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#RSPCAPetPeeves: Still Life in the Old Dog Yet

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that one of my lovely dogs, Jazz has been rather under the weather. In fact, he was so poorly that we actually said heartbreaking goodbyes to him on two separate occasions, thinking he wouldn't be coming back from the vets. We were all absolutely devastated but in agreement that we'd give him the best chance of life but if he was suffering, we'd have to let him go. Miraculously, Jazz seems to have made a fantastic recovery over the last week or so and proved that there's still life in the old dog yet. He's lost quite a bit of weight through being poorly with a very nasty infection but his appetite is back and he seems a lot more like his old self. We're so thankful that we get to spend a little longer with our beautiful dog, who we've had for twelve years. He's such a massive part of our family and it's certainly made me realise that I need to treasure him even more.

A shoulder to cry on
One of the things I love most about Jazz is how caring he is. He's extremely loving and if you're at all upset, he comes running to you, beside himself with worry. You can have a good old cry on him and he'll always make you feel tons better. Sure you might get snuffled a bit but it's so worth it! 

Did somebody call the fun police?
Something else I love about him is that he likes to keep us all in check, which is so, so funny. He's quite bossy and will make it known if he's not impressed with you. If you're having too much of a good time, he'll bark at you (we like to call him the fun police) and he's forever keeping our rescue dog Oby (more about him in a minute) in line.

He's a neat freak
Jazz also tidies up after Oby and has a habit of putting all of his toys away in the basket - even if he's not quite finished playing with them. It's so amusing to watch...who needs TV when you have dogs?!

All about Oby...
Like Jazz, Oby is a German Shepherd Border Collie Cross. We believe he's nine years old - even though he acts like a puppy most of the time! We rescued Oby three years ago (you can read all about that in this post) and despite everything he went through in the past; he's a very loving dog and has become an important part of our family. Something I love about Oby is how 'doggy' he is. Whereas Jazz has some quite human-like traits, Oby is all dog. He loves nothing more than a good old game of tug of war and enjoys racing Jazz up the local trail...although poor old Jazz isn't really up to it right now!

Love me, love me, say that you love me
Oby can be a bit of a diva too. Obviously Jazz has required a lot more attention recently with being poorly and so Oby has been quite the sulky Sue. He needs constant love and attention and will even sigh if he's not getting what he wants. It's probably something to do with the fact he was treated so poorly by previous owners but luckily for Oby, we have plenty of love to go around. Even when he's having a sulk you can always win him over with a belly rub.

Over the last three years Jazz and Oby have become brothers and I can't tell you how happy I am that Jazz seems to be recovering because I think Oby would feel pretty lost without him - we all would. If you are a dog owner or any pet owner, I'm sure you'll be able to relate to that. Pets are such a big part of our lives aren't they?

The reason I've been babbling on about my fur babies today is that I'm taking part in the #RSPCAPETPEEVES campaign. This campaign is all about encouraging pet owners to get their pets insured. As a family that has just had a pretty poorly doggy and racked up some hefty vet bills, we can tell you first hand just how valuable pet insurance is. It's so worth it, not only in terms of saving yourself money if your pet needs treatment but actually being able to get them the help they need to recover. The RSPCA works closely with More Th>n Pet Insurance, so if you still need to get your pet insured, it's definitely worth considering the packages they offer.

Do you have a pet? Are they insured?
Tell me about them in the comments below 
& share your stories on Twitter using the hashtag #RSPCAPETPEEVES 
Disclaimer: Jazz & Oby will be receiving a hamper from the RSPCA as a thank you for sharing their stories!

Tips for Planning a Low Key Baby Shower

It's been a year since I started planning my baby shower and with my birthday in a couple of weeks (the day it was hosted on) and Arthur's 1st birthday just a few weeks after, it's something that I've been thinking about a lot. My baby shower was a sweet, simple and meaningful celebration. I kept it low key - opting to invite only my closest friends and also inexpensive. It was a lovely, special day and so I thought I'd share a few tips for those wanting to plan their own low key, budget friendly baby shower...

