These French slippers (they are and have been made in France since 1947) are my favourite and they work for the whole family: sizes go from European 18/US 3/UK 2 (babies of 6-12 months) to European 47/US 13/UK 12! I started using them 4 years ago, so I have now a good feel of how durable they are. Up until now I was ordering them directly from their French website but I just spotted a first UK internet distributor called Skin&Bliss.com.
If you want to see the whole range it is best to go directly on the Collegien website. They have an incredible choice and have always some items on sale. If you are buying for the whole family or friends, even adding on the Euro 6.95 shipment charge to the UK, you might end up with a better choice and price than a UK distributor. Shipment charges are zero for orders above Euro 100.
What I like about them:
1) Comfortable. The concept is simple: a soft sock with attached a breathable, durable, non slip sole. I am not sure how the sole is built but one thing is sure: they are very comfortable for adults and children.
2) Natural fabrics. 80+% of the sock material is a natural fabric (mostly cotton but sometimes also wool and silk). The rest is an elastic blend to make them strechable.
3) Non-slip. Unlike the leather ones that I started using for my babies when they were 6 months old, these don’t become shiny and slippery with use. They have some rubbery spikes that really make a difference. For toddlers this is key because the last thing you want is seeing them sliding around the house.
4) Extra soft soles, very flexible, for maximum comfort. The soles are very flexible, you can test this by rolling the slipper onto itself.
5) The non-slip characteristic does not come at the expense of breathability. The soles are perforated.
6) 100% machine washable at 30°C. This is absolutely key for me. No cheesy smells and no problem if a bit of food falls on them.
7) Lots of sizes to fit the whole family. For most styles the sizes go from European 18 to European 47.
8) Long lasting. They last more than other slippers for two reasons: because they are made with high quality materials and because, if you have growing children, because each pair will cover two sizes (18-19, 20-21 etc).
9) Many, lovely designs! They make a very good and useful gift!
The company advises that if your size is 39, you should take 40/41. If your size is 38 or 38 1/2, take size 38/39. This is valid for all sizes.
I am a big believer in sleeping bags for babies and young toddlers. I will cover the reasons behind my views another time. If you are in the process of hunting for a good sleeping bag, and your average room temperature is 17-30 degrees Celsius (63-86 Fahrenheit), you should look into Bambino Merino’s Sleeping Bags. I have just put to bed my youngest child and while I was zipping up the sleeping bag I thought I should write a post on them. They are just amazing!
Bambino Merino’s sleeping bags are 100% made of New Zeland’s natural Merino wool. Merino is thought to be the oldest sheep breed in the world and most importantly, its wool has very unique properties that make it the fabric of choice for example, for high-end, performance athletic wear (hiking, running etc). These same properties are also key for the wellbeing of your baby/toddler while sleeping: a) Merino wool helps regulating the body’s temperature; it provides warmth, without overheating the wearer and draws sweat away from the skin, b) Merino wool absorbs water and, unlike cotton, retains warmth when wet, c) Merino wool contains lanolin, which has antibacterial properties and tends to require less washing, d) Merino is one of the softest types of wool available and is particularly warm relatively to its weight so your child will be super comfortable. The maker says it is suitable even for children with mild eczema. I have not verified this.
What I like about it:
1) Made out of 100% Merino wool – this is great for the reasons just mentioned above.
2) If your room temperature fluctuates between 17 and 30 degrees Centigrade (63-86 Fahrenheit), the Bambino Merino sleeping bag can be used all year around. The bag comes with a useful table that advises the right layering (basically what to wear beneath) for different room temperatures (see below). This means that if you live in a country with a temperate climate you won’t need to buy different sleeping bags with different TOGs: you will just layer up or down the same Merino Bag.
3) Bambino Merino’s bag sizes are designed to last more than the usual 6 months. The ‘baby size bag’ (about 92 cm long) will last from 2 months to about two years: there are two poppers at the armholes that can be closed to adjust the bag to younger babies. The ‘toddler size’ (about 110 cm long) will last from two years to four years.
