I was asked to review a Lässig changing bag and, honestly, my first thought was, “Not another changing bag.” Then I took a closer look and realised that this really isn’t just another changing bag! Made from recycled polyester by a company committed to pursuing sustainability and taking social responsibility seriously, the Lässig mix ‘n match changing bag deserves a closer look. In fact, I thought you might want a chance to win one too and the brand has sent one for a giveaway here on the blog too.
The mix ‘n match changing bag doesn’t scrimp on style. It comes in three colour combinations, all of them simple, casual and eye-catching. I went for the rose, pictured here, which is also the colour of the bag I’m giving away. It feels like I’m carrying around a big handbag rather than an obvious changing bag.
My usual complaint about changing bags is that they’re designed to store disposable nappies but this one is roomy enough for bulky cloth. It fits three or four reusable nappies, washable wipes, a spare set of clothes for Delilah and Ophelia, my big water bottle, lunch, snacks and the usual other bits and bobs. There are loads of pockets too to make it easy to find stuff like your phone and keys. Sadly, I tend to absentmindedly shove both of them in and forget where but, you know.
It comes with three sets of handles so you can grasp by hand, wear on the shoulder or sling over the shoulder. Personally, with three kids going with me most places, I pack it too heavily for the over-the-shoulder option but on the shoulder it’s fine going out and about and it’s easy to hang on a pushchair if we’re going somewhere with one. Full disclosure, on changing bags in general, I prefer a backpack if I’m going to be carrying for any serious distance but a bag like this is fine if we’re not doing that much walking or if we have a pushchair. And as bags go, the straps on this one are built for comfort.
Lässig only uses sustainable materials in their bags. PVC, nickel, azo dyes and phalates are out of the mix. They also use an FSC-certified print shop and are teamed up with tree planting and water supply projects among other environmental and social initiatives. They have combined their concern for nature and people with genuinely strong design.
They also do kids backpacks. We were sent a couple of the Little Tree – Fox mini backpacks for the girls, which they’ve been delighted with. Again, they’re beautifully made, with lots of compartments (both useful and fun) and the prints are lovely. They’re a bit on the small side for Talitha, I think, but it probably depends on what you’re taking out and, obviously, I wouldn’t want to load her up anyway.
So, on to the giveaway! To enter to win a rose Lässig mix n’ match changing bag, visit their social responsibility page, leave a comment on this blog post telling me which of the initiatives listed there most interests you and enter the Rafflecopter widget below.
Laurence has a quiet time with work at the moment so we decided to take advantage of the ebb and flow of freelanc to fit a quick camping trip in to Wookey Farm, just forty minutes from where we live in Bristol. Packing the car in a record one and half hours, we reflected that once we got there that the campsite was just far away to feel like a change without being daunting.
When Laurence emailed the farm to ask whether they had free pitches, they explained that there was lots of space since it was no longer half term. Half term. We hadn’t even thought of that. We felt incredibly grateful to be able to take advantage of both the freedom of home educating and the sunny weather.
This is our family’s third year camping at Wookey Farm. Laurence took Talitha in March two years ago while I stayed home with newborn Ophelia. Then last year, we all went with another family. This year it was just the four of us (well, five with baby in utero) and it was wonderful seeing Ophelia experience the farm camping experience very differently as a two-year-old.
From putting up the tent to building fires, toasting marshmallows to feeding the goats and donkey straw, swinging in a wildflower meadow to splashing in a river, both children loved every bit of being there.
I was even surprised that the compost toilets – a bit of an issue for Talitha and I last time – didn’t phase any of us this time. Even Ophelia, newly out of nappies, was keen to use the compost loo though we’d brought the potty along.
The experience proved a bit much for me, admittedly. I’ve been far more comfortable in this pregnancy than in either of my previous so I felt optimistic about camping but even with all our sleeping gear, pelvic girdle pain hit me in the night. I pushed through it for most of the next day but eventually had to sit in the field while the others went to the river. The change of scene and time outdoors together was well worth it, though.
As it turned out, the weather was changeable (ah, Britain) so the girls got good use out of the wellies and a parka they were sent by Verbaudet. Both pairs of boots have handles which make them easy and fun to pull on and, better yet, their patterns change colour in water! Cue lots of splashing in puddles when it’s wet weather, which thankfully we didn’t have this time. Talitha’s 3-in-1 parka is lined with a detachable gilet on the inside which makes it perfect for all the in-between weather we’ve been having recently.
