Sunday, 29 August 2010

Welcome to the world...

...my beautiful baby boy, Jamie


Born 23rd August 2010 at 2.54am
7lb 4oz

Friday, 20 August 2010

Soft Bake Choc Chip Cookies

I've been trying to distract myself from the fact that I'm still pregnant, in any way possible...one of today's activities was a quick and simple bake! I'm hoping the delicious scents of home made delights might waft through to Nugget and tempt my little bubba out!


You will need:
100g soft butter or margarine
100g soft brown sugar (I used golden caster sugar, it was all I had)
1 tbsp golden syrup
150g self raising flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g chocolate chips (I don't weigh mine, just chuck a load in!)

You need to:
Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line two baking trays with baking paper. Beat together the butter, sugar and syrup until soft and creamy (you can do this by hand, but for ease I just used the food processor!). Mix in the flour and vanilla. Stir your chocolate drops in at the last minute. I made sure everything was well stuck together with my fingers, then divided the mixture into balls (whatever size you like - I went for ping ping ball size roughly) and push down onto the baking paper. Make sure you place them well apart because they will expand whilst in the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes. My mixture made 12 cookies.

Et voila! Now...the tricky part...not scoffing the lot at once!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A godsend...

...that I have recently discovered, are the powers of essential oils.

The benefits of aromatherapy (and the use of essential oils) are far greater than I could ever do justice (frankly I'm too tired to write anything much!), and different blends and strengths of oils can be used for a myriad of things - from healing to relaxation.


Relaxation is a key word for me at the moment, and you know I like nothing more than a nice warm bath. The perfect accompaniment to a warm bath for me at the moment (as well as a good book to engross myself in) is lavender essential oil (FYI I use this one). A few drops swished around in the water creates a delicate aroma, and as lavender is known for its calming and sleep inducing properties, it's the perfect thing for a very overtired me!

You could also dab a few drops onto a hanky and inhale it when feeling stressed or tired, mix up a blend for an oil burner to fill the room with the fragrance...you can pretty much do anything with it, just don't drink it or rub it neat onto your skin! My Mum got me a little fabric heart stuffed with lavender that I keep by my bed to sniff at night, and I also have concentrated versions such as lavender linen spray to waft over the bed (just don't tell Colin, he can't abide it!).

This honestly has been a godsend for me during these last few months and weeks of pregnancy...if I'm feeling nervous, stressed, achy or tired, then I call upon my lavender essential oil! It's odd, because lavender is a scent that I think typically gets associated with 'older' ladies, and it can be an overwhelming scent in too strong doses, and I can't say I really had much love for it before I got pregnant, but I honestly now wouldn't be without it!

I'm still pregnant...

I realised yesterday that I've not updated this blog with a recent bump picture...the last one was at 37 weeks. I'm now 40 weeks (+1), so have passed my due date and am not so patiently waiting for Nugget to make an entrance!

This was my bump at 39 weeks pregnant:

This was my bump yesterday on my due date (18.08.10) at 40 weeks pregnant:

As you can see, there is a significant 'drop', and I've been experiencing lots of Braxton Hicks contractions (that's practice contractions for those who don't speak 'pregnancy'!). Some stretch marks have started to creep in around the edges, but I'm not bothered by those!

I'm not going to lie, as fabulous as this whole pregnancy journey is, these last few weeks have been difficult - I find it near on impossible to get comfortable, sleep is but a distant memory and the weight bearing down on my bladder is somewhat painful...but I'm keeping my mind focused on the end result...meeting my little Nugget!

I'll obviously update once Nugget is born and we're all settled, but if you don't hear from me for a while, just hope it's because I'm too busy becoming a yummy mummy!

Thank you for all of the lovely comments I've received throughout this pregnancy, it's been nice to share this experience, and documenting things means I can look back and remember how I was feeling and what was happening...because I've no doubt it won't take long to forget the small things once the reality of motherhood sets in!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Think Coca-Cola is just for drinking?!

