REVIEW: Childs Farm baby and toddler bath products (and our bedtime routine) 

I first tried Childs Farm when I bought some yummy-smelling bubble bath for toddler W, they smell lush and remind me of the discontinued Body Shop range for children (anyone else remember them?!)

childs farm products
Continue reading “REVIEW: Childs Farm baby and toddler bath products (and our bedtime routine) “

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The 4 best make-up and beauty products for new mums

When I was on maternity leave and wanted to pop some slap on to leave the house, or now that I’m back in work, I’ve found some great products for time-poor new mums…

my favourite beauty products
my favourite beauty products

#1 – I have a bathroom cabinet full of skincare products but I’m quite bad at a daily skincare routine. One product that you can just use when you need a perk-me-up is Origins Ginzing eye cream. (£23) I like it for a few reasons – it smells lovely, it reduces puffiness and it might just be me but I’m sure I can feel it working it’s magic when you apply it… I think it has a very soothing effect! It also says it helps to cover dark circles and I definitely think it does this – it has a bit of illuminating effect to reflect light away from those nasty bags under your new mum eyes!

#2 – Once that has settled in after a couple of minutes, I apply my old favourite concealer – YSL Touche Éclat (£20). I’m assuming this is the most popular concealer ever, it’s no secret – it’s good at covering those dark circles again – so a double-whammy approach! Unlike Ginzing which I only bought a few months ago, I’ve been using Touche éclat for years! I don’t think I could live without it but having read first time mummy’s blog about beauty products last week, I was reminded of the Body Shop’s lightening touch which I will try next time I run out!

So that’s the eyes sorted (at this stage you’d probably slap some mascara on but I have sensitive eyelids so I only wear mascara for special occasions, and when I do it’s Benefit’s They’re Real!) and now on the face…

As a base, I’ve been using Estee Lauder’s Double Wear foundation for about 8 years! It offer great coverage which you can keep quite light (e.g. for work) or layer (trowel!) on for a night out. As a new mum, I found it became a bit too faffy – I didn’t want to worry about putting moisturiser on, or blending in.. I needed something easy!

#3 – I stumbled upon Liparazzi’s review  and I was sold…. my favourite foundation but in a lighter version… Estee Lauder’s Double Wear BB cream (£29) and I love it! It’s moisturising, offers nice, natural-looking coverage and is easy to apply (no need to worry about blending in). This product was perfect over the summer and I wondered how it would cope in the winter, as part of my work routine… but it’s been great. It is light coverage so might not suit you if you like something heavier, but this is all about easy, quick wins for mums and so I think it’s a winner!

#4 – Finally, a bit of colour on the cheeks… again, another product I’ve been using for years.. Benefit’s Hoola. (£23.50) I think I’ve been using it for about 10 years and I find that one box literally lasts a couple of years! As I have the tendency to have oily skin, I love the matt finish. I love the colour, I think it really suits my colouring and again because it’s so natural it doesn’t need a lot of blending in – I can just whack it on and go!

Now, I know that these 4 add up to about £100 but I promise you they last for ages! Also, what I tend to do is clock up enough Boots advantage points (using their vouchers, double points etc) to treat myself once I a while – feels much better than handing over my debit card! What do you think? I’d love to hear from you – if you’re a new mum what are your essentials for those days when you actually leave the house!?

PS If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy another mummy blogger’s beauty section – I love Betty and the Bumps’ blog!

REVIEW: Visual Contour medi spa at David Lloyd, Cardiff

I love a bargain, and I love spa treatments – so I snapped up a Living Social deal which was £50 for 2 people to have a facial, neck, back and shoulder massage, a manicure and access to the David Lloyd facilities in Cardiff. My sister and I used the voucher last weekend and here’s my thoughts….

Welcome and ambience

I wish I’d taken photos but the spa doesn’t look particularly inviting, it’s cramped (they’re moving to a bigger space) and busy… the receptionist must have new because she didn’t seem particularly friendly or to know what was going on! A friendly therapist got us to fill in the usual forms and off we went into the rooms which are decorated in quite a ‘bling’ way – lots of zebra print, Marilyn Monroe posters etc…

Massage and facial

These were both lovely! The deal said the facial was an hour long, but actually it was an hour for both (i.e. half hour each). The therapist asked whether I had any problem areas before the back massage (I told her I had knots at the top which were found in a massage earlier on in the week) and she worked well on those and found new knots in places I’d never felt them before! The facial was also lovely but she didn’t ask anything about my skin type beforehand which I found unusual. It was the usual cleanse, scrub and then she left me with a mask on, and an eye mask – very relaxing! My sister said she nearly fell asleep during her treatments, she was so relaxed! Both of us agreed our skin felt great afterwards 🙂

