environment · food · food storage · lifestyle

Easy Kitchen Eco Swaps

I’ve written before about how we’ve been working to reduce plastic waste around the house through swapping the everyday products we buy for alternatives that are plastic-free and more eco-friendly – eco swaps, if you will! I thought it was time for another update, this time focusing on easy kitchen eco swaps. A lot of plastic waste that we generate comes from the kitchen, so it seems like a logical place to look for opportunities to make life more sustainable…

Easy Kitchen Eco Swaps

Milk Delivery

One of the best swaps we’ve made recently is moving towards a traditional milk delivery by a real, live milkman! When I was a kid we used to have a milkman, but I’ve not had one for years – then, in the autumn we had a knock on the door from a new local milk delivery service, and I thought we’d give it a go. It’s super convenient, and much more eco-friendly – the switch to reusable glass bottles means it completely does away with the need for plastic bottles. Plus, our milk service also has the option to deliver other local produce like eggs, jam and more.

Plastic saving: We used to get through about 6 – 8 pints of milk a week, usually in 2 – 3 bottles. I’d estimate that by switching to a milk delivery, we’ve saved 130 plastic bottles per year – or 2,600 bottles over 20 years… wow!

Refill Shop

When a refill shop opened up in our town, I was super excited, but it was kind of a new concept to me! What is a refill shop? Well, it pretty much does what it says on the tin: it’s a shop where you bring your own containers to buy products which are free of packaging. Every store is different, but often they offer dry foods such as rice and pasta, and liquids such as cooking oils, cleaning products and more. The idea is to make shopping more sustainable by cutting down on plastic packaging, and often by offering fresh local produce as well, to reduce food miles. In general they’re a great option for making your shop more eco-friendly (although I recommend checking out this article by Wired where they look at some of the potential pitfalls of refill shops, as well).

We’ve tried to move to using the refill shop as much as possible for the products that are available, and that has meant that we’ve completely cut out plastic packaging for some products that we use every week – particularly rice and granola. We now also get to mix the perfect granola every morning: combining plain granola and a sprinkling of dried tropical mix, which solves the problem that you get with bags of granola where all the good stuff ends up at the top of the bag, and the last few bowlfuls are rubbish.

Plastic saving: I’ll write about plastic savings on refill toiletries in another article, so focusing just on the rice and granola that we buy regularly, I would estimate that we save a minimum of 68 items of plastic packaging a year – that’s 1,360 items over 20 years.

Eco Friendly Dish Sponges & Scourers

Up to now, we have always used washing up sponges and dish brushes from the supermarket, but these are all plastic, so I started looking into sustainable alternatives. I’ve not bought a new dish brush yet, as our old one still has plenty of use in it, but we’ve swapped to using eco sponges and scourers. They’re great, and there’s plenty of different options out there, made from sustainable materials like plant cellulose, hemp, coconut fibres and more. The only thing to be aware of is that normal plastic-based dish sponges often include ingredients to kill bacteria, whereas sustainable scourers won’t be, so it’s important to keep them dry.

For hard-to-shift, dried-on food, I also found a coconut husk dish scraper which is great for cleaning pots and pans.

Plastic saving: We probably would get through around 6 sponges a year, so that’s 120 plastic sponges saved over 20 years.

Sustainable Washing Up Liquid

Linked to the above, I realised we were getting through a lot of washing up liquid bottles. I’ve tried a solid washing up bar – lemongrass dish soap by LoofCo – but while I loved the smell, and found it cut through grease surprisingly well, I still found liquid washing up soap easier to work with. So currently we’re using our local refill store to top up on washing up liquid, and reusing an old Fairy Liquid bottle to store it.

Plastic saving: I’d guess we save on about four bottles of washing up liquid per year, so that’s 80 bottles over 20 years.

More Eco Friendly Ideas

If you have any ideas for further kitchen eco swaps that I haven’t mentioned, let me know in the comments! I’m always interested to hear about new green products and sustainable alternatives.

