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July 2016

Winter wellies in July…

Winter wellies in July…

by Clare Mansell

Our family spend a lot of time in wellies, so much time in fact that a couple of years ago I spent quite a lengthy period of time researching and writing this post about the best pair of adult wellies to buy… and then had them stolen after I bought them, but that’s another story.

One brand I hadn’t heard of when I wrote that post were BOGS. BOGS Footwear is a boot company based in Oregon, US who sell a range of 100% waterproof boots for babies, children and adults. Most have pull on handles and many incorporate original prints into their design.

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How to take great photos on a trampoline

This summer we are testing out a Springfree trampoline and as well as having a lot of fun bouncing on it, over the last couple of months I’ve also been enjoying capturing photos of my kids using it. Like all types of photography there are a few guidelines which can make all the difference between getting photos of your children which are ok, or capturing something you can feel proud of and in today’s post I wanted to share some of those tips with you…

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Our Weaning Journey with SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk

This is a sponsored post with SMA® Nutrition.

Alice was eight months old a couple of weeks ago which means we are already well into solid foods

It’s flown by incredibly quickly and only in the last week or so do I actually feel like I’ve managed to get slightly ahead of the curve with batch cooking purees in advance.

Like Theo she has been really keen to try new foods, but she’s taken enthusiasm for meals to a whole new level and right from the start protested quite strongly and loudly if everyone else was eating something and she wasn’t. Although I haven’t specifically set out to try baby led weaning, she has recently become very keen on feeding herself particularly with rusks or puffed maize baby ‘crisps’ and as they buy me and extra few minutes sorting the rest of her food out, I’m starting to look at other things she can self feed.


As far as purees go, we started with simple fruit or veg like carrot or apple and have now progressed to trying out meals or combinations of flavours. I used Annabel Karmels books with Theo so I’m taking a lot of recipes from them, but also using Google when I need to mix up something quick and I’m stumped for which flavours to combine! Both butternut squash and pear puree as well as a mix of green vegetables have been very popular, but as I say she hasn’t actually turned refused anything yet, even unsweetened cooking apple puree!

One thing I haven’t got round to adding in to her diet yet is meat. This is partly because I don’t eat a lot of it myself and therefore tend to have a fridge full of vegetables and partly because meat suddenly seems to make meal preparation more complicated. You end up having to make salt free stocks, or having to braise the meat in advance, extra steps which I will get round to having the time for eventually, but at the moment I’ve only just got on top of the vegetarian recipes!

As a result of the lack of meat in her diet and because she had passed the six month mark, I recently decided to switch to SMA PRO Follow-on Milk to complement her weaning diet and ensure she’s getting the right mix of nutrients, including iron which she may lack in other parts of her diet.

SMA PRO Follow-on Milk is SMA Nutrition’s most advanced formula yet which contains Nutri-Steps®, a unique blend of ingredients including Iron to help support normal cognitive development, Vitamin D and Calcium to help support babies normal growth and development of bones and omega 3 & 6.

Having suffered with anaemia during both my pregnancies, I know first hand how horrible it can be for the body to be deprived of iron therefore I wanted to ensure she gets enough of that mineral in her three 200ml milk feeds every day.

Another decision we’ve recently made involves switching Alice’s feeding chair. We originally had her in a birth – toddler booster seat which went on top of a normal chair. It was brilliant when she was very little and we could have her up at our level at the table at breakfast time, but once solid food was introduced the fabric cover became a bit of a nightmare (not least of all because you can’t machine wash it!) So we got Theo’s old plastic highchair out of the loft and swapped it for that. Alice still manages to get food on every surface, but at least it can all be wiped down now. I’m sure Theo wasn’t this messy, or do we just forget?

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breast milk is best for babies and breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible. SMA PRO Follow-on Milk is for babies over 6 months, as part of a varied weaning diet. Not intended to replace breastfeeding.

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I Quit Sugar… and then what happened?

