Sunday, 31 July 2016

My baby shower decor and food



Last Saturday afternoon my family and friends popped round for the afternoon to celebrate my pregnancy and chat about all things baby related.

I wanted to do a quick round up post about the food we made and the decorations we used to make the house look super pretty! I'm going to be doing a separate post on the gifts we were kindly given as I know how much I love to see others baby shower hauls.. you want to see the pressies right?!

I thought it would be nice to share some ideas for decor and food just in case you might want to try out at your baby shower/ a friends in the future!

As the events queen that I am, I got fully into planning mode about the baby shower weeks in advance. I'd created a Pinterest board (here) with all of the elements I'd like to include and kept searching under #babyshower on Instagram to get inspiration for decorations, food and games. Of course, being the blogger that I am I wanted to make sure everything looked extra cute around the house ready for photos!

Invites


I thought it would be nice to send actual invites out to my friends and family for the baby shower rather than just sending a text or Facebook invite... sometimes I miss getting real snail mail! I asked my lovely friend Sally (CinnamonBun Designs) and my brother (InkyGorilla) to work on something for me. Together they came up with this really cute design and my bro also created some matching fridge magnets to go along with the invite to remind people of the details. I'd put a picture on but its got my address on it.. you can check out Lewis' shop here (I've got a giveaway coming up next week too!) and Sally's shop here

Decorations

At the beginning of the month I went on the search for some pretty decorations and came across a lovely brand called Meri Meri- I went for the Pastel Party Decorating Kit (£13) which included some bunting and some honey comb decorative balls.
I also purchased a large honey comb wave paper ball decoration by Miss Etoile- I found this at TK Maxx in the party decoration section. Our Moba moses basket is far too pretty to have hidden away in the nursery so thought it would look cute in the corner of the room with the honey comb balls in and use it as an area for people to put the pressies they bought us!
In the pack by Meri Meri were some really lovely pin wheels.. so lovely in fact they are still up on the wall in our dining room now!


Rather than spending too much money on decorations I used some of the pretty pieces we already have around the house, for example, the lightbox I got for my birthday last year, a vintage cake stand (from my mum's Etsy shop) and some really chinsy poodle figurines that I adore.
 As some pretty extras to the table I added some pastel napkins from Meri Meri, a copper moscow mule mug from Love Tiki filled with striped straws from Pretty Little Party Shop and then just some pink plastic wine glasses from Poundland!

Food

As usual, with any celebration I organise I always go wayyy overboard with the amount of food. But, in my opinion its always better to have too much than too little!

We'd originally planned to set up a waffle bar with fruit, chocolate chips, maple syrup and all the trimmings (idea taken from momlovesbaking blog) but once people started to arrive with their gorgeous cakes and nibbles we quickly realised that it wasn't needed! Take a look at these cakes-
Cupcakes with buttercream icing made by my lovely friend Frances.
A delicious three tiered rose cake made by my mum- so beautiful! She got the recipe from the Good Food website and added some extras on to make it taste and look even more delicious- she used Holylama rose extract spice drops, Souschef Rose petals and Souschef freeze dried raspberry powder for the icing. 
A rather fancy looking cake from my friend Sally! So beautiful and tasted good too. 

As well as cake mum and I also made some Vietnamese Vegetable Summer Rolls using a recipe from Emma Galloway's 'A Year in my Real Food Kitchen' book (recipe featured in my SimpleThings magazine) and then popped out some crisps and dips. I admit, I'm an awful baker so opted to make something really simple...
Marshmallows dipped in chocolate then covered in cake sprinkles!

I thought I should at least challenge myself to something a bit more technical and also opted for some fondant covered biscuits.. 
Okay, okay I didn't actually make the biscuits (used a mixture of shortbread and ginger biscuits from Waitrose) but I made the marble fondant and stamped in the words on all of them! The marble fondant took about 20 minutes to make and I used this recipe for guidance. To add BABA, MAMA and DADA to the fondant I used a stamping set I bought from Lakeland- such an easy but effective topping I think!
I also used the same technique with some pink fondant and packaged some biscuits up into little bags to give to my guests on the day!  As well as these yummy treats I also packaged up some goody bags for everyone as a thank you for their gifts...
Each bag included either a Soap and Glory Hand Food (my ultimate fave hand cream!) or a Lush bath product- either melting marshmallow moments or Ickle Baby Bot- a French Fancie or Jelly babies and then a little packet of seeds to plant on the day baby is born... however, the only seeds I could find that are okay for September were cress.. haha! 

