The Northern Irish Mum

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Photography class ......

One of the highlights of my week is getting to my weekly photography class. It has been one of the best decisions I have made to push myself & get out there. Push my photography, learn new styles & techniques and really start to think beyond photography as a hobby & take steps towards pursuing it more seriously. Here's a few wee snapshots of some of what I've been up to with class over the past few weeks.

Night shoot


Monday, 22 October 2018

Misty Mourne Walk

A few of my favourite candid snaps from a recent misty, wet morning walk in the Mourne Mountains. 


Monday, 1 October 2018

Autumn days

I can hardly believe that summer has been and gone and we are in the middle of autumn. Autumn is my absolute favourite time of year. Its a mixture of the love of all the colours, of the leaves, the cooler days and the knowledge that the festive season, will soon be on its way.

It's always a season of change, this year its a little change for me, in embracing my creativity once again. I am finally taking that photography class, i'm taking time to journal again, to read, and create. I look forward to sharing more of my creative adventures on here, be it crafts or photos or books i'm enjoying or local events we have loved and things we have planned for the coming months.


Friday, 15 June 2018

Charity swap haul/ unboxing

Oh I am bubbling with excitement to share this fun little haul with you all. If you follow me on instagram, you may have spotted a few stories over the recent month about a fun little collab I had been working on with the wonderful Yammy Mackin!  I've followed Yammy on youtube for a number of years & then connected with her via instagram. Bonding over all things, from eco and sustainable fashion, to babywearing & nappies. We have a very similar style in choices of toys and clothes we purchase for our kids. And have similar thoughts on parenting & generally how we are going about raising our little tribes. Yammy is just one of those amazing women, who is just so strong and inspiring. Someone who, I feel so lucky to have connected and formed a little friendship with!

Yammy has recently expanded into the world of written blogging alongside her youtube and we had thrown around the idea of collaborating on something for a little while now. Then about a month ago we came up with the idea of doing a little kids charity swap. Both Yammy and I are fans of more sustainable fashion and being more conscious when purchasing clothes. One way we have both found to do this is to shop preloved or through our local Charity shops. With this in mind we set a little challenge for one another, to buy each others kids some clothes but with the combined budget of £15. So £15 for clothes for two kids, bought either from preloved groups on fb, off ebay or in our local charity shops. I absolutely loved shopping for her two gorgeous boys Sebastian and Albert and of course I couldn't forget little bump too. I tried super hard to stick to the £15 and think I went over by about 60p or something. I sourced the clothes from about three different charity shops in my local area and then two items online from preloved group and ebay. If you would like to see what I got Yammy's boys hit this link here and pop over to see her youtube video with her first reactions opening the parcel!! I was so nervous to see what she thought, especially about my "wild card" jeans!!!
But lets get onto the amazing haul that arrived in the post from Yammy for my little's this week!!
Up first is the lovely bits for "Babs". Including these gorgeous floral Jeggings from Gap. I think these are my favourite item out of the clothes for her. They are totally her style, really comfy, great quality and honestly look like brand new!
Yammy also picked her up another pair of blue leggings, which are perfect for the summer. Babs lives in leggings in the spring and summer, wearing them under skirts or dresses and with t-shirts. She had actually outgrown her other navy pair so these arrived at the perfect time!
Next up a beautiful Cat jumper. If you know babs, you will know two things, firstly her favourite colour is pink, always pink, it has been since she was about three and second she is obsessed with cats. She is desperate for a kitten, but as we have two guinea pigs and a dog currently, getting a kitten doesn't look likely anytime soon! She will just have to make do with a pink cat jumper instead! All jokes aside she loves this! Although her size 5-6 it is on the larger side which is great as, not only is it perfect for cooler evenings now but I am hoping it will still fit come autumn time too! love this with the  leggings above!

