Monday, 24 October 2016

Nobody told me....

If you are a follower of my blog you'll know that I recently had a baby. My personal journey over the past 6 weeks since having her has been the most challenging thing I've ever been through. Of course its been bloody fantastic too but my god, theres so much that people didn't tell me about having babies!

Around a week after having Aria my friend Sally dropped off a surprise parcel for me; a book called 'Nobody told me' by Hollie McNish.  I'd seen one of Hollies poetry videos go viral a few months back about breastfeeding (watch it here) and loved her honesty about societies views on breastfeeding and how it made her feel as a mother.  I had no idea Hollie had a book out and couldn't wait to get stuck into it as I thought I might be able to relate to it.

A few pages in and I was totally addicted- each of the poems she'd written during her pregnancy were so relatable to me and I couldn't put the book down. I wanted to get to the part where she'd just had the baby... just to see how her first few weeks went in the hope that I'd be able to find some comfort knowing that it wasn't just me who felt the mixture of crazy emotions. Of course, being the honest poet that she is she shared all and it helped to reassure me that I wasn't losing the plot, I literally felt like her book was telling my story as I was experiencing it. 

After being inspired by the first half of the book I decided during one of our night feeds to write my own 'poem' about the things nobody told me.  I've not written any poetry since school so don't expect a masterpiece but it's true to how I feel right now and something I'd like to look back on in the future!


Nobody told me.....

Everyone told me to sleep whilst I can; you know, like bank it for later and pull it out when I can. 

Everyone told me to expect painful labour; you'll scream and cry but forget it a day later. 

Everyone told me precook my meals; because we'll never leave the house to go shopping again; well definitely not before week 10. 

Everyone told me I'd make lots of mum friends.. and that we'd talk about our engorged tits,baby piss and the latest sleeping trend. 


Nobody told me how tough the first week of her being here really would be; the tears, pain, worry and confusion really crept up on me.  

Nobody told me that labour wards are places of nightmares; the pressure to pee, feed, eat, feed, put on a brave face, feed- you get me?

Nobody told me how bloody hard breastfeeding would be; without doubt the most challenging task to  ever face me. 

Nobody told me how battered my poor body would really feel; iron tablets, stitches and the annoying uncontrollable need to wee.

Nobody told me quite how lonely I'd feel on a weekday afternoon whilst the world just continues and our cycle of nappies, boob and sleep just goes on and on and on..

Nobody told me how much I'd need my parents. Mid morning texts, evening FaceTime, surprise parcels all just to reassure me I'm doing just fine. 

Nobody told me just how many breastpads I'd use; my sole occupation has become similar to one who has 4 hooves. 

Nobody told me how angry I'd be when others without babies told me how sleepy they feel- are you fucking kidding me?

Nobody told me that because of nightfeeds I'd rather sleep alone in our bedroom..well just her and me. 

Nobody told me how much money I'd spend in coffee shops just so I could shelter and feed my little best friend.

Nobody told me how a trip to the shops takes three times as long and constant questions like "is she too hot?" 

Nobody told me how tempting it would be to have her sleeping in bed right next to me. 

Nobody told me that I'd feel this much love for a tiny little thing that demands so much. 



Our Birth Story

6 weeks ago we welcomed our little baby girl into the world; as a way of remembering the experience I wanted to share our birth story on my blog.

Throughout the whole of my pregnancy I was extremely lucky; I hardly suffered with any morning sickness and my only complaint was swollen feet in the last trimester. I really did think that because I'd been so lucky throughout that I was destined to have a frustratingly long and painful birth.. but oh how wrong I was!

My due date of the 2nd September came and went with no signs of labour beginning and for the next week I patiently sat and caught up on Bake off, Netflix documentaries, cheesy rom-coms and daytime tv. I'd nested my heart out already so everything was ready in the nursery so I just took the time to relax.

On the 6th September I went to see my midwife for a sweep; something I'd been petrified about in the days running up to it.. but I kept telling myself that the quick slightly uncomfortable feeling I was likely to experience should be the least of my worries with the birth due to happen in the very near future.

