Lifestyle

O Christmas Tree!

I was lucky enough to be invited to Pines and Needles in Bournemouth to pick a real Christmas Tree – such a lovely experience!

Family Christmas Tree
Festive family selfie with our Pines and Needles real Christmas Tree!

On Sunday 1st December, the first day of Advent, I was invited to Pines and Needles on Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth to pick one of their real Christmas Trees.

My husband is the biggest Christmas fan EVER and he was so excited when we got there and saw the fantastic selection of Christmas Tress they had on display, ranging from small 2ft trees (from £24), all the way up to 12ft (£93)!

The company has been running since 1995 and hit the headlines in 2016 when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were spotted buying a 6ft tree from their Battersea branch in London. The company has grown and they now have over 20 stores operating in London and across the South, including Bournemouth – lucky us!

The trees are grown in sustainable plantations in Scotland and are hand pruned to create the ideal shape. When we arrived, the staff (very festive in Santa hats), were absolutely lovely and talked us through the different options available. We were looking at 6ft trees, but my husband was rather taken with a beautiful 7ft Nordmann Fir, which really did smell like Christmas! What’s great about the trees is the fact they are non-drop. We have a very inquisitive one-year-old and miniature dachshund, so not having to worry about needles on the floor and potentially in mouths is a real plus!

Now I had never seen a Christmas Tree Netting Machine before and I was most impressed! They simply pass the tree through a funnel made of galvanised steel and voila, you have one neatly wrapped and ready to go Christmas Tree, making it really easy to transport. Luckily our 7ft Nordmann fitted in our Honda, or my husband would have had a very long walk home!

You can also buy stands to go with your tree (prices start from £13 for a medium, up to £33 for extra large) and they also sell lights and wreaths.

We had such a lovely time picking our tree and it really is a lovely thing to do as a family, as it really does get you into the Christmas spirit. However, if you don’t wish to pick your own tree you can order it online at www.pinesandneedles.com.

We’ve put the tree in our dining room and it looks beautiful! We were advised to water the tree daily and keep it away from direct heat or air conditioning. Well cared for the tree will still fresh for up to 4 weeks so fingers crossed ours lasts until Christmas Day!

If you haven’t bought your Christmas Tree yet, I would highly recommend Pines and Needles – their staff are super-friendly and they know their stuff!

You’ll find them at 704-708 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH7 6BY.

Lifestyle, Motherhood

Top 10 Christmas Gift Ideas for Little Ones

Christmas is just around the corner (yikes), so it’s time to start thinking about what to buy your little one for Christmas. Stuck for ideas?! Here are my top 10 gift ideas for babies and toddlers.

My little boy Jack’s first Christmas,
December 2018

Jack was only just over a month old last Christmas and it was all a bit of a blur to be honest! Now my cheeky little boy is almost one, I can’t wait for Christmas and seeing his reactions as he opens his presents and laughing as he tries to eat all the wrapping paper!

I want to try and be organised this year (I had a good excuse not to be last year with a newborn baby)! The earlier you start, the more chance you have of finding a bargain as many companies do special offers in the lead-up to Christmas, including one of the biggest shopping events of the year – Black Friday, which is on the 29th November 2019.

It can be really hard thinking of what to buy for babies and toddlers, so here’s my top 10 gift ideas, five for babies and five for toddlers, to help you get your Christmas shopping all wrapped up!

Babies

1. A cosy sleeping bag
A sleeping bag is a lovely gift for newborn babies, providing warmth and comfort in the cold winter months. More importantly, they also provide safety, keeping babies at a constant temperature, reducing the risk of them overheating. I work for a fantastic company called Slumbersac, who sell baby sleeping bags in a range of gorgeous designs and togs for baby boys and girls. You can also choose to have their name embroidered on the sleeping bag, for a truly unique present. You can enjoy 10% off any Slumbersac sleeping bag with my exclusive promo code COASTALMUM.

Baby Sleeping Bag

2. A cuddly toy
A cuddly toy makes the perfect gift for a baby’s first Christmas. They are soft, snuggly and give the best cuddles. My Nan bought Jack a gorgeous Peter Rabbit cuddly toy for his first Christmas last year and he loves it!

Baby and Peter Rabbit Toy

3. A super-cute Christmas outfit
You have to buy a festive outfit for your baby’s first Christmas. I ended up buying a few for Jack because they are just too cute! You can even buy matching ones for all the family – think of the photo opportunities!

Baby Christmas Outfit

4. A baby comforter
Baby Comforters, as the name suggests, provide comfort for your baby during the night, but they are also fun for daytime play! Jack loves his ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ baby comforter from his Aunty.

Baby Comforter

5. A beautiful baby mobile
Baby mobiles are ideal for entertaining and soothing babies. Lots of mobiles play white noise, which can help your baby sleep. I have also found they are a great distraction if you need five minutes to have a shower or pop to the loo!

