Thursday, 13 July 2017

Mum Moan #1


Taking inspiration from Out of Depth Dad and my frequent moan sessions on an evening I thought I'd share with you some of the highlights of ridiculous questions or comments people say to me when I'm out and about with Aria.

Thinking back to the first few weeks of Aria being around I can pinpoint the exact first comment that made me think WHAT THE HECK are you talking about... someone (and now that I feel normal again I know it was just out of kindness really) commented on a photo of mine saying "Enjoy the bliss of the first few weeks hunni". At the time I remember thinking "Bliss, what sodding bliss? I haven't slept more than two hours in a row, I can't remember the last time I showered and I've not got a blinding clue what I'm meant to be doing with this small human that's constantly attached to my boob."

Going through the first ten months of motherhood has made me so much more aware of how I speak to new mums, the questions I ask and generally when to just bite my tongue whilst nodding and smiling.

Here are some of the corkers I've experienced and how I'd really like to respond:

1. "Is she sleeping through yet?"

Errm...do you sleep through the night? Do you need to get up and piss at 3am?Do you get hot/cold and need to adjust the temperature? Well then, stop asking about her sleeping habits and just continue to coo over how sodding cute she is please. But, whilst you're at it.. please don't touch her cheek like she's a baby goat at a petting farm.


2. "Is she a good baby?"

Well actually no she isn't. She's teamed up with the devil himself to strategically plot against me... of course she's a good baby.. she doesn't know the concept of 'misbehaving' so please just back the F up and carry on with your weekly shop.

3. "Are you enjoying it?"

Am I enjoying raising my offspring? Yes of course I sodding am; I wouldn't have got myself into this situation unless I thought some enjoyment might come of it.

4. "Is her dad helpful?"

Helpful? What you actually should be asking is whether he's taking on his half of the responsibility as she is his too. No, he doesn't babysit whilst I go out to the pub with friends.. he looks after his child whilst I sip a glass of pinot with the gal pals.

5. "Ohhh she's a messy eater isn't she?"

Whoops sorry I must have missed the sign on the door to the restaurant that stipulates a condition of children eating here is that not one crumb must fall below the highchair. You've got a sodding children's menu, maybe you should add the a small dog to come out with the main course as a side order?

6. "Have you decided if you're going back to work?"

Well I was considering it but if you'd like to pay me the equivalent of my salary each month for the next 10 years I'd happily accept a cheque right now? YES i'm going back to work, now stop being so nosey and let me drink my Costa in peace whilst she naps.


7. "Its so relaxing being on maternity leave isn't it?"

If you call doing two loads of washing per day, sweeping up food you've taken hours to prepare off the floor, waking up at 6am most mornings, taking 5 minute showers, having the tune of the sodding learning farm in your head 24/7 relaxing then yes, its a year long holiday. You either don't have children or just don't remember how much hard work it can be day to day.

8. Are you ready for another baby?

Woah, I've literally just got my head around this one, give me a chance please love!!


I know people sometimes just want to make conversation and most of the time they mean well but people should really choose their words wisely when talking to a sleep deprived mother...one day I might actually come out with one of these responses. HAHA...awkward.

Have you experienced any of these questions from strangers? 
Do you give them an honest answer or let your mum wrath loose?

XOXOX


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Our weaning journey so far...


Before entering the world of parenthood I'd never really thought about how to introduce solid foods to a baby... I knew it all began at six months and that it would be a messy affair but really, I didn't have a clue. In the last few months its totally taken over my life!

Gone are the days of simply popping the baby on my boob and being able to dress her in pretty outfits expecting them to be relatively clean by 5pm. We've officially become 'those' people who make an utter mess when we go to a restaurant and whilst at it we go through ridiculous amounts of baby wipes and yogurt.

I thought as its been a huge part of my life over the past few months it's only right that I document what we've been up to on my blog; hopefully it'll inspire other parents out there to experiment with food and really enjoy mealtimes with kiddies!

