Monday, 31 May 2010

The 'Perfect Chocolate Muffin' Recipe

I'm really into my baking at the moment, it seems to be the only form of cooking I can pull off with some degree of success! I've spent my bank holiday Monday morning doing a million loads of laundry (and this is without a baby yet?!), washing up, and baking some deliciously delectable chocolate muffins! Oh so domesticated, yes, you may call me goddess!


I don't claim the rights to this recipe of course, but if you'd like to try making some yummy chocolaty goodness for yourself, then follow these instructions (this made 17 muffins for me, in standard sized muffin cases filled up about 3/4 of the way)...

You will need:
250g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
2tsp baking powder
175g caster sugar
175ml milk
2 large eggs, beaten
100ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used pure vanilla - from Grenada!)
1 generous helping of chocolate drops/chunks (I used white and milk)
12+ muffin cases

You need to:
Preheat your oven to 170ºC/gas mark 5 and line your muffin/baking tray with cases (this recipe actually states 12, but as I said, I got 17 from my mixture!). Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and then add the caster sugar. Roughly mix it all together. I then added the eggs (pre beaten), oil and vanilla, stirred it up a bit, then gradually added in the milk. Stir everything up really well until you have a lump free mixture, then chuck in your chocolate chunks/drops. This recipe really is fool proof - trust me, if I can do it, anyone can! Dollop your mixture into the muffin cases until they are roughly 3/4 full, pop them into the oven and bake for approx. 20 - 25 minutes. To check they are cooked to perfection, gently push down on the top to see if they are light and springy. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes...then gobble one up like I did!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

In & Out: May

The end of another month is upon us...June puts me into my seventh month of pregnancy, and into official panic mode - I feel very unprepared and overwhelmed, in both good and bad ways if that is possible?!

IN:

Baking ~ I've always liked to bake a good cake! Baking was something I really enjoyed when I was younger, it was something I did with my Mum and I especially loved licking the bowl afterwards! I will definitely bake with my children (don't worry, I'll let my baby grow up a bit before I have him/her in the kitchen with me!). Every Wednesday my sister and I see each other for 'sisters night', and our tradition now seems to involve baking and watching episodes of Come Dine With Me. We've had a couple of, ahem, failures, but on the whole we enjoy baking some tasty treats each week - although Lucy, this week you forgot to take some home! I've been getting most of my recipe inspiration from the domestic goddess Franky, and as a 'not-so-competent-cook' baking is something relatively easy that gives me satisfaction.

Baby kicks ~ Feeling my baby kick is quite possibly, one of the best feelings ever. I'm a natural born worrier, and there is so much to potentially worry about during pregnancy, but feeling those kicks, prods and somersaults sets my mind at ease, and I know my little bun is cooking well in my oven (spot the inadvertent baking reference)! I sure am going to miss my bump when it's gone, but I can't wait to meet my baby - not tooooooo long now, although we're not ready yet, so stay in there until your due date please!

BBQ's ~ Simply one of the best things about summer is BBQ's - there is nothing better than a balmy summer evening, good company and delicious BBQ food and salad to munch on. All meat tastes better BBQ'd, and even the veggie stuff is extra yummy too (I was a vegetarian for years so I know first hand!). All that is missing for me is a nice, ice cold, glass of Pimms...

Baby clothes and assorted paraphernalia ~ So. Damn. Cute!

OUT:

Lost ~ Colin and I have religiously watched Lost from the very first episode aired six (yes, six!) years ago (coincidentally, the same amount of time we've been together!). There won't be any spoilers here by the way, because I know how infuriatingly annoying it is to have someone talk about a season finale before you've seen it - burns my eyes! The season finale of Lost aired worldwide on Monday this week (at 5am in the UK - I did not get up to watch it, that is what Sky+ is for!), and after six years of being hooked to every single episode and frustration at the ridiculous cliff hangers they would leave viewers on, I was expecting something big, something incredible. Did I get that. No. Some fans are happy with the ending, some (myself and Colin included) are most definitely not. I personally (and I don't think this gives anything away at all, but feel free to not read if you've not seen it and want to make your own mind up) think the ending was a huge waste of time, a real shame and it could have been done in a much better way. It's not so much that I didn't understand it, as some 'helpful' friends tried to insinuate, I just thought it was rubbish, really disappointing, I almost wish I hadn't actually watched it!

