Thursday 24 January 2013

Treat Yourself to some Eco-Chic with the fabulous Sotto e Sopra - Review

I may be a busy Mum of two gorgeous girls, but I do like to look and feel good as much as the next Mum.

I’ve personally found that the first 2 years with a little one are often the hardest and you end up just throwing on the first clean item you can get your hands on in the morning not really focused on what you’re going to look like. Your thoughts aren’t really on how you look, as you realise that throughout the day you’re likely to change several times as you get vomited on, weed on, or worse! And if you’re not venturing out that day, staying in your PJ’s can often feel like the better option given your current circumstances.

However, there does comes a point in those first couple of years when the likelihood of these things ending up all over your freshly laundered clothes diminishes, you begin to feel much more human again, and the want to look nice finally returns with a vengeance. I’ve been feeling like this a lot in recent months and I’m enjoying getting back into old clothes, spending more time on what I look like, and sourcing new clothes again. 

During my hunt for new clothes, particularly those which are Eco-friendly, I came across Sotto e Sopra. The name is derived from the Italian meaning “over and under”. Sotto e Sopra are all about quality and founder Pauline Mathewson, originally from Australia, found a gap in the market for high-end versatile garments which could be worn on the school run but would also double up for the office. She exploited this gap in the market and Sotto e Sopra was launched in 2010.

Pauline had always been passionate about being “Green” and wanted to work with a lifestyle fibre which was comfortable and had a luxurious feel on the skin. This led her back to her Australian roots where she discovered the new age fibre Tencel®. Tencel offers quality, which doesn’t fade in colour. It is a natural, man-made fibre extracted from wood pulp and through its processing techniques offers minimal impact on the environment and an economical use of energy and water.

“Renowned for its “drape”, Tencel® is very flattering for the figure...... The unique structure of the fiber is that it keeps the body naturally warm in the winter months and cool in the summer months. The Eco friendly fiber offers a reduction in bacterial growth; due to the fiber absorbing the moisture from the skin, so no water film remains that can often make the skin feel cold or damp. The fiber is chemical and irritation free, which is great news for people with sensitive skin. According to recent dermatological studies, wearing clothing made of Tencel® significantly improves comfort and promotes a feeling of well being and contributes to world peace.” – (taken from the Sotto e Sopra website)

Sotto e Sopra was re-launched in September 2012 following the appointment of Danielle Watson, E-commerce & Marketing Manager, (who I had the pleasure of dealing with), and on 12th November 2012 Pauline & Danielle also launched the fabulous maternity range. The feedback on this maternity range has been very positive and they have a super variety of both maternity and non-maternity tops to tempt you. Their maternity tops remind me of the ones I wore from Seraphine when pregnant with Jess. They look chic, yet comfortable and will accommodate your growing bump.

I was given the opportunity to try their lovely tops and decided to road test the Warm Gathered Long Sleeved Top. I was sent one in Light Khaki Green & one in Mulberry. I particularly liked the look of this top as it had a nice, relaxed, flattering style which would hide what’s left of my Mummy tummy.

They arrived beautifully packaged and the first thing that struck me on opening the parcel and looking closer at the tops was how well they are made and how incredibly soft they are. The fabric is gorgeous against the skin and incredibly warm. It’s been snowy this week and whilst wearing the tops, with only a gilet on top, my torso has remained fabulously warm whilst the rest of me has felt rather chilly in comparison. It made me think that Tencel® would be a great fabric for socks ! The other night I had to change tops and realised just how soft the material was when putting one of my other tops on. The difference was considerable. The fabric is similar to Bamboo but softer still. I love bamboo clothes and the girls have a few tops in this material. Tencel® compares well with it and again would make great kids tops too if the material could stand up to the wear and tear of a small person.


The tops are generous in their sizing, they don’t shrink when washed – at one point I accidentally got them mixed up and put them in a 40 degree wash instead of a 30 degree one, but they survived and didn’t shrink; Phew! They dry incredibly quickly and don’t need ironing as the creases fall out in the drying process. This makes them a must for the busy woman. The sleeves are lovely and long, which for me is a joy. I find it hard to find tops with long enough sleeves and if they start off long enough they normally shrink in the wash. Not Sotto e Sopra tops. I really am impressed with them. I just wish they’d been around when I was pregnant – they would have been über comfy. So any of you pregnant Mums-to-be out there, do pop across to the website and take a look. I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed. Their standard range covers vest tops, tunics, long sleeved tops, bolero shrugs and t-shirts in a full range of colours. You’re certainly spoilt for choice.

