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Brand Discovery: August 2017

Anyone would think I’d done a disappearing act judging by my absence from social media and the blog last month. I’m still here; we’re in the process of buying a house so there has been lots keeping me occupied. It still hasn’t prevented me from discovering a few brands I previously hadn’t heard of. Here’s a quick round-up of the ones that came on to my radar during August. Some of these companies have been around for ages and others are small businesses that are still emerging but they all have one thing in common; I wish I knew about them sooner.

  1. Neat Treats – MERMAID FUDGE! Have I succeeded in getting your attention? I knew I had to try this edible delight the moment I saw the listing on Etsy. I came across ‘Neat Treats’ whilst looking for a sweet treat to give as part of a birthday present. This Southampton based ‘create at home’ confectioner produces a range of fudges that can be delivered to your door in next to no time. The mermaid fudge is a bluey green coloured Eton Mess flavoured fudge with hidden edible blue ‘pearls’.
  2. Pyjama Drama – I am always looking for new weekday groups to take little Miss to which will build her developmental skills at the same time as having a lot of fun. ‘Pyjama Drama’ is a group that ticks both those boxes by holding pretend play classes. The aim is to build confidence and creativity in children by encouraging them to embrace their individuality and see how far their imagination can be stretched. We’ve signed up to start in September and I have a feeling it will become one of the highlights of our week because, in the words of R. Kelly, “if you can dream it, then you can do it”!
  3. Mama Me Box – Most mums don’t have the chance to enjoy even a fraction of the ‘me time’ they deserve. The Mama Me Box is a perfect way to remind yourself, or someone else, that looking after yourself is just as important as nurturing the small ones. Available as a subscription box or as a one-off gift; this package of joy containing five high quality items will arrive at the door ready for you to take time out. I will definitely be keeping this in mind as a gift for my loved ones who are due to welcome a new addition soon.
  4.  Mr Wolf Kids – As a fashion lover, supporter of  independents and mother who spends way too much time and effort finding pieces for her daughter’s wardrobe; I am surprised I didn’t know about ‘Mr Wolf Kids’ earlier. Rather bizarrely; it was during a kite festival that they were brought to my attention. The quirky designs immediately drew me over to their stall and once home I headed straight to the website to browse further. I’m sure it won’t be long until little one is spotted on Insta sporting a piece from the collection!  

I can’t wait to see which brands and products fly on to my radar this month. Let me know if you are part of a  small business, local company or emerging brand that I should know about.

4 Stages of Outfit Envy

I love clothes, I love fashion and I most definitely love to shop! For the past couple of days I’ve been using my spare time to scour the web in search of a top that I saw a lady wearing at playgroup. So far my search has been fruitless but it has got me thinking about the dreaded feeling of outfit envy which I find myself coming down with far more frequently than I’d like. I’ll run you through the 4 stages I experience during a bout of outfit envy.

  1.  Admiration – That moment you spy a garment from across the room being modelled perfectly by someone other than you. It starts with admiration; for the clothing and for the person wearing it for styling the look.  Well done to them on finding such a gem. You may even vocalise the admiration by giving the wearer a compliment, after all, a compliment can always act as a mood lifter.
  2. Resentment – Unfortunately it doesn’t take long before the admiration fades and resentment, albeit irrational, starts to set in. You go from thinking the other person is a  bit of style icon for finding such a beautiful piece, to being a bit peeved that you didn’t snap it up first, especially considering the amount of time you put in to browsing potential purchases. I mean; why do they have to have such amazing clothes when I have ‘NOTHING TO WEAR’!
  3. Investigation – How do you get over the resentment? Go on a full scale hunt for the item: sit down, get comfortable & make Google your best friend. Use every search term you can think of, utilise specific shopping search sites and visit retailers you think would carry the piece in their collection. In this stage motivation is key in leaving no stone unturned and keeping the faith that you too can achieve #OutfitGoals!
  4. Compromise – All that optimism you had in the investigation stage has started to disappear and you’re now worried that you have lost this particular battle of style wars. Do you now admit defeat? Of course not, you start thinking about a compromise. You could find a similar garment to the one you originally wanted or you could reward your efforts by spending a few pounds on a piece you’ve been lusting over for a while. Which ever way you decide to compromise; you will find that your mood is substantially higher now you have reached the final stage and outfit envy is over. 

