My Lifestream, My Week in Pictures, Parenthood, Shopping

To Market, To Market…

10296626_252373621621053_530737033_n

Friday morning Elisa and I headed into town to check out the new market that will be held at Waverly Station. It’s great to see an undercover market in Edinburgh – it’s something that is sorely missing. There was roughly 20 stalls selling handcarfts, vintage goods, and artisan food/drink. The only ready to eat foods were breads and cupcakes. And no fresh veggies.

God how I miss the Queen Vic with it’s 7 hectares of undercover goods. The noise, the crowds, the smells and the colours. It’s one of the top Melbourne things that I honestly wish I could just transport over to every city I live in.

3-queen-victoria-market-south-melbourne

After the market I popped into Next and had a look at the kids clothes. I was struck by the shoe wall. The boys side included quite a few pairs of rugged, sturdy, stay-on shoes with decent treads – perfect for running in hot weather. The girls side was full of thin-soled things with flowers or butterflies and lots of thongs (flip-flops for the non-Aussies). Nothing suitable for running at all.

10375860_1419190941699602_574250853_n

I had a realisation that if this is what is available in the affordable market then what message does that send? Boys get to choose function over form, girls get to choose pretty over practical. Do the stereotypes start before a child is even aware of gender? Is this where the glass ceiling really begins, with the boys running and the girls sitting on the sidelines watching? I know that I can find good shoes that are also pretty, but I shouldn’t have to spend 4 times as much and go out of my way to seek them out – not everyone is in a posiion to do that.

News & Updates, Shopping

Online shopping delivery anger

A Tesco home delivery van

NB I started writing this on Wednesday 19th March but didn’t post it at the time.

As the deadline draws ever near why is it that time seems to shrink? It seems that these days whenever I blink three days rushes past!

This week I’ve managed to sort through all of MissK’s clothes and bundle them into bags for each size. Kids grow so fast in the first couple of years that you’re getting new clothes every couple of months. Luckily it also means that they don’t get time to wear out. And so MissK’s first clothes are now sitting in a draw ready for Bump with a few extras so that she has her very own instead of all hand-me-downs.

Meanwhile I’ve been getting more and more tired – exhausted is probably the better word. Sleep is almost impossible and I’m feeling just generally bleugh. Thankfully one thing I don’t have to do is the main supermarket shop – Sainsbury’s is due to deliver this afternoon.

When I first arrived in the UK I used Sainsbury’s for my online shop. I like their stores and generally like their own brand goods, but after a while the online offering proved to be too frustrating. Too often things would disappear from the online cart, or it would want me to reenter my password while I was actively using the site. In frustration I eventually turned to Tesco.

Since leaving Sainsbury’s I’ve regularly received vouchers – invariably trying to get me to either sign up for another nectar card or offering me money off my first online shop. Both are useless!

Then last week I logged on to check a price for something and they’re suddenly offering nearly 3 months of free delivery plus promising that the site has improved. (Hello, an email or a letter with that information would have been a good idea!) That’s a fairly good deal so this last week I’ve been doing my online shopping back with Sainsburys.

So far the website is behaving itself. However a lot of the products I liked to buy are nolonger available which is a bummer. After two home deliveries, here’s a comparison of the positive and not so positive points of both.

Sainsbury’s
– I like their home brand stuff
– Orange bags are pretty, much nicer for recycling as garbage bags than white ones
– They offer to take away old plastic bags
– Delivery guys carry all the individual bags up the stairs – OH&S nightmare!
– They seem to have a lot of delivery slots available when I need them
– One hour delivery slots are easier to fit into my life
– Website makes it easy to see what special offers you’ve qualified for
– Substitution would have cost me considerably more (from 1.67 up to 3.00), lucky I asked

