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DIY learning tower

B was always wanting to be in my arms while I was cooking/cleaning or anything else in the kitchen for that matter.

When she was 14 months I discovered Learning towers. Coming up to Christmas I couldn’t find the money for one of these so I kept searching for an alternative or a way to do it myself when I spotted one on etsy.com that looked exactly like a kitchen step I had seen in IKEA with a frame added to the top! 

I felt like a bit daft for not thinking of this sooner if I’m honest. So knowing I had some wood to create the frame in my under stairs cupboard we bought this step from IKEA with the intention of building it and making the frame the same day or at least only a few days later. 

But Christmas got in the way and building the frame kept being put off and put off after we had already built the step, luckily B seemed quite steady on it.

At 18 months she fell off! 😱 the guilt was awful! How did I let this happen! So the project got put to the top of the priority list!

From this:

Measure and cut the wood to fit. I did 3 For the bottom as like a kick bar so little feet didn’t slip off, 3 for the top to create a waist height banister and 4 ‘legs’ at the height of the work tip from the top of the step. I’ll admit I didn’t use a tape and marked the cut points leaning against the step. But if you want a neater finish, measure!

First I added the kick board to 3 sides leaving the side with the step open, of course B wanted to help:


Then I added the legs. 


But I missed the picture with all the legs because I had a meltdown moment with B 😢

And finally the top rails

At this point you could paint it bright colours and wax or varnish it to seal it and I will update once I’ve done this too 😊

Soap-A Science not an art!

As part of my efforts to reduce my waste and after reading about so many people using white vinegar as a cleaning product I decided to give it a try after we had all been ill. At 18 months old B can’t tell me she is going to be sick nor get to the toilet/a bowl to be sick in, so inevitably we ended up with vomit on most things 🤢while we were ill I cleaned it up to a bare minimum standard, once I recovered I got out my white vinegar that I had been soaking orange peel in  (it is supposed to gain a citrus smell from it) whacked it in a spray bottle diluted 50/50 with water and set to work!


 Although I could smell the citrus a bit, the smell was definitely still vinegar and Mr M came in saying it stunk! I knew the smell would dissipate and remove odours too, but he was sceptical in the first place and the smell put him off even further.

So I went back to the drawing board and stumbled upon Castile soap and soap making. I did a lot of reading and at first I was only grasping the basics of it and was feeling like it would be too complicated, until I found this blog by Oh, The Things We’ll Make which I found simplified it brilliantly for me. A simple base model to start off with that was super cheap too! 

I gathered my ingredients once B was asleep and began making. I felt like I was doing a little science experiment (you know one of those your teacher gave you knowing it wouldn’t really go wrong with some simple instructions and safety precautions) but in reality I treated it a bit more like an art.

I measured everything exactly, but I didn’t measure the temperature when I put them together and didn’t have a stick blender, I used an electric whisk thinking it would surely do the same. I also realised my caustic soda (lye) had clumps in it when I measured which could mean it was retaining some moisture already which puts my ratios out! 

My result. I mixed for 20 mins (double what most bloggers/soap makers say it usually takes) and it was still like a liquid, no sign of trace. So I left it a little while and went back to it and whisked some more, still nothing! 

My conclusion: if it feels like science treat it like science!

However, I think I have saved it by putting it in the slow cooker/crockpot after some advice on forums. I am yet to test it as it is still curing, but when I cleaned the slow cooker I only added water and the soap residue did create a lather/foam so I am hopeful! 

No-poo FAQ

So after admitting to a friends and family about not using commercial shampoo, I got a few questions which I think you may find the answers useful or your friends and family may ask you too.

Is it not more expensive?

No. Most things you have in your house anyway, plus you will be washing your hair less so that will make it even cheaper. Bicarbonate of soda can be expensive bought in the supermarket but it can be bought in bulk bags/packs much cheaper

Doesn’t your hair smell?

Not more than normally washing with commercial shampoo, you just don’t have added fragrance. You can add fragrance to your routine a number of ways if you wish.

Does it work?

Yes. It can take a little experimentation to find what works best, but I am yet to find someone who it doesn’t work for unless it it due to impatience.

Has your hair dried out because you haven’t used conditioner?

No, the sebum my hair produces rehydrates my hair making it soft and shiny. I also use natural products to ‘condition’ my hair.

What about dandruff?

There are methods you can use if you find you have dandruff. Although, a lot of the time it is actually just a dry scalp that needs a bit of extra conditioning and is easy to fix.

Does your hair not get knotty and tangled?

Personally no. Some people’s hair is more prone to tangles than others whether they use commercial shampoo or not. Again, there are things you can use to avoid/ease the tangles without commercial products.