As a result of the sweep my midwife found that I was in fact 2cms dilated and 100% effaced; she was  pretty shocked that I'd not felt any contractions already. She confidently said to expect labour to start in the next 24 hours and that I was likely to experience my waters breaking- something that not all women actually experience contrary to what you see in the movies. I waddled out of the doctors surgery with a huge smile on my face and feeling rather pleased that my body had managed to get me to this point without putting me through any pain!

For the next 2 days I again rested up on the sofa, conscious of every twinge/ movement and hoping everything would begin before having to go in for another sweep the following week.

By Friday morning I'd given up hope of anything happening off the back of the sweep so decided to get myself showered and dressed in preparation to head off into town to do some shopping. As I stepped out of the shower I felt a gushing sensation... but, being over 9 months pregnant I couldn't work out whether it was just a bit of an accidental wee or whether my waters had actually just gone!

Just as a precaution we decided to head up to the hospital to be checked over; at this point I was convinced that I'd just pee'd myself to be honest so hadn't got my hopes up.

Once at the hospital they took some swabs and hooked me up to the monitors to keep an eye on baby's movements- after about an hour the midwives came and confirmed that in fact my waters had broken!  Great news right? Nope... I wasn't experiencing any contractions and if nothing started within 48 hours I'd need to be induced. Hearing this news bought me to tears; a mixture of excitement  knowing we'd soon be meeting our baby girl and also disappointment as being induced was the last thing I wanted to go through- I'd heard stories of it being super painful and also I knew I wouldn't be able to use my TENS machine.

After being given a load of leaflets and some disposable thermometers to keep an eye on my temperature we were sent off home to wait it out.

Once we arrived home we both felt a little deflated and both agreed that the only way to keep ourselves occupied was to carry on as usual.. so, Friday night, pub night!

We headed down to our local at around 5pm,  sat outside in the last of the summer sun and had a quick drink. We then popped into the indian takeaway to pick up our dinner.

When we got back home I decided to sit on my birthing ball whilst eating my curry just to see if I could get things going but wasn't that hopeful.

Curry finished, PJ's on and Narcos playing on Netflix we were set the evening; but after about 15 minutes I started to get stomach ache.. it felt like one you'd get after eating too much so nipped to the loo. I then realised it wasn't a stomach ache.. my contractions had started!

I won't fluff it up for you.. the contractions at this point were very uncomfortable; so much so that  I was doubled over in the bathroom crying and feeling really scared of what I was likely to experience in the hours to come if this was just the beginning.

Johno on the other hand was cool as a cucumber; helping me to focus through the pain and reassuring me that I could do this; my body was built for this.

I decided about 20 minutes after my first contraction that I wanted to set up my TENS machine; I'd read the earlier you use it the more effective its likely to be throughout labour so was keen to get going. Once we'd worked out where to place the pads on my back I got the machine started and oh goodness it helped immediately... its hard to describe how it felt but kind of like I had control over administering a sensation through my body to try and override the power of the contraction.

My contractions continued to get stronger and closer together so Johno started to time them using the timer function on the pregnancy app we'd used throughout the nine months. To my surprise, after about 20 minutes, Johno let me know that I'd had 3 contractions within 10 minutes; hearing this news made me feel so anxious but similarly excited as my body was telling me that things were progressing.

At that point Johno suggested we call the labour ward just to check what they thought about my contraction timings and whether we needed to make our way to the hospital.  He dialled the number for me and when I got through to the midwife I could hardly talk through the strength of contractions so the midwife recommended I go in just to see how I'd progressed. The midwife made a point of saying we shouldn't get too excited as I could still be in the very early stages and its likely we'd be heading back home again.

We quickly ordered a taxi to the hospital (both of our arranged lifts were at the pub, tut tut!!) got our bags together and then headed to the front of our house to wait for our car to arrive. By this point my contractions were so strong all I could do to help ease the sensations was to bend over our front wall breathing heavily. The journey in the taxi is a bit of a blur for me, I just remember shouting at the driver to hurry up then apologising for shouting at him!

When we arrived at the hospital we quickly made our way to the triage room on the labour ward; the midwives asked us to wait there but my god I think I was going through the rage stage of labour and refused to sit down in the room- I demanded for someone to come and see me instantly as I thought something was wrong...