Skin sensitivity ~ Woah peeps - word of warning, when you're pregnant, your skin is super duper sensitive to the sun, even more so if you are fair skinned like me! I am thoroughly enjoying the bouts of sunshine (lets ignore the rain today!), even if I do feel hugely uncomfortable in the heat with my bump, but I am not enjoying how much more sensitive to the sun my skin is - I sat out in the garden, in the shade/dappled sunlight, last weekend for a few hours, with my puzzle book (so cool!), wearing SPF30, and burnt. To a crisp! Luckily, only my lower legs, but I couldn't believe how quickly and how badly I got burnt. Hello Aloe Vera, you are my BFF!

Money worries ~ Urgh! I hate worrying about money, but I seem to spend a hugely unfair proportion of my time doing it. Yes, I like to earn it and spend it, but no matter how frugal you try to be, there is just never enough. I'm so worried about money that I even dream about it, which sucks! I've just made a nice little amount of money selling some things on eBay (things I didn't expect to sell for much, but they did pretty well), but I just wish there wasn't so much to buy all of the time! Colin and I are only renting at the moment, but luckily our landlord has said we can decorate to our hearts content, but it costs so much more than you think it will! The nursery is obviously first priority, and that is pretty much done now, next I want to just put a fresh coat of white in our bedroom and the living room, freshen up (and tone down!) the yellow paint in the kitchen, re-do the bathroom which is a peeling mess in places...I know it doesn't all need to be done, but I am pregnant and nesting, therefore I am allowed to say it does!

A Review: Palmers Cocoa Butter

Palmers Cocoa Butter
With Vitamin E

What Do I Think?
There are some products that don't have glitzy packaging, crazily steep price tags or claims to feature the latest 'fad' skincare ingredient. These types of products just sit, unassumingly, in our bathrooms, knowing that whilst they might not come with bells and whistles, they work, and they work damn well. I call that silent satisfaction. One of these products is, of course, the infamous Palmers Cocoa Butter...I'm sure every single person in the universe knows about it, and if you didn't, you do now! Palmers have now branched into other 'scents' and formulations, like Shea, Olive Oil and Coconut, but are most well known for their original Cocoa Butter formula lotion. To me, this lotion is the perfect formulation - even in these stickier, warmer climates - it's not too thick or too thin, it sinks into the skin instantly without leaving a greasy residue, is incredibly moisturising, softening and nourishing, and you notice an almost immediate positive effect on your skin after use. Palmers is definitely my pregnancy saviour so far - my bump cries out for it I swear, it smells DIVINE (to the point where I sometimes make myself hungry and almost take a bite out of myself!), it's really affordable and it is so effective it's a wonder it isn't the prime minister! There are many strings to the Palmers Cocoa Butter bow, for example evening out skintones, reducing the appearance of the dreaded stretch marks and scars, smoothing rough, scaly patches...the list is seemingly endless! I literally wouldn't be without this product, and whilst it might get pushed to the back of a drawer in a momentary lapse of use (something with bells and whistles came onto the scene for 5 seconds), I have, and will continue to, repurchase this many, many a time. I want to get my hands on the specific stretch mark massage lotion next, and I hear they do a bust firming lotion too - I'm so there!

Where Is It Available?
Palmers is literally available everywhere! Check their website for more details.

How Much Will It Cost?
Palmers Cocoa Butter comes in various shapes and sizes, so the prices will vary, but normally start from approx. £3.00 - depending on where you shop.

Would I Recommend It?
Er...duh, didn't you read what I said?! Hehe! YES!!

Star Rating:
5/5

Monday, 24 May 2010

Celebrity Pregnancies

I'm not a huge fan of following celebrities, gossip magazines are pretty much reserved for long train journeys, and the only people I regularly stalk(!) are Cheryl Cole and Ed Westwick - yes, you may call me shallow!

However, one thing that has intrigued me is the popularity for celebs posing naked, with their bumps - the only time I think it is really acceptable if I'm honest, you can call me a prude! I think the pregnant form is so beautiful, and I know I'm biased because I am proudly sporting my own bump, but a sophisticated nude pregnant magazine cover is something I don't mind seeing - as opposed to those delightful 'lads mags' covers.