Keeping with the knitted theme how amazing is this skirt!!! The detail on the hem is gorgeous! It twirls when you spin round, which is requirement number one for babs. It's super soft and comfy and light enough for summer but also will be lovely layered with tights and boots come autumn too!
The final item for babs was this lovely H&M butterfly light jumper. H&M is one of my favourite brands for kids clothes. They are good quality the company is one that is more conscious, which I like. The sizing is good. This top is really lovely!
I'm so impressed with Yammy's picks for babs, all of these items I would have picked up for her myself!! Now onto OJ's haul!

How gorgeous are these!!! Im loving the grey leggings with the little seals on the knee! Adorable! The whale trousers are so sweet! I've actually got a little t-shirt with a whale applique which will match perfectly with these! And the mustard dino print leggings from Zara are amazing! My favourite colour on OJ is mustard he has a gorgeous little mustard beanie from H&M which will look so good teamed with these and the lovely little gap top below!
I love how Yammy has purchased pieces that can all be mixed and matched to make outfits. This little gap top is so nice and will go perfectly with all three pairs of leggings. And I love this little zip up hoodie with the cutest little bear ears on the hood!! Again perfect for mix and mixing with.

This t-shirt is one of my favourite items from the haul, look at the safari pictures in the binocular lenses, how cool is that! But I have saved the best to last. Both babs and I let out a "OHHHHH" when this next item came out of the parcel bag.
 A little bird zip up top with rainbow detail! YES! Isn't it stunning. I have actually unsuccessfully bid on these tops before on ebay and on preloved pages and never been lucky enough to nab one for OJ so when this arrived to say I was over the moon is actually an understatement! Such a perfect pick for him! Couldn't have chosen better myself! So thank you Yammy you superstar!

I hope this post has inspired you to give shopping preloved or charity shop a go. Step out of your comfort zone, maybe cast out of your mind your notions of what it means to shop charity or "second hand". I know for some it can be associated in a negative or almost taboo way, but honestly it can be the most fun and positive shopping experience you will have. There are amazing bargains to be had, you never know what great wee item you will find, the proof is above. All of this came in around or just slightly over budget. Under £20 for two kids is really budget friendly but also really eco-friendly and a sustainable way to buy clothes. So give it a go! If you'd like to see what we sent Yammy just pop over watch her video!

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Thursday, 14 June 2018

Tom Duffy's Circus- The greatest show?

Last night I took "babs" for her first visit to Tom Duffy's Circus. She was totally beside herself with excitement in the car. She just couldn't wait and she actually squealed when she caught the first glimpse of the big tent on the hill. She literally skipped into the field towards the tent, she was so excited. Taking in every little detail and commenting on them to me. The lights at the box office, the illustrations adoring the lorries & vans, the colour of the outside of the tent, the uniforms the duffys crew had on.  You name it she noticed it. She pointed out even the tiniest details to me, she was just taking it all in. She gasped when the tent curtain went up & we walked in. And that just made my heart so happy! It was so lovely seeing her react with the same amazement, I remember feeling when I was her age going into Duffy's circus tent.

Having not been to the Circus in about ten years or more, I was unsure how it would live up to my memories of it. Duffys Circus was always one of the highlights of my summers growing up. The tent would appear as if by magic in the fields across from our house, for a few days each summer. I remember playing in the garden on the swing set, pretending to be a trapeze artist, whilst we listened to the music drifting out across the field from the big top. When I was little the circus seemed like such a magical awe inspiring place and to be honest I was a little bit apprehensive whether "babs" would come away with the same feelings or would she and I both be disappointed?
We took our seats .. (I had pre-purchased tickets online, which was so handy. Arrived early no real queue's, we just walked up to ticket office and handed over the reference number & got the tickets. We bought seats in the grandstand, and being early had the pick of seats. Nothing really obstructed our view, where we were sat (middle seats right at the back of the left hand grandstand). We had a little discount ticket, she had brought home from school, which gave her a free ticket when an adult ticket was purchased. I think there are a number of different discounts running at different times throughout their shows, so worth checking out local newspapers and having a wee look on their facebook page for those.  Especially if you have a couple of kids with you.).. We had about half hour to wait before it started, which gave "babs" ample time to have a good look around her before the show began. She also of course had to make a little trip to the circus shop for candy floss and bought a little flashing light being sold by the crew walking around. Both of which I was pleasantly surprised to find, were really reasonably priced. Likewise everything was so fresh looking, the tent, the lighting, the seating etc.  Before the show had even started "babs" declared it was the best night ever!