4) A full length zip and the shoulder poppers allow the ‘baby size’ sleeping bag to be opened flat for easier night time nappy changes. The ‘toddler size’ has an all round zip that really helps with very wriggly toddlers.
5) Easy to care for: machine washable at 30 degrees C with wool detergent.
6) Extremely durable. I bought my sleeping bags more than 4 years ago and after daily, heavy use, they look still like new.
7) Thoughtful design details: fabric labels are sowed inside seams rather than behind the neck which is more comfortable for the baby, and soft zip covers keep the zip ends away from baby’s skin and makes it more difficult for little fingers to undo the zip.
1) Price: the ‘baby size’ retails at GBP 50.00-60.00 for one bag – not cheap but worth it if you consider that you will use them for much longer than the traditional sleeping bags.
2) A minor issue in my view, the only design available is stripes but you can choose the colour of the stripes: Sage (a sort of grey green), Petal (light pink), Sand (beige), Sky (light blue) and Ruby (red/blue).
Other points of interest
1) If you are trying to compare with the usual TOG measurements you might find useful to know that the Bambino Merino Sleeping Bags are minimum 0.8 TOG. A number of other factors will determine the actual tog value of the bag among which the layers of clothing worn beneath the bag. Please see below a table containing various room temperatures and the suggested layers beneath the Merino sleeping bag:
17 – 19°c A long sleeve merino bodysuit or vest + a long sleeve merino sleepsuit or pyjamas
20 – 23°c A short sleeve merino or cotton bodysuit or vest + a long sleeve merino or cotton sleepsuit or pyjamas
24 – 26°c A short sleeve merino or cotton bodysuit or vest only
27 – 30°c A short sleeve cotton bodysuit or vest or just a nappy on its own
2) Recently Bambino Merino has come out with 2 new versions: a “Travel” sleeping bag that has a slot at the front and the rear for a car seat or pram harness and a “Winter Weight Travel Sleep Bag” that has the slots for the harness and has a minimum TOG of 2 which is suitable for colder climates.
3) Baby sleeping bags should never be used with a quilt or duvet. Although its is common sense it is always good to be reminded.
4) You can read more about the qualities of Merino wool here.
Melobaby is a large wallet made of a strong, washable, fabric designed to hold neatly and functionally a couple of nappies, nappy change cream, 1 body and a slim travel pack of baby wipes. The wallet has 4 pockets and a mesh zipped pocket. The wallet folds out to a very soft, fleecy change mat attached to the wallet via magnets. The magnet system is a very good idea because 1) it keeps in place the mat but allows you to easily detach it when you need to wash it, and 2) allows you to clip the mat to elongate the changing surface for when your baby grows. This point will be clearer if you watch the demo by clicking on the link below. Each Melobaby comes in a clear, sturdy plastic transparent bag (which can be used to keep spare clothes) and a small zebra light plastic pouch. It makes a very good gift for new and not so new mothers.
Nice to have but do I need one?
Having using it intensively for two years I think Melobaby is a must have. It is so easy to use in your favourite handbag for short trips instead of taking your (larger and heavier) nappy bag. I also use it inside my usual diaper bag just to have things tidy and easy to find. I love it.
With a retail price between GBP 30 and GBP 35, Melobaby might seem quite expensive for what it is but the quality is excellent and so is the durability. It comes in several colours.
What I like about it
1. Good size (3 x 26 x 18.5 cm): small enough to fit in a normal handbag or backpack and big enough for a “small trip out” on its own,
2. Easy to fold/unfold even with one hand,
3. Good quality, durable, nicely designed. I used it heavily for almost 2 years and it looks brand new,
4. Easy to clean and does not stain (I was surprised to discover how many changing mats get badly stained with pooh)
5. Great solution for daddies on duty, they won’t need to carry a large nappy bag,
6. The changing mat is exceptionally soft and machine washable: good for both baby and mummy.
1. I have not managed to fit more than 2 nappies, travel wipes and a nappy cream and one body which might be too little if you are out and about for several hours with a newborn. I just try to take a few extra nappies and put them at the bottom of my bag just in case.
2. The small zebra plastic pouch Melobaby comes with is useless: very fragile. In my case the zip was broken after a few uses. This does not compromise the main functionality of the wallet though.
