Why are we still paying tampon tax?

tampon tax infographic

It’s “that time of the month” again. It sure does come around quickly! As the UK is in the throes of a snap general election at the moment, I thought it was a good time to bring up the issue of tampon tax (or period tax, if you’re not a tampon fan). Whatever your menstrual weapon of choice – tampon, sanitary pad, menstrual cup, wads of loo roll – you’ll be delighted to know that 5% VAT is added to the purchase price, courtesy of the UK government.

(Actually, loo roll is carries a whopping 20% VAT. Think of that the next time you’re having a wipe!).

There’s nothing more fun when rushing to the supermarket to stock up on period supplies with cramps and a migraine than paying 5% more than you should. That’s right, should. Because sanitary products, unlike helicopters, magazines and lottery tickets, are essential items for almost all women at some point in their lives.

I did a little research on the government’s website and was amazed to find that some luxury items (like the helicopters I just mentioned) are levied at 0% VAT. I checked to see what their stance on incontinence pads was and they are charged at 0% VAT. Incontinence pads are essentially the same thing as panty liners or sanitary towels so why does one get charged at 5% VAT? It doesn’t seem fair to me.

Zero-rated VAT items are often very beneficial to mothers – for example, children’s clothes, physical books and essential food –  but where’s the logic? Why charge 5% tax on children’s car seats but make aircraft repairs 0%? It’s easy to see why people have become confused and disillusioned with government practices in recent years.

Some have blamed the EU, stating that in order to change our VAT rules, all other member states must be in agreeance. This seems like a cop-out to me. And why wouldn’t they be in agreeance, for that matter? With Brexit on the agenda now, the government is flat out of excuses when it comes to ending tampon tax.

In my view, VAT charged on sanitary products may as well be called “lady tax”, one that does not seem to be contributing to any increase in menstruation-related research, services or relief. If you must tax female reproduction, the very least you can do is provide a chocolate subsidy or something more substantial like menstruation leave from work.

Some progress seems to be occuring, with the Green Party and WEP (Women’s Equality Party – yes, I had to Google that) pledging to ditch tampon tax if elected. We’ll see what happens in the coming months. In the meantime, I want to credit Laura Coryton for starting the #EndTamponTax movement and her popular Change.org petition.

Why we need those Easter Eggs far more than them!

guylian-shells
How do you like your eggs in the morning?

Well, if I’m honest, recently of the chocolate variety at around 6am served up on a platter of sugar and coffee! Pretty much anything to get me through another sleepless night. We’ve had the dreaded man/boy flu in our house (you thought the man variety was bad. the mini version is something else). The consequences for me are sleepless nights and no nap time in the day, due to a very miserable, very tiny blocked nose.

So, when asked if I would like to test this years Easter Egg offering from Guylian the holy mecca of chocolate, I politely accepted. Show me a tired mum/dad who could resist and Ill eat my Easter bonnet 😉

Needless to say it didn’t last long!

This got me thinking, surely the troops of tired Mums and Dads need that sugar rush far more than our adorable, hyped up, naturally energetic bundles of joy? Need more evidence not to feel guilty if you the Easter Bunny has a teeny, tiny nibble on one of the eggs to keep their energy levels up? Look no further as I have gone to the great trouble of trawling the internet to find you the top 5 reasons why We need those eggs more than them! take it as my gift to you!

You.Are.Welcome!

1.) Chocolate is good for stress

Let’s face it occasionally as a parent you may find yourself in a slightly stressful situation.

2.) It’s loaded with disease fighting antioxidants

Two words. SOFT. PLAY.

3.) It’s good for your heart and blood pressure

Ok, your blood pressure and your heart are pretty important. Whoa, hold up. Wait!? What the f*$k!!? An article written by weight watchers suggesting we eat chocolate?? *Performs victory dance wearing a hollowed chocolate egg bra

4.) It’s good for strong bones

We all know being a parent involves a hefty helping of weight lifting, strong bones are vital. Plus, this is particularly in favour of milk and white chocolate, yep, chocolate buttons ahoy!

5.) We just want the best for our little ones You saw it here first folks!

It’s far better they don’t scoff the lot themselves, right? Come on, step up and do your bit and be a good parent 😉

With love, chocolate and a large shipment of celery for the next month,

x x

Special thanks to Guylian for their amazing egg, you made one tired mum very happy!

Was your bump trending?

was-your-bump-trending

Let me start by saying I was a ‘nightmare’ when pregnant and I’ll stand by my testament that hormones are to blame. Yep, those raging hormones have a lot to answer for in fact I would go as far to say I turned into Jekyll & Hormone.
However, are these strange things in our system to blame for the trends I’m about to share? Perhaps. When that bump arrives, us pregnant ladies have been known to do some rather strange things.

