500 Posts and Counting...

17:55 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This is my 500th post here on Red Rose Mummy. 500 posts. That seems like such a huge number but, when I reflect, I have so much more to say and so much more I'd like to do with this blog, that it feels like a mere drop in the ocean.

I started on the 11th October 2011, with my first post (I'm hoping my titles have improved a little since then) and, looking back on that post it makes me smile so much. The comments especially. There were comments from the bloggers who I'd spoken to on Twitter for months before biting the bullet and starting, and most of them are people who I still speak to very regularly and who have been so supportive. Bloggers like The Boy and Me, Coombe Mill and The Five F's who encouraged me when I said 'you know, I might start blogging?' I'd just been made redundant after returning from maternity leave following Bud's birth and needed a creative outlet. I was reading so many blogs and enjoying them and the long-dead spark of my old love for writing, blown out by a particularly horrible English teacher, started to re-kindle. I loved how the blogs I enjoyed recorded family life and I wanted to do the same.

Over the months I've written about so many different things, there have been posts I've been particularly proud of, like my Birth Stories, a post on Remembrance, a rant about Saving our Museums and, just this week, a post on my breastfeeding journey. We've had some amazing opportunities - review products, like the Graco Evo travel system which came when our old travel system really wasn't working for us and we couldn't afford to replace it, beautiful baby products and some fantastic toys for Bud. We appreciate every single item we've had for review.

The really special thing for me has been some terrific events that I've attended, some alone and some with my family,which have allowed me the opportunity to meet some of the fabulous bloggers in our community. The North-West bloggers, in particular, have become friends - including, and if I have forgotten anyone I'm so sorry, The Brick Castle, My Mummy's Pennies, Hollybobbs, This Day I Love, Ghostwriter MummyGrumpyish Mum, Preston PreciousMummy's Little Peeps and Plastic Rosaries. We'll all be attending Blog On in three weeks and I can't wait to spend a whole, child-free day with these fantastic women. Some blogger friends I've never met but still speak to on a daily basis, ET Speaks From Home and In the Playroom I'm looking at you here, my friends from Play Fest, as well as so many others through the marvellous medium of Twitter. They all welcomed me back with open arms despite me disappearing for five months during my awful pregnancy with Little Miss and I'll always be grateful for that.

I've been proud to work closely with a few brands - my membership of the Tefal Innovation Panel has been a revelation and their fantastic products have changed the way I cook completely. We're also toy reviewers for The Toadstool and Izziwizzi Kids Play Fest and we love sharing our opinions on toys that way and the latter has improved my vLogging skills no end! I've loved working closely with the marvellous Lynne at More 4 Mums promoting breastfeeding through her range of nursing clothing which is completely geared towards making it easier.

So what does the next 500 posts hold? More of the same I hope! I'm hoping to meet some of the wonderful bloggers that I've spoken to many times but never met 'in real life' when I attend Britmums Food and Britmums Live in the coming year. I'd love to build up a relationship with a brand who will sponsor me to attend one or both events too. I want to write more about my little family and the subjects close to my heart as I'm conscious that's not been as much of a focus for me recently. I have a linky planned which I'm hoping to start in the next couple of weeks, I've always loved joining in with them on other blogs and so creating my own seems like an obvious step. More than ever I want to continue to be an active part of this powerful, wonderful community that I'm so honoured to find myself in. Wish me luck?

The Chef's Table at Red Hot World Buffet

18:59 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

A couple of weeks ago an interesting invitation arrived in my inbox. The Red Hot World Buffet in Manchester wanted me to come along to a meal at their Chef's Table with a few other local bloggers. Of course I replied yes. I've never actually visited the Red Hot World Buffet before so it was a great opportunity to find out more about it.

Red Hot World Buffet CocktailThe Manchester branch of Red Hot World Buffet is the flagship restaurant and is one of seven in the UK.It expanded in  2012 to offer a second floor for dining, which is where the Chef's Table is located, and also offer a breakfast buffet there! The restaurants offer up to 300 dishes from across the world and the aim of the Chef's Table was to introduce us to a range of different cuisines.

On arrival we were greeted with their signature Red Hot cocktail which was a thick, icy treat. It contained, amongst other things, triple sec and a whole blended plum. It was deceptively alcoholic I think and was very easy to drink. The fruit gave the consistency of a smoothie or slush puppy and it really was delicious. This is one of the drinks which has been created for the new cocktails and mocktails menu in the restaurants.

Our chef for the night introduced himself and his team and, as each course was presented, both the dish and the accompanying wine were introduced to us and explained how they complement each other

Our menu for the night was:
Amuse bouche - Hand rolled fish sushi
Entrée A selection of traditional Indian street food
Fish course Seafood risotto
Main course - Chicken teppanyaki prepared on an Oriental grill
Palate cleanser of fresh sorbet
Dessert - Pancakes served with a variety of delicious toppings
Petits fours - Mini crème brȗlée, brownies and cheesecakes served with fresh coffee

I've eaten at a number of different buffet restaurants over the year and usually found them fine, not excellent but I was really surprised by the high standard of the food we ate at the Red Hot World Buffet.

Our starter - Hand-rolled Sushi - was lovely (left photo). Beautifully presented and with exceptionally fresh ingredients. The wasabi-spiked soy sauce was a real treat and offered just the right amount of salt and fire to accompany the sushi. It was some of the best I've eaten in Manchester and,when I revisit the Red Hot World Buffet, I know I will have to drag myself away from the Sushi counter!

Red Hot World Buffet Sushi and Potato Tikki

Next we were treated to a Potato Tikki, an example of the Indian Street Food available in the buffets. This was served with a delicious spiced sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds which provided a delicious pop of sweetness to counter the spice.

The fish course was Seafood Risotto, I was slightly apprehensive about this one as I can't eat mussels, even though I love them. My fears weren't realised as the risotto contained prawn, salmon and squid. It tasted wonderful, flavoured well with a creamy sauce and flakes of parmesan. It was easily as good as similar risottos I have ordered in Italian restaurants.