The start

The NHS recommended time to begin weaning is 6 months but I felt Aria was ready just a little bit early and we gave it a go at 5 months and 3 weeks. I knew from the outset that I wanted to try my best to avoid using pouches of baby food; yeah pouches are quick to prepare and easy for when out and about but my personal rule for weaning is if I wouldn't eat it then why should my daughter? 

We started Aria off on a few simple homemade purees; sweet potato, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower and potato and although she seemed to enjoy the flavours the texture just wasn't cutting it for her. Of course they were easy and quick to prepare but honestly, I wouldn't want to eat pureed stuff for each of my meals so why would Aria? I quickly moved away from feeling like we should go with the 'norm' of feeding the baby this type of food and started looking into Baby Led Weaning (BLW).

BLWis essentially offering your baby the same food you eat; eating together as a family,letting them explore textures and choose foods they like rather than spoon feeding them. In reality, its actually the most normal way for a baby to eat but over many years we've been conditioned to think that babies are meant to be fed purees from jars and pouches.

Just to note, my post isn't meant to cause offence to anyone and if you choose to use pouches then fair enough thats your decision as a family. I just knew from pretty early on that Aria that she was a pro at this feeding malarky and we wanted to try out BLW to see how she got on.. as a family we love cooking and trying out new foods so to limit Aria to a small selection of packaged products just didn't feel right.

So, once we realised that purees weren't the route we wanted to take I started to read up on BLW and once she reached six months instead of pureeing vegetables up we just started to steam them and offer them to her whole. Of course to begin with she was slightly dubious about it all but within a few days she was chomping down on sweet potato wedges, carrot sticks, cucumber, grated cheese, spinach, mini pasta dishes and shredded chicken breast.

But, after a couple of weeks I realised I still wasn't following 'proper' BLW guidelines as I was still cooking separate meals for her, making dinner times very busy and sometimes quite stressful as all she wanted to do was take bits off my dinner plate to try.

I knew something had to change so I headed to Waterstones and picked up two books- River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook and Gill Rapley's The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook.  On reflection, these two books have totally changed our weaning journey; reading through the books filled me with ideas, confidence and the knowledge to just go for it.

 I also joined a few BLW Facebook groups and quickly started to build up a bank of recipe ideas and meal plans which we use each week to plan meals for us all to eat. One piece of knowledge I picked up from the Facebook groups is there are actually only two types of weaning; BLW or traditional weaning with finger foods. Some of the Facebook groups can be quite strict; if you feed your baby anything on a spoon then its not classed as BLW and some groups delete you from having access to the information (not quite the approach I'd take but I can kind of see their point..)

So, armed with the knowledge, recipes, first aid training incase of choking and the motivation to get my daughter into food we started to just offer her our normal evening meals. Taking the pressure off of having to cook separate meals meant was a huge relief; I've gained an hour each day to just sit and play with her rather than preparing two different meals. It's also meant that our family meals have become healthier as you need to be aware of salt levels in food for babies and of course ready meals are out of the question!

Day by day my confidence grew with cooking and watching her eat; of course at first it was a bit nerve wracking when she occasionally gagged on bits of food... but because I'd spent time reading up on the mechanisms of how babies sort through their food and learn to eat with no teeth I knew she was totally capable of doing it all herself.  The worst thing you can do is try and intervene by sticking your finger in their mouth!

So, at 10 months old I can officially say we have a baby who adores mealtimes... she loves snacking throughout the day too and is most happy when she's chomping away on a breadstick. The downsides to BLW like the mess and the food waste are completely outweighed by the fun of offering her different flavours and textures to try out and getting to know what her favourite foods are.

What does Aria eat?

Breakfast

Whilst I'm still on maternity leave we have the opportunity to spend time preparing yummy breakfasts like scotch pancakes, fruit salads, scrambled eggs, avocado on toast, overnight oats and omelettes. I'm sure when I'm back at work breakfast might not be quite as adventurous but we'll just enjoy it for now and see what happens in the future. Most breakfast times include yogurt so its normally the most messiest meal of the day requiring a full strip down and wash afterwards. Thats fine though, after brekkie we get her dressed for the day and down for her nap.