You can wash the mat and the wallet in a washing machine at 30/40 degrees but neither of them should be put in a dryer as it will deactivate the magnets.
Take a look at the demo by the product designer and company founder.
The weather is getting colder. It’s time to take out the winter sweaters. I wonder if this time I will find any unwanted holes…
I have been fighting cloths moths since I moved in my husband’s flat about 6 years ago. This is what I learnt after extensive damages to my clothes, pest control visits and painful dry cleaning bills.
Please let me know if you have some special tips that I have not discovered.
It Is All About Prevention
Once your house is properly infested it is going to be very hard to get rid of clothes moths. Pest control might be your only way out. In most cases though, some simple ‘clothes-moths-prevention-actions’ will be enough to keep you away from troubles. Here they are:
1) Turn off radiators as often as possible and open all the windows regularly to allow air to circulate. Moths thrive in humid and warm environments.
2) Brush your clothes and shake them in the daylight at least twice a month – this will disturb the moths and dislodge their larvae.
3) Hoover regularly under beds, carpets and behind radiators to prevent moths settling in. A powerful vacuum will shift eggs from fibres but you will have also to remember to remove and discard immediately the collected dust or hoover bags.
4) Clean your clothes before storing them. Moths thrive in sweat, dried-in food particles and oil from make-up or hair products.
5) If you buy any vintage, second hand clothes keep them in sealed plastic bags until you dry clean them. You can also try freezing garments that can’t be washed. Wrap them in plastic and freeze them for at least 12 hours, to kill off the eggs and larvae.
6) Rugs and cushions can nest months eggs, give them a good beating and hang them on the washing line in the sun.
7) To care for your most pricey items such as cashmere and pure silk, you can use in acid-free tissue or put it in special breathable bags.
Can Any Products Help?
I have tried several.
The best one in my experience is ‘Natural Anti-moth Linen Spray with Natural Essential Oils – May Chang Blend’ (GBP 21 from totalwardrobecare.co.uk). A girlfriend that has a cashmere business advised me to use it a couple of years ago and, I have to say, it has worked wonderfully. It is expensive but:
1) Keeps your garments free from moths (yes! It does!),
2) Leaves a wonderful fragrance on the clothes and your closets (even my husband likes it),
3) Can be used on upholstery, curtains and carpets,
4) It is natural. It is made of 100% organically-grown essential oils: May Chang, Lavender, Cedarwood, Patchouli, Laurel, Rosemary, Thyme and Clove Bud.
Please don’t spray this product directly on silk as the oils can stain and dry cleaning might be required.
Here are a couple of links to interesting articles on the matter:
I love cooking but with work and the kids there is never enough time so I am happy to consider a few shortcuts. Here is one of my favourites.
Since a girlfriend made me discover them, I have become addicted to frozen, ready to use, cooking ingredients.
Garlic and onions are the ones I use the most but there are plenty more of them to chose from (lemon grass, shallots, basil, ginger, chives, coriander, mint, chillies and more) and they are all cleaned, washed, chopped and ready to use straight from frozen.
Although there are a few brands around, my favourites are the Cook’s Ingredients by Waitrose. They are high quality (I noticed the onions are cleaned better and chopped finely) and have a nice range of interesting pre-mixed selections. I love their Thai Mix, a well balanced mixture of lemongrass, coriander, ginger, chilli and garlic – just perfect in almost any oriental dish.
Frozen ingredients are not perfect:
1) They can be a bit too wet (this is mostly an issue with herbs-garlic and onions are fine),
2) Their taste is a bit tamed when compared to the fresh ones,
3) At times the herbs freeze into big clusters so you need a knife or a hammer to break them down into more manageable pieces and
4) They won’t help you much in garnishing your dishes (again this is mostly an issue with herbs).
But here is why I always want to have them in my freezer:
-They save me the time, work and tears of preparing fresh ingredients (I have to admit peeling and chopping onions and garlic is not one of my favourites and is time consuming – I am fine washing and preparing basil leaves!).
-I just use what I need every time I cook – I have less waste and no more half empty bags sitting in the fridge and often forgotten before I need them again.