Baby Mobile

For Toddlers:

Now your baby is a little older you need to up your game and think of gift ideas that will keep them entertained for more than five minutes! A cardboard box probably won’t cut the mustard any more!

Here are my top 5 gift ideas for toddlers…

1. A sleeping bag with feet
Now Jack is crawling and learning to walk, sleeping bags with feet are great! I can get him ready for bed nice and early and he can still play until bedtime. Slumbersac sleeping bags with feet now feature fold-over non-slip soles, keeping his toes cosy and safe. Don’t forget you can get 10% off with my exclusive code COASTALMUM.

Baby Sleeping Bag with Feet

2. A teepee
My brother has just bought Jack an awesome teepee tent. They are a fantastic gift idea for babies and children, and after a day of play, they are also a wonderful storage solution for toys! Teepees are a perfect place for little ones to play, read and discover. Some companies also give you the option of personalising them with your child’s name.

Children's Teepee Tent

3. A personalised book
Jack got a gorgeous personalised story book from my parents last Christmas. Personalised books nurture children’s imagination, build confidence and love of reading. I love reading to Jack and as he understands books more as he grows older, I know storytime will be one of my favourite pastimes.

4. A baby balance bike or scooter
Baby balance bikes and scooters are ideal for helping children to learn how to maintain their balance and take their first steps towards learning how to ride a bike. They have no pedals or chains, so your little one can propel it along with their feet, improving their coordination. They come in a range of super-cool designs too. I can’t wait to buy Jack his first scooter!

5. A mini kitchen
I have been considering buying one of these for Jack for Christmas but I am not sure we have the space. I know a play kitchen will provide him with hours of role play fun! They are also a lovely way of getting children interested in food, not to mention a great way of keeping your little chef away from the real oven, so you can concentrate on not burning the Christmas dinner!

I hope my top 10 Christmas gift ideas has given you some inspiration! Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas!

Motherhood

Top Tips for Treating Mastitis without Antibiotics

Unfortunately in trying to wean my son off breastfeeding, I have been suffering with mastitis. Here are my top tips for treating this painful condition, without having to resort to antibiotics.

A few months after giving birth to my son I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. I was feeling dizzy, irritable and losing a lot of weight. My GP, health visitor and consultant at the hospital all told me I should cut down breastfeeding, as this would also be contributing to my weight loss. As my condition worsened, I decided that I would need to cut down my feeds and unfortunately in doing so mastitis struck, and boy did it hurt!

Mastitis is a very painful condition, leaving your breasts feeling inflamed and extremely painful. I have had it three times now and luckily each time I have managed to treat it without antibiotics. My symptoms were a fever and a burning sensation in my breast whilst feeding. My breasts were also really hard and lumpy.

I wanted to share my tips and remedies for beating mastitis without having to resort to antibiotics, in the hope that they can help other mums who might also be suffering from the condition.

  • Feed Feed Feed
    Unfortunately this isn’t helpful if you are trying to wean your baby off breastfeeding, but when mastitis strikes, having your child feed off the affected breast is one of the best ways to treat the condition. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts like hell, but it really does help in removing any blockages and emptying your breast of milk. Your other option is to express. When I had mastitis, I increased the amount of feeds to try and drain my breast fully and also got my son to feed off the affected breast first. Also make sure your baby has a good latch, as this can make a huge difference in ensuring your milk is drained properly.
  • Turn up the heat
    Applying heat to the affected breast can also help treat blocked milk ducts. I found warming a flannel and placing it on to the breast before and after a feed really helped.
  • Massage
    When you’re in the shower, massage your breast. Again, this will hurt, but it will really help in clearing the blocked ducts. I highly recommend buying a wide toothed comb and using this to massage the breast using shower gel. Massage down towards the nipple when using this method, focusing on any lumps. You really will feel instant relief!
  • Try different positions
    In order to beat mastitis I tried lots of different breastfeeding positions to try and make sure my affected breast was emptied. The best one I found for treating mastitis is the ‘Dangle Feed’ position. It is probably the most uncomfortable of all positions, and the one you really won’t feel like doing when you’re suffering with a fever, but it definitely works in helping to treat mastitis. Basically, you position yourself over your baby so they are looking up at you. Gravity really does work wonders in dislodging the blocked milk ducts.
  • Keep hydrated
    Make sure you drink plenty of water when you have mastitis as the condition really does take it out of you, and as you need to continue to breastfeed or express, it’s really important to keep hydrated as this will help fight the infection.
  • Wear loose clothing
    When I had mastitis, I wore very loose clothing and ditched the bra as I found it was contributing to the pain in my breast.
  • Take pain relief
    Before resorting to antibiotics, try over the counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen to reduce the pain, inflammation and fever.
  • Rest
    I know rest is a foreign word to us mums, but when you have mastitis it really does knock you for six, so if you can get someone to watch your baby so you can take some time out, it really will help speed up your recovery.

If the above tips don’t help, or you can see that your nipple is infected, go and see your GP as you may have to take a course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria responsible.