Archive for category Mum
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.
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.
If you are still working during your last weeks of pregnancy, if you have to be on your feet for several hours in a row, if you are expecting twins or just a heavy child, if you are suffering from back aches or pelvis pains or if you are suffering from Pelvic Girdle Disfunction (also known as SPD), the Nexcare Maternity belt can make a big difference. The belt works very simply by lifting your bump up and taking the weight off the pelvis. Although it can be used throughout pregnancy, it tends to be particularly effective in the third trimester or with twins. I started using it when I was about 8 months pregnant.
It comes in two sizes: Medium (fits pre-pregnancy dress size 10 – 18 UK) and Large (fits pre-pregnancy dress size 18 – 28 UK). I understand size Large is very big, so I would still go for Medium if you are size 18 UK. Note also that if you are a small 8 UK, size Medium might be too big.
Nexcare Maternity Support is one of the most expensive pregnancy support belts on the market, but it DOES work. Considering the difference it made to the last couple of months of my pregnancies I think it’s definitely worth it. It helped me to keep mobile up till the end even when the discomfort/pain would have otherwise stopped me from doing things.
Online I have seen a pretty big range of prices but I think you should be able to find it just below GBP 30.00. Here is the link to Amazon. This is where I found the best price (GBP 27.00 including delivery) when I did the analysis.
What I like about it:
1) It’s fully adjustable, so you will be able to use it till the very end of the pregnancy, even with twins. You can change tension and support easily by stretching the belt a little more or less and adjusting the fastening position.
2) It supports both the lower back and the pelvis.
3) It makes a difference immediately, the moment you wear it. I was very surprised by the level of support of this belt. Take it off after a couple of hours of wearing it and you will notice the difference.
4) Good quality. I used it for my two pregnancies and passed it to at least 4 of my friends (one with twins) and only now it is too old/loose to be used.
5) It does not move or “roll up” once the pregnancy advances, as some of the cheaper ones. As I mentioned before, it will fit well till the very end.
1) It is ugly and will show under work clothes but, when/if you will need it you are unlikely to care.
2) A bit fiddly to fit at the beginning. There are 3 parts/belts: one goes under the bump, one around the lower back and the third belt goes from side to side above the bump. You just need to look at the fitting instructions and you will get quickly the hang of it. If you think it is not working, you are probably not fitting it properly.
3) The velcro can be a bit itchy, so it’s best worn over a top otherwise it might rub on your skin.
Other things to know:
1) If you feel it gets in the way of sitting try not to put it too low. I took it off when I had to sit for a long time.
2) I am very tall, but I read some reviews by shorter women that did not seem to find it as effective.
3) It has been on the market for a long time. It is produced by 3M, a serious, “global science-based company” (their words) with USD bn of revenues. You can be sure you are not harming your baby.
4) Hand wash only (in cold or warm water with mild detergent).
Aquaflex is a simple and effective system to strengthen your pelvic floor; post childbirth, during menopause or just to improve your sex life.
I came across it looking for a solution for post-childbirth stress incontinence. Doctors and midwives had given me a vast number of pelvic floor leaflets but I found them complicated (when do I know I am using the right muscles?) and unrealistic (when do I find the time to do all of this with a newborn?). Some friends used a physio for a few weeks and it helped but I was looking for a solution that I could implement on my own and for longer. Kegel exercises for the pelvic floor are meant to be as important a part of the daily routine for a woman as brushing teeth!
The Aquaflex Pelvic Floor Exercise System is composed by 2 cones (one larger or ‘starter cone’ of 27 mm diameter, one smaller of 20mm diameter), and 4 weights that can be placed inside the cones (2x20g, 1x10g, 1x5g). The principle behind it is very simple. You insert the cone as a tampon and this triggers the pelvic floor muscles to automatically contract around it to hold it in place. Although it seems to good to be true, it has been clinically proven – 70% of cases of stress incontinence can be cured or improved by using weighted vaginal cones. At the beginning you start using the large cone empty or with 1 weight of 5 gr; by the end of the 12 weeks course you should be able to hold the small cone with 40-55gr.
What I like about Aquaflex is:
1) Easy to use. You basically insert the cone as you would insert a tampon. To end your exercise session just pull the cord and remove the cone.
2) It takes only 20 minutes a day for 12 weeks to see results.
3) As long as you stand up, you can use your cones while doing other things. For me this is most relevant point as it is easier to remember (I use it every day under the shower and when I get dressed, other mums while they cook dinner) and you can do something else at the same time (yeah!).
4) Effective. You can see improvements week after week. The level of ‘resistance’ of your pelvic floor exercises can be gradually increased using a different combination of weights in the different sized cones. In most cases there should be a cone and a weight that works for you.
5) It increases awareness of pelvic floor muscles and their functioning. After using Aquaflex I find easier to do the traditional Kegel exercises.
Other things to know:
1) Aquaflex should not be used if you are pregnant, during your period, if you have a prolapse or a vaginal infection.
2) For best results the cone should be inserted lower than a tampon, so that when inserted you can touch the bottom of the cone with a finger.
3) If you were wondering, stress incontinence (or urinary incontinence) is an extremely common condition affecting women, especially postpartum. Some studies estimate that more than one third of women suffer from it in various degrees and with various levels of impact on their quality of life.