The Quest For The Perfect Eyeliner: Charlotte Tilbury Feline Flick Review

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Forget the quest for the holy grail or the golden fleece, the most epic crusade in the world is the search for the perfect cat eye .Okay, so maybe that’s a little dramatic but I feel like I have been on a never ending pursuit of inky black perfection that transforms me into a perfectly put together, clean winged, gorgeous vixen. I have always been a make up lover and love experimenting with my look. I’m particularly fond of my eyes as I think they’re quite large and a pretty colour (not to sound vain but I think we should all have a favourite feature) so that’s where I focus my most time in my make up routine. I’ve had a few trials and errors in my time. Lets take a walk down memory lane…

My eyeliner journey

  1. Barbie Make Up Counter FAIL
    One Christmas my parents got me the coveted Barbie make up counter that came with a beautiful array of blue eye shadows. That Christmas dinner I looked like Pat Butcher on a night out but I felt fabulous. I think this is where my love affair with eye shadows was born. More is more was my motto and I was LIVING it.
  2. The Goth Years 
    I really got into “alternative” music when I was in comprehensive school. I used to go to My Chemical Romance concerts, Reading festivals and love getting bashed about in a mosh pit. When I first started listening to this type of music I wanted all in. I used to wear the stupidly wide-legged jeans, ironic Stussy T-shirts (or worse still T-shirts with bands I didn’t really listen to), children’s headbands and a Hello Kitty back pack. I am absolutely dying as I type this as I cannot believe what I must have looked like. Maybe one day I’ll dig up a picture to post for your pleasure. As I navigated this painfully awkward phase I started wearing more make up. I vividly recall heading down the park with a Chinese symbol drawn by my eye in liquid eyeliner. How shameful. Fear not my friends, that particular fashion statement was short lived but my love for black kohl rimmed eyes was born.
  3. Smokey eye overload
    As I grew up a bit and started going out to clubs with my mates I really got into wearing makeup. I used to wear Rimmel’s black eye shadow or Bourgeois sparky graphite shadow all over my lids and line them heavily with Benefit’s BadGal. On top of that I would add a liquid eyeliner to really make my eyes stand out (let’s face it, they needed defining after being smokey-eyed into oblivion). I could never get it right and always ended up looking like a panda with a black eye.
  4. The more refined years
    As I entered my late 20s I stared wearing less make up. Eyeliner and eye shadow has a nasty way of settling into crows feet and fine lines and less is definitely more as you age. I still LOVE a bit of black eyeliner and wear it almost everyday. The one beauty rule I flaunt most often is to put the black eyeliner away in your 30s. NO WAY. I don’t rim my eyes in quite the same aggressive manner as I did in my teens but I always try to give myself a little cat eye so I look somewhat put together even if I’m wearing yoga pants and Uggs.

You’re a grown up now darling, invest a little in yourself

My mum always bought me beautiful Benefit and Clinique products and told me never to cheap out on what I put on my face. Now, I didn’t always listen to this advice (can you say Collection 2000 and Miss Sporty) but when I can, I always try in invest in my make up. As I’ve tested hundreds of brands of eyeliner of the years I can attest to the fact that it really is something you need to splash out on a bit if you want the rich pigment and clean application. For Christmas the year I got the Charlotte Tilbury Feline Flick eye liner in Panther and I was so excited to try it and hopefully put an end to my quest. So let’s get to the review.

Review of Charlotte Tilbury Feline Flick Eyeliner

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The packaging

Well obviously Charlotte Tilbury has beautiful, iconic burgundy and gold packaging that just looks luxe. I have my make up out on my bathroom counter in a little perspex organizer so I do like how it looks simple and classy.

The Price

I’m not going to lie to you, this is not cheap. It is $35 CAD and I appreciate that seems like a lot for a little felt pen. However, I am absolutely LOVING this product and believe it is worth the money. I’ve tried budget eyeliners before and they wear off before midday and the colour pigment is just not on point.

Application

I swear my eyes have two different personalities. I can do my right eye just fine. My liner is the perfect thickness and I get the flick at the corner just right. My left eye is the hot mess sibling that eats taco bell and didn’t go to college. Hoenstly, on the right I’m Sophia Loren, on the left I’m Amy Winehouse. It’s a problem. While I wont say my eyeliner is perfect with this product, that has more to do with my application skills rather than how the liner itself performs. It goes on so smooth and glides easily across my lids with no drag. I always apply my liquid liner on its side when I sweep it across my lids and this deposits rich colour even on its side. When I use the point to sharpen the flick the colour is inky black and comes out evenly.

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What I like about the product

  1. The depth of colour. This truly is an inky black liner.
  2. The pen itself has a comfy grip like a marker that makes it easy to hold from multiple angles. It is also non-slip so if you’re sweaty from chasing kids around or just from concentrating on your problem eye then this is perfect for you!
  3. The tip is super fine.
  4. It’s been about a month and the product is still as black as when I first got it. Cheaper eyeliners have always crapped out on me by this point.
  5. The packaging is so classy.
  6. The wear is phenomenal. I did a spin session with this on and it didn’t run and stayed on!
  7. The fact that it doesn’t come off all over my eyelash curler.

What I’m not so keen on

  1. Not going to lie it is expensive but like I said, you get what you pay for.
  2. It would be cool if you could pump it to get more product onto the tip but it’s not a big deal seeing as the colour is so good anyway.

Overall, I am obsessed with this product and it will definitely be a staple in my make up kit. I love how it looks and I think that it gives me a really great cat eye in seconds. I’m really impressed with the wear and how long it has lasted so far. I highly recommend this eyeliner if you are on the hunt for your holy grail. Spoil yourself! They offer Free Shipping and Returns so you don’t even have to hunt down suppliers (which are not close by if you live in the boonies like me) and can shop in your PJs. What more can a gal ask for?

I’m off to watch some more YouTube eyeliner tutorials to try and line my left eye into submission. Then I’ve got to give my right eyebrow a talking to.