***If nudity in any way offends you, please don't continue to read this...***

I think I am correct in saying these poses were inspired by the now infamous Demi Moore for Vanity Fair cover from 1991:


The most recent I've seen is leggy blonde supermodel Claudia Schiffer for (German) Vogue:


One of my personal favourites is Myleene Klass for Glamour, I can identify with this woman, she's overcome a lot of 'body issues', and is now a healthy, successful and confident woman, which we should definitely celebrate and embrace, I really love this photo:


I'm not a huge fan of Britney Spears, but she does look really glowing and healthy on her Harpers Bazaar Cover:


There may be more out there that I don't know about, but finally is Christina Aguilera, who I have always loved, for Marie Claire:


I gotta lotta love for the baby bumps!

A Review: Ciate Love Me Oil

Ciate Love Me Oil
Cranberry Cuticle Oil

What Do I Think?
My nails are on somewhat of a pregnancy related crash and burn at the moment, they grow super fast, look lovely for about 10 seconds, then flake, split or break off right along the nail bed...nice! Take the rough with the smooth right?! Any product that will give my nails and cuticles and bit of a helping hand (excuse the pun) at the moment is welcome, so when this Ciate product landed on my doormat I was intrigued to try it out. Now, I have to confess, cuticle care is not something I spend much time on, I normally use the products mentioned here, when I remember/can be bothered. The Love Me Oil is simply a scented cuticle oil, in this case Cranberry, which you rub onto your cuticles and nails to prevent those pesky hang nails and dry cuticles - I have no idea if my cuticles are dry in all honesty, but I do suffer from hang nails! I really didn't like the smell, its very artificially fruit scented, and too sweet for my nose I think, it made me crinkle up my face and everything! I've since discovered Ciate do an Almond scented one, which would probably be more up my street! The only other cuticle product I've used more than once is the one from the aforementioned post, so I was obviously comparing it to that, and I didn't feel that this oil was as smooth or deeply penetrating. It didn't really sink in too well, and I felt like I had to use quite a bit for any noticeable effect. I can't honestly say it made much of a difference to my cuticles or hang nails, so I wasn't particularly impressed.

Where Is It Available?
Ciate is available to purchase online from their website, ASOS.com and other online retailers.

How Much Does It Cost?
£10.00 for 13.5ml

Would I Recommend It?
I'm a fan of the Ciate Paint Pots, but to be honest, I think this Love Me Oil is priced too highly and doesn't really have good enough effects to warrant me buying it, or recommending it. Each to their own, and as I said, I have no idea about nail care really, but this didn't blow me away, and it definitely isn't a stand out product from the vast Ciate range.

Star Rating:
2/5

*Disclaimer: this product was sent to me by a PR company for review purposes, I am not affiliated in any way with the PR company or Ciate. As ever, my thoughts are my own, I generated them all myself :)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Pregnancy Survival Guide: The Third Trimester: #1

My First and Second Trimester Pregnancy Survival Guides have been assembled (jumbled) into two posts after I have experienced them, but after the Third Trimester I'm actually going to have a baby, and you know, I reckon I might be quite busy, and not have much time (or energy) to sit down and compile a blog post - if I do, I can guarantee it won't make sense! Therefore, I have decided to do individual Survival Guide posts as and when I think of/experience things, in the hope they will be comprehensive and comprehensible!

So, #1: are you sleeping comfortably? The answer is very likely to be a big fat no! The later on into your pregnancy you get, the bigger your beautiful bump gets, and the more uncomfortable you get. It's not fair, but it is inevitable, and you really just need to go through some good old fashioned trial and error to find a position for sleeping that actually allows you to feel comfortable enough to drift off. In fact, the big 'buzzword' for the whole third trimester is comfort - your body is changing even more, every day, and preparing to allow your little baby to enter the world, and this is bound to cause some degree of discomfort for Yummy Mummy to be!

These are a few methods I have tried in the pursuit of a good, comfortable nights sleep:

~ Establish a bedtime routine: if you didn't already have a bedtime routine, now is the time to get yourself one! Unless you are one of the lucky ones who has no trouble falling asleep, then you will know that going from 900 miles an hour to stop and sleep just doesn't work, you need to make time to wind down and get ready for bed. Establishing a good night time routine is good practice too, because you will need to adapt one for baby when he/she comes along, and yours will probably need to be adapted to fit in night time feeds and all of the other associated night time baby activity!

