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Friday, 18 April 2014

State of Mind Clothing Review: Plus Size Sportswear

Last year I discovered the awesome UK plus sized clothing brand State of Mind, who design and produce quality sportswear for women size 14-28 here in Britain. (You can read my last review of their range here.)

Luckily for me, they've recently sent me some new clothes to review - perfect timing as I'm desperate for some better fitting sports clothes as my current workout gear is getting a bit loose (hurrah!) 

There's been a lot of talk in the news recently about the term 'plus size' after the clothing brand Mango announced that they are going to launch a 'plus size' clothing brand starting at UK size 12!!! In my opinion, there's no way a 12 can be 'plus size' when the average size for women in the UK is a 16. Some people really hate the term, but for me, 'plus size' isn't a term that worries me - I'm a firm believer that if the clothes fit, flatter and are comfortable then who cares what number is on the label? I'd rather wear a plus size, look good and feel comfortable than squeeze myself into an ill-fitting garment. 

When shopping for sportswear on the high street I regularly find that their 'plus size' range is a dreadful fit - the clothes seem to be designed for a 'perfect' version of the size rather than a curvy one. The fit on a size can vary greatly between shops: I can fit into a size 16 in some, and in other's it feels restricting and uncomfortable, especially over my ample bosom! Step in State of Mind. What I completely adore about their ranges is that they are clearly designed with curves, comfort and practicality in mind. 

The first item sent to me was this hooded fleece jacket - I'll be totally honest - I have a long standing issue with fleece - usually, I would never choose to buy anything made from it - I don't know why, it's just a material I tend to avoid - but, I'm now eating my words … I love this hoody, and have worn it out on so many walks over the past month. 

I've found the fleece to be perfect for the spring when its no longer cold enough to wear a big winter coat when outdoors, but there's still a chill in the air. The fleece inside is soft and it's got a ribbed effect on the outside, which makes it look more like a hoody material, and less like a conventional fleece. What I love most about this garment is that the back is lower than the front, which provides a bit of bottom cover up! I'm always pulling down my hoodies - and don't tend to buy tops or jackets that are short - I feel exposed and uncomfortable, so this ticks all the boxes for me. The sleeves have thumb holes, which is a fun novelty, and practical when its a bit nippy - great for keeping my arms covered when I'm pushing the buggy on one of our epic weekend country walks. The hoodie also comes with a zipped pocket on the arm which would be perfect for storing some money, mp3 player or a locker key if you were wearing it in a gym. 

The hooded fleece also comes in navy or black as well as the plum: although the plum colour isn't usually one I'd choose to wear, I really like it. It's a bit more fun that my standard dark colour palette - and nice to see a splash of colour in plus sized clothes for a change. 

Cue the awkward posed photo on one of our family country walks...

Hooded Fleece in Plum - I'm wearing a size 18 - priced currently at £35 in the sale (was £55)

I'm also wearing my trusty State of Mind joggers here from my last review which I wear for almost every workout I do - they're a great fit even after losing weight, and have washed so well over the past 6 months. 

The second item I was sent is this black Swing Top with Bell Sleeves. It's made from an incredible quality heavy Lyrca fabric, which really helps keep my temperature controlled while exercising - I don't seem to get really hot like I have done in other Lycra wear. The 3/4 length sleeves are ideal for me as I hate wearing short sleeved t-shirts to workout in as I'm so conscious of my upper arms: this top is functional and flattering, and feels as if it will last me a lifetime. The square neckline is different from anything I've worn before, and took me a while to get used to, but having now worn it on multiple occasions, and looked at photos of myself in it, I'm growing to like it a bit more. I think a round neck option would be really popular too, if they decided to make one. I think this top would only be suitable to wear with a tracksuit bottom, jean or trouser - it comes down to my hips, but not over, so I wouldn't be comfortable pairing it with anything of thinner material such as leggings, as it's a bit short, and wouldn't really protect my modesty!

The A-Line Swing top with Bell Sleeves is currently in the sale at £20 - a bargain for such a good quality versatile piece. I've worn it here with my burgundy slim fit jeans from F&F at tesco, in a size 14. 