Think again! Earlier this week one of my 'birthday money' purchases arrived from Amazon: Nigella Lawson - How To Be A Domestic Goddess. I've long been coveting the many delicious recipes I knew it contained, and my first foray into it's pretty pages resulted in this recipe being cooked:

Coca-Cola Cupcakes

You will need:
200g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
125ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract (although I use pure Grenadian vanilla!)
125g unsalted butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
175ml Coca-Cola

If you want to ice them, Nigella recommends:
225g icing sugar
30g butter
45ml Coca-Cola
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
(optional) fizzy cola bottle sweets for decoration
(NB: I realised part way through cooking I only had 130g icing sugar, so I improvised and basically halved the amounts - I had the perfect amount of icing, so I would be inclined to do this next time!)

You need to:
Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a muffin tin with 12 cases. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, bicarb and salt. In a measuring jug beat the egg, buttermilk and vanilla. In a saucepan gently melt the butter with the cocoa powder and Coca-Cola (this smells incredible, I was practically salivating!). Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well with a wooden spoon. Add in the egg mixture and beat everything together until well combined and smooth. Pour the finished mixture into the muffin cases and bake for approx. 30-40 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle).

I made my icing when there was a few cooking minutes left, so that I could ice the cupcakes fresh and warm from the oven. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and set aside. In a saucepan gently melt the butter, Coca-Cola and cocoa powder (I accidentally added my vanilla too, but the recipe states to add this when combining with the icing sugar - no biggy!). Remove from the heat and add the icing sugar, a spoonful at a time, beating well as you do. Keep adding the icing sugar until you have a good consistency, spreadable mixture. Ice your cupcakes and stick a fizzy cola bottle on top for decoration.


These are seriously good, if I may be so bold as to say, I impressed myself! They are so moist and full of chocolaty goodness - I don't think they are going to last long! They didn't take long to make at all, and I think cupcakes are a pretty fail-safe bake!

*This recipe is actually Coca-Cola cake in Nigella's book, the cupcakes are in the 'variations' section. If you were making this as a cake simply pour the mixture into a greased and lined 23cm Springform tin to bake, and ice it once you've removed from the tin.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Too true...

A Review: Radox Shower Smoothies

Radox Shower Smoothies
Natural Balance & Energy Therapy

What Do I Think?
I don't know about anyone else, but when trying out a new shower product, or bath product for that matter, the first thing I do is give it a good sniff! You don't want to get something home and realise it stinks, and not in a good way! A shower smoothie certainly sounds like something tasty, and the Natural Balance with it's delicious yoghurt and honey, and little bits of almond appealed to my taste buds as well as my scent buds! Of course, I didn't take a swig, but I was smitten from the smell alone initially. Normally I squeeze my shower products onto a puff, or exfoliating mitts, and lather myself up to my hearts content, however with these, I just slather them onto wet skin, step out from underneath the water so it doesn't rinse away too soon, and enjoy the yummy fragrance. The scent lingers on the skin better this way I find, and the little almond bits probably do a teeny tiny bit of exfoliating. I wish this scent was available for bath bubbles, because it really is delicious! The Energy Therapy smoothie is slightly different, in that it is very fresh and 'zingy', and has what I would describe as a more unisex, even masculine scent. I think this is just my personal preference to fragrances, I prefer the muskier type of scents, but aside from that, this is still a pleasure to use, and has a nice cooling sensation on the skin - perfect for hot summers days. I'm definitely going to try out the other 'flavours' from the range!

Where Is It Available?
Radox products are available from Boots, Superdrug and most UK supermarkets and pharmacies, instore and online.

How Much Does It Cost?
Boots are currently selling these for £2.49, and I *think* I noticed these on special offer in Tesco's this week!

Would I Recommend It?
Yes, I really like these products, they make a nice treat in the shower, the skin feels lovely afterwards and the scents are divine - good enough to eat, which is probably why it says "do not drink" on the packaging!

Star Rating:
5/5

Monday, 9 August 2010

Goey Chocolate Puddings $

Goey Chocolate Puddings
What's not to love?!

After a Twitter conversation with Cat about the fabulous, heavenly (and quite frankly, practically orgasmic) goodness that are chocolate Gü puddings (this one in particular being my personal favourite), I decided to post a recipe I've been lusting over for some time - I have all of the ingredients waiting patiently in the cupboard, I just need to scoff the other goodies I keep making first (homemade blackberry and apple crumble - with locally picked blackberries - is first on the scoff list)!

