Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Before Midnight

I read today that Richard Linklater's film Before Midnight (link contains plot spoilers) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last weekend. Apparently the sequel was mooted back in the autumn of 2012 as a finished film, but I missed this, only reading about it on A Cup of Jo this afternoon. I can't find any kind of release date but Jo mentions September in the US.

If you haven't seen either of the first two films (Before Sunrise, 1995 & Before Sunset, 2004) you must see them. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy essentially spend the first two films talking - like you might imagine the most romantic of meetings to be, where the conversation just flows and you don't even notice that it's suddenly dawn. In 1995 they have one night in Vienna; in 2004, they are in Paris for an afternoon. My husband introduced me to the first film whilst we were at university and I am sure that he envisioned falling in love to be a bit like meeting Julie Delpy (which of course it was...!).

I can't wait to see Before Midnight - just don't make the mistake of reading the Guardian review which contains both a massive plot spoiler and is strangely negative amongst a general sea of hugely positive reviews.

Photograph: Despina Spyrou/AP

Monday, 21 January 2013

Ecover Zero (Review)

update - I discovered that you can buy the Ecover Zero washing up liquid at Planet Organic, if you don't fancy buying it online.

You might remember ages ago that I mentioned I'd been sent some Ecover Zero products to review. I know I said I'd write the review in a week or two, but actually, I thought it better to give the products a full test before I gave an opinion.

I was sent the washing up liquid, the washing liquid and fabric conditioner as well as a tea towel and two cloths (the soap and brushes were already on my sink).

Ecover ZERO is Ecover’s new fragrance-free range, "specially crafted to give great washing results while being suitable for sensitive skin".  Ecover says that it is their " first ever range to be awarded with the stamp of approval from Allergy UK".

They have chosen to focus on the core products of Laundry Liquid, Washing Powder, Fabric Conditioner and Washing Up Liquid (I didn't get to test the washing powder) as "these core products tend to be the key culprits for irritating skin and causing allergic reactions".

I especially liked the washing up liquid and we used the whole bottle. We have reverted to the Lemon & Aloe Vera Ecover washing up liquid but purely because I had already bought it prior to the trial. I think I will try and get the Ecover Zero one though next time, as I liked the way that I felt confident using the liquid on all of the baby's paraphernalia, particularly her bottles and cups, as I really don't like the idea of her milk being scented. Aside from no smell, it lathered and behaved in exactly the same way as any other Ecover washing up liquid and went just as far. I particularly like the way that Ecover washing up liquid never feels slimy (and I am happy to use it when camping as I don't worry about chemicals going directly into the water table).

I also really liked the fabric conditioner (technical difficulties withstanding) as my main reason for never using fabric conditioner is the all pervading smell. My towels (for I only use fabric conditioner on towels) came out nice and soft and with not a hint of biscuit. The washing liquid, whilst technically successful in that my clothes were clean, I was less enamoured with, purely for the fact that I do like to have my clothes have a (very) gentle scent, particularly underwear, nappies and anything that one suspects may have come into contact with baby vomit. I find the normal Ecover liquid does a good job of this already. However, if any of my family had any allergy problems or issues with scents at all, then the Ecover Zero liquid would be perfect. Personal preference I guess. I would still recommend it.


(Ecover answers your questions)

Where can I buy Ecover ZERO? 
At the moment you can buy it online at our official retail website, Ecover Direct. We are currently looking at making it available in supermarkets, other online shops and independent stockists too. 

 If it’s fragrance free, what’s that smell? 
What you can smell in our laundry products are the ingredients in it - surfactants that work to get your clothes clean. You should find that the smell completely disappears in the wash. Other “no fragrance” products often add masking agents so you can’t smell the active ingredients but as we wanted this range to be free from any unnecessary ingredients we chose not to use one. 

I received the products from Ecover. You can find further details regarding my sponsorship policy here

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A Year of Doing Good (Judith O'Reilly)

I finished Judith O'Reilly's A Year of Doing Good last night and wanted to come here and write about it before life moved on and I didn't write anything. Light reading it may be, if you follow me on twitter you might have seen me describe it as 'human, honest and humorous'. I started following Judith's blog, Wife In the North, back before I got married or had children but despite, at that time, us being at rather different life stages, I was hooked on her diary accounting her move to Northumberland from London, pregnancy, birth and how she built a community in her new surrounds. She battled with loneliness, depression, anxiety and repeatedly running out of petrol and I could empathise with it all, albeit sometimes retrospectively since reading. The blog became a book, which I bought and read and even return to now and then, which is a mark of something being well written. 

And now, her second book. Funnily enough, I bought it after doing a good deed in a cafe (returning a mobile phone which an elderly couple and their daughter had left behind on the table, leaving my baby in the care of a friend whilst I chased after them. The act reminded me of the book which had been serialised (reviewed? I can't recall) in the Sunday Times over the Christmas period and, having received a book token from my grandparents instead of their usual choice of paperback, and which I had mentally earmarked to buy on its release, I decided to go and buy.