Here are the most popular trends from the past four decades:
1. All hail the dungarees. It was the eighties and Denim was the Don. If you were to find yourself pregnant during this era, then you were to find yourself some dungarees. Quick. Let’s face it, it was almost the law. And in 1989, Kirstie Alley sealed the dungaree deal by sporting a pair in the classic ‘Look who’s talking’. Then how can we forget the re-surge in the 90’s when our favourite ‘friend’ wore them, let’s face it Phoebe is definitely a trend setter.

2. A few years later we were ditching the ‘Denim’ for a ‘Demi’. No, not getting a young hot boyfriend called Ashton (that was a little later) we wanted to show off our pregnant bodies with pride. As Demi graced the cover of Vanity Fair in the early 90’s, pregnant women everywhere were rushing to whip off their maternity bras and leggings and pose nude for the camera. (Swollen?? No. that’s just the soft focus)

3. Fast forward a decade later and we had become far more conservative. Sort of. Covering up was back, except of course our pregnant tums. Those gorgeous girls from All Saints made baggy trousers, timberland boots and crop tops THE look, but only if you had a pregnant belly to accessorise.

At least you didn’t have to breathe in and that’s the only way you would find me wearing a crop top.
4. OK, we love our pregnant tums and perhaps they should be on show…forever? So, get a cast done. I’m not quite sure where we were putting our belly casts, on the mantle piece? wall? Or, perhaps there are a couple of rather unique fruit bowls lying around?
Needless to say, this trend didn’t stay around for too long…unlike those bellies!

5. Most recently in a world of selfies, insta – pics and camera phones it’s all about the ‘labour day make over’. The list of treatments include bikini wax, eyelash extensions, hair extensions, mani and pedi, fake tan and even teeth whitening. Forget the MILF, its all about the PILF!
make the most of it, those sort of luxuries may take a backseat for the next few years!

Come on, own up, which did you fall for? (Please let it be the dungarees please let it be the dungarees)

With love, denim and as much soft focus as possible,
x

Hangover with a baby. Oh, happy days!

Wine-o-clockUghh, I am never drinking again… like seriously… NEVER!

I don’t know many grown adults who haven’t muttered these words at some point in their lives. Like by continually lying to ones self is part of the grieving process of a hangover.

I was ridiculously excited by the prospect of going out on Saturday night. It’s all I talked about for over a week. I fantasied about spending time getting dressed up, about doing my hair, by that I mean drying it and I wondered about the menu of the new restaurant we were going to try. I hadn’t been “out” in a long time. I couldn’t remember the last time; I think it may have been my wedding day. It was long overdue and I was desperate to let my hair down. Take off my mum hat and hang out with some girl friends, drink wine, eat some good food and just have a night off!

I woke up early on Saturday morning. Sorry “woke” implies I slept on Friday night, which I certainly did not. Scarlett my daughter who has never been a great sleeper decided that before I would get my night off she would make sure I did double the work the evening before. The girl did good managing to sleep the entire night in 40-minute increments, waking for god knows what and needing to be resettled. Had she reverted back to being a newborn after nearly 11 months? Was she trying to break up my dinner date? She was trying her best to guilt me into not going out. Testing my will. Punishing me for wanting to spend an evening out of her company.

With burning red eyes I briefly contemplate pulling out of the evenings event. The girls would understand; they all have kids. No. I couldn’t, I needed this!

And this was not just any night out. It was birthday celebration for a dear friend who had recently moved back to the UK after 5 years living in Australia. It would be like old times, friends reunited. It would just have to be a lot of make up and a stiff drink while getting ready to get me in the mood.

We met at the restaurant for 7:30pm; actually 4 out of the 7 of us meet at the restaurant at 7:30. Three arrive much later after a wardrobe melt down delays their arrival by 45mins. But that didn’t bother us we were free! No kids clambering on top of us, no wailing to attend to, just some fine wine, well a bottle of the finest “house” wine, and good banter. The conversation naturally was kids led, there is 10 of the little blighters between us all and one on the way and we don’t get out much as a group! It would sound like dull conversation to the other restaurant goers but nothing is better than understanding your not alone in this struggle called parenting and finding out you’re all in the same boat does ease the stress of it all. The food was good and the conversation flowed faster and higher pitched as the wine kept coming. That waiter was clever. A group of 7 women and I couldn’t get to the bottom of my wine glass before it was topped up again.

I blame him.

That’s how we lost track and ended up 5 bottles in by 10 o’clock. All giddy with excitement AKA tipsy, we didn’t want the night to come to an end! We try and talk ourselves in and out of the idea of going somewhere for ‘One More” and the idea of “One More” wins. Realising that most of our old haunts had either closed down or been turned into restaurants it left only the local pub. And it’s a wild local pub at that. A place frequented by us in our more youthful days, it was the place to kick off a Saturday night before heading into town.