– Even if I prefer the ‘fresh staff’ it is so handy to always keep a pack in the freezer in case of emergency.
– Last but not least, the pricing of frozen herbs is more reasonable than the packs of fresh herbs in supermarkets. Tesco retails a bag of 30gr of Basil at 70p which is GBP 23 per kg! I can instead buy my frozen ingredients when they are on offer (2 packs of 75 gr for GBP 2.50) which I find acceptable.
And another thing, I’ve read a tip for keeping alive for longer the pots of herbs you find in supermarkets: re-potting them into larger or multiple pots. Apparently they’re planted densely to look better but the roots can be too crammed for them to survive! Worth a try…
If you are wondering what happened to workingmuminlondon and why the posts have not been so frequent recently the answer is: scarlet fever, tonsillitis and chickenpox. Yes, we had them all, in a row! Not exactly a relaxing summer.
Here below you will find all the things I wish I knew before we started. I will focus on chickenpox because a) number 2 got it really bad so I ended up doing a lot of research b) there might be steps you can take to limit its severity.
What is it
Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is spread easily through the air (when infected people sneeze or cough) and through direct contact with the infected blisters. Just being in a room with someone who has the disease can be enough to get infected BUT less than 5 hours exposure is not likely to result in an infection while a very prolonged exposure of several days can result in a more severe case (typical in the case of siblings). Chickenpox is contagious from 1 to 2 days before the appearance of the rash until all blisters have formed scabs (or lesions fade away if no blisters develop). If you or your child are still contagious it is best if you can stay at home or at least avoid busy places (trains, buses, planes, supermarkets, shops). Infecting someone ‘at risk’ (see below) can have terrible consequences.
And one last point: the scabs are not contagious.
Symptoms appear between 7 and 21 days after exposure to the varicella-zoster virus. They are:
1) fever – 38 up to 40 centigrades for up to 4 days
2) loss of appetite and general malaise
3) pink rash that becomes ‘blistered’ with 24/48 hours. The blisters are initially small, then fill up with a clear fluid that gradually becomes cloudy and then scabs over. The rash generally starts on chest and face but rapidly spreads over the body (even into mouth, ears, eye lids) for 2 to 5 days. Note that in some cases, 7 days after the first rash, a ‘second wave’ – a brand new rash and new blisters – can develop. The extent of the rash and size of the blisters varies from individual to individual (and seems to be related to the length of exposure to the virus). Some people may only have a handful of small spots while others will be literally covered from head to toe (250-500 blisters) with quite large vesicles (1-1.5 cm diameter). Once formed, the crusts will completely fall off in 1 to 6 weeks.
4) Redness around the blisters/vesicles may suggest a bacterial infection, probably introduced by scratching. This needs to be monitored carefully and might be treated with antibiotics.
Who is ‘at risk’
The risk of serious complications is higher for:
1) adults (can develop lung problems, pneumonia),
2) pregnant women (during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy there is a serious risk of birth defects) and
3) babies below 4 months.
4) For children it is not usually dangerous but in around 20% of cases a bacterial infection of the vesicles develops. This needs to be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible. If not treated can even lead to death in as little as a few days.
Prevention by vaccination – for boys and adults a must!
1) The chickenpox vaccination does not guarantee life immunity to the virus but reduces the risk of contagion and reduces the severity of the illness. I read that in clinical trials two doses of vaccine (in general one at 12-15 months and one at 4-6 years of age) were 99% effective in preventing the disease in children.
So if you have boys it is definitely worth getting them vaccinated. If you have girls it is less of a no brainer (they can still catch it when pregnant).
2) For adults and children of 13 and above it is also recommended to give two doses of the chickenpox vaccine, administered 4-8 weeks apart.
3) The varicella vaccine is safe. It has been around since 1995. The most common side effects are mild pain and redness at the injection site. In the USA chickenpox vaccination is done routinely.
Best treatment in case of infection
1) drink plenty (milk and water)
2) cut short your baby’s nails (or use mitts on the hands) to reduce the risk of bacterial infection of the vesicles. You can also dress your child in loose cotton clothing to prevent further irritation.