I imagine that this will be our last camping trip all together until the baby is here. We’re planning to camp come September at The Good Life Experience festival which may be its own madness but in the meantime, Laurence plans to take Ophelia on her own some time then the two of them together. I’d like to get a solid bit of one-to-one time in with each of the children (and with Laurence!) before baby number three joins us next month.
When people find out we’re having a third girl, they often say, “At least you won’t have to buy anything.” Actually, we got rid of almost all our baby kit as quickly as Ophelia outgrew it as we were mostly expecting to be a family of four not five and we both hate having to store stuff and dig it out later to get rid.
Actually, that’s been fine because it’s quite fun sorting all the baby things and this time I’ve been in a privileged position to be able to think about what I like aesthetically a bit more. Yes it’s frivolous but I do like clothes and pretty things and this is the first time in my life that I feel allowed to admit that.
I’m also putting together our baby gear at a time of life where I’m thinking more about ethical purchasing and seeking simplicity. While I may not yet be where I want or need to be, I’ve been making little changes to the way I consume here and there over the past few years. My shopping haul for baby girl number three has been part of that.
1. Buy essentials
We buy too many things. This is triply true when it comes to baby purchases. Having a baby is exciting, shopping is lots of fun and the two combine to overwhelm our houses with stuff we don’t need that ends up in landfill. Do your research online (make sure it’s not just marketing material you’re reading), ask friends whose babies are now toddlers what they regret buying or better yet, wait. You can wait with a surprising number of purchases. Babies actually don’t need that much to begin with.
When I was pregnant with our first daughter, we chose a pram that our in-laws bought for us that we almost never used! I’ve daydreamed about the beautiful sling stash I could have funded instead. 😉 On a serious note, having used several pushchairs since, if we’d waited to work out what we needed and maybe gone to a store with more diverse options and personal expertise, I totally would have gone for something else.
2. Shop second hand
OK, so I’m sorry if that first point was a little boring. When you know what you want, why not buy it second hand? Especially in the first year, many baby items don’t get worn out before they are passed on. I’ve bought lovely hand-knitted cardigans from local charity shops in the past, giving them more use at a price affordable to me.
Also, it surprises me how many people don’t know about nearly new sales. The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) run some fab ones and you’re looking at paying 20-50p on baby vests depending on where you go. We hit on in Portishead a couple of months ago and got some beautiful clothes for not very much at all. Some had been worn by two or three babies but still looked new. Some of that haul is in the picture above.
3. Go organic
This is something that’s been on my radar a lot recently. We’re not in a position to choose organic options all of the time but I feel doing what we can is still worthwhile. There needs to be major shift away from current intensive agricultural practices for the sake of wildlife, the environment and the health of the labour force and consumers. I know we don’t often think about organic purchases beyond food but it’s worth looking into.
A major obstacle to buying organic baby clothes for many of us is, undeniably, cost. While I managed picked up a few organic bits from that nearly new sale I mentioned before, I’ve mainly bought pre-loved organic clothes from Facebook selling groups. They aren’t always the more expensive option depending on what you’re looking for, though, so do have a look at brands like Frugi, Organics for Kids and Little Green Radicals if you usually buy clothes new.
4. Make your own and upcycle
Buying something may offer an instant hit (I’ll admit to indulging in retail therapy when I’m not feeling great, even if it is just a pack of pens) but crafting has a slow burn delight all its own. Better yet if you can get your hands on reclaimed materials or upcycle an item you don’t need anymore. A man’s shirt could become a baby’s dress.
I’ve been crocheting a blanket for this baby. The wool isn’t second hand or reclaimed but it was knocking about from another project I never got around to. They could have sat there for years while I bought a blanket but instead they’re being repurposed. Even if they aren’t traditionally baby colours, I find the combination so pleasing. I’ve also crocheted a newborn hat.
The tie-dye baby grow is a creation by Recycled Rainbows. She’s a mum in Bath who sources second hand white clothes and tie dyes them. I couldn’t resist this item at a La Leche League workshop recently (she was donating profits to LLL).
5. Think reusable
Are there items on your list that you could think about in terms of the long game? Are they made to last? I mean, obviously, this is a little funny coming from someone who could have saved everything to kit out three girls with the same gear but I’m still trying to think about whether I’d be able to pass items on to another baby afterwards. Our cloth nappies are honestly knackered. I’ve mainly used terry squares with Motherease covers.