Thankfully a midwife came to check me over pretty quickly (I think my anger helped!)... at this point I thought I was going to be told that I had hours left to go.

I can't even begin to express how amazed I was to hear that actually my wonderfully amazing body had progressed to 7.5cms dilated and we were nearing the time to start pushing. So many ladies out there are going to hate me for that I know... sorry!

So, we then got settled and the the pushing commenced! We were in an active labour room so I used the chairs, leaning posts and bed to try and progress further but I think a mixture of nerves and exhaustion got the better of me and I started to request pain relief. My midwife, Maria, tried her hardest to get me on the gas and air but I was having none of it.. I hated how it made me feel so after about an hour she allowed me to have some diamorphine.

Before the opiate was injected into my thigh I was under the illusion that all my pain would disappear. Of course, it didn't and I just became super drowsy.. not what I needed when my aim was to be pushing the baby out within the hour. Reading up on this drug after the event I'm surprised they gave me it so late in the process; it was inevitably going to affect my ability to get the baby round the final bend before the exit!

Two hours later and baby was still no closer to coming into the world.. exhaustion had got the better of me and I was beginning to panic. The doctor came to review our options and after a quick chat with the midwife they both recommended that we head to theatre for a forceps delivery. I was gutted. But knew that I didn't have it in me to push any longer so agreed, signed a few forms and was then wheeled off for the next stage of our delivery experience.

Me and Johno were separated at this point; I was sent into theatre and he was sent to the waiting room to put on some scrubs.

My contractions picked up intensity just as the doctor started to get all of the equipment ready to administer an epidural... she stressed the importance of me staying completely still and insisted on talking me through the whole process which didnt help with my nerves but I was told it was a requirement of having it. I vividly remember being in mid intense contraction when they started to administer the epidural; totally petrifying as all I wanted to do was move through the pain but thats totally not what I should have been doing whilst they inject near to my spine!

After about 15 minutes Johno was able to join me in the theatre. I'd lost all sensation in the lower part of my body; I couldn't feel my contractions whatsoever and I was quite happily laying there chatting away to him about how excited I was to meet our baby.  Meanwhile, the midwives put up a screen across my middle so I couldn't see what was going on down there and out of nowhere told us that the time had come to get the baby out and that I needed to push with all of my strength. Of course, with no feeling in my lower body I was baffled as to how I was meant to assist with getting her out; could I really push??

Of course, my pushes helped, and along with the forceps we quickly delivered little Aria Sylviè  into the world at 4.50am on 10th September- I remember the doctor telling us to get ready and then all of a sudden a (in the nicest possible way) alien looking baby was lifted over the screen and placed on my chest.  Johno and I both burst into tears and stared in amazement at our little one with a cone shaped head.. the poor darling.  

It was truly the most amazing moment of my life seeing that little babe for the first time; she looked so tiny all wrapped up in a towel. I couldn't take my eyes off of her.

Whilst Johno and I were coo-ing over our precious parcel the doctors continued to work on me- because of the quick forceps delivery the placenta was a bit trickier to deliver...eventually the doctors managed to manually remove it but it meant I lost quite a bit of blood.  I didn't care though.. I couldn't stop looking at our lovely daughter.. the poor little thing didn't stop crying for around 40 minutes once she'd entered the world.. but when she'd calmed down a little she amazed us both and rooted around to latch on for her breastfeed- such a gorgeous sight.

The next hour or so is a bit of a blur; we were visited by a paediatrician as they were a little concerned about the cuts to Aria's forehead- the forceps had left a few wounds but after an examination they were happy she didnt need any stitches.

We were then taken up to the ward at about 6am to settle and begin our journey forward with feeding, getting to know our little girl and recover from her very speedy arrival.  Johno left to go home for a while and I was on such a high from the whole event I didn't manage to get any sleep; Aria was fast asleep for a few hours that day but I couldn't stop looking at her and just being totally amazed that she'd been inside my tummy all along!

At around lunchtime Johno came back with my parents; they both were in absolute awe of little Aria.. it was so emotional seeing them meet their grand daughter for the first time. A moment I'll never forget!