Tesco’s
– able to have deliveries made without bags
– shopping delivered (with or without bags) in plastic crates and straight into my kitchen
– fridge/freezer items separated out with different coloured bags so that they’re easy to spot
– substituted items charged at same amount or less – I never pay more
– price promise works online, am sent an email with voucher code if appropriate
– price promise in store can be applied online
– send me vouchers regularly that are relevant
– website tells me what offers I’ve qualified for
– all of my loyalty card offers/vouchers are available

So, even though Sainsbury’s does have some good points, as soon as the free delivery thingy is over I’m heading straight back to Tesco’s. They have a much slicker operation and to be honest it’s the little things that make a huge difference. I can live with a 2 hour delivery window and pop by an actual store for the items that we prefer to have from Sainsbury’s rather than from Tesco.

Update – Monday 24th March
Just had another Sainsbury’s delivery. This time I’ve ordered some meats for the next few days, a fair bit of milk for MissK and a box of 24 cans of beer amongst the usual vegetables and other things.

The delivery guy showed up about 2 minutes early and then dumped all of the bags in the hallway outside of the front door. When it became clear that he was expecting that to be that I asked if he could give me a hand with them. I’m 39 weeks today by the way – blind Freddy can tell that I’m very very pregnant.

Well, he gave me the kind of look that made me wonder whether I’d actually said the words I thought I’d said, I mean maybe I’d meant to say “can you give me a hand with these” and instead out came “shall we go and kill your grandmother now?”. I then mentioned that I’m very pregnant and could he at least bring the heavy stuff into the hall.

So, he proceeded to drag the items just inside the front door before making off. No pleasantries, nothing.

So, now I have to weigh up – do I stick with Sainsbury’s for another 6 weeks until their free delivery window is over or do I pay for delivery and at least get things brought inside and a smile with my groceries?

The more I think about it, the angrier I feel. How dare he? It’s not like I was asking out of laziness. It’s not like I’m faking my condition – it ain’t exactly easy to bend down and lift up heavy bags and boxes when you have a fully grown baby inside you.

Parenthood, Shopping, Stuff

Baby Box vs Bounty

7-4-13-Finnish-baby-box_full_600

In Finland every expectant mother receives a Baby Box, for free. No matter how much they earn. Above is the 2012-2013 baby box and contents. It’s full of everything you need for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. The box itself doubles as a moses basket and it even comes with a mattress to make that a viable proposition as well as a sleeping bag and snow suit. For full contents you can see the website. Of course not every mother needs the box, you can opt for a €140 grant instead (the box and contents is worth about €200)

Tastefully selected, there is a real push from companies to supply (imagine the size of the orders!) so it obviously costs the government much less than it would cost each family to purchase all items separately.

As well as being down right handy, the box also is a huge stress reliever for new parents. No panic over what do I need to buy and how much? Have I forgotten something vital? No pouring over stupid lists in magazines which tell you invariably that you simply cannot cope without a baby wipes warmer or some other ridiculous piece of useless kit. You simply open your box and there it is.

2013-10-10 14.23.32

So, let’s look at Britain. Here we have the Bounty pack.

On your first midwife visit you receive your first pack – thereby highlighting it’s legitimacy and importance. You’re told that the plastic sleeve is the perfect size for your folder of medical notes to stop it getting wet, like it was meant to be. Inside you find all sorts of bits of information. Here’s my latest first Bounty pack –

Inside was the following

– NHS Scotland leaflet on Whooping Cough
– photocopy of Unicef leaflet “Feeding Your New Baby”
– NHS leaflet (photocopy) “A guide to your baby’s movements during pregnancy”
– NHS Scotland booklet “Off to a good start” about breastfeeding
– NHS DVD “from bump to breastfeeding”
– Money Advice Service booklet “Having a baby”
– Money Advice Service booklet “Parent’s guide to money”
– business card for Tommy’s PregnancyLine (talk to a midwife)

So far, so good (although there are other options for feeding which a new mum might need information on)