Red Hot World Buffet Seafood Risotto and Chicken Teppenyaki

The risotto was followed by Chicken Teppenyaki which featured chicken, spring onion, greens and pak choi in a delicious, sticky marinade. The dish was quite light, and ordinarily, I would have preferred it to be served with rice or noodles but it worked well as a dish featured on a set menu in this way.

Our next course allowed us a small breather with a palate-cleansing Raspberry sorbet which was beautifully presented in a martini glass filled with ice. It was really refreshing and prepared us well for the desserts to come.

Our first dessert was American-style pancakes with a choice of toppings, I went for white chocolate and raspberry which was a lovely combination, the creaminess of the chocolate sauce and the sharpness of the raspberries balanced well.

Following this we were treated to an assiette of desserts, all of which were rich and indulgent and the perfect end to a lovely meal, some very pretty petit fours and a wonderful Amaretto Coffee.

Red Hot World Buffet Petit Fours Raspberry Sorbey and Desserts

I had a great evening at the Red Hot World Buffet and really enjoyed every aspect of the Chef's Table meal. The company was fantastic and the wines chosen to complement each course matched well. I'd definitely recommend the quality of food as a very good reason to visit the Red Hot World Buffet, I'm looking forward to visiting to have the full buffet experience and I'm going to take Red Rose Daddy with me next time.

If I've inspired you to visit you can book using this link and claim a discount until the end of June.

My Breastfeeding Journey - Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week 2013

00:46 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This is a post that I've been trying to write for a long time. Breastfeeding is now a huge part of who I am. Not in a 'converting the world, constantly talking about it' way but, simply, something that runs through my core and is now an essential part of who I am. I've never written much about it, which is odd so I've enjoyed the prompts for Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week as they have given me the opportunity to write around a subject that is very close to my heart.

Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week

I'm passionate about breastfeeding. I've been either breastfeeding or pregnant since July 2009, and for a horrible few months I was both. The knowledge that, for the last four years, my body has been creating and nurturing these two amazing tiny people takes my breath away! I find it difficult to remember the person I was before. I'm certainly very different to that person now.

Feeding Bud did not come naturally. I wrote earlier in the week about the lack of support for breastfeeding that I received in the early days. I think we persevered down to my stubbornness, I was determined that he would feed and, after five days when my milk came in and he fed properly, and then at around two weeks when he could manage to stay awake for more than 90 seconds into every feed, he thrived. We thrived. We were so close, I loved the convenience. We could spend days just relaxing, sitting watching endless Eurosport (me) and snuggling (him). Everyone said what a calm, relaxed baby he was and that was so true. I have so many lovely memories of feeding him in so many different places - on a boat ride, in the Welsh Assembly building on his first holiday, in the bath, at family parties - everywhere. I very quickly realised that breastfeeding was going to be no fun unless I learned to feed in public and be discrete about it. A few judicious purchases and a lot of muslins and scarves employed and I was fine.

Baby boy, around two weeks old

As Bud grew bigger I was met with comments 'are you still feeding him?' 'When will you stop breastfeeding?'  I met all these with the same answer, 'when he wants to stop.' I cited the World Health Organisation guidelines at more people than I care to remember but I stopped feeding him in public. He quickly understood that he only had milk if we were at home or at a close family members' home. Too many questions and the risk of being half undressed by a small boy who was more than capable of removing a scarf or lifting up a top to get to his milk himself!

I had two in my head as the age he would stop at. Bud loved his milk, he loved feeding and, when I got pregnant with Little Miss when he was 21months we carried on as normal. He was then having three feeds a day - morning, nap time and bedtime, with occasionally more feeds if he was upset or unwell. When I hit nine weeks pregnant something happened, horrible sickness and nausea hit and breastfeeding became awful for me. It really hurts to say that I hated breastfeeding. I used to sit with my fingernails digging into my palms as every feed was like nails down a blackboard. Apparently this is not uncommon in attempting to breastfeed while pregnant but it had a devastating effect on me. I withdrew into myself completely. Walked away from this blog, friends, my life. It was terrible. A really black period for me and one that makes me sad to look back on. In the end I had to wean Bud from the breast for the sake of my own health. I'm so sorry our breastfeeding journey ended in that way. He dealt with the change easily although he still snuggles in exactly the way he used to when he was feeding and it makes me remember those times, good and bad.. He was 25 months old when we finally stopped and, looking back, I'm so proud of myself that we made it, from those horrible first two weeks, through the months where feeding was lovely and even through the misery of the final four months.

I had four more months of heavy pregnancy and then Little Miss arrived. I suffered a PPH after her birth which left me in need of a blood transfusion but even though that left me feeling dreadful, breastfeeding came naturally to both of us. She was an alert,greedy baby. My milk arrived within three days. We started easily and haven't looked back. I'm different now too. I'm so relaxed and open about feeding. When she cries Bud will say 'give her some milk Mummy' which I love as, for him, that's where baby milk comes from. It's entirely normal and that's what I want for both of my children. That, if and when they become parents they will want to breastfeed or support their partner to do the same. I won't hide away when Little Miss gets bigger and wants to feed and I'm going to feed her for as long as she wants to. We're having no more babies so we won't stop until she's ready. It's hard to predict. At nine months she is a busy little madame and feeding is something she does fast before she moves on to the next interest. i think she'll get bored and stop before I am ready, we will see. That will be the final chapter in my breastfeeding journey, one that has seen so many highs and lows but one that has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life.

Baby girl 9 months breastfeeding

This posts offers you the opportunity to accumulate more points for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Don't forget to check out my giveaways tab where I have some fantastic breastfeeding prizes too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are a whole host of bloggers taking part in Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week, they include:
Simply Hayley
Pea Musings
Circus Queen
Mum to Baby Insomniac
Petit Mom

and some terrific companies, including Hot Milk who I have a fab nursing bra from and a review to bring you very soon.

