List: The Best and Worst of CBeebies!

This list will probably make it look like I sit Eric in front of the telly all day instead of playing with him, but I can promise you that's not the case! We do sometimes have CBeebies on in the background though and there are some programmes we really enjoy.  I think a small amount of television is ok for babies.  So...

The Amazing

3rd & Bird

Small Potatoes

Charlie & Lola

I Can Cook

Green Balloon Club

The Good

Grandpa in My Pocket


Mr Bloom's Nursery
Nina & The Neurons

Baby Jake (the live action bit is good, the cartoon bit is awful, but Eric loves it)


Tinga Tinga Tales

Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies

Something Special


The Ok

Telly Tales

Big Barn Farm

Sesame Tree

Come Outside

Raa Raa

Show Me Show Me

The 'I dislike but Eric likes'

In the Night Garden


The Bad

Same Smile

Chuggington & Chuggington Badge Quest


The just plain ugly


Everything's Rosie



Get Squiggling


Big and Small

Bits and Bobs

Recipe: Basic Chocolate Cupcakes

As my last post was a bit sad I thought I'd do a happier post today, and what could be happier than CHOCOLATE?! This is my basic go-to chocolate fairy cake recipe.  I love it because it's easy, delicious, and you can adapt it by adding different things like plain chocolate chips, vegan white chocolate chunks, cherries, coffee, anything you fancy!


1 cup of soya milk
1 cup self raising flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate!)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (I know! Vinegar in a cake?! Weird! But you can't taste it at all and it makes the cakes rise)


1) Let the soya milk warm up to room temperature.
2) Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 C / 350 F)
3) Line a muffin tin with cake cases.  I like silicone ones that are washable!
4) Whisk together the soya milk and the apple cider vinegar - it will go frothy! Leave for a few minutes
5) Then whisk in the vanilla extract, oil and sugar. Whisk it up!
6) Sift in half the flour and the baking powder and stir, then sift in the other half, stir.
7) Sift in half the cocoa powder and stir, then sift in the other half, stir.
8) Pour into the cake cases and bake for 18-25 minutes (until a cake skewer/cocktail stick inserted into the middle comes out clean!)
9) Cool
10) Decorate!

Please Help: Bear Bile Farming

I am conscious that I've written a lot of baby-related posts lately so today I wanted to write about something else close to my heart.  I was really upset earlier after reading a heart breaking news story about bear bile farming in Asia.

Please read the article here:

More than 12,000 bears are currently in captivity in China, farmed for their bile.  

This means they are locked in tiny cages called 'crush cages',  These cages totally restrict movement, the bears are prevented from hibernating, the cage floors are iron bars and they can't lie down, and the cages have a 'crush bar' that pins the bear down on the floor on its back when the worker wants to extract bile.

The bears then undergo horrific surgery, in which either their abdomen is cut open and a tube is placed into the gall bladder to extract the bile, with the tube being left in and the wound reopened constantly to allow access, or the gall bladder in located on an ultrasound and the bile is syringed out.  These operations are carried out up to 3 times a day, by unskilled staff who have no veterinary training, and without pain relief.  It is immensely cruel and the bears visibly suffer. 

The bears are often fitted with an iron 'vest' to prevent them from pulling out the tube and to stop them from killing themselves by hitting themselves in the stomach as they can't bear the pain.

The story I read earlier that I found so utterly devastating and upsetting is about a mother bear who broke out of her cage after hearing her cub howling in agony after it's stomach was punctured for the first time.  The workers who were operating on the baby cub ran away in fear, and unable to free the baby from his restraints his mother hugged him and hugged him, before killing him and then herself to end their pain and misery. 


Bear bile is used in Chinese medicine, and there are many cheaper herbal and synthetic alternatives.  There is absolutely no need at all to inflict such sickening suffering and pain on animals.  It is needless, pointless cruelty to intelligent, loving animals.  I hope to raise awareness with this blog post, please tell everyone you know and feel free to link on your Facebook/Twitter/Blog.  

