Tag Archives: tips

SM Chats to… Nicola Williamson, Senior Product Designer at Bobux #MMHA17

#MMHA17 nominated footwear brand Bobux took time out to share their thoughts on Winter Boot choices. 

Nicola Williamson, Bobux

Help! My child needs Winter Boots. What do I need to think about?

NW: Winter boots can be quite a hefty investment so there’s a lot you should consider before committing to a pair. For starters: where you live. Climate should be the first thing you consider so if you live somewhere particularly wet, you might want to opt for water-resistant boots. If you live somewhere with a very cold climate, then wool-lined boots should be on your radar.

You also need to think about what the boots are for. Are they going to be worn everyday? Are they going to be worn as dress shoes? Or is your little one a keen adventurer? For everyday boots, you might want to opt for something versatile and uber comfortable like Bobux Ranch boots. For dressier occasions, something classy like the Bobux Shimmer boot could be a good option. For explorers, you want something easy to clean, and easy to get on and off (but not slip off) like Bobux Pioneer boots.

The shape of your little one’s feet also matters. If your child has particularly chubby or thin feet, adjustability should be a priority. Look for boots with straps that can be fitted a bit looser or a bit more snug according to your child’s foot shape.

Are boots a better investment than just putting them in wellies all Winter?

Kids + Ranch boots in Army

NW: Definitely! Wellies are a Winter essential but they can’t be used as a substitute for footwear. As well as being notoriously ill-fitting, wellies don’t support healthy foot development, don’t allow feet to breathe and kids’ feet tend to roll around in them. A good boot will keep your child’s feet warm, support their feet, and help them to balance and improve coordination by giving feet the freedom to move more naturally. There’s nothing like wellies for jumping in those Winter puddles, but for everyday wear, opt for shoes that’ll do your kids’ feet some good.

What winter shoe buying mistakes do parents make?

NW: We’ve picked up on a few mistakes parents make when buying Winter shoes for their kids. One thing people might not think is that big of a deal is buying your child just one pair of shoes. Shoes get wet in Winter, and to get the most out of your shoes they need to be dried naturally. If you don’t have a second pair while the wet pair is drying, parents tend to speed-dry their shoes. Putting them in the dryer, leaving them in the sun (if you get much sun in Winter) and even using a hair dryer will damage shoes and shorten their lifespan. The best way to look after your kid’s feet is to keep them in dry, healthy shoes – so make sure you have a spare pair!

Parents also tend to buy Winter shoes before the cold weather has kicked in. When trying on boots, children might be wearing their Summer clothes, not realising the shoes will fit differently when they’re wearing thick, warm socks and trousers. Definitely, something to keep in mind when you’re shopping for shoes this season!

My child is super picky, do you have shoes with unicorns on them?

Blaze + Unicorn Fuschia

NW: Oh, yes we do! We have a whole bunch of characters on our Blaze trainers and the Unicorn is one of our favourites. Blaze trainers are perfect for playtime with a flexible, lightweight sole and ultra-durable micro-armoured toe cap. But the best feature of Blaze sneakers is that they help kids learn to put their shoes on the correct feet. On each shoe, you have a dazzling unicorn. When the shoes are on their feet your child can look at the characters and know that if the unicorns are touching, they’ve got their lefts and rights spot on!

My preschooler struggles to put shoes on at nursery, what considerations go into the fastenings?

NW: Fastenings play a major part in how our shoes are designed. We want to encourage kids to put their shoes on themselves – so it must be enjoyable, quick and easy. It’s best to avoid lace-up shoes as there’s a risk of making shoes overly tight which will restrict toe movement. Laces are also notoriously difficult to tie up and dangerous when they come undone. Shoes with strap fastenings are best as they’re easy for kids to get on and they stay on!

What else is unique about Bobux boots?

NW: The truly unique thing about Bobux boots is that they’re built around the equally unique shape of kids’ feet. ‘Lasts’ are used when designing shoes: Molds of feet that designers use to get the shape and fit of shoes right. The trouble with many children’s shoes is that they’re built around the last of a shrunken adult’s foot. Bobux invested in developing custom lasts for kids’ feet for each stage in their foot development. So instead of designing shoes for fully-developed yet tiny feet, we design shoes specifically for those chubby, round, still-developing tootsies.

Will they last all Winter?

NW: A lot of elements come into play when it comes to a boot’s lifespan. Extreme climates with very low temperatures or high rainfall can damage boots so it’s important to keep them polished and let them dry naturally. Generally, though, your boots should last until their wearer grows out of them. With Autumn and Winter spanning six months, this could mean your child will have to go up a size before the season’s over!

What was on the mood board for the AW collection?