And if you’ve enjoyed this article, why not check out my previous blog post on eco swaps to reduce plastic waste or this post on keeping the weaning process more eco-friendly?

baking · celebrations · food · recipes · Seasonal

Christmas Round-Up: Fun Ideas For Christmas 2020

It’s that happy season where everyone is posting about Christmas, Christmas, Christmas… In my house, the Christmas season doesn’t start properly until the 7th December, as my husband’s birthday is the 6th December and clearly takes precedence over the other festive season! But that doesn’t mean the preparations haven’t started, so I thought I’d share my Christmas round-up post, including ideas for festive baking, food and drink, gift ideas and family activities…

Christmas Round Up: Fun Ideas For Christmas 2020

Festive Food & Drink

Christmas is, of course, the season of food – and for those of us who love baking, it’s an opportunity to get into the kitchen and get creative! I’m planning on trying out this festive white chocolate rocky road traybake (complete with candy canes!) and this sticky gingerbread recipe. I’m not sure if I’ll get the time but I’m hoping to manage this impressive looking chocolate twist Christmas tree! Of course, in our house gluten free baking is pretty important, so I was also excited to find this recipe for gluten free mince pies. Let’s be honest… It’s not Christmas without mince pies!

Baking with kids at Christmas

If you have young children, the festive season is a lovely opportunity to get them involved in baking (and eating, of course!). These easy no bake sweet treats are just the right kind of safe and fun recipes to make with your kids at Christmas. Slightly older will love this Mars Bar fudge recipe for slow cookers, which is also a lovely, simple recipe that they can get involved in creating.

Christmas drinks and cocktails

Cranberries are one of those ingredients that I really associate with Christmas, but other than cranberry sauce with your Christmas dinner, it’s hard to come up with much to do with them… I’m planning on using cranberry juice and orange juice to make some tasty morning mocktails over the festive season – just what you want to wake up to!

On the alcoholic side of things, earlier this year I made some delicious hawthorn gin which should be ready for Christmas – I can’t wait to enjoy it in some prosecco in a festive hawthorn fizz. You can find my recipe for hawthorn gin here. I’ve also tried making some Christmas pudding vodka – so I’m pretty excited to see how that turns out!

Christmas Gift Guides

Buying presents can be so tricky, and especially this year when lockdown and the Covid tiers system means it’s not easy to get out to the shops and just browse.

If you’re buying gifts for kids, there are some great ideas in this Christmas gift guide for children, or why not consider a magazine subscription so they get a new gift every month?

In our house, we’re very much aware that food intolerances and dietary requirements can make Christmas gifting challenging – so I love this guide to buying gifts for vegans!

Moving away from food and drink gifts, this guide has some lovely homeware gift ideas, to or this weird and wonderful gift guide gives some quirky and different ideas for gifts your loved ones won’t be expecting. If you’re looking for super-specific gifts, I even found this gift guide for fans of the TV show Friends (I actually re-watched the entirety of Friends over maternity leave so it’s kind of perfect…)

If you’re buying gifts for a tea lover in your life, I have a guide coming soon on the blog – keep your eyes peeled!

Fun Christmas Activities

Christmas is definitely time for relaxing in front of the television… But it’s nice to use your time off over Christmas to do some other fun activities – and as we’re all going to be staying indoors this Christmas, I’m trying to plan some fun activities in advance.

Christmas Crafts & More

I’ve always vaguely wanted to try making my own decorative Christmas wreath for our house, so I was excited to find this guide to making your own natural foliage wreath – hoping to get the chance to give it a go this year!

I’m also planning to use the time to do some home improvements; we’ve got some old furniture that we’re hoping to paint and upcycle, and we want to put up a mural in Little Man’s room.

Your Ideas For Christmas

What will you be getting up to for Christmas this year? Let me know your ideas for Christmas and the festive season!

craft · days out · Just for fun · lifestyle · Seasonal

Window Wanderland: Making An Illuminated Window Display

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve used pretty much all my spare time when Little Man was sleeping or doing his settling-in sessions at nursery to work on creating an illuminated window display for Window Wanderland 2020. I themed the display around the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbour Totoro, because a) it’s one of my favourites, b) I assumed there would be lots of families out and about with kids, and c) honestly the characters have nice simple designs that should be easy to recreate in a papercut.

I was really happy with the final result!

The front view

In this blog post, I’ll talk about how I created my window display, and also share some photos of some of my favourite illuminated window displays from my local Window Wanderland event this year. Hopefully others will find it useful for information, ideas and inspiration if you’re planning on creating a illuminated window displays yourself. But first things first…

What Is Window Wanderland?