But, here’s the rest

– form to complete to take in to a select number of stores to pick up my next Bounty pack
– Cussons stretch mark cream sample and 30p off voucher (stretch mark creams are not proven to do anything)
– advertising from Family Investments
– advertising from Ocado – £20 off first shop over £80
– voucher from photobox – free prints or 1 free poster print
– advertising from Sainsbury’s for £15 off first online shop (ie doesn’t apply to me)
– strange card for framing your scan pic from Bepanthen
– advertising from mamabloom.com
– advertising from 24studio.co.uk
– voucher for £1.50 off pregnancy vitamins
– magnet for the fridge with list of foods to avoid, although confusingly looks like foods to eat
– form to join the Bounty club
– Bounty magazine

So, an awful lot of useless stuff mixed in with some actually quite important stuff and only one pathetic sample for a product that is not scientifically proven to do anything at all.

2013-10-10 14.53.46

Today I took in the form to pick up the second Bounty pack. This pack is much much thicker so hopefully has some more useful things inside.

– sample of fairy washing powder
– sample of simple hydrating light moisturiser
– sample of sudocrem (I’m allergic to it!)
– sample of Tena liner
– newborn size baby towel with 2 x persil washing liquid samples and 2 x comfort fabric softener samples and vouchers off full priced products (impressed, this wasn’t in my pack for Katja)
– ovaltine sample (hot chocolate drink)
– advertising from Dettol sealed in a plastic bag to make it look like a sample
– card from bliss re premature baby support
– ocado, photobox, sainsburys advertising as before
– advert from 24ace.co.uk – looks just as dodgy as the 24studio.co.uk one
– catalogue from Babies R Us
– catalogue from Anglecare
– catalogue from Fisher-Price
– voucher for a free rattle providing you join the Fisher Price club (free)
– Bounty magazine

So, another bag largely full of useless, although admittedly better than the first for samples this one is woefully short on actual information.

Apparently Asda gives additional samples with the packs, but I was unable to locate an Asda that I could get to that had stock and after two months gave up and collected mine from Boots.

I can’t help wondering how many people actually use all those silly advertising things. Surely companies like Sainsbury’s would be better off including a sample of one of the body suits (which are actually very good). I’m impressed by the Persil/Comfort inclusion, but it’s pathetic compared to Finland!

Anyway, I thought other new mums might be interested in seeing what you get when you sign up to the horror of Bounty!

Craft, Katja, My Week in Pictures, Shopping, Travel

Week 13.17 – Puffing Billy

Week 17 from April 22nd to 28th. This week we were in Melbourne enjoying the sunshine and a trip on Puffing Billy.

MissK is sleeping like a baby after yesterday's terrifying swimming pool ordeal
20130422 – MissK is sleeping like a baby after yesterday’s terrifying swimming pool ordeal. Poor thing cried the entire time we were there and clung to me like never before. The only plus side is that she’s slept so well since.

The Hopetoun Tea Rooms in #Melbourne
20130423 – The Hopetoun Tea Rooms in #Melbourne would have to be one of my favourite cafes. I never knew of the links to Edinburgh until last year’s trip to Hopetoun House, a place all Melbournians visiting Edinburgh should get to.

Apparently failure to proofread is not considered a shortcut in the painting business
20130423 – Apparently failure to proofread is not considered a shortcut in the painting business. Brilliant fail!

$2.80 for leather shoes - let me think about tha.. YES!!!
20130423 – $2.80 for leather shoes – let me think about tha.. YES!!! #shoppingwin

Today we visited the lolly shop! #theyarnbarn
20130423 – Today we visited the lolly shop! #theyarnbarn

Female Superb Lyrebird
20130427 – Female Superb Lyrebird. I’ve only ever seen one in the wild once before. Couldn’t get a good shot of the guy who was wooing her.

Puffing Billy, view from carriage
20130427 – Puffing Billy, view from carriage. So glad that you can still hang out the windows, an awesome day.

Craft, Knitting, Shopping, Travel

Glasgow School of Yarn

Today I met up with a few fellow knitters for a trip to Glasgow and the Glasgow School of Yarn which is run by the Yarn Cake there.