NW: The AW collection was designed as a homage to nature and natural materials – but with an unexpected twist. We took earthy tones and textures, and finished the shoes with gorgeous details and embellishments. For the girls’ collection, we wanted the shoes to inspire fantasy and enchantment. Precious silver and gold, and jewels were behind the mood of these styles.

Shop online at bobux.co.uk or check the store locator for your nearest stockist.

Louisa Grace Interiors Founder Claire McFadyen’s top tips on investing in childproof antiques

We all long for that perfect home balance of modern technology and easy to maintain products but do you find your love for antiques and vintage style can seem too hazardous to indulge in when you have sticky fingered, ball kicking, nail varnish wearing little darlings?!

The big question is – how can you invest in antiques that are childproof in order for you to make the style of family home you crave?  Well, I have been buying, selling and adding antiques and vintage pieces of furniture and accessories to my home for years and I haven’t stopped since having my two daughters, in fact, I think I have embraced it all the more.

Here are my top tips on buying antiques that will survive family life and still give your home the character and beauty you desire.

1 – Remember, antiques may be old but they are not always delicate.  There is a reason they have lasted for possibly hundreds of years and that is because they are well built, crafted from strong materials and made to last.  Make sure the item you are interested in still seems strong and sturdy and you can be sure it will survive family life

2 – Antiques make great storage solutions.  Consider investing in antique and vintage trunks as storage solutions for toys and games.  Once everything is packed away you are left with a beautiful piece of furniture to enjoy.  These are also great heirloom pieces for your children to treasure as they get older.

3 – Treat the item with the correct protection like beeswax or varnish (or both for the best solution of all!)

4 – Don’t be scared to invest in those more delicate items such as mirrors, just make sure they are safely and securely attached to a wall or shelf and out of the reach of little hands.

5 – Finally, buying antiques is also eco-friendly.  You are helping to teach your children that not everything has to be shiny and new.

Visit Louisa Grace Interiors website to find out more.

(Guest post)

Driving abroad this Summer? What you need to know…

Regal Rentals offer some useful advice if you’re planning on driving abroad over the coming months.

If you are hiring a vehicle, choose one you feel comfortable with. Consider driving an automatic car – rather than a manual – which will give you one less thing to think about or a smaller car which can be easier to manoeuvre and park.
Pack an up-to-date map in the car and consider using a GPS to help prevent you getting lost.
Get the right insurance cover. If you’re driving in another country, you need to let your insurance company know and check if your policy covers you.
Check to see if you have European breakdown cover with you policy and upgrade it if you don’t.
Remember to take your driving licence. You can use your UK driving licence to drive within the EU/EEA but you will need an International Driving Permit if you want to drive outside of these countries. Ask your local Post Office for details.
Check what sort of fuel the vehicle requires.
Be aware that compulsory items to be carried in the vehicle and speed limits may vary by country and drivers should check in advance. Such things as Warning Triangles, Hi Visibility Vests for each passenger, First Aid Kits and replacement bulbs are the responsibility of the driver/hirer of the vehicle.
Before you set off, it can be helpful to check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website for safety advice www.fco.gov.co.uk
Consider taking out an Excess Reduction Policy. This is optional and the cost varies depending on the length of hire but it can give added peace of mind.
Give yourself plenty of time to get used to driving a different car. When you’re sitting on the opposite side to what you’re used to it can feel strange. Check where all the controls are so you can familiarise yourself with the layout.
Do some research before you travel. For example, it’s useful to be aware of the different speed limits in the country you are visiting.
Relax. Don’t feel that you have to leave the airport car park and drive straight on to the fast lane of the motorway or dual carriageway. Take your time to get used to the car, the roads and driving on the opposite side.
Don’t overdo the driving. Build in regular stops so you can get out of the car, stretch and refuel. Try not to drive when you are tired or children are fractious.

About Regal Rentals

Independent vehicle rental company, Regal Rentals works with private, business and corporate customers across the UK from its network of 12 branches and head office in Mollington, Chester.

(guest post)

How to… cope with summer allergies

From hayfever to heatrash, hives from a holiday bought laundry detergent or food intolerance, children’s Summer allergies can prove a headache (especially if you are suffering too!)

Here are a few tips…

Check the pollen count: Piriton have a useful calendar on their website showing different types of pollen and their peak irritant times.Tough as it is to keep children indoors at these times, you’ll thank yourself for it – Piriton and Play Ambassador Jeni Hooper suggest a few creative ideas for indoor play such as creating skittles from used plastic bottles and entertaining the little ones with a bowling alley or turning a big cardboard box into a den. (Editor’s tip: if you want to cheat on den-making, check out the gorgeous range at Just for Tiny People)

– Take medication with you: even if you are not heading somewhere remote, stock up so you’re not caught short. Allergy.org offer useful cards in 27 languages explaining different conditions – handy if your holiday does take you off the beaten track.