And it hadn’t changed a bit. We had. The pub and its clientele hadn’t. On entering we were stunned at how young everyone was!! One friend remarks that she could have given birth to most of the people in there. Undeterred and unwilling to call the night over we head to the bar. I almost felt obliged to order a blue wicked in honor of my 18-year-old self. I don’t, that would be ridiculous! I order a jager bomb instead. Joking, I’m not that crazy, although the thought did cross my mind. But it was only 10pm. That’s the kind of drink reserved for the insane part of me that thinks it’s a good idea much later on in the night.

We take our drinks and try and find a place to dance/stand. By the time we find a clearing I’m wearing half of my drink as the crowds of Taylor Swift looking girls and bearded man-child boys jostle and dance to be noticed by each other. Since when did it become acceptable to walk around without disregard for the people around you?! Oh right that’s called drunk. Which we all are by the time we stager out of the pub at midnight.

Already we start to regret this decision to extend the evening as we struggle to get taxis in the cold. Collectively we hatch a plan. We would go to our friend’s house near by and she would wake her husband up and make him ferry 6 of his wife’s inebriated friends home. Great plan! I’m sure he was thrilled with the idea. I jump in the first taxi….erm sorry I mean Husband Cab and arrive home around 1am.

On waking I utter the obligatory NEVER DRINKING AGAIN mantra. My husband remarks I look like an Egyptian with my heavy black eye make up smeared across my face so I hop in the shower to sort that out asap. I am handed a naked baby mid way through the shower and realise I may have had the night off but duties as a Mum resume regardless of a hangover. Fair enough.

Now hangovers were bad enough in my twenties. I used to write the entire day off to feeling sorry for myself and feeding myself better. I think having kids is a great tool to cut back on nights out. Because there is no way you would survive a weekly hangover with children. There is just no way!

I have a substantial breakfast washed down with lots of coffee and a couple of paracetamol and crack on with the day. Mum hat back on I scan some recipe books for inspiration for this evenings dinner. I give Scarlett free reign on the toilet rolls to gain 5 minutes of peace to compile a shopping list.

With my shopping list written I head to the local supermarket. This should be fun.

F@*K I have forgotten the list! I left it on the side whilst loading the baby and the hoards of gear I need to cart around with me wherever I go into the car. Oh and the reusable shopping bags. I never remember the shopping bags! Can’t blame that on the hangover.

I wander around the aisles aimlessly trying to find inspiration and end up buying a load of random crap. I selected the shortest line to pay for my groceries and instantly regret my choice as I realise I have picked a “talker”. I am not in the mood for polite chat about my weekend and I don’t need a hand with my packing. I have two perfectly good hands to do it myself. But I can’t be rude. Its just not in my nature so I just direct the conversation his way and ask how long he has left on his shift and when he is in work next. With his rota for the next week sorted I make my way to the car, wrestle with the shopping bags and a crying child who hates her car seat and I am on my way back to the safety of home. Success!

I nearly make it to the front door without any major dramas when Scarlett my lovable daughter projectile vomits all over herself and the car seat, and the front passenger seat, oh and the foot well. Nice. I put her straight in the bath as the smell almost makes me sick and she gets a full hose down and costume change.

I had a genius idea whilst I was out shopping to buy some pull up nappies. My daughter is at that point where to lay her down to change her nappy is like the worst thing you can do to her, along with wiping her permanently snotty nose. These nappies were going to solve all my problems, put an end to our fighting!

A couple of hours later I discover that these nappies wouldn’t be the saving grace I had hoped they would be, in fact they would turn out to be another minor disaster of the day. What I hadn’t accounted for was how you change a pull up nappy full of poo………surely I couldn’t just pull it down?! What ensued was a two-man operation to carefully cut the nappy off without flinging crap all over the room. Scarlett did her best to remain true to form and kick her legs, try to get on all fours and scream and cry throughout the whole process which ended in another trip to the bath for another hose down. I have since learnt that pull on nappies actually rip down the sides quite easily! Why don’t they write that on the flipping package? Or have it in big letters down the side of the pants saying: tear along this dotted line in an emergency. Don’t pampers know that in the process of growing a baby it dissolved my brain? Another lesson learnt.

Exhausted, I abandon the healthy eating strategy and a wholesome meal for the evening goes out of the window. Faced with a fridge full of food I opt for the cake in a box that reads “open to temptation?” I most certainly was open to temptation and the cake was only ever going to be the right option on a day like today and a take away for dinner. Might as well since I have already gone down the cake route.

Wounded by the day’s events I pray for 8pm when I can put an end to the suffering and follow my daughter to bed. It’s a good thing having kids limits your ability to party of a weekend because when the fun is over the hangover is so much worse.

However the release was necessary and having had “let go” for one night I can shelve the idea for at least another six months or however long it takes to forget that going out and partying like the younger me is not a good idea.

