Thursday, 28 May 2015

LIFE: Bank Holiday Weekend Celebrations

Don't you just love long bank holiday weekends?! Since having Isabella it seems like my husband has had endless extra days off work, with Easter and the two May bank holidays. It's been so lovely to start creating memories as our new little family, so there's been loads of walks and quick lunches out. This last bank holiday weekend we joined his family at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire to celebrate his Mum's 50th birthday! Clumber Park is so pretty, with plenty of fun activities to do like cycling and walking. There is a large lake that you can cycle/walk around, a cute gift shop and plenty of ice cream vans dotted around. It's a National Trust place, so if you or your family are member then you can get in for free, otherwise it's £6.80 per car. Not bad for a day out for up to five people! 

Have you visited Clumber Park before? 

Feel free to leave me a comment - I appreciate every single one :) 

Helen x

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

REVIEW: Earth Friendly Baby - making bath time easier!

Bath time is something Isabella is starting to enjoy, to begin with she didn't like being laid down but recently she's been enjoying a bath every couple of days. She especially likes it when we pour water onto her tummy, it settles her straight away - anyone elses little one like that?!
Isabella is now over seven weeks old, so we've started to use a very small amount of bubble bath in her baths. The Earth Friendly Baby Soothing Chamomile Bubble Bath* (£5.99 from Boots) has been the perfect gentle bubble bath to start using in her baths. It smells lovely and left her skin feeling soft and smelling like a baby!
Washing her hair isn't her favourite activity, though sometimes she stops crying and just stares at me, probably wondering what is happening to her head! As she can get quite upset when we're washing her hair I've been keen to use products that wash her hair quickly, are easy to use and rinse out well. Some of the shampoo's we've used have created far too many bubbles, which means we have to spend longer rinsing her hair out. The Earth Friendly Baby Happy Mandarin Shampoo & Bodywash* (£8.48 from amazon) has been brilliant because it not only makes washing her hair quick, it smells amazing and doubles up as a body wash. On the times I've been giving Isabella a bath by myself I find it impossible to hold her, while picking up various bottles to squirt into a sponge to wash her body and hair, then rinse the sponge and her body. I don't have enough hands! The Earth Friendly Baby Shampoo and Bodywash range, also including calming lavender and soothing chamomile, is what you need if you find yourself in the same situation as me. It's so much easier than trying to juggle a body wash, shampoo and oil separately! Prior to putting Isabella in the bath I now wet the sponge and squirt a little bit of the Happy Mandarin Shampoo & Bodywash onto the sponge. Once she's in the bath I wash her body and hair with the prepared sponge, then rinse the sponge and her body/hair - all very manageable with one hand. 

All of the Earth Friendly Baby products have over 92% natural ingredients and over 50% organic ingredients, making them extremely friendly towards your baby's skin. Isabella was born with really dry skin and after using small amounts of both of these products (since she was six weeks old) her skin hasn't become dry or aggravated again.

Have you tried any of the Earth Friendly Baby range?

Feel free to leave me a comment :)

Helen x

Sunday, 24 May 2015

10 THINGS: I have learnt since becoming a Mum

How to...

1) Do a full face of make up in under 5 minutes.

2) Make a cup of tea/sandwich/dinner/anything one handed.

3) Fall asleep quickly. It's a must. 

4) Value and treasure every moment (see what I did there?!)

5) Get an arm workout without being anywhere near the gym - babies start off pretty light but they get heavier!

6) Love like I had never loved before.

7) Get away with not washing my hair for three days - dry shampoo is my best friend. I try not to do this too often but getting time to wash my hair is a luxury now. 

8) Be ok with being covered in my baby's sick, wee, poo, saliva. It's all part of the journey, right?! 

9) Function on very little sleep - it's incredible what our bodies can survive on. I thought I was tired during the third trimester but oh no, nothing like having baby. You get less sleep but that is to be expected and actually, I'm ok with that. 

10) Congratulate another human being for pooing, weeing, parping, burping and generally doing anything that wouldn't usually be discussed and certainly not welcomed with a 'yay - well done'. 

What did you learn when you first became a parent? 

Feel free to leave me a comment :)

Helen x

Friday, 22 May 2015

FOOD: Using up that stale loaf of bread...