So onto the show! The last Duffy's show I had seen they still had tigers as part of the acts, which as a child, used to amaze & terrify me in equal measure! But with adjusting times, attitudes (my own included) and new laws around animals in circus's, the tigers and other "exotic" animals are no longer part of their shows.  They do however still have some animals including beautiful  ponies & horses and a gorgeous array of dogs. All of which looked to me to be healthy & happy whilst in the ring (They also were not out for long periods either, just short routines, which the audience seemed to enjoy). Babs favourite animal was actually the teeny tinest poodle who ran around the outside of the ring jumping tiny little fences. So cute! 

The show is so much more than animals though. There's a brilliant variety of performances, from the  duffy brothers in the  wheel of death, which was amazing, heart in the mouth, are they crazy?! Type performance. To the clowns, who were really funny & I loved that they were not intimidating at all. Years ago I remember being a bit afraid of the circus clowns but "babs" wasn't, she laughed along & even when the clown came up beside us she wasn't even slightly worried. There are also various aerial artists, which are always my favourite to watch. I loved that one girl did a routine with instrumental music from the greatest showman! And there were a group of female aerial artists on a globe type rig which "babs" loved and a fantastic troupe from Brazil I think, on trapeze's, who were just amazing. The kenyan boys were super entertaining and had everyone dancing along. There was also a glow dazzle act with lights, which had all the kids raving it up with the circus glow lights (which at £5 each actually was a heck of alot cheaper than I expected to pay for them, having seen similar on sale at disney on ice performances for £15+). These plus the other acts overall provided a great fun family orientated show!

In this day and age with technology & tv and gaming etc I did wonder if the Circus would feel "outdated" not as exciting or entertaining anymore?  But I was wrong. The whole circus is more than just a show, but a real immersive experience. A mix of childhood nostalgia, good old fashioned fun, but also a show that is modern and exciting. "Babs" had the  best time ever! She has been bitten by the magic of the circus, (she actually asked to just drive past the circus this evening one more time before it leaves, which we did). We will definitely be back next year when the Circus rolls back into town and I'd highly recommend seeing the show if it is in a town near you this summer.

*This is not in collaboration or sponsored by duffys, we purchased our own tickets* Just my honest opinions on a great family show.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Simple free DIY Wildflower Floral Crown

Little ones love floral crowns, they are the perfect accompaniment for imaginative play. Both my kids love pottering about in the garden with a crown on their heads. And they just look so adorable, like little wild ones. I love it. There are so many beautiful examples online of  fresh floral crowns but these can be pricey if you opt to use shop bought flowers. Buying shop bought not only costs but also takes a bit more organisation in sourcing the flowers too. Instead I tend to make crowns with wildflowers or as my hubby calls them ... weeds! Ha!
These wildflowers are easily sourced this time of year, from hedgerows or country lanes. They are everywhere locally to us. I tend to use a mix of the cow parsley (long stalks and tiny white flowers)  and other long stalked flowers such as the yellow buttercups, and dandelions which in the countryside seem to grow super long. I also add in some long grasses and whatever other wee flowers I come across at the time.
But the joy of these is you can really use anything you fancy in these and they will look amazing!

The simplest way I have learned to make a strong floral crown is to do is a twisted stem method. You need only the flowers and grass to do this. No wires or other materials, which makes these crowns safer in my mind for kids to play with but also makes them so easy to do on spur of the moment.