I can’t wait for next Saturday when I’m hangover free back on the cups of tea. x

30 reasons why it’s perfectly OK to HATE being pregnant!

reasons-to-hate-being-pregnant

When I found out I was pregnant I was completely overjoyed. It was planned, but hadn’t been the smoothest of journeys, therefore to get the pee stick to say ‘Pregnant’ was a very exciting day. My absolute hatred for the 8 and a bit months that followed is in no way a reflection on my thoughts of ‘getting pregnant’! I think sometimes we are so utterly happy/thankful/worried what others may think that to say you are pregnant and ‘hating it’ is not the done thing (or so I found out). So, I’m putting it out there, being pregnant is pretty damn horrendous and here’s why…

1.) For the first time EVER you can eat whatever you fancy crave and not be concerned about your bulging belly. Except you can’t because of nausea, sickness and a concern for a bulging belly in 9 months’ time!
2.) Hormones – what the hell are these things?
3.) You feel like you have a raging hangover for 9 months, minus the tequila. Joy.
4.) For 3 months you pretend to your work collegues/friends that you’re on antibiotics and therefore can’t drink. They know you’re pregnant. You know you’re pregnant. Awkward.
5.) You get constant reminders to ‘sleep as much as you can’.
6.) You can’t sleep.
7.) The itchiness on your stomach is insane.
8.) You can’t sleep for fear of crossing your legs and waking up with bulging varicose veins.
9.) You desperately want to eat pate, soft cheese, runny egg, rare steak, liver…hell, you don’t even like liver, but you want it. Denied. Unless of course you hop across the channel where Rare Steak with a large dollop of fresh mayonnaise, washed down with a large glass of red is always on the menu!
10.) You can’t sleep because of severe heartburn.
11.) You feel the need to try aqua aerobics. Once.
12.) You can’t sleep because you need to pee. Constantly.
13.) You feel elated. You feel crap. You feel elated. You feel crap. You feel elated. You feel crap.
14.) You finally get DD’s (and the rest). They also look like they’ve been inserted by a monkey via a very botched boob job.
15.) You force down glasses of ice cold water, to make sure the little one is still moving.
16.) Headache? Migraine? Hay fever? Cold? Here have some water!
17.) The most comfortable place to sit is on a ball. A ball!
18.) You tell yourself de-caffeinated tea and coffee is no different really, hey it’s not like you’re getting no sleep and need a boost.
19.) Misjudging the space between opening a door and your bump IS painful.
20.) You finally manage to get some sleep. Whoop. You’re in a work meeting. Crap.
21.) Chronic constipation is coupled with fear of going to the toilet and pushing too hard!!?
22.) Horrendous piles. (See above)
23.) Lukewarm baths.
24.) Leggings.
25.) Obsessively working out how much longer you have to go and realising only 23 minutes less than the last time you checked.
26.) Googling every sign of the onset of labour relentlessly.
27.) Worry. Constant worry.
28.) Exhaustion. Bear Grylls may have survived 3 weeks in the jungle with only the shit of an elephant to live on, but has he grown a human being? Nope. Get over yourself.
29.) Pain in your back, hips, thighs, feet, legs, stomach, head, shoulders, backside…. your partners backside!!!
30.) LABOUR.
Well, at least now you can finally get some sleep..oh, hang on!??

Rest assured, apparently in time we forget just how tough it was and if not, and you’re planning to do it all over again, I guess you could always move to France!

C’est La Vie (Quite literally)

x

Nothing pants about these.. A Valentine’s Special!

Valentines Day…….underwear…….post baby! Now that’s a scary thought!!

But don’t worry because I am here to offer you some support, quite literally

I have scoured the high street, braving January winds, rain and for a brief moment snow to bring you my top picks for doing Valentines Day underwear after you no longer feel comfortable in those Ann Summer numbers. Did you ever?? I’m going to show you that sensible can still mean sexy and the high street offerings are so pretty you will be wearing them long after the 14th February.

I love fashion; I spent my life admiring it and four years at university studying how to make it…dreams into real garments. However personally I can very rarely place style over comfort. Apart from some ridiculously high but utterly gorgeous shoes I bought for my hen do which now live at the back of my wardrobe never to be worn again! My feet would never forgive me if I put them through another night on the town. Who goes out on the town anymore?? Not me, but that’s beside the point. Instead I search for something wearable, washable, preferably non-ironable and affordable. Maternity allowance considered! And if it ticks all those boxes with a nod to the latest spring/summer trends then it’s in the bag. We don’t ask much from our high street designers do we? No wonder its hard to find clothes we want to spend our hard earned pounds on. All these rules do not apply to stick thin 18 year olds who quite frankly can wear anything Topshop has to offer. Me, I need to cherry pick so with that in mind here are my top picks of the high streets smalls or bigs, these all look good on a bigger bust and bum.