Later on that day my brother and his girlfriend came along to visit; Lewis took some adorable photos of Aria for us and looking back on them now makes me feel so happy....

The midwives decided to keep me in over night due to the amount of blood I lost during the delivery; I wasn't best pleased about this but I knew it was the right thing to do, plus it meant I'd be able to just spend some one on one time with Aria before going home. As you can imagine, being on a ward full of new babies and mums isn't be quietest of places during the night.. it was actually rather scary if i'm honest. I had no idea what I was meant to be doing with our brand new baby, I had no idea really how I was meant to be feeding her and I don't think I realised at the time how much of an impact losing a lot of blood had on my body. I was exhausted already and I only managed to sleep for 1 hour so that first night was VERY difficult- I had so many thoughts running through my head during those waking hours; Was i really cut out for this? Is this how every night would be for months and months? Would I really be able to breastfeed after leaving the hospital?

The next morning little Aria and I were discharged from the hospital; although I was desperate to get out of that place it was pretty daunting leaving the safety of the midwives; but I knew having my parents at ours for a week would be so comforting for us all.

I've got so much more I want to write about in relation to our first week at home, breastfeeding challenges, our most useful items we used in the first few weeks, my view on what you really need to pack in your hospital bag and much much more so I'll end this post here and continue as and when I can.

Six weeks into being Aria's mama I can for sure say its been the most challenging experience of my life but at the same time THE most rewarding thing I've ever done.


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Nutri-Fill It review and giveaway

In an attempt to up my fruit and milk intake over the past few months I've been trying to get more smoothies into my day to day routine. However, I find that I always seem to make way too much, leave the left overs in the fridge for too long and then end up binning it! Anyone else do this??

 I was recently contacted by Eat Well UK and offered the opportunity to review their new Nutri-Fill it smoothie pouches; the pouches are a really simple container for you to decant you smoothies into for fruity goodness whilst on the go. 
Once you've used your smoothie maker to create your smoothie all you do is fill the pouches from the bottom, zip it back up and either refrigerate, freeze or pop straight into your lunch bag.
For my first batch of smoothies I used some of the fruit I had left over from my baby shower- bananas, strawberries and blueberries. 
I then blended it all up with some milk and coconut water in my Breville Active Blender

Once blended I decanted it into the pouches, popped one in the fridge for later on and one in the freezer for another day!

I'm not normally into fad equipment when it comes to food preparation and storage but I can totally see the advantages of having these pouches; it's going to save me time, effort and washing up but still means I get to feel like I've had some fruity goodness with my brekkie.

The pouches are reusable (up to 100 times) so are a lot more eco friendly than buying cartons of smoothies every other day from the supermarket. Having these pouches also means when I over estimate the amount of fruit I need in my smoothie maker I'll never need throw it away again; I'll just put the remainder of the smoothie in a pouch and pop it in the freezer for another day. 

I've been given a bundle of pouches to giveaway to 5 lucky readers- each set contains 6 pouches so nearly you can have nearly a week's worth of smoothies ready and waiting for you in the fridge!

All you need to do is complete the below form with your details-

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway rules-
Winners will be announced via Twitter at 10am on 15th September and asked to DM me address details- these must be provided by 9am on 19th Sept.

UK entries only.

What's your fave smoothie mix?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Why I started blogging

This morning whilst trying to avoid getting out of bed I scrolled through Twitter and came across Jasmine's tweet about a blog post she published recently on why she started blogging. It got me thinking about my blogging journey and I wanted to share a few thoughts with you all on this rainy Saturday afternoon. 

Why did I start?

I started my blog back in April 2013; not long after I moved into a studio flat by myself. Living alone for the first time was a scary jump into the unknown but one I needed so much. It's partly made me who I am today if I really think about it (check out this very old post I wrote on lone living) and having a blog to focus on kept me company in the evenings. 

Issues with friends, boys and generally just not being very successful at the whole grown-up life thing made me seek out a hobby that I could be in control of, one that wouldn't cost me too much money and most importantly for me, something I could look back on with a feeling of achievement.

 I started off slowly over the first few years and it's only in the past year or so that I've really started to get into a flow of when to publish posts, interacting more on social media and getting my photos up to a better standard- they aren't perfect but I'm getting there slowly. 