Let me know if you LOVE Charlotte Tilbury!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

A Day Trip To London With A Baby and Dino-Mad Toddler

On December 14th 2018 we braved the transatlantic red eye with the girls to go and visit my family and friends back in the UK. It was Aria’s first flight and to say we were a little nervous was an understatement. Back in October in the deep trenches of her colic when we booked the flight I wasn’t feeling overly confident in our chances of her NOT screaming bloody murder for the entirety on the 6+ hour flight. But it was Christmas, I needed my Britain fix and we were going. So off we went to Toronto Pearson airport in the midst of the Christmas travel rush with our arsenal of luggage and we began our journey to Wales.

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Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links which means that if you purchase anything through the post you wont get charged a penny more but I get a little something to keep the lights on.

Get that bassinet seat whatever it takes

Surprisingly, the flight itself went really well. When we first got on board and the temperature in the cabin soared to what can only be described as Sahara level, Aria started to cry and would only stop when someone stood up with her (not idea when you have to be sat down to take off). But then, something magic happened, she fell asleep. I couldn’t believe my luck as I gingerly sat down (why is it that children know when you switch from standing to sitting?) and attempted to buckle my seat belt without waking her. Emmy was set up with her Ipad and neck pillow and happy as a clam. This wasn’t her first rodeo so I knew she would be a pro. Before I knew it we were up in the sky hurtling in a tiny tin can across the Atlantic to the motherland. The flight passed quickly (thank you flight attendant for the extra bottle of red wine) and I really believe that upgrading to the bassinet seats was a lifesaver. If you didn’t already know, parents with infants (under 25 lbs) can opt to sit in the bulkhead and get a little bassinet that clips onto the wall. One parent gets to sit in the extra legroom seat free of charge with Air Canada and we paid to upgrade Emmy and my husband. Not only could Aria sleep in the bassinet, but Emmy could play on the floor. Travel hack – put your paraphernalia on the floor so people don’t use your legroom as a walk way. It also seemed that the bassinet metered people from walking in front of us which was great as we were right behind the toilets and people seem to think that pacing between them makes the occupant move faster (side note, what the heck are people doing in there??).

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Reading For The Night

We arrived in Heathrow with red eyes and some what muzzy heads to crisp air and glorious sunshine. My parents came to pick us up and took us to Reading where we would spend the weekend before heading onto Wales. I love Reading, it’s a beautiful city with lots of history, great restaurants and bars. We took a much needed restorative nap and then headed out for some drinks to get the Christmas period started. We found The Fisherman’s Cottage pub on the river a short walk from my family’s flat.

The next morning we got up bright and early and headed into London. I know, it was a bold move the day after a transatlantic flight with two jet lagged children but with a packed Christmas schedule we had to get it done. My daughter is OBSESSED with dinosaurs and I knew that she would just love the exhibit at the Natural history museum so off we went on the train to London (somewhat) bright eyed and bushy tailed.

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Navigating the Tube with an infant and toddler

Before we left for London I umm’d and ahhh’d about taking the pushchair for Aria.

Pros – I could put my crap in the basket at the bottom and not have to strap 15lbs of baby onto my body for the day.

Cons – I’d have to push a pretty bulky travel system around central London and the Tube for the day.

Something else to consider is that we’d have to carry Emmy a lot as she doesn’t “do” walking and has been spoiled with a double pushchair. Times are a changing toots.

You’re going to want a great carrier

My pushchair is not made for the city, it is made for the snow and massive North American cars so I decided to whip out the Lillebaby and wear Aria. I got the Lillebaby complete all seasons as the big ticket item for our second baby. Emmy categorically refused to be worn so I never really splurged on a carrier for her. I had a couple of cheap soft carriers that I got on sale at Winners but neither were comfortable and honestly trying to put her in there was akin to putting a cat into a bathtub. Also I got hot, real hot wearing my little furnace. I knew that with baby number 2 having my hands free to wrestle baby number 1 would be clutch so after much research I landed on the Lillebaby Complete All Seasons. I could not be happier with my purchase! It is so comfortable and you can adjust it pretty much everywhere. You don’t need an infant insert and it’s good from birth so you just plop babe in and go. There’s a zipper panel on the front that exposes mesh so you can get some air into that sucker and keep somewhat cool. It is also ADORABLE and I don’t feel all crunchy and granola eating wearing it. I got mine in black and white stripe which is just about masculine enough for my husband to wear but the gold details are pretty enough for me. If you need a baby carrier I honestly cannot recommend it enough. The Lillebaby is hands down the best thing I’ve bought for my kids.

I get that it is a bit spendy but I cannot rave about this carrier enough. If you want to baby wear you’re going to want comfort and you’re going to want your baby to be comfortable too. Aria was in the carrier pretty much all day (apart from lunch and coffee breaks for a stretch) and she was so happy and comfortable. She falls asleep almost instantly in it. It is MAGIC.

The Natural History Museum – Nirvana For The Little Paleontologist

We arrived at the Natural History Museum by tube at around 11 am. It was super busy outside because of Winter Wonderland. We picked up some mulled wine from the little van selling drinks and cakes and walked up the museum (they even let us bring it in which was brill seeing as it was scalding and I didn’t feel much like chugging a big cup mulled wine, not very responsible). As always, admission was free which was great as we only intended on staying an hour or so to see the dinosaurs. Britain is awesome for free things. We headed to the dino exhibit straight away and it took about 45 minutes to walk around it with a very slow and very easily distracted toddler. She LOVED the massive robotic T-Rex. It was really well done and for a little paleontologist it was just the best thing ever. All good adventures end in a gift shop as we all know and I was dreading it but we escaped the gift shop with one dinosaur egg toy which was nothing short of a miracle. After we sat in the cafe for a drink and a potty break (well coercing Emmy to go but that child’s bladder is a vault in public places. That’s a whole other blog post). It was really busy and I’d say avoid it if you can on a weekend but it was good to sit down and get a snack into the dino lover.