The best thing you can do if you don't agree with this is to tell friends, family, colleagues and everyone you know, and discourage anyone from using products containing bear bile! 

Several animal charities, such as Animals Asia Foundation, Born Free and WSPA, are campaigning to end bear bile farming, working with the Asian governments and with practitioners, and rescuing bears.  Please consider donating to them and PLEASE sign their petition here.  

Diary: Chickenpox

Eric has chickenpox! Uh oh! I noticed one or two tiny, flat, pink spots on his body on Friday night, and he had an upset tummy, and woke up in the night screaming from 2:30am-4am.  I checked the spots on Saturday morning and he still had 2 or 3 little spots, but was fine and happy all day, apart from diarrhoea, and he slept well Saturday night.  I checked him again on Sunday morning at about 8am, and he had 6 spots.  He didn't have a temperature, but still had messy language, so I wasn't really sure! I rang our local out of hours GP service, and by the time the nurse practitioner rang back at 11am he had 12 spots and one had filled with fluid.  The nurse practitioner said it definitely sounded like chickenpox, so to apply calamine lotion, give paracetamol if his temperature went up, and go to the doctors if we noticed any spots in his mouth.  He was completely unperturbed all of Sunday, he seemed right as rain except that he screamed when we put him down for a nap or to change his nappy.  We gave Eric a cool bath and applied calamine cream to the spots, but last night was awful! Eric woke at 2am again and was inconsolably screaming until 4am, he had started to get itchy and was wriggling and writhing around and scratching himself.  It was really upsetting.  I took him out of his sleeping bag and put him in bed with me, and told Alex to go and sleep on the sofa so at least one of us could get a good night's sleep (he still didn't though!) Eric and I ended up getting a couple of hours of restless sleep, so we've both been tired today.  Today the spots are all raised and blistery, and Eric has at least 20, with lots around his bottom and willy, and around the edge of his nappy, which have got rubbed.  Poor little guy! He's been very tired and had 2 naps today rather than his usual 1.  We've just been slapping on loads of calamine cream with every nappy change, and he's managed to go to sleep this evening, so fingers crossed for a better night tonight! 

What to look out for:
  • feeling sick or generally unwell
  • a high temperature
  • aches and pains (hard to know with babies!)
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • small, itchy, red spots that develop into really itchy blisters

Chickenpox is contagious for 4 days before the spots appear and until the last spot has crusted over, so I hope none of Eric's friends have caught it, and we will have to be in quarantine for about 2 weeks, which I'm not looking forward to.  

List: What To Buy For Your Newborn Baby

I have a friend who is now 20 weeks pregnant and I'm so excited for her! She recently asked me which things I would recommend buying for newborn babies, and which things you don't really need, so here is my list! It can be so expensive buying for babies, and many shops have their own lists trying to convince you to buy everything under the sun, so where possible I have told you where I think it's best to spend money on new things, and where it's possible to save money! Obviously these are just in my opinion, if you have more to add that you feel are essential or think any of these aren't, or f you have any other tips, please comment!

1) A Group 0 Car seat.  This is arguably the most important thing you will buy, and it is illegal to take a baby in a car without a car seat.  Safety and comfort were my priorities. Maxi Cosi are a good brand to go for, as they win lots of the magazine awards (most of the thngs we bought had Mother & Baby magazine Gold, Silver or Bronze awards). Ours was the Maxi Cosi CabrioFix Car Seat which fitted onto a base which was strapped into the car all the time, so you could just clip the car seat in and out of the base rather than have to put the seat belt around the car seat every time which was useful. You also need a raincover for the car seat.

You can get the car seat as part of a....

