Monday, 30 January 2012

Maternity Wear: Making do and saving money

You can get away with adapting what you've got, and supplementing with the odd charity shop item, or items from friends, and still look yummy with an increasing large bump.

In the early weeks you can often wear your normal clothes, and if, like me, you have a range of different sizes in your wardrobe, you will often find slightly larger trousers hidden away that join the party as your waist begins to expand. 

But once that bump gets too large for your trousers, do you really need to go out and spend a fortune on new clothes that will only fit for as few weeks?  No, not at all.
Remember boob-tubes from the 80s?  If you still have these, they are great for using as a belt and bump support.  Not only can they cover over the tops of trousers and hide that top button that just won't do up, but they also support your bump and enable you to continue to wear tops that otherwise wouldn't come down far enough to cover the bump.

You can, of course, buy these in the form of the bumpband! (Approx £17; but cheaper on Amazon)  But you can just as easily make your own with some Lycra based material from an old Lycra dress or top if you haven't managed to hoard those boob tubes for that long!

Equally, you can fashion a triangle of material, stitched into the front of trousers, with a button, Velcro, or even stitched in both sides, to span the gap between buttons and holes on trousers.  I did this very successfully with my work trousers.  The only problem is that it's not that pretty, and once your waist gets wider than your hips, there's nothing to hold them up.  So I stitched in my material and wore the trousers with my husbands braces underneath my usual smart work shirt.  Nobody knew the wiser (shhh!)  Again, you can buy these in the form of waist extenders for about £13; still much cheaper than a couple of pairs of brand new maternity trousers.

Finally, there are plenty of dresses, wrap tops and knitwear pieces that will happily stretch to accommodate a growing bump.  Just be careful you don't pick your favourite, as it may not return to it's usual size afterwards!

And finally, leggings are actually in fashion!  Elasticated waists just when you need them!  Pity they weren't quite so fashionable when I was pregnant!

However, if you do have a little bit of money to spend, I would recommend using it for a good non-wired bra.  You'll probably need to start looking at about 20 weeks, and maybe again at 35 weeks for a breastfeeding bra.  It's not just your tummy that is going to grow, and under wires are not very good for your precious milk makers at this time.

Has anyone got any other money saving tips for making do when pregnant?   

What did you do to keep your clothes lasting longer whilst your bump grew bigger? 

And for where to buy maternity wear if you are feeling cash rich, and what to buy, click here! 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Beauty Product Jargon Buster! What is that ingredient and what does it do?

Gone are the days when you could look at the ingredients of a product and understand exactly what had been thrown in the mix without any extra training in chemistry or alchemy.  You need a lifetime of learning and a lot of study to fully understand enough to select from those heaving shelves exactly the right product for your given skin type. 

But, beauty geek or not, there are a few things that it really helps to know;

Free Radicals
These are in the air we breathe and the food we eat.  They are unstable compounds that attack human cells and damage DNA, effectively speeding up the ageing process through damage to skin cells. 

Our best defence comes in the form of:-

These are Free Radicals natural enemy.  Eating foods rich in antioxidants is a great way to limit the damage.  In beauty products, ingredients like green tea, copper, vitamin C, A and E, grape seed and kinetin are effective antioxidants. 

Some Antioxidants of note include:-

This is another name for products made from Vitamin A, being an anti ageing antioxidant.  It improves collagen production, plumping out skin and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. 

Co-Enzyme Q10
The body naturally produces this in it's defence against free radicals, but as you age, levels go down.  This is why it appears in beauty lotions, to supplement your bodies own natural levels.  Products containing it are generally a shade of orange (as it is bright orange in colour).

Other ingredients that you may come across are:

Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
These strip of dead skin cells revealing the smoother, new, younger looking skin underneath.  Particularly popular are glycolic and lactic acids.  These can be strong, so if you have sensitive skin be wary of the appearance of these high up the ingredients list.

Beta-hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
Salicylic acid is the most commonly used.  These work in a similar way to AHAs above, but are less irritating to the skin.  Salicylic also fights bacteria on the skin.