Lunch

Lunchtime meals vary day to day; sometimes we just have simple cheese sarnies or if I've been organised I cook snacks; chickpea fritters, sweet potato fritters, pizza pinwheels and homemade quiches. Its great that she gets such variety and it also means I eat lunch myself, which in the earlier months of being a mother I quite often skipped lunch as I couldn't find the time to cook anything.

Dinner

Every Sunday me and the Mr spend an hour looking through the BLW books and our regular cook books finding dishes we want to try out that week for dinner. We then write out our shopping list and decide which dishes to have on each day; if its a complicated dish I usually plan in for us to have it on a day the Mr either finishes early or has the day off just to make it easy for us all. Just to give you a taste of the types of dishes we have heres this weeks menu-

Monday- Jacket potato with cheese and tuna- simple and quick perfect Monday night meal that requires very little preparation!

Tuesday- Moroccan lamb with minted feta cous cous- a firm favourite in our house at the moment; this dish is one we discovered in a Gousto box last year (recipe here)

Wednesday- Pizza with sweet potato wedges- the Mr and I just have M&S pizza bases but for the babe I make her base out of self raising flour and greek yogurt (recipe here)

Thursday- Coconut and lime chicken stir fry- store bought meal kit from M&S- I checked the salt content on the sauce and its fine for her to have.

Friday- Slow cooker chicken korma- ideal as I can start it off during her morning nap and leave it for 6 hours so its ready for dinner time!

I'm so passionate about food at the moment I could go on and on about our meal times so if you'd like to see more of our meal plans and snack ideas let me know and I'll quite happily start a weekly post on it all.

I honestly never imagined feeding a baby could be so fun and I hope to inspire other parents out there to branch out and try BLW.

Have you got any tasty recipes we could add to our plan?
What's your little ones favourite snack?

XOXO

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Getting back into yoga


Back in 2016 whilst I was pregnant I decided to take up yoga; I needed some time out of my busy week to just focus on my body, forget all the day to day stresses and keep myself off the sofa for even just one evening a week.

I utterly loved my yoga classes at Yoga At The Reach in Sheffield; I got to mingle with other pregnant ladies, learn some breathing techniques to use during birth, stretched out my body like i'd not done in months and most importantly for me, spent an hour or so connecting with my unborn baby... thinking about how she was positioned in my tummy and focusing on the love I had for her even before she was here! As you can see from the photo at the top of this post (by Grace Wong Photography) our pregnancy yoga classes were just so relaxing!

When the baby arrived my life turned upside down and even thinking about taking an hour out to continue yoga once a week was a no-go for me; I was getting to grips with life as a mother and looking after my own body came way down in my list of priorities.

Many places, including Yoga At The Reach, do mummy and baby yoga but that wasn't what I was after. I longed to go back to yoga classes for the calm, for the opportunity to connect again with my body and to help me build up my body confidence again. But, being time poor in the early days I just forgot about it for a while.

Now, 9 months on, we're getting more into the flow of things in the evenings. Baby in bed by 7pm (apart from tonight of course....) and I'm free to spend time thinking about the things I want to achieve for myself.  My brain conjures up lists of things to do but after a day of baby care I quite often end up retreating to the sofa to watch a film.. but I think this is where yoga could fit in quite nicely; helping me relax, keeping me away from screens, stretching out my achey body from the constant bending over and giving me that hour back to focus on me.

Of course, now that I'm thinking of starting up yoga I've been browsing through some of the yoga wear out there.

