Llun Dydd Llun

Inspired by one of my favourite gardening blogs ‘The Patient Gardener’ and her ‘Wordless Wednesday’ posts I thought I’d add a similar feature – Llun Dydd Llun.

For those of you who don’t speak Welsh, Llun is Picture and Dydd Llun is Monday, so it’s basically a picture post of where we’re at each week.

I’d like to say I’d keep it wordless but I’m far too much of a chatterbox for that! 😉

Anyway, here’s my first pic:

Little NW learns how to play peek-a-boo.

EPC discoveries

If you’ve looked at buying a house these past few years you’ll have noticed that each property on the market must have an Energy Performance Certificate, or EPC. This grades the energy efficiency and carbon consumption of the home. Although the basics are pretty easy to understand (its a colour coded scale with red being the least efficient and green the most), I never really understood how it was calculated, why there are two columns (current and potential), and why nearly all the houses I looked at seemed to rate quite badly!

Now that we’ve put our house on the market and had n EPC done, I thought I’d share with you what I found out about them.

1. To achieve the full 92-100 marks a house would basically have to be a passive house. Passive houses are a German gold standard of energy efficient homes; super insulated structures built to take advantage of natural resources for all their energy needs eg. large windows to the south side to capture lots of warmth from the sun. As far as I’m aware there is only one certified passive house in the UK (as featured on Grand Designs) so its obvious that the super high marks are out of the league of the average home.

2. I hadn’t realised that the structure of the home is taken into account as well as features like heating, windows, insulation etc. In basic terms the more external walls you have the lower your score will be, so a detached house like ours is inevitably going to come in with a lower score than a flat or terrace. According to the assessor, the highest mark he had ever given was 80, and that was for a flat with only one external wall and eco heating.

3. The potential mark points to how green a house could be given its situation, construction etc and the actual shows where its at now, so, in a way, if the actual mark is close to the potential mark, pretty much everything that can easily be achieved in a property has been done, such as double glazing, energy efficient boiler etc. You can change the potential of your home with quite drastic (and expensive) measures like cladding the property in insulation.

So how did we do?

As you can see we scored a pretty respectable 69 out of a potential 70. Where did we loose that 1 mark? Well we put some halogen spotlights in the kitchen a couple of years ago, and as they’ve been dying we’ve been replacing them with more energy efficient LED’s but there are still 3 halogen bulbs left, and that’s what lost us the mark – grrr!

The report also gives you suggestions as to what you could do to green up your home, and ours were:

1. Change to energy efficient lightbulbs throughout – which we will do, but I don’t like the idea of throwing out something functional so we’ll continue to do it as and when the bulbs go.

2. Install Solar Water heating – would love to but as you can see our only south facing roof is taken up with a 2.5kwp solar PV system it’s not actually possible.

3. Clad the building in super thick insulation – for green points and energy saving I should really consider this, but the reason I love my home so much is that it has exposed stone walls throughout and I wouldn’t want to loose them. We have super insulated the roofspace so hopefully this makes up a bit for lack of insulation in the walls. Also, as the walls are about half a meter thick I can’t imagine they are that bad for letting drafts through!

The other interesting thing the report gives you is an estimate of how much CO2 your home uses to run in a year. Apparently our house uses about 3 tonnes, maybe even less as I’m a bit tight with the thermostat and keep it at a comparatively cool 17-18 degrees all winter. I can only find quite old data regarding average CO2 emissions, but figures from 2006/7 suggest that the average person uses around 10-11 tonnes per year, so 3 tonnes for running a home with four people in it doesn’t sound too bad, although the dream of a carbon neutral life still sounds far away!

Anyway, I think most people resent the 60 or so pounds it costs to have an EPC done on their homes before they put them on the market, but I found it quite an interesting exercise and it really made me think again about how we live our lives.

If you fancy testing how much carbon you use I’ve found the WWF footprint calculator quite inspirational in the past. Its well worth thinking about what you use an how you could lessen the amount of resources your household consumes, and often the smallest changes, like changing a lightbulb (!) can make the most difference.
Ta ta for now,

Strip ease!