How do I feel about blogging now?

Right now, I'm enjoying blogging massively; it's opened so many doors for me over the past year or so as well as being a lovely way to keep my friends and family filled in on how I've been getting on throughout my pregnancy.  

  I call all the shots when it comes to Tea and Blush and this gives me a feeling of satisfaction and purpose.. I couldn't imagine how I'd be spending my spare time if I didn't have my blog to be honest. I imagine I'd be a very bored person.  I've never been particularly skilled at stuff like baking, crafting, drawing and cooking so for me, my thing to do to relax and destress is blogging. 

By day I work as a communications consultant and I'm 99% sure that having a blog played a huge part in me getting the job at the beginning of 2016. Parts of my job intertwines with the experience I've gained via Tea and Blush- stuff like events planning, writing articles and website design- how amazing is that?

Where do I see it going in the future?

Do I want to be a full time blogger? No, I don't think so... I enjoy having it as a hobby; something I  can dip in and out of as and when I have the time.  To put the pressure on my blog to bring in enough money to pay the bills would take away the fun for me. 

As I'm about to embark on the next stage of my life (I'm having a baby if you didn't know already!) I do expect my blog to change- it wouldn't be honest and part of me if it didn't so expect there to be a few more family posts on here, maybe some insights into how we are doing at the whole parenting thing and of course some baby clothing hauls.  I'm not going completely into mummy blogging though...

If you're a blogger -why did you start?
If you aren't a blogger- is it something you'd like to get into?


Friday, 2 September 2016

Inky Gorilla Posters and Prints (Print Giveaway included!)

Looking for prints to pretty up your home? Well, look no further, Inky Gorilla has something for everyone; from Scandi nursery prints, gamer inspired creations, feel good quotes to witty greetings cards. 
We've added two Inky Gorilla prints to the babes nursery and ohhhh I love them. We went for the Scandi inspired mountain scene picture shown in the photo above; along one of the mountain ranges it says "Home is wherever I'm with you." How cute!!
We were also gifted this cloud and rainbow print to add into the nursery; we seem to have unintentionally adopted a cloud theme for her nursery and I adore how it's all turned out. Again, I promise the nursery tour is coming soon. 

You may be aware if you follow me on Twitter that the owner of Inky Gorilla is actually my brother, Lewis- how handy ehhhh?  I'm totally envious of his ability to create these lovely pieces but of course very thankful that I get to add them to our home decor whenever he has the time to make us a custom order. 
Here are some of my favourite prints he's currently got for sale on his Etsy shop- check out the full range here.

Lewis has also just branched out to do custom designed blog headers, the details of which can be found here. Lewis designed my blog header for me by the way :)

Fancy getting your hands on a pre-designed print from the Etsy store or custom blog header of your choice? All you need to do is follow both @Inkygorilla and @teaandblush on Twitter AND retweet the competition tweet put out on my twitter page. 

Competition is open until 8pm on 9th September and will be announced at 9pm the same evening.

Good luck!


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Top 10 tips

1.Corporate discounts

Check whether the company you work for has any corporate discounts already set up- I work for a large insurance company and thankfully we have a rather fantastic cash back/ discount site on which I can search out retailers and get the best deals on the high street.

For example, we knew which pram we wanted to buy and it was just a case of finding which store we could get the biggest discount on through my work website- we ended up getting 12% off at

If you don't work for a large company like I do you might still be surprised at the local discounts your employer has negotiated- it really is always worth asking.

2.Spend time shopping around

I love finding a good bargain and if that takes me 3 hours on a Wednesday evening thats fine with me.   Rather than falling into the trap of allowing shops to make decisions for you about the things you need/want, take your time and consider your purchases as you might be able to find the item cheaper elsewhere or a more suitable option by another brand.

For example, we could have easily been drawn into buying the matching changing bag to go with our pram but we decided not to as in reality the matching one is so tiny that it wouldn't have been practical.

