My best baby buys (so far)

So in November I entered the joyous and unsettling world of motherhood and with that comes certain consumer demands. I’m subject to a whole new world of advertising as everyone wants to grab my attention to flog their play gyms and superhero onesies. I’m very cautious when it comes to handing over my hard earned cash so we’ve been fairly selective and thrifty when it comes to the baby purchases.

Given that new babies require a lot of stuff, it is often a minefield trying to work out what to buy and what not to buy. Do you really need that scented nappy bin? Should you go for a bassinet, crib or basket? Well, we did have 9 months to make those choices and, by and large, we made the right decisions to suit out needs. I’d love to talk you through the purchases I’ve found essential and why.

All terrain pram: the Mothercare Orb
The travel system is a pretty large investment, unless you second hand it. This is one that we felt it is important to get right and we bought new because we wanted a car seat to go with the pram without too much fuss. The pram we wanted would be one that see us through our nature walks, which often involve trudging through mud, so we went for a pram with all terrain wheels. So far it has not let me down! I’ve walked it over bumpy, stoney ground and through muddy tracks and baby has slept through it all. J. has deliberately sought out molehills and other obstacles and the pram has merely scoffed at those moles!

Bottle prep: Tommee Tippee prep machine
I had planned to breastfeed but baby had other ideas. After 2 months of expressing and combi-feeding, my milk had gone and I made my peace with formula feeding. (Not looking for a discussion on this but you’re welcome to share your own experiences!) The Tomme Tippee prep machine has been an absolute life saver and probably the best investment I have ever made. I can make a bottle in less than 2 minutes at the right temperature. I just wish I had bought this straight away to get through the night feeds as we ended up spending a lot more money on the ready-made drinks. Within a month we had made our money back in the difference between ready-made and powder formula.D

DIY play nest
I stole the idea off a friend to make a play nest from my old maternity pillow and I got some fabric custom made. It is such a beautiful thing and I love the fabric so much. It’s just a nice space to sit in and play with baby whilst he can sit up resting on the pillow. Also, my cat loves it and has claimed it as her bed.

Second hand clothes
Why would you buy new?! I’ve so far managed to get 2 separate bundles for both 0-3 and 3-6 months from a friend and there are some really cute clothes you can get second hand. Some items Alfred has worn just a few times before he has outgrown them and every time this happens I feel a warm sense of smugness that I bought second hand. It’s better for the environment and certainly better for my pocket.

Homemade blankets and knitwear
I’m so lucky to have friends (and even their mothers!) knit me baby clothes and blankets. Here are a few from some very talented people. There’s nothing quite like receiving something homemade that someone has taken the time to create and I will cherish these forever.

 

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Winter Robins

Winter Robins

The robin is one of my favourite birds because they are so obliging and friendly. One of the easiest garden birds to photograph. And I’m not the only fan – the nation voted the robin its favourite bird.

Here are some of the photos I’ve managed to capture of robins this winter. Currently the robin in our garden regularly greets me as I come back from my daily walk and he sits there on the bush near the front door as I struggle to get the pram through. I’ve started offering a hand of seeds to him – with a little patience, I hope to have him feeding out of my hand.

Snowflake Earrings: a review of ethical fine jewellery from Ingle & Rhode

Snowflake Earrings: a review of ethical fine jewellery from Ingle & Rhode

Today I’m sharing with you my first collaboration of 2019 and it’s an exciting one! I’ve been asked to review a piece by the ethical fine jewellery brand Ingle & Rhode, and I’ll be taking a look at their beautiful Snowflake Earrings, which they have kindly gifted to me to try out.


Have you ever wondered where the diamonds and gemstones for your jewellery are sourced? David Rhode did when he tried to buy an engagement ring and no jeweller was able to enlighten him, so he launched his own ethical jewellery company with friend Tim Ingle in 2007. You can read more about their story here. Following the scandal of blood diamonds in the ’90s, which caused countless deaths and misery, it’s vitally important to any ethical consumer to know where and how to buy ethically sourced conflict-free diamonds, and Ingle & Rhode were one of the first jewellers to achieve this goal.

Snowflake Earrings

I was thrilled to received as a gift the snowflake earrings from Ingle & Rhode’s stunning silver collection. The earrings themselves are exquisitely delicate and beautiful; the snowflake is a classic design and the silver is robust without weighing the ear down. I love that the silver of the snowflake stems is not overly shiny as it makes the diamond in the centre stand out more.

