Sunday, 14 September 2014

Weaning Diaries - Baby Rice

I have been wanting to write this post for sometime but wanted to read more on the topic before putting pen to paper or in this case finger to keyboard.

Having looked at this topic I was surprised by what I read, and not in a good way. This is not an attempt to scare anyone and I am not writing to argue, persuade or instruct (those good old G.C.S.E Days) Neither do I profess to be any expert in food, nutrition or babies. I am simply a concerned Mother of 2 who would like to share with anyone who has children or is interested in this topic what I have read. Consequently, should you choose to follow any of the steps I have taken please be aware that you do so at your own risk.

As some of you are aware,  have recently started a journey to wean my daughter onto solid food. My initial plan as I was starting early was to start with a common food given to babies in the early stages of weaning, Baby rice. A simple, safe, plain tasting food which should be relatively easy to introduce and should not really cause any health issues for baby later on in life.Boy was I wrong!!!

I purchased baby rice for my daughter some time ago and could not wait to get started. Please note that while I have place images of the baby rice I have purchased in this post. This is not an attempt to name and shame. Baby rice is a common first food given to babies and I do believe that most brands that sell baby food do in fact have a baby rice product. So I guess your all thinking, "what's the issue" right?

Well.... a number of researchers have deduced that it may not be safe to feed baby rice cereals and/or rice based products too babies due to the levels of arsenic contained therein.

How Does It Occur?

Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance that presents itself in the earth. Arsenic that occurs can either be organic or inorganic. Inorganic arsenic is what we are concerned with From my research it is not intirely clear whether inorganic arsenic is purely natural or whether it is caused by Human intervention by spraying pesticides or through use of chemicals. Some articles say that it is contained in sedimentary rock others say it is caused by pesticides. Nevertheless, the fact that it is present t the issue at hand.

How Does It Get Into Rice?

As stated previously arsenic is a naturally occurring substance so its already in the soil. Plants absorb there nutrients from the soil and in the process inorganic arsenic is also taken into the plant. Rice happens to be a plant that absorbs high levels of inorganic arsenic and therein lies part of the problem. I have also read that there are some schools of thought suggesting that pesticides at the very least, boost the levels of arsenic contained in the plant.

So Whats The Big Deal?

According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration (hereafter referred to as the FDA) at this current time, arsenic exposure over a long period of time has been linked to higher rates of lung, bladder and skin cancers, not to mention heart disease.


The jury appears to be out on this topic and no-one gives a definitive answer on whether we should continue to feed baby rice to our babies and if so what is a safe level to give. The FDA are continuing to do research which is good as it enables us to make a more informed decision, they also have a good Q&A page on their website which I will post a link to.  Being that I am in the UK I also checked the Food Standards Agency website for any information I could find. They appear to have taken a more relaxed approach advising that on the samples they have tested, levels of inorganic arsenic does not give concern for the health of infants. The fact that both agencies are taking different stances is slightly worrying, but it looks as though the research carried out by the Food Standards Agency was in 2006 so perhaps more research is ongoing?? 

Based on what I have read I have amended my original plan for weaning. As you may note, despite the fact that I did purchase baby rice, I have been giving my daughter organic fruit and veg purees that I have made. Do I trust that the levels of inorganic arsenic in rice are no cause fr concern - No and even if I were to trust that it is no cause for concern at which point should it become a concern, 1 feed a day; 2 feeds a day; every other day; I have read that 2 feeds of baby rice a day could cause a risk of cancer that is twice the level of risk that is considered acceptable. I have therefor decided that until I know more I will not be giving my baby, rice cereal.

I am by no means, recommending that everyone should take this decision, but I would definitely recommend that you do your own research into the matter if you are concerned.

Useful Links

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Beauty Box - Daily Cleanser

When looking at daily cleansers one can really look no further than Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. I first spied this on my favorite TV shopping channel. I then started to notice it popping up all over the place and finally decided to treatment myself to a bottle last Christmas.

I managed to purchase this in one of the Boots stores but I also know that they sell Liz Earle products in John Lewis. The bottle I purchase was a gift set and came with 2 muslin face cloths which you will need when using this product. Don't be fooled into thinking that you can use baby muslins - They  (or at least the ones |I purchase for my baby) are to rough to use on the face and so you really need the Liz Earle ones.

The Brand

Liz Earle is a brand that has become legendary for its work in the skin care industry. They are multi-award winners for a number of there products including cleanse and polish. Not only do they have a skin care rang, they have also delved into the realms of hair care. The brand is a British brand and the bottle actually states that the product is made in the UK. The thing I most admire about this brand is the principles they stand for. They don't test on animals, They don't use genetically engineered products, they try to reduce the amounts of preservative in their products meaning some of their products are actually preservative free and the list goes on. For more information their website is very informative and definitely worth having a read of what they stand for if you are into products/brands that take there morals and ethics into consideration.

