Thursday, 14 May 2015

191. 34 Week Pregnancy Update

It's a whole four weeks since I published my 30 Week Pregnancy Update, although it feels like it was just yesterday! Time is flying by and my little baby girl is now due in just 40 days! [Insert swearwords of your choice here].

So, how do I feel?

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll probably be so sick of my constant tweets moaning about how tired I am, how much my back and hips hurt, and how crappy I feel. I had a lovely back massage last week though and that has really helped to ease my back pain - I'd definitely recommend getting one if you're struggling!

I've been exhausted after work recently and yesterday I had to take an extra fifteen minute break to sit in the spare testing room with the air conditioning on full blast as I was all hot and bothered. How glamorous.

I've been getting really impatient and snappy over the last week or so and I'm starting to feel really sorry for S who has to cope with my horrible half hours where I scream and shout about absolutely nothing. I cringe so much when I think about it - I honestly sound like a woman possessed when I lose my temper!

How do I look?

Well, I've put on another 5 or 6lbs in the last four weeks, so I'm now almost one stone over my starting weight, which sounds like a lot to me - but everyone has reassured me that its totally normal, so I'm trying not to worry. I hate being that person who is bothered about how they look during pregnancy - at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter - but it's quite hard not to let it bother you at all.

Are we prepared?

The nursery, Moses basket and pushchair are all set up, our hospital bag is packed and all the babies clothes and blankets have been washed and dried, so I think we're just about ready in terms of the materialistic things.

Mentally, I am so not ready. It still hasn't sunk in that, in just over a month, we will have a baby here with us... I still can't picture it, but soon I won't even have to imagine! 

I start my maternity leave at the end of next week, which just seems mad. I can't believe it's nearly four months since I told work - it seems like two minutes ago! I'm so ready to start my maternity leave though as I'm feeling so knackered and I need to make the most of having some time to myself to sleep, see friends and watch my favourite TV shows, before the little one arrives and everything descends into (beautiful) chaos! 

** Apologies for the lack of photographs. They keep turning out awful quality when I upload them onto blog posts. I'm in the process of looking into buying a new camera so, bare with. **

Monday, 11 May 2015

190. Loving Lately...

Here's a quick rundown of what has been making me happy recently, from food to make-up, books to films!
What's floating my boat?

Reading: I've been getting stuck in to A Force To Be Reckoned With: A History of the Women's Institute by Jane Robinson for a couple of weeks now, and I'm really enjoying it. The WI has always intrigued me - not only do they love tea and cake, but they have done so much incredible work over the years and it's so interesting to learn about. I'm expecting to finish this book this week, so I'll post a review - see if it sounds like your kind of thing!

Watching: I've been really getting back into my TV lately, as a result of poor nights' sleep and, therefore, spending the rest of my days off on the sofa! I'm re-watching Peep Show from the beginning, I'm really enjoying ITV's new drama Home Fires which is about the WI (do you see a theme going on here?!) and, as recommended by my sister, Jane the Virgin which is a new comedy on E4. Film-wise, I watched Kingsman yesterday with S and it was brilliant - funny and action-packed!

Eating and Drinking: It would be a lot faster simply to list what I haven't been eating recently, as I've been hungry 24/7! I've been trying to incorporate more fruit into my diet in the form of smoothies, and I'll be sharing some recipes over the weekend. I've not had much energy to prepare any fancy meals, but S and I had a tasty Mexican inspired cottage pie last week, which I blogged about here

Beauty: I finished my Snow Fairy shower gel this week and I miss the smell of it already! I wish I had stocked up whilst it was still available... I'll just have to wait until next Christmas and then hit Lush! I've really been loving a new lipstick that I picked up in Superdrug recently - it's L'Oreal Paris Color Riche in the shade 'Julianne's Nude'. It's a gorgeous, subtle dusty rose colour and its perfect for pale girls like me who want to add a pop of colour without overdoing it.

What have you been loving lately?