A Year of Doing Good is more than a list of good deeds. It's a sequel to Wife in the North, although I think it would be just as enjoyable without knowing the back story. It is inspiring, as ever since I have tried gone nicer to people and have been doing my best to do a good deed myself every day, or whenever possible, even if small. I particularly liked one scene in which Judith buys a parking ticket for another family and they are then inspired to pay the good turn forward. So I have been smiling at other mothers, holding open doors, asking how people are. I wrote a card to a relative; I rang my mother in law when habitually I would have texted or emailed. I have supported a friend's new business (not just as a good deed but because I love her and her products, but still, it is support). [I have still managed to be very very cross though. And give some companies a piece of my mind. But that's another post]. As Judith discovered, doing good turns doesn't make you a better person. But I am inspired to try. (and might even record them too).

What A Year of Doing Good is, I think, is a reminder, a letter. An insight into a community. A reminder that life isn't always good to us but that a little kindness can go a small way to making a difference to people. One recurring theme through both books is Judith's first born son, a son who died in utero. Through both books she details her grief and how she has come to terms with this. I cannot relate but I think I am not too far off the mark in stating that if I could relate I would find Judith's words helpful.

So, I recommend reading. And being inspired.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

One week in

If you made it to the bottom of my new year post, you might have seen my resolutions. Top of that list was declutter. Properly declutter. As in simplify life. After a lovely afternoon with some of my favourite ladies, one of them sent me the link to a year long project about simplifying life. A 2013 in 2013 declutter challenge. I'm not going to formally participate using their forum, but I am going to record my progress here.

Coincidentally, I had already taken the first step and this lot has already gone to the charity shop. Yes, that is an Ikea bag full of shoes. I'm not exactly sure how many items were in those bags but I think I will count it as 50. I will update my tally throughout the year. (and might even list what I have got rid of - these bags contain shoes, clothes and sheets. We also took Delilah's unused cat basket to the vet for them to use for rescue cats or in their hospital).

I am making an effort to simplify the things I do have, so investing in one nice and beautiful item and having only one, getting rid of the others. So far, Marto has bought me a beautiful Stella McCartney bra for my birthday now that I have stopped breastfeeding. We went to a lovely lingerie boutique and had it properly fitted, which was a treat in itself. I then am going to get rid of all my other ill fitting but I kept them anyway because I didn't have anything else to wear bras. I just need the baby to stop teething and settle to sleep properly so that I have a moment to do that!

So far as my other resolutions are going, My birthday money has been partly spent on some beautiful items to try and assist with three of my resolutions (go to bed earlier, read more, Internet less). I am attempting to make our bedroom a really inviting relaxing space where bedtime will be 10pm. I have bought new (sale) pyjamas, am decluttering the room, have put all my Christmas and birthday books in a pile by my bedside to read and we have managed to get into bed with tea and our book several times already this year.

Lastly, I am attempting to stop procrastinating and actually do things. This morning I changed the address on my vogue subscription. A small thing, but it's been on my mental to do list since we moved last March.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012 in photos {January - August}

I'm going to miss 2012. It was always the furthest year that I could see to in the future (still is, actually). Somehow, I couldn't see beyond 30. or London 2012. The Diamond Jubilee. The year I had my first baby. Pretty monumental, personally and publicly. I think 2012 will be the year that we look back on history; the seminal year from the first 20 or so of this decade. 

So here are a few of my photos from the blog.


.pregnant, snugged up with Delilah, at our cottage in Somerset, in front of our fire

. the house in Bath where 15 of my closest friends gathered to celebrate my (but really all of) our 30th birthdays


.winter walks & our last days in Somerset


.library themed baby shower at our new place in London


.baby Pip's arrival


.first family trip to the beach in Whitstable


.patriotic Jubilee pavlova


.first family holiday (Cornwall, yurting) 


.paralympics (with Pip)

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

happy new year

we celebrated the last breaths of 2012 in the middle of the countryside on the shropshire/welsh border with family and dear friends. a rather more sedate new year than of previous occasions but no less memorable. Pip joined us for the earlier part of the evening, charming everyone with her lovely dress and big girl pig tails before passing out in a travel cot in the drawing room doorway so that we could eat our meal and play word games until 12am. after ringing in the new year, we took the photo of the two of us. we stood by Pip's cot, marvelling that it was no longer her birth year, that she was no longer really a baby. and then caught sight of ourselves in the mirror in the hallway. "and we're no longer teenagers" mused Marto. i stared back at our reflection and realised he was right (and not just because i wasn't wearing any make-up).

the rest of these photos were taken walking this morning. finally the rain of the last few weeks stopped and the brightest, lightest winter sun took it's place. the kind that shows up every flaw but also raises the spirits. just what new year's day needs, really, I think.

and, as the year commences, the mind turns to resolutions for the coming 12 months. and having read quite a few blogs over the course of today, my own are essentially a reoccurring theme (at the bottom if you're interested).

13 for 2013

(12 for 2012 I never posted but 11 for 2011 is here and not much seems to have changed)

. more de-cluttering. successful de-cluttering. more must leave than arrives.
. a home for everything (and that doesn't just mean better storage)
. buy  less (but only beautiful things)
. go to bed earlier
. less take-away coffees
. less procrastinating
. set up business with my sister
. sort out career/income
.read more
. browse internet less (but blog more)
. decide what to do about a sibling for Pip
. be a 'better' wife and mother
. reduce 'worries' list