Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Newborn Wish List

Everyone knows that having a baby can be expensive business. This is especially the case when it's your first, and you don't actually know what you need, what will be nice to have and what will gather an impressive amount of dust, making it easy to over spend. I came across one too many 'checklists' on the internet when pregnant which suggested we would have to sell our car and hitch-hike to work in order to be fully prepared. 

Now, I am clearly no expert and if I have learnt anything from being a mum it's that every baby is different, but I thought it might be useful to share the products which we have genuinely been impressed with, and which made things a little bit easier when Teddy arrived. These items aren't 'essentials' like car seats, blankets, clothes, and somewhere to sleep etc as if you're reading this you're probably aware that babies can't sleep in cardboard boxes (cats however definitely can). They are more like 'added extras', but ones which would cause mild panic attacks if lost or broken :-)

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine I would sell my soul for one of these! Obviously this is much more useful for parents of formula fed babies (or combination fed) as opposed to breastfed. When a newborn wakes up in the middle of the night 9 times out of 10 they're hungry, or at least mine was! And this must be hunger like you and I have never known, given the rage that comes with it. To be able to go downstairs and prepare a bottle, at the right temperature to be given immediately, is a beautiful thing. Having got used to this product by day 2 of Teddy's existence, the idea of trying to soothe him at 3am whilst waiting 15 minutes for a bottle (made the traditional way with boiling water) to cool down filled us with dread. Ridiculous and over dramatic, but true. It's not just for night time or the early days either, we still use it 3 or 4 times a day almost 8 months in. A wonder product. 

A good quality changing bag (that looks nice). There's no getting around it, the changing bag will replace your favourite handbag and become your new BFF. I am so glad that I convinced myself that "the too expensive but gorgeous and practical leather bag" would be worth it because it so was. In fact I love it so much I'll write a whole post on it. For now just know that I didn't pay full price, and that a bag with lots of compartments which won't fall apart after a few months will make your life easier. 

Baby Bath Seat We never bought a top and tail set, we just used two plastic bowls for the first week before bathing Teddy and thereafter for change of nappies until we switched to just wipes. We put Teddy in the bath when he was one week old using this stand/seat. Up until last week it was used almost daily, and made bath time so much easier. I liked the fact that Teddy was almost lay back in the water as it made sure he stayed warm, plus it gave us our hands to wash him and play with toys/splash, as opposed to having to hold him steady with one. For the amount of use we have had this item is a bargain, and the towelling cover can be easily removed and put in the washing machine. 

Micorwave steriliser We opted for this over the traditional plug in steriliser simply due to lack of worktop space in the kitchen. I would however choose it again even if we had a bigger place, as it has come with us on weekends away or been packed off with Teddy's things when he's stayed over at grandparents. 4 bottles are sterilised in 8 minutes meaning its quick (although I think the Avent one is done in half that time!) plus it's compact enough to fit into our tiny microwave. 

Baby Book I initially wasn't going to bother with any kind of baby book, but came across this on another blog and a few people had commented saying how useful it was so I decided to check it out. I really found it helpful in the first 12 weeks ish as I would read what might be happening in the upcoming week and it pretty much matched Teddy's movements which was reassuring. It is broken down into very small chapters, and sections within each on feeding, sleeping, playing etc. The bite size chunks meant Chris also used to dip in and have a read too. Definitely worth checking out (or borrowing from me!)

Soft Toy When we found out I was pregnant one of the first things we bought was this Jellycat giraffe which lives in Teddy's cot and which he hugs whilst sleeping most nights. I really wanted him to have a comforter for bed time which would help him self settle. However also having a smaller teddy like this striped monkey was great for soothing Teddy in the first few weeks during the day, whether just downstairs or out and about. He loves playing with the tail and pulling the long limbs, and it is the perfect size for him to put over his eyes when he just wants to block the world out and sleep! It's a hard life after all. This was a gift from my sister and comes with a matching bib, so points all round. I would defo recommend having two familiar soft toys, one for the cot and one for out and about (they could be two of the same). 