My lovely friends Frances and Carly organised some fun games to play on the day for all of us. We played the Mummy or Daddy game- answering either mummy or daddy to questions such as-

Who will be the most squeamish when changing nappies?
Who will be the strictest parent?
Who will take more photos of the baby?
Who will be the coolest parent?
Who will be the best at singing lullabies?

I learnt a lot about what my friends think of me and my future parenting habits I must say ;)

We then played the "Guess the size of Holly's bump" game which my friends all massively over estimated the size of my perfectly petite bump.. cheeky buggers!
Frances and Carly also bought this guestbook for everyone to write in during the day.. what a lovely idea. You can order one on Ebay here
I bought this voucher and baby guessing book from M&S recently as I thought it would would be interesting to see people's guesses about the baby's weight, name,date of birth etc.. I've been looking over all the completed ones today and all my friends think she is going to be over 7lbs 9oz and that she will be at least a week late!!! I liked looking through the vouchers too.. I've been promised a trip to the seaside by Tarnya, a number of afternoon naps, a free house clean and a few 3 course dinners and bottles of wine. I am for sure cashing in on ALL of those!!

After eating cake and drinking lovely mocktails it was time to start opening all the pressies people had bought along for us.. my friends insisted that I sit in my garden in front of everyone and open every gift.. this was rather nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time!
I love the dress I wore on the day- it's by Bluebelle Maternity and can be found on ASOS.

As you can probably tell by the length of this post I absolutely loved preparing for the baby shower; I really enjoyed seeing it all come together on the day and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was so lovely to bring together all my friends and have a, what could be, final get together before the baby arrives in 4-5 weeks!

Have you been to a baby shower before? Which cake takes your fancy?

XOXOX

Saturday, 30 July 2016

My advice on learning to drive

Learning to drive; possibly the most frustrating/rewarding/expensive/worthwhile experience I've been through to date! Although I passed my test 12 years ago I remember it all so vividly so wanted to quickly share my experience with you in the form of some top tips- whether you've just started learning, about to take your test or returning to the wheel after not driving for a long time I hope these few tips are helpful.. I wish I'd taken the time to read up on advice before being way to eager with the whole process of getting behind the wheel!

Be patient
I'm one of those people who has no patience whatsoever. So learning to drive for me was a real struggle to begin with. I wanted immediate results and expected to be on the way to passing my test within around 2 months. 

I nailed the theory part of the test no problem, swatted up for a few weeks, booked the test and came out with full marks and a huge smile. This left me feeling like I was the best student my driving instructor had ever taught and that I was ready to take the next step and book in for my practical test... after 8 weeks (around 10 lessons) of being behind the wheel... oh how wrong I was. 

My first test was an absolute disaster- of course it was likely to be after such a short amount of time behind the wheel.. after a nail biting 40 minute driving session I came away £65 worse off and with 2 majors and 16 minors.  

Don't be a silly bugger like me and rush into the test after just a few weeks- its dangerous, the tests costs a lot and it will only knock your confidence when taking more lessons! I passed second time round after taking around 40 lessons overall- I recently read somewhere that the UK average for driving lessons is around 47 so just take your time, learn from the experts and keep your cool!

Choose your instructor wisely

Whilst learning to drive I had 2 driving instructors, both were really good but after the failing of my first test I decided to find a new instructor. This was because the first instructor could only fit me in for lessons at really busy times out on the roads; between 5-6.30pm on Friday evenings.  I found it helpful for learning to drive on busy roads but we didn't get enough time to practice manoeuvres and do more open road practice, it was always a lot of stopping and starting combined with hill starts. Stressful or what! 

The second driving instructor I had was able to collect me from sixth form on a Wednesday afternoon during my free period and we'd go to the quiet residential areas to practice parallel parking, emergency stops and generally just a bit of calm, un-pressured driving away from the hectic queues and scary busy roundabouts.  When learning with the second instructor we quickly identified that I had a fear of roundabouts actually; I'd get clammy hands as we approached one, I'd snap at him and become very flustered so of course roundabouts became the focus of my driving lessons for a good few weeks until I overcame my fear!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Mush: Kind of like Tinder for mums

Mush- what's that I hear you say? Well, if you have any small people in your life this is something you NEED to download onto your phone right away! It's basically a free way for mums to meet local mums with kids the same age.  It helps you locate other parent's in your area; chat with them and potentially arrange to meet up for a coffee/shopping/playdates or whatever else you fancy.