When it comes to the daily needs (stuff to change baby's butt) there's a brilliant website called Bum Deal which helps you seek out the cheapest way to buy nappies, wipes and car seats- for example, we're  going to be using Naty nappies to begin with and Bum Deal has just told me that at the moment I could buy 2 packs of newborn size from Ocado for £6 whereas at Boots I'd pay £8.58 for 2 packs at the moment.

Also, although I'm going to try and use cotton wool and water for the first few weeks/months I've kept an eye on baby wipe deals; Bum Deal came up with a Waterwipes deal which looks pretty good; 720 wipes for £19.99 from Ocado compared to 540 for £19.99 from Boots.

3.Sales and postage

Keep a look out for mid season sales and bank holiday sales too. I've been rather organised and bought the babe some clothes for next summer in the end of summer sales this year!

The price of postage for items can sometimes outweigh the savings you find online- make sure you take full advantage of click and collect services, services that deliver to your local shop and also amazon lockers.

The site I've found the most clothing bargains on has to be La Redoute.. I picked up 7 items of clothing for her for under £20 with free delivery as I got it sent to an Amazon locker at the local Co-op!

4.Loyalty cards

As much as I hate getting emails from every shop I've ever been in to it really does pay off to sign up for them if they have a specific baby club. By far I've found Boots to be the most rewarding card out of them all.

I'm sure most of you will have a Boots Advantage card, right? Well did you know that Boots also have the parenting club you can sign up for? You can collect extra points every time you buy something baby related; 10 per £1 spent to be precise. So, if you've got big ticket items to buy then you can get a rather nice amount of points added to your advantage card; this just takes a little thinking outside the box- most Boots stores in towns don't have their baby range on show so we don't automatically think of them as a competitive baby retailer but they have a ton of products online; from nursery furniture, slings, pushchairs, stair gates, clothing.. the list goes on!

Here's two examples of big savings we've made at Boots-

We ended up choosing a pram for £700, minus the 12% from my work discount scheme takes it to £616,which then equates to £61 of advantage card points, which equals between 10-15 packs of Naty nappies.

When you inform Boots you are expecting a baby you'll be sent a welcome pack with a magazine; the magazine has around 3 pages of vouchers in and for us was pretty handy- we used a £40 off when you spend £200 or more on cribs and bedding voucher towards buying our SnuzPod co-sleeper crib.

This meant rather than paying £233 for the crib and bedding set we paid £193. At the moment when you buy the Snuzpod from Boots you also get a mattress protector for free too which saves you another £15! Plus then your 10 points for every £ through the parenting club to be added to your account to use for nappies later down the line.

Also, remember to download the Boots app too as you get personalised offers each week you can add to your advantage card- one's we've used so far are 50p off Sudocream, 100 extra points when you buy Boots baby products, free nursing pads when you spend £10 on baby products and something crazy like £10 off a breast pump.

Other loyalty cards/schemes  I've found useful are-

Mothercare-  They hold parenting events every so often which you can sign up for- these evenings normally offer 10% off everything and also give you a chance to try out some products before investing, like pushchairs, nursery sets and carriers.

Babies R Us-  Similar to the other schemes but this card offers you wider promotions on holidays and days out. I've not used this card a lot as the store isn't within walking distance but a good one for those who drive!

M&S Sparks card- I adore the M&S range of baby clothes so picking up a Sparks card was a no-brainer. I think it tailors the offers specifically to you depending on your shopping habits; I find that if I buy baby clothes one week the following week I'll have a 20% off option to add to my Sparks card. So, if I see a few items I like in the baby section I buy them individually in the hope the voucher gets added!

Waterstones card- we knew from pretty early on that we wanted to start building a library of books for baby so we make sure that each time we buy a book we collect points. Points equals ££ of course! But..saying that, sometimes Waterstones aren't the cheapest and its better to purchase from Tesco or Amazon. Just take your time and shop around!

5. Amazon wish lists + Subscribe and Save

An Amazon wish list is a must if you are planning on having a baby shower in my opinion. I've not been shy in asking people for specific items we need for when the baby arrives rather than us getting a ton of newborn clothing that the babe probably won't get any wear from.  We are all Amazon wish list users in my family for all occasions so of course we did one for our shower- we were very lucky and received most of the items off the list; it saved us a ton of money and actually means we will use every gift we were given.

