Friday 28 December 2012

A Sneaky Peek at What’s in Store for 2013

I’m hoping that you’ve all had a great Christmas spent with those you love and enjoy spending time with. We spent our Christmas just the four of us, our first Christmas without extended family for 6 years and it felt good. Sometimes just being a family unit together can be very healing and balancing. We needed that this year.

Over the past few months I have immersed myself in the world of cyberspace and the bloggersphere. It’s been an eclectic mix of tweeting, blogging, and Facebook following! Quite mind-boggling if the truth be known. But it’s incredible how this new world of social networking through the internet allows us to connect with like-minded people quickly and easily.
I’ve found a number of people and companies particularly through Twitter that I never even knew existed. And they are really great finds too. It’s a world that can open you up to so many opportunities. For example, through connecting with one author, Charlie Plunkett, on my personal Twitter account, I was asked to contribute to her new book, 100 Little Words on Parenthood, which is a mix of anecdotes, experiences and words of wisdom on parenting told by parents, grandparents and experts. I was really excited to be part of this project yet this opportunity would probably never have presented itself for it not have been for the Twittersphere.

It’s therefore been lots of fun compiling a list of the companies, people, products and ideas I will be blogging about in the coming weeks and months. Some of them have been waiting in the dusty archives of my head waiting to be brought forth to share with you and others have sprung forth, which I have only just found.

So I thought I’d quickly share some of them with you so you can get a feel of what’s to come:

  • World of Creatures – Toddler Foam Wash and Toddler Body Mousse
  • Sotto E Sopra – Stylish, Casual, Eco Tops for women including a maternity range
  • Flibberti – Gorgeous craft jewellery sets for children (bracelet and necklace)
  • Chuckling Goat – Lavender Milk Soap and Lavender Goats Milk Cream
  • Babyhood - a parenting film that gives you the evidence, reassurance and support to follow your instincts
  • Green People - Men’s Range of Toiletries
  • Merino Kids - Toddler Sleepbags made of 100% natural merino wool
  • Natural Mat – Childrens mattresses made from 100% organic coir and local lambswool, natural latex or mohair or horsehair combinations, providing excellent ventilation and support.
  • Model Art Books – Children’s fashion model books to get them designing and being creative.
  • Tatty Bumpkin - Bamboo Sunshirts
  • BeSafe Car Seats for babies and children
  • Toddler Calm classes
  • Sling Meet - Helping parents around the UK meet other parents, and learn to carry their baby in a sling, learn to back carry, and be comfortable with their carriers.

These are just some of the blog posts I have coming in 2013. It’s really exciting to be sharing all these with you and I really hope you will enjoy reading about them in the coming weeks and months.

I am keen to find more chemical and paraben-free skin care ranges particularly for women and men. Also I would love to find a make up range that is truly natural and chemical free without any bulking agents added. If anyone reading this blog has ideas or recommendations I could look into, please do share in the comments section below or leave a comment on our FB page: SophiasChoiceUK - Thank you xx

Well my lovelies, there you have it. A little taster to wet your appetite. In case you don’t pop back again before the year is out, I’ll take this opportunity to wish you a fabulous New Year’s Eve whatever you do and a 2013 filled with opportunities, joy, abundance and love. We will be celebrating little Jess’ 2nd birthday that day, so more pressies and wrapping paper to play with. Hard to believe 2 years have passed so quickly. I’ll make sure I raise a glass to your good health and happiness that evening. But for now, “Cheers” ! 


Wednesday 19 December 2012

Baby Calm™ A guide for calmer babies and happier parents – Competition Giveaway


We are now only 6 days away from celebrating another Christmas with family and/or friends and it always seems to amaze me that yet another year has passed so very quickly.

So much has happened to us as a family unit over the past year or so. For one thing we lost my mother last September to lung cancer and family celebrations seem to be the times when that loss is felt most significantly. Mothers are pretty special aren’t they? And one thing my Mum always said to me when I myself became one was “Always trust your instincts Charlie and you’ll never go far wrong.” And you know something, she was, and still is, right.

Like a lot of new Mums, even I, who envisaged herself taking to motherhood like a duck to water, struggled with what the reality entailed. And I, like so many before me and so many to follow, looked at times, to others for some guidance. Often that guidance was in the form of a book. Having chosen to read many books, which I have to say have changed a lot over the years, my advice for any new Mum would be to choose wisely.