Step 1:

Lay one long stem horizontal and lay the other long stem vertically over the top like above :

Step 2:

Twist the vertical stem under and around the horizontal stem.

Step 3:

and pull the end of the now twisted vertical stem along the horizontal stem as above. 

Step 4:
Repeat with new stems, keep doing this until you have your desired length of crown. Then get the two ends and another long strong stem of flowers or grass and wrap around the ends binding them together like a ribbon would and knot or tie it.

So simple, yes very rustic, but you can make these as full and big or small as you like. Likewise the more time you spend on them the neater they will be. The crown above was made in under five minutes whilst drinking a cuppa! The most perfect way to spend some time doing a little activity with the kids this spring/summer.


Thursday, 3 May 2018

Cloth nappies ...

My first encounter with the wonderful world of cloth was way back when when our eldest was 4 months. I was approached through my previous blog by a company to review some baby leggings and accessories and tagged onto the email was, a few lines about how they had started to sell cloth nappies and would include some in the package, with no pressure to include in the review. I remember thinking cloth nappies? Do they even still exist? And being completely bewildered as to what would await me in the package.

To be honest when they arrived, I was still bewildered. I remember trying them on her and ringing my mum who told me instantly to not even consider it, totally impractical and a waste of time. So that's what I did. I reviewed the other items but left those out, explaining I couldn't really get my head around them, threw them in a box and moved on with life. Fast forward to April of that year and Real nappy week arrived, a week were retailers promote the use of cloth nappies, run competitions, have sales and discounts etc and sometimes have bloggers work alongside them on these campaigns. That week was the first time I saw some of my peers, fellow bloggers and parents using these modern nappies on there kids. I was intrigued. Then I started to notice the prints, yes I am part magpie, instantly drawn to anything pretty or sparkly. My attention was well and truly caught. Quiet quickly through facebook groups. local mums, bloggers even pinterest I learnt the difference between the brands and types of nappies. I started to gather up a stash and there our journey in cloth began. Up until "potty training" we used a mix of cloth and normal disposable nappies.

Fast forward to baby no 2 and we had a newborn cloth stash ready and waiting for his arrival. Over the past year we have used (like with his sister) a mix of cloth and disposables. I feel no pressure to be a holier than thou cloth user, I totally get that cloth nappies are not for everyone but also that for some its an all or nothing approach. For us/me a mix just works. 

Using cloth or real nappies honestly could not be easier! I know there is the myth that they are messy, dirty, and totally impractical. I thought these things myself before we used them but honestly , 5 years on I can say none of these things are true. They are exactly like using disposables except there is no nasty chemicals beside your babies skin, no plastic beside their skin and instead of throwing the nappies into the bin that then go to landfill and take 450 years, yes 450 years each to decompose, you pop them in the wash , stick them on the line or some in tumbler and back on your baby, easy. For me these where the two of the main reasons for using them. The thought of nappies used on my kids being in the ground still decomposing in 450 years time when we are long gone and our descendants are running around is just crazy. That combined with the fact that disposables are filled with chemicals many unregulated right beside our babies precious little skin, made me want to look for a better healthier alternative. Of course cloth is cheaper over your babies life time than disposables, especially if you also use cloth wipes too. So savings are a great incentive.

Other people, this has been the only stumbling block I have found around cloth. There is still the assumption from some that cloth nappies are used only by a particular hippy type of parent. Some people screw there nose up at them, and I have had ridicule and criticism for using them too. And that used to really bother me, being the self conscious person that I am, I worried what everyone thought, all, the, time. But recently I have had such a change of heart, slowly working my way to just accept myself in all aspects including my parenting choices. And if people wish to criticise me for using cloth nappies or being a little bit hippy. Then that's on them, live and let live is my thoughts.
But with cloth nappies becoming more popular in the UK now , (over in the USA and Canada they are really popular amongst all ages of parents) slowly they are becoming more "mainstream" here too. I find people really accepting,  I know numerous local mums and friends who use cloth with their kids and I am part of many facebook groups with thousands of UK and Irish parents using them, supporting one another and all doing our bit for the environment, our pockets and our kids.

