Thursday, 26 March 2015

Product Review: Closer to nature Breast Pump

Over the last 2 weeks I've had the opportunity to test out the Closer to nature electric breast pump. This neat little package contains:

  • The electric pump 
  • a 150ml bottle with a level 1 flow teat
  • a milk storage lid
  • 6 disposable breast pads
  • a breast pump steriliser box (which is like a big tupperware container which you can use to store or clean your pump parts)





I've actually had my eye on this pump for a while for several reasons:

  1. The only bottle the Little Man would use (if he condescended to use one at all) was the closer to nature bottles. Therefore they are the bottles we decided to have on hand when Missy May came along. 
  2. I was getting very tired of using my manual Philips Avent pump which I used for 2 years while breastfeeding Little Man and returned to using when I started back at work 7 months after having Missy May. Take it from me, you can get some serious carpel tunnel from using a manual pump especially when at work when you've already spent half the day clicking away on a computer. 
  3. Expressing from a Philips Avent and having to empty into a closer to nature bottle for storage just gave me more things to wash and I was looking forward to being able to express and store straight into the Closer To Nature bottles so that Missy May could have them all ready for daycare the next day. 

Assembly

Putting the pump together was very straight forward. The controls for the electric pump can either take batteries or be connected to power from the wall making it very convenient to port around cordless. 

Like most other pumps there are a lot of parts that go into putting it all together however the instructions are quite straight forward and after one or two runs it's pretty easy to remember what goes where. 

Usage

The first time I saw this pump in action was at a blogger's event which wasn't the quietest of locations. The hum of the pump mechanism seemed pretty discrete. So when I received my own pump I confidently assembled it and packed it up to bring to work for that day's expressing. 

However after I had shut all the blinds in my office and started this little baby up I had to shut it down straight away because in the quiet of an office full of male engineers working to the clicky click of the keyboard and mouse, the Closer to Nature pump mechanism was roaring loud. And it wasn't just a continuous hum either which could have been attributed to the air conditioner or a overclocking server. It was obviously a pumping sound. I gingerly tried it out a couple more times, even burying the pump part in my thermal lunch bag to muffle the sound. 

Unfortunately I was too self conscious about the sound to continue to express properly and since I didn't bring my Avent manual pump along, I had to give my boss a quick explanation that I had to dash home for a bit and would be back in an hour, and went home to finish expressing. I gave the Closer To Nature pump another try and in the solitude of home I was able to get it to work for me. 

The pump action is very gentle and comfortable. If I had one critique it would be that the focus is too much on the nipple and there is not enough distributed massage which I found to be much more helpful for expressing a greater quantity of milk. 

The previous day I had conducted a control test with my Philips Avent in order to compare how much milk the Closer To nature pump would be able to do in comparison. Unfortunately, even though the Closer To Nature Pump was expressing, it wasn't going nearly as fast as I needed it to, in order to get back to work within the hour and I had to switch back to the Avent Manual Pump to finish the job quickly.

On the weekend when I had more leisure I gave the Closer To Nature pump another go and although slow, it did manage to fill up a 120ml bottle (I can usually get about 200-250ml with the Avent)

Compliments

  • Great portable little unit. 
  • Attaches straight to a closer to nature bottles for storage and delivery
  • Variable pump power for personal comfort
  • One of the most affordable electric pumps on the market

Critiques

  • Really Loud Pump Mechanism.
Since I only ever express at work or when the baby is asleep. This is a pretty big issue for me because in both situations being discrete and quiet is always preferred. 

  • No lock on the pump 
I was puzzled several times to find my bag humming and vibrating because the pump had activated when I had set down my bag in the car, and again at my desk. With batteries in the pump there is no way to prevent this except being VERY VERY gentle in carrying it around. A light tap would set it off. 
 
  • Lack of distributed suction
As described above, the suction was very much concentrated at the top which I found to be a little uncomfortable after a while. Also I reckon this might have led to reduced supply. 

Conclusion

The Closer To Nature Pump might be a good idea for someone who would be using it only occasionally in the privacy of their own home and wants something other than a manual pump. However, I personally found it very slow to get a good flow going even at the highest setting. 

The volume of the pump and the sensitivity of the controls is almost unforgivable. And I won't be taking this pump back to work. Even in a private office with 4 walls that go all the way from ground to ceiling (office walls aren't exactly thick) I'm sure the pump could clearly be heard by the junior engineers on the other side of the wall. 


Have you tried out the Closer To Nature Pump? Please share your experiences and is there any way to make it quieter? Or do you know a good quiet electric pump to recommend I try next? 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Tuesday Tip: Take time out

Have you ever heard the saying, often in a derogatory manner, "happy wife, happy life"? It's true of anyone though - the happier you are, the happier and easier life seems to be.

So today, the tip is, make sure you look after yourself. Take a few minutes out of each day to practice some self love (not like that, minds out of the gutter please... although, it's totally ok if that's your thing too!). If you are happier, the house will be happier, the kids will sense it and they'll be easier to wrangle manage too.