Window Wanderland is a scheme encouraging communities to set up “fun, local, all-people-friendly, window-display-based walking trails then share them with the world.”¬†Illuminated window displays are set up by individuals or families in their homes over a couple of days, and then you can look up a map of your local area showing you where to find displays. It’s a really fun scheme, and obviously it’s especially great this year with the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, because it’s all outdoors and compliant with Covid-19 restrictions.

How Do You Make Illuminated Window Displays?

The flippant answer is: however you want to! As I walked around the illuminated window displays in my local area, I would say that it looked like most people (like me!) did displays using coloured crepe paper and black card. I did spot what looked like a display that had been painted onto tracing paper (?) so that it illuminated beautifully, which I thought was a great effect and allowed for a lot of detail:

How Did I Create My Window Wanderland Display?

By taking over the dining room table for about two weeks! Apologies to my very patient husband. I’ll outline exactly how I approached it and some of my top tips for how to make an illuminated window display with paper and card…

Step 1: Measure your windows

We have quite a complicated downstairs front window set-up, with 10 panels of varying shapes and sizes, so the first thing was to measure them up. I did a really bad job of this and actually got the measurements for six of the panels wrong, which I only discovered on the night when I went to put my display up in the window… Oops. They were only about 1cm out, but still! I recommend measuring everything twice…

Step 2: Buy your supplies

For my display, I bought a pack of 10 sheets of A2 black card, and a mixed pack of 20 sheets of coloured crepe paper (I already had a lot of the dark blue crepe paper that I used for the background colour). I didn’t use tracing paper as a backing, but lots of people do, especially if you’re going for a more collage-style effect.

My dining room table is in there somewhere…

I already had a craft scalpel in the house, which was essential for the finer lines, and a cutting mat. I also already had Pritt Stick glue in the house, but I ran out on the last day and had to run to the shops to get more – so make sure you have enough glue, as if you have large windows you can end up using a LOT. I also used blu-tack to stick the panels to the windows.

Step 3: Plan your design

I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted to do, but I first cut my panels of black card into the right sizes for all the window panels – in some cases I also had to stick extra bits of card together to get the right size and shape for my windows. Then I outlined a reasonably thick border around the outer edge of each panel, and then started designing.

I did this as an iterative process, working panel by panel and outlining a design in pencil – rather than designing every panel from the start, before beginning to cut and paste, and I’m glad I did, because the first panel I did was way too complicated and took forever! After that, I simplified my designs a little, and also learned what shapes were easy/difficult to cut etc. as I went. You can see my excessively complicated first panel here – the top one with all the leaves:

I definitely think that when coming up with your design, less is more! I saw some amazing illuminated window displays around town that were just done with two colours – black card and a white background (for instance, see the Halloween themed Window Wanderland display below!). I think the simpler panels of my design have more impact as well.

Spooky…

Step 4: Cutting and sticking

My method was to cut a design out of black card, using a craft scalpel, and then stick coloured crepe paper in the gaps. For a few features, such as the eyes, I then glued more bits of black card on top of the crepe. It was quite fiddly, but I definitely got faster as I went along.

Actually one of the trickiest things was just finding somewhere I could put the panels while the glue was drying!

From indoors, you can see the construction more

How To Illuminate Your Window Display

I simply used blu-tack to attach my pieces of card to our front room windows. We then put the lights on in the front room. To make the display brighter, I also placed a lamp on a table by the window. If you’re wondering how to make your Window Wanderland display brighter, using extra lamps or even a projector will help light up the windows perfectly.

Window Wanderland Ideas and Inspiration

Before I started making my Window Wanderland display, I really wanted to see other people’s displays, for inspiration! So I thought I’d share a few more illuminated window displays that I particularly liked from my local area. Perhaps they will give you ideas for your own window display. Personally, I think windows work best when they have a strong theme – I really liked some of the Halloween themed windows we saw, and those themed around literature or music. As we get closer to Christmas, I imagine that Christmas themed Window Wanderland displays could be really awesome as well. Anyway, here are a few photos of displays from my local event… and my thoughts on how to make something similar.

Koi carp and irises window:

This beautiful display looks like it was made in a similar way to my display: cutting the design out of black card, and backing it with crepe paper.

Abstract colours window:

This abstract design is so beautiful and I think something like this would be easily achievable if you’re not feeling confident about making your window display. Again, it looks like it’s made with black card backed with crepe paper.

