Personal · Pregnancy · Relationships · Review

Durex Real Feel Review

32680_DUREX_real_feel_pack_home_landingOkay, so my blog usually focuses on family life, so a review of condoms is a bit of a far cry from my usual content, but since BB was born I’ve not had a chance to arrange a more permanent form of contraception, so the opportunity came along at just the right time. Durex Real Feel condoms are made from a special new material which feels as close to the real thing as you’re going to get whilst being protected and the best part is, they’re latex free. Here’s me, talking about them a little bit more:

 

 

Durex has a dedicated site for their Real Feel condoms, and there’s a whole bunch of other bloggers over their talking about their experiences with the product, so do head over there to get the lowdown on what everyone else thought of them, as well as all of the ‘technical specifications’!

Food · Review

Easter at Thorntons

When I was pregnant, Thorntons Diabetic chocolate was just about the only thing that kept me sane, so when they got in touch and asked if we’d like to review some of their Easter eggs, we jumped at the chance. Yesterday morning, the postman turned up with this:

Thorntons Easter Eggs

Okay, so it may not be Easter quite yet, but we’ve been sampling the eggs already, strictly in the name of reviewing (ugh, my job is SO hard). The chocolate sheep and bunny lollies that you can see at the front are perfect for a smaller child and taste delicious. The Hopalot bunnies are also great for the littlies as they’re super Eastery (that’s totally a word…) without being too massive and getting them all hopped up (HOPPED up, geddit?!) on sugar.

The plain eggs are gorgeously simple, while the Super Scooter and Shining Star eggs are great for older kids who still want to get involved with the egg-giving traditions – and let’s face it, who doesn’t  like being given chocolate?!

My favourite egg was the big Special Toffee egg in the middle. The egg itself is set with tiny shards of toffee, and also comes with a slab of toffee in the box; the whole thing feels deliciously grown-up. Of course, being Thorntons, the chocolate in all of the eggs was excellent quality and everything we were sent both look and tasted amazing. I must admit, when I’m buying eggs for Easter, I usually end up going to the supermarket and doing some sort of multi-buy deal on branded eggs which contain some novelty item or another with a tiny, bland egg inside. However, after trying Thorntons eggs, I think this will be my new go-to shop for Easter treats.

They also do a whole range of other eggs, including smaller, brightly wrapped chocolate eggs which are perfect for Easter egg hunts, a great activity for getting the kids outside in the sunshine on a beautiful spring day.

Cooking and Recipes

Spring Cake Pops with Renshaw Baking

logoWhen the people at Renshaw Baking got in touch and asked if we’d like to enter their competition to make some Spring-inspired cake pops, Sausage and I jumped at the chance as it seemed like a great activity for the Easter holidays. Our bundle of goodies arrived in the post and included the following:

200g Colour Melts Blue Tub, 200g Colour Melts Green Tub, 200g Colour Melts Pink Tub, 200g Colour Melts Red Tub, 200g Colour Melts White Tub, 200g Colour Melts Yellow Tub, 250g of flower and modelling paste, 130g of Multi-Coloured Sprinkles,165g of Multi-Coloured Hundreds and Thousands

We decided to make our lives easier by using a bag of pre-mixed sponge mixture and ready-made icing, so it was just a case of chucking the cake into a bowl with some milk and egg, baking it and then crumbling it into a bowl once cooked and cooled. We added the icing, spoon by spoon until we’d achieved a good ratio of cake:icing and a pleasant consistency (which can ONLY be judged by tasting copious amounts as you go along. Ahem…) Sausage and I decided to use all of the melts and just wing it, hoping that something beautiful would happen spontaneously. Here are our results:

IMG_20140413_182900

What I will say here is that making cake pops is NOT as easy as it looks! Here’s how we did it, along with some handy tips:

1. Once you’ve mixed your cake and icing and achieved a good consistency (not too sloppy as it needs to bind well into balls) you’ll need to roll it into balls using your hands. Remember to remove any rings as they’ll end up very cakey and will hinder your ability to roll good balls.

2. Make sure your balls aren’t too big. When we first started rolling, we made our balls about the same size as a golf ball, but this was FAR too big and when you put them on the sticks, the cake balls slide down under their own weight. We then halved them and they were perfect.

3. When you melt your colour melts, give them an extra few seconds to make sure they’re slightly runnier as  otherwise when you dip your cake, the weight of the melts will pull the cake off of the stick if it’s too thick.

We were pretty easy-going about decorating our pops, trying different colour combinations as we went and the first few were disastrous, but I think our successful pops were pretty cool, and definitely reminiscent of spring! We also bought some edible flower decorations and stuck them into the melts just before they completely solidified and the effect was great. We also noticed how much they looked like Foofah from Yo Gabba Gabba, so if you wanted to make some Foofah cake pops for your little one, this is a really easy way to do it!

Have you ever made cake pops before? Do you have any pro-tips to add? Let us know.

Family

How beneficial is technology to a child’s development?