One of the most common questions I get asked when people see me using cloth nappies is “Do they smell?” I always answer “no”, but to be honest, as time passed by this has become a bit of a white lie. Some of the flip inserts I’m currently using have been in use for a year and a half, and if truth be told were getting quite stinky!

I’d tried various wash cycles, and tried adding things like Napppisan or Ecover bleach into the wash but nothing was really shifting the stink. I also found that the smell was starting to permeate into our daily wash and our clothes were taking on a faint ammonia crossed with Ecover smell – nice! So how was I going to sort the problem? Stripping.

So what is stripping? Well, as far as I understand, please correct me if I’m wrong, but most laundry detergents contain fillers to bulk them up. These fillers can accumulate on nappies over time, causing them to be less absorbent, and to build up a smell. Stripping involves using washing up liquid to get rid of these fillers and take nappies back to a new-ish state.

I’d first heard that nappies need stripping a long time ago. I knew it involved washing up liquid, but had imagined that it meant a labour intensive scrubbing and scouring of nappies so I put it off for ages. Last week, the smelliness became too much and I decided I just had to get my hands dirty and get on with it.

But when I actually had a look on the Babycentre cloth nappy forum  (very useful if you have cloth questions) and found instructions for stripping I realised it was much easier than I’d imagined. This is how I went about it.

1. Run the machine empty on its hottest setting (95 degrees on mine).

2. Put cloth into machine, and run on a cold rinse cycle with 50mls of white vineger in the drawer.

3. Put one tablespoon of washing up liquid in drawer and run a 60 degree cycle.

4. Run a rinse cycle, and keep rinsing until the water is clear.


After doing this my nappies are noticably less smelly, and I’m sure they are softer too. I can’t believe I didn’t do it earlier!

Since stripping the nappies, I’ve been using Violets Magic Laundry Powder from babipur. It contains no fillers, so hopefully less stripping required. To be honest, it’s quite amazing how small the pot is and how little you need to use. So far so good. It has a faint Lavender smell, and the nappies seem to be coming out of the wash feeling softer than they used to, although I don’t know if this is due to the stripping. They are so soft in fact that I accused hubby of committing the mortal sin of adding softener to the wash – oops!

One thing I was disappointed with after all this was that after a couple of loads our machine seemed to become stinky again. I think we may have found the culprit though – a rouge washable wipe jammed in the filter. Mini-mesh bags for the wipes from now on methinks.

I didn’t think you’d appreciate a pic of one of our stinky nappies ;), instead, here are some pics of nice things instead.

1. Took the boys to the National Eisteddfod (a big event in the Welsh cultural calender) and managed a whole day without disposable wipes thanks to the great advice from you ladies, thank you!  Better still, DW got to meet his hero, Welsh TV star Rapsgaliwn. Means nothing to all of you outside of Wales I suppose, but he’s kind of like a Welsh speaking Goldie Lookin’ Chain for kids and he’s a god in our house.  DW was chuffed to bits!

2. Took delivery of some lovely Pebble items from Babipur. We now have the rainbow blanket, rainbow hat and green octapus rattle. I’ve not tried any of the Pebble stuff before, but I absolutely love them! All the items are beautifully made, and so cute, the pictures really don’t do them justice.  The rattle is beautifully tactile, and I’ve been having a bit of a play with it myself.  A new addiction to rival my ‘plan toys’ one may be forming – be afraid bank balance, be very afraid!

3. Bread making is going well, in fact it’s getting quite compulsive and I’m feeling a desperate need to kneed! So far, we’ve branched out into multi seed bread as well as scones (from the same recipe book) and home made pizzas. Much easier than imagined and sooooo tasty!

4. The solar panels are up and running. I’d planned to take a pic, but forgive me but its torrential out there at the mo so I think I’ll leave it till next week.

That’s it from me for now. Take care folks!xxxx

Wiping away our carbon footprint.

Hi all,

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet of late, it’s been hectic here these past couple of weeks.