First up, a good pair of yoga pants are essential...whilst I was pregnant I opted to wear just some cheapy black leggings and on a weekly basis I regretted it; they constantly slipped down and I was always slightly worried you could see my knickers through them! Although yoga pants can be more expensive its a investment worth making as they are bound to feel a lot more comfortable and longer lasting than leggings. Here's some of my favourite pairs I've come across whilst browsing-


(From left to right)
Sweaty Betty Zero Gravity run leggings - £90
Fabletics Salar Capri Pants- $64.95 ($22.47 with discount)
Ivy Park Topshop Full Length Leggings - £25
Victoria's Secret Ultimate High Waisted Leggings -£59.05

To go with some snazzy new leggings I'm in desperate need of some workout tops; again, when pregnant I just wore a cheap t-shirt from Primark so I think its about time I spent a bit more money on something actually designed for yoga wearing. As much as I'd love to wear a yoga bralette I'm not confident enough with my body (yet) to brave it so I'm on the look out for loose fitting tops-


(From left to right)
Fabletics Sandy 2-in-1 Tank -$54.95 ($19.97 with discount)
Victoria's Secret Campus Open Back Tee- £34.50
Sweaty Betty Medina Drape Back Top- £55

Last up I think its about time I bought a yoga mat so that when I'm practicing at home I've got the right kit. Here's a few I've found whilst browsing-


(From top left clockwise)
Manuka Life Linen Yoga Mat - £38
H&M Patterned Yoga Mat- £15.99 
Fabletics Jade Yoga Mat- $34.95 ($12.47 with discount)

So, there you have it; the bits I'm currently lusting over.. ranging from high street brands to the more specialised brands like Fabletics (Who's co-founder is Kate Hudson!) and Sweaty Betty.

Although having a fancy kit isn't essential of course but I find that if I invest in the kit then I'm more likely to carry on with the activity to make sure I get my moneys worth!

Do you do yoga? 

Which items do you like best from my wishlist?

XOXO

*This post is in collaboration with Fabletics; as usual, all words and thoughts are my own!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Family-Friendly Floors


Having children is a big step, this is undeniable..they have such a huge impact on everything and there are a number of things that you didn’t realise mattered until a baby arrives! For some it could be the simple thing such as not appreciating what sleep actually once was, or how messy mealtimes become when you start your weaning journey at 6 months. When we started with baby led weaning I had no idea how thankful I'd be of the laminate flooring in our dining room and also how much of an absolute life saver it is now she's starting to crawl around the place. 

What is laminate flooring made of?


Laminate flooring is constructed of 4 layers, with the bottom layer known as the ‘backing’ which acts as a sort of barrier against moisture to prevent the floor from warping and becoming damaged. Next up from that is the ‘inner core’ which is made from something called fibreboard (an engineered wood made from wood chips, plants fibres, sawdust and other recycled materials) this layer helps to provide the stability and durability that laminate is renowned for. The third layer is called the ‘design layer’, this is the layer that gives laminate the look of real wood which is created using a high-resolution photograph being pressed on to the material and then a clear layer (the ‘wear layer’) is applied on top of this to ensure that stains and fading are kept to a minimal.

The benefits of laminate flooring

For me, laminate is the perfect kind of floor to have. It’s surprising how much mess a little person can make so I need something that’s easy to keep on top of and won't take up too much of my time. I also don’t have to worry about any damage, my floor seems to be able to withstand anything at the moment and long may this continue.

Laminate is often described as a ‘cheaper’ option for your home, although it is a bit more budget-friendly, it is by no means less appealing in looks, in fact there are some pieces of laminate flooring that could be mistaken for real wood! 



How can I protect my floor?


Over time your floor will have the usual wear and tear, unfortunately this is something that’s unavoidable, but you can put things in place to reduce the damage over time. Here are a few handy tips from the gang at Luxury Flooring:

   Lay down rugs/runners as an assigned spot for your children to play with their toys to protect your floor. We tend to just chuck down a large blanket as its quick to pack away come dinner time and means no food ends up getting trodden into it.
   Clean up any spillages/mess as soon as it occurs (or as soon as you’re aware of it - I know too well how much work is involved around mealtimes and sometimes cleaning up is the last thing on your mind!)
   For families with older kids make sure your little ones remove their shoes - of course this doesn’t apply to tiny little baby feet, we know they don’t pose too much of a threat and, really, who's baby actually manages to keep shoes on for more than 5 minutes?!
   If you’re thinking of placing a highchair or child's table and chair on the floor consider using felt pads on the legs, this will help protect your floor from scratches when the furniture is dragged along at clean up time. 