Ewan the Dream Sheep Talking of sleep, this product really did live up to the hype. Used from day one, we would turn on the lullaby sound when Teddy was first put down in his moses basket (we only used it at night initially) and then again after his night feed. This plus swaddling seemed to do the trick for us, and touch wood Teddy usually got back off to sleep pretty quickly. There are four sounds to choose from, three of which replicate sounds of the womb but the lullaby remains Teddy's (read Chris') favourite and we now use it during the day too when he goes down for his naps. He can turn it on and off himself, it's really easy to use and he now knows that the sound signifies sleep time. Ewan also works on adults FYI! When Teddy moved into his nursery at 10 weeks old Chris very nearly went out and bought one for our room, before realising we could still hear it through the monitor. Seriously. 

Nursing pillow This was kindly lent to me and has come in so handy, despite me only being able to breastfeed for a couple of weeks. We used to place it on the sofa and Teddy would sleep supported by it, or happily play away with a toy in his hand whilst laying against it. When he got old enough to sit on the floor we would tuck this around his back and it cushioned him as he frequently toppled over! It was also good for me to sit against when I first got home, rather than sink into the sofa, as getting up from that was no mean feat!

So there you go, well done for getting to the end! As I say, what works for one baby might not for another but hopefully you have found this helpful. Feel free to leave any comments on what wonder products you would recommend! 

Monday, 23 February 2015

VSH Book Club #1... The Girl With All The Gifts

I have been toying with the idea of joining a book club for a while now, or even better starting one with people I know who love to read (this sounds dreadful but do you ever feel there just isn't time to make new friends?!). Having failed to actually do anything about it however I figured a book club here on the blog might be a good interim. 

The idea is that a new book will be selected (suggestions welcome!) each month, and then I will post a review of the book once the month is up, and invite people to comment with their thoughts. I think there's something lovely about the idea of knowing other people are enjoying the same stories and characters as you. 

I have decided to kick off with The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R.Carey, as it has been on my radar for a while now and happened to be in the library when I visited a couple of days ago. You can purchase the kindle edition here for £3.66 or new & used paperbacks from £0.01 plus delivery here. Even better pop on down to your local library or nearest Waterstones where it is £5.99 but no doubt will also be on some sort of multiple buy offer. 

I don't actually know too much about the book as I get the feeling that it's the kind of story that could be ruined by reading too many reviews. I do know that it is a thriller told from the perspective of a 10 year old girl who we discover (in the first few pages) lives in some kind of secure facility, and that the story has a hint of the Walking Dead about it. It appears to be pretty popular, having been given 5 out of 5 on the Waterstones website, 4 out of 5 on Goodreads and 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon. I'm sold! 

So who's in?! 

Does anyone have any other recent reads they would recommend? I have a few so watch this space for a separate post. 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Haul Ass to... Dorothy Perkins

Everyone knows Dotty Ps loves a discount voucher, but this is one of their best with 25% off everything in store and online. I have long been a fan of DPs, and think their handbag and shoe game is particularly strong. 

Here are some of my top picks but get yourself down there or log on if you are after something specific this weekend, as they tend to cover all bases. I need to get the horse blouse! 

The code for online purchases is DPFW25 and you can print off a voucher for in store here. Free delivery on orders over £30 at the moment too.

Horse Blouse - Offer price £20 

Mint Green Suede Heels - Offer price £17.25 (these look more than a little like the Topshop Gwenda heel to me!)

Black & White Shoulder Bag - Offer price £12

Black Floral Dress (also available in other colours) - Offer price of £24.75

Happy shopping and happy weekend!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

30 Day Shred

I've done Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD before, numerous times. It's just been a while and I've just never gone the whole hog and done it every day for 30 days, which is apparently how you achieve the impressive results Jillian talks of... 14 stones in a day! I jest, whilst she's no Peter Kay she does say that losing 20 pounds in 30 days is realistic. 

It is Teddy's Christening in 33 days and the dress I plan to wear is a little on the tight side. Now I am all for a Kim Kardashian figure hugging dress but 1. I don't want to scare the priest, and 2. I need to be able to zip it up.  I have therefore been thinking about giving up bread for lent, or doing the Shred DVD every day for the next 30 days, and the latter won. I heart bread. 

