Twitter is a funny old world. I seem to chat to other mums, mums to be and dads more than anyone else on twitter these days and obviously there are many contrasting opinions on everything from pregnancy to parenthood but a few days ago I read a tweet from someone who seems pretty sensible stating how they were on a strict calorie controlled diet whilst heavily pregnant as they didn’t want to gain as much weight as their friends had while pregnant. I was shocked. Pregnancy isn’t an excuse to eat all the rubbish you want ( well maybe a little) but eating enough is SO important for your growing baby. When I was pregnant I did have a few worries about how my body would look afterwards as I’m sure everyone does but I didn’t once consider dieting.
Pic: At 6 months pregnant.
When my daughter was born I kind of expected my stomach to just vanish and all the other chubby bits which appeared in the last trimester to come off with ease but I’m not one of those lucky ladies. For the first 6 months I was breastfeeding so I didn’t think about dieting as I know how important it is to eat well at this time but I started to cut back on the naughty stuff. A month after I finished breastfeeding I thought it was time to get back in shape so I started eating healthily and exercising ( a lot ) and the weight very slowly started to go down but then it was my birthday and a holiday to France ( there’s always an excuse) which resulted in a 2lb gain and I thought enough is enough so I am now on a strict but healthy diet and I have so far lost 7 &.1/2lbs. I am disappointed that I didn’t complete the 30 day shred but I got to day 25 so I know it’s achievable and I’m starting it again from the beginning as of next week. So far I have attended a jubilee party and a birthday BBQ and not wavered from my diet so my willpower is strong.
Losing baby weight is hard. I’ve dieted a few times over the years and this is the hardest weight I have ever had to lose but to have Isabelle in my life I would have happily put on 5 stone! Thankfully it wasn’t that much.
I really want to have lost a stone by June 17th so I can take my OH out for a meal for his first Fathers day and eat without guilt.
Help motivate me to keep going please with success stories and exercise tips. If anyone would like a copy of the diet I am on send me your email addy.
*If anyone needs inspiration to diet just go to the South of France. Nobody is overweight.
A little while ago I was given the opportunity to try out the retox and revive gift set from www.cocooncollection.co.uk
I was excited but kind of expected it to be the same as all the girly pampering gifts you see in Boots at Christmas time, I am happy to say I was wrong.
The set arrives in a lovely big gift box wrapped in pink ribbon so the first impression is good.
Here is a list of what the set contained and what I thought:
Relax & revitalise body & mind
A perfect collection of gifts designed to uplift, pamper and make her smile, with a gift box containing:
Hand Wash & Cream Set -with a gorgeous fresh White Linen & Jasmine fragrance set in a ceramic dish –
This is probably my favourite part of the set as it looks so nice in my bathroom and I will get a lot of use out of it. The hand wash and cream both smell fabulous and there is a even a tiny glittery sheen with the hand wash which makes it a little different.
The Relaxer 4 point massager – it’s called The Relaxer…we’ve tried it…and we think the name is well deserved!
I’ll be honest and admit I haven’t used this as much as I would like as I have an 8 month old baby but it is really good and I like putting it behind my back and rubbing it between me and the sofa!
Reef Reviver – a genius soap that’s just perfect for the shower!
Ok after the hand wash set this is my next fave.. It’s a sponge kinda built into a really fresh smelling soap so it feels like it exfoliates while it cleans and is really convenient to use both in the bath and shower.
Rose Body Polisher – made from recycled materials (plastic bottles) to exfoliate, soften and refine.
This is awesome. I love the fact that it’s a GREEN product so you can feel good about indulging in a little pampering. Ooh and it’s pretty.
Eye Gel Pads – the ultimate pamper! Revitalises tired eyes that need a little ‘me-time’
I haven’t used these yet as I am waiting for when I next have a bad night with Izzy!
Crazy After Dark Bath Blaster – a blend of mischievious essential oils to wash away all cares for complete relaxation!
This was lovely and smelt tremendous but if I can say one negative thing it’s that I wish there were 2 or 3 small ones rather than the huge one as once you have had one bath it’s gone which is a pain cos they smell so nice.