1. Forget all the rules
I think it's some sort of baby shower etiquette that you don't host your own baby shower and that a friend or family member does it for you. Well, I say, if you want to host your own baby shower and tailor it to your liking - forget all the rules and go for it. That way, it'll be exactly how you want it to be.

2. Keep your invite list small
If you want a low key baby shower then stick to inviting your most important people - family, best friends, you know...the people that really matter. I loved having a small, intimate gathering with my best friends. We don't all live close by anymore so it gave us the perfect excuse to catch up and celebrate together. Obviously a small invite list will help to drive down your costs if you're providing food too.

3. Do a buffet and make your own cakes
It's not a wedding so you don't need a formal sit down meal. Baby showers are all about easy snacks, buffet food and plenty of cake. Buffet food is cheap and cheerful and it always goes down a treat. My mum bless her, made all of my baby shower cakes and sandwiches in the early hours of the morning (despite it being her birthday too - the epitome of 'made with love') and they were beautiful.

Side tip - accept all the help you can get! You'll be tired enough as it is being pregnant, so if your family or friends offer to help you do the food or get set up, say YES. YES PLEASE. My mum and dad were amazing and my best friend Liz was also wonderful helping me get everything ready.

4. Look for decorations on eBay and Amazon
There are loads of great websites and online boutiques selling baby shower decorations but a lot of them are pricey. If you are looking to keep your baby shower budget friendly then search for baby shower decorations on eBay and Amazon instead. I found sellers on both sites with very similar (some even the same) decorations but for a fraction of the price. eBay sellers often offer free delivery too! I also bought things like sweetie bags and popcorn boxes, which were a nice touch to my baby shower buffet.

5. Scrap the baby shower games (if you want to)
Although I would happily join in with someone else's baby shower games, they weren't something I wanted to play at my own baby shower. Trying fake poo and guessing what it is and pinning the sperm on the egg just don't really do it for me...but again, there's no real judgment here! As I was saying before, I wanted to spend quality time with my best friends and talk all things baby, so I decided to scrap the baby shower games altogether.

I did decide to hand out some baby prediction cards for my friends to fill in, which was pretty fun. No one actually guessed anything right but they've made a nice addition to Arthur's memory box. I know some people like to get their guests to write a message for their baby's time capsule or sign a guest book,  both of which are lovely ideas. Baby shower activities don't have to make you cringe!

So there are a few simple tips for those who want a low key and budget friendly baby shower. It's your special day, so there's nothing wrong with taking control of the planning or going against tradition. There's no right or wrong way to plan a baby shower and as long as you have a lovely time, then you've done a good job!

Did you have a baby shower or are you planning one?
Tell me about it in the comments below.

My 5 Weaning Favourites

I've been weaning Arthur for nearly five months now so I thought I'd share some of our favourite weaning products. Whether you go down the puree or BLW route or a combination of the two (which was my chosen 'weaning method') I'm sure you'll find some of these useful too...

1. Cosatto 3Sixti Highchair in Strudel
A highchair of some sort is a weaning essential and after numerous recommendations I chose the Cosatto 3Sixti Highchair in the Strudel design. We’ve been using this highchair since Arthur started weaning (a week or so before he turned 6 months) and I’m so impressed with it. Not only does it have a bright, fun and colourful design but it’s also really sturdy so you feel confident your baby won’t be able to somehow knock it over. It rotates 360 degrees so you can swivel it round and the trays are removable allowing for up to the table feeding. It can also be used at different heights with an easy gas-lift button that you press with your foot and has three reclining positions.

The 3Sixti Highchair is really easy to wipe clean and has removable straps that I pop in the washing machine for a deeper clean when necessary. The only thing I would say is that it’s quite heavy to move from room to room (though it does have little rollers) but again, I think it’s heaviness is a reflection of how sturdy and safe it is. Oh and I forgot to mention it has a five-point harness and seat pummel to stop your little one from wriggling out too!

When dining out I tend to use the highchairs available for Arthur but if they're unsuitable or unavailable the Totseat saves the day!

2. Tommee Tippee Easy Drink Sippee Cup
Arthur's tried a few different beakers since he started sipping water at meal times but he seems most taken with the Tommee Tippee Easy Drink Sippee Cup. This beaker comes with removable easy-grip handles and a removable non-spill valve. It's recommended that you let babies learn to drink free-flow without the non-spill valve but when you're out and about or don't want to get liquid everywhere it's definitely a useful thing to have in the beaker! It's BPA-free, dishwasher proof and can be sterilised too.