Products

The deal specified that they used Neal’s Yard Remedies’ products and I was looking forward to having these tested on me as I’ve only used their hand cream and plain massage oils. I’m 99% sure that they didn’t actually use Neal’s yard stuff, the facial products all smelt quite fruity e.g. an apricot scrub, whereas I’d expect Neal’s yard stuff to smell more natural as they use essential oils etc. To be fair, I didn’t ask what they use, but unusually for a spa who might want to sell their wares, they didn’t tell me either….

Manicure

Then for the manicure….. a different therapist, she was young, lovely and chatty BUT she had short, unpainted (fine so far)…… dirty nails! I’m a scruffbag myself so not really one to judge but I’m a bit squeamish about dirty nails, gross!! That aside, I chose the colour and she went to get all my long nails to the same length (they’re all over the place!!) and she couldn’t find any nail clippers!! So I had the rest of the manicure (cuticles done, nails filed and painted) and left with a lovely colour, just a bit odd that they didn’t have any clippers 🙂

Manicured nails @ Visual Contour
Manicured nails @ Visual Contour

David Lloyd facilities

As part of the deal we were able to use the facilities and I was pretty impressed – the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room were all good… but the best bit is they have an outdoor pool surrounded by loungers… the sun was shining so we sat out there for a bit and it felt like being on holiday 🙂 (As always, wish I’d taken a photo – taking photos for this blog is always an after-thought!) We had lunch there and it was really tasty – I had Moroccan lamb meatballs and sis had some Caribbean chicken thing, both were great! The rest of the facilities looked good – tennis courts, big gym etc and it definitely attracts a certain type of clientele which is what you’d expect when you apparently pay upwards of £75 to be a member!

Overall result I’d happily love to use that outdoor pool again! Although the treatments all had good results, I’m not sure I’d be bothered about using Visual Contour again – for the same price I think there are better and friendlier places in Cardiff.

Have you tried any Groupon/Living Social deals and had a good/bad experience?

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Small print: I wasn’t asked to review/write about this – I paid for it myself and just wanted to share my experience with you

REVIEW: Clarins Mum-to-be spa treatment

When I left work to start maternity leave, one of the lovely gifts I was given by my colleagues was a ‘mum-to-be treatment’ at  Clarins in Debenhams, Cardiff. It’s a busy place (and I had to change my appointment a couple of times) so I only had this last week – obviously I’m not a mum-to-be anymore but they said it would still be good for new mums… and wasn’t it just!

The Consultation

I arrived early and met my therapist Jenna, she went through a good consultation e.g. where I needed focus (e.g. lower back pain instead of water retention which is no longer an issue), how I like my massages (firm!) and what skin-type I have (it’s been a bit claggy since having baby W – I think it’s all the breastfeeding hormones!). We seemed to build a rapport early on, and I think she’d put anyone at ease – she was lovely!

Lovely gift - Clarins mother-to-be treatment
Lovely gift – Clarins mother-to-be treatment

The Treatment

The treatment started with a back massage – despite me saying that my lower back needed the most attention, she found lots of knots in my upper back and tried her best to get them out (I think I need a few more sessions!!).

Then on to the longest part of the treatment – a facial – including cleanse, scrub etc and then ending with a face mask. She tried to use products that I didn’t already have, but even the ones I do have always feels better when they’re applied with a bit of care by someone else!

While the mask was on, she gave me an arm, hand, leg and foot massage which was lovely and if I had have been heavily pregnant the leg rub would have gone down a treat!

The Result

I felt relaxed and glowing afterwards, and I could feel and smell those lovely products on me all day (glad I had it done in the morning!). I’d highly recommend this place – it’s a little oasis in the city centre, and I’d defo see Jenna again.

The treatment costs £49 and says it lasts 1hr 15mins. In total (with the pre- and post- consultation) I was in there for nearly 2 hours which is great value for money! Jenna went through the products and special offers with me but it never felt like a hard sell, she gave me the list to take away.

Clarins vs Decleor mother-to-be treatments  

You might recall that I had a Decleor mum-to-be treatment in Center Parcs – both are similarly priced, both feature a facial and massage with their range of top end products, both were great in terms of the therapists and rooms….. but Decleor’s treatment included a mask for your bump which was a really cute touch and felt lovely! Clarins, take note 🙂

Either way, a lovely treat for a mum-to-be or new mum. Did you have any spa treatments when you were pregnant or as a new mum?