However, if you are allergic to salicylates (found in aspirin), you shouldn't use products containing this.  Neither should you use products containing salicylic acid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

These help to protect skin by reinforcing the moisture barrier in the skin.

Usually the main ingredient, and is obviously simply water.  But it's vital for healthy skin.

Essential Oils
Lavender is popularly used in skin creams to avoid irritation, but many oils are used in beauty products, often to provide a nice scent. 

However, you should check with your doctor before using essential oils if you are pregnant or epileptic

Ingredients known to block pores less than others.

Not an ingredient as such, but a way to deliver ingredients like vitamins deeper into the skin.

You may also want to check out:
Winter Skin Care
5 Quick Beauty Tips for Busy Women

Monday, 23 January 2012

Maternity Wear: the dos, don'ts and where to find it!

Buying new stuff!
If you do opt to buy some new pieces to supplement your wardrobe when you are pregnant, ideally you want to select items that could feasibly be worn after the pregnancy too.  Especially if your budget is tight. 

This means selecting tops that are long and floaty, ideal for covering the bump, but equally pretty afterwards; better yet, select wrap around styles in which you can show off your bump, but which will work equally well sans bump. 
There's another reason I am not a fan of the tent dress; nor indeed tent tops.  Wearing tops like this; that drop from the extreme edge of your bump straight down; actually make it more difficult for the average person to judge if indeed you are pregnant, or have just been eating generously.  I firmly believe it is these tops that cause the most confusion.   

Once I was happy for everyone to know, (after the 12 weeks point)  I preferred to make it quite obvious that I was pregnant, with tops that wrap around, preferably with an empire-line.
Next's Black Hem top, for example, is a lovely top, that could be worn whether pregnant or not.  But it 'tents', so I'm not personally a fan after the first few weeks.

Next's Pink Breastfeeding wrap top is better, not only because it shows off the bump, but also because it is then perfect for breastfeeding.

I link to these Next tops as an example, but also because Next have a good range of maternity wear particularly for working women.  As well as a handy Maternity 'Sizing' guide here.

I don't know about you, but during my first pregnancy I thought you had to go up a size in clothes.  Actually, unless you are putting weight on all over (like I did for the first, but not for the second) you stick with your usual dress size, just in 'maternity wear'.  

This obviously doesn't stop you buying non-maternity clothes that fit the bill in whatever size happens to fit at that point!

For the full Next range click here.

Other great maternity wear suppliers include:


High Street:

And it's always worth checking out charity shops, as maternity wear is worn for such a short time, it often has plenty of wear left in it!  

Second hand baby wear stores often include Maternity wear too, for example;
Lilypad4kids in Derbyshire
Maternity Exchange

But do you have to go out and buy a new wardrobe?  In these financially challenging times, when disposable income is decreasing, can you afford to buy a new wardrobe?  And what if you can't? 

Pop back next week for a post on 'Making do' with what you've got.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Are Toys Over Packaged? So much for "Buy. Rip open. Play."

We treated our youngest to a toy at the weekend.  Before you respond; yes the eldest was also treated to a toy.  But it was the youngest's Peppa Pig branded Museum truck with dinosaur that caused me to exercise my frowny face.

After ripping through the taped cardboard box my daughter was somewhat perplexed to find the Truck screwed to it's cardboard box with a plastic plate (see picture).  

That's right.  I will stress that again.  Screwed to the box.  

It's a good job she hadn't tried to play with the new toy whilst we were still out.

Only another 20 minutes later; after I'd tracked down the screwdriver (still hiding away after the excesses of its last trip out of its little toolbox house) and I'd managed to unscrew the two screws, could she actually play with it.

I don't understand.  

Frankly, if I was so intent on stealing Peppa's Museum Truck I don't think undoing two screws once 'dI got it home would put me off.

Secondly, I thought we were in a world that is trying to cut down on excess packaging.  So these extra plastic strips screwed onto toys help how?

Finally, why bother with the box at all? 