Writing up my green goals was a good motivator. After posting I decided to chase up British Gas, who are supplying the solar panels, and I’m pleased to report that the fitters have just arrived. In less than 8 hours we’ll be generating our own electricity – woo hoo!

The scaffolding went up yesterday, so this morning I overcame my fear of heights to climb up onto the roof, and here is the view.

It was lovely to see our garden and the mountains from up above, although I must confess I was a gibbering wreck! Not being such a baby was little NW, who seemed completely unphased by the fact that he was standing on the roof, snuggled close to his daddy in the sling as he was.

I’ve also had a go at making my first batch of bread. Here is what the bread looked like in the recipe book.

And here are my attempts!

Not too bad for a first go I think, what do you reckon?

I quite enjoyed it to be honest, though the kneading was really hard work and I can see myself getting some pretty hefty arm muscles if I do this regularly! It was a pretty good workout though, much needed to counteract the nearly whole loaf I ate to myself while it was still sightly warm. Yup, it was that yummy!

Another of the goals I’ve been putting into practice is trying to use my washable wipes, and they haven’t been quite such a success. I have three different types; the popin bamboo wipes from babi pur, a set of double sided wipes (towelling one side and fleece the other), and some old fleece blankets that I cut up myself. All have their benefits, but I think I prefer the bamboo ones. They are more absorbent than the fleece blanket, and less chunky than the double fabric ones so better at getting into those little crevices! 🙂

I love using the wipes when in the house. I just run them under the tap and the boys have lovely clean bottoms with no nasty chemicals. I can’t believe I used cotton wool on NW’s bottom for so long!

I’m not quite so good at using them while out and about though, and to be honest I can’t quite get my head around how to do it. If I take the wipes out dry, then inevitably I end up with a monster mess somewhere there isn’t a tap so I can’t get the bottoms very clean. I’ve tried to take them out wet in the wetbag that came with the pop-in ones, but then everything all around gets soaking wet. I’m wondering if this is because its a drawstring bag, and I’d be better off getting a zip one?

I’d be greatful to know how you ladies do yours? At the moment I end up taking dry washables out with me and bring a packet of disposables with me just in case, which kind of defeats the object, especially as I end up reaching for the disposables a bit too often.

Ooohhhh! Hang on a minute. Let me share my excitement, the panels have just arrived by courier!

I never realised how big they are. I’m 5’6” and if I stand next to them, they are taller than me!

Anyway, back to the blog. It isn’t just the green goals and kids that have been keeping me so busy of late. We’ve gone and done something really really stupid……

We’ve fallen completely head over heals in love with a ruined old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. It could be the house of our ‘good life’ dreams. It’s a proper ruin and would need to be completely gutted, but then we could build it back up into the super insulated ground or air source heated house we’ve dreamed of, and there’s even a nice south facing roof so we can have solar PV there too, and maybe even a wind turbine as its so high up, oh I’m getting carried away here!  But the thought of all that and the couple of acres it comes with makes me really excited.

Anyway, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome before this has any chance of becoming a reality, the first of which is to sell our house. We’ve been going hell for leather trying to get all those little jobs we’ve meant to do for ages done, so the past few weeks have been filled with painting, cleaning, putting up pictures etc. Our house went on the market yesterday, so cross fingers we get some interest, although everybody seems to refer quite despondently to ‘the current market’ so I wont hold out too many hopes. 🙁

Right, I’d better go an make some brews for the lovely installers. Ta ta for now, and if anybody fancies a nice 2 bed cottage in Snowdonia then you know where to find me!


Close Caboo Carrier Review by Josie & Elizabeth

Close (formerly Close Parent) Caboo Baby Carrier Review

A few months ago we were given the opportunity to send the yet to be released Close Caboo carrier out for testing.  We had what we thought was the perfect candidate, Josie had recently given birth to little baby Elizabeth.  However when we offered the Caboo carrier to her she was. . . . . erm, lets say less than enthusiastic.  Read on for her full review of the Caboo carrier.

Close Caboo baby carrier review by Josie & Elizabeth

When Babi Pur asked me to review the new Close Caboo sling for them I have to say I was a little reticent.  I’ve tried lots of slings but have never really used them much, let alone enjoyed wearing them.