– Talk to your kids: sneezing for no reason or random rashes can be terrifying, get some dialogue going so that they understand what’s happening.

SM tip: “my son got really upset when sneezes seemed to come out of nowhere. We found getting him to choose a set of handkerchiefs and take control of them – putting clean ones in his pocket and dirty ones in the laundry basket – helped. Get some with a favourite character, or you can even have a drawing immortalised – check out NotontheHighSt for some creative ideas…”

 

#Win a £50 Boots voucher by voting in Oilatum® Daily Top Tip Competition

If you’ve got kids with dry skin conditions, chances are you have Oilatum in your bathroom cabinet. And you’ll know what a godsend it is when flare ups cause tears, sleepless nights – and heaven forbid but it happens – teasing in the playground.

Oilatum has teamed up with real parents and The British Skin Foundation to put together ten top tips for little ones with dry and sensitive skin – we thought they were pretty good so have featured below. Please do drop us a line or share a Tweet if you can think of other helpful ideas that might have been have missed out, or just tell us what works for you and your little one – we love a bit of shared wisdom!

In addition, the kind chaps at Oilatum have also offered us a competition prize of a £50 Boots voucher for the best additional tip, so don’t be shy. (Editor’s decision is final, no cash alternative, gratuitous pics of super cute bubbas in the bath will definitely score you bonus points in our office…)

Editor’s tip: oh gosh this will sound awful but in there is an episode of Peppa Pig where George Pig gets wet, doesn’t take off his wet clothes and subsequently gets a cold. So my boys can often be heard saying ‘get those wet things off so you don’t catch a cold like George Pig’ – but obviously the logic here is that wet clothes aggravate the skin… 

How to brief a Wedding Caterer

Biggest day of your life? Need to food to be a) perfect b) on budget c) err, more perfect.

The lovely chaps at Ren’s Kitchen Caterers shared a few tips…

At Ren’s Kitchen when we take on a wedding catering brief we will sit down with our couples and ask them lots of questions. We want to know all about their friends and families, their expectations of the day – of course the basic details such as the time of wedding and the blessing and reception venues, the numbers of day guests and evening guests – and most importantly what everybody involved likes to eat and drink. We don’t skimp on details, and neither should you. Tell your caterer everything you wish for, and more…

Remember: briefing the caterer about the food for your wedding is not like choosing your dinner at a restaurant. A good caterer is there to cook for you and create whatever menu you desire to make your day special – not to strong-arm you into picking something from a pre-determined list. Caterers are trained chefs, there is no need for compromise on food quality or taste.

Let’s walk you through the catering logistics of a classic wedding day – with a traditional breakfast following on from a morning service – and let’s take it from the point when your guests arrive at your reception venue.

First and foremost we would advise always allowing more time for travel and for photographs than you might think – especially if you have elderly relatives or a large family to accommodate in the official shots.

As people arrive you will want your guests to be met by cheerful waiting staff with a champagne and canapé reception – think of this as inviting people to your home; once they have something to eat and drink guests will happily entertain themselves greeting each other and chatting for up to about 90 minutes.

Again, allow a bit more time than you would expect for seating guests for the wedding breakfast. Elderly relatives, children and large groups in general move slower and more haphazardly than you might think!

If you have more than ten children amongst your guests you might think about catering separately for them. Weddings can be a boring day for younger ones; once they have been quiet and seated for the ceremony even the best behaved might struggle to sit politely at a dining table. We would recommend laying on a picnic or buffet spread for them with finger food such as mini chicken goujons and chips – yummy things they would like to eat to minimise the tears.

Children over around twelve – by contrast – often are keen to be treated as grown-ups at weddings and are happy to be seated at the guest tables. For this little group of connoisseurs we would recommend again creating a few special touches – maybe some non-alcoholic cocktails served in adult glasses?

People will tell you lots of things are important: place settings, colour schemes, table décor… The only truly important things are having enough food and drink, the company of your friends and family, and that the bride and groom – specifically the bride – have fun on the day.

Common mistakes couples make include making whole menu choices that cater for one person’s diet – maybe you have one vegan relative attending, there is no need to lay on a whole vegan menu option, simply ask your caterer to create something special for this guest.

For a mixed crowd hog roasts work well – as do balanced menu choices such as steak/fish/chicken options. Unless you have a party of real food buffs steer clear of really unusual mains (offal, spicy food, foie gras etc) – your caterer can add flair and ‘wow factor’ to your main course through presentation, smooth service and quality ingredients. Whilst you do want your catering to be memorable, it should be for the right reasons.