What I really like about State of Mind as a brand is how they listen to the feedback of their customers, and actually act on the points made by reviewers like myself. Based on feedback from the A-Line top (above) they have now developed a new version which is 3 inches longer - hurrah! This means it can now easily be teamed with leggings for a yoga-style look, and feels more comfortable when working out - especially for pilates/yoga type workouts when you're likely to be in some compromising positions!  

State of Mind sent me this top in their signature plum shade, and I love it - weirdly, I find the plum to be a more flattering shade than the black, and much prefer it's longer length. 

The A-Line Flared Swing Top with Bell Sleeves (Longer Length) is priced at £44. I'm wearing a size 16 here and find it to be a really good fit. 

Lastly, I was sent the summer version of their joggers in a 3/4 style capri pant. I'm always a little dubious about capri-style pants as I have quite short legs, and tend to find them a little long on my short frame - worried I'll have the "trousers-that-shrunk-in-the-wash" look, I would usually avoid these altogether, but I found that paired with my jelly shoes, flip flops or bare feet that they don't look too awful at all, and are certainly a much cooler option for the nicer weather. For my 5 foot 5" frame I'd probably still prefer them to be an inch shorter if I were to wear them with trainers, but if you're average height they would probably measure up perfectly!

The Kick Flare Capri Pant is currently priced at £39. 

Although State of Mind's clothes are definitely on the pricier end of the sportswear market, you are definitely paying for quality and fit that I'm yet to find elsewhere. To feel this good in clothes that you're going to work out in is a really cool thing, and a new phenomenon for me. In all honesty, some of these clothes feel too good just to workout in and have made their way into my day-to-day wardrobe as well! 

What do you wear to workout in? Do you have the same fit issues as me with high street brands? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Mrs B


You can follow State of Mind on Twitter @StateofMind101

Disclaimer: I was sent these clothes for the purpose of this review - however, as always all opinions, photos and words are my own. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

What's in my changing bag? with Kiddicare

What's in my changing bag?

(with Kiddicare)

I'm sure this is of interest to any parents out there with small kids who still require nappy changes - just what is an 'essential kit' for daily goings on with a little one? 

My son Bert is now just over 7 months old, he's getting more and more active every day: he's mastered army crawling, pulling himself up to standing while holding furniture, and is starting to walk while holding on to the sofa…he eats two big solid meals a day (breakfast and dinner) and has finger foods/snacks every lunch time, he has cut down to around 4 feeds of 200ml a day of milk, and sleeps through the night. 

Here is a cheeky picture of my wee man this morning playing in his car walker … (I love an excuse to share a picture with my lovely blog readers!)

Hi from Bert! 

I'm sure every parent has a different essential changing bag kit list - and it may well change for every parent over time, but here's the current contents of my changing bag for little Bert…

-Nappies (always Pampers for us)
-Nappy sacks
-A change of clothes
-A bottle of 'ready to feed' milk
-A sterilised bottle
-A selection of dummies
-Tiddley Pom organic nappy cream
-A spare pair of socks
- 2 x bibs
-A dribble bib
- A muslin cloth
-Baby suncream
- Some Dentinox Wipes
-A bag of organic snacks such as Organix Sweetcorn Rings
- Bert's red health record book
- Bert's notebook (where we list what he eats/milk and what nappy changes he has - plus the times, this helps me immeasurably as I am super-forgetful and it helps me keep track - also fun to look back, and handy to know what his 'patterns' are, if any!)

My pretty "tree tops" change bag which matches my Cosatto Giggle pram

In the changing bag I also pack a few essential items for me - sometimes I take a separate hand bag as well as the changing bag, but generally it is easier for me to pop my keys, purse and sunglasses into the baby bag along with Bert's essentials. Do you pack a separate bag for yourself? Or are you the same as me?

my keys, purse and sunglasses - daily necessities. 

The 'Extra' Bag

I also have an 'extra' bag - which is a little see through zip up bag containing lots of lotions and potions that I only need occasionally. I usually have it to hand at home, and throw it in the changing bag if we're going away for a weekend...