2) Travel system.  So the car seat fits onto wheels and becomes a pram. This is very convenient as if baby is asleep in the car you can take the seat out the car and fit it on the wheels without having to wake the baby up by getting them out, and it is also space-saving, economical and lasts a while. I really wished we had a Mamas and Papas pram or travel system as they are the shiz. When your baby is 9 months old (ish) you need a new Group 1 car seat so it's a good time to swap the travel system for a lightweight stroller pushchair. Ours is Silver Cross which is a good brand, but our particular model is not very good (Pop Sport). McLaren are a really good brand, and Mamas and Papas have some amazing ones. My friend has a Bugaboo Bee and I'm jealous. I would advise paying as much as you can afford for a pram as it will piss you off if it's crap. They are SO expensive though! I would recommend buying the expensive things like travel systems and pushchairs on Netmums as there are always lots on there, and soooo cheap! But always buy the car seat brand new :):) You'll need a couple of blankets to use in the pram/car seat but you will probably get them as gifts. I really want this one!

3) Moses Basket.  It's recommended you sleep in the same room as your little one until they're 6 months old to reduce the risk of cot death, so I'd really recommend a moses basket, or I have friends that co-sleep (which can be lovely and safe, but read guidelines about safe co-sleeping). With a moses basket you can easily reach and see your baby and have them right next to you, and they feel safe in the enclosed space. You can also move the moses basket into the room you are in for daytime naps. Our moses basket was from John Lewis and we were really happy with it, although we bought a new mattress for it from Baby Mattresses Online as we wanted a more breathable eco mattress rather than the basic foam mattress. Moses baskets usually last until baby is 4-6 months old, Eric is really tall and but he was still happy to curl up in there at 6 months old. If you buy or are given a second hand moses basket always replace the mattress with a brand new one. You'll also need about 3 fitted moses basket sheets.

4) Cot bed.  We decided to get a moses basket and then put Eric into a cotbed rather than a cot, as cot beds should last until the baby is 3. Our cotbed was from Babies 'R' Us and converts into a junior bed then into a daybed. The mattress we bought was from Baby Mattresses Online and was an eco coir mattress with an X Static silver cover. If you're vegan or don't agree with animal cruelty, check the eco mattress you're buying doesn't contain wool! You will also need 2 cot bed fitted sheets.

5) Rocker.  A rocker is a great buy as they help soothe babies, and you can put them in there when you are cooking or cleaning or when you are just desperate and nothing is working! We didn't get an electronic rocker, we just had a basic bouncer, but they look fab and my friends all loved theirs. Mamas and Papas do gorgeous ones, though this is one thing I'd advise buying second hand from Netmums or eBay.

6) Nappies and wipes.  Even if you are planning to use washable nappies I would recommend buying 1 or 2 packs of size 1 eco disposable nappies to use first of all, as if you plan to give birth in hospital, or have a home birth but are transferred to hospital, there are no nappy washing facilities! And it helps while you just get used to having a baby. We used Nature Babycare nappies for the first 2 weeks and they were brilliant. Organic cotton wool balls and water are good for cleaning newborn bottoms, and Superdrug own-brand 'vaseline' is vegan and stops babies' first sticky meconium poo sticking to their bum too much. Washable nappies I would recommend are Bum Genius, and you will need about 20. We also use washable wipes called Cheeky Wipes, which are good but I'd recommend using washable fleece wipes instead as they're gentler on baby's botty. You also need a nappy bucket and Bio-D Nappy Fresh powder. And don't forget the nappy rash cream! Nappy liners can be useful too.

7) High chair.  You won't need a high chair until the baby is 6 months old, which feels like ages so don't get one to start with, it just takes up space. We bought a Mamas and Papas one first (Bon Bon) but food would get stuck in the padded crevices and it was disgusting, so we bought a Mothercare wooden one from eBay instead and it's awesome.

8)8) Play mat.  Not essential but definitely recommended. We had a Fisher Price Rainforest Gym which was really stimulating with lights and sounds, and Eric loved it.