Do you ever find yourself suffering from outfit envy? Is there a fine line between admiring someone else’s style and being jealous that it isn’t you rocking that look? Or am I just living in an irrational, and slightly self-obsessed, bubble. Let me know in the comments section.

4 of the Best: Dairy Farm Ice Creams

Ah ice cream; the perfect sweet treat on a hot day for all ages. We don’t get much sun in the UK but one thing is a guarantee, if the sun’s out, there will be a ice cream van or kiosk waiting to take your order. I’m a fan of most ice cream: I love a Magnum, Mini Milks make me nostalgic and I have a soft spot for a slightly retro Viennetta  but my favourite by far is a large scoop of creamy dairy ice cream. British dairy farms, and the wonderful things they put so much time and love in to producing, need to be both supported and celebrated. That’s why I’ve put together a round up of my favourite dairy farm ice cream brands.

  1. Northney Ice Cream, Hayling Island – Now this is a brand that I had not heard of before making the move to Hampshire just under a year ago but my gosh am I glad I’ve now tried it! Our local pub has Northney Ice Cream on their dessert menu and every time I visit, despite telling myself I should try something new, I can’t help but choose the pudding option of 3 massive scoops of ice cream. With this dairy farm just a short journey across the water from me; I am very tempted to attend one of their open days this summer to see for myself where it all comes from and find myself in a little bit of ice cream heaven! I recommend creating a mocha taste with 1 scoop of chocolate and 1 scoop of coffee. 
  2. Marshfield Farm Ice Cream, Wiltshire – I haven’t lived in the West Country for over ten years now but Marshfield Farm ice cream still manages to take me home with every mouthful. Produced in Wiltshire; this ice cream can be found in many pubs, ice cream vans and attractions across the South West and even further afield. I’m very lucky that even over 100 miles away from ‘home’; I can still enjoy this brand virtually on my doorstep at the local lake. There are plenty of flavours to choose from but my favourite has to be the ‘toffee fudge fiasco’.
  3. Cheshire Farm Ice Cream, Tattenhall – If you live in the North West and you haven’t visited the ice cream farm in Tattenhall yet then be sure to set a reminder on your phone and pencil it in to your diaries as this dairy farm has become more of an attraction for a day of family fun. It’s not just delicious ice cream that Cheshire farm has to offer, it also boasts: an adventure golf course, tractor tours of the animal enclosures, a soft play area and even a treasure cove where you can pan for gems! When you’re all exhausted from the full day of fun; you can sit back and relax with one of their ice creams in over 50 different flavours. Make mine a ‘White chocolate, raspberry & oreos’ will you!
  4. Shepherds Ice Cream, Herefordshire – Okay so you might think this is a little ‘out there’ but Shepherds produce milk made from yep, you guessed it, sheep’s milk. I first tried their ice cream over a decade ago on a trip to Hay-on-wye; the town of books on the border of Wales which stole my heart and holds so many memories of time spent with my late Dad. I’ll be honest, I was a bit sceptical about ice cream made from Sheep’s milk, my worries were put to bed on first taste and I was totally unprepared for how creamy it could be whilst full of flavour. With year round favourites, as well as quirky seasonal variations, there is a flavour for everyone. My choice is the cardamom and lavender.

Is there an ice cream farm near you that is out of this world? Dairy Farm we should know about? What’s your favourite flavour? Let me know in the comments section

Surviving the Sun; Cooling Skincare Products

Today is set to be a scorcher, and as someone who gets heatstroke within minutes of being outside in the sun, I’m making sure I’m armed with the right cooling skincare products just in case I’m struck down yet again. I put lots of energy in to trying to prevent sunstroke but I have come to terms with the fact that, despite my efforts, I’m fighting a loosing battle. I know the signs and symptoms and it tends to be an illness that I just have to ride out but there are some products that assist me on the road to recovery simply by cooling me down.