What’s the best way to keep my floor clean?

As mentioned earlier, laminate floors are incredibly easy to maintain which contributes to why they’re such a popular choice in the family home. Unlike carpets they don’t need to be vacuumed on a daily basis, in fact you would only need to vacuum on a weekly basis, it just depends how messy the floors get. When mess does occur then all you need is a soft bristle (indoor) brush, or dustpan and brush to get rid of it. If it’s more than a few crumbs then a deeper clean will only require a warm damp cloth and hey presto! Just make sure that if any liquids are spilt on the floor, its important to clean it up as soon as possible to avoid any damage to the floor itself.



So there you have it, a bit of an insight as to why I love my laminate floor so much! Do you have laminate flooring in your dining room?

*This post is in collaboration with Luxury Flooring and Furnishings  but, as always, all views are my own. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Life just happens

I've not blogged for two months.. how has this happened? 

Each day I've been thinking up ideas of things to blog about, taking photos of products I want to talk about and meaning to sit down in the evenings to start writing posts. But, life has just happened and nothing has come of my ideas. Having a baby to look after is hard work! We usually get up at around 6.30 each morning and by 7pm when she's in bed I just want to cosy on the sofa and watch some mind numbing TV. 

But, things have got to change if I want to continue with my blog work; I've got to pull my finger out and get on with it. I've got to learn to use my time more effectively and not let myself get into these blogging breaks too often! 

I'm setting myself a specific evening per week to focus on blogging; I'm luckily in the position where I can quite easily take photos during the day whilst Aria naps so now I just need to get going with the writing. 

I know if I let my blog go I'll regret it in the future so things are going to get going again; I'm going to start working on posts about things I'm passionate about, topics that excite me, products I love, experiences that make me smile and memories I want to document and look back on. 

Although maternity leave isn't a holiday whatsoever it's a special year I'll never get back and as well as raising a clever beautiful little girl I also want to come out of it thinking I've achieved something for myself. Blogging will help me with that and it's totally part of who I am now so there's no way I'm letting it go so easily!

I've been decluttering our lives, finding new ways of saving money, experimenting with cooking, getting crafty, learning about child development, observing and adapting our style of parenting, reading more books, letting go of worries I once had, powering through with breastfeeding, organising childcare and so much more so I've got plenty to write about. I just need to do it. And, I'm going to.

There, I said it. 

I may have had a break but that's it, it's over. 

Keep an eye out for a weekly blog post every Thursday and check out my Instagram for daily updates on our adventures and just day to day goings on. 

Friday, 31 March 2017

Our dream lounge

Now that life has started to settle down a little bit after the arrival of the baby I've started to think more about the house and how I'd like it to look. I can't even begin to tell you how much I've missed lusting over home accessories, prints, throws and furniture!

I love scrolling through Instagram looking at people's living spaces and imagining what our living room could look like with a bit of styling.  I'm trying my very best to keep our lounge as baby-free as possible and as time goes on I hope it stays this way.. I want a room to escape to in the evenings that makes me feel relaxed and cosy.. even if the dining room is covered in dried up porridge, plastic toys and washing waiting to be hung up to dry! I want a room I can add nice accessories to and somewhere that I feel has a touch of our personalities. At the moment we've kind of still got a blank canvas.. the walls are rather bare, the bookcase needs replacing and we are in desperate need of a new TV unit.

I've been lust listing bits and pieces for a while now and wanted to share a mood board on my blog.. maybe by the end of the year I'll have made some progress with it all... fingers crossed!

The only piece of furniture I love in our lounge is is our French Connection Zinc sofa so I'd like to find a few more pieces that compliment it and make the room feel a bit more finished. 


French Connection 4 Seater Sofa (DFS) £899- This is the sofa we already have in the lounge.. I love the simple design as its easy to fit into any space.. just change the throw cushions to match your colour scheme!