9) Changing mat.  Get a Mamas and Papas one! They are £30, BUT if you get a cheaper one you WILL end up buying 2 or 3 as they break. We had to buy 2 and then ended up getting a Mamas and Papas one anyway. I would not bother getting a changing station as they are ridiculously expensive and take up alot of space. We have been fine using a changing mat on the floor with a basket and box for nappies/toiletries, which has saved alot of money, and once babies start rolling at 6 months-ish it's scary to use high up changing tables.

10) Baby sleeping bags.  Definitely buy! We much prefer Grobag sleeping bags to sheets and blankets as we knew Eric couldn't get his face under and suffocate in them when he was small, and now he can't wriggle out and get cold! We've only used Gro company ones, but you can get cheaper ones in Asda, Ikea etc. Jojo Maman Bebe also do good ones that you can use with the car seat/pushchair as there's a hole for the harness. It's useful to have 1 x 1 tog bag, 1 x 1.5 tog bag and 1 x 2.5 tog bag, then you can add or remove vests or sleepsuits to ensure your baby is the right temperature. 

11) Baby monitor.  For the peace of mind you get it's worth paying more to get a digital monitor, as we originally bought a Tommee Tippee Suresound analogue monitor which used to feedback, and make awful stressful screeching noises. It had a movement sensor pad, which I think actually made me more paranoid as it used to go off about 7 times a night for no reason. So we ended up buying a second monitor anyway, which is why we should just have bought the good one to start with! We bought the BT 150 Digital Baby Monitor and it is well worth it as it's the cat's pyjamas.

12) Baby carrier.  Baby carriers are ok if you get one right from birth, but babies get so heavy so quickly that I didn't use ours for very long. I also only used it when we were out, not around the house. I would recommend the BabyBjorn Active Carrier which is what I had, but personally I didn't feel safe using the fabric 'sling' carrier we had, though I know some mums love them.

13) Breast pump.  I would recommend a Medela Swing electric breast pump if you plan to ever express any milk to make your breasts more comfortable, or if you plan to give any bottles (if so Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles and teats, and a Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Microwave Steriliser are essential!) The Medela pump is really, really comfortable compared to the Nuby manual pump I tried.

14) Soothers.  When Eric was born the advice was to give your baby a dummy when they went to sleep to help reduce the risk of cot death. I'm not sure if the advice is still the same, but if it is then Tommee Tippee Pure soothers were good, and are supposed not to interfere with breastfeeding. We stopped giving Eric one at 6 months.

15) A Gro Egg is one of my essentials (if your baby monitor doesn't tell you the temperature) as it tells you the temperature of the nursery/your bedroom so you know which sleeping bag/clothes to put the baby in.

16) Bath.  Babies can be put in the big bath from when they're little, with a non slip bath mat, but I thought a baby bath was easier and less scary. We got a plain white John Lewis bath. Babies don't need any toiletries, you can wash them with water. You do need a bath water thermometer though! And baby towels!

17) Thermometer.  You also need an in-ear thermometer. They are much more accurate than the forehead strips, under-tongue or under-armpit ones and even though we bought a forehead strip one and then an armpit one we ended up buying an in-ear one anyway, so it would have been cheaper to buy that from the start.

18) Muslin cloths.  At least 10! They are essential for wiping up sick, bogies, snot, wee, milk etc.

19) Baby nail clippers.  Tommee Tippee do a great baby grooming set that is helpful.

20) Clothes.  There's a big difference with sizing for baby clothes! I did not realise that 0-3 months is too big for newborns, so buy 'newborn' size clothing! Mothercare is great for first things, and they do starter packs. I would actually not worry about buying 'daytime clothes', as people will give you outfits as gifts, and you might not really have time to change the baby into day things every day. I would recommend buying 10 short sleeved vests, 10 long sleeved sleepsuits with feet, a couple of cardigans (but people will probably give you them as presents!) and about 5 pairs of scratch mitts. At hospital they like to put the baby in a hat, but Eric didn't wear one ever!