The Product

Cleanse and Polish is a product I place in the cream cleanser category. Before I tried this I previously used a traditional liquid facial wash. This product gas therefore changed they way I cleanse. The cream comes in pump style bottle. I use about two pumps to do my face, so the bottle does actually last a long time. You massage the cream into your face on dry skin. prior to doing this I like to fill the sink with warm water. When you massage the cream the scent is of essential oils which is quite nice and invigorating. I think part of this is due to eucalyptus which is in the product. Now ordinarily this can be quite as strong smell but in cleanse a polish it is well balanced and it is not overpowering. Once you have massaged the product in and got that circulation pumping and awake, you then take the muslin, wet it with warm water and use it to remove the cream. As mentioned, this gives a gentle exfoliation and cleanses/polishes the skin leaving you with bright awake skin ready to take on the day!! All you need to follow with is toner if you like, and your moisturizer.

Why I like this product.

  1. When you polish (use the muslin) you can see the days build up of grease and dirt on your muslin so you know it works.
  2. The smell - invigorating yet calming which means it translates well as a day and night cleanser
  3. It is not tested on animals
  4. After polishing, your skin looks visibly bright and clear
  5. It is strong enough to remove make up yet gentle on the skin
  6. There is gentle exfoliation without having to sand your skin (I don't like cleansers with grains they are way to abrasive)
All in all another firm favorite in the beauty box.

Monday, 8 September 2014

School Dinners

My eldest daughter is due to start school and this has got me thinking about school dinners and how far they have come.

Some of you may be old enough to remember school lunches of years gone by. My memories are of pink semolina, lumpy custard, turkey (for want of a better word as the meat was unidentifiable) drumsticks. I know my memories sound unappetizing, but it was not all bad. There were donuts - in all there lovely jammy stickiness, mandarin segments in lovely sweet syrup and my staple - pizza and chips. now these are my memories mind you and yours may be different but realistically speaking, looking back as an adult the only good thing about lunch time at school were the good old fashion dinner ladies who were serving lunch come rain or shine to any child in need of a hot lunch and  sometimes a dressing down.

OK, I admit that I was a fussy eater when it came to school dinners and I know that some people, family members included absolutely loved there lunch and always went back for seconds. But now I question whether would have been happy with my daughter having what I had back then. I am uncertain but I am swinging towards a no.

We are living in a society that is increasingly health conscious. We are now choosing whole grains and organic over GM and food ladled with pesticides. These were concerns that I was completely oblivious to me when I was tucking in at school. Further more if you did not like meat pie\cottage pie/shepherds pie etc, the alternative was usually chips with something else such as pizza or turkey wotsit.

So you can imagine my surprise when I visit my daughters school and we get to sample some of the school dinners. Moussaka (shut the front door??!!) Beef Curry (Say what now??!!) Jacket Potato with 2 different toppings everyday and a salad bar to boot. I turn to my other half to whisper wow get a load of this and then the school chef steps forward to give a presentation and he looks like he has just stepped out of a Michelin starred kitchen. More importantly we opt to try the Beef Curry and it is A-mazing, then greedy ole me steps forward for another sample of the mac n cheese and it is equally as delicious. The chef gives us a talk on how nutritious the food is and how it is prepared.Finally to top it off its free.

I was initially in a state of shock and completely surprised because school dinners have really come a long way. When I was at school, I always wanted to have a packed lunch. It was totally uncool to have a school dinner. But most children that had packed lunches ate lots of crisps, chocolate and biscuits. At least with a school dinner you were having a hot meal and for the most part it was more healthy than what a lot of children were bringing to school.

If we were served what my daughter is going to be served and what most children in the country will now be served, I can say with certainty that I would want to have a school lunch the variety is impressive, it is tasty and nutritious and the fact that it is now free for all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 is definitely something that we in the UK should be proud of. I still feel that the journey is not finished but we have definitely made a start and are doing some mileage along the route. Not bad considering in my opinion it was all started by someone called The Naked Chef.

Yes I do believe that this all started from one person - Jamie Oliver and hats off to him for what he has achieved, I for one will never look at school dinners the same way again.

Infantino - Steam and Smush Review

The Steam and Smush.

As busy Mums and Dads we are constantly looking for ways in which we can make jobs easier, more efficient and speedier so that we have more time to spend with our bundles. Que the Steam and Smush.

I have now been using this product for a week and I absolutely love it. Take steaming Apples to make puree.

You simply peel and chop your apple and place the chopped apple in  the steaming basket.This then fits into the white steam pot. You place the lid on and put it in the microwave for a few minutes.