So that's my how and why we ended up using cloth nappies. Recently I shared a little unboxing of some nappies from a real nappy week purchase from Babipur on my instagram stories (you can follow me here) and was overwhelmed with how many messages I received from other mums both local and further afield asking about them, where to get them and so on. So I've decided to share some fluffy themed posts here from time to time! Keep a wee eye out if that's something of interest to you!

Until then thanks for reading, Vicki 💚


Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Easter baskets 2018

Easter baskets are one of the traditions I started for babs back five years ago at her first Easter and have continued each year since. Last year OJ was just a teeny two months old at Easter, so this is really his first proper Easter where he can be involved in the egg hunt and will actually enjoy getting his little Easter basket with his sister. So here is what is in each kiddo's basket this year & scroll to the end of the post if you wanna see the alternative Easter Egg Nannie is getting this year.

For starters, I've bought two little Easter themed air ballons (you know the type that never seem to deflate?!) Both kid's love these, we still have one floating about that was for mother's day that OJ loves to run after  his sister with, so i'm certain these will go down a treat!
 First up Bab's basket:
The actual basket is a beautiful soft faux fur pink bunny basket with the most amazing big ears, from tkmaxx. Babs spotted this in tkmaxx a month or two back and really really wanted it. But (cue the mum guilt) I said no. I went back a few days later, after she had mentioned how much she loved it time and time again and it was gone. The joys of  tkmaxx is, you can never guarantee what they have nor that they will have it the next time your in. Nannie to the rescue, babs had of course mentioned it to her also and my mum had spotted this one in her local tkmaxx. So we have one happy girl (she has had this basket already just not the other bits and bobs).
Now onto the other items:
Easter egg: Peppa Pig- Home bargains (under £2)
Rainbow windmill: Home bargains (under £2) . This is the large one and OJ has the slightly smaller one. We had these last summer in the garden flower beds and babs loved them. But the weather over the winter has really battered them so these will be nice fresh bright replacements.
Pastel Sandals, Laura Ashley: purchased in TKmaxx £9.99  I instantly loved these when I spotted them a few weeks back. They are super soft and lovely and will be perfect for spring / summer.

Bunny t-shirt : H&M £2.99. Such a sweet little top, perfect for the Egg hunt at nannie & granda's.
LuLu bow : Home Bargains (under £2) Basically a cheaper version of the famous JoJo bows (but this mama doesn't wanna pay £7 a bow and theses are just as lovely as good a quality. Babs is a bow addict, she will love this!
Fairy activity pack :local card shop 99p . Normally each year I have got babs some sort of Easter colouring book etc, but I thought this was a little different, nice that the fairy has red hair like her and it comes in a handy pack which would be good for when we are out and about or heading to my parents house etc.
Disney Easter bowl & Plate : Tesco (I think these were £1 each) We needed a few more handy snack plates and bowls, these are a good quality for the price and babs loves mini mouse so this sold them for me.