  1. Aloe Gel, L Aloe Vera Fresca – Before visiting the beautiful island of Fuerteventura in 2015; Aloe Vera was something I was familiar with but didn’t know too much about. That all changed once I embarked on a trip surrounding cultural highlights and specialities of this part of the Canaries. Not only did I finish this day tour with quite the taste for Honey Rum(!); I also saw first hand the way in which Aloe is farmed. I bought my first bottle of L Aloe Fresca Gel there and then and have been ordering it online every summer since. This ultra-cooling gel is perfect  when used as an ‘after sun’  as Aloe has extreme healing properties allowing the skin to repair quickly. At just over £20, depending on the exchange rate, it is a bit of an investment buy but worth it when you consider it also helps with cuts, bruising, eczema and even insect bites.
  2. Peppermint Cooling Foot Spray, The Body Shop – I love sandal season. Ever one to find an excuse to splash out on a new pair of shoes, or few, the summer sunshine is great for adding to my collection. However, in this heat, new shoes don’t always love me as much as I love them. Rubbing, blisters, swelling, bruises; I know it’s not exactly glamourous but unfortunately it becomes the reality of life in the heat. I’ve always been a massive fan of The Body Shop, and their range of cruelty free products which don’t irritate my skin, the peppermint footcare range is right up there in their best products. You don’t need to spray much of this product to feel the effects and the benefit is noticeable almost instantly. I usually have two bottles of this in use; one for home and one that stays in my bag so I can use it if the temperature is really starting to get the better of me. I’d also highly recommend the pummice scrub for anyone who has a job that sees them on their feet for long periods at a time – I found it an absolute life saver when I worked in retail.
  3. Body and Face Spray, Magicool – When you’ve reached the point of feeling like you could collapse with heat exhaustion at any moment; a generous spritz of Magicool Body and Face spray is like turning on air conditioning. I keep at least one can of this little spray of heaven in my bag at all times during the warm weather just in case it all gets too much. The reason I choose Magicool is that it can also be used on infants and those with sensitive skin. This means I can keep little one cool without worrying it will irritate her infantile eczema. I also keep a supply of the Magicool Itchy Skin Spray in my medicine cabinet to aid the sores and itches that come with blisters, heat rash, insect bites and even nettle stings. At the rate I get through their products; I’d be better off buying shares in Magicool!
  4. Coconut Cooling Lip Oil, Yes To – No matter what the season, or weather, I can’t seem to shift having chapped lips. In the winter the cold makes them sore and in the summer the heat dries them out; I just can’t win. I’ve tried endless lip balms and moisture salves but the only one which really works for me whilst the sun is beaming down is the Coconut Cooling Lip Oil by Yes To. Not only does it smell of holidays, mines a Pina Colada please, it also keeps my lips hydrated for hours without having to be frequently reapplied.  You can definitely tell that all the products in their range are made largely from natural ingredients as they leave the skin feeling silky smooth. At £7.99, it may seem a little on the pricey side for a lip moisturiser but it is definitely not your average lip moisturiser – that’s why it’s award winning! If the scent of coconut is your thing; it is also worth checking out the Micellar Water which I now swear by to remove my make-up with on the rare occasion I’ve managed to grab enough time to have some self-care.

Do you suffer with heatstroke? Which beauty and skincare products keep you cool during the summer months? What should I try? Let me know in the comments section.

Brand Discovery: June 2017

How is it June already?! I’ll admit it; I’ve been a bad blogger recently. Between suffering from both sunstroke and migraines and having family to stay; I haven’t put in as much time as I like to and have even spent less time on social media. However, I still managed to discover a few brands I previously hadn’t heard of. Here’s a quick round-up of the brands that came on to my radar during June. Some of these companies have been around for decades and others are small businesses that are still emerging but they all have one thing in common; I wish I knew about them sooner.