Prehistoric ocean window:

This lovely prehistoric ocean display looks like it was made by glueing strips of crepe paper onto tracing paper, and then sticking black cut outs on top.

Your Experience of Window Wanderland Events

I hope this post has been helpful if you’re looking for some inspiration and ideas for a Window Wanderland illuminated display!

Are you taking part in Window Wanderland in your local area? I’d love to see your designs and ideas! Let me know in the comments or tag me on social media for a share.

how to make an illuminated window display for window wanderland pictures and inspiration the sickly mama blog art and crafts
baby · parenting · top tips

How To Save Baby’s Clothes After A Poo Explosion (And Get Them Good As New!)

When you become a parent, regrettably dealing with your offspring’s poo explosions is a part of the package. I’ve come across lots of mummies both in real life and online bemoaning the fact that their kids have had such a severe poonami that they’ve had to throw their favourite clothes straight in the bin. We’ve also found that since starting weaning, our baby seems to suffer poo explosions more frequently than before!

What a waste! The thing is, you can easily get those clothes looking good as new, and no-one will be any the wiser that they were once quite literally covered in crap. Some of Little Man’s nicest outfits have been coated in turds three or four times (when we started weaning, it had quite the volcanic effect on his digestive system for the first month or so). So for all the other mamas (and dadas) out there, I thought I’d share how I deal with cleaning clothes after a poo explosion. I’ve never come across a poo stain this couldn’t deal with (yet…)

How To Save Baby’s Clothes After A Poo Explosion

1. Initial de-pooping

As you’re getting baby out of the poopy clothes and nappy, use an extra wipe or two to wipe down the outfit and get as much poo off as possible.

2. Soak in cold water

Get the clothes in cold water for a soak as soon as possible. We have a bucket on hand for this purpose (for god’s sake don’t use the kitchen sink! Unless you want to give the whole family dysentery). You can soak for half an hour, but can also leave overnight if e.g. it’s not practical to put a wash on straightaway.

With your rubber gloves on, give the clothes a gentle scrub in the water, to get as much of the remaining poop off as possible.

3. Vanish pre-wash spray

Not an ad, I just love this product! Vanish pre-wash stain remover is great for these kinds of stains, but also for mucky bibs and muslins etc. as well. After removing the clothes from soaking, wring them out and generously spray the affected area of fabric on either side with Vanish spray. Leave the poopy clothes to soak in the spray for 5 – 10 minutes.

4. Normal wash cycle

Then in your washing machine just run a normal 40 degree wash and voila – your poopy clothes should be good as new. If the stain hasn’t completely gone in one wash, reapply the spray, leave for ten minutes and wash again… But you probably won’t have to!

Your poo explosion top tips!

Do you have any other tips for dealing with a baby’s unwanted poo explosion (okay, let’s be honest… they’re all unwanted!)? Let me know in the comments if you think there’s something I’ve missed!

how to save baby's clothes after a poo explosion laundry tips
food · recipes

Lazy Mama’s Quick Noodle Soup Recipe

I made this quick noodle soup for lunch the other day and thought I should share the recipe. It’s so great if you don’t have much time but you want something homemade, nourishing and pretty healthy! It’s vaguely Japanese-inspired, while being 100% inauthentic, and the ingredients are pretty flexible.

This is a generous single helping for one, and it takes about 5 minutes to cook (yes, it really is that quick!)

lazy mama's quick noodle soup recipe the sickly mama blog

Lazy Mama’s Quick Noodle Soup

Ingredients List

If you tend to eat stir fries and cook Asian food, you’ll probably have most of the ingredients in your store cupboard, like we do. However the whole point of this soup is that it’s quick and easy, so I’ve also given some substitutions you can use instead, if you don’t have the right ingredients.

You will need…

  • Sesame oil (you can use regular vegetable oil, but sesame oil tastes best)
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce (if you don’t have this, you can replace it with a dash of extra soy sauce and a spoon of honey)
  • Mirin or rice wine (optional – you can leave this out entirely or use sherry instead)
  • Miso soup made up from a packet or paste, OR bouillon powder OR in a pinch, a vegetable stock cube!
  • 2 spring onions (or a small handful of finely chopped white onion)
  • Vegetables of your choice! I love chestnut mushrooms in this – but pak choi, cabbage, spinach etc. all work great, as would pumpkin or squash. Or you can have it plain with just noodles and soup!
  • One pack of wok- ready noodles. I think udon noodles is best, but it depends what type of noodle you prefer!