I am guessing some of you have tried Shred in the past, so I would love to know if you now look like this, and how often you complete the workout. For those who don't know it is one of the top selling fitness DVDs on Amazon and consists of three 20 minute workouts of varying levels of difficulty. From what I remember there is also a fair amount of hollering and whooping about trying on skinny jeans in the Mall (it's allowed, she's American).  Surprisingly though I did find this encouraging rather than "I want to punch you in the face" annoying. 

20 minutes a day is do-able right? Hmmmmm.

I will keep track of the results and let you know how I get on. Wish me luck or even better, join me and stop me giving up after day 2! 

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Great Pram Debate

Ah the humble pram... or travel system, or pushchair, or buggy, whatever you like to call it. The choice is ridiculous so the whole thing can be a minefield.  I'll be honest though, I loved pram shopping and we found it to be a relatively quick and pleasant experience, only visiting one shop and then going home to order our favourite that night. This is probably due to the fact that it was on display in the window and it turns out my husband is rather drawn to things with foxes on! Plus I had done a fair amount of research beforehand. 

Here are some things to consider when choosing a pram and my thoughts on our Mamas & Papas Urbo 2 (I assure you I am not sponsored by them I just love this pram and could talk all day about it. I'll try not to though). I've not included costs, as everyone has a different budget. All I'll say is that you could spend a small fortune but from talking to other mums the most expensive prams aren't always the best. Try before you buy!


Top on our wish-list was something that was compact. We don't have a lot of space in either our Fiat Punto boot or our hallway/living room where the pram spends a lot of time. We therefore opted for a system designed for urban living, i.e. folds down pretty flat and would be suitable for even a city centre flat. I love that it fits through narrow spaces yet feels very sturdy and has a decent size shopping basket underneath. The wheels are small so probably not the best choice for people who know they will be doing a significant amount of country and off road walking. That's not to say it can't cope at all however; we've been round a number of parks and lakes with no issues at all.  Turns out that the relative lightness of the pram was also a massive bonus with me having a C-section as I really don't think I could have lifted a heavier pram in the weeks or even months that followed Teddy's birth. 


The speed at which the pram clicks up into place, and collapses down again was a big factor for us. Not a fan of faffing, the one click system for the carrycot, car seat (it is maxi cosi compatible) or pushchair seat is also excellent and saves lots of time. Whilst we tried to use the carrycot as much as possible there were times when we didn't want to wake Teddy and were only popping into a shop when keeping him in the car seat was a godsend. The handles extends to different heights very easily, and the break is simple and where you would expect it to be! 


This is the main benefit of a travel system in my opinion. You have the carrycot option for the first 6 months (although you can forgo this with many systems and simply lie the pushchair flat and purchase a newborn insert), the car seat option, and then the pushchair seat which we started to use after around 6 months and which should see Teddy through until he is 3 years old. The seat faces both ways and as the frame is small and not cumbersome I don't really see us needing a lightweight buggy, which I know many parents invest in if they find it easier to get out of the house with than a pram. 

We also wanted a pram with a decent guarantee and one with reviews which suggested it was durable. I think there has only been a handful of days that the pram hasn't been used since the little man arrived so we are definitely getting our money's worth!


How the pram actually looked was very important. We wanted a unisex pram that was a little bit different. Whilst not opposed to bright colours, I found many too garish so was leaning towards this model in navy before we came across the limited edition Donna Wilson print in store. Like I say, the husband made a beeline for it! We get many positive comments on the print, and I love the brown leather handle and safety bar as I think they add a touch of class. They also gave me a great excuse for a brown leather changing bag (whole other post!). I have only ever seen one other person with this pram which is a miracle given how many babies there seem to be in Manchester! It is of course not compulsory to dress your child up like a fox whilst in the pram, we are just a bit cruel. 

Other designs I considered and which I like include the Silvercross Wayfarer, Mamas & Papas Sola, Graco Evo and Ickle Bubba (despite the dreadful name).

So there you go, a lot of waffle about a pram. Feel free to join in!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Haul Ass To... BHS

Every Friday Haul Ass To... will point you in the direction of great buys/offers/stores or events which may brighten up your weekend. Alongside a glass of prosecco of course! 

