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June 2015

What’s really in my bag (the unglamorous truth)

Is it just me who reads blog posts about what people keep in their change bags with a mixture of admiration and bewilderment? I’m not quite sure how it happened but nearly four years after Theo was born I have never actually got round to purchasing a proper change bag and I rarely leave the house with all the required child friendly kit, which has resulted more than once in some treasured family moments, like the time we went to the Isle Of Wight for the day and Theo had to walk round the zoo in his pants cause I had no clean trousers for him. Oh how we laughed…

As you will see my bags need to BIG as well as functional and I like a shoulder strap too. Something like Pink Lining’s Bramley Tote would suit me perfectly and still accommodate my SLR. In the autumn my bag contents will be changing slightly when Theo heads off to school and a new baby arrives needing bottles and nappies to be carried along too.

But until then here are two very different views of my bag, to begin with the bag that I feel I should be leaving the house with…

 The Dream

bagdream_edit

  1. A full set of season appropriate, size appropriate children’s clothing
  2. Baby wipes and a nappy bag to bundle up any wet pants or used baby wipes
  3. Make-up essentials. Usually miniature versions that reside permanently in your bag and not messy old ones you borrow from the bathroom
  4. Childrens book, diary and pen. Book to read to them when they are bored and diary to keep note of important future social dates, vaccinations and stuff like that
  5. A sealed bottle of water
  6. Healthy snacks beautifully presented in a tiny plastic box
  7. Sunglasses with a case
  8. Keys
  9. Blogger business cards. Because you never know when an opportunity might arise to find a new reader
  10. Kiddy first aid kit. So you can apply comfort and medical care without breaking a sweat
  11. iPhone. For Instagramming your photogenic lunch
  12. Purse. With actual real money in it and useful brand loyalty cards to glamorous stores

And what I really leave the house with (on a good day)…

The Reality

bagreality_edit

  • A hankerchief. It’s like baby wipes yet more versatile. You can use it to blow your nose, clean the camera lens or with the addition of (2) wipe a child’s face. Sometimes I even put a fresh one in the bag!
  • An open bottle of water. It’s probably been open way to long, but whoever opened it only drunk a tiny bit so I haven’t got round to throwing the rest away
  • My camera. Any change-bag has to accommodate this and any child related contents have to fit round it
  • Similar to nappy bags, but stronger and they serve a dual purpose and lets face it, they may not be pretty, but they go in the bin anyway
  • Receipts. For long forgotten purchases or proof of posting for things (eventually) sent at the post office (see 9)
  • Cars. A great small toy which fits in easily next to the camera. Theo did really love these about a year ago, but I think he’s getting a little bored of them now
  • Keys
  • Sunglasses. I have a case for them. Are they ever together in the same bag? Don’t be silly.
  • Something I need to post. It’s ready for the post office, but first I like to give it a little tour of the county first
  • Pen (no notepad, that would be too organised) and dog whistle. Because I’m often seen standing in the middle of the field/beach/park trying to retrieve a wayward animal long after the boy has decided he wants to go home
  • Phone in old flaking case. It’s on my list to replace this this week. It actually looks better in the photo than in reality
  • Purse. Usually never contains real money or the change I need for the car park

This is my entry into the Pink Lining Ambassador Search. Pink Lining make beautiful bags for stylish organised mummies and also (I hope) for slightly haphazard ones like me.

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So after last week’s shenanigans with the hose pipe in the vegetable garden drenching my camera, I finally bit the bullet and upgraded my camera on Friday and I’ve been playing with it and getting to know it ever since. Although I’m still finding my comfortable place with it outside, I took some photos with it on Friday indoors which were bursting with light, so I can already see how much I’m going to love it when the weather is cooler.

theo_lolly_edit

In the meantime though we have a heatwave on the way… at long last!

Last summer I really felt I missed out on the best of the weather because I was so caught up in university work and we had builders crawling all over the house. So this week I am going to attempt to take some time out, try out our new sun loungers and read some magazines in the garden.