The smell of the bakery section in supermarkets is heaven and there's often one loaf that you can really smell - the tiger bread. They spread sesame oil over the top of the loaf to give it its distinctive smell and taste. As much as I love tiger bread too often it goes hard before we've had a chance to eat it all. I hate waste and throwing away the rock hard tiger bread isn't what I like to do, instead I often use it to make a variety of different things. Being a parent now means that time is limited, therefore these ideas are all quick and easy to do. In fact I cooked many of these with my daughter asleep in a baby carrier on me, it's the only way to have two hands free! 

So if you find yourself left with some rock hard tiger bread (or any other fresh bread) then why not try one of these ideas rather than throwing it away?

Bread and Butter Pudding
This is the perfect way to turn dry, hard bread into something delicious.

8 slices of stale bread
50g butter
275ml milk
100ml double cream
3 eggs
65g caster sugar 

1) Preheat the oven at 180'C.
2) Butter both sides of the slices of bread and place into an ovenproof dish.
3) In a measuring jug pour in the milk and double cream. Stir in 50g of the caster sugar and whisk in the eggs. 
4) Pour the milk mixture over the sliced bread, sprinkle with remaining 15g of caster sugar. 
5) Bake for 30-40 minutes and serve warm with custard, cream or ice-cream.

You can easily add other flavours into your bread and butter pudding, such as chocolate chips, candied peel, currants, spread the bread with jam or marmalade etc. 

Savoury Bread and Butter Pudding
 A twist on the usually sweet bread and butter pudding, the savoury version makes a slightly different meal. Follow the recipe above, without adding the sugar, instead you can add whatever you have in the cupboard/fridge - cheese, ham, fried pancetta, herbs, spices, cooked vegetables - anything really!

 One of the easiest things to do with stale bread. All you have to do is cut the bread into cubes, drizzle with oil, add small chunks of butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for around 10 minutes or until golden brown. Again, you can add other flavours to the croutons: minced garlic, Parmesan, fresh herbs, dried chilli flakes etc. Once the croutons are completely cool you can put them into a freezer bag and freeze them. The perfect accompaniment to soups and salads. 

 Breadcrumbs can be used used in so many recipes - fishcakes, burgers, stuffing, meatballs, crunchy pasta bake topping, stuffed mushrooms etc. Depending on how stale the bread is you can either grate the bread to create breadcrumbs or blitz it in a blender. These can also be put into a container and frozen, so that you have a supply ready to use.

Panzanella - an Italian tomato and bread salad
 With summer is approaching this is the perfect salad for a bbq or picnic. This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver's website.
Tuscan bread and tomato salad 

200g stale bread
600g mixed tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 small red onion, finely sliced
280g jarred red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
2tbsp red wine vinegar
6tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh basil 

 1) Tear the bread into chunks and place on a tray. Leave in a warm place for around 30 minutes, to help dry it out and make it really crunchy.
2) Put the tomatoes and seasoning into a bowl, along with the onions, peppers and dried bread. Combine them, stir in 2tbsp of red wine vinegar and about 6tbsp of olive oil. 
3) Tear in the basil leaves, stir and serve.

Do you have any other ideas to use up stale bread?

Feel free to leave me a comment :)

Helen x

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

BABY: Our combined feeding journey so far...

Back when Isabella was 3 weeks old she went through her first growth spurt, cue days of constant feeding. Literally. When the Health Visitor came on the Friday of that week I was completely exhausted and Isabella just didn't seem satisfied. I had been expressing milk too, so I knew I had enough milk coming through to feed her, there just weren't enough hours in the day to fill her up. The Health Visitor recommending giving her a bottle of formula milk at night, with the aim of filling her up. As I've discussed on my blog before, we were always planning on combined feeding (when you bottle and breastfeed) but not quite that early. Initially I was really nervous giving her a bottle so early on into breastfeeding, I didn't want her to reject breastfeeding after she'd had the bottle. My worries weren't needed as after she had had her first bottle of formula milk she went straight back to breastfeeding without a problem. Luckily Isabella has been able to swap between bottle and breast with ease, partially due to the bottles we've been using.