This week I am suggesting you take a look at BHS (yes really). Having undergone a bit of a transformation lately, BHS's resurgence is understandable when you take a closer look at their homeware department, especially the lighting. 

New in is this colourful range Columbia Road which is definitely worth a look at. Tiffany lamps are a love or hate kind of thing (I love them after visiting Serendipity in New York which is full of them) and these versions are a fraction of the normal price. 

BHS are currently offering up to 30% off some of these items, and up to 70% across other ranges. 

Other favourites of mine include this grey concrete lamp and the Ampersand lamp. 

Enjoy your weekend and thanks for looking at the blog during its inaugural week!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Valentine's Gift List

Three shopping days to go folks... Here are some last minute ideas for valentine's day gifts if you want to treat someone special, or yourself of course. And don't forget the card! 

Elbow Patch Jumper from ASOS, £22. This is so cute! They do a variety of styles, the red striped of which first caught my eye but stock is low unless you're after a petite. The more I look at this grey and pink however the more it has grown on me, and I think it would look great with jeans or with shorts, thick black tights and ankle boots. 

The Bearded Man Co Oil Gift Set If, like me, there's a man in your life with a penchant for facial hair then these could be a great shout. Oils which supposedly make beards smell delightful, this 8 set sampler is £13.99 and you can choose any 8 scents out of the 22 available. 

Red New Balance Trainers, various. New Balance trainers have always been slightly below the radar however now appear to be the latest kicks to be seen in. I have never tried on a pair but they look super comfy and this red pair would make a great (albeit not the cheapest) valentine's gift for either him or her. 

Initial Necklace, £16. I was lucky enough to receive one of these for Christmas, with our initials T,L,C (I know!) in the copper shade and I love it. Perfect romantic gift and a very reasonable price. 

Red Velvet Brownies Imagine how happy you would be to receive home made red velvet brownies. Imagine! This recipe actually looks pretty simple so if you have time to whip up a batch then I will be most jealous. 

Jo Malone Cologne, Various stockists, £40. Probably the nicest packaged gifts ever! I love Pomegranate Noir or Blue Agava & Cacao but this Wood Sage & Sea Salt is a new rival and I would imagine works well on both men and women. I've sneaked a few sample sprays and it is rich and woody (shocker given its name), and lasts for ages. 

Ticket Stub Diary, £10 from Amazon. This is a great idea to give to your other half if you go to gigs/shows/the cinema frequently together as you can keep all your tickets to look back on plus write little notes alongside. Sweet!

Paperchase Alphabet Mug, £6 and available in store so you can pop there on your lunch hour, these mugs are personal plus cheap enough to buy both your initials or even spell out LOVE. Plus I am digging the monochrome. 

Classic Hardback Book, £11.29 Waterstones. If you are buying for a book worm then these clothbound classics are beautiful keepsakes and you are likely to get lots of brownie points - hopefully red velvet ones! 

Obviously many of these are on-line purchases but there should be time left and there's always next day delivery.  I hope you like these ideas and have yourselves a lovely Valentine's Day! 

Monday, 9 February 2015

Ikea Sundays

Yesterday I went to Ikea for one specific item.*  I'm sure everyone knows that buying only one thing from Ikea is nigh on impossible, so I did pretty well to only return with 3 little extras. It was as busy as I've ever seen it, probably because, like me, many people realised that the £20 voucher they received if they bought a Christmas tree from there last December expired 8 Feb. 

We decided to spend the voucher on this Trogen storage bench which will house Teddy's toys in his room. There are cheaper storage options but as it is going to be on view I wanted something to fit in with the nursery and also something of a decent size and quality. It doubles up as a bench which he can sit on when older. Successfully purchased, it's now over to Chris to assemble after which I'll post some pictures. Bet he can't wait to get his flat pack on! 

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Whilst confined in the maze that is the Manchester store I took some sneaky pictures of things which caught my eye and which you might like too...

Strala Star Lamps don't appear to be online but are reduced in store to £6! These would look great in a colourful nursery or play room. 

Lillabo Train Set If you love a wooden toy and a reasonable price check out this range. 