The 'extra' bag

Contents of the extra bag includes:

-Nasosal - for blocked baby noses
-Johnson's Nappy Rash Cream
-Vapour rub
-Olbas drops
-Infacol for colic/wind
-Milton Antibacterial hand gel
-Dentinox teething gel
-Nail clippers
-Surgical scissors (for opening cartons of milk mostly)
-Syringe for medicine
-Extra Dentinox wipes
-Spare hilarious moustache dummy!


I also regularly take a selection of toys out with us to amuse Bert while we are out and about - they're usually specifically selected for each trip and are thrown into the top of the changing bag, or in the pram with Bert - his top toys for travel at the moment are:

A teething ring toy/ Sophie The Giraffe / ELC teething ring / Burnie the Bear (Woburnie - from Woburn!) / Lamaze's Torin the TRex & Freddie The Firefly

The Lamaze toys hoop onto the pram which is really handy, and the other toys are all quite small and easy for Bert to enjoy while we're out. Sophie The Giraffe and Burnie the Bear are definitely his top two! 

Do your little ones have a must-have toy?

The Weekend Bag

We regularly go away for the weekend to stay with friends and family, and of course, we have to pack many more items for overnight stays away from home - our main essential weekend kit includes:

-Travel cot
-Sleeping bag
-Extra milk (Bert is having Aptamil 1 Ready to Feed bottles) 
-5 or 6 bottles
-Food pouches, bowls, spoons
-Travel high chair
-Microwave steriliser
-Extra nappies/wipes
- 5 or 6 spare outfits
-Extra toys
-4 or 5  muslin cloths
-Extra dummies
-Selection of baby suitable snacks
-Nightlight/Projector Twilight Turtle 
-Bouncy chair or bumbo
-The 'extra' bag full of lotions and potions in case Bert gets a little poorly while we're away (this has happened on a couple of occasions)

I think we are still at that early cautious stage where you pack much more than you actually realistically need, but I'd rather take too much than not enough - also, we have a car which we can pack full to the rafters if needed, so it's not too much of a hassle. If we didn't have the car I'd probably pack a much more modest weekend kit. 

What makes it in to your essential baby kits?

Are your children different ages and do they require different items? 

Check out other blogger's changing bag contents by searching the hashtag #whatsinmychangingbag on Twitter. 

To purchase a new changing bag why not check out the fab range at Kiddicare here

Disclaimer: This project is sponsored by Kiddicare, and we were kindly given a £50 Kiddicare voucher in exchange for sharing our #whatsinmychangingbag post. 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Happy Mother's Day! GuyLian and Precious Plates Review...


Me and my gorgeous boy! 

I'm pretty excited about today as it is my first ever Mother's Day celebration as a Mum - last year I was 4 months pregnant with Bert, and I can remember really clearly wondering what this Mother's Day would be like…

For today I have arranged a lovely big family meal at lunchtime with my husband, Bert, my mum, my twin sister, mother in law, father in law, brother in law and sister in law at a new local restaurant/hotel called d'Pary's - I'm so looking forward to trying out what looks like a fabulous new venue in Bedford, and cant wait for us all to get together and celebrate the day. 

My husband and I always treat our mums to sweet little gifts and cards on Mother's Day, and this year is no exception. 


My mum has a really sweet tooth - especially when it comes to chocolate, so when the lovely people at GuyLian (my most favourite chocolate in the whole world) offered to send me this big box of 32 GuyLian Sea Horses in time for Mother's Day it seemed silly not to pass them on to my lovely mum, who I know will really enjoy tucking into them! It was blooming hard to part with them to be honest, as they truly are my favourite chocolates; but there's no more deserving person to give them to than my mum! 


I also thought I'd better buy mum a gift to keep (not that she'd mind me only giving her a giant box of chocolates!) I chose a gorgeous personalised plaque from Jem over at Precious Plates (a small craft business based in my hometown of Bedford). Where I can, I love to support local businesses and Jem makes such lovely things that they're hard to resist! At Christmas she made Bert a beautiful personalised Santa snack plate (see the post here) and she hasn't disappointed with this beautiful Mother's Day plaque which cost £10. 