3) in case you notice some redness/swelling around the blisters/vesicles try to treat the area with some Chlorhexidine Gluconate. This is a pink liquid that prevents bacterial infections. It is not easy to find but some Boots stock it.
4) take paracetamol to ease high temperature (fever), headaches, and pains. Aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided with chickenpox.
5) take anti-histamines (such as Zirtek, Piriton). Although they have limited effect on itchy skin conditions they cause drowsiness and help the child sleep better.
6) if your case looks right away very severe ask your doctor if aciclovir might be advisable. Antiviral pills such as aciclovir (Zovirax) can limit the severity of chickenpox by stopping the virus from multiplying. Adults, teenagers over the age of 14 and sometimes young children that were heavily exposed to the virus (young siblings of an infected child) may be advised to take an antiviral medicine. Note it can only be started within 24 hours of the rash first developing. My doctor advised aciclovir to my number two.
7) Try soothing creams (general emollients) on the spots to ease itching. Unfortunately there is not one product recognised to universally work but searching around I came across a few that you might want to try:
-Chickweed creams/ointments. These can help soothing the itchy and crusty skin. We used under the suggestion of a dear friend ‘Chickweed, Neem, Tamanu, Nettle and Vitamin E Cream’ by the Organic Pharmacy, pictured above but there are plenty more around.
-Calamine lotion, although widely used in the UK my doctor said it can have a drying effect on the skin that may exacerbate the condition and actually cause further itching and scarring.
-ViraSoothe Chickenpox Relief Cooling Gel this should relieve the itchiness without any drying effect on the skin but it did not seem to help my daughter very much.
-Some friends in Italy used happily Talco Mentolato but is difficult to find in the UK and some doctors are against it (again it can have drying effects).
8) Avoid long baths and soaking of the blisters that can fall off and delay the healing process.
What is your favourite chickenpox remedy? If you found something amazing please comment on this post. I will try to amend it over time if I discover anything else of value. I hope it helps!
Sources: among others National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Web site: http://www.nfid.org (USA).
If you suffer from any form of nasal congestion (hayfever, nasal symptoms from flu and colds, nasal irritation from pollen or dust mites), this simple, yet very effective, American product will help to clear the nasal congestion and improve breathing.
What I like about it:
1) Simple: an easy-squeeze bottle with a specially designed rounded top that allows deep flushing of the sinuses and nasal passages. You only need some warm, previously boiled (or distilled) water and the pre-mixed sachets (mainly sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate). The idea of nasal washes may sound uncomfortable or even painful but it is not. Watch this video to see how it works.
2) Completely drug free and safe to use during pregnancy (or daily).
3) Painless: it does not sting nor burn your nose.
4) Immediate relief: you can enjoy immediate relief after the first use and the results improve will regular use.
In the UK you can find it on Amazon. Price-wise you can buy the starter kit with 15 sachets for GBP 10, the kit with 60 sachets for GBP 14, and 150 sachets (without the rest of the kit) for GBP 16.
I have suffered from sinusitis since I was 15 and of all of the different products and solutions I tried, this is by far the best. I do not use any more nasal sprays and I noticed that by doing my nasal rinses with NeilMed Sinus Rinse as soon as I am getting a cold or a flu, the cold/flu lasts less long.
Things to be aware of:
1) It is available in isotonic, pediatric and hypertonic (extra-strong) concentrations but I have only used the isotonic ones that are easier to find in the UK.
2) Not to be used if you have an ear infection or blocked ears.
3) You should never use tap water to mix with the sachets but only previously boiled or distilled water.
4) Try to replace the bottle regularly (the company suggests to replace the bottle after 3 months of use).
5) Don’t use too much pressure as it may cause some fluid to drain into the ears through the Eustacian tube. If this happens the fluid in the ear should disappear within a short period of time.
6) It is recommended to do the nasal rinsing an hour before going out or going to bed. ‘Some solution can pool in the sinuses, especially if you have had sinus surgery. This normally drains out in the first 15 to 20 minutes after rinsing. Sometimes it does not drain until hours later when you bend over’.