So go on, inject a bit of spring into your wardrobe and give yourself a treat by ditching the cotton granny pants in favor of something a little special. You definitely deserve it. I might even get those shoes out from the back of the wardrobe….and wear them to watch The Voice with a cup of tea on Saturday night, who said romance is dead!

 

Neon Lights

This pair is one of the more pricey of the bunch but the beautiful detailing makes this set feel luxurious and expensive, from its rose gold coloured Baker charms and printed binding on the inside that reads ”Designed to B loved, Ted x”
Slightly padded and underwired for comfort and support it is sexy and fun with its pale pink satin and contrast neon lace, very on trend for spring summer. It’s nice to see this carried into lingerie that can be awash with pastels. This set will certainly brighten up your underwear draw.

Debenhams – Ted Baker
Bra: £25 sizes 32A -38E
Briefs: £10.50 sizes 8-18

Top of the shops for Tori

This set has our editors name all over it! “Tori” is a treat from the moment you brush aside the white rose petals to unfold the lace printed tissue paper to reveal this beauty! The most expensive of the sets I am recommending, I guess you are paying a little bit for the experience of the purchase.
In two of my favourite colours, grey and pink it’s a stunning example of this classy colour combination. I have selected sets that offer the prettiest of briefs; thongs are strictly worn on a needs must basis in my book. VPL is the only reason I’d touch one but I couldn’t resist this one. The wide lace across the hips is pretty and offers more coverage than the traditional thong shape.
This theme is carried onto the bra straps that again offer more coverage and support. This plunge bra is underwired and softly padded making it comfortable and supportive.

Boux Avenue
Tori Bra: £25 sizes 30A-38F
Thong: £12 sizes 6-18 (Briefs available in the same size range also at £12)

 

In the Navy

I know your mum probably bought your underwear from here as a kid but M&S can always be relied upon to deliver comfort and quality at an affordable price. And they can add style to this list of positives! The Lucy Lace Balcony bra and short form part of their Limited range and offer this gorgeous set in a huge range of sizes. Take advantage of their fitting service to get the perfect fit. I just love the bright coral base with the navy lace overlay and pretty printed bow detail.

M&S
Bra: £14 sizes 30A-40E
Lace Short: £6 sizes 6-20

 

Racy Lacey

I was ecstatic when I came across this next set whilst perusing the rails at John Lewis. Australian brand BONDS was a firm favorite of mine when I lived in Oz and to it see stocked on home turf I had to spread the word. Always slightly sporty, hence the racer back design, BONDS ultimate objective is comfort but always with enough style to make you feel like your wearing something special. This non-wired bra will be perfect if your still breast-feeding and just super comfy if your not! Its perfectly peach lace makes this number more sexy than sporty.

John Lewis – BONDS
Bra: £22 sizes 8-16
Bikini Brief: £12.50 sizes 8-16

 

Fancy Pants

This set is another good non-wired example. With delicate lace and fine mesh fabric its a pretty stylish little number. Its dainty nature is off set with its bright neon trims. The wide elastic under the bust will give you some much needed support.

H&M
Bra: £12.99 sizes 8-16
Mesh Brief: £6.99 sizes 6-18

 

Animal Instinct

Super market special from Tesco’s F&F signature range this satin plunge bra is super sexy. Nothing says Valentines lingerie like a touch of black lace and this bra and brief set has just the right amount and with highlights of neon coral it right on trend. Slightly padded for comfort and support. The Brazilian cut brief with fully lace back will give you coverage across the bum without making them feel mumsy! Bonus points for Tesco as this set comes in at £13.

Tesco
Bra: £9 sizes 32B – 38DD
Brazilian Brief: £4 sizes 8-20

Wishing you all a very Happy Valentines Day,

x

5 Top Children’s Party Tips (Dragons Den EXCLUSIVE)

5-top-childrens-party-tips

Party season kicked off pretty early for me, just a week after the Christmas and New year festivities were over I found myself gathering every last bit of party spirit I had left and threw my very first children’s party. OK, I admit a 1 year olds party doesn’t need too much in the way of children’s entertainment, in fact surely its as much a celebration for the parents to congratulate themselves on surviving year one! However, it did suddenly highlight the fact that children’s parties are BIG business. Gone are the days when inviting 5 of your best friends over for a game of pass the parcel in the living room followed by a buffet of jelly, sausage rolls and wotsits, would suffice! So, with whispers of playground party wars on the horizon who better to ask for some tips on throwing a children’s party than the Queen, or should I say Princess (ahem!) of parties, Kelly George, Founder of My Little Princess Parties.

Here are her 5 Top Tips on throwing a Children’s party that wont result in a Frozen themed meltdown.

5 Top Tips when its party time!

1. If you’re booking an entertainer/company to run your party always book on average 1-2 months in advance! You don’t want to be booking any princesses or superheros like Queen Elsa or Batman late notice as they get booked up & you’ll end up with a character which isn’t your little ones fave first choice!