Friday, 8 May 2015

189. Mexican Inspired Cottage Pie

This Tuesday was Cinco de Mayo, a day in which Mexican's celebrate an army victory, and what better way to celebrate halfway across the world in wet old England, than with some Mexican food?!

As both S and I are huge Mexican food fans anyway (check out my review of Zapatista Burrito Bar in Newcastle if you are too!) we don't really need an excuse to cook up a Mexican inspired feast so Tuesday night was as good a time as any to try out a new dish!

I didn't fancy a trip to the shops in the rain so instead I made do with what we had in the house and improvised to create a Mexican Inspired Cottage Pie. Here's the recipe:

1lb/450g mince (I used half Quorn mince, half Aberdeen Angus mince)
1 x onion, diced
1 x pepper, diced
1 x handful of frozen peas
1 x tin of chopped tomatoes/passatta 
1kg potatoes (I used Maris Piper but any would do)
Kidney (or baked) beans
Oil for frying
1 x tablespoon of butter for mashed potatoes
100ml milk for mashed potatoes
80g Mexican cheese (or just use a strong Cheddar if you have chilli flakes)

Seasoning (add more or less depending on your personal tastes)
Black pepper
3tsp Ceviche seasoning
2tsp Cumin
2tsp Very Lazy Chilli
2tsp Paprika
2tsp Hot Steak spice
Jalapenos (to top)
A squirt of tomato ketchup
I used the Gourmet Kitchen 4-in-1 Mexican Seasoning Mix (available from The Range)

1. Brown your mince in a large frying pan, once cooked add the onions and peppers and cook until soft
2. Once the peppers and onions have softened, put your potatoes on to boil
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, frozen peas, beans and any seasoning you fancy to the frying pan
4. Leave the chilli to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through
5. Mash the potatoes with the milk, butter and about 2/3 of the cheese until creamy
6. Pour the chilli into a deep baking dish and spoon the mashed potato on top
7. Garnish with the left over cheese and jalapenos, if desired
8. Bake in the oven at 220 degrees (fan oven) or 200 degrees conventional oven, for 20-30 minutes or until golden on top
9. Serve with salad

This dish should serve around 4 people. Or 2-3 people with big appetites!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

188. Pregnancy Pro's & Cons: The Cons

Following on from my lighthearted take on the Best Bits of Pregnancy, here's my rundown on the Worst Bits (so far, I hasten to add!) I'm 33 weeks pregnant so obviously there is still worse to come... i.e. giving birth but I've still managed to amass quite a few Con's on my pregnancy journey so far, so here goes!

Everybody Wants To Give You Advice
Now, sometimes its appreciated. Of course. I have very few friends who've had babies themselves so when they give me advice I take it gratefully, as I do with advice from people like my Mum or my midwife, but when you get given advice from people who haven't even had a baby, that gets a bit annoying. "You should buy this type of pram" "Didn't you know that you need to do 'x' before the baby gets here?" "You will wee and poo yourself, you know?" I think some people don't realise that every pregnancy is different, and everyone's approach to it is different too. Just because one thing works for someone, doesn't mean it'll work for someone else. Please, guys, only give me/ANY pregnant lady advice if you actually mean for it to be helpful. Not patronising and certainly not pushy.

You Have No Control Over Your Body
I've spoken previously about how it feels to be fat and pregnant, and my concerns about weight gain and my changing body shape, but this definitely isn't a worry that is devoted purely to plus size women. I wish it wasn't something I worried about but, yeah, it is. My bump was non-existent for the first 5 months and I hated that, and now that its popped I hate the shape... There's just no pleasing me. Add into the mix the occasional swollen foot, terrible nails which just don't seem to want to do anything other than snap, and stretchmarks that give off the impression that I've been attacked by Wolverine. I know that these superficial changes aren't important and that, with time, I'll be back to my usual self (and hopefully a bit better) but knowing that no matter what creams you use, how careful you are with your food intake and so on, you ultimately can't control how your body will react to pregnancy, is kinda hard to accept.

Oh, and when you need the toilet - just go. You don't want to risk any little leaks when you sneeze. 