A good sample menu might be:

240

STARTER

Pan fried scallops with smoked paprika, crispy maple glazed pancetta, pea and watercress purée

Moroccan duck salad with a warm plum and pomegranate dressing

Wild mushroom risotto balls with saffron aioli and Parmesan crisp

MAIN

Mustard roast chicken supreme, creamed leek and tarragon in a puff pastry croute

Chargrilled Sussex lamb rump, puy lentil cassoulet, pomme purée,

Butternut, roast pepper and spinach rottollo with sun blushed tomato and basil,

DESSERT

Sticky toffee and cinnamon pudding with clotted cream caramel,

Caramelized Limoncello tart with red berry coulis,

Chocolate and amaretto tart with white chocolate tuilles,

TO FINISH

Filter coffee and home made truffles

 

You should allow at least two hours for the main meal – more if you have lots of speeches. We’d would recommend asking the father of the bride, groom and the best man roughly how long they plan to speak for and letting the caterers know, to ensure smooth service. If speeches involve a slide show about the groom’s past behaviour, for example, this could add another hour to the seating time.

A good time for speeches is between the main course and dessert; anything after that your guests will get itchy feet and begin to meander from their designated tables.

After the meal we’d suggest your caterers clear most of the dining space for dancing, but do leave some seating for tired guests – or those who don’t share your taste in music!

If you have evening guests arriving later in the day, don’t feel like you need to give them another sit-down meal. They will almost certainly have eaten a meal before coming out. But your guests who have been there all day will most likely be peckish again (especially after enthusiastic drinking and dancing) and so a light buffet of nibbles is generally appreciated.

It is important to consider the following: are your friends big drinkers? How far will they have to travel and will this mean they will want to leave early? Are your guests foodies? All of this has a bearing on what you might serve in the evening and what quantity.

If your guests are a mixed crowd, think of the evening menu as you might think about the music; keep it simple and crowd-pleasing. Don’t be afraid to go ‘low brow’ in the evening! Just as everyone loves to hear ‘Abba’ at a wedding, tipsy guests are appreciative of mini fish and chip cones, miniature burgers, cocktail kebabs etc and all of these can be as well-crafted and presented as your main meal.

A good sample buffet menu for evening guests;

Mini sirloin steak sandwiches with home made red onion marmalade and rocket on toasted ciabatta,

Black pudding scotch eggs with tarragon and Dijon mayo,

Tempura and sesame prawns with soy and lime,

Battered halloumi with triple cooked chips in newspaper cones,

 

Tip: it’s a nice touch to ask your caterers to feed the band or DJ and any of the venue staff on the day.

Which direction you take when choosing your wedding cake all depends on whether you want to serve it to your guests or not. At Ren’s (where we have our own patisserie attached to our café) we think it is lovely to serve delicious cakes as your dessert course – or something fun in the evening such as a decorated doughnut or profiterole tower. Traditional fruit cakes might not be to everyone’s taste, but we are often asked to create traditional trimmed, tower cakes with a variety of fillings (maybe one layer of fruit cake, one layer of chocolate and one layer of red velvet – complete with icing and wedding decorations). Cheese towers as ‘alternative’ cakes do work well (and look great visually) but it is a good idea to serve something sweet also. At the end of the day, think about what sort of cake you really enjoy – and taste plenty before you decide!

When thinking about alcohol, unless you have very boozy friends or relatives allow half a bottle of champagne or Prosecco per head for welcome drinks as your guests arrive at the venue and also provide a non-alcoholic option at this stage. For the seated meal, for a table of eight allow at least one bottle of red wine and one of white – plus a little bit more fizz for the speeches. (A little tip here: ask the Best Man to announce the speeches and suggest guests make their champagne last through the various toasts.)

In our experience, guests are happy with a paying bar in the evening. It is worth looking at the bar prices when you choose your venue though! Ask your caterer if they offer the option of running a joint subsidised bar for your event; so the caterer stocks and runs a minimal bar and serves drinks at a reduced price. Once the outlaid costs of drinks and bar staff have been covered, the profits are then passed on to the bride and groom. This keeps guests happy as it keeps the drinks prices down and can often also cover the costs of all your free drinks on the day as well.

Your wedding day is a one off event. The food should be perfect. Whilst we have advocated the benefits of keeping the menu simple and well executed, if you want showmanship and flair catering you should have it. Creating the food is often the most basic part of the service a good caterer can provide and you’ll find that often the price per head you will be quoted is based on logistics as much as the ingredients themselves. If you hanker after a medieval banquet or a sushi chef – don’t be afraid to ask!