Thursday, June 21, 2012

I've won a competition!
Yay, I've actually won a prize in a competition! It's a cute cooking play set from Weaving Hope, specialists in cute Fair trade toys for imaginative play. Even better, it's machine washable (phew).

The competition was on my friend Nicola's blog, (check her recent guest blog with her top 10 reads for young children).

My 3 year old daughter will be thrilled with her new play set - when she eventually gets it. I'm holding out to give it to her as a reward when she finally goes to the potty without prompting. Yes, I know that's probably blackmail or bad parenting, but I'm getting desperate to get her wearing proper knickers...Talking of which, any top tips for potty training?

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

10 classic books for young children

ABC UK - by James Dunn & Helen Bate
Guest blogger Nicola Baird, mum and parenting author, selects her favourite story and picture books for young children.

Nicola blogs on childcare at, where you can enter her latest competition to win a toy fair trade cookery set.


As simple as can be for under 12 months, and the rest of your life.

1. Any nursery rhymes book
Perhaps you have one from your childhood? Or you want to find a version with bright, new illustrations. Nursery rhymes are a lovely way to learn to count and to enjoy a cultural link with generations of children learning English. You’ll find counting rhymes said aloud are great when you need to distract your child.

2. ABC UK by James Dunn & Helen Bate
Perfect for Diamond Jubilee fever, with its genius alphabet. B is for Beatles, V is for vindaloo, while Z is for zero degrees longitude (at the Greenwich meridian) not zebra.

3. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
This can be bought as a sturdy flap book. It’s a great way for babies to get the hang of turning pages, enjoying a surprise and recognising animals – even though you won’t see many of these zoo beasties in the street.


You’re going to know these by heart.

4.The Gruffalo by children’s laureate (2011-13) Julia Donaldson
This is now an established classic. It has a gorgeous sing-song rhythm and lovely pictures of native animals (er, apart from the Gruffalo!).

5 Hairy McClairy by Lynley DoddIdeal for anyone who likes to play spot the dog when you’re out for a stroll. It’s got ambitious voccab, but the rhythm makes it a pleasure to read aloud together.

6 Each, Peach, Pear, Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This classic book uses the I-Spy game, and nursery rhyme characters to enchant adults and children.

Three years +

Ideal for calming down at bedtime.

7. I will not ever NEVER eat a tomato by Lauren Child
You may already know Charlie & Lola, but this particular book is a gem. Ideal for foodies and their fussy eater offspring, as it gives the grown up a chance to laugh about children’s eccentric (dull?) food choices and the child a hint that tastes can change.

8. The tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
If this was you or your partner’s favourite book then be sure to let Granny read it to your child. You could even record them, or make a little video of the generations reading together.

9. The Tiger Who Came for Tea by Judith Kerr
Mum and daughter have an unexpected furry visitor with poor table manners. Let your imagination run wild – when someone knocks at the door, or rings the buzzer, get guessing about who it could be. Is it the boy who brings the post? Or the delivery boy? Or Daddy? Or a tiger?

Any age!

10. My story by me
A chance to make your own special book which will be read and read. Ideally do this project with your child. First take and print some photos of family members/pets or special places. Select your favourite 10 then stick them down – one image to one page, leaving enough room to write a word or two in large, easy-to-read lettering. Ideally use sturdy card, about postcard size, then secure the spine by sewing or stapling the left side.

Nicola has written seven books, many on green living.

Her most recent book is Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children 
Read her unique eco travel adventures at

Which books do your children love?
Please share your favourites!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Maternity clothes - eco chic on a budget
Just discovered you're pregnant, and need to refresh your wardrobe?

The obvious thing about maternity clothes is that you'll only need them for a few months, so it doesn't make sense to spend loads of money.

Even better, wearing pre-loved clothes means you can consider yourself 'eco' and 'chic'.
Try these ideas for free or cheap maternity clothes, you might even strike lucky with some stylish or designer maternity wear. Good luck!

1. Friends
Ask friends who’ve had babies recently, or are a few months more pregnant than you, if they've got any clothes you can borrow or have. Chances are they’ll be only too pleased to pass them on.

2. Affordable Maternity
Great online store for affordable, and designer, maternity wear. They sell ex chainstore surplus, or last season's stock, at around one third of the original price. Includes petite maternity wear and clothes for plus size maternity clothes. Visit Affordable Maternity.

3. Experiment
Try regular clothes in styles you might not usually consider, eg wrap around dresses, stretchy tshirts, leggings, etc. For some inspiration, check popular maternity styles from JoJo Maman Bebe then look for similar when you're out hunting for bargains.

4. Charity shops
OK it’s obvious, but maybe you need to try some new or larger shops to find maternity wear. Find shops near your home or work with this charity shop locator.

5. Accesorise
No, not the shop. Add jewellery, scarves, etc, to distract from the fact you might have a limited range of clothes!

6. NCT sales
Besides maternity wear, you‘ll find all sorts of other useful baby stuff. Find your nearest NCT sale.

7. Ebay
Nuff said. Take a look and pick up some bargains.

8. Adapt
Adapt what you can of your existing clothes. Move buttons so that your trousers or jackets last a bit longer, let out seams if you're handy with a sewing machine, or try one of these adjustable trouser extenders.

9. Freecycle & Freegle
Yep, my old favourite. Post a message, and watch the offers flood into your inbox. Check out Freecycle or Freegle.

10. Netmums
Find clothes either on the ‘the ‘Nearly New’ boards, or if you’re lucky, the ‘Free’ boards. Visit Netmums.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

It's a wrap

Every time I use it, someone asks me where I got it. This eco friendly wrap'n'mat from Nigel's Eco Store is one of those simple yet brilliant designs, you wonder why you can't buy them in all the big high street stores.

I use it most of the time to take lunch to work - sandwiches, cake, a slice of last night's omelette, or whatever else I can grab from the fridge. And they're great for the kids as they're really easy to open with a velcro thingy - perfect for picnics and packed lunches.

Most of the time I just wipe it clean, but you can stick them in the washing machine.

All we need now is more sun so I have an excuse for a few more picnics...

Monday, April 18, 2011

A bum choice?

Cloth nappies or disposables? Like most parents, most of us have a strong view one way or the other.

I think there's a place for both, and it doesn't have to be a black and white choice. My circumstances over the past few years have changed, and so has my choice of nappy for my children. So as a new mum with 1 baby, it was easy to choose cloth nappies. Now I have 2 children and am working again, I have to admit to finding eco disposables easier.

So I figure the most responsible thing to do is choose the greenest disposable I reasonably can. Nature nappies have easily been my fave. They're made from biodegradable materials and 100% chlorine free. And from a practical angle, they don't leak - hurrah! Plus I can buy them on the high street (Boots, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Tesco). If you're pregnant or have a newborn, give them a go. Find out how to get a free sample (size 1).

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Crafty gifts & homeware - April offers

Those crafty people over at have come up trumps with 2 great offers for April.

Get 20% off at The Green Gables by quoting FBWL20 at checkout - paper bunting (see pic above), art prints, handmade gifts using local and recycled materials with a vintage feel and a lot of love.

Get 15% off at Ochre & Ochre by quoting FBWL at checkout - organic and natural homeware,  including fine linens, kitchen textiles and hand made gifts.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Up to 80% discounts from Ethical Superstore

Ethical Superstore is having a clearance sale with some amazing discounts. All sorts - fashion, organic groceries, green cleaning products, gadgets, jewellery and baby/child products - take a look.

Definitely worth stocking up for birthday (or even Christmas?) presents!