Now onto OJ's basket

As you can see one thing is missing? The basket! Yep his basket is currently in the attic, but he will have one Sunday morning I promise. 
Balloon 99p I know this is probably going to be his favourite item from the basket, nothing else will get a look in most likely once he spots this.
Mini windmill Home Bargains (under £2) to match babs, i'm hoping the weather picks up in the coming weeks and we can get out into the garden. Do some planting and pop these into the flower beds.
Duck sponge : Home Bargains (under £1)
Duck wash cloth hand puppet: Home Bargains (under £1) OJ is a water baby and these are a nice wee nod to Easter for bath times. 
Bunny bubbles: Home Bargains (£1) He hasn't experienced the joy that is bubbles yet, I don't think at least. Looking forward to showing him these. 
Easter Egg: milky way. Ignore the fact it's Nestle, I know. I do. And try to avoid them as much as possible. However I don't know what it is about milky bar's (probably advertising) but they seem the more toddler friendly option? I know if I was offered dairy milk buttons or milky buttons for OJ I'll always pick the milky. Likewise if someone else buys them for him they do the same. So this egg seemed like the logical easter option for him, that and it is quite small.  
Disney mickey mouse Easter Plate and bowl : Tesco (£1 each) these are really cute and hes started to use little plates, all of which have been bought for his sister, so these will be his first official plate & bowl bought just for him. 
Mustard Beanie : H&M on sale for £2 I spotted this as I was paying for bab's top. I adore beanies on OJ, he wears one at some point most days and this mustard colour will just look adorable on him. 
Throwing this into the mix, you might have seen one of my previous posts about what was in the Easter basket for my mum from the kids last year? If not have a read here. This year I picked up this gorgeous egg by Ghost, from Superdrug for £6. Inside is a little minature perfume. I thought this was a gorgeous alternative for Easter for my mum from the kids. And how amazing is the card?! My local Tkmaxx has really had the best selection of cards recently! 

I'm really looking forward to Easter this year, I think because Bab's is super excited she has made everyone else excited too! We will be doing the egg hunts, the baskets, trips to Barrys in Portrush, sleepovers with nannie & granda and hopefully in the coming weeks welcoming a new baby cousin to the family!  But we will also be exploring the true Easter story with the kids. Whatever you do I hope you have a lovely one! 


Monday, 26 March 2018

Bubba Bag teething toys

Teething is one of those things that I know alot of mums, myself included, just dread. Those little nashers coming through can cause all types of problems for little ones from, temps and tummy upsets to bright red cheeks & restless nights and of course aching little gums. Both of our kids have started teething quite early on. Babs got her first tooth through at exactly 4 months whilst OJ got his first few through in one go just before five months.
For each of them I had my trusty go to teething remedies. I swear by the natural teething powders as well as milk lollies and wet cloths frozen (have wee peak here at my teeting tips pinned) for little gums to munch on. I have always had a few items of teething jewellery including teething safe necklaces, that I would have worn more often when the kids were very little and often carried in a wrap or buckle carrier as they could happily and safely chew on it whilst being carried. 
 As they get older and more independent they find things to chew on as they play, everything goes into little mouths, especially when teething, but not all toys are ideal for this. GumiGem however have developed a fantastic range of teething toys, that are both fun, but also safe and made for chewing and biting to ease teething discomfort. 
GumiGem so kindly sent OJ their Bubba Bag tool Bag recently, the tool bag is part of their teething toy range. 

Included in the tool bag is a little hammer, a spanner, a tape measure and a little saw. All are made from soft, flexible non toxic silicone. They are dishwasher and steriliser safe too. The spanner, hammer and saw have little loop holes where you can attach them to a dummy clip/toy clip to take out and about with you. 
 We have literally taken our bag everywhere! It goes in the car with us, keeps OJ entertained on the school run and long drives up to my parents. He loves carrying the bag about, inside and outside! The bag is really robust and withstands OJ pitching it down outside (as you can see above!) and swinging it about. There are four little compartments in it, as well as the handle. OJ just loves to pop the tools in and out as well as adding other bits and bobs he finds on his travels!
When hes teething he seems to favour the saw or spanner the most. But all of the tools have been put through the OJ chew test over the past few weeks. Not only does he chew on them but he also really plays with them. He hammers things and pretends to saw bits and bobs and fix things with the spanner, much to the delight of hubby (who is a joiner).

The toys are great quality, as is the bag, OJ has really taken to this little set it is by far one of his go to toys and I can see it remaining a favourite in the coming months.
Any of the bubba bags would make a great baby gift, something both fun but useful too. The items can be purchased individually too, I think we might order a few of the items from the other sets to add into this little bag for him too!
Overall we have been really impressed with it and it has definitely been added to my list of essentials for teething!

*we have been gifted this item in return for an honest review, all opinions are my own!* 
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