~ Don't eat or drink too late: you will probably have worked out now that if you down a pint of liquid before you go to bed, you will be up at least 900 times in the night to pee! DON'T DO IT! Staying well fed and hydrated is essential during pregnancy, but try your hardest not to drink huge amounts after about 7/8pm, because your bladder is not what it used to be! Also, try not to eat too late, keep food, especially big meals, to before 8pm if you can manage it. If you're anything like me you will be ravenously hungry before bed, so abstaining from food completely is impossible, and I like to have a small snack (biscuit/cracker/cereal) and a glass of milk about half an hour before I bed down.

~ Keep your bedroom for sleeping: this applies to everyone really, not just pregnant ladies! The more you use your bedroom for, and the more time you spend in there, the less it becomes about a room purely designed for sleeping, and the harder it will be to switch off. I found this quite hard once I got my own place, yes it's nice to sit on a sofa, but I was used to living out of one room at Uni, but honestly, making a concerted effort to save the bedroom for nightly activity(!!) made a big difference to how quickly I drift off to sleep.

~ Warm baths: a crucial part of a bedtime routine, a nice warm bath, preferably with lavender scented bubbles (or something equally relaxing and sleep inducing) provides the ideal opportunity for you to start winding down and switching off from the day. You don't have to soak for hours, although with all your aches you might feel like you want to, but even a good ten minute soak in the tub is enough to get you into bedtime mode.

~ Lavender pillow spray: a lavender essential oil would be fabulous, but I don't have any, so I use a lavender scented pillow spray (mine is just from Boots) and spritz it over my pillows, duvet and general bed area (much to the dislike of Colin!). Lavender is well known for it's relaxing and sleep inducing properties, so if you find it hard to switch off and shut down then give this a try. At the very least, a nice smelling, fresh bed is better than nothing!

~ Use pillows to support your bump/back: if you think your body has a lot to deal with supporting your growing bump, and the pressure it puts on your back, think of how that needs to continue when you lie down. Our friend gravity pulls bump down toward the bed, meaning there is a lot of pressure on your unsupported back, which causes those aforementioned aches and pains. I also find that my legs need some support, so propping pillows between your knees, in your lower back and under your bump can help to support you much better than the mattress alone, and will greatly help to reduce some of those aches. Colin actually bought me a special Dreamgenii Pregnancy Pillow, which as you can see from the link, fits into the new curves of your body and supports you well, whether you are on your left or right side.

~ Make sure you're not too hot or too cold: I prefer to sleep with the window ajar, and the room nice and dark. If the window is shut the room gets too stuffy, I get too hot and can't breathe properly, and none of that in conducive to sleep! Now the weather is heating up it's essential to find a sleeping temperature that is optimal for you - hopefully your partner is obliging to it too! One thing I've noticed through my pregnancy is that I have a permanently sniffy, blocked nose - which is also in part down to my allergies - so having the window open helps me there too.

If you're a bad sleeper, like me, unfortunately you will probably struggle to drift off into the wonderland of dreamsville even more now you are heavily pregnant, but just try and make it as comfortable an experience as possible, for both of your sake!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

NOTD: Barry M & OPI

I have a few nail polishes that I've been meaning to do NOTD's of for ages, and given that my nails are in such a sorry state at the moment, I thought I'd painstakingly swatch them all on my one remaining long nail! All of these have had two coats with no base or top coat - to make it fairer, and some fare better than others as you will see!

First up we have Barry M Nail Paint - Pale Yellow


I love Barry M Nail Paints, they are really good value for money, good consistency and have a pretty good longevity and normally they are really great at being perfect 'bottle colour' after two coats. However, as you can see, with this shade it gets that horrible 'dragged' look near the cuticle which I HATE and is difficult to cover without a trillion coats. I like the colour, although I definitely would not say this is a pale colour, it's actually a pretty bright, canary type yellow! Sometimes the Barry M polishes can dry to a tacky finish if you have too much product on the brush, so my tip is to use more thin layers than less thicker ones.

