knead until smooth and uniform. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

http://nanasfablife.blogspot.com/2011/07/lily-and-chloes-fabulous-life-glitter.html

Microwave Play Dough

Don’t want to cook your playdough on the stove? Use a microwave!

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • Food coloring

Mix all of the ingredients, except for the food color. Microwave it for about one minute and stir. Cook for about 30 more seconds. Keep repeating until the playdough is dough-ish. Knead the playdough and place the food coloring in. Its that simple!

http://www.playdoughrecipe.com/microwave-playdough-recipe/

Cooked Play Dough

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 Tbsp. of cooking oil
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 cups of coloured water
  • 1 cup of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a medium size or large pan. Cook slowly on medium-high and stir it until the playdough thickens. Keeps best in the fridge in plastic containers.
Takes less than 10 minutes.

http://www.playdoughrecipe.com/cooked-playdough-recipe/

Modelling Dough

There are many types of modelling dough that you can buy, but it is just as easy (and much cheaper) to make your  own.  Use food colourings for different colours and you can make it seasonal by adding glitter near Christmas (or to make fairy dough), smooth pebbles in summer etc just use your imagination!

Essential Oils
Used sparingly these make great additions to modelling dough  – a few drops of lavender can have a calming effect (and is antibacterial) and eucalyptus has a great menthol smell which is great for winter (not suitable for use around asthma sufferers).

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup cream of tartar

Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook and stir over low/medium heat until play dough is completely formed and no longer sticky. Allow to cool slightly before storing in an air tight container or bag.  Keep in the fridge.

Uncooked modelling dough

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • food coloring
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour

Put everything except the flour and cornflour into a bowl.  Gradually add these until you have the consistency of bread dough.  Store in an air tight container or bag in the fridge.

Salt dough

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup flour plus additional flour

Mix all ingredient together in a saucepan over a low heat.  Remove when rubbery.  Once cooled knead with flour to make it workable.  This is a great dough for making Christmas decorations and models out of.  Once made pop them on grease proof paper or a tray on a radiator (or in airing cupboard or bottom shelf of a rayburn) so that they dry very slowly. Once dryed they can be painted.

Fairy dough – just add glitter (great when you are getting festive too)

http://www.netmums.com/activities/arts-and-crafts/modelling-dough

Lily Pad’s Play Dough

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 4 tsp cream tartar
  • Food colouring
  • To make smelly play dough, simply add an
  • essence (vanilla or peppermint).

Mix together ingredients in a sauce pan
Heat for a few minutes on the hob, stirringcontinuously
Remove from heat when the consistency is a doughy texture
Leave to cool before use

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/lily_pads_-_play_dough_download.pdf

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Child Safe Zones at Festival Place

Basingstoke Festival Place operates as a Child Safe Zone:

Around the country, shopping centres, beaches, visitor attractions and other family venues are becoming Child Safe Zones…

If you have children its very likely you have experienced that dreaded moment when you turn around and your child is out of sight… the Child Safe Zones scheme can help.

If you lose your child in a Child Safe Zone, simply ring the number clearly displayed on the Child Safe Zones stickers or posters for direct contact with the local security team – getting help with your search quickly. This simple, effective service works for everyone and is free.

You do not need to register with FamilySafePlus+ and you do not have to buy any Child Safe Accessories. Just call the number displayed.

Virtually every venue in the UK has a missing child procedure. The Child Safe Zone Scheme simply brings all these systems under one nationally recognised identity – helping venues and parents to keep children safe and found.

This scheme is can prove equally valuable for older children and vulnerable adults, where personal safety is an issue.

Free Wristbands

All Child Safe Zones offer free wristbands allowing children to carry their parent or guardian’s contact mobile number safely. Look out for the dispensers as you enter the Zone, and help Child Safe Zones to reunite your child with you quickly, if they lose sight of you.

Resource: http://www.childsafezones.co.uk/childsafe-zones.html#

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Farm Shops in Basingstoke/North Hampshire

Farm Shops are great places to look for organic/local produce for your children to eat.

Several shops sell weaning boxes at reasonable prices.

April 2013 Post: Pick Your Own Farm’s in North Hampshire and Berkshire

September 2013 Post: Review: NorthDown Orchard Deliveries

Local Farm Shops

Manydown Farm Shop – Worting Road, Basingstoke

Family run award winning butcher, pie and sausage maker and farm shop.

  • Scrapps Hill Farm, 550 Worting Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire
  • Tel: 01256 460 068

Newlyns Farm Shop – North Warnborough, Hook

Newlyns Farm is an award winning farm shop located in North Warnborough and Andover, both in North Hampshire.

  • Lodge Farm, Hook Road, North Warnborough, Hook
  • Tel: 01256 704 128

Portland Farm Shop (no website) – North Waltham

Farm shop selling free range eggs, seasonal local vegetables,fruit, honey and preserves. Some PYO when fruit is ready.

  • Portland Farm, Popham Lane, North Waltham, Basingstoke, Hampshire
  • 01256 398593

Holdshott Farm Shop – Heckfield

We have been providing fine food including free range & organic meat, poultry, fruit and veg to Hampshire, Berkshire and the UK for over 40 years.

  • Holdshott Farm Shop, Holdshott Farm, Heckfield, Hook, Hampshire, UK, RG27 0JZ
    Telephone/Fax: 0118 932 6650

The Wellington Farm Shop – Hook

Offering the highest quality locally sourced fresh meat, cheese and produce, Wellington Farm Shop provides discerning rural residents a shopping experience synonymous with the fine food stores of London.

  • Park Corner Farm, Welsh Lane, Hook, Hampshire, RG27 0LJ
  • Tel: 0118 932 6132

Bowtells Farm Shop – Alton

The Bowtell’s Farm Shop stocks Free Range and traditionally grown Free Range Pork, Free Range Beef, Free Range Lamb, dry cured bacon and award winning sausages.

  • East Tisted, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 3QG
  • Tel: 01420 588418

Mill Farm Organic Shop – Alton

We are a small traditional family run farm, farming to Soil Association Organic Standards. We have had our full organic status for 6 years now. We have two farm trails/walks open throughout the year on and around the farm.

  • Mill Farm, Isington, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 4PN
  • Tel: 01420 22331

Birth Reflections in Basingstoke

The Birth Reflection service is offered to all women who have delivered at the North Hampshire Hospital.

The service gives mothers an opportunity to discuss with a midwife, any aspect of their antenatal, labour or postnatal experience. On telephoning the number below, the mother will be offered an appointment either in her own home, or at the hospital and the midwife will hope you resolve any problems within an hour-long first meeting.

Further details or an appointment please telephone 01256 313327 and leave your name and number and your call will be returned within 48 hours. You can also email: Birth.Reflections@hhft.nhs.uk

http://www.hampshirehospitals.nhs.uk/our-services/a-z-departments-and-specialities/m/maternity-services/birth-reflections.aspx

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