Here are some ideas of things you could do, they only take a few minutes:

  • Have a cup of tea. Sit down and drink it while it's hot!
  • Go for a walk outside. Get some sunshine while the weather is still nice
  • Primp. Nothing like locking the bathroom door and spending a couple minutes primping - whether that's plucking eyebrows, moisturising your hands or just plain sitting down and relishing having no other people touching you for a moment
  • Do nothing. Leave the clutter and mess for a few minutes and put your feet up
  • Read a magazine article or a few pages of a book

How do you take time out for yourself?

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tuesday Tip: How to differentiated between the folded sheets

We have 3 sizes of beds in our house. A king single (for the little man), a Queen (for the guest room) and a King (because more often than not every single person and dog in the house is sleeping on mum and dad's bed)

We didn't plan it this way it just evolved as our family grew. So we never really planned a good way to tell the sheets apart as well (i.e. All the king single sheets will be blue ish. Queen Green and King will be red). Also I have moods and would never be able to stick to a colour scheme anyway. 

All our sheets also go together in the linen closet stored in their set pillow case (a very handy tip I picked up from lifehacker) But besides the little man's stand out truck sheets, a lot of our other sheets are somewhat similar in colour (including a set of aquamarine sheets we seem to have for every single size bed) Once folded, these are impossible to tell apart. This is especially so when we have to change sheets in the middle of the night while we were nighttime potty training. 

So I came up with a plan. King Single Sheets were folded and slotted into a pillow case which was laid flat. Sheets for the little man were folded again on the diagonal so that they could be immediately identified by the triangle shape. Queen sized sheets were also folded again but on the vertical so that it formed a small square. Now when we go grab a new set of sheets to make the bed we don't have to undo the whole sheet and have to refold it if we didn't get the right size. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Tuesday Tip: How to use up excess produce

If you have a home garden, you know all too well that there are times when you have a glut of tomatoes or eggplants or something. Sure, you can eat them until the cows come home. There are many different ways to prepare vegetables, you can also preserve them and freeze them for later consumption.

But sometimes, there is just too much and you can't face the thought of another eggplant based dish. Or, you need just a little of something else, and you know it's in season right now, but don't want to pay supermarket prices for food that comes from who knows how far away.

Enter this awesome site: www.ripenear.me

Founded by two passionate foodies from Adelaide, I'll let them tell you how they came up with the idea and what the site is all about:

In winter of 2012 they noticed so many citrus trees scattered about the suburbs full of fruit that nobody was eating. And yet local stores were selling plenty of them - even some that were imported! It just didn't make sense. So, an idea was born: Why not have a site that allows foodies to connect with growers? Wouldn't it be cool if we could get all our fresh food from the local neighbourhood?... And so we started on our quest.
What a great idea! Around me, there are growers of chilli and basil, mangoes, figs and amaranth and even some eggs. I've got some of my own chilli and eggplants listed as growing, and I may even be able to offer some sweet potato if the harvest is as bountiful as I think it'll be.

You're welcome :)

* Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with this site although I am a member. I just think it's awesome sauce!!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Tuesday Tip: How to cut tomatoes without crushing them

In our house we have one good knife. The one knife we spent a stupid amount of money on and is never allowed in the dishwasher. Its the only kitchen item that gets washed and placed in its own drying space every single time it's used. It is kept sharp and well cared for so its an excellent kitchen knife and cuts nearly everything very well.
NEARLY everything. 

However, it is a straight edged knife so unless you're a chef with great knife skills, it's rubbish at cutting is tomatoes. And as you can see from previous posts I've been cutting a LOT of tomatoes. In fact cutting tomatoes with our nice sharp knife is almost dangerous since the smooth skin of tomatoes makes it so easy for the blade to slip and catch an unwary finger. Then if you manage to put enough pressure to pierce the tomato skin you're faced with the soft squishy insides which crush so easily. 

The solution, the least used knife in the house, The serrated bread knife (because our bread already comes sliced its rarely out of the knife block) The serrated edges are perfect for dicing soft tomatoes without crushing them. even if you're a complete knife knovice like me.  Perfect for making a nice chunky tomato sauce or perfectly forkable pieces in a salad. 

On a related note I've still got about 2 kg of tomatoes and more on the plant. I'm running out of ideas! HELP!


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Recipe: Berry Blast Ice Pops

Fantastic to keep in the fridge during the hot summer days. My Little man would come home from daycare on hot days and would do anything for a berry ice pop. They also look so cool in their bands of yellow and red. Get creative and layer the colours for more interesting effects.


Ingredients (serves 5 | makes 5 ice pops)

  • 1/2 cup Full Cream milk
  • 1/4 cup Yogurt
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 handful mixed berries (blueberries/ raspberries/ black berries)

Method

  1. Mix Milk and Yogurt and split in 2 cups
  2. Add banana to one cup, Add Berries to the other cup and whip till smooth
  3. Fill in Ice Pop mould half full with Banana and milk mixture, freeze for above an hour.
  4. Fill the rest of the ice pop mould with berries and milk mixture, freeze overnight and enjoy whenever the kids want a nice healthy snack.