Before Isabella was born I had bought Aptamil that was already mixed up in a bottle with a teat, so she first had those. But each bottle was only 60ml, so quickly that wasn't enough to fill her up. At this point we bought Aptamil powder and started using bottles. So far we've used the NUK First Choice+ 150ml bottle with Size 1silicone teat and the Lansinoh m0mma Bottle with NaturalWave Nipple. I've already written about the NUK bottles on my blog, which you can read here
The Lansinoh brand was one I associated more with their HPA Lanolin Nipple Cream (a must have item for anyone breastfeeding!) than their bottle range. However I've been seriously impressed with not only the design but the ease of use and suitability for anyone who is combined feeding. If, like me, you're not familiar with the Lansinoh m0mma Bottle with NaturalWave Nipple* (£5.99 from amazon) here's a bit more information...

'The Lansinoh® mOmma® Bottle with NaturalWave® Nipple is clinically proven to reduce nipple confusion in established, breastfed babies.  Backed by more than 50 years of research, the silicone NaturalWave® Nipple enables baby to engage in the natural, wavelike sucking actions learned at the breast, making it easier for baby to go from breast to bottle and back to breast.
The Lansinoh® mOmma® Bottle is BPA and BPS free and can be  used to safely store breastmilk in refrigerator or freezer. The ergonomic design is compatible with both the Lansinoh®Signature Pro™ and Lansinoh® Manual Breast Pump.'

Isabella has found this Lansinoh bottle really easy to drink from, the flow isn't too fast and the design allows her to suck like she would when she's breastfeeding. At around six weeks she started having about 130ml of formula milk at night, in fact my husband gives it to her at around 12am so that I can get a bigger block of solid sleep. Bliss.  
I've also been expressing every so often and freezing it, ready to use when we need it. Personally, I've found expressing much easier than I expected (I've been using the NUK Luna Electric Breast Pump). Since introducing the formula feed at night I've been extremely full by the morning, so have needed to express to stay comfortable. Once I've expressed I've been either pouring the milk into the Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags (£4.39 for pack of 25 from amazon) or Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bottles* (£8.l2 from amazon). The storage bags are really good if you don't have much space in your freezer, they don't take up much space and are pre-sterilised so can be used straight from the box. There's also a space to write the date and time you've expressed the milk, which is important as you can only keep breastmilk for a certain amount of time after expressing. The storage bottles are perfect for taking/using the expressed milk straight away, rather than decant the milk from the storage bag into another bottle. Once the milk is defrosted you can attach a NaturalWave teat to the storage bottle and you've got a bottle ready to use! The bottles are compatible with the Lansinoh breast pump, as well as a lot of other standard sized breast pumps. This saves on washing up/sterilising even further, as you can express straight into the storage bottle, put the lid on to freeze, then defrost and attach the NaturalWave teat to use. Easy peasy. 
Did you do combined feeding? When did you introduce the bottle?

Feel free to leave me a comment below :)

Helen x

Monday, 18 May 2015

POSTPARTUM: Preparing for after labour - Padsicles

Back before I had given birth I had read and heard so many horror stories about labour and giving birth. I think the unknown is always scary and I was pretty scared, not of the actual labour but the aftermath from giving birth. I was worried about the pain and discomfort that there might be 'down there'. If you've read my birth story (read part one here and part two here) then you'll be aware I had a very long labour, which ended in an episiotomy. This became pretty painful after all of the amazing pain relief the hospital had given me wore off. Sitting, walking and generally moving was seriously uncomfortable in those early days and I was desperate for anything to relieve the pain. Let's just say ibrophen barely took the edge off in the couple of days after giving birth, don't worry though because the bad pain doesn't usually last too long. 

During the weeks prior to giving birth I had been researching ways to reduce the pain after giving birth and came across these padsicles. A frozen maternity pad, which is soaked in soothing products and can be worn after giving birth. The fact they're frozen helped to numb the pain and the soothing products were meant to aid healing. I can't really comment if they did that, but the frozen aspect of these padsicles did bring some level of relief. Be careful though, don't just put them on straight from the freezer, in fact it's best to wrap them in a towel/muslin cloth.

What you'll need:
Maternity towels
Distilled Witch Hazel
Aloe Vera Gel
Lavender Essential Oil
1) Evenly pour on about 3 capfuls of the witch hazel all over the maternity pad.
 2) Evenly spread about a teaspoon of the aloe vera gel all over the pad.

3) Next, add about 4 drops of the lavender essential oil over the pad.

 4) Wrap the pad in cling film or put into a sandwich bag, then pop it into the freezer. It's best to make these before you give birth, so they are ready to go if you need them post birth. 

Do you have any tricks/tips for pain relief after giving birth?

Feel free to leave me a comment :)

Helen x