I got this recipe from Willie's Chocolate Factory Cookbook (did anyone else watch his show on Channel 4?) when I borrowed the book from the library, and I'm pretty sure these will be a pretty good recreation of the coveted Gü puddings - although I'm sure Willie would probably rather we use his recipe than buy a pre-made pudding, right?! I will, of course, report back once I have made these!

Chocoholics, this one is for you :)

You will need:
180g cacao, finely grated - I do have the cacao that Willie produces, I got mine from Selfridges, but if you don't have it, or access to it, I guess really good quality dark chocolate would suffice?
200g unsalted butter
175g golden caster sugar
6 eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
40g ground almonds

You need to:
Preheat the oven to 160ºC and grease 6-8 ramekins. Melt the cacao and the butter, along with 60g of the caster sugar, over a pan of simmering (NOT boiling) water. Whilst this mix is melting, in a separate dish, lightly beat the eggs and stir in the remaining caster sugar and the vanilla extract. Stir the ground almonds into the cacao mixture (once melted) and mix well. Gradually fold the cacao mixture into the egg mixture and ensure all of the ingredients are well combined. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and bake for approx. 12-15 minutes, until the tops have risen and started to split. Serve immediately, with a nice big dollop of fresh cream or ice cream.

*licks lips*

4 things...

I'm at a slight loss for things to do at the moment, as I (not so) patiently wait for Nugget to arrive, so here's a fun little TAG for your perusal! I like doing things like this because I think it allows you all to get to know 'me' a bit better...

4 Things Found In My Purse
Debit cards;
Vouchers/money off coupons;
Business cards for mine and Colin's website - SwapsiesUK; and
Photos of my family and Colin.

4 Things Found In My Bag
My purse - a pink Suzy Smith beauty;
Emergency chocolate bars;
House and car keys; and
My diary - if I don't write something down, it's forgotten!

4 Favourite Things In My Room/House
The bathtub;
Our bed;
Nuggets bedroom and everything in it, too cute for words; and
My laptop!

4 Things I've Always Wanted To Do
Become a Mummy - almost there now;
Go travelling and ride on elephants, frolic with monkeys and swim with dolphins;
Be free from financial worries...yeah righto; and
Have a facial.

4 Things I'm Currently Into
Fresh fruit homemade smoothies with my brand spanking new liquidiser;
Watching anything with Gerard Butler in it (who knew he was in Lara Croft Tomb Raider?!);
Baking up a storm, and even cooking dinners and making enough to freeze for when the baby arrives - just call me goddess; and
Solitaire - I have a shameful addiction to playing it!

4 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Me
I love most tomato-esque things, like ketchup, tomato cooking sauces etc, but I can't bear the taste or texture of actual tomatoes (even though I grow my own!);
I have a ridiculous and totally irrational phobia of cheesecake, I can't bear the sight, smell, thought or taste of it, it physically repulses me;
I can't do my bra up behind my back, my arms and hands just don't coordinate themselves properly and I end up almost tying myself in a knot (please tell me I'm not the only one - I feel like I fail at being female?!); and
I am hopeless at maths, literally hopeless, especially at mental arithmetic. I managed to get a C in my GCSE's for it, but goodness knows how...I worry for the mathematical future of my child!

4 Songs I Can't Get Out Of My Head
Eminem & Rihanna - Love The Way You Lie;
DJ Fresh - Gold Dust;
Mark Ronson - Bang, Bang, Bang; and
Yolanda Be Cool - We No Speak Americano.

4 Bloggers I TAG
Laura; and
Jo :)

Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Sanctuary Series #2

The Sanctuary Series
Sanctuary Spa Essentials Body Butter

Mum's thoughts:

The Good
This product is her favourite EVER body moisturiser...quite a large claim, one she would not profess to without good reason! As a body butter this product is delightfully thick and creamy, but without being too heavy or sticky, and it leaves the skin soft and glowing..."I love it!". This is the classic Sanctuary scent, which although quite strong when you put it on initially, fades within a short time, so it's not overpowering. Mum has been using this since Christmas (so that's over 7 months now), and this summer her skin has been a lot less dry and itchy than normal, which she often used to suffer from in the hotter weather. Mum said she will definitely repurchase this product, "again and again and again", and she has also bought this as a gift for other ladies and they are hooked too.
The Bad
Nothing bad to see here, move along please!