Summer has arrived and the holidays are approaching. Unfortunately, unless you are as lucky as Elle Macpherson, after kids, at a not-so-young- age and not enough exercise, wearing a bikini feels a bit daunting.
If you are looking for a quick ‘crash course’ ahead of a holiday, there is one product that I think is absolutely great: Somatoline Cosmetic, Intense Night Slimming Treatment.
Although you won’t lose any weight, the company claims that it reduces the size of waist and hips by up to 2.5cm in only 10 days, and that the average value obtained by 44 women in clinical tests is 1.4cm. I have not calculated the effect on me, but even after only 3 applications the results are for sure ‘visible’ and incredible. Is there a trick? I don’t know. My guess is that it is just a short-term fix and that unless you start a good diet and exercise it will all go back to square one after a few weeks. But in the short-term, for the few weeks a year you will be on the beach, it is just fantastic.
Although the packaging can be slightly different (pots versus sachets-as in the photo above) it is distributed in a lot of European countries.
In the UK Amazon sells a 400ml pot for GBP 34.00 including delivery.
What I like about it:
1) Easy. You apply this green, quite thick but creamy potion for 10 days in a row, just before going to bed, where you think you need it most: thighs, belly, hips, waist or all of the above. The maker suggests to let the cream penetrate with a light, circular massaging motion until the cream is completely absorbed. If you use it for another 10 days the results are further improved.
2) Quick. The cream is rich but does not take long to absorb. A massage of a couple of minutes will be enough to make it penetrate.
3) It is one of the few things that works while you sleep. I did not know but apparently the skin is more receptive to cosmetic treatments at night.
4) Effective. Already after a few nights of use you can see a difference in the look of the skin: smoother, tighter more toned. Clinical tests have demonstrated it works.
5) Reliable brand. Somatoline was launched as a brand in Italy in the 1970s and has survived till today for a reason: the products are good.
Important things to know:
1) If after a few minutes you start feeling a warm sensation or some tingling or light redness where you applied the product don’t worry. It is not likely to be an allergic reaction. The maker says it is normal and it means the product is working.
2) The cream has a quite persistent smell. It is not bad but is quite strong. I am glad I don’t leave the house after having applied it.
3) Note that there a number of different Somatoline products on the market. Some include an active ingredient called Levothyroxine Sodium (a hormone produced by the thyroid) and are only sold in pharmacies. ‘Somatoline Cosmetic’ products (such as the Intense Night Slimming Treatment ), don’t use Levothyroxine and can be used freely.
4) The maker says that if you use it for a further 10 days (after the first course) the results are further improved, but It should not be used as a part of a daily routine.
5) Remember to wash your hands after use and not to apply it over damaged skin.
If you are looking for a breakfast alternative for the whole family that is tasty, quick and healthy, you might like to try Panmonviso Rusks. These rusks (toasted, slightly sweet, wheat bread) are a traditional, good quality, italian bakery product (‘fette biscottate’). By chance, I discovered that they are now available in the UK under several white labels brands. Tesco, Asda and Morrison call them ‘French Toast’. I have only bought the Tesco ones but I understand that also Asda and Morrison have the same product made by the high quality Italian company Panmonviso.
What I like about them:
1) Light: no eggs, low in fat, sugars and salt (37 kcal per toast; 5g of saturated fat, 0.4g of salt and 18g of sugar per 100g). No artificial colours/flavours. Compares well with a lot of cereals and baby products such as the Organix Goodies or Organix Finger Foods.
2) Suitable for sweet or savoury toppings.
3) Compact and easy to spread: with cream cheese, butter, jam, honey or whatever takes your fantasy.
4) If soaked in milk, they soften quickly and work well for young children without a full set of teeth.
5) Perfect alternative to biscuits for dipping in milk or cappuccino.
6) Nice and crunchy for teething children from 10/12 months onwards.
7) Long expiry date, and so perfect to keep at home for when you run out of bread.
8) Work well as an afternoon snack. If you are on the go, remember to store store them in a plastic container or they might distribute crumbs everywhere.
9) Very good value: GBP 1.30 for 200 gr.
I have not seen an organic version.