Chicken Fajitas Recipe for the Tefal Actifry

15:41 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Since I became a member of the Tefal Innovation Panel and received my gift of a Tefal Actifry I've used it almost daily. In fact I would go so far as to say that it has completely changed to way I cook. We're a big fan of pastas,chilies, curries and Mexican food in our house and I used to cook these in my wok. This meant that I would have to stand over it stirring and supervising. No longer, I simply add the ingredients to my Actifry and set the timer! As a result I've been trying a few new things and recently decided to try cooking chicken fajitas by using my own spice mix,rather than a sachet from the supermarket. Obviously you can use any combination of spices but I found this one worked really well.

Here's my recipe for Chicken Fajitas, to serve 4:
For your spice mix you will need:
1x Chicken Oxo Cube, crumbled (or a chicken stock cube, ground finely)
2 tsp Chili Powder
1tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp Onion Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

For the Fajitas:
3x Chicken Breasts, cut into strips
1 Red Pepper, cut into strips
1 Red Onion, cut into Strips
6 sliced mushrooms
Your Spice Mix
Actifry spoonful of your prefered oil
Can of chopped tomatoes
2tbsp of Sweetcorn

To Serve:
8x Flour Tortillas
Soured Cream
Grated Cheese

1.. Combine the spice mix ingredients in a mortar and pestle and grind them until they are of a uniform consistency. Set aside.

2. Place the chicken and vegetables in the Actifry with a spoonful of your preferred oil and cook for 10 minutes.

Fajitas, chicken pepper mushroom and onion ready to cook

3. After 10 minutes add the spice mix, chopped tomatoes and sweetcorn, cook for a further fifteen minutes.

Chicken Fajitas, add spice mix, chopped tomatoes and sweetcorn

4. Transfer your Chicken Fajita mixture into a bowl and serve with the usual accompaniments.

Chicken Fajitas ready to serve

We love this take on Chicken Fajitas and I'm definitely going to continue to make my own spice mix - it's so easy and cheaper than buying a sachet when you have all of the spices anyway! I hope you enjoy my version, why not try cooking it in your Tefal Actifry?

Link up your recipe of the week

Snoob, The Stylish Breastfeeding Scarf - Review and Giveaway

23:50 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

One of the most important things I found when establishing breastfeeding was wearing clothing that I could comfortably feed in or, on those occasions where I had to wear a top that wasn't so easy to nurse in, ensuring I had a handy cover up available was key. This helped immensely with my ability to feed in public confidently. Now of course I'm very experienced but I do still like to have a quick and easy way to cover up if I'm feeding when out and about.

As soon as I heard about the Snoob I knew they were a company that I'd like to work with. One of my breastfeeding tips is to wear a scarf as part of your outfit, that way you can simply drape it over your nursing baby during the feed and wear it again as soon as you have finished. Snoob have taken this one step further and created their stylish breastfeeding scarf.

Snoob Olive Breastfeeding Scarf and Instructions

Formed of one loop of fabric it can be worn looped around the neck to function as a scarf, then simply unlooped to act as a breastfeeding cover up allowing you to cover as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.

The Snoob scarf is available in four colours - Cloud Grey, Olive, Dusky Pink and Sand - I chose Olive as I wear a lot of green and I knew the colour would fit well with my wardrobe. They currently retail at £25 which I feel represents good value for money. I've used mine every time I've been out since it arrived and it is excellent quality. The fabric feels great and it is finished to a high standard. It compares well with the price of other breastfeeding cover ups on the market and, because this is a scarf too, I will be able to wear it long after I finish nursing my daughter. In fact you could buy it during pregnancy, wear it all the way through breastfeeding and keep it as part of your wardrobe for a long time to come. You could even buy this just to wear as a scarf, if the days of tiny babies are a long way ahead of or behind you.

It also offers the following benefits:
  • Can be used when tandem feeding twins. 
  • No need to take it off when moving baby to the other breast.
  • No need to remove it when winding your baby.
  • It can double as a blanket if your baby is sleepy after feeding.     
  • Lightweight cotton jersey so perfect for any season.        
  • 100% cotton jersey
  • Machine washable at 30 degrees (but can't be tumble dried)
  • One size fits all
  • Made in the UK
From baby's point of view, you will see in my photo that Little Miss doesn't like her head being covered when she feeds and, at nine months old, she can make her feelings know. She really likes how the Snoob feels and enjoys scratching and stroking it while I feed her. A smaller baby could be cocooned really well within the Snoob and would be very snuggly and cosy in there. The length of fabric means that, despite her best efforts, I stay covered up and comfortable even though she wriggles lots!

I'm pleased to be able to offer one of my readers the chance to win a Snoob of their own. To enter simply complete the Rafflecopter Widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Rio on DVD - A Review

18:52 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Recently we were offered the opportunity to review a family-friendly DVD from the online entertainment retailer Zavvi. Zavvi have a huge range available in their DVD department and some great prices too. Bud is just starting to enjoy films and watch them properly and, as he loves animals so much, we chose to receive Rio.
Rio DVD Cover

Rio was released in 2011 and tells the story of Blu, an exotic pet bird who believes he is the last of his kind. When his owner realises there is a female bird in Brazil they set off to try and find her. This leads to a wild adventure as Blu, who never learned to fly, meets Jewel and a group of wise-cracking Rio de Janeiro birds.

Bud has absolutely loved watching Rio, he is a big fan of parrots and the characters are very funny and engaging. His especial favourites were the marmosets who text each other monkey-speak! He's yet to watch it all in one sitting but the beauty of having films on DVD means that we can pause it for a while so he can come back and watch more later. I had no expectations as I didn't know much about this film but, from the very first scene, the riot of colour and exuberance shines through. The Latin music and scenery makes the animation so vibrant. 

The voice acting is excellent with the lead macaws being voiced by Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway. Red Rose Daddy and I have enjoyed watching with Bud and there is enough content within to keep us entertained too.

We received a special edition of Rio which included a sneak peek at the new film Epic which is from the same creators, this gave us a full introduction to the film and I'm looking forward to that being released on DVD so we can add it to our collection too.

Disclaimer: We received this DVD Free of Charge for the purpose of an open and honest review.

The Importance of Breastfeeding Support - Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week

00:30 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This week I am taking part in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week Scavenger Hunt which aims to help support breastfeeding families and promote that choice for new mums and their children.

Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week 2013

Breastfeeding for me was never something I had to do while I was pregnant with Bud. I always thought I would try it out and see how we got on. While I was pregnant I spent time talking to two friends and my cousin who had all successfully breastfed two children. I asked them their experiences, for the 'warts and all' stories, for everything they wished they had been told when they were pregnant. They told me, they shared their stories - of cluster feeding, growth spurts, mastitis and tears; but also their stories of euphoria when the feeding was established, the feeling of nourishing your child, the way their hearts soared when those little eyes  smiled up at them as they enjoyed their milk. I got the full picture and I knew that I really wanted to try to breastfeed.

After Bud's birth I was expecting lots of support to help me nurse and, in hospital, I got it. The midwives helped me with his latch and I saw a Breastfeeding Specialist Healthcare Practitioner who really helped me too. Fantastic support, exactly what I expected from a National Health Service supposedly dedicated to encouraging new mothers to make the choice to breastfeed their babies. Then we came home. To the Community Midwifery Team who viewed my decision to breastfeed as quizzical at best and, at worst, I felt like I was being accused of intending to damage my own child. Bud was a lazy feeder for his first two weeks, he lost weight. After the traumatic aftermath of his birth I waited five days for my milk to arrive but I persevered. In spite of the lack of support from the professionals who should have offered it best.

Why did I persevere? Simple. I had three lovely people who I could call on for help and ask questions of, to check that I wasn't being a mad mama and that I could do it. They helped me so much and I will be forever grateful to them. Without them Bud would not have been breastfed until he was 25 months old. I probably wouldn't be breastfeeding a nearly 10 month old Little Miss. I also had a terrific partner and family who trusted me to do the right thing and brought me snacks and glasses of water,and endless chocolate bars, on those days when I was glued to the sofa with a baby in a growth spurt.

The best way I can think of to thank my supporters is to support other mums and I've done that twice now. By emailing a lovely friend and ex-colleague who may not live nearby but I hope I answered all of her questions when her gorgeous girl arrived. Currently my brother's girlfriend is breastfeeding her first child, my lovely little niece, she's now seven weeks old and doing so well and is exclusively breastfed. I've answered all of her questions honestly and openly, just like my supporters did for me. I want to pass on the gift that those wonderful ladies gave me which is why I talk about breastfeeding, I extol it's benefits to anyone who will listen, I want other mums to realise that it sometimes isn't easy but,with help, you probably can do it.

Baby girls newborn and 8 months

If you're pregnant and reading this then there are sources of support available, they may not be in the obvious places. Ask friends and family, track down your local breastfeeding group (SureStart is often a good place to start for that), or email me! It will help, having someone to turn to and say 'is this right?' 'does that normally happen?' will make all the difference. There are also some fantastic support networks  like La Leche League who have a breastfeeding helpline on their website. Your GP's surgery should be able to point you in the right direction or, as I hope, you might be luckier with your Community Midwifery team. Try not to go Googling when your baby is four days old and a Community Midwife has tried to convince you that you are starving 'that baby' by insisting on breastfeeding him, that way leads only to tears. In my experience the women around me who have been there are the best support network, just talk to them. 

I am promoting the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week Scavenger Hunt this week and you can enter for the grand prize, worth over £1000 using the Rafflecopter widget below.

The following bloggers are amongst those taking part:
The Brick Castle
In the Playroom
Mixed Bag of Allsorts
Hex Mum
Little Lilypad Co

And, amongst the companies taking part is More 4 Mums, for whom I review and blog regularly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday 17/6/13 - Sunday 23/6/13 Days 229 - 235 of Project 365

23:26 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Monday 17/6/13 - Sunday 23/6/13 Days 229 - 235 of Project 365

Monday #229 'Fajitas' - I used my Tefal Actifry to cook Fajitas tonight and even made the spice mix myself. I was quite impressed with the result and will definitely do it again! I think I might need a pestle and mortar to grind up my spices more though.

Tuesday #230 'Tapas' - A lovely evening out tonight to celebrate the re-opening and refurbishment of La Tasca at the Trafford Centre. It was fab to meet up with a few of my favourite local bloggers and enjoy good food and drink and good company.

Wednesday #231 'Cousins' - Bud and two of his cousins were sitting down for story time at Toddlers. I happened to spot that all three of them were holding hands. They looked so sweet - a change from the usual mischief they get up to together!

Thursday #232 'Brown Eyes' - I've been trying to play around with my new Samsung DSLR and Bud was watching me today. We were having a little chat and I got him in a rare moment of stillness - he tends to 'fake smile' for the camera these days so it was nice to get a natural shot.

Friday #233 'Waiting' - Little Miss loves food and takes such great pleasure from it. She's always so excited when I put her in the highchair. I just need to not keep her waiting too long or she gets cross!

Saturday #234 'Oh No!' - Just as we thought Little Miss' bedroom was ready we had a disaster today. Despite being continuously told not to Bud hangs off our radiators all the time. This radiator has been a little loose for a while. Today Bud sat down while holding on to it and dislodged it. Luckily he didn't pull it off the wall but it wasn't safe to leave it on so we had to take it off and will need to get someone in to replace it on the wall.

Sunday #235 'Concert' - We took the children and our nephew and niece to the CBBC concert at the Bridgewater Hall today, we had a lovely afternoon and the BBC Philharmonic were wonderful..

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Enchanted Interiors Nursery Wall Art - A Review

15:45 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We've recently been trying to sort out the sleeping arrangements in our house. Bud has moved bedrooms and Little Miss has moved into the nursery. I love this room, we worked so hard on it when Bud moved into there but I wanted to make it a little girlier for Little Miss so when Enchanted Interiors offered me a set of their beautiful nursery stickers for review I was delighted to accept.

Enchanted Interiors have a wide range of wall art designs which enables you to personalise your child's bedroom or playroom walls with the theme of your choice. You can choose the most appropriate size for your child's room, including space saver designs.