‘Matchbook’ of Mini Emery Boards – 10 mini emery boards in a fabulous design
These are handy to just throw in your bag and use on the go.
Breakfast at Sniffany’s – a very glam pack of amusing pocket tissues.
I like these they are very cute.
All in all it’s a fab gift set and I would happily buy it for a girl friend or sister/mum .. Possibly a nice baby shower gift also?
There are some really fantastic gifts on the website other than the one above and I will certainly be making some purchases soon. Maybe some more treats for me ;-).
A few months ago I read about the amazing foodie penpals run by @thisisrocksalt in the UK and @leangrnbeanblog in America. It’s a simple enough concept you join up and then each month you are given a name of a foodie penpal to whom you send a parcel, you then receive a parcel from another penpal. So a parcel each month of surprising, new foods to taste.. whilst having a good excuse for shopping for delectable foodie items sounded too good to be true! I had lots of fun making up my parcel for the very sweet Catriona in Glasgow who loved it (thankfully) and has written a lovely blog post about it which you can read here: http://whitecatherblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/spicy-thai-hazelnut-heaven/
I was like a child at Christmas waiting for my parcel to arrive and when it finally did today from Lex @LadyNom1 it was just lovely.. Very well presented minus one spillage and it contained two of my favourite things: alcohol and cheese! Ha.
I read the letter that accompanied my parcel first which was nice in itself as its been a long time since I have had a hand written letter and it explained all of the items and gave serving or recipe suggestions.
My parcel contained 4 items:
1. Dunham Massey Beer: Lex explained that this is a locally brewed beer and is great for cooking with beef so I think I’m going to save it for a special meal.
2. Marmalade: This looks yummy. This was homemade by Lex using oranges from her friends orangery. I wish my friends owned an orangery! She advised that this can make a lovely sauce when combined with white wine and coriander for chicken or duck so I will certainly be trying that out.
3. Port & Duck Liver parfait: Unfortunately this didn’t survive the journey so well and was kinda smushed up out of the pot but some managed to stay in the pot so will give it a whirl later with some toast. This was homemade by Lex so I’m disappointed that it didn’t make it in one piece but that’s royal mail for you!
4. Burts Blue Cheese: Lex wrote that this was handmade by a woman in Altrincham and although I rarely eat blue cheese I’m quite excited about it as I love to try new recipes and she said its fantastic in a souffle which is what I intend to use it for.
All in all I really enjoyed my first foodie penpals experience, it was lots of fun and quite exciting for a foodie like me. I would urge anyone with an interest in food to join in.
I always have two lovely new blogs to follow which is a bonus.
Before I had my daughter I thought that babies were very cute, occasionally smelly and maybe dare I say it a bit boring. After all they only sleep,eat, poop and repeat yes? I thought it would take a few years to get to the fun stage of having a child and doing all the fun stuff that you have secretly been wanting to do for years but had no excuse..such as impromptu trips to the zoo, park, swimming pool (but not to swim) indoor play areas… etc etc.
I was completely wrong. Firstly your own baby is never boring. Other babies can be I suppose although when you become a parent even other people’s babies become more interesting. It’s very strange. Watching my child sleep is still exciting.. I still find myself calling to my oh at least once an hour to say look look what she’s doing. Every day seems to be a new milestone as she discovers the great big world she lives. There are so many little things she does that pleases me that I could literally talk about her for hours and this kind of worries me because surely this is annoying to others?! I remember listening to other people drone on about their children and zoning out .. I know I waffle about her too much, 90% of my tweets are baby related but I’m sorry I wouldnt really have it any other way. I love that I am so into her. It appears I have wonderful friends as not only do they listen to this droning on but they also ask questions, ask for photos and are fascinated by our bundle of cuteness.
I thought it was just a girl thing but it’s not because men are just as vulnerable to the baby chatter and not just my OH who adores our little un (and annoyingly gets the biggest smiles off our daughter when he returns from work) but lots of men. All of our male friends ask after Izzy whenever we chat and not just in a polite way, they actually care. I think. I seem to read more daddy blogs then mummy blogs these days and it’s great to read a male point of view.