I first heard about Mush in the latest Gurgle magazine and was intrigued to try it out; I don't have many worries about going on maternity leave (in 6 weeks!) but I do keep thinking about whether I'll find myself missing adult conversation during the week when everyone else is at work. So, to have an easy way to link up with people in the same situation is a great idea in my eyes.

Mush was started only a couple of months ago by two mums who got chatting in a playground; they hadn't had an adult conversation all day and that got them thinking about how they could help other mums connect using technology we all more than likely use on an hourly basis.  Although they only launched the app a matter of months ago they already have around 18k mums signed up around the UK- wow!
Once you've downloaded the app (for free) from the App Store or the Android equivalent you need to provide a bit of information about yourself to get you started.  You can choose to add-

A picture of yourself
An 'About Me' blurb
Your date of birth 
Your home location (I've hidden mine in my pic for obvious reasons but it basically links into Google Maps and then uses this information to work out how close other parents are to you)
What you like to do section (you can note down stuff like swimming, soft play, reading, outdoors.. the list is huge)
Non-mummy life section (I noted down that I'm a blogger, that I like photography, that I see myself as a career woman and that I'm a foodie)

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Rush Hair York


 A few weeks back I was invited to go and check out the new Rush salon in York city centre. I'd never actually heard of the hairdressing chain so was intrigued to nip in for a trim and check out the services they provide.  The new salon, based on Market Street, is actually just round the corner from the office I work from when in York so I opted for a late afternoon appointment- you can book online here
On approach to the salon I noticed how clean and neat it looked on the street; the old bank building scrubbed up well. 
Inside the salon everything looked rather sparkly and new- the salon had actually only been open a week or so! The front reception area housed a large collection of K√®rastase, L'oreal and Redken products which are used during customer cut and colour treatments. 
The seating areas throughout the salon were really comfortable and the chandler lighting gave a feeling of space and glamour. 
The area of the salon I found most impressive was the hair washing room; one of my biggest annoyances about hairdressers I've visited in the past is that when I'm having my hair washed I want their full attention; not too demanding ehh! I enjoyed having a separate room in which they focused on my hair, the products they used and also the rather lovely head massage I got at the end! The ambient lighting in the washroom also helped to relax me after a long day at the office. 
Once I'd had my hair washed, Jessica the franchisee of the York Rush salon introduced herself and talked me through the products that had been used for my hair wash and condition; those were the K√®rastase Bain Satin 1 for slightly dry hair and the Lait Vital moisturising conditioner from the same range. Both products left my hair feeling so soft and smooth without adding too much of a strong scent. 
After the product chat Jessica then asked what cut I was going for. I let her know  that I wanted my hair at a more manageable length, some of the weight taken out and also some of the layers sorting as I was finding it really hard to straighten due to the number of different layers I'd got at the back of my head. 
Jessica spent time talking about my haircare routine and asking about the products and styling tools I use day to day. I stressed that I wanted something low maintenance as, at the moment due to being pregnant, I haven't the energy to sit straightening it for 45 mins after drying. My poor back wouldn't be pleased at all!

Jessica kept me chatting throughout the appointment, talking about hair products, baby stuff and just life in general which was nice, nothing worse than a silent hairdresser in my opinion!

The cut itself only took around 40 minutes including the drying and styling- pretty good if you want to pop in on your lunch break or after you finish work- the salon is open 7 days a week:

Monday to Friday- 9am to 8pm
Saturday 9am to 6.30pm
Sunday 10am to 5pm

So, my finished haircut...

It's a lot shorter than I've had it before but I really like it.. it's easy to manage and the layers are more evened out now so I don't have to spend ages sectioning it out to straighten. After the cut it looked sleek, shiny and in really good condition. Of course, without having the products they used on my hair (or the skills!) it looks slightly different when I blow-dry and straighten it but I am happy with the end result. 

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience of visiting the Rush salon in York, Jessica and the rest of her team made me feel welcome and relaxed as soon as I walked through the door. I loved seeing how passionate she is about her new business venture and how driven career people can make their dreams into reality!

As the salon is relatively new there are some offers on at the moment for the cuts and colour appointments- 

To book an appointment at Rush York click here.

To find a Rush local to you click here.

Also, make sure you check out the Rush shop- the product's they used on my hair are available at lower prices than if you were to buy them from the brand websites!

Have you been to a Rush salon before?

XOXOX

*Although I didn't pay for my haircut my opinions are 100% honest as always