Amazon also offer the Subscribe and Save option on baby related products- like nappies, wipes, creams, cotton wool, nappy bags and even pregnancy vitamins.  For most products you save 5% if you subscribe and if you set up 5 or more subscriptions at the same time the savings increase to 15%.

6.Free dental treatment

Did you know whilst you are pregnant and for a whole year afterwards you get free dental care? I've already been to the dentist more times in the past 9 months than I have been in the past 9 years! Because of the extra work our bodies are going through when growing a baby it means your teeth can become troublesome; thankfully mine haven't been too bad, just swollen gums so all I've needed are a few appointments for a scale and polish. You can find out more about getting free dental care here.

7.Free classes

Find out if there is a local children centre in your area. There's one here in Sheffield which offers free baby massage courses, coffee mornings and also sessions like sensory play. As much as I'd love to pay to go to a baby massage course run by my yoga teacher I need to keep tight on my budget so having a free option is pretty great! The average cost of a baby massage course here in Sheffield is around £50 for 5 weeks so I'm saving a fair bit of dosh going for the children's centre option.  Check out this page to find your local children's centre.

8.Maternity clothes

Right from finding out I was pregnant I couldn't wait to find some lovely maternity outfits; I imagined stocking up a whole new wardrobe full of items from the Topshop Maternity range but in reality, I've been going out socialising less and just wanting to be in comfy lounging clothes so it would have seemed a waste to spend hundreds of pounds on new outfits.

The one item I think is essential for any mum to be is a good pair of maternity jeans; I went for the Joni over the bump maternity jeans and these have been a staple for me. I started wearing them at around 4 months and they still are suitable to wear now, 3 days before my due date, as they have a lovely soft over the bump band which has expanded with my tummy.

I've found New Look  really great for nursing wear too- ooh that reminds me, if you plan on breastfeeding then try to make sure your maternity clothes are going to be suitable for this too- I've stocked up on maternity shirts as I've found them comfy, roomy and easy to wear with a bump as well as being easy access with a nursing vest top on underneath once the babe is here.

9.Remember you won't be house bound forever

It's so easy to go crazy on stocking up with everything before the baby arrives; the one thing I let loose on was cotton wool- I ordered 15 bags of the stuff a few weeks back.. I live about 6 minutes walk from a Boots store for goodness sake. I didn't need to buy this!!

I have it in my head that everything will go swimmingly with breastfeeding so I haven't gone out and spent any money on bottles, sterilisers and all the paraphenalia "just in case" as again, if things don't go as planned I've got people around me who will be able to nip to the 24 hour Tesco and pick up the necessary kit!

10.Get your freebies and sign up for cash back sites

If your employer doesn't have a corporate discount scheme set up then don't worry; you can still cash in on cash back on your big ticket items. Check out this helpful page explaining how cash back sites work (and things to be careful of) by MoneySavingExpert.

Alongside this, make sure you get your hands on all your freebies whilst pregnant, even if they're only samples it all comes in handy. You should receive a Bounty information pack after your first scan which contains some vouchers you take along to your local Boots store and exchange for a stash of money off vouchers, some sample size nappy creams and some pregnancy vitamins. You'll also be given a Bounty pack in hospital and a 'Growing family' pack once your babe is 4 months old. Find out more about the Bounty packs here.

Another pack I signed up for was Emma's Diary; this is also one you can collect from Boots and is packed full of samples like washing detergent, baby bathing samples, money off vouchers, wipe samples and a handy buying guide for big ticket baby items.

As you can probably tell, I've really enjoyed writing this post as I love the idea of helping other expectant parents save a few £'s. In total, by using the above tips I guesstimate I've saved around around £1135.. thats an amazing amount which we can add to our savings knowing we aren't going without any of the items we want/need!

Have you got any top savings tips when shopping for baby? 


Monday, 29 August 2016

The Body Shop #HighStreetDaresToMask blogger event

Last weekend I had the pleasure of helping to pull together an event at The Body Shop High Street store in Meadowhall, Sheffield. With my experience of events and links to local bloggers we were able to pull off a really interactive event which I thoroughly enjoyed! 