The covers are actually still fine after two babies but holding up the squares to the light reveals some thinning. I feel fine about that because I think they’ve been through a lot but while it would be tempting to just say we’ll just go disposable this time, I’ve started building a new cloth stash for this new baby.
6. Donate to support other mothers
While it’s relatively easy enough for me to get things sorted for this baby, I’m conscious that there are many mothers in the UK for whom the joy of having a baby is accompanied by financial stress due to poverty. I’ve been following Baby Bank Network with interest. It’s a charity that collects pre-loved baby items and passes them on to families in need. They’re local to Bristol but you can find similar organisations around the country here.
For now I’ve made a cash donation but I will be looking for other ways to offer items (I do have bits I accidentally saved that I don’t need) or time. I reckon if you wound up with too many things because of generous friends or bought a pack of, say, babygrows but didn’t like all of them, looking for a place to donate could be a good option.
This post is meant to share ideas rather than prescribe. I do think that if all of us did what we realistically can even if that means, say, a charity shop purchase once in a while rather than a full-scale overhaul, it would make a difference.
I’m joining in with the online Ethical Fashion Collective started by Mel Wiggins and Owl and Accordion. On the first Friday of every month you can join in with a blog post, tweet, IG or Facebook status hashtagged #ethicalfashioncollective to share your ethical style and ideas.
“Shall we go to this?” Laurence’s text read. Cue a photograph of the flyer for a local Wassail. He’d never heard the word before but I had. I used to list them for a little online ‘zine I worked for some years ago in the quirky town of Lewes, where amusing British traditions never die. I’d always thought they looked like great fun so I penciled it in.
Wrapped up in all the layers (I wax evangelical about my knitted wool socks and merino thermals I bought from Cambridge Baby. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have been subject to this), we grabbed some ribbons and headed to the community orchard where it was all going down.
There was singing and recorder playing a-plenty. So merry, in fact, that I considered for one mad moment that maybe I would be OK with teaching Talitha to play the recorder. Reality hit me on our way home so no such thing has been purchased. Visions of my four-and-a-half-year-old and 23-month-old fighting over a glorified whistle, indiscriminately tooting the day away still make me cringe.
Meanwhile, the children all got stuck in with decorating two of the apple trees that were being “blessed”. A Wassail is essentially a celebration in hope of a good harvest. It now remains an opportunity for communities to get together, get outdoors and connect with the seasons.
We took a break to grab some cake, mulled apple juice for the girls and I and mulled cider for Laurence. Then the morris dancing started. I have to admit, I love a bit of morris dancing. I get irrationally excited over it – the sight of it, rather, I actually can’t do it at all.
In fact, I went along to a friends morris dancing side’s practice to try it once and discovered that I was particularly inept. It looked so simple and like so much fun but alas, I wound up rather confused. I still have a real soft spot for watching it, though, and luckily the kids found it fascinating. Talitha was particularly interested in the accordion they were dancing along to.
A bit more ribbon tying, playing with a random child (I love how kids do this!) and we decided we better head off and make supper. The girls absolutely did not agree and in retrospect, we should have stayed a bit longer, maybe cosied over by the fire, struck up a conversation with a few more people and let them run around some more. Ah, retrospect. Next time.
I didn’t really go in for New Year’s resolutions this year. With a third baby on the way and continuing our home education journey, survival felt a reasonable enough goal.
However, I do have a few things I vaguely want to give a bit more attention this year. One is to “make” more. My parents gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and I’m looking forward to learning to use it. Picking up crochet again last year was a bit of a revelation.The other is to majorly declutter because the tyranny of stuff in our house (too much we don’t even use!) is doing my head in. And the last is where this post comes in. I want to buy things I won’t end up throwing away.
After trying everything we could last year to rehome a sofa that had become an eyesore, and failing, I finally accepted that we had to get the council to take it and that it would most likely end up in landfill. I was gutted about it but I’d tried dyeing it, it was too expensive and awkward to reupholster, I didn’t feel up to the job myself and no one, absolutely no one wanted it.
We’ve since been given another sofa (a sofa bed in fact) that will see us through the next few years and this time I’m trying to keep it in good enough nick to pass on to someone but eventually (read: when the kids are older), we probably will go looking at new sofas.