Anyway today we did our first exciting baby day out when we visited The Wales Ape&Monkey sanctuary*. It was fab. I pretended it was for Izzy but really I wanted to go and seeing her little face light up when looking at the monkeys was just a bonus.
I am looking forward to lots of similar excursions. In fact I maybe at some point even want to visit Peppa Pig park- yes I admitted that.
So anyway to sum up..babies aren’t boring. Not at all really. If you think so try having one and see your attitude change in an instant. 😀
*if any of you do make a trip and have slightly older children you may want to avoid spending too much time looking at Ronnie the chimp. He does RUDE things.
Ok so before I got pregnant I was in decent enough shape although I had been a bit lazy with exercise for about a year before so I wasn’t anywhere near as fit as I should have been. Pregnancy came along and with that extreme morning sickness and insomnia which meant that I really didn’t feel up to exercise so although I didn’t put on more weight than your average pregnant woman I felt so unfit.
Since having Izzy I have wanted to lose the baby weight but when I dieted strictly I found I had little energy to look after my bundle of fun and I’d rather be healthy and happy. I struggled to find the time and motivation to start up an exercise routine but when my sister gave me a stepper and I found it exhausting after 5 minutes I realised it was time! A lovely lady I follow on twitter had been talking about The 30 Day Shred and how it was working for her so after a bit of google research I decided to buy it from iTunes. As I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle it I only bought the first video which was a bargain at £3.99. The idea is you do level 1 until you are ready for level 2 then onto level 3 to finish.
This is how it works:
30ds is a combination of strength, cardio and abs. The whole workout from warm up to cool down lasts just 25 minutes and it is totally doable even if like me you are ridiculously unfit. The trainer is Jillian Anderson (biggest loser USA personal trainer) who I had not heard of before but now just the sound of her voice makes me feel sick. This is a good thing, you are not supposed to like her. There are two intensity levels you can choose for (most of) the different exercises and I started off ( very sensibly) with the easier option. I found the first session hard and almost quit after the first circuit but somehow I continued and felt tired but pretty pleased with myself afterwards. The next day I ached a LOT but I carried on and for the following 9 days I used level 1.
On day 10 I felt able to complete the higher intensity exercises of level 1 and wasn’t feeling too uncomfortable the following morning so I moved onto level 2 which was a shocker!! It was so much harder but I am now on day 16 and am so happy that I have pushed myself to get this far. I have skipped a few days as had a pretty nasty flu bug but it just means it will take me that little bit longer to complete the 30 days. So I now have 14 days left of the challenge and don’t quite feel ready to move onto level 3 in fact I am little scared at what it might entail but I am aiming to switch at day 20. Wish me luck.
The results so far:
I didn’t measure myself all over as most people do at the beginning of the shred which maybe I should have but I did weigh myself and so far I’ve lost 6&1/2 lbs which I have to attribute to this as although I have been cutting back for a while I’m not strictly dieting. I am also starting to feel more toned all over already, my arms, legs and bum feel so much better than before and my clothes fit better and the best part is that I’m only giving up 25 minutes of my day to do it. I mostly do the exercises whilst Izzy is napping but she will occasionally play next to me or try to get involved in her walker as I do them and she finds it pretty funny.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to get back into exercising, as although it’s difficult there are ways to modify the exercises if you can’t handle them and you see/feel results very quickly which is an excellent motivator.
New things that I hate: Jillian Anderson, planks, walking push ups, plank jacks, plank thrusts etc etc.
After the shred I may consider trying Insanity so if anyone has done that let me know how you got on.
Now that I am into my last 5 months of my year long maternity leave my pay has drastically reduced (aaargghhh) which means no (well less) luxuries and trying to keep to a shopping budget. I really love cooking so having less or cheaper ingredients to work with is not going to stop me. Here are a few tips on what to buy and eat on a smaller budget:
1. Firstly I changed the way I shop. Rather than buying everything at my local Asda or Sainsburys store I looked around and found the best places to buy certain products. I now try to buy all my fruit and vegetables in Lidl – there is a lot of snobbery about places like Lidl but I have found their produce to be better than any of the three major supermarkets. I buy most of my tinned/packaged goods at Asda and I try to buy my meat in Sainsburys as the quality there is the best and they do the same 3for £10 deal as their competitors. Sainsburys is no longer the expensive supermarket in my opinion,in fact they have fantastic offers and I get nectar points so it’s all good!