When the apple comes out of the microwave you then drain the water (You can leave the lid onto do this as there is a lip on the pot that you steam everything in) once water is drained you then tip the apple directly into the steam pot and you are ready to smush

You are then left with perfectly smushed apple in under 10 mins

Generally I really like this product and will continue to use it. It is easy to clean and saves you having to get out pots and pans, boil water etc. Another important factor is that it is BPA free which is something I always look for. On the down side, the smush does not get the puree to a consistency that I am happy to give to my baby so I d have to get the hand blender out. I therefore feel that this product will really come into its own when my daughter moves onto stage 2 and is ready for lumpy food.

The Steam and Smush forms part of a range from Infantino called Fresh squeezed. The aim of the range is that once you have the food to the desired consistency, you then use another product (squeeze station) to place the food in pouches for when you are on the go. I am not keen on this as I don't like the idea of children eating from the pouches and prefer a good old plate, knife and fork. However I can see that this is not always practical especially when you are on the go and all in all I do like th majority of products that come in the range.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Beauty Box - Exfoliator

Today on using my Exfoliator I noted it is almost finished. This prompted me to do a review as it is a product that I will purchase again.                                                                                                                           My exfoliator is by a luxury British brand called Elemis. This exfoliator is the first product that I have purchased from Elemis and it is known as the Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash. Before I move onto the product I just thought I would highlight a bit about the brand.                                                                                                                                            Elemis as stated before is a  British brand. They specialise in skin care. One of the things I have noticed about them is that they are used in a lot of beauty salons, which is in fact where I purchased my bottle. They also feature on one of the biggest shopping channels in the country which is where I first heard about the product. The statement on the bottle that Elemis is "Defined by nature and led by science" is definitely reflected in there approach to skin care. From reading the content on the bottle (and I can only speak about this product) a number of natural products have been used with scientific processes to get results. The brand also is keen to promote that they do not test on animals which is always a good thing.

                                                                                                        Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash

The facial wash comes in a pump bottle which is great as it only releases a small amount of product. A little goes a long way. I think this is due to the slip of the product. There is plenty of it which means that it massages well on our face and spreads quite far as you massage it in. I usually leave it on my face for a few moments for it to really work. I find that using this facial wash is a whole experience an I can see why it is a spa product. The smell is clean, fresh and rejuvenating but calming all at the same time. It glides onto the skin and leaves a refreshing tingling sensation on the skin that as I say lets you know its working. When you wash the product off you are left with a brighter clearer complexion from the dead skin cells that have been gently buffed away. Using this product, defiantly engages the senses.


Excellent product to remain in my beauty box. I like the fact that it does not use harsh grains to exfoliate the skin. You get better results and a better experience using this product than you would a conventional exfoliator - in my personal opinion. Please note that Elemis recommends that if you are to use this product, you do not sunbathe or go on a sunbed while doing so and you also use sunblock with factor 30 while out during the day. I think that this is a good tip to stick to with any exfoliator as new skin sells are probably sensitive to UV rays.
Please also note that the instructions on the bottle state that this facial wash is for all skin types and can be used morning and night and should be followed with the Try-Enzyme Resurfacing Serum. I only use this product a couple of times a week now as I don't feel that I need it so often and I do not use the serum.

Finally I would like to state that I am not a skin or medical expert. I am simply a chic lady who loves this product and has consequently offered my experience in using it. Hence if you choose to follow the steps I have taken please be aware that it is done at your own risk.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Weaning Diaries - Day 10 and 11 update

Day 11 -

No Weaning today but new highchair has arrived. Once I start to use it I will do a review but at the moment I am waiting for the cushion to arrive - Watch this space!!


Day 10

Baby had 2 lots of solids today one in the morning and one in the afternoon, they both went down well. She had butternut squash mixed with pear in the after noon and apple in the morning. I have started to notice that she is not taking as much milk now and she does't always want more after she has had a bottle. I don't want to start reducing the milk she is having I just want her to be satisfied with it so I may cut back on the solids. At the minute I am giving 2 ice cubes per feed so I may reduce it to one.


We are using our freezer supplies nicely so will look to give a new taste of something else. perhaps sweet potato or something that does not require cooking like Advacdo. Please comments with any suggestions of what may have worked for you.


Day 9

Today we went back to the Apple so as to mix it all up. Well... It was like baby was tasting it for the first time all over again and we had the sucking sour lemons face. She did polish off the bowl in the end and eventually seemed to enjoy it. It is funny when she keeps giving me the face but also keeps coming back for more.


Baby is enjoying solids. Will start with 2 feeds a day tomorrow. Likely to give baby rice in the morning as a one of and then home made in the afternoon. I have 2 posts that I will be doing over the next coming weeks. One one the baby rice issue and a review on a new highchair that I waiting to receive.