The Sotto e Sopra January sale is still on for another week, ending 31st January 2013 so get in quick and grab yourself a bargain. They’re also running a competition on Direct 2 Mum’s website until 8th February to win £50 to spend online from their latest collection.

I’ll certainly be investing in a few more tops for Spring/Summer. The lovely thing about Tencel® is its versatility, being warm in winter and cool in summer. What a joy.

If you would like to browse the lovely Sotto e Sopra range then pop across to their website at You can also connect with them on Facebook: and on Twitter @sottoesopra.

Disclaimer: I was given 2 Sotto e Sopra tops to try out, keep and review for this post. All thoughts, feelings and opinions given are my own and no one else's. I always give my honest feedback.



Saturday 19 January 2013

Merino Kids™ Toddler Sleeping Bags - A Great Alternative to Synthetic Options

When it comes to sleep, making sure your little one is comfortable, warm but doesn’t overheat is of utmost importance. We seem to be a generation of “sleep bag” addicts rather than using the sheets and blankets former generations favoured. At least with sleep bags we can rest assured that our little ones aren’t going to get themselves lost under a mountain of sheets and blankets risking suffocation and won’t be kicking off the sheets making them cold and uncomfortable in the night. But which type of sleep sack is best.

There are those of us who will always favour the natural, breathable option and then there will also be a synthetic fabric equivalent to run alongside it. I’ve used both and would definitely recommend you go the natural, breathable option if you can afford to. Yes they are normally more expensive but you get what you pay for in my mind and from a perspective of allowing the body to breath and regulate itself temperature wise, this is by far the best option. If you would like to read a research report comparing merino wool with polyester baby sleep sacks by AgResearch, New Zealand’s largest national Crown Research Institute then click here:

Jess recently had a growth spurt and outgrew the sleep sack we had for her (they always do that at just the wrong time, don’t they?) and we didn’t have a “hand-me-down” to use as Sophia wasn’t as tall as Jess at this age and being born in July, she moved to a duvet much sooner than her sister. We have a lamb’s wool toddler duvet waiting for Jess but because she still sleeps on her front with her bottom in the air a lot of the time (even after 2 years I still can’t work out how it can be comfy!), the likelihood of her kicking off a duvet in the night is high and I can’t afford for her to be cold on these chilly winter evenings. We’ll also be heading off in our caravan in April so having a sleep sack for this purpose is also an advantage especially when regulating the heat in the caravan at night is not always easy. So it was necessary to invest in another one.

As Jess is now 2 it meant finding somewhere that sold “toddler” sized bags. My search took me to Merino Kids™ website. Their international award-winning ‘Go Go Bag™’ waved at me saying “buy me”. So I did. These bags are made from merino wool on the inside with an organic cotton outer layer. They come in two sizes; newborn to 2 years and 2 – 4 years. They have two weights; standard weight (for temperatures 17 – 27 degrees centigrade) and duvet weight (for 20 degrees centigrade and below) for colder evenings. They come in a range of fun stripey colours and have one shoulder with poppers to fasten and the other one compete, in other words you place one arm through one armhole and popper the other side closed. They zip up from the bottom, along one side of the bag giving access to your little one and have an extra popper at each arm hole allowing you to secure the bag here if you wish stopping arms escaping into the bag. The bag has two vents one at the front and one at the back. This allows you to transfer your baby / toddler from car seat or buggy to cot/ bed without taking them out of their sleep bag. Great idea.

Merino Wool has many natural attributes:
  • It allows the skin to breathe and controls moisture
  • It controls temperature keeping your baby/child warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm
  • It reduces the risk of skin allergies
  • It improves sleep – Medical studies carried out by Scott & Richards at the Cambridge Maternity Hospital in 1979 found that merino wool helps to improve the sleep patterns of babies. They settled quicker, cried less, fed better and also gained weight faster
  • The same studies found that premature and low birth weight babies gained an extra 10g per day in weight in comparison to those who weren’t sleeping on Merino wool.
  • Merino wool is comfortable and easily cared for
  • Merino contains natural fire retardants making it fire resistant. The Merino Kids Go Go Bag™ has also passed rigorous fire safety testing
Our sleep bag has washed up well. They are washed on a 30 degree C cycle and you dry them naturally. I did sneak mine into the tumble dryer on a low temp for about 10-20 minutes as it was a little damp when I needed it urgently and it didn’t shrink. This isn’t to say that if you put it in the tumble dryer for longer and on a higher temperature it wouldn’t shrink. I think as it’s wool it’s fair to say that it would. So don’t try this at home !