We received the Singing Birds on a Branch set, Little Miss' bedroom is very small so I wanted a design to go in the corner and one that wouldn't dominate the room. The walls are currently a pale sage green so I wanted a little pink and girlyness to make it pretty for her. These little birds were perfect as I already had some pretty soft furnishings with a bird design.

The stickers arrive rolled in a heavy duty cardboard tube - very unlikely to sustain any damage in the mail. When you open up the tube you are met with a large sheet of stickers and comprehensive instructions on how to apply them, alongside a clear photo of the original design if you choose to follow it.

Enchanted Interiors Singing Birds Sticker Sheet

We had to wait a little while to put our sticker up as our wall needed filling and re-painting in one section, after leaving it for a few weeks we were all set to go. I started with the large branch then added the smaller branch and swing, finishing with the smallest stickers - the birds and leaves. Red Rose Daddy stood by on watch from a distance to make sure everything looked straight! The stickers are so easy to apply, you simply peel from the sheet then choose where you want to display them and smooth on to the wall.

Smoothing on the Enchanted Interiors Singing Bird Stickers

We had to play with the arrangement of our stickers a little to cover two small marks on the walls but placing a bird sticker over each was an easy solution.

I'm so pleased with the overall effect of the stickers, the picture they create is lovely and provides the right girly touch for Little Miss' bedroom without being too baby-ish, I think this design will last for a few years before we need to think about replacing it. We've used stickers on the wall in our bedrooms before but they have always been plastic and prone to tearing, the Enchanted Interiors are much higher quality and are made from self adhesive fabric. The difference in quality is evident as soon as you look at the stickers and they look great on the wall.

Enchanted Interiors Singing Birds Stickers on the wall

Enchanted Interiors Swinging Birds Stickers on the wall

This set of stickers currently retails at £44:95 which is expensive but I think they do provide good value for money. It has provided my girl's room with a lovely focal point and I'm sure I won't need to change it for many years to come as the design is fun and colourful. It gives the touch of pastels and pink that I wanted without overdoing it and they  look beautiful against the green background. The photos really don't do the combination justice but the lighting in her room is such that this is the best I can do, it is really lovely. I am completely convinced of the benefits of spending more on this sort of decor compared with the quality of cheaper stickers we have used before.

Disclaimer: We received a set of stickers for the purpose of this review.

Giveaway - Win a Feed Me Mummy Breastfeeding Vest in Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week 2013

13:56 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I'm one of the bloggers taking part in Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week this week and I have a few lovely giveaways to share with you, in addition to the grand prize which I will be sharing tomorrow.

Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week 2013

When I visited The Baby Show last month I chatted to a company called Feed Me Mummy who have designed a brand new style of breastfeeding vest which promises to be 'the breastfeeding vest which restricts your view not your wardrobe'. Designed to be worn underneath your normal clothes, the simple design allows you to keep both your chest and tummy covered while you nurse. An added bonus is the clever design means that you don't have to fiddle with clasps before you feed.

I've used nursing vests so often since my son, and then daughter, were born. They really are the perfect addition to any new mum's wardrobe, especially as wearing one often means you can wear pre-pregnancy clothes again and help to feel more confident about breastfeeding in public.

In order to kick start Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week on Red Rose Mummy, Feed Me Mummy have offered me a vest to give away to one of my readers. To enter simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below.

Keep checking back for more giveaways and breastfeeding posts as the week goes by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

#KidsGrowWild Gardening Fun

23:58 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Red Rose Daddy loves gardening and spends vast amounts of time out there in ours digging, planting and maintaining it. This year Bud has taken a real interest too and loves to join his Dad out there 'helping' him. I love that this is making my veggie-phobic three year old get interested in how vegetables grow and how long it takes. He even promises that he will eat them when they grow!

When we were sent a little gardening bag and tools for Bud to use he was delighted and said they were like Daddy's! He couldn't wait for his Dad to come home so he could get out in the garden. He's loved the tools and the bag and feels very grown up using them.

Gardening Bag for children

We've spent lots of time out in the garden in the recent sunny weather and Bud has especially enjoyed using his watering can and watering the seedlings his Dad plants. He has great fun popping compost into pots and being shown to plant the seeds. The only problem we have is that he struggles to understand how long it takes for plants to grow. He loves watching the green shoots appear and get bigger day by day.

New courgette seedlings

Although he has his toddler sized tools he still seems to prefer trying to use Daddy's though!

Small boy digging garden

We love our garden, the size of it in our area is quite rare and it's one of the main reasons we bought our house. We use it daily with the children and I'm sure this will continue as they grow. Bud learns so much from his hands-on experience of soil, plants and tools and I'm so pleased he has the opportunity to play outside in a safe space where he can explore and experience to his heart's content. Little Miss will, I'm sure, join in just as soon as she is mobile.

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge” with Money Supermarket.

Your Pie,Your Way! Win a Pork Farms Hamper

22:06 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This is National Picnic Week and, to celebrate, Pork Farms have launched their brand new campaign - Your Pie, Your Way! They want to hear from you about how you eat a pork pie.

Over the next three months Pork Farms are giving everyone who buys their range of pork pies the chance to win £100 per day, or a grand prize of £2500. For a chance to win entrants simply visit Your Pie, Your Way!  and say how they eat their pork pies. On their own? On the go? With Pickle or Mushy Peas? There are so many ways to eat them and they want to hear them all. My favourite way is with a spoonful of pickle, preferably Picalilli, but Branston Pickle also works well. Red Rose Daddy loves Pork Pies and likes them as they come, and eats them in about two bites!