Zizzis for lunch

We got the tube to Covent Garden which is my least favourite stop. It is so busy and there are loads of steps to climb if you can’t get into the lift. I was a little salty that we had to stop there but I was pretty surprised that we got straight into the lift and up to street level. It was packed so I was glad I wore Aria in the Lillebaby. She was still asleep at this point and had been for the whole day. Her first trip to London and she slept the whole time! I know people can be a bit reluctant to go to a chain when London has so many fabulous eateries to offer but we had 2 kids with us and I don’t know how well we would have fared at a white table place. Emmy would have definitely been crawling between chairs and you can guarantee that is the time Aria would decide to scream her bonce off. So we booked a table ahead of time in Zizzis to save walking around trying to get a seat somewhere the week before Christmas. We sat in the window which was perfect for distracting the toddler and Aria could lie down on the bench seat. The meal was delicious and the service was awesome. Definitely the fuel we needed after a morning full of exploring.

Covent Garden and 7 dials for a stroll

We decided to take a walk after lunch to Covent Garden to see the tree and the lights. It was absolute magic. I don’t think there is anything more gorgeous than London at Christmas and it did not disappoint. I managed to get lots of Instagramable shots which my husband absolutely hates loves me doing . We walked up to 7 dials and it was chocolate box beautiful with the twinkling lights and people bundled up with their Christmas shopping. I actually felt like I was in a Hollywood christmas movie that I always scoff at as “unrealistic”. I mean honestly where does Kate Winslet live in The Holiday to have a cottage like that outside of London? and how did Cameron Diaz’s character fit all those coats into that tiny case? I call B.S. Anyway I seem to have gone off on a “The Holiday” tangent again.  We got some nice pics and then dropped back down to Covent Garden to get the tube to Paddington. I let my brother wear Aria at this point and he looked like quite the modern dad about town.

Pro Parent tip – make sure the baby and the nappy bag aren’t in different carriages on the train.

When we arrived at Paddington I was bursting for a pee. However the train was on the platform and if we had any hope of getting a seat we had to hustle and get on board. Not being a hardened commuter I jumped on the first carriage I came across with the nappy bag attached to my back and told my brother that I would run down the train once I’d gone to the toilet to give him the baby supplies. So I jumped on with my Mum and husband and off went everyone else towards the end of the train. We got a table seat which was a bit of a unicorn moment and I went off to the toilet. I got back to my seat and told my mum I would run a bottle down to my brother for Aria in case she was hungry. I pushed my way down the rapidly filling train through endless carriages. As I entered first and jogged to the end I realized the door would not open to the next carriage. Perplexed, I looked out of the window and saw the nose of another train facing me. Oh. No. We were on one of those massive trains that are two smaller trains stuck together. I was standing there with a bottle in hand staring helplessly at the other train that held my brother and my probably screaming 3 month old. I didn’t have my purse or wallet on me so I figured if I jumped off and ran up the platform I would risk being left behind with no way back to Reading so I went back to my seat and frantically messaged the rest of our party. When I heard nothing back I assumed Aria was all good and would be fine until we got to Reading in half hour or so.

I was wrong…

Upon disembarking the train at Reading station we were greeted by a very red faced, sweaty and frazzled bunch. The resembled the scene in Twister when they strap themselves onto those posts and survive the F5 “hand of God”. As my brother thrust the sweaty carrier, straps loosened haphazardly into my hands it became clear a struggle had ensued. Apparently Aria decided she wanted out of the carrier shortly after leaving London and broke out her best screams until her wish was granted. My brother had no idea how to release her from her canvas prison carrier and the buckles and adjustable straps that make the Lillebaby so great also make it a bit tricky for novices or people who have never strapped a baby to themselves. A struggle ensued to get Aria off his increasingly overheating body (if only he knew about the handy dandy front mesh panel) quickly. Thankfully, between the three of them they finally liberated her before my brother passed out. Once free the challenge of removing her coat began. My brother, his girlfriend and my stepfather wrestled her tiny, yet surprisingly rigid, arms out of the coat to the increasingly curious passengers on carriage B. Aria was in a right mood now and refused to settle unless being walked around the train. A problem on the evening Sunday service from Paddington to Swansea as anyone who has been on it will tell you. You are like sardines. If you enjoy getting up close and personal with random people who usually have eaten a tuna sandwich or garlic then this is the train for you. My Stepfather had to kind of waddle within a 1 foot radius to maintain some movement to appease my darling daughter. What people must have thought on that carriage? A young couple and middle aged man with a baby with absolutely NO supplies. Reckless! Stolen baby! Thoughtless! I feel bad that I was sat scrolling Instagram in carriage N without a care in the world.

So that was our day in London. My little dino lover had the time of her life, we got to experience the magic of Covent Garden at Christmas and we learned the hard way that the baby should never be separated from the nappy bag no matter how perilously full your bladder is. Parenting is an adventure.

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Have you got any tips for navigating London with two kids in tow or any recommendations for cool dinosaur attractions?

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Little frequent flyers. Activities and advice for surviving long haul flights with toddlers.

There is nothing more humbling than a screaming child at 37,000 feet. As you “shh” them desperately through gritted teeth and offer them everything from stickers to your kidney if they just cooperate all you can think of is “why the fresh heck did I put myself through this?” Pretty much anyone who has ever flown with a child has been through this and if they say that they haven’t then they are either lying or actually have an angel for a child.

Flying Alone With A Baby

I remember going on my first flight with a baby ALONE. That’s right, in the throws of postpartum fog (not to mention the postpartum anxiety I was feeling) I thought it would be a great idea to head back home to the UK. Honestly, I was so homesick after having a baby I didn’t care. I needed to get out of Canada and to my parents’ house to lounge around in my tracksuit bottoms and be fed wine. So armed with a 4 month old baby and an arsenal of things I was told by numerous online resources that I MUST have, I started the 7 + hour journey to Cardiff. Oh did I mention I threw a stop over in there? Lay overs are not ideal with kids. However we made it and so began a lifetime of flying with kids.