Sick, sick and more sick.
I was lucky enough to be *blessed* with about 4 months of morning sickness. Every day at the exact same time (between 8.15 and 8.45am, FYI) I'd have to run to the bathroom, retching and bring my coco pops and orange juice straight back up again. And then clean it, my hair and my face up all before setting off to work at 8.50am. Fun times. To be honest, I think that morning sickness was probably the only reason I didn't gain weight for such a long time, so at least it has one perk. 

Bump Envy
I don't know about you, but when I think of a pregnant lady I think of a lovely, smooth perfectly round belly, that is obviously a baby bump whether it's in a tight vest or hiding under a maxi dress. This is what I crave. Every time I see someone who I know is pregnant they have these beautiful bumps and, whether they're huge or tiny bumps, they always look amazing. Every week I scroll through Instagram making myself green with envy over how perfect everyone else's bumps look. In the beginning, I thought my bump was too small... now I think it's too big... but also a bit flat. The grass is always greener, right? I think it's natural for any girl, in this day and age of low self-esteem and *ahem* Instagram filters, to feel self-conscious over their pregnant body, but you (and I) just need to remind yourself that - in this scenario more than ever before - it's whats inside that counts. If your baby has everything it needs to grow and flourish, then how you're carrying your weight doesn't matter at all.

Aches & Pains
You guessed it - being pregnant hurts. Not only are you carrying around an extra little person inside you, but your ligaments loosen which causes pain, your posture changes which can lead to backache and, as you get closer to your due date and the baby moves down, pelvic and hip pain become a constant source of discomfort - as I've learnt in the last few days! Do you know what I'd normally do if I was achy? Pop a couple of ibuprofen and soak in a hot bath but, nope, you can't even do that when you're pregnant because, yep, ibuprofen and hot baths are both out of the question. Having said that, it does give you a great excuse to get booked in for that back massage!

No Wine. No Pâté. No Joy.
Okay, so I'm exaggerating a lot bit. I can live without wine, and I can certainly live without pate, but life really is a little less joyful because of all these things that I'm suddenly "not allowed." I'm not a big drinker but a glass of red wine when I'm watching a film with S, or a nice cold bottle of fruity cider in a beer garden right about now would be amazing. And as for the pâté... well, I can assure you its one of the first things that I'll be eating when I get out of hospital once this little one is safely delivered. 

What did you find the hardest about pregnancy? 
Were there any foods or drinks you really missed?

Monday, 4 May 2015

187. April Empties

April was a super busy month and, as I reached my 8th month of pregnancy - think backache, swollen feet, tiredness - I needed a lot of pampering to get myself feeling even half normal. Although I don't have that many empties to share with you this month, I tried loads of new products so I'll be reviewing them over the next few weeks and, by this time next month, I'm sure I'll have a whole load of empties to review. So, let's take a look at what I used up in April...
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula (with Vitamin E) Skin Therapy Oil
I bought this stuff ages ago - before I even knew I was pregnant - as it was on offer at Boots for about half it's RRP (it's currently on offer at Boots for £6.66, down from £9.99). Skin Therapy and stretchmark products are always expensive and they make big claims about what they can achieve, so I wanted to give one of them a try - without breaking the bank.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant I started using Palmer's Skin Therapy Oil almost daily. I'd use it everytime I got out of the bath, and sometimes just when my skin was feeling a bit dry or irritated. I massaged it into my stomach, bust and hips - as advised by the bottle - but it certainly hasn't stopped me getting stretchmarks. I don't really know whether I just didn't use it enough or whether, if you're going to get stretchmarks, you're just going to get them no matter what... but, either way, I wouldn't repurchase.

Touch of Silver Daily Nourish Conditioner
Last month, I finished and reviewed the Touch of Silver shampoo in my March Empties, and in April I used up the remainder of my Touch of Silver Daily Nourish Conditioner (currently £2.03 in Boots, for 200ml). I actually really liked this product - it left my hair feeling nourished and soft - but, as with the shampoo, I didn't notice any great difference in the actual tone of my hair. I'm not sure I would repurchase this product to be honest, but I have nothing bad to say about it!
Garnier Micellar Water
I've just finished my second bottle of Garnier's Micellar Cleansing Water (currently on offer at Boots at £3.33, down from £4.99) and I love it. A bottle lasts me a good 4 or 5 months, and that's with daily use! I use this product to remove my make-up before using a face wash and it's brilliant - it even gets rid of that tough mascara and eyeliner, without just smudging it across your face.