Pork Farms have been conducting some research which has revealed some interesting figures:

  • 3 quarters of Brits say their perfect picnic company would be their partner.
  • Over half of Brits say the perfect picnic wouldn't be complete without pork pie
  • The most popular picnic spot is by a river (27%) followed by the beach (23%) and the park (18%) whilst 7 per cent prefer their own back garden
  • The most popular picnic spot is by a river (27%) followed by the beach (23%) and the park (18%) whilst 7 per cent prefer their own back garden
  • One in ten would serve a pork pie if they were cooking a romantic meal for their partner
  • Nearly one in ten people would order pork pie if it was on a restaurant menu
  • 57 per cent of Brits would happily serve pork pies at a dinner party, whilst only a third would serve scallops and just 17 per cent caviar
The Top Ten accompaniments were as follows:

1 - On its own - 20%
2 - Pickle - 13%
3 - Mustard - 11%
4 - Brown sauce - 8%
5 - Salad - 8%
6 - Chutney - 7% 
7 - Tomato sauce - 7%
8 - Cheese - 3%
9 - Salad Cream - 3%
10 - Baked beans, crisps, gravy, mushy peas - 2% each

If all this talk of Pork Pies has you feeling peckish then you can print off a £1 off voucher on the Pork Farms Facebook Page.

Pork Farms have kindly supplied me with a fantastic hamper of pork pies and their accompaniments to give away to one lucky winner (contents may vary from the photo), if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning please complete the Rafflecopter widget below.

Pork Farms Hamper Prize
I have a range of giveaways in progress or about to start so make sure that you check out my giveaways page to make sure you have entered for everything you would like to win.

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A Parcel of Fun

16:20 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We receive a lot of parcels in our house, whether products to review or items we have ordered, rarely a day goes by without a knock at the door from a postman or delivery driver. I don't often think about the cost of the parcel reaching my door until I order something and realise I will have to pay a far too big amount to get it to me.

I try to run lots of giveaways for my lovely readers, usually the winners names are passed on to the company providing the prize but, occasionally,I have to send it out myself. Last Christmas I gave away three LEGO games which I'd won and knew I would have to get them to my winners. I used the obvious method and trotted off to the Post Office, in the cold rain, with the three parcels and was astonished to have to part with nearly sixteen pounds for the pleasure of dispatching them. That experience left me quite glad I don't have to do that very often!

We're in the process of having a huge sort out of all the clutter in our house and I know that I will need to list some of the items on that well known internet auction site. Unfortunately the rules on postage and packaging are so strict now that it can sometimes be difficult to ensure that you can receive the amount it will actually require to post an item when you list it. I've been hunting around for alternatives and think I might try Rapid Parcel next time. Their rates seem really good and they will even come and collect the parcels from my home which means I can avoid standing in a queue with two small children and meaning that I can use the payment I received for this post to buy some lovely new storage to contain the clutter that I want to keep.

Now, do you think they would collect Little Miss?

Baby Girl playing cardboard box

A Four Star Ladies Lunch at Wentbridge House

23:08 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last week I headed off to attend a Ladies' Lunch at Wentbridge House, a four star hotel set in beautiful grounds, just outside Pontefract in West Yorkshire. Wentbridge House is a beautiful building, with the main house dating back to 1700. It is privately owned and a popular venue for conferences, weekends away and weddings.

The Ladies Lunch forms part of Wentbridge House's programme of regular events and the hotel tries to ensure that each one has a different speaker. The lunch we attended had a lady from the interiors specialists Farrrow & Ball talking us through colour matching in home design. Following a Champagne reception we spent a pleasant hour having colour families and how to accent or hide features using colour explained to us. I came away buzzing with ideas for a few new projects in my own home and a little in love with some of their beautiful wallpapers.

After this we were treated to a three course lunch:
Crayfish and Prawn Cocktail with Bloody Mary Mayonnaise
Free-range Chicken Breast with Asparagus, Baby Summer Vegetables and Minted New Potatoes
Warm Bakewell Tart with Black Cherry Ice Cream
Taylors of Harrogate Coffee with Petit Fours

Wentbridge House Ladies Lunch meal

The food was very good. My favourite course was the starter as I'm a huge fan of prawns and crayfish and I really loved the Bloody Mary mayonnaise. The main course and dessert were lovely with the black cherry ice cream providing another highlight. Wentbridge House tries to source as much of their produce locally and their catering and their restaurant food is cooked by the same team to assure high quality across the board.

Following the meal we were invited on a tour of the hotel, this allowed us to take a peek at all the different styles of rooms available. I was intrigued to learn that no two bedrooms are the same in the hotel. This gives each a unique feel which leads to guests asking to book certain rooms when they return to the hotel for additional stays. The soft furnishings, decor and pictures are really high quality and all the design is commissioned in house which means that the staff get a say in how the rooms look. 

Wentbridge House Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Wentbridge House doesn't have spa facilities at the moment but they are keen to add them and have recently  become the first hotel in the country to offer Elemis products without having a spa using them.

Back downstairs we were shown through the restaurant and brasserie which offer quite different dining experiences, the restaurant is more formal with a twenties feel to the decor, while the brasserie is cool and modern with some fantastic brightly coloured deer busts. 

Wentbridge House Brasserie and Restaurant

The grounds of the hotel are truly beautiful with manicured lawns, some majestic trees and interesting features including a new folly which has recently been licensed to offer outdoor weddings, one of the few locations in Yorkshire to do so. The hotel's wedding package looks amazing with only one wedding hosted at a time to ensure a bride will never meet another bride on her special day.

Wentbridge House Grounds

Wentbridge House had lots of little touches which really showed the management and staff's attention to detail. They promote Yorkshire throughout with the use of art, literature and even mini bar contents being sourced as locally as possible. They also hold a huge Yorkshire Day event every year which 3000 people attended last time where they showcase the best that Yorkshire has to offer, this is a real family fun day and everyone is welcome.

We finished our day at Wentbridge House by relaxing with a drink on the lawn. I thoroughly enjoyed my day there and would love to return for a weekend away with my partner, perhaps when the children get a little bigger! 

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Ladies Lunch as the guest of Wentbridge House, all thoughts and opinions are my own..

MumKind Healthy Mum Products - A Review

15:08 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Little Miss and I attended the Baby Show last month and had a lovely day out meeting up with some fantastic brands and bloggers. I combined the two of these when I met the Mumkind team. Mumkind is a new pregnancy nutrition products which offers a range of products which aim to support mums from trying to conceive, through pregnancy and into motherhood.