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This is HONEST TO GOD what I thought I needed for a flight with a baby. This is what Pinterest tips tell you to pack when you are flying with a baby. Life hack – you definitely do NOT need all these things. Why did I think I’d need 5000 breast milk storage bags?

Navigating the airport with a million different things and a baby

Getting through security was my first challenge of flying with a baby alone. I had so much stuff, a baby and just two hands. It is unreal how unhelpful people actually are when you’re flying alone. I definitely made a mental note to offer my assistance to others more readily at the airport in the future as a business man pushed past me and dumped his crap into the tray I had put out for myself (I made some other mental notes but I wont go into that). As I struggled to collapse my stroller and get it onto the x-ray machine all while holding my baby I was slowly regretting what I had gotten myself into. We made it to departures, Mummy had a nice BIG glass of wine and snapped the obligatory “we’re going on holidays” passport Instagram photo. Next thing I know we’re walking down the walkway to the plane and I take up my residence in the tiny seat that would be my prison home for the next several hours. Emerson was asleep pretty much as soon as I sat down and I optimistically got out my headphones and book and settled down to smugly spend the flight with a sleeping baby. That lasted until the cabin pressurized and her eyes popped open and she screamed until we were up in the sky and there was no escape. I frantically apologized to all those around me “she’s usually so good”, “she wont scream long” as beads of sweat appeared on my brow. Finally she did stop screaming after what seemed like hours but was in actuality about 15 minutes and she did indeed sleep all the way home.

What I wish I knew before heading on a long haul flight with kids solo

  1. Peeing with a baby in a plane toilet involves Gwyneth Paltrow yogi level flexibility. You have to hold your demon you don’t want to wake sweet sleeping child while pulling down your pants, doing your business, flushing that crazy loud flush that makes you feel like you’ll get sucked out, wash up and leave the bathroom. Trust me, this is no easy feat.
  2. You can’t wear your baby for the whole flight. For take off and landing they must be out of the carrier and on your lap. Fun times if you just got your child to sleep.
  3. If you lucked out and got a bassinet seat, you can’t use this during turbulence. I guarantee this will happen several times when crossing the Atlantic. Cue screaming baby who has been woken up.
  4. If you are in these bassinet seats that you upgraded to people will use your extra leg room to walk through, stand in, do stretches in, .
  5. Collapsing your stroller and car seat combo will be the hardest thing you have ever done when you have a line on antsy people behind you and a baby in your arms. Start practicing now if your flight is in a year.
  6. Your stroller and car seat will likely get lost/broken/look like it survived a tornado.

There’s a lot to learn and I’m sure I haven’t mastered it all but I do have some tips to help you get through what will feel like the longest flight of your life

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Emmy is a little frequent flyer. This Christmas will be her 8th flight at 3.5 years old. Better get her an Airmiles card.

Advice for getting through a long haul flight with kids

  1. Don’t pay attention to all those packing lists, they are totally crazy. For a baby you literally need milk, bottles (pack 2/3 so you don’t have to wash on the plane), a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, antibac wipes, a blanket, a dummy, one toy.
  2. Make a busy bag for your toddler (blog post to follow) with colouring books, stickers (PACK LOTS OF THESE), a small toy, water painting books.
  3. Get to the airport EARLY. I used to stroll through security without a care in the world 90 minutes before my flight but that’s not going to fly with kids (get it?!) You’ll need a lot of time for diaper changes, bathroom breaks etc. Rushing will not help your stress levels which are probably a little higher than usual. Sit and have a beer before the flight and relax!
  4. Take the stroller and check it at the gate. It is a great way to lug all of your duty free items baby crap around the airport.
  5. You will want to get a stroller bag and car seat bag if you value these items at all NO offence to ground staff at the airport but sometimes it looks like they’re practicing for log throwing when they load your items on to the plane. I saw my car seat sitting in the pouring rain on the tarmac at Cardiff and I was really happy I had it in a bag to keep the water off it. I got mine off Amazon and they survived loads of flights. I actually just got new ones for this flight and this time they’re a pretty grey colour! They actually seem a little sturdier than the last bright red ones I had. If you click on the picture it will take you straight to Amazon.
  6. Take advantage of priority boarding. I know it seems crazy to sit on the plane longer but this way you guarantee that you can put your diaper bag or purse above where you are sitting rather than having to fight with the people in row 43 who have thoughtfully filled your overhead bin space with their full sized case.
  7. Your technology rules are going to have to go out of the window here. Take an iPad if you have one for the love of God, it will save you. My husband actually forgot to pack ours last time we flew and I think we set a new world record for how long you can be salty.
  8. Do not pack toys that are loud, roll, bounce, rattle, squeak, are valuable. It’s not fair to those around you if your child is playing with something that is bleating in the middle of the overnight red eye flight. Also planes are black holes and I guarantee you that you will lose something. Honestly my kids played with plastic cups and the headphone wires last time we flew.
  9. Those pacifier clips make great toy clips and stop your child lobbing Sophie at unsuspecting passengers’ heads.
  10. Get some nice big headphones for your kid so they can easily listen to the TV. Earbuds are not nice for littles.
  11. If you’re alone then take your carrier so you can wear your baby as you board the plane and you can strap them to you when they fall asleep. I have also gone to the bathroom with a baby strapped on me but that wasn’t easy or sanitary.
  12. Wear leggings or sweatpants. Yeah like I need to tell you twice. If you are alone with a baby you will probably only have one hand and buttons aren’t your friend in this scenario.
  13. Pack ALL THE SNACKS. Whatever your kid likes, pack it. Favourites are Goldfish, gummies, chips, crackers and granola bars.
  14. Lollipops are your friend. They’re great to pop ears and I am yet to meet a kid that wont step into line at the promise of a lollipop.
  15. Take water or juice for your kids so they don’t have to wait for the drinks cart to come around.
  16. If you have room, pack an extra blanket. Planes are cold overnight and those static polyblend monstrosities the airline provides have the tog factor of toilet paper.
  17. Accept the help of strangers. You will be so surprised with how many people are happy to lend a hand if you just ask. You will also be surprised at how clueless other people can be but focus on the positives!
  18. Know that you might not get a lot of sleep so try to have someone pick you up at the airport if possible or arrange to stay over night at an airport hotel.