What do you think?  Are toys over packaged?  

Could you get them out of their boxes easily at Christmas?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Yummy Mummy? Really? Yes. If I can keep my New Years Resolutions!

I like making new years resolutions. 

I like taking the time to think about the year gone by; to enjoy the successes again; to reflect on the non-successes (it's not a real word, but I prefer it to failures, after all, what is failure but a successful discovery of what not to do); to think about what I want to achieve in the coming year.

Being a good mum
At the start of 2011 I wanted to try and enjoy quality time with my children as often as possible. Whilst I have some great memories of the year, I don't feel that I invested enough.  I haven't sat down quietly with the eldest to talk through the topics they are covering in school much, it's been the odd question between tea and bath time.  I haven't sang songs with the youngest in any structured lengthy way.  I feel like I have stumbled through the year 'mothering', spending  time raising my voice (more than I'd like) just to be heard. 
But then, the eldest has been suffering from glue ear and has 20% hearing loss at the moment, and probably didn't hear me half of the time.  The youngest gets far too over excited to listen, and is frankly only just 3 years old.
Do I really expect them to listen to me nagging at them to brush their teeth when playing "sports day" up and down the landing is far too much fun.
So in 2012 I aim to relax.  To not have such a 'organised' view of what quality time should look like, but to enjoy each moment as it happens.  

Being a good wife
It goes without saying that I love my husband to bits.  But in 2011 I don't think I've shown him that.  In fact he probably feels quite neglected.  Partly because life is so busy and I have a million and one things to think about and do, but mainly (since the busy bit is just an excuse) because I have taken him for granted.  

So in 2012 I aim to relax; to enjoy every moment in his company that I can, and to arrange date nights and baby sitters and family days and sitinfrontoftheTV pizza nights.  To write him notes to hide in his wallet; to buy him his favourite cereal; to recognise when he needs me to shut up. 
At the start of 2011 I resolved to finish the science fiction novel I started writing at the age of 21 and which I have never completed.  The story is planned, but I just never got all the words onto paper (or screen).  

At the end of 2011 I had retyped the part of the novel I'd already written and had added possibly 200 words.  But I had developed, and improved on my blog (I hope), and I had completed a children's picture book story which I have been sending to various publishers (no luck so far, but fingers crossed).  Although the writing target hadn't been met as originally intended, I was pleased with progress made.  But I still mentally beat myself up about my failure in this specific task. 

So in 2012 I aim to relax.  To not mentally beat myself up; to get that children's story into print; make strong inroads into the novel; and continue to build on, and improve, the blog.  I'm on to a decent start with the inclusion of my Flash Fiction piece "On the Ledge" in a new ebook for charity. (Click here to read it and find out more.)

Spotted the pattern yet?  All the relaxing should keep the frown wrinkles at bay at any rate!  Let's put the kettle on: it is National Hot Tea Month!.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Flash Fiction! A Challange set by Caroline Smailes - an update!

I did it!  I was successful. 

My 100 word piece will be included in the ebook that Caroline Smailes is creating to raise money for the charity One in Four.

Click Here to read my piece, entitled "On the Ledge" and to find out more about the project.


How to: keep the children entertained (and quiet!)

My five year old received a brilliant present from Santa.  It's called "Sticker Scratchers".

The box contains a selection of pop out cardboard pieces which, when complete, create a selection of little photo frames, boxes and badges.  They are pre-coloured and include sections that have a white pull off section (like the reverse of a sticker).   You pull off the white section revealing a sticky surface.  You then take one of the many coloured sheets of foil supplied, place it face down on top of the sticky surface, and scratch the foil, pushing it down onto the sticky surface.  Cleverly the shiny surface of foil moves away from the sheet and onto the sticky surface.

I don't think that explanation was at all good, but hopefully the pictures help!

The good thing about this is that it's quite tricky to pull off the white sections (some of them are 'tiny!'), but it's possible if you are a persistent child; like my girl!  There is also then an element of choice about which colour foil you select.