3. Tommee Tippee Easy Scoop Feeding Bowls & Explora Feeding Spoons
If you're coming up to the time where you'll be weaning your baby, I definitely recommend looking at the Tommee Tippee range. They're my go-to brand for feeding spoons* as Arthur seems to prefer eating his cereal and yoghurt off them. I think their Easy Scoop Feeding Bowls* are great too. They can be stacked for easy storage and are designed to make it easy for you to scoop up puree onto the spoon. You can also buy ones with lids, which are great for taking out and about with you.

4. Vital Baby Prep and Go Food Pots
These weaning pots from Vital Baby are great if you're going out and need to pack food for your baby or you're portioning out food to pop in the fridge or freezer. They have a secure clip-on lid and are BPA-free. You can pick up a multi-pack for around £4.99 so the pots are very reasonably priced too.

5. GumiGem Silicone Dapper Bibs
If there's one piece of advice I'd give a mama about to wean her baby, it'd be prepare for mess and a lot of it. Those cute little dribble bibs you were putting on your little one to catch their milk are no good for weaning - trust me, they'll be destroyed within minutes! Instead, you need something a little more practical and robust in order to keep your little one's favourite outfits free from the brightest coloured staining you'll ever see.

My favourite bibs to put on Arthur are the ones that are made from BPA-free silicone. They're easy to wipe after use, can be put in the dishwasher for a deep clean and often come with a crumb catcher, which works a treat at scooping up missed mouthfuls. Most of the crumb catcher bibs out there are fairly plain in design but if you're looking for something a little more fun for your baby to wear, take a look at the Bling and Dapper Bibs by GumiGem*. Featuring necklace and tie designs, these handy crumb-catcher bibs are anything but boring and ideal for messy meal times. Arthur looks absolutely adorable in his Dapper Bibs and I love that they can be rolled to minimise space in your changing bag when you're out and about.

I was recently asked to become one of GumiGem's brand ambassadors so be sure to look out for my social media posts featuring their bibs and teething jewellery, as well as some upcoming blog posts. They've also just re-launched their website, so head on over to see their fun, baby-friendly products for yourself!

What are your favourite weaning products?
*PR Items

Homemade ice cream with the Savisto Ice Cream Maker

Summer's nearly over but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy a tasty ice cream and here in the Hunt household, we've been having a go at making our own with the Savisto Ice Cream Maker*. For some reason, I always thought making ice cream would be quite difficult but having the machine makes it super easy.

The Savisto Ice Cream Maker comes with a 1.5 litre freezing bowl, a large funnel allowing you to add ingredients whilst the mixture is churning, a digital time display and a booklet featuring 133 homemade ice cream recipes. I think it's a lovely sleek and compact design, not taking up too much worktop space at all.

After browsing the recipe book, I decided to make a simple strawberry ice cream. It's my mum's favourite flavour and I thought it was a good one to start with as it required minimal ingredients and effort. The night before I put the removable bowl in a bag in the freezer so it would be ready the next day - an important step to remember, as the bowl must be frozen for around 12 hours prior to use.

The strawberry ice cream recipe in the Savisto book was very easy to follow. All you had to do was puree your strawberries and then mix them together in the bowl with the cream and sugar. There wasn't any cooking or chilling involved in this recipe but others in the book are more complex and elaborate.

Once it was all mixed together nicely, I popped it into the frozen bowl, pushed in the paddle, locked the top on and set the timer for 30 minutes. Admittedly, I had no idea if this was the right time to churn the ice cream for, as the recipe book said to go with the manufacturer's instructions and I couldn't seem to find the right time in there either but thankfully 30 minutes was perfect! You can actually churn for up to 40 minutes or reduce the time using the button on the digital screen in five minute intervals.

Something else I really liked about the machine was that it wasn't too noisy. The noise it made was low-level so you could get on and do other things in the mean time without it bothering you.