"Only the best Mums and Dads get promoted to Nanny and Grandad….Nanny Seaside - Bert - Grandad Grumps"

My silly mum is called 'Nanny Seaside' because when I was pregnant she told me she had always envisioned herself as being retired and living by the seaside when she was a nan - she said she'd dreamed of being called 'Nanny Seaside' and then the name sort of stuck! She does live quite close to the seaside - much closer to it than we do, so I guess it is a reasonably accurate name! And anyhow, she still plans to move to the coast when she retires, and so it will be totally relevant then!

My stepdad is called 'Grandad Grumps' because we always joke with him that he is the grumpiest man ever (think Victor Meldrew!) :-) hahaha…my poor stepdad gets lots of stick from the rest of the family (he is pretty grumpy though!)

All in all I think these are pretty perfect gifts for my lovely mum - and I hope she'll be pleased with them when she opens them today. I'm chuffed with the pairing of something luxurious for her to consume, and something lovely for her to keep - double win! 


This year I feel especially emotional about Mother's Day - not only because it's my first as a mum to Bert, but because this last year has really taught me how much I love and appreciate having such an awesome Mum. Mum was one of my birthing partners (as well as my husband) and they made the most awesome and supportive team - it would have been so much harder if my mum hadn't been there, when you're in pain you always want your mum, right? 

Becoming a mum myself has made me discover a new-found respect for my mum, and all she has done for me over the years. Now that I understand what the love for your own child feels like, I appreciate so much more all the times she has worried about me, told me to be careful, and given me (sometimes unwanted) advice, which *annoyingly* is always right! :-)


To finish off I thought I'd share my favourite pictures of me and my beautiful Mum with you all…these pictures were taken on my wedding day…

There was a pretty big drama on the day, as my poor mum got stuck in horrendous traffic on the motorway on the way to my wedding ceremony, and thought she would have to miss it! She was calling me in tears saying she was stuck in complete gridlock, and that I would have to do it without her *cue sobs from us both* - it was SO awful. The registry office staff were great and held on as long as they could, but after an hour of nervous waiting they couldn't wait any longer, and so I had to take a deep breath, hold my stepdad's arm and prepare myself for walking down the aisle knowing she wasn't there. :-( 

JUST as the music started and I took my first step towards the double doors, I heard a huge cheer from the ceremony room...she had just run in, mascara stained and determined not to miss her daughter's special day! I have never felt so relieved in my life! These pictures remind me how glad I am to have my mum in my life...

Me and Mumma! 

my gorgeous mum! 

a private joke that made us crack up! happy memories! 

What did you buy for your mum this Mother's Day?

Would you have been pleased with the gifts I chose?

Have a happy day to all Mums out there!

Mrs B 


You can follow GuyLian on Twitter @Guylian_Chocs or on Facebook here

Disclaimer: I was sent a box of 32 GuyLian sea horse Belgian chocolates for the purpose of this review. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Lucky Lady….Gorgeous Flowers from Serenata Flowers

I've been such a lucky lady recently, and have won lots of lovely online competitions. You have to be in it to win it as they say - and I really do get a thrill from entering as many competitions as I can find. There are tons out there just waiting for your entries from brand pages on Facebook, blog giveaways, Twitter Follow/RT comps to Instagram regram giveaways - the world of social media has lots to give away - and I have definitely been reaping the rewards since starting my addiction to comping. 

I started entering competitions regularly at the end of last year after winning £100 worth of clothes from a plus size brand in a random competition entry. The thrill of winning spurred me on to find lots more competitions to enter - and since then I've won:

-a hotel stay at The Thistle Hotel, Kensington including B&B & a £50 Westfield Voucher 
-a hotel stay at The Thistle Brighton, including dinner, B&B, & £100 worth of spa treatments
-£150 Hotel Chocolate Hamper
-a large red leather beanbag
-two boxes of Tyrell's crisps (36 bags!)
-a Kindle Fire HD
-£30 Pet food voucher
-an inflatable travel toddler bed worth £80
-a set of fun wooden patterned ice cream spoons
-a dress of my choice from Lovedrobe
-Buggy clips and hooks
-Quentin Blake books x2 


I've been very lucky...but I have entered tons of competitions and not won them. These wins really are a small proportion of what I have entered. That said, I feel really lucky to have won such a lot of cool things.