2. Keep your number limits to 25-30 maximum!! This keeps your party controlled and not too loud and noisy! It’ll help you with clearing up too as not too much mess and not too many party bags/take home gifts to make up!!

3. Food boxes are the key! At food time in your party, boxes are great. These you can pre-make up at home and take to your party venue already ready. Then you have no loose food to take in the car, no food prep to do in the kitchen you’ve hired and the children can also keep these food boxes to take home if they don’t eat it all. Plus there’s not as much food wastage!! many party companies now sell food boxes as reasonable as 10p per box & you can get many themes or colours these days too!

4. If you’re booking a venue for your party-book a venue with easy access parking for people coming. And always pop your balloons outside or down the lane if its rural. There’s nothing worse than expecting 25 people to attend with their little ones and they have to pay & display on a busy high street!! Its also not ideal for you if you’re bringing in room decoration or bunches of balloons if you cant park directly outside of your venue.

5. Before you leave the house or if the party is at home make sure you either have matches or a lighter to hand!! As the time when the birthday cake comes out is always stressful finding someone who has something to light the candles with!! Many of us these days don’t actually smoke so finding someone with a lighter to hand is harder than you think!

Kelly started My Little Princess Parties back in 2008 with her husband James and has taken the South by storm. In the early days Kelly would drive all over the Southern counties bringing a touch of magic to parties but confessed that being a travelling Princess can cause quite a stir,
Being caught out on the road between 2 parties in one day is always a little awkward if you’re dressed in full costume as Queen Elsa! Being a recognizable fairy tale character is a lovely job and children will always respect you & fall at your feet the moment the costume is on. But then going from one party to another is a tough job if your parties are 40 miles apart and you need to stop for fuel, or lunch! A tip for any entertainer is to fill up on fuel at the start of your day when you’re not in a costume!! Stopping at motorway services in full costume can cause a few remarks and stares.

Luckily now the pair have recruited a whole team of Princesses, fairies and Pirates and are even branching out across the whole of the UK. If you would like any further information on inviting a character to your children’s party and letting Queen Elsa take the stress of entertaining a rowdy bunch of 7 year olds, then you can find out more here www.mylittleprincessparties.co.uk.

And, if you want to see a Princess face a real life Dragon then you can watch Kelly and James recent appearance on Dragons Den here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05200fb

(Kelly and James appeared on BBC’s Dragons Den, 1st Feb 2015)

With love, jelly and balloons,

x

P.S Are you celebrating a first birthday? How many of these happened in the first year?

Yummy Salad Jars

yummy-salad-jars

Okay, I’ll commence this post with a confession – I didn’t invent this idea. Whilst leafing through a recent edition of Eatwell magazine, a special collection of healthy recipe ideas from BBC Goodfood, I came across a recipe for prawn, rice and mango jar salad and was so excited by the idea I rushed off to Ikea to buy some mason jars. Having made the aforementioned recipe and loved it, I decided to try a few alternative food combinations based on my favourite types of food – Chinese and Thai.

These salad jars are healthy, full of flavour and protein (to keep you fuller for longer), fab to keep in the fridge for lunch, an excellent alternative to a packed lunch, and would also be fantastic for picnics. Yes, I know it is January and we’re all freezing, but let’s just take a minute to fantasise about picnicking on a sunny beach, with a warm breeze on our skin, sand on our toes, the sound of the waves and happy children…..ahhhhhhh! Come on, summer, hurry up!!!

These salad jars are simple to make, can be prepared the night before, if needs be, and be quickly assembled in the morning. The great thing is is that you can tailor them to your tastes, so buy yourself a jar (a mere £1.25 from Ikea!!) and start experimenting!

Here I have my three favourite recipes, including the original recipe from Eatwell magazine. All of these recipes are enough for one person. You don’t have to share your jar. It is all yours.

yummy-salad-jars
Prawn, rice and mango salad jar (273 kcals)

50g uncooked brown rice
Handful of baby spinach
100g cooked prawns
¼ ripe mango, cut into small pieces
½ red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
Small handful of coriander, roughly chopped
Dressing:
½ tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
½ tsp brown sugar
1. Cook the rice to al dente, then cool quickly by running under cold water. Put cold rice into the bottom of the jar.
2. Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients. Pour over the rice.
3. Layer spinach, prawns, mango, chili and coriander on top of the rice. Make sure there is space at the top of the jar to shake it all together just before you eat.