I wouldn’t read Gina Ford if you paid me ! I know her books have worked for some but her advice goes against every fibre of my being, so apologies if you have found her words of comfort and have found that her advice has worked for you. For one thing she hasn’t had children herself, like Jo Frost, Super Nanny. Before I had my own children I would happily watch Super Nanny on the television and had my own opinions on how I thought other people could parent their kids, until that is, I had my own. It’s very easy to sit back and judge others when you haven’t walked in their shoes. There’s a Native American saying, “Before judging another, walk two moons in his moccasins.” Oh how true those words are.

One of the books I chose to read was “The Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg. There were parts of her book I related to; like introducing your baby to each room in the house so they knew where they would be living, telling them what you were doing at all times so they knew what was going on e.g when you changed their nappy. In essence this was about respecting your baby. Making a connection with your baby was encouraged.

However, there were also those other areas where you were encouraged to somehow make your new addition fit into your world in a way that is, if we are honest just not logical or do-able in the early weeks, months, even years of our little one’s lives. The “pick up, put down” method springs to mind here, which is basically a form of controlled crying. I tried it with my first when I was on my knees with sleep deprivation and was mortified when my beautiful baby girl looked up at me after an hour of trying to implement this technique, with a “what are you doing to me Mummy” look, which made me feel like I’d just had my heart ripped out of my body, and yet in my desperation for sleep with my second, I tried the technique again, but only the once! What was I thinking? My instincts told me to pick my baby up and soothe her until she settled despite my being so very tired. But the book said this wasn’t a good idea. So who do you believe? 

Now I know you need to learn to trust your own instincts. And if you choose to read a book, try to find one that promotes confidence and encourages this instinct too. That's where the book, BabyCalm, comes into its own. I so wish this had been available when I was pregnant with Sophia.

I’m really chuffed to have come across Sarah Ockwell-Smith who is the founder of both BabyCalm™ and ToddlerCalm™. Their philosophy is about empowering new parents to raise their babies with confidence. They run BabyCalm and ToddlerCalm classes across the country and very recently Sarah brought out her first book, “BabyCalm™, A guide for calmer babies & happier parents” and we have kindly been given a copy of this book for our last competition giveaway.

I am part way through reading this book and will be reviewing it properly in another blog post very soon. I was hoping to link the two together here but moving house unexpectedly has meant that this hasn’t been possible. But this book deserves a proper review. From what I’ve read so far and from all the reviews I've seen (click here to read them on Amazon), I'm very pleased indeed to be offering this book as our final competition giveaway. If you are or know of a mum-to-be, then you need to enter this competition to win this great book.

The back of the book reads as follows:

“If you want to find ways to cope with tiring days and difficult nights without putting your baby on a strict routine, or resorting to sleep training, this new, gentle guide is for you.

Full of advice, support, tips and the experiences of other new parents, this book shares the methods of the popular BabyCalm classes and workshops and will enable you to enjoy your baby – and trust your own parenting instincts – from the start."

Contents include:
  • Deciphering your baby’s cues
  • A toolbox of calming techniques
  • The benefits of babywearing
  • Understanding normal baby sleep patterns
  • Gentle ways to encourage your baby’s sleep
  • The importance of attachment
  • Recovering from birth
  • The transition to motherhood
  • Why you should trust your maternal instincts
So, to be in with a chance of winning this BabyCalm™ book, click on the Rafflecopter link below and follow the instructions. 

You will need to answer one question AND leave a blog post comment below (or on our Facebook page if you have problems on the blog) as to why you would like to win this great book. In addition, you can like our FB page, follow us on Twitter @SophiasChoiceUK and tweet about this final giveaway.

For more information on BabyCalm™ you can visit their website or you can follow them on Facebook: and Twitter @BabyCalmclasses.

If I don’t see you here again before 2013 begins, then may I wish you all a wonderful Christmas with those you love and treasure in your life. I have lots more to blog about in the New Year and hope to see you here again soon. 

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2013.


This competition giveaway is open to residents worldwide and will run until 4th January 2013. The winner will be announced within 48 hours of the competition end time. The book will be posted out to the winner in the New Year.


Congratulations to Helen Barrance who is our winner ! I hope you will enjoy reading this great book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Baby Calm to read, keep and use for this post. All thoughts, feelings and opinions given are my own and no one elses. I always give my honest feedback.


Wednesday 12 December 2012

Tidlo High Tea Shape Matching Set by John Crane – Review and Competition Giveaway


It’s been so great being able to run some lovely giveaways in the run up to Christmas and this week’s competition is no exception. Firstly this week's giveaway begins on a very special day indeed; the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012 - 12.12.12 at 12.00am !

And secondly, we have been given this gorgeous wooden Tidlo High Tea Shape Matching Set by John Crane Toys as a giveaway prize in addition to one given to myself and the girls to try out for this review.