Small print: I wasn’t asked to review or write this, I just wanted to share my experience with you!

What’s in my hospital bag?

What to pack for labour/post-labour in hospital

So with just #3daystogo I left it slightly late to finish packing my bags although we did start a couple of weeks ago… most people suggest having it ready a month in advance but I am always a last-minute Minnie!

So, we have 2 bags – roughly 1 for labour, 1 for post-labour  (I say roughly as one is a bit fuller than the other so they’re having to share a bit of space ;)) I’ve used bags instead of a suitcase for easy access… but the labour one is full and heavy so I imagine we might re-think that before we go!

Hospital bags are packed....
Hospital bags are packed….

What’s in the labour bag?

Some essentials for labour....
Some essentials for labour….
  • 3 small bottles of water, 3 small bottles of Lucozade
  • Drinking straws (recommended by a friend who says they’re handy in case you’re in some weird positions during labour!)
  • A bag full of energy snacks e.g. brunch bars, go-ahead bars, nuts and yoghurt-covered raisins
  • my new Cath Kidston toiletries bag (thanks girls!) which has my 2 favourite facial sprays – the Elemis lavender toner, and the Body Shop Vitamin E face mist (had a third as a gift which was Simple – already used all that ooops – I love face mists!) hairbands; lavender oil with a hanky to sprinkle the oil on, lip balm (everyone says these are handy if you use gas and air as your lips get dry) and some of my fave beauty products – leg/foot gel and face cream, face wipes
  • my comfiest slipper socks (from Boux Avenue) in case my feet get cold (and if not, handy for the overnight stay!)
Energy snacks for labour!
Energy snacks for labour!

What’s in the post-labour bag?

For mummy:

Post-labour toiletries!
Post-labour toiletries!
  • Paracetamol – a friend told me these are handy post-birth as I might be in some pain and will have to wait AGES if I ask the staff for some!
  • Towel – for post-shower etc -everyone says to pack an old, dark one – well this is one of those but also has a funny story behind it – this is an ‘I love Greece’ one that I bought the day that we think Bean was conceived on – and I was sick on next to the pool as I was so hungover!
  • Toiletries bag – small samples of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body cream, toothbrush and toothpaste, and some sample sizes of make-up e.g. mascara, my full-size bare minerals make-up, deodorant and some nipple cream remnants (lansinoh and Asda) that my friend gave me, hairbrush
  • spare bra and a couple of breast pads (just a free sample pack I was given)
  • PJ bottoms (M&S) and a t-shirt
  • Comfy dress to wear home
  • Maternity pads
  • Disposable knickers
  • Normal knickers (M&S!)
Comfy going home dress (ebay... Mammas and Pappas)
Comfy going home dress (ebay… Mammas and Pappas)

for Bean:

Packing the hospital bag... some of Bean's first oufits
Packing the hospital bag… some of Bean’s first oufits
  • About 10 outfits – vests/sleepsuits – we’ve only packed that many due to the range in sizes! Hard to guess which ones will fit best!
  • A cardigan to wear in case it’s nippy when it’s going home time
  • Scratch mitts and hats (again a variety for size!)
  • 2 blankets (1 cellular, 1 cotton/fleece)
  • 10 nappies (Pampers size 1)
  • cotton wool pads
Enough baby outfits for hospital?
Enough baby outfits for hospital?

Other bits to add in

  • I need to get a bag of loose change for machines, parking etc
  • I still hope to sort out some music for my iPhone
  • Must remember to pack my iPhone charger on the day… oh and the hospital notes!
  • No idea what I’ll be wearing when I go in but I hope it includes comfy pumps/flip-flops that I can wear to walk around once I’m in there and coming home too
  • Arnica – sold out in the last couple of shops I’ve tried but will try and get some the next few days (heard it’s good for bruising afterwards!)
  • I also have a plastic bag in there for dirty clothes etc
  • Book – I might pack one if labour is going slowly when I leave for hospital but otherwise I can’t imagine having time to read in there  (or ever again!)

What do you think? Have I missed any essentials? (Obviously if me and/or Bean are in for a few days we’ll need daddy to get some more supplies but hoping this will be enough for an overnight stay?)

A mum-to-be’s girly spa weekend at Center Parcs, Longleat

So back in early March (c30 weeks) I had a fab first trip to Center Parcs and I wanted to share my thoughts on it as I think it’s a perfect place for mums-to-be (and hopefully new mums!)