Flying with kids can be done!

I’m not going to lie and say that it’s easy but for lots of us travelling with kids is a fact of life. Don’t ever apologize for taking your child on a plane. I’ve yet to experience a flight with a kid (mine or someone else’s) screaming the entire time and honestly people aren’t as bothered by a kid on board as you might think. Even if they are, you bought a ticket just like them and you’re entitled to travel.

Do you have any amazing tips or tricks for surviving a long haul flight with kids?

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Tips and Advice For Surviving The Colic Storm From A Mum Who’s Been There

“It’s just colic sorry”, my doctor said to me with a casual shrug as I sat in his office with red rimmed eyes, wearing leggings that I had worn for more days than I care to mention and unkempt hair bouncing my crying baby around. “But she won’t stop screaming, please diagnose her with something so we can make it better” I pleaded with him. I listed off what Google told me might be the reasons my baby was crying nonstop (top tip, this is probably not the best idea when talking to a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. Newsflash, Google does not make you a Doctor)

Why is my baby crying all the time? (according to Dr.Google)

  1. Dairy allergy
  2. Reflux
  3. Silent reflux
  4. Soy allergy
  5. Allergy to some other unspecified things
  6. The baby is broken
  7. Your baby hates you and you are an awful parent

He turned to look at me like he probably looks at so many frazzled mums and told me first of all to stay off Google and that she was just colic and she would get better by three months. THREE EFFING MONTHS I almost screamed at him. Aria was 6 weeks old at this point and I was slowly but surely losing what remained of my marbles from my first child. This was NOT what I wanted to hear after hardly sleeping and listening to the not so mellow sound of my baby screeching for 3 hours a day.  Let me tell you, that noise is hardly whale music and would probably be suited to CIA torture techniques. That’s right 3 HOURS A DAY.

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So what is colic?

For a colic diagnosis you have to follow the rule of 3. Uncontrollable crying for 3 hours a day, appearing at or after 3 weeks, occurring at least 3 days of the week for 3 weeks. 3 is not such a magic number after all.

I wasn’t having it. I was a second time parent. I was a smug baby rearing expert seeing as I had managed to keep my first born alive for over 3 years. Everyone knows the second time around is meant to be easier. IT WASN’T FAIR. THIS ISN’T WHAT I ORDERED. As I went to reel off my Google list again he finally suggested I cut out everything and anything that might be allergenic from my diet and to test over the next few weeks to see what made her colic worse.

Could an allergy be causing the colic crying? Allergens included but were not limited to:

  1. dairy
  2. soy
  3. ANYTHING that contains milk protein (crackers even have this sneaky bugger in it)
  4. broccoli
  5. beans
  6. tomatoes
  7. peppers
  8. spicy food
  9. red meat
  10. nuts
  11. any food that you might currently enjoy

Yet again he told me that it was “just colic” (at this point I searched the office for something to hurl at him but my arms were full with a screaming baby and I didn’t think throwing the tongue depressors that were at arms reach would make much of an impact) and it would probably just go away on its own. Sensing that I wasn’t going to get much further and conceding (begrudgingly) that perhaps I wasn’t as smart or experienced as the Doctor (despite what Google told me) I set off home with my list that would suck every ounce of fun out of life of what I couldn’t eat and headed home. After a very fun week or so of partaking in the “what will make my baby scream like a banshee for hours on end?” experiment I gave in and gave her hypoallergenic formula (side note, can we talk about how I felt like I “gave in” by giving her formula? I truly believe that fed is best but my Mum guilt prevailed yet again). It was like a different baby had taken Aria’s place within two days. I was cautiously optimistic as I had two nights in a row without the piercing colic cries reverberating around the house from 5-8pm. After a week of no colic crying I decided to try her on my milk again, just for kicks. Well that was a gas as the screaming returned. My dear Watson, I think we found the culprit. So back to the formula it was and I’ve never looked back. Aria is happy and thriving, she is sleeping through the night and she is happy to be awake whereas before it seemed like she was in pain constantly. Moreover, my husband and I are happier. We are getting more sleep, I can take Aria out of the house without worrying about a colic episode and we can play together happily for hours on end. It feels so indulgent to be able to bathe her, give her a baby massage and settle down with a bottle without her screaming. I also am getting to the point where I can take a shower without suffering colic PTSD (when I think I hear the baby crying even when she is not).

What can I do if I think my baby has colic?

Research into colic hasn’t produced any definitive answers and what has been produced is conflicting. What seems to be overlooked is the impact colic can have on mum’s mental health and this is perhaps the most important consideration of all. Merely telling a mum who is clearly distressed that it is “just” colic isn’t helpful. Maybe the child does have this weird affliction that no one knows much about but we need to be more mindful of using the term “just”. When this mum has agonized for hours about what on earth she is doing wrong, sometimes she needs someone to truly hear her and understand (or at least empathize) with her struggle. Because let me tell you, the struggle is REAL.

So mums of colic babies, I promise you it gets better. We made it through the colic trenches and whilst I am positive I have aged at least 15 years and have taken to bouncing bags of potatoes and other produce in the supermarket like a strange tick the crying has stopped.

Surviving the colic storm

    1. Take all the help you can.
    1. Know it’s OK to put the baby in their cot for a few moments so you can take a breather. Come back when you’re calm and try again.
    1. Also know that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Colic is strange and unpredictable and until it vanishes as quickly as your dignity in the birthing room you just have to roll with it.
    1. Try talking to your doctor about a possible milk protein allergy.
    1. Try the anti-colic bottles from Avent. I only just stopped using them for Aria and you could see the air bubbles dissipating. They’re on sale on amazon!

  1. Have your partner do the night shift so you can sleep. You are much better equipped to deal with screaming when you’re rested.
  2. Take time for you when you can. Do your nails, get out of the house, have a bath.
  3. Know that it will end and colic will go away.
  4. Drink all the wine you want.

