Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Potions & Prams: Review: Aliens Love Underpants: Live

Potions & Prams: Review: Aliens Love Underpants: Live: We love pants! It's been a super hectic last few weeks both with work and at home which means I haven't had a lot of time to go ...

Monday, 18 August 2014

Review: Aliens Love Underpants: Live

We love pants!
It's been a super hectic last few weeks both with work and at home which means I haven't had a lot of time to go about testing the latest beauty launches or even thinking about my next blog post. Sorry about that. However, I did go and see a brilliant theatre production with Max, my four-year-old, called Aliens Love Underpants (stay with me) that I thought I'd tell you about. Before I had my one-year-old, Elsie, I made a little pact with myself that, when we were settled, I would dedicate a whole day every couple of months or so to spend with Max. Just the two of us. It means he gets me all day long, with no interruptions and to be honest it works both ways; I get to have these special moments with him that I'll cherish as he grows. 

So, back to the underpants. Those in-the-know i.e parents everywhere, will be fully aware that this is a rather brilliant book by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort all about, well, aliens that come down from outer space to steal your underpants. (It all makes sense when you read the book) It's a genuinely funny little story, not too long or too short and the illustrations are just lovely, so I jumped at the chance to check out how they'd do it at the theatre. And really, it was great. It veers a little from the book in that the story begins with Timmy (the little boy in the book) at school and dreaming of going into space. And the aliens themselves are created with hand held, life-sized puppets which the actors hold and move about (this bit I was really dubious about but the puppets are so well done, it really works). It's classic children's theatre; there are a few songs thrown in, lots of interactive sections where the kids can get involved and a whole lot of silliness. And we loved it. I know Max did because he was singing 'Aliens Love Underpants' all the way home.
(Tickets for Aliens Love Underpants are available here and cost from £10).

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Beauty Editors with Babies: Kate Jones

Kate and Rosie
It might have taken a few lost emails, astray Twitter messages and a bit of pestering (all on my part - sorry Kate!) but I'm so happy to have finally got the lovely beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, Kate Jones (nee Turner), to fill this next 'Beauty Editors with Babies' post. I've known Kate for many years and every time our paths cross, whether it be at a beauty launch or just outside the office, we've always had so much to talk about. At first, I think it was about our shared love of soft rock (!), then, when we both had babies; nurseries, sleep (or lack of it), the work-life balance (and when will we ever have coffee) became our main talking point. As the beauty editor at what is, let's face it, a hugely successful brand such as Cosmo, Kate has got a lot on her plate. She's also a mum to a gorgeous three-year-old girl, Rosie. And she's just got married. So you can see why I was so keen to get her to do this post; she has so much going on, her beauty buys must be pretty damn good to get anywhere near her make-up bag. So here they are. And Kate, I promise, we will have that coffee. Soon.


1. Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil, £39 (clarins.co.uk)
'Countless beauty editor friends recommended this oil to me when I got pregnant, and now I do the same! It's packed with plant extracts that help keep your skin firm and flexible as your bump grows. I used this religiously twice a day and didn't get a single stretch mark (and I was massive) . I also adore the spa-like scent - it felt like a mini treatment.' 


2. Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream, £23 (origins.co.uk)
'Ever since I had a baby I've been obsessed with my sleep-deprived eyes! I've become a committed-tester of line-busting magic potions, and this is my current favourite. It's light but powerful and has a really flattering brightening tint that seems to lift your whole face. Love it.' 


3. Viviscal, £49.95 for 60 tablets (boots.com)
'I absolutely swear by these hair supplements. They're packed with biotin and zinc to create fuller, thicker hair and they seriously transformed my limp, post-baby locks in about six months. It's now the longest and thickest it's ever been.
They're expensive but in my opinion, nothing works quite so well.'

4. BareMinerals Original SPF15 Foundation, £25 (bareminerals.co.uk)
'An elaborate makeup routine is pretty far down my list of priorities these days! This mineral powder foundation is a game-changer. Just swirl it on with a kabuki brush and you get a flawless, retouched skin effect in seconds. And because it's good for your skin, it doesn't even matter too much if you're too knackered to take it off at night. Bonus.' 