It arrived just before we moved house again - we’ve had to move twice in a space of 11 weeks! Don’t ask, it’s a long story ;0) – so I put it away and decided to delay this giveaway by a week giving us extra time to review it properly. One day last week whilst little Jess snoozed, I set about putting it together. It comes with 19 pieces (16 cakes and 3 pieces for the cake stand) and the first thing I noticed when I took everything out of the box was the quality and vibrant colour of the items. They are really well made, there’s lovely detail to each cake and each one is unique.


The box says that this set is suited to 3 years upwards because of small parts but I personally couldn’t see Jess (who will be 2 at the end of December) managing to put one of the cakes in her mouth in its entirity. Looking at the make up of each cake, you would have to be quite rough with them to get the decorations off. However, I can see why the age restriction is there. For some children parental presence/guidance is often a must ;0) The toy helps with spatial awareness, hand to eye co-ordination and communication and role play. Each cake has a number on the base and is matched up to the corresponding number on the cake stand. However, many of the cakes fit elsewhere which is great for smaller children who will just place the cake where it fits instead of looking at the number.

Once the cake stand was assembled and the cakes were placed on top I was quite excited about waking Jess to see what she thought. I knew Sophia would just love it. She loves to have tea parties, play shops, etc so this addition to her café set would be most welcome indeed.

When Jess spotted it on the coffee table, she made straight for it taking the cakes off, telling me what toppings they had (strawberries, cherries, apples) and then she proceeded to get her Halloween bucket out and put them all in to carry around with her. She was very chuffed indeed with her new cakes particularly the chocolate ones – she is after all her mother’s daughter ! As I thought, she matched them to any shape that would fit, a bit like a puzzle. Number matching will come later on for her, but it doesn’t stop her playing with it and getting maximum enjoyment out of it.


When Sophia came home from school, she again made straight for the cake stand and cakes. She set up a bakery with Jess & I as her customers. As she is 6 she matched everything precisely and was quite bossy when telling Jess she had wrongly placed a cake on the stand. Sibling love eh? ;0)

The following day Sophia wrapped all the cakes up for her beloved cuddly toy doggy’s birthday. Oh yes, we were having a birthday party and the cakes were part of that, placed in party bags. It’s so wonderful to watch children imagination play. Jess however, was a tad miffed that “her” cakes were being wrapped up and hidden away. Not a happy camper !

This high tea cake set has been played with a lot since its first appearance and I am fairly sure it will be coming out many more times in the future. The lovely thing about it is that your child can grow with it. They start by playing with it for what it is; a matching set, but then when they can read numbers they learn to place each piece in its correct spot not just where it may fit. They can also role play with it, using their own imagination; cafés, shops, tea parties, picnics. The options are really only limited by them.

The set is vibrantly colourful and beautifully made. The more wooden toys I see, the more I fall in love with them. I know some people say “But they are more expensive”, but I’d rather save up, give my girls less items and buy wooden than have a room full of plastic. The selection of wooden toys out there now is vast, and there is something for everyone.

So, to be in with a chance of winning this delightful Tidlo High Tea Shape Matching set, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below, answer the question AND leave a blog post comment below as to why you would like this High Tea Shape Matching Set (or on our FB page if you have difficulty leaving a comment on the blog).

You will need to complete these 2 bits correctly for your entry to be valid and to be in with a chance of winning this prize.

In addition, you can tweet about this great competition, and like John Crane's Facebook page: - these are optional.

This competition giveaway is open to UK and Ireland residents only.

Good luck x


To keep up to date with what’s happening on with Sophia’s Choice you can “like” our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter @SophiasChoiceUK or follow the blog. It would be great to have you here :0)


About John Crane:

“John Crane was established in 1984 as a family business. It was the start of a long and fruitful relationship with wooden toys. John Crane are proud to be associated with some of the best loved brands, offering top quality, timeless toys.”

Congratulations to Becky Gower who won this fabulous competition !

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was given a Tidlo High Tea Shape Matching Set free of charge to test out for this review. In addition John Crane will be giving one away for our competition giveaway. I’d like to extend my thanks to them for this kind donation. All opinions given in this post are my own and no one else’s.


Wednesday 5 December 2012

Shea Mooti Mama and Baby Goodies – Review and Competition Giveaway


Whilst on the hunt for new products to try out for Sophia’s Choice I happened upon Shea Mooti via a Janey Lee Grace video post on their Shea Butter Baby Soap. You may well know Janey Lee Grace from Radio 2’s Steve Wright show but did you know that she’s also an advocate of natural, alternative products – take a look at her websites: and

I wanted to know more about Shea Mooti and after taking a look at their website: I contacted them to see if they would let me test out their Shea butter baby soap and whether they would like to be part of our Christmas giveaway. I was privileged enough to speak to Violet, the founder of Shea Mooti, herself and it was so lovely to talk to someone who is obviously very passionate about what she does, and who is also still so very down to earth.