But, and here's the really good news, there is no cutting (so less direct supervision required... eyes in the back of the head can take a rest), and no glue involved either  (eyes in back of head officially napping).

She loved this.  Just look at that gold dress she scratched on!  Her little trinket box is now in pride of place on her dressing table.  And it kept her busy and quiet for an hour.  How's that for developing a good attention span?

I still don't understand why they have to spell scratchers with a z on the end though.  Why is that!?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Flash Fiction! A Challange set by Caroline Smailes

And today we are going all creative!  

Flash Fiction is about writing short prose.  Capturing a moment, or even telling a story, in very few words.

Here's my first ever attempt at Flash Fiction; in less than 100 words.

He stood, his back to the rock, breathing heavily.  Adjusting his weight slightly his toe clipped a pebble that plummented 100 foot before bouncing on the tarmac.  He could see the upturned faces of those watching below; lit up by the lights the police had bought with them on this frightful night.

The rain soaked his jacket, and he flexed his fingers a couple of times to keep the blood flowing.

He inched along the ledge.

"Take my hand", he said to the young girl crouched terrified on the ledge.  He adjusted the clips on this harness.  "I've got you."

 The piece is  inspired by the UTube films presenting Micheal Buble's version of "Let It Snow".  Specifically the first two lines;  "Oh the weather outside is frightful.  But the fire is so delightful."  The clips (all snowy scenes unsurprisingly) reminded me of the film "It's a Wonderful Life", and subsequently the concept of the outside environment, in its coldest, wildest and most dangerous, being a relection of the state of mind of the characters, specifically where the main character in that particular film takes a walk over the local bridge.

And why the venture into creative writing? 

I've been slowly putting together a novel for years, and this blog is a great way to practise my writing.  But when I heard that Caroline Smailes is putting together a ebook to sell on Amazon and raise money for the charity "One in Four", I wanted to get involved.  They provide a voice for, and support to, people who have suffered from sexual abuse or violence.  Their name comes from research which has consistently shown that approximately one in four of all children under 18 years old will suffer.

The book will be a collection of Flash Fiction, and Caroline challenged writers to use lyrics from a song on UTube to inspire a short piece.  I will find out on Friday if it will be included.

Fingers crossed! 

Monday, 9 January 2012

5 Quick Beauty Tips - For Busy Women!

I don't know about you, but I never seem to have more than ten minutes in the morning to get myself ready and out of the door.  After five and a half years of being a mummy, I've managed to work out the 'prepare the night before' motto, so it really is mostly about how I manage to shower, dress, make up, dry and style hair, all in those ten minutes!

And yet I can manage it.. just!

Here are my 5 quick tips to looking great, however much time you have!

1. Waxing.  It's not for everyone, but if you can find the time to wax (legs, bikini-line, underarms, wherever!)  regularly, you save the time during the daily morning rush otherwise needed for shaving those parts!  I'll be honest, this is a do-as-I-say tip.  I am too much of a girl to go through the pain regularly, and personally prefer to spend the 2 minutes shaving.  But it eats into hair styling time, and I never get chance to straighten it.  Either, Or folks.  Either, Or.

2.  Great Hair Cut.  Invest in a great haircut, and go back and maintain it regularly.  Again, this is one of those tips that simply shifts the task from being a daily flog trying to make a grown-out style look stylish for work, to a trip to the hairdresser every three months.  I'm not great at this one, but I do go for a bob style that I can make look reasonable without any product, just a decent brush and years of blow-drying practise.  If I have a bit of extra time I use Tigi BedHead's After Party Smoothing Cream just to finish the look.

3.  Accessorise.  Adding jewelry always makes you look like you made far more of an effort than it actually takes.  It's the same effect you get adding house plants to a lounge where the incremental effect is far greater than the effort put in (that is unless you kill them like I do.  The plants; not the jewelry) 

Silver, plain, classy styles work well.  Real diamonds aren't necessary; there aren't that many people that can really tell the difference anyway.  Crystal looks good and doesn't have the diamond price tag.  Try

4.  Multi-task.  If you can brush your teeth whilst rinsing the shampoo off in the shower, then go for it.  If you can get the children to brush their teeth at the same time you do yours, brilliant.  If you can sip coffee whilst popping sandwiches in a lunch.  Great.