  1. Alpha Betty’s – This clothing brand is still relatively new but I am so lucky to have it virtually on my doorstep. I came across Alpha Betty’s at a rather quirky local craft fair held in a nearby church. Always one for a slogan tee; I was instantly drawn to the range of ‘Hangry’ pieces for children but settled on a nautical looking ‘Made in Southsea’ top for her instead. Currently selling at local events; I can see this brand becoming much bigger, very quickly. 
  2. Evebox –Beautiful gifts bundled together and sent directly to the recipient; sounds good right?! This gifting has only just launched but I have already bookmarked it in my browser ready in preparation for birthdays, anniversaries and even Christmas.  You can select a box based on  recipient, occasion or price and with a range of presents from tea to fine chocolate and luxury skincare  – there are thoughtful ideas to suit many. I’m loving the ‘Luxury Marble‘ one.
  3. Cocobelle Baby – The smell of coconut goes hand in hand with the feel of summer. We were lucky enough to try out this virgin coconut oil to see if it would make a difference on little miss’ sensitive and eczema prone skin. I didn’t know that there was different grades of coconut oil before trying this but I could tell the high quality of this product even on first use. It made her skin silky smooth and helped prevent the awful nappy rash that goes along with teething from getting worse.
  4.  Lancashire Farm – Like many people, even if I take a shopping list with me, I often buy items at the supermarket just because they are on offer. Sometimes this works in my favour and on other occasions it doesn’t. I’m very glad I took a chance on the low fat flavoured bio yogurts from Lancashire Farm – perfect combination of full flavour and creamy taste despite being low in fat. The mango one is definitely set to be one of my fave desserts this summer.

I can’t wait to see which brands and products fly on to my radar this month. Let me know if you are part of a  small business, local company or emerging brand that I should know about.

Me&I is Fun Fashion for Us

I love discovering new brands; especially when it comes to fashion. Like many mums; I tend to now put a lot more time, effort and money into ensuring little one’s wardrobe is brimming with beautiful pieces than splurging on glamorous garments for myself. At least once a week I fall in love with a childrenswear brand that was not already on my radar. I’d love to buy items from every one of them but, until I win the lottery or discover a money tree, I’m unable to try them all.  When we got the chance to test out cool Scandi fashion brand ‘Me&I’*; I jumped at it!

With a range of fun and quirky designs to choose from; I was spoilt for choice and spent more than a little while deliberating over which two pieces from the collection to pick for little Miss.  At 16 months, baby girl is lucky enough to fit in to their baby organic range as well as the kids collection. So with this in mind I selected a piece from each range; the ‘raining hearts’ bodysuit from the former and the ‘Dino’ tunic from the latter.

From the moment the delivery man handed me my parcel;  I could tell, even from the bright packaging, that I would be pleased with what lay ahead. And pleased I was. The first thing I noticed was how utterly soft the fabric was; the label said organic cotton but they felt akin to silk and oh so stretchy too, making me hopeful that she’d get longer wear out of them.

  • Raining Hearts Bodysuit – This long-sleeved bodysuit, pictured above, is so incredibly versatile. Part of the gender-neutral baby organic range; the striking print makes a big enough statement to be worn as part of an outfit rather than just an undergarment/base layer. The breathable organic cotton has been a lifesaver during the mini heatwaves we’ve experienced recently and it’s been so handy to just pair it with leggings when going out to playgroups or trips to the park. Each time little one has worn it she has been complimented by many parents whom I’ve then directed to the website. I love the idea of ‘raining hearts’ as it’s such a wonderful concept – the world needs more love and what better way to add more than via showers of rain! At  £20, it may seem a bit expensive for ‘just a bodysuit’ but it’s well worth every penny considering the look, feel and versatility of it. It can be used as: an undergarment, nightwear during the summer and as the statement part of an outfit. I’m contemplating getting the little joggers in this range next.
  • Dino Tunic – Girls can like dinosaurs too! I might not have to tell you that but if most retailers are anything to go by you’d think boys had a monopoly on them. So, ever the one try and dispel stereotypes, I tend to buy cute girls dinosaur items if  I see them. This bright cerise pink tunic is fab. Made in a ‘terry’ towelling style; it can be used as a post-swimming/beach cover-up as well as a fun everyday outfit to play in. Like many teething babies and toddlers; little one’s dribble is resembling Niagara Falls at the moment meaning we are having to change dribble soaked tops regularly. However, when she wears this, the towelling nature means it’s soaked up and there’s no need for an outfit change until bath & bed! At £21, I feel this outfit offers great value for money as it’s currently long enough to be a dress and as she grows it can convert to a top. The stretchy lightweight cotton allows it to be worn throughout many seasons and can be worn layered up or on it’s own.