Renee Wood Chest (Oliver Bonas) £650- This would be perfect to have our TV on.. I cant stand being able to see all the wires around the back of the unit we have at the moment.  In this unit theres space for the games console we have and enough draws and sections to hide away bits and pieces we currently have on show. 

Macrame Rope Artificial Terrarium (New Look) £14.99- I'm crap at looking after real plants so this artificial terrarium would be perfect to hang up in the corner of the room... just a bit of dusting needed now and again!

Nevio Tufted Wool Rug (La Redoute) £259- Ohhh I love this rug.. it would go with the sofa beautifully. 

Stretto Large Shelves (Made.com) £399- I'm a lover of organised pretty clutter; I've got loads of random antique pieces I'd like to display on this unit plus it would also look good with some storage baskets in to hide away some toys if needs be. 

Retro Celling Lampshade (Marks and Spencer) £49- A room isn't complete without a nice lampshade is it? This coppery one would be perfect to add a bit of shine. 

Scandinavian Minimalist Poster (Inky Gorilla) £6- Simple yet so on trend!

White Artificial Cactus Plant Pot (New Look) £5.99- Again, love a good artificial plant to add a bit of green to a room. 

Jacob Accent Chair (FishPools) £399- I love this chair; I've always wanted an armchair to sit in and read a book.. simple things eh! If you'd like to have a browse through some more sofa's and armchairs then check out the range available at Fishpools here and here

Have you bought any homeware pieces recently? 
Where do you find the best bargains?

XOXO

*This post contains collaborative links but my selection of products is totally honest. 



Thursday, 16 March 2017

Mother's Day Gifts- £30 or more

Earlier on this month you might have seen my post on gift ideas for Mother's day for less than £30 (if you didn't you can read it here) This post is going to be the gifts I'd recommend if you want to spend a little more...why not treat that hardworking mama a bit eh!?



First up are these Topshop Rain macs (£49-£60)-  Whether your buying for a new mama who strolls through the park with the babe, a mama who does the school run or a mama who takes the dog out at the weekend, a nice practical coat is a godsend. I have the red mac and love it to bits. It's lightweight enough to wear on warmer days but spacious enough to wear over jumpers in the colder weather. I honestly cant recommend this jacket enough!



Fancy treating mum to a nice box of biscuits? Well, Biscuiteers are THE most beautiful ones I've seen! I first heard about them on one of Zoella's vlogs and although I haven't tried them out for taste yet I cannot get over how visually appealing they are...nearly too lovely looking to eat right?! This Mother's Day Bouquet box  is £39.50 but what a treat it would be to receive this.

Of course no Mother's Day gift guide would be complete without including a Selfish Mother top. Perfect for the warmer weather this 3/4 length sleeved tee (£35) would be ideal to chuck on with a pair of skinnies and converse.

Next up is a practical but I'd say pretty luxe gift to be given.. the GHD hairdryer (£99). I've had mine for a few years now and it really has changed by hair drying experience. It takes me about 5 minutes to dry my hair and the ionic technology built into the dryer leaves my hair feeling sleek and soft. I don't think I could ever go back to using a standard hairdryer now after having this magic tool!

Buying for a mama who's still doing nightfeeds? Well this is THE perfect gift. Buying a torch for someone might seem a bit odd but trust me, she will appreciate this. I use my Meemoobaby Meelight (£39) every night when tending to the baby, navigating around the bedroom trying to find my phone charger or even just going to the loo. I blogged about it here earlier on in the year too.


Last but by no means least, some chocolate! This Hotel Chocolat Prosecco and Chocolate Collection (£70) is the ultimate gift for a sweet toothed mother! It contains caramel and milk chocolates, strawberry and white chocolate puddles,chocolate batons, chocolate almonds and a bottle of Prosecco. How many sittings would it take you to polish this lot off?! me? Probably just one...!

Hope you've found some inspiration in my Mother's Day gift guides; I love browsing through and picking out the gifts I think would work for other mums out there.

What are you planning on buying this Mother's day?

XOXOX