5. This Works Baby Sleep Pillow Spray, £16 (thisworks.com)
'This is my standard gift for new mums. It's 100% natural and its lavender, camomile and vetiver blend has been proven to help babies get to sleep more quickly and to sleep more deeply. It smells divine and, yes, IT WORKS. It's part of our bedtime routine, every night (I have the one for grown-ups too!).'

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ten Time Saving Beauty Buys

It occurred to me recently that everything I use in my beauty routine, whether it's for the face, body or hair has some sort of time saving element to it. I guess that, since becoming a mum, I've subconsciously gone for faster working products because like everything in my life right now, (think eating, cleaning, traveling, working) I am constantly in a hurry.  Even taking a shower needs to be done with a certain degree of speed. And to be honest, I love all of these products. I love that taking off my nail polish now takes five minutes, when it used to take fifteen and I love that I've found a lip colour that's so fool-proof, I can put it on without even looking in a mirror. Seriously, these products are genius. And whether you're a mum or not, I think you'll love them too.

1. Bioderma Sensibio H20, £10 (www.lloydspharmacy.com)
A cleansing water and make-up remover in one. This takes off everything incredibly fast (waterproof stuff too) and soothes any irritation and redness. Brilliant.

2. Clinique Chubby Stick Baby Tint Moisturising Lip Colour Balm, £17 (www.clinique.co.uk)
I can't stress how amazing these are. Think Crayola-thick sticks that go on like a dream, leave your lips with a subtle slick of colour and feeling lovely and soft too.

3. Tangle Teezer, £10.60 (www.tangleteezer.com)
I've raved about this so much but my fine hair genuinely couldn't be without it. I can brush my hair straight after showering with this and it will be completely tangle and tear-free.

4. Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover Hands & Feet, £5.99 (www.feelunique.com)
Happy, happy dance. I am so overjoyed that they now do this for hands and feet. Buy this and trust me, you will never buy another nail polish remover again. It's that good.
 
5. Lancome Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Mousse, £24 (www.boots.com
As a beauty editor, I have tried so many self-tans and though this isn't a newbie, it's still one of my favourites. It blends easily, works immediately and gives the most natural looking colour.

6. Garnier BB Cream Original, £6.66 (www.boots.com)
I think this was the first BB cream to hit the UK and though I've tried loads of others I still think this is the best. It's so easy to wear and the best thing for transforming tired looking skin.

7. Nivea In-Shower Body Moisturiser, £2.37 (www.boots.com)
I'm rubbish at applying body lotions post-shower so this feels like it was made for me. Just shower as normal, apply onto wet skin and dry off. No need for moisturising afterwards. Whoop!

8. Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo, £13.50 (www.feelunique.com)
I love dry shampoos but this one really does stand out. It's packed with soothing ingredients so won't irritate the scalp and it's brilliant at absorbing oil when you haven't had time to shampoo.

9. Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume Mascara, £18 (www.clinique.co.uk)
Clinique call this a 'does-it-all' mascara and it's easy to see why. It lengthens, adds stacks of volume, curls a little and gives the glossiest black finish. Love.

10. Percy & Reed Lovingly Light Foaming Treatment Mask, £20 (www.percyandreed.com)
This is great. Most hair masks invariably leave my fine hair feeling weighed down but I use this just once a week (it takes two minutes) and it's healthier, softer and shinier looking immediately.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Better You MultiVit Oral Spray