Overall Verdict – The fun prints, high-quality fabric and versatile designs have left me extremely happy and I will definitely be adding more Me&I pieces to little one’s wardrobe in the future. I was so impressed that I would also look in to purchasing pieces from their womenswear collection for myself. The items are true to size yet with enough stretch to last a while and the fabric washes so well that I feel safe in the knowledge it can be washed and worn time and time again. Currently there are no Me&I consultants in  my surrounding area but if there were I would not hesitate to attend one of their events or parties. For now; I will continue to shop via their website.

 

*2 pieces of clothing were gifted to us in exchange for a product test and honest review. All opinions and views are my own.

Where to Find? Petite Jumpsuits

Every year when summer comes and I start to think about what pieces I want to add to my wardrobe; I end up obsessing over jumpsuits and maxi dresses. However, when you’re 5ft3 it can be very difficult to find one that doesn’t drown you! With that in mind; I’ve made it my mission this summer to find a petite jumpsuit I can pull out of my wardrobe for any occasion and can be dressed up or down. So I’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to track down petite jumpsuits.

  1. Very – This online retailer not only houses so many great brands, it also has it’s own fashion range with some killer pieces. It wasn’t that long ago I discovered Very had a petite range but, now I know it exists, my online shopping basket is constantly growing! From strapless to wide leg, there’s a jumpsuit to suit everyone; my fave is this navy floral cold shoulder jumpsuit as it nails 3 current trends with one piece.
  2. M&Co – From the moment I walked into the Petersfield branch and spotted this navy tropical jumpsuit I was in love! So when I noticed it was actually part of the petite collection I couldn’t have been happier. What’s more, it goes up to a size 18 meaning I could actually get one that fits – they didn’t have one in store so I placed my order the minute I got home. Fingers crossed it looks as nice on as it did on the hanger as I’m no mannequin.
  3. Fenn Wright Manson – Okay, so this brand may be at the more expensive end of the high street, but their garments are timeless with a nod to fashion and oozes luxury. This v neck floral culotte jumpsuit caught my eye from day one of the collection launch – it’s definitely an investment piece but one that will pay off. Now in the sale; it’s sure to sell out quickly.
  4. Gap – I have to admit,  as an ex-employee I’m a little biased when it comes to Gap, but I genuinely get repeated wear from the garments I buy there. I’ve heard lots of people say that Gap only have ‘very thin, very tall’ women in mind when they’re designing their collectio.  That really isn’t the case as they have a petite range and stock up to a size 24. I’m loving this navy wrap front jumpsuit which I know will last me an absolute lifetime.

Where is your ‘go-to’ for petite clothing? What issues do you have when picking a jumpsuit? Let me know in the comments section.

Crazy about Cocobelle

Ah teething, you’ve got a lot to answer for! There are a few indicators that my little one is suffering from the teething process but the main one is a really bad case of nappy rash.  Having extremely sensitive skin, and an awful case of baby eczema, means I’m a bit overly cautious when it comes to trying her with products so I try to find as natural remedies as I can come across. When we were given the chance to try Cocobelle Baby*, a new organic coconut oil product designed with babies in mind , I was keen to see if this product could help improve things.

This wasn’t my first time using coconut oil; I used a vat of coconut oil from a leading supermarket when baby girl was much smaller to aid the removal of cradle cap. On opening the tub it became clear that this coconut oil was different to brands I had tried previously; it felt much more gentle on the skin and was less greasy when applying. Until this point I was unaware that there are different grades of coconut oil; I just assumed that it was all the same and the only reason for massive differences in price from brand to brand was due to status rather than quality.