You’ve got this

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This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the link and buy the product it wont cost you a penny more but I get a little something to help keep the lights on. Thanks friends!

Create a personalized Santa Gift Sack (like the ones you see on Etsy) On A Budget.

Easy craft tutorials are my jam

Full disclosure I SUCK at sewing and anything to do with textiles. I honestly CANNOT cut a straight line (it bodes well for rustic look crafts but not for things that I would actually want to see the light of day). I’m sure there are hacks and tips on Pinterest that promise to help even the most remedial of cutters but I fear I am past saving and more to the point, I just don’t have the time. I did start out an ill-fated at home business during my last mat leave making headbands after complaints of cutting off the circulation to children’s brains (OK that might be a slight exaggeration from me) I put my Singer into the basement where it has not seen the light of day since.

Despite my ineptitude, I do love a good craft. I’m actually a semi-decent artist and I really enjoy tapping into that creative side that yearns to wear a beret and walk around in dungarees with paint artfully smudged on my cheek. I usually stick to wood and painting activities but for whatever reason, I sometimes like to take on a challenge. Maybe there is a part of me that desires to be on a Pinterest fail website.

You don’t have to spend a lot to create a personalized gift sack

A few years ago I got a personalized Santa gift sack for my eldest daughter and I paid a small fortune for it (much to my husband’s lament). I thought it was the cutest sack I’d ever seen and I was waxing lyrical to anyone who would listen about this mom’s skills with the silk screen printer. I loved my little Santa sack and it looked just PERFECT under our tree. Fast forward 3 years later and it is my second daughter’s first Christmas. Always weary to avoid second child syndrome, I want to make sure sweet Aria has everything her sister has. I couldn’t remember the name of the place where I got my first beloved sack so I did a quick Google search and lo and behold a PLETHORA of the same sacks came up. “Wow, she’s done well with her little print press” I thought to myself and then I looked closer and noticed multiple sellers offering the same sacks. Well knock me down with a feather, I paid for handmade when I could easily have made it myself. I am an Etsy mug (non-Brits I don’t mean the type you drink out of, I mean someone who has been fooled). Now I’m not knocking Etsy sellers AT ALL. I just wanted to share with you a cheaper way if you’re on a budget like most of us are. With a cheap sack ofF Amazon, my hardly used iron (another relic of my business past) and some heat transfer letters I set about making my very own Santa sack.  Just because I like you so much, here are the instructions so you can too!

You can create a personalized Santa gift sack that looks like this…

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In the amount of time that your baby will nap (about 20 minutes max if your kid is anything like mine). If you click on the pictures it will link you to where I bought my materials.

What you need

    1. Santa sack – here is the one I got off amazon
    1. Iron transfer letters – You can be as creative as you want but here are some suggestions of ones that I found on Amazon (click to shop). Please think carefully about what size you want to use. Emerson’s sack uses 3 inch letters and Aria’s uses 1.5 inch.


    1. An Iron
    1. Ironing board
    1. Pressing cloth (I used an old napkin
    1. Thick carboard
    1. Glass of wine (optional but it really does add to the experience)

Instructions to make a personalized Santa Gift Sack

  1. This goes without saying but order the sack you want off Amazon. If you have Prime it will be with you in a couple of days!
  2. Once the sack arrives you’ll want to press it. I didn’t wash it like the instructions said on the heat transfer paper (whoops, but it worked perfectly) but if more laundry is your thing, go ahead!
  3. Put the thick cardboard in the sack to separate the front and back.
  4. Cut out the letters you want and place them on your fabric. Follow the pressing times for the brand that you use (it’s usually a few minutes front and back of each letter – MAKE SURE YOU USE A PRESSING CLOTH UNLESS YOU WANT A HOT MESS ON YOUR IRON).
  5. Bask in the glory that you have crafted. Sip your wine and admire your work.
  6. Tell your husband all about how much money you saved.

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Happy crafting!

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Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. While you wont pay a penny more, it helps me keep the lights on (and keeps me in wine).

Reasons Why It’s OK To Take Time To Yourself As A Mum

I hear “MUMMMMMYY” echoing through the house just as I sit down to spend a quiet few minutes checking the backlog of messages from my friends back home (my lifeline to my old life in the UK). I do the best I can to plaster on my mum smile, leave what I was doing and push my “me time” to the back burner yet again. Turns out Emmy needed me to put a sticker on her foot. I can see how that was a life or death situation. Fast forward to nap time. No one is more full of false hope than a parent who wants to achieve something during nap time. For me, I just want five minutes to drink a hot (or even lukewarm) cup of tea and watch something that doesn’t have an animated pig in it. I think Emmy is in her room taking and nap and I just get Aria down to sleep (which is no easy task, the girl is the energizer bunny) and I feel like super mum. I can practically taste the indulgence of hot caffeine running down my throat. My heart is pounding at the thought of watching some grown up TV. It’s finally happening, my five minutes is coming. I turn to leave the room and I spy Emmy standing in the doorway with her extremely loud roaring dinosaur toy, her little finger poised on the button that will emit a noise level comparable only to the launch of a space rocket into the room. I look at her pleadingly but this is where I make my first mistake. Toddlers can sense when you don’t want them to do something like a shark sensing blood and something in their DNA prompts them to do exactly what it is that you don’t want them to. As the deafening noise fills the room waking my little sleeping grenade I think to myself “I just want five minutes”. Then I feel guilty. All those Mom blogs tell us to cherish each and every moment with our littles. “Hold them as long as you can”, “you’re a mom now”, “they grow up so fast” they preach. It is true, my children are growing at an alarming rate and I want to soak up every sticky, paint covered messy moment with them. However, these blogs designed to show us we’re not alone in parenting sometimes do more to perpetuate the cycle of Mom guilt than they do good. As much as my cold heart is melted by poems about “letting them be little” and “holding them longer” I can’t help but feel like they make those of us who need to put a sleeping child down to do menial things like pee or shower feel like they’re committing some heinous mum crime. It’s not fair and just because you want five minutes alone does not make you a bad mum and does not mean that you’ll miss out on the important moments. It means you’re a human, you’re exhausted and you are an entity apart from your children. That’s OK.