Lately, I seem to have been dealing with one cold/infection/bug after another and so I've made a little pact with myself to try and get a bit more healthy. In general my diet is pretty good I think but like most people, I'm guilty of eating way too much sugar and caffeine to up my energy levels morning, mid-afternoon and, erm, evening. And it can't be good for me. Anyway. The first thing I really wanted to do was to find some good multi-vitamins and to actually start taking them. Regularly. Not just every few days when I'm feeling really knackered and think it might do me some good. Vitamins don't come cheap and really, what's the point if I'm not going to take them every day.
This is why I love BetterYou MultiVit Oral Spray, £9.95. It's brilliantly good because it pretty much does the job for you. No need to spend precious minutes grabbing a glass of water and prizing open one of those child-proof boxes of pills. Nope. You literally spray this directly under your tongue, four times a day and you're done. Aside from ease, this is also a good thing because the spray delivers the 14 active ingredients directly into the blood vessels under the tongue, which apparently enhances their absorption. And if you're wondering about the flavour? It's described as 'delicious' sour grape, which, in all honesty, isn't quite how I'd describe it but no matter; this ticks so many of my boxes I can stand a little sourness. 
You can buy BetterYou MultiVit Oral Spray here at Victoria Health.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The best book about being a mum

When I had my first child, Max, I was genuinely surprised at how hard I found the whole experience. I really couldn't fathom how I was meant to look after a baby, whilst getting the weekly shop sorted, keeping the flat tidy, ensuring we all had clean (and dry) clothes and getting myself showered and dressed. And all on about five hours of sleep. What made it even more difficult was that everyone around me seemed to be coping just fine with their new arrivals. At the weekly catch-ups with my NCT group, I'd flap about, trying to get through my coffee without revealing a boob or dropping it on the floor (the coffee, not the boob) whilst they ordered a second cappuccino and lunch and a glass of wine. One girl said she had expressed so much, she had enough to fill the top compartment of her freezer. At times, I felt like I was a complete failure.

And then I read this book. 'What Mothers Do' is unlike any other parenting book you might read. It doesn't tell you what to do, how you should be feeling or what you're probably doing wrong. Instead, it's just a completely reassuring, honest and truthful account of what you and thousands of other real mums are feeling and doing - even when it looks like you're doing not very much at all. The author, psychotherapist Naomi Stadlen, bases the book on a weekly discussion group she held with mothers for over twelve years and it's full of real conversations with some of them, dotted within chapters such as 'Nothing prepares you,' 'The power of comfort' and 'I get nothing done all day.' It's not at all negative; in fact, I'd say it's such a positive, rewarding read purely because it makes you feel like you're not alone and that, yes, you can do it. And you are. Brilliantly. And that woman with the beautifully braided hair, pushing a pram with one hand and firmly holding her flat white in the other? She's finding it tough too. She's just good at braiding hair.

(You can buy What Mothers Do here http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Mothers-Do-especially-nothing/dp/0749926201).

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Astoundingly easy oatcakes

How great are oatcakes?! I mean, kids love them, adults love them, dogs love them (well, I'm not sure about that one but they probably do). And they are just so healthy. Honestly, I love that, when Max, my four-year-old is peckish, I can whip out a little packet of these without feeling a smidgen of guilt and he genuinely loves them. I don't have to do any bribing at all to get him to eat them. And we all know oats are slow release carbs so won't give him any freakish highs come snack time and make him jump all over the sofa.
So as I was doing my last online shop and ordering another two or three boxes of the stuff, I thought about maybe trying to make some instead ( I KNOW, right?) and I mixed and mashed a few recipes together and I did it! And you know what? They're pretty great. So I thought I would share this with all you mums out there who always have an opened packet of oatcakes crumpled up at the bottom of your changing bag. Have a look, I bet you do. These are easy, won't take more than 15 minutes to get together and honestly, they taste really good. Even my husband thought so. These are cheese ones but obviously, you could leave the cheese out or, I'm even thinking of adding a few dark chocolate chips next time for super healthy sweet treats. Oh Gwyneth would be proud.

Ingredients
225g medium oatmeal
1 tbsp plain flour
80g cheddar cheese, finely grated
100ml warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 200c.
2. Mix your oats and flour together and stir in the cheese really well - you don't want any clumpy bits.
3. Drizzle over the oil and add the water then mix it all together until you get a sticky dough.
4. Sprinkle some plain flour onto a table and roll out your dough so it's about 5mm thick.
5. Cut out your shapes with a round pastry cutter and place on a greased baking tray.
6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly golden.
7. Leave to cool, enjoy and store any left overs in an airtight container.

Yum!