The Shea Mooti story like so many others I have come across, started with her own children. Alex her eldest son suffered with dry skin, cradle cap and was prone to eczema. Steroid creams and shampoos prescribed by the doctor only provided temporarily relief and products labeled “natual and organic” only made things worse. Undeterred, Violet enrolled on a natural soap making course and came across a very important ingredient, Shea Butter. This ignited a passion to make her own natural products for her son and fast forward several years, a couple more children and family placing orders for her home made products and Violet decided the time was right to share her great products with the world and Shea Mooti was born. You can find out more about the Shea Mooti story on their website.

Violet kindly agreed to send me a couple of their products to test out and review; their Baby’s Pure Shea Butter Soap (unscented) and Mama’s Soothing Leg and Foot Cream in addition to a lovely giveaway prize.

So what are they like I hear you ask? Well, I struggle to find good, natural, organic soaps to use on the girls. I like shower gels for myself and use them on occasion with the girls but there is nothing quite like soap to get your kids clean when needed. However, I don’t wish to coat their bodies in chemicals or dry the skin out, which so many soaps do. The beauty with this baby soap is the Shea butter along with organic coconut, olive and sunflower oils. The soap doesn’t leave the skin dry, in fact the skin is left feeling soft and smooth – something I wasn’t expecting. The skin is not stripped of its natural oils as with so many other soaps. The soap also stands up to two kids manhandling it. My youngest daughter even decided to try to eat it at one point when my back was turned ! Aagh, thank goodess it’s natural and not loaded with chemicals ;0) Another thing I noticed was that when left on the sink or a soap dish it doesn’t get all soggy and sloppy as so many soaps do. It dries out and holds its shape. A small point maybe, but as far as I’m concerned an important one. There’s nothing worse than picking up a soggy, cold piece of soap to wash your hands or body with ! The soap is unscented, has a gentle, creamy lather and lasts a long time. I’m impressed with it and glad to have found a soap I can use on the girls.

So, what about the Mama’s Soothing Leg and Foot Cream? Well, since having kids I’ve noticed that my knees probably look more like rough elephant's knees than the smooth examples they used to be. I've lost count of the pairs of jeans I've gone through from wearing holes in the knee area. Scrabbling around on the floor plays havoc with your skin so would this cream help? I also have a varicose vein on one of my legs which can make my legs ache on occasion, so would this cream help that too?

I loved the fact that the cream came in a pump bottle making it easy to use. A little bit of the cream goes a long way and it has a lovely texture which sinks easily into the skin and doesn’t leave a greasy film. The skin is left feeling hydrated and smooth and after a few days of application, I was impressed by the difference in the dry flaky skin on my knees. It really made a difference. The scent is lovely – it almost has an antiseptic quality to it. This is from the Niaouli oil which is stimulating and uplifting. The cream has a slightly cooling effect on the skin and I can imagine when pregnant and suffering with aching legs at the end of the day, that putting this cream on would be a welcome relief. The cream also has the added benefits of Shea Butter which Shea Mooti ethically source from Afrikids’ Daughters – a collective of women’s co-operatives in northern Ghana. I really like the cream and felt it definitely helped the aches I sometimes get with my varicose vein. I will definitely invest in some more once this bottle is finished.

And my lovelies, you could be in with a chance of winning some of your very own in our third competition giveaway. Shea Mooti have given us one of their Baby’s Pure Shea Butter Soaps, a bottle of their Mama’s Soothing Leg and Foot Cream and a natural extra soft sea sponge all worth approx. £25. To be in with a chance of winning, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below and answer the question on Shea Mooti and leave a blog post below as to why you would like this fabulous giveaway. You can also tweet about the giveaway and like our Facebook page:

The competition runs for 7 days from Wednesday 5th December and the winner will be announced within 48 hours of the competition ending. This competition is open to residents worldwide. Good luck.

Congratulations to Victoria Leith who won this competition giveaway ! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclaimer: I was given a Baby’s Pure Shea Butter Soap and a Mama’s Soothing Leg & Foot Lotion free of charge to test out for this review. In addition Shea Mooti gave us a Baby’s Pure Shea Butter Soap, Mama’s Soothing Leg & Foot Cream along with a natural extra soft sea sponge for our competition giveaway. I’d like to extend my thanks to them for this kind donation. All opinions given in this post are my own and no one else's.

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