*The Sanctuary products are currently on 3 for 2 in Boots, so snap yourself up a bargain if you fancy giving this a try!

Friday, 6 August 2010

A Review: Lush Dreamtime Bath Melt

Lush Dreamtime
Bath Melt

What Do I Think?
A very nice surprise package arrived for me last week, one that literally had me squealing with glee after I had opened it! Even though the majority of things through the letterbox involve paying large sums of money to various different providers, I still get excited when there is post for me, especially when it comes in the form of an unexpected padded envelope! The package in question was a little birthday/pregnancy treat from a fabulous blogger that I keep mentioning, Franky (if you don't follow her blog, why?!). I was genuinely touched by how sweet it was, thank you again Franky! One of the goodies inside was a bath melt from Lush, called Dreamtime. I've ventured into Lush, and like some of their soaps and their Tea Tree Water Toner is my absolute HG, but I'd never tried their bath melts before, so I had no preconceptions about what this would be like. Franky had instructed me to use all of it up in one go, so I obediently followed her order :) The most identifiable scents to this are lavender, jasmine and sandalwood, but it also contains cocoa butter, almond oil, ginger oil and chamomile, and I think this combination makes it the perfect pre-bedtime bath treat - it instantly relaxes and is very soothing. The bath melts don't produce lots of foamy bubbles, but they do delicately bubble and transform your bath water into a silky, smooth and deliciously scented delight (take care when getting in and out of the bath, because there is a slight oily - but no unpleasant - residue left on the surface). It also contains what I think are little flower buds, which float around the bath, and add to the whole effect - although I did find one stuck to me the next morning and it took a while for me to work out what it was! The actual bathing experience was lovely, but what most impressed me about the Dreamtime bath melt was how good my skin felt afterwards - there was clearly a residue from all of the fantastic ingredients left on my skin, but it wasn't oily and didn't transfer onto the bedsheets or my PJ's - I felt like I was wrapped in a cocoon of sleep inducing loveliness! Big thumbs up Lush!

How Much Does It Cost?
The website states £2.90 for 30g.

Where Is It Available?
Lush products are available to buy instore and online.

Would I Recommend It?
Oh yes! Bathing is one of my number one favourite activities at the moment, and there is almost nothing better than getting out and still being enveloped in a delightful fragrance and having soft, silky skin. As Franky herself told me, yes it's an indulgent treat, but trust me, you won't regret it! I feel like waddling off to my local Lush store right now, because I'm sad it's all gone - a definite treat whether you're pregnant or not!

Star Rating:
5/5

Sunday, 1 August 2010

In and Out - July

Doh...I managed to miss squeezing this in by the end of July...whoopsie (blame it on the baby brain?!)...

IN:

Birthdays ~ I turned 24 years young this month, although I feel somewhat older than my numerical number - not in a bad way, I just socialise with older people the majority of the time, and I think I have quite a wise head on my shoulders (I can be very silly when I want to be though!). Celebrating a birthday whilst 9 months pregnant is certainly not something I had experienced before! I had a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing day - I was treated to a yummy lunch with Colin, my Mum and Lucy (my sister), then spent a nice afternoon (complete with a scrummy Colin the Caterpillar birthday cake!) with Colin's family being entertained by the lovely little boy his Mum child minds. I was spoilt this year, already having been given the vouchers for 4 pregnancy back massages from Colin's family, and having my haircut paid for by my Mum. Colin got me a super duper food processor, something I had mentioned wanting earlier in the month - it will be invaluable for my cake making and baby food puréeing! I also got money/vouchers and money for a pedicure from Lucy - which I'd been dropping oh-so-subtle hints about for ages ;)

Baby showers ~ If you haven't read it, I blogged about my surprise baby shower here and the gorgeous gifts here. I'm still all warm and fuzzy inside from thinking about the thought and organisation that went into planning it for me by everyone involved. It was a really fun way to celebrate with everyone, and I'll remember it always, it made me feel very loved. I wish I'd taken more pictures - but you can't really be prepared with a camera for something that's a surprise! I can't wait for my sister and friends to start having babies so I can return the favour - although, Lucy, wait a few more years hey! I ♥ you xxx