We were organising a spa weekend for 6 of us, spread across the country and it turns out that Center Parcs was surprisingly good value – their basic accommodation was just about £90 each for 3 nights and I think we paid about £70 each for a spa day (a bit of a splurge but one of the best spas I’ve been to – more on that later)

Here’s how our weekend went:

    • Friday – arrived at our cabin in the Firs part of the park and we were all pleasantly surprised by the quality of the basic accommodation – comfy sofas, comfy beds, nice linen etc. One of the girls had brought a home-made lasagne with them which was v yummy and after dinner we all got into our PJ’s and put face masks on – relaxing, good fun and a good way of preparing our skin for the spa day 🙂
    • Saturday – after a great night’s sleep, it was wonderful to wake up to a fresh, sunny day…. opened the patio doors to wonderful light and peace and quiet…bliss!
    • Saturday morning at Center Parcs
      Saturday morning at Center Parcs
    • Saturday Spa day – We got there about 10am and had a pastry (delicious vanilla and raspberry one for me) and hot drink as part of our package. The spa was fantastic – as I was pregnant I couldn’t use the plethora of saunas and steam rooms but I made sure I had a good nosey around them and they all smelt and felt amazing (e.g. lemongrass) and no signs of wear and tear as you see at so many other spas.  Although I couldn’t use the rooms, it was nice enough to sit in the relaxation areas with magazines, and get into the small but cute outdoor pool in the sun. Lunch was part of our package and it was really tasty – I had a pasta dish but everything else looked great too!

Decleor mum-to-be treatment

  • Saturday spa treatments – Most of us had booked treatments and I plumped for the ‘Decleor sumptuous mother-to-be’ hour long treatment which was just what I needed – it started on my legs with a variety of massaging and refreshing gels/creams… moved up to the bump and gave bump a tummy mask which felt divine… and then finished off with a facial. I lost the leaflet she gave me with all the products on it so I can’t tell you what they all were, but it was my first time trying any Decleor and I wanted them all (but behaved and didn’t buy any!). I felt refreshed and relaxed afterwards and apparently looked ‘glowing’ according to my friends. It was another splurge at £55 but worth every penny!
  • Saturday night – we had another night in with pizzas and even thought it wasn’t a weekend for me specifically, the girls had clubbed together to get me some lovely presents so it felt like a baby shower 🙂 I was given everything from a mug that I could drink out of while feeding, a Cath Kidston bag, a Sanctuary mum-to-be set (and you will already know how much I love that stuff) to a gorgeous Johnson’s set including bag, changing mat and baby toiletries… I felt spoil rotten, I love those girls!
Spoilt rotten with gifts from the girls - Mammas and Pappas' baby set, Johnson's baby set, Sanctuary mum-to-be set, Bean's first book and more
Spoilt rotten with gifts from the girls – Mammas and Pappas’ baby set, Johnson’s baby set, Sanctuary mum-to-be set, Bean’s first book and more
  • Sunday – swim time! Sunday morning most of us headed down to the free pool, it was another beautiful sunny morning and the outdoor pool was even warmer than the pool in the spa the day before. So while the girls checked out the rapids and flumes, this pregnant momma sat in the warm water with the sun beating down on me… occasionally swimming about a few metres here and there… bliss!
  • Sunday afternoon we spent the afternoon down at the Sports complex as some of us watched England vs Wales (6 nations rugby) while the others did a Zumba class! When we walked over to the shopping complex (they have a beautiful gift shop) 2 deer ran out right in front of us! We tried booking a restaurant for dinner but had left it too late so that night we had a mix of Chinese and Indian take-away… nothing amazing but just what we needed!
Sunday afternoon at Center Parcs
Sunday afternoon at Center Parcs
  • Monday morning pedicures – 3 of us loved the Spa so much that we thought we’d go back for another treat before leaving on Monday so we all booked in for a Marine Spa Pedicure – our feet got a good scrub, mask and moisture followed by a nail treatment and colour – I went for a Spring-like lilac colour 🙂 I’m sure every mum-to-be and mummy would agree that feet during pregnancy need all the help they can get! (I should add that the polish lasted for ages… I still have it on now nearly 2 months later, am well overdue another pedicure!)
Spring toes!
Pedicured Center parcs toes in lilac

While we were there I saw lots of other mums-to-be, but also lots of newborns and lots of families. I loved our girly weekend there – it was SO relaxing and we loved our chalet – it was comfy and had everything we needed. There is a land train that takes you around as it was quite tough walking so much at 30 weeks but would love to do more walking and cycling next time – it was lovely seeing babies being cycled around by their parents 🙂 (Also, there’s LOADS of activities you can do there – the treetop activity looked like fun!)