The focus of the event was primarily around the new luxury face mask range The Body Shop launched earlier this week but we also got to have a play with some of the other products and we were even treated to a mini pamper session.

Expert face masks

The Body Shop's new range of luxurious face masks are a rather delicious addition to their huge product range, each mask smelling completely different and retailing at high street prices. 

The Bodyshop ladies really went to town on their masking station at the event; they set up a beauty bed for bloggers to relax on whilst they each had a face mask applied. 

Bloggers could choose which of the five face masks they wanted to try out; each with a different set of ingredients and effect on the skin:

Amazonian Acai- An energising mask to help brighten up dull and dry skin. This mask contains Acai berry, Guarana seed extract to exfoliate and Fair Trade organic babbassu oil. 

Ethiopian Honey- A nourishing facial mask for dry skin or skin showing the signs of ageing. This mask contains Fair Trade everything- honey, marula oil and organic olive oil. 
British Rose- A plumping facial mask for normal to dry skin. This mask contains real rose petals, rose-hip oil and Fair Trade organic aloe vera. 

Himalayan Charcoal- A purifying detox mask for oily and blemished skin. This mask contains bamboo charcoal, Fair Trade organic tea tree oil and green tea leaves to help exfoliate the skin. 

Chinese Ginseng & Rice-  A clarifying mask to help brighten dull skin and repair unevenness. This mask contains Ginseng, sesame seed oil and rice extracts to exfoliate the skin.

All of the masks are 100% vegetarian, luxuriously thick on application and cost £15 each for a 75ml pot. Along with the mask pots The Body Shop ladies also showcased the new mask application brush; this is something I would recommend as it adds that feeling of luxury when applying the masks and means you don't waste product by spreading it all over your hands too.  Each of the masks can be used around 2-3 times a week.. although I'd probably save it for sunday pamper nights.
The lovely Carolanne from A literary Cocktail getting her face masks applied.. she's got the Chinese Ginseng on her cheeks, Amazonian Acai on her chin and then Himalayan Charcoal on her nose. 

During the event I didn't get a chance to have a face mask applied but we were each given some sample pots of the masks to take home and try out- so far I've tried out the Chinese Ginseng mask and the British rose; my fave so far is the ginseng mask; it left my skin feeling throughly soft and fresh. 

Foot spa treatments

The Body Shop ladies set up a foot spa station for the event too- I'm sure if you've read my pregnancy updates (most recent ones are here, here and here) you'll be aware that my feet are, at times, the size of elephants due to pregnancy swelling so the foot spa section was a pregnancy dream come true for me!! 

The products used on my feet alongside the foot spa were-

A shower gel (cant remember which one!)

Although the swelling on my feet didn't go down it was some what a luxury to have my feet feeling pampered and soft.. I haven't been able to reach them for a long time! 

Makeup masterclasses

At the beginning of the event I asked each of the bloggers which eye look they wanted to learn how to create; cut crease, smokey or natural. During the evening The Body Shop babes ran tutorials on how to create these looks using the new Down To Earth shadows. 

Bev from Bevebeee blog and Becki from Prime and Dine both having a master class on the smokey eye look using the Down To Earth Shadow Glow Palette. 
I tried my hand at the cut crease look using the Smoky Gold Palette  and the new double ended eyeshadow brush.
I was quite happy with the finished effect- I never really had the knowledge when it comes to shadow looks so it was great to get some expert tips from The Body Shop ladies. I found the new eyeshadow brush really easy to use and something that I plan on buying next time I visit the store. 

 Although I didn't purchase the palette this time, the skills I picked up from the master class have meant that I've used some products I already have gathering dust in my makeup collection... once I've finished them I'm going to treat myself to an item from the Down To Earth range. 

For helping out to plan the event and getting the bloggers together The Body Shop ladies kindly gifted me a very generous hamper of lovely products to try out.

I'm yet to try out all of the products yet but I am already loving the Japanese Camellia cream- I've been slathering this on after having a shower and..ohhh it smells divine- also this came strongly recommended by Leanne from LEM Blog.

Have you tried out any of the Expert Face Masks yet? 
Remember to take a selfie of you face masked up and use the #Daretomask