Thai Prawn Salad Jar (291 kcals)

100g uncooked prawns
50g uncooked brown rice
Handful of baby spinach
Small handful of fresh basil and coriander, roughly chopped
1 spring onion, shredded
Marinade:
1 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tbsp dark soy sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
1 stick of lemon grass, bruised (give it a whack!)
Juice ½ a lime
Dressing:
Juice of ½ lime
½ tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 Mix the marinade ingredients together, put the prawns in the marinade, give it a good mix and leave in the fridge for 30 mins or longer to let the flavours infuse.
2 Cook the rice until al dente then cool quickly by running it under cold water. Once cool put the rice into the bottom of the jar.
3 Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the rice.
4 Remove the prawns and the kaffir lime leaves from the marinade, spray a frying pan with frylight and gently cook the prawns until cooked right through. You can cook the prawns in the marinade if you like and then add it all to the jar (although make sure you remove the lemon grass stalks!), but we found the extra soy and fish sauce made it very salty.
5 Once the prawns have cooled, start loading up your jar. Add a layer of spinach, then the prawns, red chilli, the spring onion, the coriander and the basil.
6 As before, leave room at the top of the jar so you can shake the contents of the jar together just before eating.

Chinese Chicken and Noodle Salad Jar (377 kcals)

70g chicken breast
50g nest of rice vermicelli noodles
Handful of baby spinach
1 spring onion, shredded
¼ red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
Small handful of coriander, roughly chopped
Marinade:
Zest of 1 lime
½ tsp five spice
½ tsp chopped ginger
Dressing:
1 tsp sesame oil
Juice of ½ lime
½ tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1 Chop chicken breast to small bite sized pieces, mix together the marinade ingredients and add the chicken to the marinade.
2 Cook the noodles in boiling water until soft, then drain and leave to cool.
3 Spray a small frying pan with fry light and cook chicken until cooked right through. Leave to cool.
4 Mix together the dressing ingredients.
5 Put cooled noodles into the jar, add the dressing and stir into the noodles.
6 Pile the chicken on top of the noodles, then top with spinach, chilli, spring onion and coriander.
7 When ready to eat, give it a good shake to mix the contents of the jar.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. I think they’re delicious, and as they are low calorie they can be enjoyed without guilt! An entire meal in a jar, and it won’t ruin your New Year’s resolutions. What’s not to love?

Happy New Year to all our Sweet Colourful Chaotics.

Peace, love and mason jars,

xxxx

A Real Winter Wonderland

real winter wonderland

“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”

It’s winter time in the UK and my husband Willy and I usually head off to the yearly event in Hyde Park Winter Wonder land to eat over sized bratwurst sausages and drink over priced mulled wine. This year was different we decided on a new adventure to travel to the Arctic and stay in Finland Lapland for a week in a place called Luosto. Not in search for father christmas but a week of travel and adventure in the snow. We went in the first week of December which missed the christmas rush and gave us a week of small tailored events of just 8 people in a group.

This was my first wintry adventure and wow it was more than impressive. Mother nature is a beautiful thing and the snow on the trees and hills were just breath taking. Snow that went up to your knees I really did feel like a kid again!

The week consisted of husky riding with 6 husky dogs pluling us along the wintry countryside riding husky dogs is quite a sensation and you have to help the dogs when going up hill which really connects you with the dogs and their energy and excitement! It was just  exhilarating a ride I will not forget in a hurry.  Top Tip never let go of the sleigh as the dogs will not stop and you may find yourself stranded with out a ride home.

The week continued with snowmobiling of which I crashed the snowmobile due to a silly husband and wife argument of how to drive the vehicle properly (the joys of married life)  I am happy to say we crashed beautifully and did not have to pay the 600euros excess and laughed it off with Finnish vodka at the end of the day.

Our winter wonderland also involved many cups of tea in a Lappish Kota a traditional hut which would always have a roaring log fire to welcome you in from the cold. Reindeer rides in a traditional Reindeer caravan, of which we spent the day with Mia, a Lappish lady who has continued this traditional use of reindeer transport and looks after over 100 reindeer. She was an inspiring woman I remember her first words were ‘I do not have much money but I have my reindeers and nature which makes me very happy’.

When in the Arctic there is a good chance you may see the the northern lights. We were lucky to see a few green streaks through the sky however, if you go who knows you may see even more its mother natures own light display and its truly breathtaking.

Our week continued with more alpine and cross country skiing, snow shoe trekking and looking for amethyst in an amethyst mine which if your lucky you can keep whatever you find if it fits in the palm of your hand.

If you like the outdoors and you would like to challenge yourself maybe for next year then I would most definitely recommend the real winter wonder land experience and if you have kids then you must visit father christmas or another option is to have mother christmas read you a bedtime story unfortunately I was a bit too old for this option.

If like my husband and I you just want adventure and then to snuggle up in a log cabin with hot chocolate then Finland will give you this and more happy wintry days!

x x x

Things that are without doubt totally and utterly acceptable in the first year of having a baby!

things-totally-acceptable-having-baby

This seems a pretty apt post to start back with in 2015 as the start of a brand new year is a time many people use to reflect on the past 12 months. For me these have been the biggest learning curve I have ever experienced.