I will add more questions as they come up, feel free to ask in the comments too

No-poo update!

Almost 3 months since I began this journey now, but bear in mind I only wash my hair once a week, so finding something that works for my hair to ‘wash’/cleanse it took a bit longer. This makes me feel a bit better about the transition period anyway! 

So after experimenting with water only, honey, Rye flour, black tea, bicarbonate of soda and black coffee, I did the wet hair test to discover I needed protein in my hair. The first thing that is suggested to try is an egg wash! Sounds gross! Another suggestion is rye flour, so I avoided the egg another weak and tried rye flour again in case I did something wrong last time! 

Nope! Wet hair assessment came back the same!

Egg it is! I mixed 1 egg with equal parts tepid water and applied to dry hair, left for 5-10 minutes and rinsed in cool water. (Don’t use hot or you will cook the egg!)

Wow! My hair was soft and clean and looked nice again (please excuse the slightly murderous look in my eyes 😂)

My hair is also getting its curl back! Which is exciting!

And since the egg wash I have so far left my hair a week and a half without cleansing! Eventually I would like to get to water only but my near future goal is cleansing once a month! 

I will admit though, even the egg didn’t add protein to my hair! My follicles in my hair are too closed and need something with smaller protein particles for it to work. So my next wash is going to be with gelatin! Hopefully once the protein is sorted my hair will be even better!

Facebook is filled with support groups with information on where to start along with numerous blogs across the internet. This is my experience with no-poo and what is working/not working for me, and may not work the same for others! 

I would love to hear your experiences and what you have found works for you!

Alternative Baby wipes

Before I even gave birth I dived in head first and bought cloth nappies, avoiding the disposables besides a few in the first week which I chose to use for the muconium (later found out itbwashes easily off fleece liners). But I didn’t have any cloth wipes until B was about 6 months old because I kept hearing about Cheeky Wipes, and when I looked at the website they were just so expensive. 

By 6 months I was more confident and discovered more information about skin health, babies delicate bottoms etc. And that actually although Cheeky wipes were a good system, they were just a square af fabric really. Petiole just found the blend of fabric good to get baby poo off. 

One day I was walking round my local shopping centre and in one of the pound stores when I spotted in the baby care section, these microfibre cloths


The first info I found about microfibre was to make sure it wasn’t placed next to babies skin in a nappy because it will dry the skin out. But then I found out later that it was only over prolonged periods and actually it was fine to touch and use as a wipe. And at £1 for 4 cloths it was cheap enough to give it a go.

When I got home I cut them into quarters, no need to sew/hem the edge as they don’t fray


Best thing I ever did! 

Just wish I got more. Think I have 4 packs now and it’s a good amount for 1 toddler, especially when they get a cold 😆

Menstrual products vs feminine hygiene products 

To be honest, I’ve not really thought much about the phrase until I came across this article on bustle. 

Someone I know through my love of Cloth nappies shared the article, and the title intrigued me. Asking for the term ‘Feminine Hygiene product’ to be ditched. I wondered of their issue behind it. What got them so railed up?

In the brief moment it took my phone to load the page, I had a thought about it myself. ‘Feminine HYGIENE products’. What’s hygienic about disposing of your blood into a public bin for someone else to clean up? What’s dirty about menstuation?

I began reading.

Their thoughts where very different to mine, which kind of came apparent to why later in the article. Their focus was on the word ‘Feminine’ instead. Ok.

I continue reading, and come across a brand name! Of course, THINX have developed a line of menstrual proof underwear, not only aimed at women but men too! (Biological women identifying as men) 

Yeah ok, I get what they’re saying and it is an issue but I guess to me that’s not the problem . To me the big issue should be about the Hygiene. They’re putting a taboo on something completely natural. Surely by lifting the taboo on having a period in the fist place it will release tension on the gender issue? Further down the article they do comment on this:

Anxiety about menstrual blood is closely linked to fear of being seen as weak, dirty, incompetent

At least it was mentioned before going back to name dropping and line promotion for THINX. And at least there were also name drops for reusable menstrual products not disposable ones. Hopefully it will widen the reusable knowledge too 😉 (I must admit though I only discovered reusable menstrual products when I was pregnant and my periods are yet to make an appearance so I’m yet to try any)

Only one persons opinion but I just needed to air it 😊

Wrap your way

I hate how expensive wrapping paper is and that after you use it, it goes in the bin! No matter how pretty it is! (I’ll be keeping large scraps this year for crafts 😉)
I try and think of alternative ‘paper’ to use that’s cheaper and hopefully more environmentally friendly. Last year I went for brown craft paper tied with a large crinkly ribbon. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture 😞 this year I decided to go for black craft style paper (just a roll of paper). This was the outcome:

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I paid about £5 for 25m! (Normal wrapping paper is usually £1-£2 for 3m!)
And I went even more environmentally friendly on 2 of the children’s presents by taking the idea of Japanese Fukushima and making it work for me! Poundland have been stocking Disney print tote bags recently and got a couple for presents. To ‘wrap’ all I did was tuck the handles in, fill with gifts and tie the two top corners to close the top, I think it looks fab!