How To Make Your Quick Noodle Soup

First, fry your spring onions and mushrooms in sesame oil, in a small saucepan.

Make up about 400ml of miso soup or vegetable stock. When the onions are soft and the mushrooms cooked, add the stock.

Add about a tablespoon of teriyaki sauce, the same of mirin, and a generous dash of soy sauce. Bring to a simmer.

Add the noodles and cook until done, as per the pack instructions – usually a couple of minutes.

And you’re done! It really is that easy. This is my go-to dish when Martin is out, as he’s usually head chef in our household except where baking is concerned.

More easy recipes

Looking for more easy to cook, quick recipes? Why not check out my recipes page! Or for more inspiration for easy vegetarian recipes, take a peek at this yummy tomato soup recipe or this couscous salad – or if you’re a pescatarian, perhaps even this honey soy salmon salad… Yum…

quick noodle soup recipe the sickly mama blog japanese chopsticks
baby · environment · food · parenting

Eco-friendly Weaning

So now Little Man is six months old, he’s started trying solid foods! Or very mushy food, really. I’m not sure why we talk about weaning onto solids when the foods in question are actually basically liquid anyway. When we started planning for weaning, I realised just how much plastic can be involved in the process, and I decided to try to reduce the amount of plastic we were using and the amount of plastic waste we generate as well. So I’ve thought about how to do that as far as possible, and I thought I’d blog a bit about it so far… My tips for eco-friendly weaning!

Eco-friendly Weaning

Bamboo Tableware

Obviously ceramic crockery is a bad idea for tiny people who like to throw their bowls on the floor, but although I had plastic plates and bowls when I was little, I wanted to avoid this if possible. Instead, I’ve found some lovely sustainable bamboo tableware including plates, cups and spoons. There are some very cute designs from Sass & Belle and lots of other options if you search online.

The flip side of bamboo tableware is that it’s not dishwasher or microwave safe and not as durable as plastic. Currently I’m fine handwashing Little Man’s plate/bowl after his meals, but as he eats more and when I’m no longer on maternity leave I guess that may become more of a drag! So far though, I’ve really loved them. And Little Man seems to find the spoons easy to hold and nice to chomp on!

bamboo tableware for making weaning more eco friendly the sickly mama blog sass and belle
Some of our new plates and spoons

High Chair

Again when picking a high chair I really wanted a wooden chair rather than a plastic one. I was expecting wooden chairs to be much more expensive than their plastic equivalents, but actually there was a good range available at a similar price to the plastic chairs. I also think the wooden chairs look nicer! As Little Man hasn’t really spent much time in his new chair yet, I won’t recommend the brand we’ve chosen, but I might talk about it in a follow up post! It’s not completely 100% plastic free as there is plastic in the safety harness, but I think that’s probably difficult to avoid altogether and at least it’s a much lower plastic content than most high chairs.

Eco Friendly Baby Food

In general, our aim is to make our own baby food and avoid pre-packaged stuff as far as possible. So far that’s been fairly easy, I can quite quickly make up some simple mashed potato or other veg, and pop leftovers in the fridge or freezer. However, I know that when we travel or go out and about, it will be a bit more challenging, so I’m doing some research on eco-friendly pre-packaged baby foods. Any tips would be much appreciated! I’m also planning to buy some reusable baby food pouches so that it’s easier to take homemade food out and about.

Bibs and More

Obviously one of the big challenges with weaning is just the mess! At the moment, we’re using cloth bibs and just sticking them in the washing machine, but I do feel like this is using up a lot of water perhaps unnecessarily. The alternative is something like a silicone bib which can just be wiped clean and reused time and again. Which option works out as more eco-friendly? At the moment, I’m coming down on the side of using the cloth bibs.

Your Tips For Eco-Friendly Weaning:

How have you made the weaning process more eco-friendly? I’d love to hear about what you’re doing. Let me know in the comments!