This week I have officially been a parent for a whole year! It has been the hardest, most tiring, nerve wracking and wonderful year and if I’m totally honest has changed my outlook on life forever and shed some light on my previous judgments of other peoples lives and choices (which I didn’t even realise I had!).

So, I would like to share these words of wisdom to those about to embark, or for those who may like to recall the early days of parenting.and most importantly to give an insight for those who have not experienced the mayhem becoming a parent causes. Here is my list of things that are without doubt, totally and utterly acceptable in the first year of having a baby! (a few pointers directed at mums, because that’s the bit I know!).

It IS without doubt, totally and utterly acceptable to:

1. Never have time to ‘nip out’ or ‘pop out’ at all! Unless we’re talking ‘boobs’ – you might very well be popping those out all over the place!

2. Think of Wine O’Clock as an actual official time.

3. Never be on time. Unless it’s Wine O’Clock.

4. Cry. No reason needed.

5. To style your hair into a ‘Mun’ (no, not a ‘man-bun’ – that’s just ridiculous. A ‘mum-bun’) EVERYDAY.

6. Cry because your boobs are bleeding. What the hell is Mother Nature playing at?

7. Appreciate sleeping on your front.

8. Appreciate sleep. Full stop.

9. Finish showering before you’ve had chance to turn the shower on.

10. Wish this was an acceptable attire for playgroup/mother and baby groups/soft play.

11. Lose the ability to count to 5, 6, 7… or however many scoops of formula are needed at 3am.

12. Feel guilty because you’re using formula. Yep, you really do cry over spilt milk in the first year.

13. Feel guilty because you have to go back to work/don’t go back to work/want to go back to work/don’t want to go back to work.

14. Eat chocolate, cakes, biscuits before 9am. Do you really think parents of a newborn actually have time to pour cereal into a bowl?

15. Feel guilty about point 14.

16. Think squeezing your pelvic floor 10 times a day is such a chore. Yes, you can do it lying down, watching TV, brushing your teeth… but 10 times, that’s nearly 30 seconds of effort. Forget to do it.

17. Feel guilty about point 16.

18. Really, really want YOUR mum.

19. Act 10 years younger.

20. Feel 10 years older.

21. Develop an extreme hatred for anyone who parks in a ‘parent and child space’ with NO baby or, anyone who uses a lift through sheer laziness – parents with prams have NO CHOICE ARSEH**S! You get the point.

22. Realise once you’ve changed an active 10-month-old’s nappy you missed your true vocation….. as a wrestler.

23. Watch your little one empty an entire drawer/cupboard/shelf because for a whole 40 seconds you can just sit still, in one place and reflect on what a mess your house has become.

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24. Look at parents with more than one child and think how? Why?

25. Develop a fear of salt.

26. Think if it’s not near the head it’s perfectly acceptable (don’t even try to pretend you don’t realise I’m talking baby wee, sick, milk…. in your bed!)

27. Change sexy undies

Into these….

feeding bra

28. Cry because of a story on the news, an animal rescue programme, a romcom, a charity advert… a DFS advert!?

29. Think 9pm means staying up late and pulling an all-nighter means something very different.

30. Realise a baby-free night out is crushed by the thought of waking up at 6am NOT baby free.

31. Look forward to your day off when you can lie in for as long as you like – in 18 years time!

32. Dictate your days by nap times. Not for you. Never for you.

33. Say things you heard your parents say. “Don’t fight it…just sleep”.

34. Fill the whole of your phone memory with photos of your baby then curse at the fact there was no storage and you missed documenting your baby’s first hiccup. Damn you, phone.

35. Say everything in song.

36. Only check Facebook whilst on the loo.

37. Never have time to check Facebook whilst on the loo as you are too busy entertaining your baby…whilst on the loo.

38. Cry because you don’t know what your ‘normal’ friends do anymore. Or your Facebook friends.

39. Feel like a rockstar when you make your baby laugh.

40. Not cook everything from scratch, organically and fresh – it’s not a crime, people.

41. Have a bodybuilder’s bicep (left or right, depending on your baby holding preference!)

42. Feel like someone has pressed the fast forward button on your life.

43. Try and send telepathic messages to will your little one to lie back down and just sleep for another 20 minutes when they wake up ready for the day at 5am.

44. Be physically and mentally exhausted. Being responsible for another humans life is not an easy job.

45. Feel a ridiculous surge of protection when another little ‘angel’ snatches the one toy your little one had plucked up the courage to look at. Playgroups are a battleground.

46. Desperately will your little one not to be the one that snatches.

47. Wonder why nobody explained to you just how bloody hard it is.

48. Then utter the grating line to other expectant parents: “You just can’t explain it.”

49. Never quite being able to grasp how you can hold SO much love for another human being and realise life has a whole new meaning….

50. Then cry. Again.

With love, tears and severe sleep deprivation,

x x x

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