As it was an early start, the normally bustling street where I caught my bus was eerily quiet.

After a train trip that seemed over in no time and a short cab ride we found ourselves at the Charles Rennie Macintosh Church at Queen’s Cross. A fairly humble looking building…

…until you take a closer look at the detailing.

Inside the market hall were a number of suppliers, including among others…

A Peppermint Penguin selling project bags and cards

The Yarn Yard with all those gorgeous colours and tatting threads too

Ripples Crafts

Old Maiden Aunt – sorry about the blur there!

I stole the next pic of Old Maiden Aunt from @yarnpony which is so much better than mine!

Hilltop Cloud

After a close inspection of the stalls, @yarnpony and S settle in for some knitting and spinning…

…while V showed off her “Boobie Socks”…

…and L preferred to do some photo bombing. (second 2 photos by @yarnpony)

Meanwhile, in the main hall of the church the Yarn Cake’s own stall was in full swing under that amazing window.

In the end I was most restrained and this is all I came away with.

After the main event we all piled into a cab back into town where this sad looking empty building made me laugh

And then I found heaven!

or so I thought, for “wool” read “plastic” and “footwear” read “slut or granny options only”, still the idea of combining the two is utter genius!

All in all a good day, must do it again soon!

Craft, Finished Projects, Shopping

A Baby Rainbow

In amongst the great long list of “essential” items for a newborn child that you will see these days is muslins. When I first came across it I was confused – isn’t muslin the cotton cloth that you use to strain jellies in the kitchen? What on earth would I need those for? Apparently they make great burp cloths – but how is strained baby chuck on your shoulder any better than non-strained? Why can’t I use cloth nappy squares like we did for my sisters when they were babies?

Well, it turns out that cloth nappy squares are nolonger in fashion and as such aren’t that easy to find. Muslins are all the rage at the moment, and apparently I will need anything between “more than I have” and “about 100 should do”. Fair enough, they can’t be too expensive I think, after all they’re just hemmed pieces of lightweight fairly open weave pure cotton. A quick search shows that you can buy unbleached muslin fabric at 125cm wide for about £2 per metre. So imagine my surprise when I came across this on the John Lewis website:

Yep, that’s £28.95 for 7 squares of cotton, 60x60cm each. It’s not hard to do the math and see how much you are paying for some cheap dye!

Now anyone who knows me knows that I love colour, bright and happy colours being the best. I would absolutely LOVE to be able to afford to kit out the nursery with these gorgeous cloths, but £30??? And if I wanted a modest amount of them, say 28-30, that would cost £120. I can’t do it – the difference in price would pay for Christian, Bump and I to go to Dublin to see friends, MUCH more important!

But then Aldi had a babywear sale. I picked up £30 worth of muslin cloths – 30 of them! Some were patterned, but most were simple white cloths, 68×68 (yes, bigger than the fancy JL ones) and I had a brainwave. A search on eBay, another £30 and very soon a nice selection of machine dyes arrived in the post. Cue evil laughter….

Now each pack of dye will do 600g of cotton cloth, which is more than I had, so I gathered up some of the towelling nappies I had also purchased as well as some of the small white baby clothes that we’d found thanks to similar issues as the cloths, the coloured ones being ludicrously priced. I washed it all and I got started with my plan.

I divided up all the cloths, nappies and clothes into six piles, weighed each and then it was a simple matter of following the instructions on the dye packet. (you also need salt, but don’t worry about the brand salt from the dye company – I had a couple of packets of that but also used normal table salt for the rest at 46p for 750g!). Each colour took two runs through the machine, followed by a short run to wash the machine afterwards. After a few days I had finished and this is the result:

The end result, for the price of 14 muslin squares from John Lewis, I have 30 in a rainbow of happy colours. I have also transformed 12 towelling nappies and an assortment of boring white baby clothes to match. I call that a win!