5. Moisturise.  Moisturise.  Moisturise.   If you can drink plenty of water and also find a good night cream, and preferably an eye gel to go with it, you can wake up with glowing ready-to-go skin which will save you time having to cover up imperfections.  Using moisturiser just after you bath is effective.  And don't forget that Johnson's baby oil isn't just for babies.  Smoothing a little of the oil on wet legs after bathing locks in the moisture and ensures silky soft pins!

Bonus Tip! Teeth.  As the celebrity teeth whitening craze shows, white teeth give the illusion of health and beauty.  So what's not to like!  Regular twice a day brushing and use of floss and mouthwash will keep them looking good.

You'll need to try harder to keep them white if you like your coffee or red wine, both of which are great at staining anything, not just teeth!  I love both, and have tried numerous whitening toothpastes, as well as considering getting them professionally whitened.  But in the end, I found that chewing on sugar free gum helped the most.  Saliva is the bodies natural soldier against plaque, and chewing gum helps it to get moving. 

With all this time you've saved yourself in the morning, you can enjoy more beauty tips on how to keep your skin fresh and dewy even in the winter.
Click here.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Lakeland brilliance - The Dish Genie

Lakeland Dish Genie

My  favourite (non-clothes*) Christmas present this year wasn't perfume, or lipstick, or indeed chocolates (shock horror!) It was this clever mat to pop on our kitchen unit next to the draining board for putting the glasses on to dry.

I always wash glasses by hand; the dishwasher always seems to scratch them; and I have a tendency to leave them on a tea towel.  And no matter how pretty the tea towel is, it still doesn't look as smart as this little baby.

The Lakeland Dish Genie is super absorbent mat that soaks up the suds and is washable.

Thank you Mum! (Of course it was from my mum!)

Find other great products I swear by at:

Tupperware is not just for food 

Winter Skin Care
Baby Kit I just can't do without!

 *Because my gorgeous Ted Baker coat and cardigan came top of the list!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Are "Thank You" cards dying out? What happened to manners and curtesy?

So no Christmas ones then?
This week my 5 year old and 3 year old sat down with glittery gold 'special' pens at the ready, and wrote out their Thank You cards.

Whilst Santa did, of course, deliver a fair few presents, he also delivered presents that family and friends had selected for the girls (assuming they'd been good and Santa deemed it appropriate that they received them!)

On that basis, the eldest sat and wrote out 12 separate Thank You cards.  And very proud of her I was too.

Only it was rather difficult to find 'Christmas specific' cards on which to write.  Now I didn't have the time, energy or inclination after the week that was Christmas to make them from scratch, so in the end, the only ones I could find in the shop were these. (see picture)

The 'Hello Kitty' and Peppa Pig' ones aren't even proper cards.  It turns out they are 'postcards' with barely any room to write a personalised note.  The others aren't card's either, they are 'letters'.

So what happened to Christmas Thank You cards?  Did everyone buy out the shops stock?

Or do we just not say thank you in this way anymore?

January 2012 arrives! And boy, is it cold!

It's freezing today!!  My computer tells me it's 7 degrees Celsius in our town this fine morning, but I don't believe it.  There must be a windchill factor that the computer is ignoring.


In light of the return to work, and the (sheds a tear) dismantling of our Christmas tree, I have removed the festive background and baubles from this blog.  Sorry!  You'll just have to wait until next year for more Christmas sparkles! 

Let me know what you think of the replacement background.  I can't decide if it's too busy?

And I've added a picture over on the right from last winter, to remind us that no matter how cold it is today in the Midlands it, at least, doesn't look like this.  The picture is of our back garden in the first week of December 2010.  Sooo much snow.

Again... bbbrrrrrr.

Happy New Year!

Share with StumbleUpon


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...