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 Boots.com.

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.

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

XOXOX

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Pregnancy update: 39 weeks



Baby status: 

We saw the midwife again this week; she measured my tummy and we were coming up a little small so she referred us for a growth scan.. all good though; baby is a good size,still a girl, in position still and we even got to see a really clear ultrasound picture of her face!

Craving: 
Breakfast biscuits and cake- GBBO did not help this craving one bit!!

Eating: 
Lots of chocolate again this week- I had a craving for Toblerone actually and that had to be quickly given in to!

Buying:
Some last minute bits for when baby is here; a Widgey pillow from Babybundle and I also got to pick out some treats from Mamas and Papas to review on the blog once they arrive. We went for 2 pieces of clothing and then 2 practical items.. keep an eye out for this post soon.

Preparing: 
The house; I've finally gone into full nesting mode these past few days. I've washed nearly every piece of bedding in the house, cleaned the floors and got rid of clutter from around the dining room and lounge. The Mr has been very helpful too; doing the jobs that my mind is telling me to do but my body isn't allowing me to.

Sleeping: 
 
A bit better than last week but still waking up to use the bathroom every few hours. 

Emotionally feeling: 
Pretty good generally but the waiting game is getting to me a little bit now- its like going to bed on xmas eve as a kid and waking up wayyyy to early and not being allowed to see the presents.

Laughing at:

My friends checking in on a daily basis to see whether baby has arrived- its very sweet of them.. if i go overdue though i might turn my phone off..haha!

Grateful for:

My organised self- I spent a good few hours this week spreadsheeting our finances and I now feel a lot clearer about how we are going to afford me being off for 12 months. It's completely do-able i've just got to be careful not to overspend on stuff like going out for too many coffees,impulse buying baby stuff, and wasting food. I hope that once I've got into the swing of motherhood and the Mr is back at work I can be a bit more organised with our dinners; we need to get back into doing a weekly meal planner. 

Dreaming of:

The first moments of meeting her very soon- the relief, overwhelming emotions and the excitement for the journey ahead. 

Loving:

Having a bit of time to spend on my blog before she arrives- I've still got a fair few posts to finish off and schedule but I'm feeling optimistic that I will be able to continue to maintain my blog even during the early weeks. Not going to stress myself out about it though..

Looking forward to:

The first week of her being with us my mum and dad are going to be staying at ours to help out. I'm looking forward to having them around to help out and keep me motivated even if i'm exhausted. 

Exercising:

I've managed to do a bit more walking this week; my feet haven't been quite as puffy and I've just given in and now wear flip-flops with every outfit.  I've also been thinking about how I'd like to get active again after having her.. I think i'm going to begin with just lots of walks around the park. 

Savouring:

Feeling her move around in my tummy; its such a lovely feeling and I'm so used to it now I think it will be rather odd not to feel that anymore... but of course it will be even more amazing to look at her little face. 

Hope you've enjoyed my little update- we've decided that we are going to announce her birth via Instagram so if you don't follow me already then you should- @hollylucyhp


XOXOX

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

What's in my hospital bag?

I ran a poll over on twitter a couple of weeks ago about all things baby and the most requested post came out as the "What's in my hospital bag?" post so here it is...

Since being pregnant I've loved reading these posts on other peoples blogs just to get an idea of the types of things I should consider taking along when the babe decides to arrive.

I thought it would be nice to do my own post so that I can maybe help out other women when they need to google what to take with them to the hospital!

I'll cover both mine and the babes bags in this post and split it down into sections to make it a little less listy.

I completely expect to come home from hospital and ask myself "why did I bother to pack that?!" but for me its part of the whole experience of prepping for her arrival. Someone also said to me at work yesterday.. "its better to take it and not need it than need it and not take it!"
First up,  is the Bounty folder; inside here are my hospital notes. Mine are thankfully very boring as I've had no concerns during pregnancy so all pretty standard info on my blood pressure and tummy measurements. Along with the notes are some compression socks for when my feet get a bit swollen (fit ehhh?!) and also some forms we need to finish filling in with her birth details to claim child benefits- I had no idea that everyone can claim this... did you?! People at work keep reminding me to complete it asap so I've kept it handy in here! 

I've also decided to take a travel pillow with me just incase I need some extra neck support when at the hospital- this could potentially be one of those "why did I take that?" items. 

I've packed all my bits and pieces into this Hugo Boss holdall kindly loaned to me by the Mr- I didn't see the need to go out and spend money on a fancy bag that I'll just be chucking into a taxi and putting on the floor in the hospital. 

Stuff to wear when I first get into hospital



I have no idea how I'll feel when I go into labour but I can imagine I'll want to have nice airy clothing on so I've packed enough pieces just incase.


Low rise black knickers (M&S £7 for 5 pairs)- note- never thought I'd be posting pictures of big knickers on here.. oh how glam!

Pack of shoe liner socks (Primark £2)- I hear that feet can get cold during the big event due to redirected blood circulation so thought best to take these to keep cosy.

Lace trim nightdress (M&S £14)-  easy access for those oh so glam inspections.Black nightwear a must during this situation if you get me.

Grey dressing gown (mine was in the Mothercare sale but heres a similar one for £30)- potentially not an essential for labour but why the heck not treat myself to a new one.

Loose fit striped t-shirt (Primark £3) and Grey vest top (Primark £3) Strappy pink vest top (Primark £1.90) - I wanted a choice incase its really hot/cold on the ward.

Flipflops- I got these free from M&S because I spent over £35 on undies and nightwear- much to my mum's safety dismay flip-flops are on every 'Hospital bag essentials' list I've read so thought I'd take some just incase... fear not though.. I will not be wearing them with the socks!