Secondly we have OPI Nail Lacquer - Jade Is The New Black


It was love at first sight for me and this OPI Nail Lacquer. I saw it, had to have it, bought it, used it, fell in love! The colour is superb, I think it's pretty unique and un-dupe-able, the consistency is brilliant (as one would expect from OPI!), the longevity is really quite something and I just adore this! I think this colour is surprisingly wearable too, I happily wear it to work in my office environment. Another thing I love about this is the large brush which makes application as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Thirdly we have OPI Nail lacquer - Off with her Red


This OPI Nail Lacquer is from the Alice in Wonderland collection, which I blogged about here. I really like this red, I think its slightly orange toned, but still very red. These are mini's, so obviously the brush and bottle are much smaller in comparison to a normal OPI polish (3.75ml/15ml), but they still apply really nicely and evenly.

Finally is OPI Nail Lacquer - Thanks So Muchness


Another OPI polish from the Alice in Wonderland Collection, this is what I would describe as the perfect toenail red. I love the shimmer it has to it, and it really is a very good quality nail varnish in terms of application and consistency. I have used one coat of this on my toes before and it was perfect bottle colour - very impressive. This has one of the nicest finishes I've ever seen too :)

I have quite a few nail polishes, I'm always sorting them out and giving some away, swapping or selling, and I do have various different brands in my collection, from high street to high end. I like China Glaze and OPI for higher end brands, I like the bottle and brush size, but the price is quite high unless you find a good eBay seller! High street wise I think Barry M and Rimmel are fab, especially for trying new colours. I'm on the fence with Nails Inc polishes - I have a few that I've bought myself, some of the limited edition Diet Coke ones on their way courtesy of Amy, and I picked up one of the free InStyle ones recently, but I find they are either really great or really awful, there is no middle ground. At £11.00 a bottle I think there are better brands out there, but I do love their colour ranges!

Any other nail polish junkies out there?!

Baby Bump OOTD

I've never done an outfit of the day (OOTD) post before, primarily because I don't think anyone would really be interested in what I wear, and I can't be bothered to take the photos! I attended a friends wedding yesterday, and this is what I wore! Not hugely 'weddingy', but our good old friend Mother Nature decided she wanted to rain, so the especially bought maxi dress will have to wait a while longer in my wardrobe and I had to cobble something together from what I have that fits me! I wanted to upload a new baby bump picture, and thought I might as well do an OOTD with it!

So, this is me and my bump at just over 26 weeks:


My outfit consists of:
Black and white floral tea dress from New Look (non maternity)
Black 60 denier tights from M&S (non maternity - not very comfortable)
Black cardigan from New Look (really old!)
Black pointy toed pumps with bow and lace detailing from New Look

My accessories are from Accessorize, New Look and Dorothy Perkins I believe!

I think I look a bit grumpy and my fringe desperately needs cutting so looks awful, but I really should stop criticising myself!


*Eagle eyes might notice I'm standing in a silly way - yes, that's what happens when you fall over and hurt your blimmin' knee - boo!*

NOTD: Rose Libertine

A few weeks ago my good blogging friend Lydia sent me a pretty little package ♥ Inside it was one of the new Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Peach Petal (a gorgeous peachy nude) and one of Lydia's favourite Rimmel nail polishes: Rose Libertine.


I took this picture some time ago now, but just found it on my (Colin's!) camera, so am uploading it for your nail polish viewing pleasures! Sadly, my nails don't look like this now, after a lot of sad breakages...*sigh*

Rose Libertine is a gorgeous bright pinky coral, and it looks perfect on fingers or toes in the summer. The Rimmel '60 Seconds' nail polishes really do dry insanely quickly, and I mean touch dry without being tacky. I *think* this might have been 3 coats, but I can't be sure. Longevity wise I was pretty impressed with this too, it lasted a good couple of days before I removed (picked) it. Rimmel polishes are dirt cheap too, so if you're looking for a good summer colour, or just to experiment, check them out!

Thank you Lydia :)

Friday, 14 May 2010

Pregnancy Survival Guide: The Second Trimester

I'm now in my third trimester, the final countdown you could say! Weeks 26 - 40, the last three months, the final stretch...however you look at it, there is no denying the inevitable...in not too long a time this lovely little baby that is tossing and turning inside of me is going to have to come out! And it's going to hurt! But what the hell, if there is one thing worth enduring ridiculous amounts of pain for it is a baby!