As the weather seems to be intent on getting chillier I think I’ll be investing in the duvet weight option as well. I’m impressed with it so far and Jess has slept well in it. She has plenty of room to kick about in the bag, doesn’t seem to get too twisted up in it which can sometimes happen, so I’m pleased with my purchase. These sleep bags come recommended.


“Merino Kids™ is an internationally award winning textile company from New Zealand that specialises in using 100% natural fibres, for the design of newborn, baby, infant and toddler sleepwear. The company was founded by Amie Nilsson, in 2003 and since that time has grown significantly to now become one of the global leaders and commentators of using natural fibres for young children.”

If you would like to find out more about Merino Kids™ then they have a great website with lots of information to help you in your decision. They also sell clothes/sleepwear and bedding too. Take a look at

You will also find them on Facebook and Twitter @MerinoKids @MerinoKidsUK and @MerinoKidsNZ.


Saturday 12 January 2013

World of Creatures – Toddler’s Body Mousse and Baby’s Body Foam Wash

In the run up to Christmas last year I entered a couple of competitions on Facebook and for once I was lucky enough to win a few things ! This is unusual for me so I was really chuffed when I won a year’s subscription to the Green Parent magazine, an online 6 week Art E-course and some lovely goodies from World of Creatures.

I first came across World of Creatures through the BabyCalm FB page. I had a nosey at their website and knew they’d be on my list of products to try out on the girls. The fact that I then won one of their products was even better. The initial competition was to win a Baby Balm Butter but after messaging with World of Creatures through Facebook about how chuffed I was on winning etc, they obviously took note that Jess was a toddler because what dropped through my letterbox was a 220ml pot of Toddler’s Body Mousse and a 50ml Mini Baby’s Body Foam Wash. The first thing I  thought was, “these guys go the extra mile”. They’d made sure that the products I received were relevant to Jess. They could have sent me the Baby Balm Butter and I’d still have been a happy bunny, but instead they sent me something appropriate to my child. I like that in a company.

Sophia was at school when the parcel arrived and Jess and I opened the pot of Toddler Mousse and had a try. We both spent the next few minutes “Oooo-ing” & “Aah-ing” over the lovely smells escaping from the pot. The word that comes to mind here is “Lush”. The mousse is creamy and sinks into the skin really easily and doesn’t leave a greasy film. The skin is left feeling silky and smooth.

Bath time that evening involved both products and the girls loved using the Baby’s Body Foam Wash to get themselves clean. In fact I had to really monitor how much they used as they’d happily have finished the whole bottle in one sitting if I’d let them. The foam wash is in a great little pump bottle and when put onto wet skin glides across the body and doesn’t in any way dry out the skin. We used the toddler mousse afterwards and the girls both smelt delicious. They both gave the products a big thumbs up, particularly Sophia who is old enough to really appreciate these things now. They particularly loved the animals on the packaging, which gives the products a lovely fun edge.

And I love them too, so much so that I would, and probably will be buying myself a pot of the Toddler Body Mousse all of my own when this one is finished. This stuff isn’t just for the kiddies you know :0)

Creatures baby & toddler toiletries are all free from parabens, sulphates, petro-chemicals, synthetic colours, synthetic fragrances, and are not tested on animals making them great for young, sensitive, delicate skin. The main ingredients used in the baby & toddler range are Organic Rooibos, Chamomile, Lavender, Shea Butter and Aloe Vera.

World of Creatures was set up by Marike Fichardt who grew up in South Africa. This is where her knowledge of the beneficial healing properties of Rooibos came from and is also where she found her inspiration for the gorgeous giraffe, elephant and zebra animals who feature on the packaging, all of which is recyclable.  In addition to the lovely products they make, Creatures also support a children’s charity in South Africa called Cotlands. This is a non-profit agency founded in 1936 which has evolved into a shelter for abused, abandoned, HIV-positive, orphaned and terminally ill children from birth to fourteen years of age. As the Aids epidemic increases so does the rate of orphaned children the eldest of whom are often left to look after their younger siblings and have to leave school before gaining the skills needed to enter the market place. Cotlands works with these children and gives hope and Creatures support a Cotlands centre in Somerset West (near Cape Town).

I’m very impressed with the Creatures products I’ve tried so far and will definitely be buying some more once these ones are finished and as they are reasonably priced too this is another thumbs up from me.

If you’d like to find out more about World of Creatures and their lovely baby & toddler products you can visit their website and you will also find them on Facebook: World of Creatures and Twitter: @CreaturesBabies.

Update: I believe World of Creatures have sadly now ceased trading.