21) Nursing pillow.  If you plan to breastfeed then a nursing pillow might be useful, as you can use it to rest the baby on whilst feeding them so they are supported at the right level and your arms don't get tired. I had one but didn't personally find it helpful for feeding, athough it was good when Eric was bigger and was learning to sit up as you can sit them in it and it supports their back.

22) A cot mobile.  Not an essential but they look cute in the nursery and they can distract a crying baby, and help develop their eyesight. We had a lovely 'Light of the Moon' one from Mamas and Papas. They don't make that exact one any more, but they have other gorgeous ones! 

23) A changing bag! To be the envy of the yummy mummies then you need a Pink Lining or an OiOi Hobo bag, but mine is from Primark and everyone thinks it's Cath Kidston! Look for lots and lots of pockets inside. Insulated bottle pockets and a portable changing mat are useful too. I'm doing a post very soon about what to pack in your changing bag and what to pack in your hospital bag, so look out for those!

24) A chest of drawers for the nursery. We got a beautiful old oak chest of drawers from a local reclamation and second hand shop, and I love it to bits. I wouldn't personally recommend a baby wardrobe as ironing and hanging up baby clothes would drive me insane!

My number one tip is to look for alot of what you need on Netmums' Nearly New board online. It is where mummies who are local to you list things they no longer need, and you can get some brilliant bargains.  Also, it's better for the environment to buy second hand! And if any friends have babies already, see if there's anything they would like to pass on to you (they would probably be grateful to do so as babies have alot of stuff and grow out of it very quickly, so your house can get full up!)

I hope you've found this list helpful (if a bit extensive!) Have fun shopping for all the wonderful baby things!

Chocolate Giveaway Winner!

Hi readers,

Thank you so much for entering my giveaway! I have used a random name picker as a fair way to choose the winner, please see the video!

And the winner of the chocolate hamper is ... Adele Baxter! Well done Adele! I will email you to find out your address and I'll send out your prize next week!

30 Day Challenge - Day 30!

Day 30- Your favorite song.

It was hard to choose my favourite song as there are alot of songs that I like or that have special meaning to me, but a piece of music that I have always loved is Debussy's 'Clair De Lune'.  I always enjoy listening to it, it's dreamy and relaxing and never makes me feel sad. 

And that concludes my 30 day challenge that I hoped would get me back into blogging! I've definitely been bitten by the blogging bug again and have lots more posts planned.  I'll hopefully keep writing nearly every day! I really hope you've enjoyed reading the '30 day' posts.  Would you like me to do another challenge? Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook!

And to celebrate the end of the 30 day challenge, don't forget to enter my chocolate giveaway!

30 Day Challenge - Day 29

Day 29- In this past month, what have you learned

This past month I have learned a lot of facts from CBeebies, for example that a vacuum cleaner works using a fan which blows air out of the front of the fan and so sucks air in from behind the fan, so the back of the fan is placed facing downwards which then sucks up the dirt.  Thank you Nina and the Neurons for that fact.  I also learned that you shouldn't make plans with Alex for a Thursday because it always rains and he hates the rain and gets grumpy.  More seriously, I am trying to learn to accept who I am as a person and feel proud of the little achievements.  I am learning that nobody's perfect, and I shouldn't feel guilty for not being a perfect mum, because no parent is! We all make mistakes but it's the mistakes as well as the successes made by our parents that go towards making us who we are as adults and shapes our personalities.  I'm learning that I should just try my best and my best is good! We can put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, and I feel so guilty and like I'm failing Eric by not spending every second doing really fun, exciting things for him, but it was good to find out my friend also feels like this, and my acupuncturist talked to me about it and made me see that you can't give everything of yourself to your child all the time as you lose your own identity and aren't looking after your own needs, and you can't be such a good mum then.  I'm going to try to remember that and put less pressure on myself!