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The shape captures the delicate beauty of snowflakes perfectly and I’ve loved wearing them in the snowy weather we’ve had recently. The diamond in the centre of the snowflake gives these earrings a beautiful sparkle, as unique as snowflakes. They hang beautifully and draw the eye. The clasp is very secure, which is quite unusual in earrings, and they won’t slip out – which is great as I’m a fiddler and I’ve lost many an earring this way!

These gorgeous earrings can be paired with all sorts of things, especially during the colder months. They are stunning on their own but they can also be paired with this beautiful matching snowflake pendant. I’ve worn these earrings with thick, winter knitwear and also with dressy gear when going out; I’ve even worn them to the shops, and felt very decadent! They will make a wonderful gift, especially on Valentine’s Day.


Ethical jewellery

Like all good millennials, I’m worried about things; more specifically, the planet. But I’ve never really extended that anxiety to jewellery, though ethical consumerism goes far beyond a reuseable coffee cup. Precious metals and minerals are often sourced in war zones, and consequently people working in the mines are subject to horrific exploitation and abuse; often mines use child labour and fatal accidents are common, as this report by the Human Rights Watch into the trade in the Marange diamonds details.

All of Ingle & Rhode’s diamonds and gemstones can be traced back to the mine and are extracted from Canadian mines, which trade conflict-free diamonds. Ingle & Rhode also ensure that they use in their products gold and platinum from FairTrade or recycled sources. Now that my eyes have been opened to the ethics of jewellery manufacturing, I will certainly be a lot more choosy and inquisitive about where the raw materials have been sourced.

While you’ve heard of Fair Trade, you’ve probably not heard of Fairmining; essentially, this involves mining for precious metals and gems in conflict-free areas, without human exploitation and with a view to limiting environmental harm. The Fairmined label is an assurance that the materials used to create the jewellery have been mined under good working conditions and with fair pay. If you practice ethical consumerism, you can extend these standards to jewels as well, and it’s reassuring to know that all of Ingle & Rhode’s gold, silver, and minerals are sourced from mines that are accredited with the Fairmined label, which means those mines are responsible employers and their practices protect the environment and the miners.

How often do you buy anything and know where it came from? Admiring these earrings and knowing all the component parts that have been crafted together to make such a beautiful product have all been sustainably, fairly and ethically sourced means I can wear three gorgeous snowflake earrings with pride. For years I haven’t bought cheap jewellery because it doesn’t last and just gets dumped eventually; Ingle & Rhode’s beautiful snowflake earrings are a rare piece that will certainly stand the test of time. At £395 they are a a substantial investment but if you were to splash out on yourself or on a loved one you can rest assured that this piece would stand the test of time.


Ingle & Rhode Engagement & Wedding Rings

Ingle & Rhode are perhaps more well known for their wonderful range of eternity, engagement, and wedding rings, but they also offer a bespoke custom made service where you can design your own ring; therefore, if you have something specific in mind they can create it for you.

Again, all of these rings are created using recycled gold, silver and platinum, and ethically sourced diamonds and sapphires. The collections are beautiful, timeless classic creations, which I’m sure you’ll fall in love with as much as I have.

Ingle & Rhode create their jewellery using materials that have been ethically sourced in conflict-free mines. All gold, silver, diamonds, gemstones and minerals can be traced back to the mine, which carries the ‘Fairmined’ certification. Traceability is of huge importance in evaluating the ethical credentials of any brand, and clearly this company take this responsibility seriously and are dedicated to protecting workers and the environment throughout the supply chain. It’s also a huge boon to the modern consumer to know that their purchase is supporting fair mining across the globe and protecting the environment.


I was sent the snowflake earrings as a gift to give my honest review of the product and brand.

Back to blogging

Hello! It’s 2019 and I’ve had 3/4 months away from blogging due to the arrival of a certain baby.

He’s settling into – dare I say it? – the vague resemblance of a sleeping routine that includes a solid amount of unbroken sleep so finally I have a little energy again. And maybe even the odd evening to myself? So I thought it was time to return to blogging as I’ve kind of missed it.

What did I miss?

Here are a few of the photos I’ve been taking recently on daytime winter walks with the baby. I’ve also got a new lens (manual only – help!) so I’ll be trying that out soon and really challenging my photography skills (tips are welcome.)

Strumpshaw Fen, end of August

Strumpshaw Fen, end of August

After 2-3 months of blistering heat, August has been quite temperate and we’ve had a chance to cool off. I’ve also noticed a lot of autumn flowers and berries a bit earlier than normal as they have ripened too soon in the excessive heat.