More ideas for an eco-friendly home:

I also wanted to share some more great articles for eco friendly living that I’ve enjoyed recently. I like these ideas for bathroom eco swaps and this post on sustainable cleaning products has got me thinking about other ways we can reduce waste and increase our sustainability. As well as reducing waste, I try to support small businesses, so I also really enjoyed this guide to eco-friendly products available on Etsy, the online handmade marketplace – not somewhere I’d previously thought to look for sustainable products.

eco-friendly weaning reducing plastic waste during weaning the sickly mama blog
baby · lifestyle · parenting · pop culture · sport

Surviving Lockdown With A Baby Through SPORTS SPORTS SPORTS

When I found out I was pregnant and worked out when my maternity leave would be, I was super excited. And not just about the baby. While on maternity leave there would be an Olympics and the Euros, two major sporting events that I normally only get to watch bits of, and I would get to watch it all – or, you know, have it on in the background while wrangling a small baby.

And then – coronavirus! Which has conspired to ruin literally every plan I had for my maternity leave, including the more minor plans regarding televisual entertainment (although in fairness, BT also had a good stab at ruining those plans before coronavirus even really arrived on these shores).

Coupled with this, over the last six to eight weeks or so, Little Man has gone from a baby who often fusses with a bad tummy, to a Mega Fuss Machine 3.0, who is just so grumpy and fussy that it’s basically impossible to follow anything happening on TV when he’s in the room. Even when he’s in a good mood he now just shrieks. Apparently, he enjoys shrieking. So, given that he’s also not sleeping well, we are really struggling to watch anything other than nature documentaries. And, honestly, if you can’t actually hear the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough, is it even worth it?

So – how to survive lockdown with a baby?

Well, recently the Bundesliga returned! Actual real-life football, the perfect entertainment for looking after a grumpy baby, where you don’t need to hear the commentary to follow the plot. Except, obviously, we couldn’t watch it because the days of football betting available on terrestrial TV are long since gone.

So, we’ve cracked and got a subscription to BT Sport, and I’m now rapidly becoming aquatinted with the various teams and players of the Bundesliga. Thank God we have something we can watch (but not hear) while endlessly bouncing the wee man on one knee. It’s the perfect solution for lockdown with a baby.

You can read more about my experiences in lockdown with a baby here!

surviving lockdown with a baby through sports sports sports - the sickly mama blog

baby · parenting

Baby Clothes Nonsense

I have long complained to my husband about the fact that ladies’ clothes so rarely have pockets, or – even more annoyingly – have fake pockets with zips or buttons that make you think there is practical storage available, but in fact has no actual pocket space.

So imagine my outrage recently when Little Man graduated from Newborn size clothes into 0 – 3 Months size (he’s still a dinky little chap!) and I realised that several of his new outfits included pockets. Not fake just-for-fashionable-purposes pockets. ACTUAL POCKETS. The people who design clothes, and apparently refuse to believe that adult females have any possessions they might want to store on their person, have simultaneously decided that my baby son – who is too young to understand the concept of ownership – might be in need of functioning pockets. What is wrong with these people?!

So of course this got me thinking about some other ludicrous decision-making that has gone into the baby clothes we own, and which I now screen all clothes for prior to purchasing…

Baby Clothes Nonsense

Elasticated ankles

On the face of it, this is a smart idea. We were gifted a really cute babygrow which had elasticated ankles, to ensure that baby’s feet stay at the bottom of the trousers

Except when we went to dress Little Man, we discovered that the elastic was so tight that we couldn’t actually get his feet in there (and if we had, presumably it would have totally cut off the blood supply to his legs).

Eventually the problem was resolved and the suit rendered useable by my husband breaking the elastic. This does, however, rather defeat the object of having it there in the first place. Consequently I’m now avoiding suits with elasticated ankles like the plate.

Ten Thousand Tiny Buttons

I mean, does this really need explaining? I often struggle with baby clothes that have a lot of poppers, especially at night because my hands often get a bit stiff and clumsy thanks to my rubbish joints. But when I discovered that some of our baby clothes have, instead of poppers, teeny tiny fiddly little buttons instead, I just had one question for the manufacturers: what the hell were you thinking? Those clothes have to be unfastened and refastened every time bubba needs a nappy change or just vomits all over himself. So seriously what the hell were you thinking?

Zippers are the future, incidentally.

The Blue / Pink / White / Grey Options

This deserves a blog post on its own, but – oh my god. The absolute BORING VOID OF BLAND GENDER NORMS that is most children’s clothing. I have a boy baby. But I don’t want to dress him in blue, blue, blue – or if I’m feeling racy, perhaps white or grey. THERE ARE OTHER COLOURS, PEOPLE. Whether I had a boy or girl I knew I wanted to dress them in lovely bright colours – red! Orange! Yellow! Green! Purple! So why is it so difficult to find nice jolly baby clothes that aren’t from some wildly expensive online boutique?