I'm currently sat with my leg propped up on cushions, because I had a little stumble and landed full force on my knee, which is now nicely cut up and bruised, so putting any weight (and lets face it, there is more of it at the moment!) on it is really uncomfortable. Typical...just what you want to happen when there is a wedding to be attended at the weekend! Don't worry though, I only fell on my knee, that is the only injured part of me, and bump is fine - I just can't walk very well!

If you missed my Survival Guide for the First Trimester, click here. As with the first post, this is just my personal experiences, thoughts and suggestions, just my way of sharing with you all the life and times of a pregnant lady!

Feeling your baby move inside you is both incredibly wonderful and incredibly weird. From the very first gentle fluttery kicks inside, that feel nothing much more than butterflies, to the more definite kicks and nudges, feeling your baby move is one of my personal favourite pregnancy experiences. It's bizarre to think how quickly you get used to feeling the movements as you go about your day to day life...sitting in a meeting feeling your baby kick you seems completely normal! It is wonderful to know your baby is alive and kicking inside you, literally, but it's also really weird getting used to all these strange movements, and trying to figure out what they might mean!

You can find out the sex of your baby. As long as the baby is behaving and in a good position, you will be able to find out the sex of your baby at your 18-21 week scan. Whether or not you want to is ultimately your decision, and was a no brainer for me - I wanted to find out, 100%, regardless of what anyone else thought - but your decision might not be favoured by everyone. Colin didn't want to find out, he was happy not knowing, but I had my heart set on it, so we compromised by finding out but keeping it a secret - believe me, that is so much easier said than done, but we've managed it so far! As with most aspects of you pregnancy, everyone will have an opinion on whether you should find out or not, and it can be annoying feeling you have to justify yourself, but as I said, ultimately, the decision is for you and your partner to make.

You will probably need to invest in some maternity clothes. They don't have to cost a fortune, but at the very least I would suggest getting some maternity trousers, be they jeans or work trousers, joggers or even leggings, anything that is designed to fit snugly over or under your bump will make you and your expanding belly feel a lot more comfortable! I'm currently 6 months pregnant, and still managing to fit into some of my pre-bump clothes, like dresses, tunics and floaty tops etc, but my old trousers and leggings were banished to the cupboard a long time ago, the waistbands are just too tight and dig in. Maternity tops and dresses are cut to fit and flatter your bump, whether you want to show it off or hide it - I like showing mine off!

If you work, you will need to tell your employer about your pregnancy. I told my boss after my 12 week scan, partly because of the horrific morning sickness etc that was hard to hide, and also because I wanted them to know well in advance. You officially have to inform your employers of your pregnancy and intention to take maternity leave at 25 weeks - you get your Mat B1 form from your midwife, which should be given to your HR department. Around this time you also need to decide when you would like to start your leave from. Note for delicious daddies to be - you have to inform your employers about your partners pregnancy and your intention to take your two week paternity leave at this stage too.

Your immune system isn't what it used to be. I've been catching every germ going around it would seem, I've had countless (and seemingly endless) colds, coughs, bugs and eye infections, and yes it is annoying, but your baby needs your nutrients and that means you don't get quite as much of the good stuff that you used to! The best thing to do is to keep your fluid levels up, eat as much fruit and veg as you can, and keep your diet balanced. I'm no saint, baby or no baby, and I like to have a few sweet (or savoury) treats every now and then, but just be sensible and eat everything in moderation.

You will have trouble sleeping, but all you will want to do is sleep. As the bump grows, finding a comfortable position to sleep in, for me at least, becomes increasingly harder. 'Experts' recommend sleeping on your left side, but I find sleeping on the same side every night makes my joints a bit stiff, so I tend to switch it up between left and right as I please. Sleeping on your stomach (my pre pregnancy preferred position) was ruled out a long time ago, and it is not recommended that you sleep on your back...I must admit though, sometimes that really is the only comfortable position. Do what feels right to you. Some people get more energy in their second trimester, personally I found I was more and more tired, and need a lot more sleep.

You will probably get the pregnancy 'glow'. I'm not sure if there are actual noticeable physical changes (apart from the obvious!), it differs from woman to woman, but I've certainly had a lot of people tell me that I'm 'looking really well' and that I'm 'glowing'. I personally have found the second trimester really enjoyable, aside from more aches and pains etc, so this has probably showed on my face and in the way I act. I love showing off my bump, I'm very proud of it, and I feel on top of the world thinking about my baby!