Wednesday 9 January 2013

Introducing Flibberti – Craft Gift Sets for Children

If your kids are anything like my two they like “doing”. And I’m all for encouraging this want. Too many children end up in front of the TV, with their heads in computer games and start to become zoned out from the real world. So any excuse to get them using their hands and brains to create is in my mind a good one. Children have a remarkable amount of energy don’t they and even though I was one once, there are times when I look at my two beautiful girls and wonder where they get their never-ending fuel from. I obviously feed them too well! I find channeling this massive energy store important and feel that quieter pursuits like craft are just as important as the more energetic ones. They help to focus the mind and become like an active meditation for small people.

My eldest, Sophia in particular loves craft. If we could fit this into our daily schedule she’d be there at the front of the queue and she seems to be displaying a real ability which is great. Something to nurture and grow. So, whilst looking for last minute presents for Christmas (last minute seemed to be a theme last year in our house), and having a nose around on Twitter I came across “Flibberti”. I’m not sure if they followed me first; probably, but I was very intrigued by the name. Flibberti is run by Ceri Busby and was launched in December 2012 so it’s a very new business. I hopped across to their website and found some gorgeous bracelet and necklace making sets for girls aged 4 years plus. But please don’t switch off just yet if you have boys as Ceri has plans for other craft sets which will also appeal to little boys too.

The first thing that struck me was the quality and that they were much more grown up and realistic than some of the offerings you can find in shops or on the internet. I’ve tried the wooden bead sets which are lovely especially when the kiddies are younger, and the plastic ones in my mind just look a little basic and cheap, so it was lovely to find something different. One of Flibberti’s intentions is to make quality craft gifts which children will love, that you can’t find on the high street and that are good quality without breaking the bank. I think they’ve achieved that.

I emailed Ceri to find out what the beads were made of and she explained that the bracelets kits (for 6 years plus) were glass & metal beads, and the chunkier bracelet kits (for 4 years plus) and the necklace kits (for 6 years plus) were a mixture of glass, metal and plastic beads. The kits also come with the elastic wire needed to thread the beads onto and instructions. I decided to go for a purple bracelet and necklace set and excitedly awaited their arrival.

When they arrived, each set was packaged in a pretty organza bag, wrapped in tissue paper and then placed into a manila pillow box tied with ribbon. I had a sneaky peek before wrapping them up for Christmas and was very impressed and secretly looking forward to helping Sophia make them.

Sophia was over the moon with her present and eager to get going. I had to stall her several times before we made them. I knew they would need some quality time spent on them and we needed other small people, namely Jess, to be napping before we could embark on this task together.

My girls are very headstrong, so I have and I am still learning when to back off and leave them to freely express themselves and when they need some guidance. Sophia was adamant in how her sets were going to look. We did have a bit of a disagreement about the fact that she really needed to plan it a little if she wanted the lovely flower charm to be in the middle and everything else mirrored on both sides. I tried to explain that it was pretty important that we planned what she wanted the necklace and bracelet to look like before assembling it. It’s sometimes hard to explain a concept like this which, as adults we just understand but as a child can be viewed as quite frankly an annoyance. Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know that we worked it all out and then made the kits up.

Sophia's bracelet & necklace creations

We spent two lovely hours together and the end result was worth all the effort. Sophia was so chuffed with what she had created and so was I. They looked lovely as I’m sure you’ll agree. The great thing about these sets is that she will wear them, look after them and they’ll end up in her jewellery box not the dress up box. She’s proudly worn them several times and she’s very keen to get a few more.

Purple Necklace Gift Set
The first thing I thought once made was they’d make fab party bag gifts for birthday parties. A little different to the norm. Ceri herself, on her website describes them as, “a perfect gift for birthday presents, flower girl gift, wedding favour, party prize, children’s party bag gift or stocking filler.” And priced from £4.25 they won’t break the bank and you’ll end up with something worthwhile to keep.

Purple bracelet gift set

It’s Ceri’s intention to grow the range and she has recently brought out a new bracelet set with a skull design on it. You will find pictures of this on her FB page. I recently made contact with her again to find out more on what she has planned for this year. This is what she said, “I’m going to be selling hanging hearts that children can sew themselves and possibly some other shapes that might appeal to younger boys such as stars. I’m also looking at pencil cases and little bags where children can design their own and also hand puppets.”

I’m a big fan of craft time with kids so I’ll be looking forward to seeing all the bits Ceri at Flibberti will be bringing out in the coming year. As a very new venture with lots of potential I wish her good luck with the business and hope it goes from strength to strength.

If you’d like to find out more about Flibberti and the craft sets they sell, then you can find them at They also have a Facebook page: and you can follow them on Twitter @flibberticrafts.


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