Moreover: why are white clothes so popular, when they’re the clothing choice most difficult to clean up as good as new after a poo explosion?

Inconsistent unfastening design

This one was suggested by my husband, and I totally agree with him. There are so many variants of how baby clothes are fastened, and often if you buy multi packs, you have no idea what the fastening scheme is until you get the clothes home. Which means you have no idea whether you are buying something that’s going to drive you insane every time you change a nappy. If only there were a couple of set designs and you could clearly identify them beforehand, it would help avoid those awkward clothes that look cute but require ten minutes of wrestling to actually get the baby into.

Your experience of baby clothes nonsense…

What baby clothes nonsense have you experienced? Let me know in the comments!

baby clothes nonsense stupid design childrens clothes the sickly mama blog
environment · lifestyle · top tips

Easy Swaps We’ve Made To Reduce Our Plastic Waste (And What We Have Left To Do!)

So over the last year or two we’ve been really trying to be more conscious of our plastic waste output and to reduce plastic waste where we can. For the most part this has been through small swaps of products, done one at a time. It can feel like it’s not making much of a difference, but actually when I sat down and started working out how much plastic we were saving over the course of a year or more, suddenly even the small swaps started to look significant.

So, I thought I’d share what we’ve done to reduce plastic use in our house, and also some of my thoughts on what we still need to do to make more of a difference. There’s still a long way to go – it’s just amazing how much plastic we use every day without even thinking about it.

Simple Swaps to Reduce Plastic Waste

1. Soap and Shower Gel

We’ve stopped using liquid soap from a plastic dispenser in the bathroom and started using bars of soap instead. I was slightly sad because I love love love the smell of Bayliss and Harding’s Ginseng and Black Pepper handwash, but it’s not environmentally sustainable! We’ve also stopped buying bottles of shower gel and switched to soap in the shower. We were buying our soap from the local packaging-free shop (which we’re lucky to have!), but since the coronavirus lockdown I’ve purchased online from andkeep.com.

Plastic saving: I estimate that we used to get through 2 bottles of hand wash per year, and maybe 12 bottles of shower gel, as me and my husband would have a bottle each. So that’s a saving of 14 plastic bottles each year. And yes, that might be modest, but it still adds up to 280 bottles over 20 years!

Yet to do: We’re still using Fairy liquid dish soap though, so the next step is to find an eco-friendly dish soap that I like using.

2. Shampoo and Conditioner

Actually one of the first swaps I made to reduce plastic use was starting to use solid shampoo bars from Lush. I really like the solid shampoo and a bonus is that it lasts ages – way longer than a bottle of shampoo would. So if solid shampoo seems more expensive on the face of it, trust me – it lasts so long that it works out cheaper overall

However, I have still been using conditioner from a bottle because I couldn’t find a solid alternative I liked. I’ve just bought a new solid conditioner bar from andkeep.com, so I’m planning to ditch the plastic bottles from here on out.

Plastic saving: I estimate I used to use about 6 bottles of shampoo per year and the same of conditioner – perhaps a little more. So it’s a 12 bottle saving per year, or 240 bottles over 20 years.

Yet to do: I guess the next step is finding plastic free hair styling products as well!

3. Toothbrushes

We’ve just switched to using bamboo toothbrushes. They’re about the same price as plastic toothbrushes and you can get them in soft/medium/hard bristles as well. We’re using brushes from Truthbrush.

Plastic saving: You’re supposed to change toothbrush every three months, but I probably only remember to swap them three times a year. For me and my husband that’s six toothbrushes per year, or 120 in 20 years.

Yet to do: You can buy plastic-free toothpaste in jars or tablet form. But I have quite sensitive teeth and currently rely on using Sensodyne regularly, so until I can find a plastic-free option that is formulated for sensitive teeth, I will probably stick with tube toothpaste.

4. Plasters

Did you know you can get plasters made out of bamboo? I sure didn’t! We’ve bought these bamboo plasters from Patch. They’re 100% biodegradable, including the packaging, with no plastic content at all. A small but simple way to reduce plastic waste.