You will probably also get the pregnancy blues. This is a tough time for any yummy mummy to be, not only is your body going through a lot of changes, but YOU are too. You're having to adapt to becoming a mother, someone responsible for another human being, and you're having to make changes in your social/work/home life to accommodate this. I'm MORE than willing to make those changes, but whether it comes naturally or not, it's hard to try and adapt to something you haven't experienced before, and you are bound to find plenty of things to worry about! Some days I wake up and I'm just in a bad mood...that's just how it is. Some days I wake up in a good mood...great! The best thing is just to deal with it as best you can, and remember it is all for a good outcome!

You will want to nest. By this I mean make your home all nice and ready for the baby - preparing a room for the nursery, having a big clear out and de-cluttering. I can honestly say I have never had a physical urge to decorate, until now! Suddenly I wanted the room to be ready right now, even though it doesn't need to be, and anyway the baby will sleep in my room for the first couple of months at least - which now means I want our room decorated too! Be careful and sensible about how much you take on - luckily I have a very supportive and DIY friendly man, who is happily taking on all of the harder, more physically intensive jobs.

You will need to keep slathering on the body butters and oils. Stretch marks: if they are going to happen, they are going to happen, but you can use products to help reduce the appearance of them, and I've been assured that they WILL fade once you have the baby and your body returns to its (sort of) pre pregnant shape. I've been using Bio Oil and Palmers Cocoa Butter daily (at least one, twice if you can manage it/remember).

You will no doubt start a blog post and then forget half of the things you wanted to say. Whoops! The end!

Remember, everyone experiences pregnancy differently, but my tip is to try to embrace and enjoy all of it!

Monday, 10 May 2010

A Review: Clynol Colour Care Range

Clynol Colour Care
Enrich Shampoo, Restore Conditioner & Enhance Leave-in Treatment

What Do I Think?
OK so you know I'm no haircare guru, but I do at least wash my hair, and I'm always on the look out for new products that make the job a little easier/sweeter smelling/longer lasting etc. I have to admit that other than this product (which was hugely overrated in my opinion), I'm not very familiar with Clynol products, but I have often heard them mentioned and raved about. I like to make my own mind up about things, so was pleased to have the chance to try some of their new 'Essentials' products, specifically from the 'Colour Care' range - I dye my hair brown myself (or should I say with the help of lovely volunteers!). As you can see from the above I received the shampoo, conditioner and leave-in treatment. I personally think the 'enriching' shampoo is the easiest thing to review - it cleans my hair really well, it doesn't let hair get greasy too quickly, (although I have found that 2nd day hair isn't quite as fresh as it would be with other shampoos), a small amount of product lathers really well, it doesn't make my hair static and most importantly it smells AMAZING! The 'restoring' conditioner I've obviously used less than the shampoo, given that I only condition a couple of times a week, but in actual fact this conditioner is so light yet really effective that I've used it more regularly. Again, a tiny amount of product goes a really long way, it makes the ends of my hair silky soft and really manageable, and carries the same amazing smell as the shampoo. I can't quite put my finger on what these products smell off, but it is blimmin' lovely! The 'enhancing' leave-in treatment is designed to be used on towel dried hair and left in all day/over night, but I haven't used it in that way - personally it would probably only serve to make my hair weighed down and greasy - having said that, I will try it like that at some point. The way I have been using this is as an extra deep conditioning treatment, in the shower, then rinsing it off after about 15 minutes, and it leaves me hair feeling in a much better condition than it is in reality - and smelling great to boot! I really like the packaging of these product, minimalist and professional looking, I love the pump dispenser on the conditioner but wish the shampoo had it too. As for the 'colour care' factor it's hard to say, at the moment I am probably in need of another dye to freshen my colour, but these products have certainly been leaving me with shiny hair, and my colour isn't fading any more than normal with daily washing. All in all, I'm impressed...but then perhaps I would be based on the smell alone?!

Where Are They Available?
Clynol products are available to buy from the following websites: www.beautybay.com and www.hairsupermarket.com. For salon stockists you can call 01296 314000 or visit www.clynol.com.

How Much Will They Cost?
The shampoo is £8.45 for 300ml, the conditioner is £9.45 for 250ml and the leave-in treatment is £9.65 for 150ml.