Mumkind logo

When I was pregnant with Little Miss I really suffered with my Vitamin B12 levels. They always hovered just above the point at which intervention was required and this, coupled with pregnancy anaemia made life quite tough. I was permanently wiped out! My post-natal checks revealed that my levels had increased but were still on the lower end of recommended levels. My doctor doesn't think it is anything to be concerned about but I do go through phases of fatigue (more so than you would expect from having two young children) and I often wonder whether my B vitamin levels are a factor.

Mumkind were offering a taste test on their Bump to Baby Nutrition Bars at the Baby Show and, when we got chatting, I happened to mention my B12 levels. They recommended their 'Water Our Way' which is a supplement that you add to water. With a great berry taste it helps to keep you hydrated by giving water flavour and provides a much needed blend of B vitamins.

Mumkind water our way

I've been trying Water Our Way for the last few weeks and I've really enjoyed it. A squeeze into a glass of water makes for a refreshing drink and I enjoyed the berry taste. The bottles are really tiny but provide enough Water Our Way for ten drinks so they last well too. I've been able to pop one of the bottles into my changing bag so I can add it to a drink if I'm out and about. I have been feeling on a really even keel for the last couple of weeks and have had much more enthusiasm generally. I'm not sure if this is the effect of Water Our Way but it seems like it has been a contributing factor. The fact that it is so easy to administer - no swallowing capsules the size of a walnut - means that it is has been great to incorporate into my routine. I really wish I'd found this in the early days of breastfeeding when keeping hydrated is so essential, it would have been great for those endless glasses of water. I'm still breastfeeding, of course, and I have been trying to have a glass of water with Water Our Way when I sit down to nurse.

Mumkind Bump to Baby Nutrition Cereal bars

The Bump to Baby Nutrition Bars we also popped into my sample pack. These are available in two flavours - Wild Berry and Yoghurt and Chocolate. Each bar offers 25% of your RDA of essential nutrients with only half the calories of a typical chocolate bar. When I tested them at the Baby Show I preferred the Wild Berry and Yoghurt bars and I've enjoyed these since. They have the texture and consistency of cereal bars and a similar flavour. They are great when I feel the need for a snack and that mid-afternoon lull is when I have reached for them.

I really wish I'd found the Mumkind range when I was pregnant, especially when my low B levels were diagnosed. I really wanted to try to help them but didn't get any constructive advice on how to do so. These products would have been perfect.

Mumkind products are available to buy online at DialChemist.

Disclaimer: I received these products for review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Shoulder to Shoulder with Crazy With Twins #S2SD

00:01 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

Many of you may have heard or seen about the beautiful Emma from Crazy With Twins and her battle against cancer. She was facing the possibility of not being able to hug her beautiful girls for weeks due to the aggressive radiation she needed to fight her cancer. Thanks largely to her tenacity and strength she managed to flush the radiation from her body in just seven days and was able to go home and kiss her three babies.

Cancer seems to be everywhere at the moment, I've heard so many tales of different types affecting the loved ones of friends and family. As a result, on July 7th I will be taking part in my local Race for Life with my Mother in Law, Sister in Law and Niece. I'm no runner so I plan to carry Little Miss so all the 'women' on that side of the family will be in our team. I hope this will show a tangible 'shoulder to shoulder' support with those living with this dreadful disease.. If you'd like to sponsor us you can do so by clicking the link top right. I know that the lovely Emma is also taking part in Race for Life and, actually, she's far more inspirational than me so you may be better off clicking through to her blog and sponsoring her instead.

I've met Emma twice now and enjoyed every minute, her smile really lights up a room! I'm looking forward to our next meeting in July at our next Tefal Innovation Panel get together when we'll be able to share Race for Life war stories. I'm hoping Emma is smiling lots today and , if you aren't Emma, here's a photo of my Little Miss to help you with that. Emma has met my gorgeous girl - she's shouting in this photo, she was much quieter when they saw each other!

Smiling Shouting Baby Girl

In all seriousness, please, please, please get any lumps or bumps looked at. I've had two moles removed over the past twelve years. Both were worrying looking and had changed in appearance. I now have two scars where they once were. Thankfully neither was any cause for further concern but, as I'm really fair skinned I know that I need to keep an eye on these things. It is scary but timing is crucial. Do it as soon as you spot it, book that appointment.

Introducing the Nipper Clipper from Stylfile - Review and Giveaway

14:01 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

When we attended The Baby Show last month we were invited to a secret session demonstrating a brand new product which could just about revolutionise baby nail care! The product is the Nipper Clipper from Stylfile. Inventor Tom Pellereau, who was crowned Lord Sugar's Apprentice in 2011, has brought a new range of nail care for adults to the market with his company Stylfile but this is his first product for babies.

We've all been there when we're trying to cut the nails on our children's fingers and toes. Wriggly babies, scissors or clippers and accuracy are never a good match! I tend to resort to biting Little Miss' nails and cutting Bud's when he is asleep after I managed to draw blood on one of his poor little toes last year! The Nipper Clipper has combined a range of features which aim to make cutting nails a painless task for parent and child in future.

Nipper Clipper Stylfile baby nail clippers and file

Designed specifically to cut the nails of under-4s, the Nipper Clipper has a number of features which make it easy to use. Firstly, there is a small window above the blade on the clipper which allows the nail cutter to see the child's fingernail so they know exactly where to cut. Secondly, the clippers have overlapping blades which slice through the nail rather than clipping it, there is no awkward ping as the nail flies off, it cuts gently. The nail file which accompanies the clippers is a tiny version of the adult Stylfile which allows you to simply file away any rough nails.

In addition to the features of the clipper an app has been developed which aims to distract the child while the Nipper Clipper is in use. You simply put it up on your tablet and Timmy Tickle grabs their attention. There are three levels to the app, depending on the age of the child. When I attended the demonstration I saw this in action with the beautiful boys belonging to Mrs Shilts and My Mummy's World and I was really surprised at how well it worked to distract them. The app is currently available in the App Store for free download and there are plans to bring it to the Google Play store soon.