Plastic saving: Okay, realistically we get through a few plasters a year, so the saving is negligible. But perhaps as Little Man gets older it will make more of a difference!

Yet to do: I’m not really sure where else we can take this one. Plastic-free antiseptic cream maybe?

5. Nappies and Nappy Bags

We’re using Kit & Kin nappies. They’re not quite 100% biodegradable but they are much more eco-friendly than a standard nappy and they aim to use sustainable and plant based materials. The packaging etc. is all biodegradable as well. Plus, if you’re a Spice Girls fan – the company is owned by Emma Bunton! Then for nappy bags we use Naty nappy sacks, which are made from corn starch and are 100% biodegradable.

Plastic saving: I won’t count the nappies, as they’re not 100% biodegradable – even though they’re a massive improvement on most nappies. But we get through probably a minimum of 7 nappy bags per day, so over the course of the year that’s 2,555 plastic nappy bags that we’re not adding to the planet’s plastic waste problem.

Yet to do: The most eco-friendly option is reusable nappies, but I have to admit I’ve not been brave enough to try them yet. Especially as our washing machine is on its last legs.

6. Baby Wipes

According to Friends of the Earth, not only do non-biodegradable wet wipes contribute to our marine plastic problems, but they also make up more than 90% of the material causing sewer blockages in the UK. We use Mum & You biodegradable baby wipes, which are great. The last time I bought a box, the plastic wrapper they came in was not recyclable, but writing this article I’ve just checked – and they have changed their packaging material, so it’s now recyclable and I can give them an unambiguously glowing review if you’re looking to reduce plastic waste in your household!

Plastic saving: We get through probably a minimum of five wipes a day, although usually I would say it’s probably more. At five a day though, that’s a saving of 1,825 plastic-containing wipes per year.

Yet to do: Friends of the Earth still say that it’s best not to use single-use wipes at all, even biodegradable ones. They recommend making your own wet wipes out of flannels. To be honest, that sounds like a mission, you’d probably still need to store them in plastic tubs, and if you left them too long they’d probably go mouldy, so not sure how I feel about that one…

Your Ideas To Reduce Plastic Waste:

Have you made any swaps to reduce plastic that have worked well for you? I’d love to hear what other people are doing and share ideas! Leave me a comment below.

I’ve also written about how to reduce plastic waste during the weaning process, as it’s so easy to end up creating lots of additional waste when weaning. Why not take a look?

 

baby · celebrations · Just for fun · lifestyle · parenting

Little Man’s First Easter – Lockdown Special

We had big plans for Little Man’s first Easter. We were going to go stay with my parents. My father-in-law was going to come along too, as were my sister and auntie. On the Saturday lots of other aunties and uncles were going to visit to get their first chance to meet the little dude. And as my parents live in the countryside, we were going to chill in the garden, go for lovely walks, visit the local pubs… Etc etc. Then coronavirus hit and instead we’ve had to spend Easter at home, just the three of us.

So it wasn’t quite what we planned, but we still had a fabulous time. Some of my highlights were…

Little Man’s First Easter Egg Hunt


Martin and I took it in turns to hide eggs in the garden and then search for them. Little Man was absolutely useless at finding eggs. He spent most of the time just squinting in the bright light and dribbling. He’s seriously going to have to up his game for next year.

Eating, Drinking and Baking


We’ve had some really great food and drink this weekend! Particular highlights: Martin made me a fabulous gin and lemonade with mint leaves on Saturday, and made incredible lamb neck fillet kebabs on Sunday. He put a dry rub on the meat and let it marinade overnight and it was dreamy!

I baked a delicious gluten free Easter chocolate cake from this Nigella Lawson recipe, which I highly recommend! I also think it will be fabulous in the summer with raspberries instead of mini eggs.


Family Video Calls


We had some lovely video calls with family over the weekend and it felt like we had fun together despite the lockdown. We chatted to family in Japan on Saturday morning while they had their dinner, and it was their first chance to meet Little Man albeit remotely! It’s crazy how our nieces in Japan grow so fast, every time we see them, they seem to have grown so much. Another highlight was family Easter quizzes with my family over WhatsApp/Kahoot, masterminded by my awesome sister. It was fun to do something different and interactive together.

Playing Dress-Up


Obviously Easter means bunnies, which means a great excuse to dress Little Man up in an adorable costume! He was our Easter Bunny for the day on Sunday and it was ridiculously cute.