During the big event

We don't really have much of a birth plan as such; more of just an agreement between me and the Mr to try and avoid any of the heavy stuff. But, as I've never experienced anything like this before I might totally change my mind and I'm okay with that. But, to help me along the way at the start I decided I want to try out a TENS machine.

Babycare sent me one of their Elle TENS machine*  (£71.50 or £27.50 to hire) to pack in my hospital bag and review once we've tried it out. Excited to see whether it works for me!

Keeping comfy after the big event
I'm under no illusions about how my body will look straight after the birth- I'm still going to have a big bump so I know I'll want to be as comfy as possible. I decided to pick up a pair of joggers (£3) from Primark in a size up and then some thermal soft ankle leggings (£8). I'm pretty sure I won't wear the latter pair but they will be handy for the lounging at home in in the weeks to come.


Other essential bits for after the birth are:

Nursing bra's (M&S £32.50 for 2 pack)
Lanolin cream (£8.99 from Boots)
Small towel (John Lewis £8)
Ultra slim breast pads (Boots £2.79)
Maternity pads (Boots  £1.29)
Disposable knickers (Mothercare £2.75)

Toiletries 

I'm not taking a ton of stuff with me as I hope to not have to stay in too long.

Aussie shampoo and conditioner (Boots minatures)
The Bodyshop shea butter lip balm*
The Bodyshop shea body butter*
Compact Mirror (£1 Primark)
1 Flannel (Ikea pack of 10 £3)
Cuticura antibac gel (Boots £1.49)
Mini hairbrush 
Toothbrush and toothpaste 
Andrex washlets (Boots £1.99)- to help freshen up during and after.
Invisibobble hair bands (Amazon £4.48)- the only type of bobbles I use now- love that they don't leave my hair kinked!
A couple of hair grips- for pinning back my fringe when I am getting warm. 
Small towel (John Lewis £8)- just incase they don't give me one at hospital

Other random bits

Headphone splitter (Primark £2)- just incase me and the Mr want to listen to music together. We've set up a playlist ready on Spotify of music that I think will help me focus. Of course i'll be taking headphones too. 
Gym ball and pump  (Decathlon approx £10) - I've heard mixed comments about whether to take tour own birthing ball- all rooms are meant to have one in but our antenatal leader said sometimes they are a bit short of them- I'd rather just take our own just in case.  

Three way travel fan (Boots £6)- Although I think taking a fan is a great idea I wouldn't recommend this one.. its loud and hard to turn on and off but I can't find the energy to drag myself to town to swap it over. 

Snacks

I don't know how much of this I'll need but I'm sure the Mr will be in need of some sugar whilst at the hospital.
Go Ahead bars
Rowntrees fruit pastilles- strawberry and blackcurrant (the best ones for sure)
My fave Haribo, Super Mix
Trebor soft mints
Lucozade

Baby's bag

ToTs by Smartrike changing bag*- I was sent this fab changing bag a while back, you can see an in-depth post on it here
Snuz Cloud Nine swaddle blanket* (Snuz £14.99)- Thought this would be good to wrap her in for some sleepy time whilst still in hospital.This blanket goes with our co-sleeper bedding.. so cute! Keep an eye out for a full post on our co-sleeper, bedding and accessories next week. 

2x Muslin cloths (John Lewis £8.50 for 6) I've been told my life will soon be covered in muslin cloths! They are handy for all sorts of baby related gunk. 

Cotton wool (Boots £1.65)- Probably not an essential as the hospital will more than likely have tons of this but just incase. 

1 pack newborn Naty nappies (Boots £4.29)- I did try to persuade the Mr to opt for re-usable nappies for the babe but he wasn't having any of it. So, the next most eco friendly option available seems to be Naty nappies.

1 pack Naty nappy bags (Boots £1.85)

Clothes for the babe
This, for me, was the most difficult part to figure out- thankfully my mum came to the rescue and helped me pack the baby bits a couple of weeks ago.  I've popped in bits for a small baby, average sized and then a big baby- I actually saw my midwife yesterday and she guesstimated that I'm going to have an 8lb baba!

Starting at the top left-

Pink and white hat (H&M- not on website but one similar here)
Grey long sleeved bodysuit (H&M part of a pack of two for £6.99)
Pink long sleeved bodysuit (H&M part of a pack of two for £6.99)
2 legging sets from H&M (H&M £6.99- they don't do this set with the bunny print on now but heres the grey ones in a set)
1 cotton striped bundler (M&S- this one was in the sale but here are some very cute bundlers in the new range)
1 teeny tiny vest by ZGeneration 
Flower sleep suit 1 month size (M&S included in a pack of 3 for £15)
Striped sleep suit in newborn size (M&S included in a pack of 3 for £15)
Basic white sleep suit 1 month size (Mothercare included in a pack of 3 for £8)
Red pearl knit cardigan larger baby (Mothercare £10)
Cotton sleeve cardigan newborn (M&S £10)
1 burp cloth (Tesco pack of 3 for £4.75)
Another muslin cloth
2 pairs of socks from H&M

I also need to pack her coming home outfit which I picked up right at the beginning of the year from The White Company.. its so cute but I'm going to save that one for a photo of her in it!


Lastly, of course we will need to take a car seat to bring her home in- we went for this Mothercare Ziba seat for £70- we don't have a car at the moment so we aren't going to be using it a lot so didn't want to spend lots on one. Mothercare have this car seat in black on offer for £35.. bargain. 



Inside the car seat I've put a blanket and bunny; my mum crocheted both of these for her. So adorable! I've also added a large swaddle/muslin by toTs by SmarTrike I was sent a few months ago. Thought this might be handy if its too warm to put a blanket on her on the journey home. 



Have I missed anything? Am I taking lots of unnecessary things? Let me know in the comments!

XOXOXO