28 July 2016

A Fresh Up facial at New York Laser Clinic

In collaboration with New York Laser Clinic

I recently went for a Fresh Up facial at the New York Laser Clinic in London Baker Street. Being a mum with a busy busy schedule it is difficult to find the time for myself, let alone take care of the outer me. Last time I had a facial was before I got married. It's our fifth anniversary soon. So it was nice to take a bit of time for myself and get a proper facial MOT.

new york laser clinic at baker street

My facial MOT started off with a chat with my cosmetologist Nadine. We chatted about my concerns (blemishes nearing adult acne in severity; uneven skin tone) and my skin (sensitive combination), and after assessing it, she recommended a 'Fresh Up' peel. On hearing the word peel I was quite concerned, but she assured me it was a very light peel and would be based on natural extracts, with no harsh chemicals involved. Essentially, it wasn't the sort of peel that really strips layers off your skin, but more like an enhanced exfoliation / facial.

The peel consisted of cleaning the skin, preparing and exfoliating it with Dr Schrammek products and finally a facial massage with a white mateo cream. The sensation of the peel was quite strange. Every time my skin was touched, there was a strong tingling sensation. Not inherently unpleasant, but very strange. I would imagine that if my skin was pressed with lots of tiny needles, it would feel roughly similar. Despite this, the treatment felt relaxing.

treatment room at new york laser clinic baker street

buddha decoration at a cosmetologist new york laser clinic

dr schrammek products

my treatment plan at new york laser clinic

The best thing about the treatment was that it actually worked! Afterwards, my skin was more even-toned and felt refreshed. The biggest change was in the blackheads on my nose. They were smaller and not as dark as before. This was a really noticeable change in person. It doesn't translate to pictures that well but I have taken a before and after pictures for reference. This effect lasted about a week and a bit, after which my skin has started to return back to its normal state. Two weeks after the peel my skin still feels cleaner and smoother than before the peel.

I also liked that the treatment was individually tailored - it addressed my skin concerns and when my cosmetologist noticed I was cracking my wrists after a long day at the office, she ended the treatment with a hand massage.

janmarini products

new york laser clinic baker street

Would I do the treatment again? Yep, most definitely, the change in the blackheads on my nose was noticeable. However, at £100 a pop it is an investment I personally couldn't find the funds to do on a regular basis. This treatment is recommended to do once a week, and they also have harsher Fresh Up peels (to be done every two or four weeks) you can work up to. It would be interesting to see how much of a change a month-long treatment plan would do to my skin when one treatment already had a significant effect. If I had a big event (such as a wedding or graduation) coming up, yep, I'd shell out the necessary funds for a treatment or two, and I could certainly consider making this part of my yearly skincare routine!

before and after pictures after a green peel at new york laser clinic
Before (left) and after (right)

Can you see the change in my skin in the before/after pictures? Have you been to a peel at a cosmetologist?

26 July 2016

10 simple and easy ideas for a toddler Paw Patrol party

We recently hosted a Paw Patrol birthday for my daughters third birthday. We wanted to have a nice toddler-friendly birthday party with activities and other ideas suitable for pre-school children. Since we knew we will have lots of guests (12 kids, ages ranging from 1 to 3 plus adults) we knew we wanted to keep it simple and easy.  Here are ten of the simple but fun ideas we used for our Paw Patrol birthday.

Like so many kids at the moment, out daughter has gone nuts about Paw Patrol. Everything is Paw Patrol now, even our family. I am Sky and her daddy is Chase - she herself is Everest. So it was no surprise when I asked her what kind of party she would like to have. 

It was fun to come up with ideas for the Paw Patrol party. I've divided these ideas into 10 different categories, and have included links to other tutorials and products (some affiliates) that you might find helpful. 

toddler in marshall costume looking at paw patrol cake

paw patrol table cloth

paw patrol happy birthday bunting

paw patrol honey biscuits in a dog bowl

1. Paw Patrol branded decoration. You can buy these from many different suppliers like from Party Pieces. We had cups, plates and napkins, as well as a table cloth and some "Happy Birthday" bunting. Granted, these won't make your party look a stylishly Pinterest-worthy, but kids loved them!

2. Doggy bowls. As part of the decorations these work a treat. You can get cheap doggy bowls from pound shops (which is where we got ours) and they are perfect to serve snacks in. I matched these to the Paw Patrol colours by choosing sky blue!

3. Labelling snacks creatively. You can make pretty much anything sound more Paw Patrol like with some clever labelling strategies... How about some Pup-corn? Or Paw-peroni pizza? We also had some Paw-tilla chips and Huu-mus, not sure if those names really worked that well but hey, sort of!

4. Main course: hot dogs! We wanted to keep things simple so we only had one main course, and hot dogs fit the theme paw-fectly. We had a hot dog station, with the frankfurters on a pan in hot water, and buns and condiments next to them. People could pop by and make their own whenever they wanted to so it was minimal hassle for us.

5. Doggy biscuits! You need a medium sized bone shaped cookie cutter, and a straw to make the three holes in the middle to make them look like "Honey biscuits" from Paw Patrol. The cookie dough needs to be made with very little raising agents. I made them using this recipe by Nigella - this dough retains its shape well. I got bone shaped cookie cutters from Ebay, and I used a straw to make three holes in the middle. These look exactly like the "Honey biscuits" the pups get given in Paw Patrol, and kids LOVED them. 