‘Are you sure?’ I asked Jolene; ‘I have bad shoulders and wearing slings gives me tension headaches.  I’m a bit of a hard customer to please.’  Well, three weeks and much baby wearing later I have to say that I love it!  There, I’ve said it – I love the new Caboo carrier. It’s easy to use, snugly and so comfortable that I look forward to carrying Elizabeth around in it.  I wear it around the house, whilst gardening and it’s a god-send when supermarket shopping with three young kids.

I pop Elizabeth into the sling and off we go for a walk through the woods in the evening whilst Roger puts our boys to bed.  It gives us half an hour of quiet time together (and me such much needed exercise).

As I’m sure most of you readers know, baby wearing is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reasons.  Babies who are carried are found to be happier, more contented and less prone to anxiety.  Carrying them upright in a sling allows them to burp in their own time, leaving your hands free to carry on with those wonderful chores us parents are inundated with.  A sling-cuddled baby feels secure and well loved; and the close contact with mum or dad is vital, especially in those early few weeks.  And slings are so versatile – they can be worn by anyone and can hold babies of all shapes and sizes.

The Caboo carrier is based on the long wraparound style slings, but with a much improved design – like upgrading from a boxy old 80s banger to a power-steering-led new car.  The old way works, but the new design is so much simpler, smoother and more effective.

The baby is held in the same way as the wrap-style slings; with the straps between the legs and the weight distributed across both your shoulders and a cross of fabric at your back.  But there’s no fiddling around with long loops of cloth trying not to drag the ends in the mud as you negotiate a wriggly baby and complicated origami of knots.  Just slide the Caboo over your head, pop your baby in, tighten the straps and off you go.  I’m still trying to get used to the breastfeeding position, I’ll let you know how I get one.  Of course, as with any sling, the more you wear it the better acquainted you become.  You work out little tips and tricks to help make it all more comfortable, and I’ve shared a few of mine below.

Slings are a great, if ancient, invention and rightly so.  With their new Caboo carrier Close Parent have take the basics of sling wearing and carried it on to another level of comfort and versatility.  I would thoroughly recommend this sling to any parent, and I will say it again; ‘I love it!’

Tips and Tricks:

  • Check often that your baby’s nose is clear and that they have free air flow.
  • Think ahead with your clothing. It’s easier to wear a jacket or cardigan that you can do up over your baby than a warm jumper that you end up sweltering in but can’t take off because your baby is asleep.
  • Equally, don’t overdress your baby; your body heat will keep her warm.
  • If you are too hot, chances are your baby is too hot (and possibly grumpy) as well.
  • Make sure that your baby is high up near your chin when you put her in the sling as she will drop with the natural stretch of the fabric and her weight.
  • Check the straps are not twisted and are well spread out over your shoulders to distribute the baby’s weight evenly over your upper body.
  • If you feel her weight pulling on your shoulders bend over (whilst supporting your baby’s back with one hand) and push her up towards your chin, pull the fabric cross down at the back and then tighten the side straps.  This will place your baby higher, ensuring the weight is distributed more evenly across your shoulders.

Competition! Win a new limited edition prints Itti Bitti changemat & Tutto nappy

Itti Bitti have  brought out a new range of limited edition prints for their gorgeously soft washable nappies and brand new changemats.  The changemats are made from a waterproof PUL minkee and a bamboo velour for baby to lie on.. absolutely gorgeous!

Here at Babi Pur, we’re giving away a limited edition Itti Bitti Tutto nappy of your choice as well as a limited edition change-mat.

All you need to do to enter this competition is comment below by finishing off the following sentence…    “I Love it when…..”

BONUS ENTRIES: For bonus entries please leave a separate comment for each of the following you have done :

  • SHARE  this comp on your Facebook wall by clicking here
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It is important that you leave separate comments as each comment number is counted as an entry!

All entries need to be with us before midnight on Monday the 15th of August 2011

This competition is now closed and the winner is Comment number 195 Catherine!  Congratulations Catherine!!