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Back to work

For months I’ve thought about going back to work, well, over a year now actually. I didn’t have a job to go back to because my last position was temporary and ended when I went on maternity leave. 

As any new mother has to, I had to think about whether it’s worth it with the cost of childcare. But also whether I could get a job, not only was a new mother, I’m breastfeeding (so need extra breaks to express milk) I could only do day shifts because Bella feeds to sleep and wakes frequently and I’m not willing to do any cry it out methods and don’t believe in teaching a child to ‘self sooth’. I’d have to work round Mr M’s shifts for childcare and travel purposes (we share a car). And the thought was completely overwhelming. And all these things pointed to an employer simply picking another person over me.

One day I was talking to a good friend of mine who had also recently had a baby and she was planning on going back to work. As we delved into the conversation of working she suggested getting a job at her place, she’d put my name forward and I’d do the usual interview/trial etc. It was a slight relief, a thought of ‘oh maybe this is possible’. Not yet though, plus there wasn’t any positions available at the time.

As Christmas began to approach I started thinking about work again, still Bella wakes frequently and is very reliant on me, but every penny is gone at the end of the month. So really I need to get a job. Day shifts will work hopefully. Again I discussed with my friend, and she offered to try to get me a trial day. All of a sudden I get a huge rush of adrenaline. This could actually happen, but it wasn’t a nice feeling, it was anxiety.

So me and Mr M spoke about it and I ended up in tears. He looked at me lovingly and said:

‘if it’s bringing you to tears your not ready. We don’t want for anything, we always have what we need. What would the extra money be spent on? More things that are unnecessary.’

And he is right, I’m worrying about having more money when we don’t need it. All our bills are paid and the fridge is full. I’ve spent 9 months thinking how I can make money and go back to work, when really I should have just been enjoying my time with Bella. 

Unfortunately, this revelation doesn’t really help my decision to go back to work. Because although I’m getting anxious about going to work, I also get cabin fever and wonder whether a day away would help that? But if I did go back would I feel terribly guilty for leaving her?

I did the trial day, and Bella spent the day with my mum. She had a great day! My little sister is only 6 and is Bella’s idol! They when to a soft play area and had chocolate (which is a treat at home)

I was quite content at work too, had no issues and the management thought I did a fantastic job!
So what’s the issue? Mr M asks: What if she wouldn’t settle one day? I don’t have boobs to help!

For us we decided at the minute it’s not worth it as Bella keeps going back and forward whether she will accept other people’s care. The topic will no doubt come up again after Christmas after the most expensive time of year.

Plans to go back to work are also put on hold since Mr M had also just landed a new job which could hopefully see us a bit better off to! Here’s hoping!

Crazy Christmas!

Yes Christmas is upon us! And don’t I know it!
Have I taken on too much again? Probably!
Do I still love the season?
Definitely! 🎄

Nearly a week ago was 12th Ashton Guides Christmas Fayre! Between me and 2 other leaders we organise this fundraiser to allow the girls to have an equal opportunity to do more activities with us, learning new skills and making new friends. As you can imagine it gets pretty hectic organising it!

But the result was great! The girls showed up to help on the stalls and raise their own money, families and friends all came to support them and even some people who were just passing by.

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(As you can see I’m having issues at the minute getting these pictures the right way up! This will be updated ASAP)

I’ve also decided to make all my Christmas presents this year! (Hubby isn’t crafty so isn’t much help with this one) On a minuscule budget, because of emergency tax codes and extra repairs on the house etc.
When finished I will link them here.

I’m also making handbag charms and wine glass charms for my Grandma and her sister. This is one similar I did for a 40th wedding anniversary:

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Making Christmas cake for Christmas dinner (fruit cake and sponge so everyone is catered for)

Oh yeah, and started volunteering for the Tameside NCT sling library 🙈

Not a clue when my Christmas decorations are going up!

Would I change anything? No.

I love my chaotic life and all the challenges that come with it. What would life be without a bump in the road? Or a mountain to climb? Pretty boring.

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