I really recommend a website called SuperLucky where the lovely Di puts together competition round up's, lists and advice - it's a great one-stop-shop for entering a large amount of giveaways easily, around 80% of the competitions I enter come from this site! 


This Week's Win…

This week my lucky streak continued and I won a gorgeous bouquet of my choice up to the value of £35 from Serenata Flowers. This competition was hosted by Clare from Emmy's Mummy Blog  - thanks Clare! 

I chose a hand tied bouquet called Nana's Garden (worth £34.99)

The flowers arrived on Wednesday - and I was so excited - I've never had an expensive bouquet of flowers delivered to my front door before!

The flowers arrived in a big box, and were in perfect condition! 

I was interested to see if the flowers looked as impressive in real life as they did in the image on the website. 

I wasn't disappointed - the flowers are beautiful! 

Who wouldn't be majorly happy with these flowers brightening their home?


Fresh flowers make me so happy! 

Sunflowers are just the happiest flowers in the whole world! :-)

Thanks to Serenata flowers and Clare over at Emmy's Mummy for a fab competition! 

Here's hoping for lots more lovely wins in the future!

Mrs B


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Raspberry Curd Recipe *a midweek treat*

I'm a huge lemon curd lover and often make it from scratch at home, so when I saw the idea of making raspberry curd instead I couldn't wait to give it a go! I love the way this curd uses a lovely pink summery fruit, especially as spring is in full swing (minus the hail storm I got caught in today - not cool!) 

The curd is relatively quick and easy to make - it takes about 40 minutes from beginning to end. Once made it can be stored in a sterilised jar, and once opened can be kept in the fridge for around a week.

(Makes one large jar)


500g fresh raspberries
225g granulated sugar
57g salted butter, diced
2 large eggs, beaten


1. Put the raspberries and 2 tbsps of water in a large saucepan, and bring to the boil. Simmer the raspberries with the lid on until soft (around 5 minutes).

2. Pass the raspberry mixture through a sieve into a bowl placed on top of a pan of simmering water. Ensure the bowl does not touch the water, but creates a seal with the bottom of the pan to trap the steam produced by the simmering water. 

3. Add the sugar, butter and eggs. Over the lowest possible heat, gently whisk the mixture with a balloon whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Stir with a wooden spoon and keep the mixture moving while you cook to ensure it does not stick to the bowl.  On no account must it  boil or it may curdle. If it starts to bubble, remove from the heat immediately, set the bowl in a large bowl of iced water, and stir the curd with a wooden spoon. 

4. Continue to cook, stirring constantly (so as to avoid the eggs scrambling!) with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens; then turn off the heat and stir again. If you feel the curd isn't quite as thick as you want it then heat it again - but remember that it will thicker further as it cools. The curd is properly cooked once it coats the back of a spoon - after that it is up to you how thin or thick you want to make it. 

5.  Once you are happy with the curd's consistency pour into sterilised jars , and label. Store in the fridge and once opened eat within a week (that won't be a problem, trust me!). 

This curd is perfect spread on toast or crumpets, dolloped on top of porridge or rice pudding, spooned over ice cream, as the filling for Raspberry Meringue Pie, or if made thick enough you could smother it between two sponge cakes with fresh cream to make the ultimate Victoria Sandwich! 

Soooo many delicious options….I opted for the quickest one - smothered on toast! What a lovely sweet treat for a late afternoon "I need some sugar" snack! 

I'm now building up a nice collection of homemade yummies in my fridge - it is so great to have some delicious homemade comfort in a jar to hand whenever I need a food-based pick me up (i.e. always!)

What have you been baking this week? 

And if you made this raspberry curd how would you eat it? My hubby doesn't like sweet things on bread, so he just goes for the "teaspoon straight out of the jar" approach! :-)

Mrs B


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

BOON Feeding Set Review for Tomy

Bert and I were recently sent some cool feeding products to review by the fab people over at Tomy . The products are made by BOON, which is a company I hadn't previously heard of (I am new to this parenting malarkey though!). They make fun, modern, colourful and highly innovative products for babies from baths, to feeding utensils, vegetable choppers to food mashers - all designed to make life with your little one a tad easier. 