We have our annual Canada Day barbecue planned for this weekend (which confusingly we are doing on the 4th July because it’s the nearest Saturday) and it’s going to be great to be able to make the most of the house and garden, particularly because we have this being loaned to us for review… I can’t wait!

PS – If you are wondering about the camera upgrade, I have a big post scheduled for Wednesday which is all about the SLRs I have owned and why I have moved on from each model.

Living Arrows
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Maternity style : Isabella Oliver maxi dress

I have been promising myself for a long time that I’d start joining the Street Style Sunday link-up and a combination of the arrival of summer, my second trimester and Britmums Live has finally given me the confidence to dip my toe into the water. There is something quite liberating about pregnancy and the few months of your life when you aren’t holding your stomach in!

red maxi dress from Isabella Oliver

Dress : Isabella Oliver £100 Reduced to £50! / Cardigan : Miss Selfridge (old) / Belt : ASOS (similar) / Shoes : Office (ASOS) / Necklace : Tatty Devine from ASOS

tattydevine

My dress is from Isabella Oliver. The right price for it is a £100, but I bought it when they were doing 20% off, and it’s now in the sale for £50.  I’m hoping to get enough wear out of it over the summer months to justify the price, I wore it to Blogtacular’s Friday evening event and again to Britmums Live last weekend and it’s lined up to be worn at a wedding in July. When we were out on the Friday night, Helen at Coco Mama Style asked me where I had bought it from and when I told her she said “ahhhh” in a rather knowing way! A few quality pieces of maternity wear do definitely pay off.

This dress featured on To Dream Of Dresses for a Britmums round-up earlier this week.

Linking up (for the first time!) with…

ri9px3

 

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Last year we were asked to review a fantastic luxury shower head from Methven. At the time we were in the middle of our house renovations and showering crouched over a bath off our kitchen, but even in these circumstances it was pretty clear that Methven had produced something really special that trasformed even our humble bathroom set-up into something almost spa like. After the house was complete we immediately swapped the head over to the shower in our new en suite and have been using it ever since.

Then last month Methven contacted me again asking if I’d like to review the latest shower head in their range. I did wonder how on earth they would improve on the one we had last time, but then I saw it and it slightly blew my mind… Where the heck does the water come from?

aurajetreview

Your eyes are not deceiving you, the Aurajet has a huge hole in the middle of it right where you would expect the water to come out! Before we plumbed it in, I showed it to a few people and they all said variations of “But how..?” or “But where..?”

The design is extremely clever. The water comes out of the circular part of the head and is angled in such a way that the jets collide and produce a lovely rainfall effect that delivers up to 20% more total spray force than a conventional head and double the water coverage on the skin. I always say to people that I feel like you get wetter standing under a Methven shower head than under a traditional shower, which is the only way I can really explain it.

The short video below shows it in action and the very clever way that the individual jets come together to create a very special shower.


I must say that every time I have a rubbish shower in a hotel or B&B (which is sadly more often than not) I feel strangely compelled to tell the owners to buy one of these shower heads as they’d make such a difference!


So anyway, now we have two shower heads fighting for our affections. The Kaha is brilliant, but the Aurajet looks amazing and is slightly cheaper too…

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Snowing Indoors, You Baby Me Mummy, Mrs T Plus Three and Maybush Studio at Britmums Live 2015

Two weekends and two very different blog conferences, one for the creative bloggers and another for the parent bloggers.

I’ve been aware of Britmums Live for about four years, but I never thought it was my kind of thing until last year, when I felt a pang of regret as I watched the tweets from those who attended. Even having finally made the leap to attend, I doubted my decision and headed for London with a truck load of prejudices about an event which was primarily aimed at Mummy Bloggers (oh that dreaded phrase!) There were going to be too many people, too many babies, too many buggies and too many bloggers younger than me.

But oh how very wrong I was. From the moment I arrived at the Brewery On Friday, I was enveloped in warmth, acceptance, support and encouragement. There was none of the tepid arm’s length mingling that I had grown used to at Blogtacular; at Britmums it was full-on bear hugs and unabashed enthusiasm.