The cleanser itself is an unscented, water like product. It leaves very little residue on the skin and, any that is left, can easily be washed off by your face wash. I found that, rather than simply using a face wash or face wipe, it left my skin soothed and clear - rather than irritated and red.

Although I haven't repurchased this time as I'm trying out a different brand, I would recommend this product highly and I'm sure I'll buy it again in the future. 

Sure Compressed Long Last Protection Anti-Perspirant 
I've raved about my undying love for Sure's Maximum Protection range here, but I always carry a back up with me for when I'm out and about, in case it gets super warm super quickly or I'm having a busy day, and I always go for Sure Compressed Long Lasting Protection (currently with £1.10 off at Boots, for only £1!).

The size alone is a major winning factor for me, as it's so easy to carry around in your handbag, unlike the chunky cans we're used to. It also smells gorgeous! I've been using the 'Bright' anti-perspirant in April and it's got a lovely floral scent. I wouldn't say that it lasts the 48 hours that it claims too, or perhaps I'm just really sweaty? But it's definitely strong enough to get you through a busy day! 

Friday, 1 May 2015

186. Month in Review: April

Hello lovelies.

April has been a busy month, but a great one too! The weather picked up as did my mood and social life. Here's a quick recap of my month...

I spent loads of time with my friends and family this month; I'm trying to see them as much as possible whilst I still have the time! I went to see the new Cinderella film with my lovely friend Becca, had a delicious meal out at The Rat Inn with the family, enjoyed mocktails with my sister at Sydney's and met the beautiful Georgia for the first time, even though it felt like we'd known each other for months. I also caught the new Avenger's movie with S, spent the day in Newcastle with my Mum and sisters (you can read about it here) and visited my Grandma in the Lake District.
Carrot Cake & Chai at Costa // I finally got my Chicken Katsu! // Virgin Cosmpolitan // Delicious Scones with Mum

When I wasn't gallivanting about, I've most definitely been nesting! I spent some time, money and effort sprucing up our rather miserable looking backyard. I picked up some pretty pansies from a local garden centre and potted them, so they've added a touch of colour to the yard and it's looking much better! 

S and I also added the finishing touches to the nursery. We finished setting up the furniture so we now have a changing station as well as storage for all the babies clothes, nappies and general bits and bobs. We also put together the pushchair, washed the first load of baby clothes and packed our hospital bag, as I reached the 32 week mark in April - it's so exciting!
Pretty pansies before & after potting // Our nursery changing-cleaning area // World's cutest pushchair!

After months of dedicated viewing, I finally finished watching The US Office and I'm now feeling a little bit lost without it. Having said that, I'm getting stuck into Peep Show again - it's one of my all time favourite shows, I just love it. 

I treated myself to a gorgeous Flamingo Candle's jar candle this month in the scent of Vanilla and Black Pepper, and it smells delicious in my bedroom. I also picked up a cute new wax burner (there seems to be a bit of a theme going on here...) and a few new books, which I'm still waiting for arriving from Amazon. I started reading A Force To Be Reckoned With: A History of the Women's Institute, which was proven to be really interesting so far!
The only book I finished in April // Homemade chocolate fudge muffins // New beauty purchases

I really got back into the swing of things on my blog in April and found I was enjoying writing a lot more, with a real variety of posts, such as sharing my March Empties, a book review, 12 Things I'm Grateful For, the Pro's of Pregnancy and reviews of a Lush bubble bar and an alternative to toothpaste

May looks to be an exciting month as I begin my antenatal classes, head to my first two barbecues of the year, begin my maternity leave and my sister comes home for the summer! 

I hope you had a great April, and have an even better month this month!