Guilt is a terrible thing and it is something that we all battle with on an almost daily basis. As an expat, I feel crippling guilt pretty much all the time. I know that sounds dramatic and maybe I do have a penchant for hyperbole but I really do struggle with guilt. When I moved here I felt guilty that I missed out on birthdays and Christmases and other things that were important to the ones I loved. When I got married I felt guilty that most of my husband’s friends and family couldn’t make it to Wales to celebrate with us. When I’m in the throws of homesickness I feel guilty that I’m short with my husband and resentful that I live here.  But nothing compares to mom guilt. I didn’t think it was possible to feel so guilty about so much until I had children.

Things I feel guilty about as a mum

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  1. The fact that my child has too much screen time. I try to do pinteresty parent things like painting, crafts, playdoh and drawing but when you’re in the depths of a Canadian winter and you’ve exhausted your energy reserves for pretending to be a dinosaur sometimes you need the throw the TV on and watch a movie. Full disclosure, my child is on the Ipad now while she uses the potty and while I take five minutes to write this post.
  2. The fact that I spend too much time on my phone . I am CONSTANTLY worrying about whether I am looking at my phone too much. The truth is, as many of my friends live far away, I message them daily to maintain contact and it’s an important coping mechanism for me. I feel so guilty when I sneak a look at my messages when my daughter is occupied with something else only to be greeted with her eyeballs burning into my hunched back as I look through my messages like an addict.
  3. My daughter’s diet. Emmy LOVES fruit, vegetables and dairy and will pretty much eat anything from those food groups. Sounds like the dream right? Well not quite. She refuses most meats apart from chicken nuggets. Put your pitchfork away Susan, I feed my kid McDonalds from time to time because it is pretty much the only form of meat she’ll eat and at a tiny 31lbs, I worry that she’s too light. She also wont eat most carbs. I feel guilty when I am firm and refuse to give her anything else to eat after throwing another plate of uneaten food away. I also feel guilty when I let her eat crackers for dinner to try and get calories into her.
  4. Second child guilt. Now this one was a doozy.  From the minute my eldest cried that she wanted a baby dinosaur and not a baby sister when we told her our happy news I felt guilty about adding a second child to the mix. We were so happy as a family of three I agonized whether I making the right decision. In those first dark few months when Aria’s colic meant she needed my full attention almost 24 hours a day I felt awful when I saw my first born playing alone or when she would ask me to play and I had to say no as I manically rocked, bounced and shushed her screaming little sister. I would burst into tears about it all the time.
  5. feeling guilty about second child guilt . Now we’re through the colic and we’re rocking our new normal I feel guilty that I ever felt guilty about having a second child. Aria is the sweetest little thing and when I look at her squishy cheeks and gummy smile I feel guilty that I ever for a moment questioned my decision to have another child. This is mum guilt at its finest.
  6. Not being able to breastfeed my second child. Aria would scream bloody murder pretty much all day and was diagnosed as colic. Every time she ate the screaming got worse and her gas and reflux were causing her so much pain. After crying to my doctor and begging for a diagnosis of something to prove I wasn’t crazy he suggested going dairy, wheat, soy free. In my fragile mental state after zero sleep and a lot of screaming I made the decision not to test the waters by eliminating food from my diet and switched to a hypoallergenic formula. I cried for days about not breastfeeding and I convinced myself that I was ruining Aria’s life. I would justify my decision to anyone that would listen. “Oh hi checkout lady, yes I’m buying formula but it is only because my child has colic and I feel like I’m going to pull my hair out by the roots if the screaming goes on much longer. Breast is best!”. This guilt wasn’t made better by nosy dental hygienists that told me I should be breastfeeding. Why does everyone feel like they can comment on your life as a mum?
  7. The fact that my kids don’t see much of my parents  This is more of expat guilt than mum guilt but it keeps me up at night. I feel bad that my children only get half of the grandparent experience. I grew up so close to my maternal grandparents and it was such a wonderful upbringing. My children see my parents a few times a year and it is hard to accept that.
  8. The fact that my fitbit keeps telling me to get off my arse and move. I don’t know why I thought that buying a fitbit was a good idea as it only adds to my guilt. I’m only 5670 steps away from my daily goal? Grand, I’ll just go out for a run with all the extra time I have. Oh great, now I feel guilty that I’ll die young and leave my husband as an attractive widower with two gorgeous children who will struggle at to call the glamorous American “mummy”  at first but soon will forget about me and they’ll have glamorous new years eve parties with their glamorous new friends. Wait, this is the plot of “The Holiday”, I’m clearly spiraling here.

These are just a few things that I feel guilty about and I’m sure if I opened up my anxiety and things that I can’t control but still feel guilty about vault I could come up with more. But you know what? No matter what you do you will still feel guilty because as a mum we are constantly bombarded with images of perfect families and blogs with perfectly put together houses and women who have it all together. I bet these women need five minutes now and then. We all do.

Three reasons why taking time for yourself every day to yourself is important

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  1. Ego depletion is real. What is this fancy science term of which I speak? Well basically, we only have so much willpower and once it runs out we struggle to make good decisions. As a mum, you are constantly at battle with your willpower. It is the thing that stops us screaming “GO THE F&^K TO SLEEP” or “WHAT THE ACTUAL F%$K?” every second of the day. If you have toddlers, you will know that you are constantly shoving these urges down as your little dictators do charming things such as pee on the floor, poke their sleeping sibling, magic marker your quartz counter top, colour on your couch, cry because you did the thing they asked you to do etc. I’m a teacher by day so let me tell you I am fresh out of ego by the end of the day. Taking five minutes to yourself helps you reset and gives you time to not have to make decisions and to just do something you truly want to do. You want to eat that candy bar? Go for it girl! You want to watch Gossip Girl? Get on it! You can read more about ego depletion here.
  2. Dedicating every waking moment to other people is exhausting and will make you feel bitter. Just because you are a mum doesn’t mean you don’t have other interests outside of wiping bums and watching Peppa Pig. If you enjoy reading celebrity gossip the news and have did it every day before you had kids you really should try to carve out five minutes to do it still. If you enjoy long baths and you find them good for your mental health then this is important to your well being. If you are a yogi and get peace from twisting your body into strange shapes then this is part of who you are and you must make space in your life for it. Taking time to yourself helps you reconnect with the person you were before kids (and she’s still in there I promise).
  3. YOU DESERVE IT. I get it, keeping other humans alive is exhausting. You deserve to take time to yourself every day whether it be for 5 minutes to read an article or for an hour to work out.