Me and a bunch of fantastic bloggers and friends. What a wonderful weekend at #BritMumslive

A photo posted by Em Rathbone (@snowingindoors) on

I was hugely lucky to have hooked up with the brilliant Em from Snowing Indoors before the conference and she introduced me to a collection of wonderful bloggers who until this weekend had only existed as distant digital figures.

The talks were inspiring but where their tight schedule had been central to everything at Blogtacular, here they existed to compliment the mingling, tea drinking and cake eating that took place for the bulk of the weekend. I never felt under pressure to hurry off to an allotted room at an allotted time, but I learnt loads and still got to have great conversations with the people I had traveled so far to meet.

I was prepared for a few cold shoulders, blank looks or half-hearted ‘hellos’, but as I worked my way down the list of those I hoped to meet (yes, I really had a list) everyone dived into conversation like we were old friends and if they hoped I’d go away, I was too thick-skinned to notice.

Was great to finally meet and chat to the awesome @maybushstudio. Go follow for fab photography! #britmumslive A photo posted by My Two Mums (@mytwomums) on

The lovely Laura from Side Street Style was also there (she who I so bravely introduced myself to last weekend) and we all nearly exploded from our seats when she collected the Bibs award for style,  taking to the stage with Baby G strapped to her chest (if that isn’t awesome style my friends, then what is?)

Pre-conference there had been a frenzy of Facebook posts about what people were wearing which was enough to unnerve the most confident of dresser. In the end I chose an Isabella Oliver maxi dress from the Friday, teamed with an ancient Miss Selfridge waterfall cardigan (found lurking in the depths of my wardrobe) and on the Saturday an equally old black Seraphine maternity dress with last summer’s saltwater sandles. Both dresses were fantastically comfortable and the maxi dress even attracted compliments from a couple of complete strangers (worth going to London just for that I’d say!) But the real triumph in the fashion stakes was my bright red lipstick which I found the confidence to wear amongst my new blogging pals on the Saturday.

Of the talks I attended, particular mention must go to Judith Lewis of decabbit.com who did a funny, punchy, inspiring talk on SEO and dealt with crying babies in the room in the the warmest and most welcoming way I have seen. The Google+ talk was also useful though it will probably take me about a month to digest what we were told and longer still to put it into practice.

I also went along to a vlogging session with Mario from Youtube who said encouraging things about the growing demand for content for an older audience produced by an older vlogger.

Loving #britmumslive so far, meeting so many awesome ladies.

A photo posted by Clare Mansell (@maybushstudio) on

I’m not the kind of person who is usually late to the party with things, but I’m very very late to the party with Britmums Live. Spending the first 6 years of my blogging life an airline flight away from London is part of the reason, but does not excuse me entirely. My weekend at the Brewery made me realise how essential (and rewarding) it is to mix with real bloggers in person and that this dreaded ‘Mummy Blogger’ tag does such an injustice to the variety of talented women who blog in so many variations and just happen to be mothers.

For any new bloggers reading this post (or old ones who still haven’t done a conference) I would say that Britmums Live is an essential booking for 2016. Don’t over think it, just book it as soon as the super-early bird tickets go on sale. You will not regret it…

Huge thank yous to…

Aby (You Baby Me Mummy)
Amber (Goblin Child)
Amy (Mrs T Plus Three)
Di Coke (Superlucky.me)
Donna (What The Redhead Said)
Em (Snowing Indoors)
Hannah (Mums Days)
Helen (Coco Mama Style)
Katie & George (Minis And More)
Katie (Mummy Daddy Me)
Katrina (Mum For Fun)
Katy (Carry On Katy)
Katy (What Katy Said)
Kaye (HelloArchie.blue)
Kiran (Mummy Says)
Kirsty & Clara (My Two Mums)
Lizzie (Lizzie Somerset)
Nadine Hill (Juggle Mum)

You made my weekend unexpectedly awesome with your warmth and humour and to Bella Bathrooms for being my sponsor and making my attendance possible.

Linking up with Aby & Em…

snowingindoors
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