I REALLY want to go back once Bean is here and a few months old – I love the idea of long nature-filled walks, and I love the idea that if we have a noisy Bean that it doesn’t matter as the neighbours won’t be able to hear a thing 🙂 We could take some in-laws or friends with us so that me and other half could use the lovely spa together for a few hours… and they have a babysitting service… here’s hoping…

Center Parcs, if you’re reading this I hope to come back soon (and even sooner if you want me to review any services ;))

Has anyone else been to Center Parcs with their babies? Would you recommend it?

Best pregnancy beauty products for mums-to-be

My favourite maternity beauty products

I’ve been spoilt rotten with beauty products during my pregnancy – I was given a LOAD for Christmas (when I was 4 months pregnant), some more by friends during an impromptu mini-baby-shower…. and I’ve treated myself to a few pieces 🙂

I’ve always enjoyed baths, but since being pregnant I’ve enjoyed them a million times more, especially as my legs have become achier and achier! With all the baths, and all the products I was given, I’ve really enjoyed pampering my body far more than I ever have before – using scrub and lotion/cream every time I wash!

So what do I think is worth investing in as a treat (or a present for a mum-to-be)? In reverse order…

#4 – Body butters in general

My body butters
My selection of body butters – all gifts from family and friends – thank you!

I was given a lot of these, and I’m still alternating between them… Body Shop Cocoa Butter, Mama Bee, Sanctuary collagen-boosting cream and they’re all delicious – rich but soak in easily, smell lovely and most importantly the combination seems to have kept stretchmarks away (I know, I know, they’re genetic!) *keeps everything crossed*

#3 – Clarins Tonic bath and shower gel

Clarins bliss in a bottle
Clarins tonic Bath& Shower Concentrate: Bliss!

This was a splurge at £19 last week – an impulse buy when I stocking up on skincare and saw that they had a ‘gift with purchase’ on. I nearly bought a facewash but once I got to chatting to the girl about pregnancy products, I ended up buying this bath/shower gel.

This is THE most expensive bubble bath I have EVER bought but boy is it worth every penny?! It should last a while as you only need to use a little bit… it’s very bubbly and the best thing is it smells DELICIOUS as it’s a mix of essential oils like Rosewood, geranium etc

It’s part of the ‘toning’ range so it’s supposed to be good against stretchmarks too = bonus!

And here’s the free gift I got – there were 3 to choose from and I chose this one as the body lotion was ‘extra-firming’ – yet more to add to the pile of body creams I’m using 🙂

Lovely sample sized Clarins products
Clarins freebies (gift with purchase)

#2 – Soap and Glory Beauty Sleep Accelerator

Miracle Product!
Soap and Glory Beauty Sleep Accelerator

Another impulse purchase when I was in Boots stocking up on baby essentials. I had read about this in one of the mother/baby magazines so when I saw it on offer with 1/3 off I couldn’t resist!

I’ve only used it twice but both times I’ve used it, I’ve had compliments on my skin the next day – 3 times in total! This isn’t a typical occurrence so for that reason it makes it to my #2 as it must be working even if I don’t particularly notice the difference!

It does make my skin feel soft and moisturised in the morning, and it has a lovely smell of peaches (which is saying something as I don’t normally like peach-smelling stuff!)

Let’s see if this miracle product still works miracles once baby bean is here and the sleepless nights begin!

#1 – Sanctuary mum-to-be Cooling foot and leg gel

My lifesaver!
Fave product – instant refreshment – Sanctuary Cooling Leg and Foot Gel

Why is this my number 1 product for mums-to-be? Instant relief!

My legs have gotten so achy lately and this really is cooling and refreshing and that feeling lasts for a good thirty minutes or so, by which time I’ve long-forgotten about the pains! You know that feeling when you put after sun on sunburnt skin? It’s kinda like that…

I’m a lucky girl – I was given 2 of these and still have plenty left. It’s something I wouldn’t have thought of buying, never would have thought it would be so refreshing and doesn’t seem as exotic as some of the other products I mentioned!

Hope this is useful – I’d love to hear which products you enjoyed using, plus any tips for beauty products for new mums (I’d like a tinted BB cream to slap on quickly and easily but no idea which are any good…)