We've been using the Nipper Clipper that we received at the show for the past month now and I'm so pleased at how well it works on both of my children. I no longer have to think about cutting their nails, we can just cuddle up and do it really easily. Bud, who I thought would still resist, doesn't now he knows it won't take long and there is no scary 'clip' sound.

It turns out that it's really difficult  to take a good photo of a child having their nails cut so I'm going to show you this video instead.

The Nipper Clipper is available to buy from Sainsbury's stores and online at Amazon.co.uk  

I'm delighted to be able to offer you the chance to win a Nipper Clipper for your own family. There are three prizes available! To enter please complete the Rafflecopter widget below.

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Disclaimer: I received the Nipper Clipper in exchange for an open and honest review.

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Monday 10/6/2013 - Sunday 16/6/2013 Days 222-228 of Project 365

10:08 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Apologies for my lateness with this post. We've had such a busy week, no surprise that Bud and I succumbed to a cold yesterday really! 

Monday #222 'Riding' - This was one of those moments that really surprises you. We went to my Mum and Dad's for tea and had a barbecue in the garden as it was a lovely evening. My Brother decided to pop Little Miss on this ride-on toy to see what she made of it. I was sure she wouldn't be able to balance on it but she managed perfectly well. She couldn't move the toy but was quite happy sitting on it and holding on to the steering wheel.. My mum bought this amazing sun hat for her, I'm looking forward to her wearing it lots in the sunshine.

Tuesday #223 'Back to Back' - A quiet day for us today and my two made me smile when I saw them like this in bed this morning. I had a fun evening out at the Red Hot World Buffet in Manchester with some other lovely local bloggers and will be telling you all about it soon.

Wednesday #224 'New Toy' - We love Haba toys and this ball is a big favourite with Little Miss at the moment. I've actually been reviewing it for my friend Laura at Tired Mummy of Two. We had a quiet day after toddlers in the morning.

Thursday #225 'Tea'- An exciting day for me as I attended the Cosatto Autumn/Winter Launch in the afternnon. We were treated to a vintage tea party and a sneaky peek at their new prams, car seats and furniture. It was a lovely opportunity to catch up with some local bloggers and the lovely team at Cosatto too. 

Friday #226 'Delivery' - A few weeks ago I found out that my Thirty Years of Special K post won a runners up prize in the Britmums competition! I was really thrilled to win a prize for my writing and it arrived today - a six month supply of Special K! Thirty Two boxes! As this is more than we could eat in a year I have been passing it on to family and I'm also going to donate some boxes to the Food Bank which operates out of our local church where we go to Toddlers.

Saturday #227 'Ready for Snow' - We had a really busy day today and visited the Northern Home Show at Event City in the morning, then headed over to the Chill Factore for a bloggers event. We played in the snow with Bud and then were treated to some yummy pizza, it was lots of fun. I wasn't sure what Bud would make of the snow but he absolutely loved it. I took this after we got him ready to go.

Sunday #228 'Cinema' - Another busy day and we headed off to the Printworks in Manchester to see Despicable Me 2 on a special preview from Mumsnet. This was Bud's first ever full length cinema outing and I think he did quite well. He got a bit restless and wouldn't keep his glasses on but he needs to get accustomed to going to the cinema, like anywhere else, so I'm pleased with how he behaved. Sadly I felt worse and worse as the day progressed and ended up going to bed in the afternoon. I'm hoping these colds won't last too long! 

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Shelby's Snack Shack Game - A Review

00:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud is a huge fan of board games and we are steadily building up a collection so when Learning Resources sent us Shelby's Snack Shack game we were delighted to receive it and he insisted on playing straight away.

Shelby's Snack Shack is a game for 2-4 players and is intended for children aged between four and eight. This is slightly older than Bud, as he is only just three, but I was sure that he would deal well with the game as I knew the focus of the game is counting and his number skills are developing quickly.

Shelby's Snack Shack Game Learning Resources

The first thing to note is the unusual shape of the box, this,added to the artwork and the high quality board used means that Shelby's Snack Shack has really attractive looking packaging which would make a great gift for any child.

The great design carries on into the inside of the box. When you open it up you are greeted by the base of the box, which provides the playing area, four stripey bowls, two spinners, a bag containing forty plastic bones and, my favourite of all - Shelby herself, a big plastic dog who's front paws act as tweezers to pick up the bones.

Shelby's Snack Shack Game - Box Contents and Shelby Close Up

The bones are spread out in the base of the box and each player chooses a coloured bowl. The youngest player spins the red spinner first to reveal whether they get to collect bones, steal bones from their opponents, give bones back on to the beach or miss a turn. The blue spinner then tells you how many bones to collect, steal or put back.The instructions really are very straightforward and the winner is crowned when all of the bones have been collected, the champion is the player who has collected the most bones.

Shelby's Snack Shack Game - play

Bud loves this game, we have played it on a daily basis since it arrived and I'm so pleased that it requires him to count the number of bones as it is reinforcing numeracy all the time. Learning Resources say that Shelby's Snack Shack helps with the following learning areas:
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Fine motor skills
  • Number recognition
  • Early counting skills
  • Early addition and subtraction
I would definitely agree with this and I think the game really gives you the sense of learning while having fun. Bud did have trouble using Shelby as the tweezers to pick up the bones but was very determined to do it. He used two hands to hold the dog and was able to do it that way. I think this game would actually work from around two and a half onwards as, if a child can understand the concept of counting from one to five then they could be helped to play this game and it could help to improve their counting and reinforce number rules.

We've really loved Shelby's Snack Shack and it has fast become a game which we play all the time. I so enjoy playing games with Bud which allow small children to play in their own right without being 'helped' to win by an adult. He is very competitive at this game with only a few gentle reminders of the rules! From a mum's point of view the components and packaging of the game are high quality which makes me confident that it will last through the many more times we play it in the future.

Shelby's Snack Shack is available from Learning Resources and is currently priced at £19:99 which I think is good value for money for a game of this quality.

Learning Resources are running a giveaway to win your own copy of Shelby's Snack Shack. You can enter by filling out this survey. Closing date is Tuesday 9th July 2013.

We were sent this item for review purposes, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.