Haircuts ~ My long neglected and scraggy hair finally got some TLC! My lovely Mum offered to pay for my haircut as part of my birthday pressie, and although I'm yet to photograph the outcome to show you all (lazy?!), I went for the chop, and now have shoulder length hair. It's not what I would class as a bob, but then I'm not really 'down' with the hair lingo, it's just shorter, more groomed and healthier now the dead ends are gone! I need another fresh dye after the fail that was Perfect 10, but I'm enjoying the cooler sensation my neck and back are experiencing with shorter hair! I've been suffering somewhat in this heat and humidity that most of the UK has been having - it seems to be relentless in the South East! I wasn't sure how I felt about the shorter cut initially, after growing my hair for ages, and I do miss longer hair, but I think it suits me, and once my pregnant puffy face has resumed to its normal state hopefully it will still suit me!

Baby bump ~ Although I literally feel the size of a house - and that's not just my tummy - I am still loving my bump, and seeing and feeling all the kicks and shoves from little Nugget. I'm just sat here waiting to pop now really, because I can't wait to meet my little bundle of joy, but I honestly think I will miss my bump, I've gotten so used to it, and am constantly rubbing it etc, so it will be weird to have it 'deflate' I think! Being pregnant makes you view your body in a new way - I still have hang ups, and I'm sure I will be conscious of my post baby tummy etc, but I have grown and sustained a life inside of me, and that is fantastic - I have a new-found respect and awe for what we are capable of.

Massages ~ As above, I've been enjoying back massages courtesy of my 'in laws', and they are literally heavenly. My back has been subjected to quite a lot during this pregnancy, and I've had a lot of aches and pains, so getting massaged with essential oils (lavender, geranium, ginger and chamomile) for half an hour is so blissful, and a fantastically indulgent treat. I think it'll be hard to not keep having them after the baby comes - luckily the therapist is just around the corner from me, so I'm sure I can wangle a way to afford it every now and then!

Pedicures ~ Another indulgent treat, and something I'd like to try and have done 'professionally' during the summer months again, but at the moment a complete lifesaver because I haven't been able to reach my feet (or see them when I'm standing up!) for months now! As I mentioned above, this pedicure was a birthday treat paid for by Lucy, and it was an hour long labour of love for my poor, neglected, swollen feet! The therapist included a bit of reflexology for me too, and my feet and calves definitely feel better for the TLC. July has been a good month for pampering! Long may it continue!

OUT:

Swelling ~ It is actually insane how much my feet and hands have swollen, I have sausage fingers and toes, and the puffiness is almost comical! I don't know what it is about pregnancy that causes water retention, but whatever it is, it sure must love me! I, on the other hand, don't love it so much! It makes walking any great distance, or even from bed to bathroom (frequently) in the middle of the night, quite a chore, and I can't wait to deflate after the baby is born! I suppose the humidity hasn't helped much either, I'm in a permanent state of 'hot flushing'!

Dark circles ~ I'm tired. I won't say exhausted, because I'm sure it's only going to get worse...but, I'm reeeeeeal tired. In a way, waking me up every couple of hours throughout the night and making me survive on very little sleep is my bodies clever, intuitive way of preparing me for the inevitable sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn baby, but I have to admit...I'd quite like to cram in some decent nights sleep please, so I can be a teeny tiny bit more rested before the 'big day'! Please...pretty please, with cherries and cream AND sprinkles on top?! My concealer is going to run out at an alarmingly fast rate too if we continue in this sleepless way!

Waiting ~ *drums fingers* Pregnancy can seem like a v e r y long time once you reach the 9 month mark, let me tell you! The months of anticipation, preparation and nervous excitement suddenly all culminate...you're there, you've reached it...the 9th month of pregnancy...2 weeks away from that mythical due date. Where all you can do is wait. Impatiently! Waiting isn't my strong point...and with waiting comes nerves, and with nerves comes fear, and I don't want to be scared! I would like to meet you asap please Nugget, to know you are healthy and well, and that I did a good job of cooking you! Please don't be late!

July is my favourite month of the year, and it certainly didn't disappoint this time around!