Day 8

Today I have decided to make some batches of food to freeze in ice-cube tray so that we have enough for the week. I have made Apple Puree, Pear puree and Butternut Squash puree. The Pear and Apple puree I made in the Infantino steamer. The Butternut Squash was roasted in the oven and then pureed. I then froze the purees in silicone ice mold trays and when frozen, placed them in baby food storage boxes. Part of the reason for this is that as we are now in week 2, I will start to give solids twice a day instead of once. I have also decided that I am not too keen on giving the baby rice too often (I have been reading scary things about arsenic in baby rice).

Today, baby had butternut squash. I gave it to her in the evening.


Baby seemed skeptical when she tasted at first but after her first few tastes, she loved it. I think she enjoyed the squash more than anything else she has had. For the next few days I will continue with the Apple, Pear and Squash or combinations of them all.

P.S if anyone has heard about arsenic being in baby rice, please leave a comment.

Day 7

The Bumbo
 We were very busy during the day so gave baby an evening feed. I gave her steamed pureed pears. I am still feeding her in the Bumbo. I do find this difficult as it is low to the ground. I have to sit on the floor to feed baby and she is getting used to looking down to eat as opposed to looking up or in front of her. Consequently we will be looking for a highchair this weekend. Weaning has now reached a plateau in that baby is opening her mouth for food but still learning how to eat properly. I think this is likely to continue for a while, but practice makes perfect.



As baby seemed to enjoy this, I will continue to give it to her but will introduce pears tomorrow.

Pears went down well and and no sour face. Again will continue with this and introduce one more item - likely to be a veg and I am thinking Butternut Squash.


Day 6

Baby had Apple again which she seemed to enjoy more than the day before. 

Day 5

Today   I introduced baby to Pureed Apple. I used the infantino steam kit to make it. For details on how it performed please see my review. Baby ate all of the pureed apple which was about half an apple.She is still pushing some of it out of her mouth in the process of pushing it to the back so I have to keep putting it into her mouth but she managed to finish what she had.


I am not 100% sure that she was keen on the apple. Baby kept making faces as though she was sucking a Lemon. will try again with this tomorrow


Day 4

No Weaning


Day 3

Weaning is going well. Still just on baby rice and taking it slowly. Baby has learned to open her mouth for me to put food in but still sucks it from the spoon.


As all is going well with the baby rice and we have had no negative reactions, will shortly look to introduce Organic Apples and Pears (My Dad has a pear tree in the garden that produces lovely tasting organic pears). I will steam and puree using the Infantino steaming kit that I recently purchased. I will do a review on this as I have never used it and I am not sure how pureed the steamed fruit will come out. 


Day 2

Weening today has gone better than it did yesterday. Baby was much more calm and relaxed as I fed her her morning bottle at 7. I then followed up with the baby rice at around 11am. Again she really loved it. She was not so desperate to get to the spoon as she was yesterday and I thin because of this it was much more enjoyable. I also made the baby rice slightly thicker than yesterday which seemed to go well. 


Going well, Will stick with this routine for the next couple of days.


Day 1

Started weaning today, was very excited by it all. Figured we would start with something simple like Baby rice. I purchased organic baby rice from boots.

Baby was seated in her pink Bumbo chair with Dummy in her mouth ready and waiting. I made up one teaspoon of baby rice with a table spoon of baby milk according to the instructions. I found this to be a little too thick so added more baby milk until I had a thinner consistency.

Verdict on baby rice - 

Baby loved it - she could not get enough although she still has her sucking reflex so a lot of it went everywhere will stick to plain baby rice for the next few days. As she was fed baby rice first she was very hungry and it showed in the way she was eating consequently it is perhaps best to make this the second meal of the day.

The Beauty Box - Lip Balm

Every one has beauty essentials but the number one thing I can't leave home without is lip balm, and if I leave without it I have to buy one while I am out. I have now found a lip balm that I have vowed never to run out of and that is the Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm. They can be purchased for around £3.00 to £4.00 and come in tin or stick form. If my memory serves correct there are actually different scents available in the stick option.
The first time I used it I was surprised and was not sure whether I liked it. That's because the texture is different to usual lip balms, it is more solid and does not have as much slip which is nice as your lips do not feel greasy.

This may confuse at first as you may think it is not moisturizing. You would be wrong. This lip balm actually sinks into the skin as opposed to just sitting on top of it.

The other thing is its not super shiny which is great as you can use it underneath your matte lipsticks (I'm a mac Ruby Woo girl) and it does not alter the look. The negative on this is that if you are using it as a primer, when you remove the lipstick your lips are still stained. A small price to pay and at any rate I use make up remover.

The lip balm is scented with mint and gives you that tingly feeling that I say, let's you know it's working. 

All in all this has become my favorite lip balm and is currently on my desert island list.