I applied Cocobelle Baby to little miss’ skin at every change for 5 days running. It had a definite effect and she seemed to be much less sore than she usually is during the troublesome teething phases. The smell of coconut constantly surrounding me was also a winner; even if it did make me desperately want a holiday! Wanting to find more about the product and trying to decide whether I would get it again; I went in search of information about the people behind Cocobelle and the inspiration for the product. Their story is one I can really relate to, it’s of a couple desperately searching for products to soothe their child’s eczema and be gentle on the skin.

I’ll be continuing to use this product whilst the one-year-old is still suffering and would also consider using it on future skin ailments. Oh and one final, slightly trivial thing, I love the logo as it made me think of scales on a mermaid tail!

 

*Cocobelle Baby was gifted to me in exchange for a product test and honest review. All opinions and views are my own.

Smile Moments: Southsea Box

We’ve all got a lot to feel grateful for but sometimes we need little pick-me-ups to remind us that life is good; I like to think of these as ‘smile moments’! I had one of these moments yesterday when I luckily managed to get my hands on a ‘Southsea Box‘ whilst out for yet another coffee & cake session at one of my favourite cafés.

The Southsea Box is a package of goodies that is generously bundled together and sent out in to the neighbourhood for someone to find in order to give them a little bit of an expected mood lift. The contents and location of the box changes on a weekly basis. Locals who know about this marvellous act of kindness can find out where it will be located via social media whilst others will just be pleasantly surprised upon discovery of one of these parcels of joy.

So what goodies did I receive? There was: an eyeliner, scented candle, mug and coaster set, bath lily, party popper, small box of smarties, lip balm, lolly, picture of a red squirrel, set of greetings cards, keyring, neckerchief/scarf & a ‘Little Miss’ book.

I’m thrilled with these bits and feel uplifted knowing that good deeds like this do happen. Here’s hoping this idea is picked up and used in other areas of the UK.

Where to Find? Fashionable Fuller Figure Swimwear

Swimwear can be one of the most difficult garments to find. You need something that will make you feel confident even on one of those days, something that says who you are and something that shows off as little, or as much, as you want of your body. We all have our ‘problem’ areas, bits we are self-concious of and some parts we just want to cover-up completely. None of us have it easy finding swimwear but the problem I have is finding fuller figure swimwear that is not just functional, but fashionable too. So I’ve compiled list of some of the best places to track down fashionable fuller figure swimwear.

  1. Bravissimo – I first started shopping at Bravissimo as a student desperately searching for a high street lingerie store which could give a more accurate bra fitting. Pleased with the impeccable service I received; I became a frequent visitor to their stores and sister brand ‘Pepperberry’.  Bravissimo offer a wide range of bikinis, tankinis & one-pieces up to a size 18 with cup sizes extending to a K cup.
  2. M&Co – This brand has always been a winner in my book when it comes to baby and childrenswear but recently I’ve started seeing it in a new light and I’m actually really impressed with the summer womenswear collection. The range of swimwear comes in a multitude of colours and prints with items up to a size 20 and even includes ‘tummy control‘ pieces.  I’ve got my eye on this blue & green tile print cossie perfect for covering my ‘mum tum’! 
  3. Simply Be – Have you seen the TV ad for the Simply Be swimwear? Talk about promoting positive body image; those models look empowered and like they truly embody full body confidence. Their range goes all the way up to a size 38 and encompasses many household names from ‘Curvy Kate‘ to ‘Panache‘. Whilst some pieces are a little pricier than you may be prepared to spend; they look to be well worth the investment.
  4. Forever 21 Ah Forever 21, I don’t know if it’s the bright prints or the witty slogans but this brand really does make me feel youthful and reminds me that I’m still very much in my 20s! With their plus size swimwear collection including cut-outs, tropical prints and mesh elements – there are some pieces guaranteed to attract attention for all the right reasons. I’m loving this bright red one-piece with the word ‘Hello’ across it – definite Baywatch vibes!

Where is your ‘go-to’ for swimwear? What issues do you have when picking a bikini or one-piece? Let me know in the comments section.

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