Bert is still relatively new to this eating solid food business - he's been on purees now for 3 months, and has gotten on really well. He truly does love his food (I wonder where he gets that from?). Now he's fully adapted to a life of consuming stuff other than milk I thought it would be a good time to have a try at some finger foods as well as purees. We used one of our cool BOON Platter plates to give Bert his first selection plate of finger foods - Bert tried:

Tetris shaped bread and butter (because Bert is THAT cool!)
pieces of very ripe banana
pieces of very ripe avocado
a few quavers 
and very ripe piece of nectarine

BOON Platter (3 Pack) is priced at £11.99 

The BOON Platter was perfect for a selection of finger foods: the little varied size compartments make it easy to separate foods (this would be fab if you have a child who doesn't like their foods to touch - I know its a common problem with children). The lovely bright colours make the plate really inviting and interesting - Bert instantly wanted to reach out and touch it. The best feature comes from the rubbery slip resistant bottom, which stops the plate from sliding around all over the place - making it much easier for your little one to feed themselves without the whole plate ending up on the floor (definitely a massive plus as we all know the carnage and mess feeding time can leave behind!)

I like this feeding myself thing mum! 

awesome rubbery bottom stops the plate from slipping all over the place

these quavers are tasty mum! 

yes, thats a sandwich half poking out his mouth - cute! 

this is fun

is there anything cuter than seeing these chubby fingers covered in butter for the first time?

At breakfast time we tried out the BOON Catch Bowl - I made Bert his favourite combo of Farley's Rusk mashed with Heinz Yoghurt & Fruit cereal (baby rice) - he absolutely loves it! The catch bowl comes with a non-slip bottom much like the platters, along with a rubber "catch it" bib/lip attached to the main bowl, which helps catch any drops and spills - this lip will come in especially handy when Bert is at the stage of wanting to feed himself. 

BOON Catch Bowl - Orange/Blue is priced at £8.99

Bert was interested in the bowl straight away and enjoyed touching it - I think he will especially enjoy this bowl when he is feeding himself, and it will make his life easier as it won't slip and slide all over his high chair tray. 

The lip on the bowl is great even when you're feeding your baby - you can tuck it under their chin and it will catch any mouthfuls they decide to spit at you! :-)

Alongside the bowl we tried out the BOON Benders cutlery set - the set comes with a chunky spoon and fork, both of which can be bent at the top to suit either left handed or right handed children - genius! 

BOON Benders Cutlery - Orange/Blue is priced at £5.99 

straight spoon

Bent to the left

Bent to the right

Although Bert isn't close to feeding himself yet - I let him hold the spoon, put it to his mouth and get used to the motion of bring cutlery to his mouth. He was instantly drawn to the bright colour of the spoon and seemed to find it easy to hold, and got it straight into his mouth without any fuss. 

Look at those cheeky chops! 

We got on very well with the BOON products we were sent - they've all now gone through the dishwasher (top shelf) a couple of times, and have come out perfectly. They are practical from a parent's perspective, and fun for your kids, and I think these items are priced very fairly.

What Else Do BOON Have to Offer??

Now I've discovered BOON I couldn't resist having a peek at what other awesome products they have to offer. 

I like very much that on the whole their products are reasonably priced, and pretty accessible to most budgets - however, if you have a bit of extra cash to spend you could splash out on this pretty awesome Flair High Chair priced at £199.99 which comes with an inbuilt pneumatic lift! 

Another product I love - which I could imagine would come in really handy, is this food masher. No batteries or sockets are needed to work this little gadget and it lets you mush up fruit, veggies and boneless meats all at the turn of a handle - you can make your own homemade baby food in minutes! Plus, it isn't noisy like food processors, so it won't wake up your sleeping baby - doubly awesome! 

The Mush- Food Masher is priced at £19.99

BOON have lots of other great products on offer to parents nation-wide - their website is well worth a browse - especially for those of us at the weaning stage. 

It's onwards and upwards for Bert and his weaning journey - we're going to continue with our lunch time finger foods - I'm planning on trying him with some pre-cooked vegetables like carrots and courgette, some slices of ham, and some mashed avocado or cheese spread sandwiches over the next few weeks. 

Wish us luck! 

Mrs B


Disclaimer: We were sent these products for the purpose of this review - all opinions and words are my own.