Would I Recommend Them?
Based on the results and smell yes I would, although they do retail for a little more than I would really be willing to spend on day-to-day haircare products. I think they will last me a long time because you only need to use a really small amount of product for great results, and I'll probably treat myself to the conditioner as a repurchase (or ask someone else to treat me, hehe!).

Star Rating:
Shampoo: 4.5/5
Conditioner: 5/5
Leave-in Treatment: 4/5

*Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with Clynol in any way, I was sent these products to review by the lovely (yummy mummy to be) Lisa at their PR company who is intent on spoiling me throughout my pregnancy it seems :) Thank you Lisa!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Overrated product #4: CHI Silk Infusion

Apologies for more than one overrated product post in a week, but as I was writing my last one it prompted me to think of another product that I feel gets more love and attention than it deserves, in my opinion.

I'm not massive on haircare I have to be honest, I'm one of the laziest people I know when it comes to hair at the moment...I shampoo my hair every day to every other day, I don't condition every time I wash any more so I do a deep condition once or twice a week - usually on a Saturday or Sunday when I have my extra long showers! That's it...wash and go, literally! I haven't used a heat styling product on my hair for well over 6 months now, possibly almost a year, aside from the odd night out when I'll blow dry and straighten. This scenario came into being last summer, a) because spending time styling your hair with heat in the warm months is literally one of the least fun things to do, and b) because my hair was rather dry, damaged and brittle from the years of constant heat styling abuse and I wanted out! So now I wash my hair of a morning, spritz some styling spray onto it once towel dried, do a little scrunching and I'm good to go...air drying all the way! My hair probably doesn't look as 'sleek' or 'polished' as it would with a little more time and effort spent on styling, but these days I'm all about convenience, and getting out of the door as soon as possible - something I'm sure is going to stick with me as I enter into Yummy Mummyhood!

Anyway, I digress! Sometime last year CHI products entered my haircare radar, and the somewhat infamous Silk Infusion was being blogged/vlogged about at every turn, or so it seemed to me. It was being talked about as a hair revolution, seemingly leaving silky soft and shiny tresses in its wake by the bucket load. Naturally, as a keen beauty enthusiast I wanted to get my manicured mitts on some of this 'wonder potion', so I used my website (SwapsiesUK) to swap some of my unloved products for a bottle of the CHI Silk Infusion.


I can safely say, don't believe the hype! The only thing this did to my hair was coat it in grease, even if I used a teeny tiny insy winsy ickle little bit! My hair would just get so lank, dull and dirty looking - even if it was freshly washed - NOT good by any stretch of the imagination. From what I can remember it smelt vaguely nice, and I like the packaging, and I'm afraid that really is all the positives I can muster!

I know some people out there love this, with all different hair types, but sadly, for me, CHI Silk Infusion was another product banished to the overrated pile (and swiftly swapped for something much nicer!).

What do you think of CHI?

Overrated product #3: Gosh Darling Lipstick

I often feel like I risk getting shot down in flames when I do these overrated products posts, because they certainly do seem to be very popular with the majority...however, even more reason for me to speak up I think, because a lot of time it's so easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding products and think that you really need them, when really, we all know we don't, we just want them!

You may love this product, and others I feel are overrated, which is fabulous, but personally, they just don't work for me in the way I'd initially hoped they would, hence my thinking of them as overrated...geddit!

So, without further ado, product #3 in my overrated category is the rather infamous GOSH Darling Lipstick (Velvet Touch 134):


Now, don't get me wrong, this is a very pretty, affordable and accessible 'nude' lipstick, that I've worn before and probably will wear again - although I'm not so much of a lipstick girl, lipgloss is more my 'thang'. What I dislike about it is the formulation, this dries my lips out so much it's ridiculous, and we all know that lipstick on dry lips is a big no-no. Instead of leaving me with the pretty pinky/nude colour it is so famous for, it clings to any areas of my lips that might not already be too perfect (condition wise) and then dries them out even more. I'm not sure I even really get the hype about the colour of this, sure it's a pretty lipstick colour, but I've seen better.

It's not awful, but it certainly isn't brilliant, in my humble opinion, and I really do think it's a tad overrated.

What are your opinions of GOSH Darling, and other Velvet Touch lipsticks?