When we do, the principles I plan to apply relate to just about any big purchase you want to ensure won’t end up in landfill. Obviously they may not reasonably apply to everything. However, there are a lot of things that we probably could spare throwing away with a little more thought from the outset. Before clicking through to PayPal or whacking out my debit card, here’s what I’ll be thinking about:
Is it built to last? What is it made of and how well is it made? How well are the materials and structure likely to last – bearing in mind we have kids and cats in the house?
Is it timeless? Am I likely to change my mind about it in years to come? How well will it accommodate changing needs?
How well does it clean? Is cleaning straightforward or will I need specialist products or services to do it?
Can I fix or upcycle it? Is it structured in such a way that it can be repaired if not by me then by a local craftsperson?
Does it come with a guarantee?
Can I pass it on? What would I need to do to make sure I can sell, donate or give it away? Is this realistic?
Over to you. What do you think about when making a big purchase? Do you have any other ideas for keeping big items out of landfill?
This is a collaborative post. See my disclosure for more details.
Photo from StockSnap.io
A few weekends ago, I enjoyed trying out a Makey Mamas workshop to learn how to make simple, natural skincare products for the whole family.
I first heard about Makey Mamas in the various Bristol Facebook groups I’m on and was intrigued. Offering creative classes specifically for mothers, from newborn photography to crocheting booties to sewing harem pants, they sounded great fun and value for money with most classes costing around £25 and less.
I love the ethos of the company from the idea of getting mothers together to create to their commitment to using repurposed and organic materials. The Makey Mamas Facebook Page, which also doubles as a blog is often a source of entertainment and education.
We tend to avoid using harsh chemicals in our home and on our skin but “natural” products can be pricey and, honestly, a bit hit and miss in terms of how well they work. So I was intrigued to try making my own.
A weekend class suited me well with Laurence dropping me off and taking the kids to the central library for the morning.
We started by introducing ourselves and saying a little bit about what brought us to the class. One participant mentioned that she just loved learning alongside other women and this really resonated with me, especially once the class was over and I was positively radiating with what an informative and empowering experience this turned out to be.
That’s the thing, on the face of it I might have thought, “Oh, but I can just Google stuff or buy a book and whip up something”. Some people might but actually sitting down and exploring natural ingredients and essential oils, talking about their benefits and the care you need to take with them then actually making stuff right then and there has helped me walk away knowing that I can confidently do this.
Misty Tunks who runs the workshop is a wealth of information about skincare, essential oils, making and even beekeeping (so we learned some fascinating stuff about beeswax and bees hives!)
All the materials and equipment, including portable stoves, were laid out. We made three very different products: a bar, a balm and a cream. We specified whether it would be for us or our babies to decide how many drops of each essential oil would be included. We also had a list of essential oils and their benefits to help us personalise the products to our needs. I’m including a teething bar recipe at the end that I made for Ophelia, who’s been teething hard at the moment.
In addition to the products we’d made, we walked away with a surprisingly thorough pamphlet of notes about making skincare products. I’m looking forward to making more at home. I left the workshop buzzing. If I were pregnant, I’d totally be doing the bump casting workshop next. I’ll certainly book on to another class in the future.
Check out the Makey Mamas creative workshops available here. They even have a couple of Christmas gift making sessions.
Combine all ingredients except lavender oil in a double boiler. Stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the lavender oil. Pour into molds (we used cupcake liners and a cupcake tin). Allow to cool completely before removing from molds. Makes 1 bar.
I was invited to attend this workshop for free but I’ve gone on and on about it because it really was that good.
Concerned about the impact the way we live has on the environment and our health, I try to avoid using unnecessary chemicals in our home. We’ve long bought Ecover products and they recently sent me their new Grapefruit and Green Tea Washing Up Liquid to test.
The smell is gorgeous. I love that their products are kind to aquatic life and that the packaging is easily recyclable.
I am very sensitive to washing up liquids generally. Just one contact with washing up liquid can make the skin on my hands raw. However, I’ve washed up the odd plate without gloves using this liquid and it was OK, though I admittedly didn’t chance more than that.
Ecover are giving away a bundle of treats on this here blog including an Ecover scrubbing brush, tea towel, washing up liquid and additional Ecover products. To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below and leave me a comment telling me who does the most washing up in your house.