I also buy frozen vegetables from my local farmfoods store as well as my milk as they are the only shop in my area which sells 1%milk which is so much tastier than skimmed but healthier than semi. Finally I buy my herbs, peppercorns etc from a fruit&veg shop in my local market as she has the greatest variety for a very good price.
2. I buy a LOT more beans ( not baked) Mainly butter beans and chick peas which are so versatile and tasty. I will share some of these recipes further along.
3. I buy a lot of items on offer and freeze them.
4. I try to meal plan as much as possible. When I started doing this I didn’t like the idea of having to eat a certain meal on certain days so now I choose 7 or 8 meals and write them on my white board on my fridge then just pick which one I feel like.
5. I bake less. I love it so much 🙁 but I still do it around once a week so it’s not so bad.
Also helping my waistline I think.
6. I buy large packs of pasta, rice and lentils. They seem to last forever and the cost per meal is very low.
7. I make my own dips and sauces. I make my own hummus, sweet chilli sauce and various others. Buying a big pot of hellmans light mayo and making my own thousand island, curried mayo etc saves me a fortune and is extremely simple- also mayo lasts around a month refrigerated whereas the shelf life of a shop bought dip is 3-5 days.
8. I buy good quality ingredients to accompany cheaper ingredients. So buying cheap pasta is fine but some products well you need to spend a little more. I buy extra special Chorizo which costs more than others but it’s fantastic and I use it down to the last tiny piece as it is so versatile. This month I have used it in paella,frittata,carbonara and @mycuntrymanor special eggs to name just a few. I also buy a decent olive oil as it makes a big difference.
9. I replace chicken breasts with thighs for as many dishes as possible. I buy the skinless, boneless ones and they still work out cheaper. Thighs are tastier and freeze well.
10. Try not to shop when hungry. I am automatically driven to the confectionary/bakery aisles if I’m hungry so I avoid if possible.
11. I don’t waste as much. Love your leftovers is the slogan for one of Sainsburys campaigns. Leftover cooked potatoes go in my frittata as do peppers, any veggies or meats. Bolognese sauce goes in the freezer to make up lasagnes or a pasta bake. Chicken left from a roast can make a curry or a simple sandwich. Stale bread gets thrown in the food processor and mixed with garlic powder to freeze ready for homemade coated chicken or for recipe below.
Butter bean recipes:
Creamy butter beans with a crispy topping
You will need:
1 small saucepan & 1 baking dish or a cazuela to use both on hob and in grill.
2 x 400g cans butter beans , drained and rinsed
100g light soft cheese (garlic and herb one if possible, if not add garlic&herbs of choice)
2 tbsp snipped chives
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil
Heat the butter beans in a small pan for 3-4 mins. Remove a quarter of them to a bowl and mash with a fork until smooth and creamy. Stir back into the rest of the beans in the pan with the soft cheese and chives, then heat for a few mins more until warmed through.
Transfer to a small baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Drizzle over oil and flash under a hot grill for 1-2 mins until the crumbs are crunchy and golden.
Griddled butter beans (side dish)
You will need:
1 griddle pan or cazuela
1 tin of butter beans (usually 400g) drained
1 tbls Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves or equivalent purée/paste
Bring pan with olive oil slowly up to a medium heat and add garlic stirring ensuring it does not burn, add butter beans and cook until lightly bronzed.
* This is a simple dish but you can add many things to make it a bit more special. I’ve added asparagus, bacon and peppers previously and all worked well.
Jamie Olivers butter beans with Bacon ( from 30 minute meals)
You will need:
1 griddle pan or cazuela
50g Bacon ( sometimes I use chorizo)
1 x 400g tin of butter beans and liquid
Splash of red wine vinegar
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh basil, leaves picked
Heat your pan over a medium to high heat and fry the bacon in olive oil.