Black & White Lamp Pretty and stylish, you have to buy the base and lamp separately but at least that means if you change your mind or decor you can change the shade too. 

Yellow Clock This is on my pay day wishlist. It can be mounted to a wall or put on a shelf and opens for some cheeky storage. 

Coloured Clothes Hooks £1 hooks which again would look cute in a child's room.

White & Copper Lampshades Copper is still going strong and offers something a bit different, these shades look a lot fancier than the price tag suggests they are.

Retro Glass Cabinets I love these! Shame I have no need (or budget!) for one whatsoever.

Apples & Pears Lighting So cute, another nursery or playroom item which is fun and original. 

Child's Training Beaker I couldn't resist these!

Feel free to share any Ikea finds or thoughts, and happy Monday! 

* No, not a hotdog.  Although obviously I did get one on the way out. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Capture the Moments... SmileyPrint Photo Strips

I used to be all about the photo albums. Back in the glory days of dropping films off at Max Spielmann, waiting to see what would be returned and spending hours in paperchase perusing scrapbooks, I used to love putting together albums which I still look at now. Then digital cameras and social media came along, and whilst I may have thousands of pictures on facebook, I don't have half as many physical photographs as I would like. 

This is especially the case when you have a child that seems to age at an unfathomable speed, and whose chubby little face brings you a ridiculous amount of joy. When I discovered SmileyPrint photo strips I was therefore instantly a fan of the idea of photobooth strips - hello 90s memories! I thought they would be a great way to print off photos not only of Teddy, but of happy times like our wedding, honeymoon and even Pablo the cat, massive poser that he is. 

At only $10 for 12 strips the website is super easy to use, and I selected my 48 pictures from instagram so no re-sizing or editing needed, although you can do this if you like. The 4 x 17cm columns are great for cutting up and keeping in purses and wallets, popping on the fridge with magnets or even handing out to family as bookmarks. Winner all round! 

Anyone else a photobooth fan?! 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Teddy's Nursery

First Post Klaxon!!! 

In our wisdom we purchased and moved into our first house when I was 7 months pregnant. Top of the list when house searching was therefore a place which required little or no work to it. Luckily we found this and straight away started to think about the nursery. The room which was to become the nursery was blue. Blue walls, blue carpets, generally very blue. It was a good job we had a boy!

At the time we didn't know the baby's sex but decided to keep the blue and take a gamble. We embraced the blue and decided to make it a sky, with my first idea being to create (or more realistically buy) a wall transfer of the Up! house and balloons on one wall. I didn't have much luck with this however and so we went for cloud transfers which were a bargain from 

We ran with the cloud theme and purchased a super cute paper cloud mobile and grey and white cloud bedding. Then I got very excited about a changing mat, because that's how I roll, and convinced myself that £39 for said mat was an entirely reasonable purchase. 7 months pregnant people! In the end my lovely sister bought us the mat, and I am so glad.  Here is Teddy demonstrating just how essential a purchase it was.  

We wanted to brighten the room hence the yellow, which I incorporated with the chevron lampshade and a print from Etsy which is my second favourite thing in the room (after the changing mat, obvs). The plan was also to buy a rug but I couldn't find a suitable one and the need to downplay the blue lessened dramatically once our little surprise arrived. I am still on the lookout for a chevron or cloud themed rug, but one which does NOT look like this

Other touches in the room include a lovely Roald Dahl print received as a gift and the wall mounted book shelves. Thank you Pinterest for the £3 ikea spice rack idea! Furniture wise we knew we wanted white and the Fern collection from Mamas and Papas seemed a popular choice amongst friends whilst also being the right size for the room. Lastly we were donated an Ikea PoƤng chair which is where one of us sits to read to Teddy before bed every night. Library corner rocks! 

So there we have it... and here we have this. Hearts. 


Cloud wall stickers
Cloud mobile The White Company
Changing mat Nubie
Lampshade Ebay
Cot bumper, duvet & fitted sheet Mamas and Papas
Book shelves (painted white) Ikea
Winne & Piglet print Sweet Lime on Etsy
Furniture Mamas and Papas
Chair Ikea
Child He's not for sale ;-)