I Quit Sugar… and then what happened?

by Clare Mansell

A couple of months ago I gave in to curiosity and bought the bestselling book I Quit Sugar. I wanted to experiment with the idea of minimising or completely removing sugar from my diet and I had a couple of good reasons why. Firstly sugar has always either given me a headache or made me tired. Even one biscuit gives me a noticeable thumping in my head and a small amount of chocolate at lunchtime will mean I’ll be falling asleep by the kids bedtime. Secondly we have a brilliant sugar free and paleo pop-up cafe locally to us which produces amazing delicious treats which I would quite happily trade conventional sweet snacks for, and finally I wanted to reexamine how much sugar I was giving Theo, I had no idea where it fitted on the scale of good or bad, but like most middle class parents I suspected I was probably doing ok.

So the book arrived and I read through the first few chapters nodding along to Sarah Wilson’s introdcution. She believes sugar reeks havoc on our bodies and there’s too much of it in our Western diet. She also says that due to the lack of sweet stuff around when humans evolved our humans never developed an off switch for sweet, which is why even when you can’t eat any more of your main course, you can always find room for pudding.

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So we bought a bell tent…

So we bought a bell tent…

by Clare Mansell

So here’s a blog post I never thought I’d write, the last time Jim and I had a discussion about buying a tent was 9 years ago and the result of that conversation was that I very quickly persuaded Jim to buy an RV instead! After a series of adventures on the Canadian prairie (and even one night in Montana!) we sold our mobile home when we left Canada and for the last 7 years we’ve been out of the camping game.

During that time we’ve talked a lot about how we could change that, but never found quite the right solution, for one thing mobile homes and caravans are not quite as exciting or as plentiful this side of the Atlantic and we had nowhere to store one. Then two weeks ago on a rare night out at our local pub, I got hijacked by some of my neighbours and taken to an impromptu communal camping supper and there in the field was a bell tent.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always thought of bell tents as things you hire, not things you buy and it was a revelation that you could actually own one, complete with the associated glamping comfort. I sent Jim a text that evening and told him we had to buy one and so a week later we actually did. A very rare example of me making an impetuous purchase!


Even though it was a speedy purchase, we spent a fair bit of time researching not just the tent, but the stuff to go inside it, having taken the bold step of deciding to sleep under canvas, I really really didn’t want it to be a bad experience.

The tent itself is a 5 metre with a zipped in ground sheet and we bought it from Boutique Camping. We debated for a long time between 4 and 5 metres and although I am usually the one who prefers the smaller option in any given scenario, in this case I am really glad we opted for 5 metres, it is in no way too big.


Inside we chose two single Coleman durarest air beds, made up as a superking with a fleece topper and duvet and pillows. Theo got a more basic cheaper Intex junior airbed (also with his duvet) and Alice had her travel cot with a blackout blind that fits over the top.

I was pretty sure we could heap on a load of duvets/quilts/blankets and keep warm whatever the weather but I was really worried about taking a baby to sleep out and after a particularly chilly night last week (where it got down to 12c) I caved in and let Jim buy a logburner for the tent….and almost immediately a heatwave happened!

Our first camp out was this weekend for the school camping trip. We were literally 5 minutes down the road which meant we could nip home if it went wrong or we forgot anything. Amazingly neither of those things happened, though the proximity of our own bathroom did mean both Jim and I nipped home for a shower during the day on Saturday!

Theo had a brilliant time running free with his friends all weekend, playing in the open air, climbing trees and kayaking in the harbour and Alice seemed to get on ok too, sleeping through the night without problems.


Crucially Jim and I also enjoyed it. There were no chores to distract us and we both spent loads of time just chatting to people and relaxing. On the Saturday night there was a communal barbecue and campfire where everyone came together to see the kids put on a show and roast marshmallows. It honestly beat anything that was on the TV over the weekend and it made me so happy to see the kids enjoying simple pleasures (even if there was a brief Pokemon hunt at one point!)

Now we’re back home with everything packed away it’s taken less than 24 hours to have a discussion with someone about a second trip! Initially I felt it was cheating to not travel far, but with a huge range of lovely sites on our doorstep we’ve discovered that in the short-term we can get our camping fix without going far or getting stuck in Friday afternoon traffic jams.

The bell tent has another added use, it’s great to put up at parties and as I’ve got a significant birthday next month it’ll definitely be making an appearance in our garden, dressed as a “lounge” rather than a bedroom!

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