Links to products you might like:

hot dog

paw patrol honey biscuits

rubble paw patrol chocolate slide cake

6. Easy Rubble landslide cake. For a cake, an easy way to decorate is to create a "Malteser" slide and stick a Rubble figurine on top. A good tutorial on how to do one is here

7. Dogtastic entertainment. Modelling balloons for entertainment. In case the kids needed some entertainment, I got modelling balloons. It is so simple to make a balloon puppy, and fits the theme great. Paw Patrol stickers and party hats for an activity. Pre-schoolers love stickers, and having them decorate their party hats with some Paw Patrol stickers is a fun little activity for them. We got Paw Patrol stickers from the pound shop so this was a very low-cost option.

8. Paw Patrol costumes. For the birthday girl or boy, a Paw Patrol costume is a great idea. We got one of these. Word of warning though, the sizing on the ones we got is weird and is very wide. On our three year old the smaller size (1-2years old) fit better, but the hat was too small. With the bigger size (3-4years old) the hat would have been right size but the costume humongous. The fabric is pretty cheap too, and the Skye outfit discards glitter everywhere... Anyway, she loved her costume which was the main thing!

9. Paw Patrol toys as a decoration and to play with. If you are hosting a Paw Patrol birthday party, I'd say it is pretty likely you already have some puptastic merchandise in your house... We brought all her Paw Patrol themed toys to the living room for kids to play with. Alternative ideas are to make your own dog house out of cardboard - we didn't have time unfortunately but I think this is a fabulous idea. We did consider buying a cheap Paw Patrol themed play tent for kids to play in, but decided against it in the end as we already have a lot of toys.

10. Paw Patrol themed party favours. As a party favour we gave out Paw Patrol magazines. These are great for kids aged between 2 and 5 and is such a great idea for a time-poor parent as all you need to do is pop by a supermarket and get a few copies. The magazines have stickers, stories, activities, and colouring pages, and of course a toy! Occasionally there is also something extra, like a poster or a sticker book. We have bought a few of these magazines for our daughter as the toys are always good quality and sturdy enough to last a long time, even with a threenager. This is such an easy way to do a party favour for a birthday! The kids absolutely loved these and were in awe when they got their hands on one.

For baby guests we got an alternative baby-friendly party bag. I drew paw prints on plain paper bags, and filled the bags with soap bubbles, and a soft toy puppy. These were also from pound shop so didn't break a bank.

Some products you might like:

  • Paw Patrol branded mini play packs for goodie bags (Amazon US)

toddler wearing marshall paw patrol costume

paw patrol magazines given out as party bags

3 paw patrol magazines

paw patrol baby friendly party bag with soft toy puppy

The Paw Patrol party we hosted went great. We had loads of guests and everyone had fun, especially the smallest pups. You don't need to blow your budget on a themed party - you can easily do much of the decorations yourself, and with some smart shopping the rest won't cost a bomb.

10 easy and simple ideas for a Paw Patrol birthday party for kids - including food, biscuits, cake, decoration and entertainment!

10 easy and simple ideas for a Paw Patrol birthday party for toddlers - including food, biscuits, cake, decoration and entertainment!
10 easy-to-do ideas for a toddler friendly Paw Patrol birthday party, including food, entertainment, decoration and party bags!

10 easy-to-do ideas for a toddler friendly Paw Patrol birthday party, including food, entertainment, decoration and party bags!

10 easy-to-do ideas for a toddler friendly Paw Patrol birthday party, including food, entertainment, decoration and party bags!

10 easy-to-do ideas for a toddler friendly Paw Patrol birthday party, including food, entertainment, decoration and party bags!

Do you have any other good ideas for a Paw Patrol party?

22 July 2016

The adventures of a toddler in a mud volcano

Me and my daughter share several traits. We both are obsessed about chocolate. We both sleep with our arms above our heads. We both also have a tendency to overcommit.

Now, overcommitting isn't always a bad thing. I've had many interesting experiences through just saying yes to many things and overfilling my schedule. I've got far by saying I'll do stuff I thought was a good idea at the time, even if it has felt like a very bad idea late at night working towards an impossible deadline. I've been scared, stressed, elated, overjoyed, and most of all, done stuff, learned and lived and grown through achieving things I didn't know I could at first.  

When we were invited to play with a mud volcano at an event hosted by Persil for their 'Dirt is good' campaign and the launch of their Wild Explorers app, I imagined us to be in for a mucky pup and a few rounds of laundry. What I didn't quite imagine is what happened at the end... My daughter truly shares my trait of overcommitting to things! 

playing with a mud volcano

persil dirt is good mud volcano wild explorers app launch

muddy toddler girl

chasing after daddy

She enjoyed splashing about, running after mummy and daddy with her muddy hands and splashing and squelching in the mud some more. And as we were catching up with some of the hosts she got some other ideas... This is what I mean by overcommitting!

toddler covered in mud

Apparently it felt like a shower, nice, but slimy. When we asked why she put her head in the mud, she replied "Because I put my head in the mud". I suppose just wanting to know what will happen is as good a reason as any. And I suppose you learn by doing, and she certainly learned something. 

When we got back home we had the following conversation:

"Did you like playing in the mud?"

"Do you want to play with mud again?"

(Thank God!)

What do you think - massive parenting win or a massive parenting fail?

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