1082-460-TechnologySo, you have just bought your child his or her first laptop, a small, simple system from http://www.ebay.co.uk. It’s ideal for surfing the web and using some simple software, as well as watching the occasional movie or playing some games.

But how will it, and devices like it, influence the way your son or daughter learns? We’ve all struggled with the childproof lid on a bottle of vitamins, only to have a four-year-old effortlessly pop it open. And the same goes with smartphones: children seem to pick up and figure out in moments what normally takes adults days or weeks of trial and error.

Some experts warn that too much screen time too young can be detrimental to kids’ development, yet others are convinced there is little to worry about, and that devices such as tablets and smartphones can actually enhance learning in the very young.

Here are the opinions of some of the leading researchers into the relationship between young minds and the technology that could be helping to shape them.

The pros

  • Heather Kirkorian is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin. She found that children aged between two and three are more likely to respond to a touchscreen than to a video screen that required no form of interaction. The more interactive a display is, the more familiar it feels to a two-year-old.
  • Kirkorian also found that kids who interact with screens make fewer mistakes and pick things up faster. In this BBC website feature, she says touchscreens could help toddlers learn more quickly.
  • Schools are using tablet devices to help children absorb information more easily, and to facilitate new ways of learning. As that same BBC feature notes, Helen Moylett, president of the teaching charity Early Education, says that smartphones and tablets “can be really helpful and interesting tools if used in the right place to help us learn”.
  • Jackie Marsh is a professor of education at the University of Sheffield. She thinks that devices and high-quality apps and software can help children with learning difficulties develop the skills they might otherwise be missing.
  • Prof Marsh also thinks online environments can help children learn and experiment in confidence, and that children under six years old should spend no longer than two hours per day in front of a screen.
  • Dr Jim Taylor, an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco who specialises in the psychology of parenting, suggests that technology and the Internet help children to “scan information quickly and efficiently”.
  • However, in his article on the Psychology Today website, he cautions that technology “can be both beneficial and harmful to different ways in which children think”.

The cons

  • Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman advocates curbing screen time among the very young. He says the average ten-year-old has access to five different screens at home, and that by the time a child born today is seven years old, they will have spent one full year in front of a screen.
  • Dr Sigman also thinks too much time in front of computers and other devices could lead to addiction and depression.
  • Research suggests screen time longer than about two hours can start to have negative effects, such as reductions in attention span, as detailed in this BBC piece.

Who do you listen to? Perhaps we should just accept that toddlers are very curious, and that a glowing screen that reacts to their touch could be a great aid to their development – in moderation.

Beauty

Are you a smart or casual mum?

queen_mum_12When you become a mum, it seems that there are two ways to go in terms of your clothing. You can choose to embrace motherhood completely and become the most practically dressed person on the planet or you can make a positive decision to retain your own sense of style and if that means putting a lot of effort into your clothes, you carry on doing so regardless of how little time you have to do it.

A lot depends on who you hang out with, of course. If you’re surrounded by well-dressed people who obviously spend a lot of time, thought and money on their clothes, it tends to rub off on you, even if you’re a bit of a jeans and T-shirt fan. On the other hand, if the people you’ve got to know through various toddler groups all dress down when they’re out with the kids, you might feel too smart in the clothes you’d usually choose to wear.

Thankfully in today’s society, there are no particular dress codes, except perhaps in some work places, so you should really wear whatever makes you feel most comfortable. But regardless of whether you’re a smart or casual dresser, there are certain essential wardrobe items no mum of young children should be without.

The first priority item is a good jacket. Think of how many hours you spend at the park, often when it’s colder than you’d like it to be, and the kids somehow don’t seem to feel the need to get back inside where it’s warm. In the winter you can’t beat a down-filled puffer jacket for keeping you cosy and cheerful while they want one more push on the swing, or one more go on the slide. Come spring though, and that puffer jacket can feel far too hot, yet without it, there’s a risk of getting chilly when the clouds cover the sun. That’s when you need to move to a spring jacket – and utility coats are a really practical option here. Check out this jacket from Superdry that is an eminently practical colour – an army green that goes with almost any colour. It’s also got an array of handy pockets; perfect for packing in a few snacks for the kids and tissues for their runny noses! It’s casual, so suitable for everyday wear, yet it’s equally suitable for an occasion when you wear something smarter underneath.

The next wardrobe essential for a mum about town is a good pair of jeans; practical enough to cope with your kids’ sticky fingers being swiped across them, but you can still choose a tailored pair that most flatters your body shape.

Add some colour with a number of different tops – long and short-sleeved t-shirts for those days when it’s going to be warm, and lightweight jumpers that can be worn on their own or added as an extra layer of warmth when you need them. If you want to dress your look up a little, choose a cotton shirt or blouse in lieu of the t-shirt, and you instantly look smarter. Similarly, you can switch the utility jacket for a neutral trench coat for a more sophisticated look.

Some mums you see will always wear the same kind of thing, like they have a mum uniform; while others will be wearing something different every time you see them. The best option is to wear the clothes that you feel most at ease in. If you like what you’re wearing you’ll feel far more ready to deal with whatever the day throws at you.