So mums, what I’m trying to say is just because I feel like you need five minutes away sometimes doesn’t make you a bad mum. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t soaking in every minute and it doesn’t mean that you will magically push the fast forward button on time and miss out on the important stuff. You are important, remember that. Some days all you’ll need is a five minute breather, some days you just need to go to the store alone and other days you need a night away in a luxury hotel. It’s OK to feel that way. It’s normal and it’s nothing to feel guilty about.

Now I’ve got to go because I feel guilty that my laundry has been sat in the dryer for 4 days.

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So you want to be a farmer? Things you really need to know from a farmer’s wife before moving to the country.

The sun rising above a dew covered field, the sound of cows mooing and roosters crowing, your children sitting around a scrubbed pine table. Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? This is the image most people have in their mind when they think of the farmer’s life. In reality it isn’t all fresh eggs and tractor rides (well OK, there are a lot of those). Living and working on a farm is tough and time consuming and it really is a way of life. It is like the third person in your marriage, the thing that is constantly in the back of your mind and can be the main strain on your finances.

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In the zeitgeist of “homesteading” moving to a farm is something that many people dream of and more and more often, people are packing up their “corporate” lives to head to the country in the search of a simpler existence. It seems like the perfect investment doesn’t it? With the move towards whole foods you would think that people would be demanding fresh food from their smiling local farmer in a flat cap (what, don’t all farmers wear a flat cap in your mind too?), However, farming is a very cliquey business where you need serious cash flow, connections and grit to make it.

Here are the top things you need to consider before moving to your dream life in the country.

Do you know what you’re doing?

I know this sounds silly but do you honestly, truly know what you’re doing? Have you researched your industry? So many people have the big dream to raise chickens to sell eggs or to buy 100 acres to live off but in reality, that isn’t a big enough operation to support your family. You’ll be able to make lots of omlettes sure but probably wont make enough to quit your day job (maybe unless you run an omlette blog or Instagram and in that case good for you and your weird niche). If you’re thinking of keeping animals do you know welfare laws, how to properly look after them and slaughter laws? There is a lot of red tape when it comes to selling meat in Ontario. Is there truly a demand for your product?

judy garland farming GIF via Giphy

The isolation

This was the biggest issue for me as a city girl. It is likely that you will have to move very far away from the city (and perhaps your family) in order to afford a plot big enough to carve out some type of living. If only one spouse is farming then the other is left alone for long periods of time and this can put a strain on even the strongest of marriages.  Being a harvest widow is no joke! I genuinely think it would be easier if both partners were to work side by side (which puts another set of strain on a marriage I guess!) building a business together. I have always felt a little removed from the farm and like it is a very separate sphere that belongs to my husband and I sort of slot in alongside it.

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The time 

Following on from the above point, farming takes A LOT OF TIME. You can’t just stroll in with your Starbucks at 9am and clock out at 5pm. Things break, animals die, people need your services around the clock. If you want a set schedule then this lifestyle is not for you. However, there is some degree of flexibility when there is rain or if your operation is big enough to have multiple employees. Moreover, you have to accept that vacationing will be very difficult if you have animals that need tending (unless you have some awesome family that will take on the farm when you’re gone). It is hard to plan your life around the farm and it is definitely something I myself am learning (albeit a little unsuccessfully sometimes) to be gracious about.

The dollar dollar bills

Farming is a money pit. It is estimated that 80% of new farms will fail in the first two years with that number growing into the 90s at the 5 year mark. Add this in with higher lending costs, weaker farm income and land prices cooling and the picture for new farmers isn’t all that rosy. The reality is that big farms are getting bigger and small farms are struggling to get a slice of the pie. You will need a lot of money for your start up and will probably have to look at a dwindling bank account until your farm gets established. This is hard for many people to deal with and is the leading reason why so many throw in the towel after such a short period of time.

The take away

Farming offers many opportunities for a wonderful life. You can be your own boss, work outdoors in the fresh air and see the (literal) fruits of your labour. If you do well then the reward is handsome and some farmers are lucky enough to sell their farms to developers for a significant wad of cash. Your family can be self sufficient and live a wonderful life away from the hustle and bustle of the city. My children love playing at the farm and going for tractor rides, it really is the best place to grow up. But farming is grueling and embeds itself deep in your soul. Those of us who weren’t raised on one baffle at how much heart goes into running a farm. My husband is a third generation farmer and his day to day life on the farm is still full of problems and complications despite being pretty established in our community. I know that market prices of livestock and crops play on his mind a lot. Even if you’re happy to take the monetary risk for your new business (ad)venture, there is the loneliness that farming brings. I moved from the city in Wales to the country in Ontario and for me the biggest adjustment was spending so much time alone on the farm. It got so much for me that we moved into a small rural town so I could at least see another human on a daily basis.

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Lately I have been looking at farms in Wales and trying to feel out whether my husband would be game to try. His answer as a fairly successful farmer, “you must be nuts. There’s no way we can start out again and be successful”.  Now if someone who has done well and has the expertise necessary thinks this way then maybe starting a farm is not a decision that should be taken lightly. However, if you think you’ve got what is takes go forth and farm my friend! I hope to see you at the farmers market in your flat cap in the summer!

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