Chop your tomatoes roughly into cubes.
Once the bacon has started to brown you can add the tomatoes to the pan, followed by the butter beans including the liquid from the tin.
Let the mixture simmer on the same medium to high heat until all the liquid has dissolved and the tomatoes have broken down, stirring it from time to time so it doesn’t stick to your pan.
Chop up your basil and add to the butter beans once the liquid has dissolved. Add a bit of olive oil, about a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and season.
*This is so good. So so good.
Hope you enjoy, please share your tips/recipes.
Griddled butter beans with asparagus, served with sweet potato mash and fish cakes.
I was going to write my birth story this week as I love reading others and thought it would be good to share. I didn’t.. Mainly because although it was an amazing experience and the most wonderful thing in the world happened as a result of it I don’t want to relive the birthing experience or scare my friends. Instead I will sum it up briefly before moving onto my actual topic ( how do you learn to be a parent).
So… my waters broke at home at 3pm September 15th just as we were about to go shopping and it was weird – anyone whose waters have broken will tell you that and totally not what I expected. After a quick visit from my lovely midwife I decided to pop to tescos to get some last minute bits ( she was 3 wks early I was unprepared) which was probably not my best idea.. But I got a tens machine which I don’t think I would have managed labour without even if I did scare the pharmacist by telling her my waters had broken.
By 12.30am I was at the hospital with contractions 2 minutes apart and by 9am Sept 16th the prettiest baby girl I’d ever seen was in my arms. It was not all plain sailing I was sick all through my labour which I kinda expected after 9 months of constant nausea and various other things but she arrived SAFELY and I was fine afterwards so that’s all that really matters.
Fast forward 14 hours and I am on the ward finally alone with my little girl and this is when it starts to hit me.. I am in charge of the life of another person. Wow. Suddenly I realised I may have gone through the trauma of labour and the general horrors of pregnancy but I had no clue as to how to be a mother. Don’t get me wrong I read ALL the pregnancy/baby books, bought all the apps and even watched #oneborn religiously. I have younger siblings, nieces and nephews who I have babysat trillions of times but they all came with instructions clearly set out by their parents but now I was the parent and it scared me.
I sat on my bed with my baby who refused to breastfeed and wondered if I was already doing it all wrong. For those five LONG days and nights when Izzy refused to latch and I refused to admit defeat and go onto formula the thought that it was me that was stopping this natural thing from just happening nearly drove me insane. Looking back this was not helped by the fact that I was not allowed to go home and she refused to sleep in the hospital so I was the most sleep deprived I have ever been in my life. There were a million questions rolling around in my head like: how often do I change her nappy? When do I use nappy cream? What if I fall asleep when holding her? Will she ever sleep? Will I ever sleep again? HOW CAN I MAKE HER FEED? On the fifth day after lots of pumping, syringing milk into my babies mouth and convincing the nurses/doctors that I could keep this up at home Izzy gained weight! I was allowed to go home and that night she breastfed for the first time and pretty much didn’t stop for days. – I was so relieved.
Now 7 months later, I still have days when I feel like we are waiting for the real parents to turn up and quite often I just stop myself from calling my mother to ask what she thinks I should do – I still do it just not all the time. I’m learning, growing, becoming a mother myself and I’ve discovered I know what my baby wants and most times I know what to do or where to look for info if something goes wrong but who knows what new mums did before the Internet, twitter and baby centre existed. I have been very lucky in that I have a brilliant, supportive boyfriend who is so fabulous with our daughter and to have a great network of family and friends and I do wonder how other people cope when they don’t have such strong support as no matter what anyone else tells you parenting is the hardest, scariest thing I’ve ever done and I’ve done a skydive. 🙂 It is also the most fun, rewarding, happiest and emotional time I have ever experienced and I look forward to more and even at some time hope to have another baby so it can’t be too bad.
Sorry if that was one long ramble as I am fairly tired but once I started I couldn’t stop.