So I get to do my autum berry photoshoots earlier than usual. :)

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We walked round RSPB Strumpshaw fen at the end of August and it was a windy, grey day so not many birds were out and about. There was a family of swans with their young cygnets and a flock of what I think were wild grey partridges, though they were very distant.

Those clouds!

Lush – Milky Bar Review

I’m loving Lush at the moment. I’m trying to rid myself of unnecessary plastic and this is a great way to do it. Do you remember the days when people just used a bar of soap instead of liquid soap in a plastic container?

I wrote a ‘first impressions’ style blog on my thoughts on my first shampoo bar from Lush, which you can read about here. Despite trying to resist the temptation to buy shed loads of soapy goodness in Lush, I did succumb and try their exclusive Milky Bar shower gel because it’s a cute concept.

As well as being cruelty free, this bar is also vegan, so thumbs up for that. It’s made from soya milk and has a Brazilian orange oil scent, and is marketed for hands and bodies so you can use it as a soap or a shower gel. It lasts an impressive amount of time and is so soft and gentle on the skin; it smells delicious, a bit like a sweet shop, but the scent is subtle and not at all over-powering.

My top 5 Amazon Ethical Buys

… And no that’s not an oxymoron. I know a lot of you will think Amazon’s ethical credentials are pretty low, what with all the monopolising practically every industry and controversies over the treatment of its workforce, but unfortunately Amazon is a fact of modern life and it would be difficult not to shop there. I’d love to know your thoughts on this – have you boycotted or do you avoid shopping from Amazon?

In the meantime, since I do use Amazon every now and again, it’s good to know what sort of ethical products you can buy there and of course there’s a lot as practically every company wants to sell through them. I’m looking mainly at the ethics of reducing plastic, reducing waste, and finding sustainable alternatives to lessen the environmental impact. I hope this guide is helpful!

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Ecoegg Laundry Egg: the ethical way to wash your clothes

So this is a pretty cool find. You can use it in your wash for all types of fabric and it completely replaces the need for washing powder. It uses natural cleaning pellets which don’t contain the harsh chemicals you find in normal detergents. Better still, it lasts 720 washes which is the equivalent of 3 years’ washing for the average family of four!

Bamboo Toothbrushes: reduce plastic with these bamboo toothbrushes

Plastic toothbrushes are one of the worst marine pollutants and are always being found washed up on beaches or in smaller pieces in the stomachs of marine life. There is an easy solution – replace your normal toothbrush with a bamboo one, which is 100% biodegradeable! This particular set contains 4 so one for each of the average family, and they are all different colours so you don’t confuse your toothbrush with anyone else’s. The bristles are BPA free and the packaging is made from biodegradeable recycled materials.

KeepCup: get your morning coffee in this re-useable cup

I’ve had my KeepCup for about 5 years now and it’s still going strong. Initially I used to get annoyed looks for baristas when I presented it and gave my coffee order but now they’re a bit more used to it. I take it all over with me and it fits in my handbags after use (do carry tissues so you can dry it out if you don’t have anywhere to wash it.) The UK gets through 7 million coffee cups per day and we throw away around 2.5 billion per year but less than 1% are actually recycled. The plastic polythylene used to make paper coffee cups waterproof breaks down into micro plastics, which end up in the stomachs of marine life. And let’s not forget that disposable cups are made from virgin paper pulp so trees are felled to produce a piece of pointless plastic-paper that is used to drink a single latte. If you do one thing to reduce your environmental impact, let it be buying and using a re-useable coffee cup!

Cheeky Panda Bamboo Toilet Roll: toilet roll made from sustainable material

One thing we can forget about when trying to be more ethical consumers is toilet roll; paper made to be wasted. The Cheeky Panda style of toilet roll uses 100% bamboo, which is natural, biodegrdeable and sustainable. I’ve noticed no difference in quality in using bamboo bog roll. Cheeky Panda also do bamboo tissues. Why is bamboo more sustainable? It grows faster than trees, produces more oxygen and absorbs more carbon. It regrows when cut and requires no fertilisers. (Psst: also, it’s vegan as there’s no gelatin-glue for the cardboard inner tube.)

Pilot B2P – pens made from plastic bottles: don’t just recycle your plastic bottles, buy everyday items made from those recycled bottles!

The UK consumes around 13 billion plastic bottles per year and more than 3 billion are not recycled. Obviously I would encourage you to invest in your own drinks bottle, which are all quite cheap, but on top of that it’s good to buy things made from recycled plastic as it puts to good use the plastic waste we’re still disposing of. Greenpeace suggest 9 ways to reduce you household plastic use. 

 

What are your top ethical buys?

 

 

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