Once the thirty minutes was up, I transferred the ice cream into a Tupperware container and put it in the freezer. I was seriously impressed with how the ice cream had turned out - it was lovely and vibrant in colour and soft to scoop. My homemade strawberry ice cream also got a big thumbs up when it came to trying the ice cream...now strawberry ice cream isn't my favourite but even I thought it tasted good! My mum and dad absolutely loved it and said it tasted as good as the ice cream you buy in the little shops on holiday!

Cleaning the machine was also very straight forward. I simply waited for it to return to room temperature and then hand washed it with a cloth. The entire process of preparing, using and cleaning the Savisto Ice Cream Machine is quick, easy and fuss-free - just what you want from a home kitchen appliance. I can't wait to try some of the more complex recipes in the book - I'm thinking it's gonna have to be a butterscotch or salted caramel ice cream next as they're my favourite flavours!

At £34.99 (was £44.99) the Savisto Ice Cream Maker is extremely well priced and perfect for those wanting to try their hand at making ice cream at home. Although it doesn't have an internal freezing mechanism like some of the more expensive machines, I really don't think freezing the bowl is an inconvenience and the machine itself does everything you need it to do. It makes a great amount of ice cream with it's 1.5 litre capacity and I'm sure it's going to get plenty of use in the Hunt household!

*PR Item

5 More Things I've Learnt About Breastfeeding

It’s been a few months since I wrote my 8 things I’ve learnt about breastfeeding so far post and now that I’ve been breastfeeding for 10 months, I thought I’d share another five things I’ve learnt. So let’s kick things off with the thing most breastfeeding mums dread…those little teggies (or teeth to you normal people).

They don’t bite…much
Arthur has had four teeth for a good few months now and I’ve got to say, it’s not really impacted breastfeeding that much for me. I’m not going to lie, there have been a couple of times where Arthur’s clamped down on my boob and it’s been painful enough to make my eyes stream with tears BUT it doesn’t happen all of the time. I tend to find it a little uncomfortable when a new teggie is coming through but apart from that, the teeth haven’t been much of an issue at all! Breastfeeding a baby with teeth isn’t half as scary as it sounds.

It gets easier
A few months into weaning Arthur and I’m finding breastfeeding is so much easier. I’m still feeding on demand but because Arthur is enjoying solids too, he’s going longer between feeds. I’ve also found that he’s much more efficient when he feeds, so they’re quicker.

I can feed pretty much anywhere in any top
I’ve never been that self-conscious about breastfeeding in public but I guess before I’d like to make sure I was wearing an appropriate feeding top so I could be as discreet as possible. Now I wear what I want and just make it work because let’s face it, nursing tops can get a little boring! I can also feed Arthur pretty much anywhere. It’s nice having the confidence to do that and not really worry about what anyone else is thinking. If Arthur needs his milk that’s exactly what he gets!

Older babies get more distracted
Even though Arthur still loves his milk, I have found that the older he gets, the more distracted he is, especially if there’s a lot going on around him. For example, if he hears a voice he recognises during a feed or a theme tune on the TV, he’ll look up, causing my streaming flow of breast milk to go everywhere…fun times...well actually, soggy times. Feeding in a quiet place is so much easier – but not always possible!

I still love it
Ten months of breastfeeding and I still love it. Even though it’s something I do a few times every day (and night – yep he still wakes for night feeds!) I still enjoy the special moments and closeness with my son. Breastfeeding is something I don’t take for granted because I know that it’s something that some women would love to experience with their children but can’t for one reason or another. It’s also something I’m proud of because there have been times where it’s been very hard and I’ve really had to work at it, especially in the very beginning when Arthur was jaundice and losing weight.

In my last post about breastfeeding I said that I was only planning on doing it until Arthur turned one. Well, over the last couple of months I’ve decided that it’s not something I want to put an end date on. I’m in no rush to give up breastfeeding and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to continue doing it until Arthur naturally drops his feeds.

Are you breastfeeding and relating to any of these things?
 I’d love to hear from you so feel free to share experiences in the comments below!

A little note: These are my breastfeeding experiences and I understand that it's different for all mamas. This post isn't intended to offer advice - it's just about sharing my own experience of breastfeeding so far and what I've learnt from it.