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WEEKLY CLEANING ROUTINE

Happy almost spring everyone!

So I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that finds it next to IMPOSSIBLE to keep on top of their house once they’ve had kids. For something so small they take up a lot of your time! I’ve been finding in the past month or so that my house standards were really slipping, and it was starting to stress me out actually. Anyone else relate to getting stressed in a messy house?!

I decided to take action and make a weekly cleaning schedule. Making schedules is what I do best. Sticking to them? Hmm, not so much. But this one has HONESTLY been a life saver. I’ve taken on the principle of doing a tiny bit each day, literally no more than 15 minutes (for which time Lawson will happily play on his playmat/watch baby sensory/nap), and it’s significantly reduced my stress levels, and generally made my house look a lot better as well. I just find I’m prioritising it more, which I think was needed.

I recently made a video about my cleaning routine and was asked by one of my lovely viewers for a print out version. You can find the video here:

And not being one to disappoint, here is the ready-made print out version for you to use at your leisure:

I hope you find this useful in some way! I love making the house all lovely in time for spring.

If you have a cleaning schedule that works really well for you around the kids – I would LOVE to hear it. As I said, I suck at sticking to schedules. I give this one a month. Leave me a comment if you have any advice!!

February 22, 2017

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MY MONTH AS A VEGAN

Anyone else feel like it’s been January for like 6 months?! It’s always such a long month full of daunting tasks like paying off Christmas, attempting to stick at New Years Resolutions and waiting five weeks until the next pay day. Ugh. It’s just a bit rough.

So if you didn’t know already, I decided to kick of the new year with a bit of a health kick by participating in Veganuary, which basically involves going vegan for a month. No meat, no dairy, no animal products. At the start of the month I did a blog post on how I felt about my post-baby body, and let you all in on how much I weighed right at the start of the year. For this post, I thought I’d just give you a little update on how my vegan month has gone, how I’ve found it, and whether I’ve lost any weight (drum roll please…) Surprisingly, I’ve really enjoyed eating vegan this month. Dan is dairy free anyway, so giving up dairy wasn’t really that hard for me because we just don’t keep things like cheese and regular milk in the house. Meat also wasn’t too hard for me to give up either – I have this thing where I’m like overly paranoid that I’m going to get food poisoning from chicken, and that’s kind of 90% of our meat intake so it was like having a weight lifted more than anything…

My favourite thing about Veganuary was having ‘picky’ style lunches. I can never really decide what I want to eat on a normal day (thanking pregnancy for that), so having a big variety of stuff on my plate for lunch kinda solved that problem for me. I also discovered the best hummus I think I’ve ever tasted, so that’s here to stay too.

To address the elephant in the room – did I stick to it? Well, no. And here’s my justification. At the beginning of the month, as some of you may know, I was a bit poorly. Basically had a cold/flu type thing, but when I’m ill, ALL I want is comfort food. So did I give in to a Chicken Bhuna from our local curry house? Yes I did. And towards the end of the month, I was poorly again (FFS January)– this time I had a pretty bad sickness bug that knocked me sideways for a number of days. I tried to heal my stomach with all of the Vegemite on toast my body would take, but nothing would settle my stomach. So did I give in to a McChicken Nugget meal? Yes I did. And did it absolutely heal my tummy? Yes it did. It was quite miraculous. Oh the healing powers of McDonalds. And since then, I’ve been away with friends for a weekend, and if I’m totally honest, I have not eaten vegan.

HOWEVER.

Here’s what I’m taking from my month of veganism. I’m going to continue to keep limited dairy products in the house. I will still drink Almond Milk instead of cow’s milk, still no cheese (I’m honestly OK without it), and I actually prefer dark chocolate. When I cook at home, unless I really fancy it, I’m just not going to have meat. It saves us money, and actually I’ve found some really nice recipes that I prefer to recipes with meat in. But if I go out for a meal with friends and I fancy a big greasy burger, I’m going to have it. And I’m not going to make myself feel bad about it. I feel like some vegan is better than no vegan. Baby steps.

And here’s the real reason I want to carry on with these habits. This month I have managed to lose 5lbs! Which may not sound like a lot, but considering that I’m pretty sure my body just does not lose weight, I’m pretty chuffed with that. Long may it continue to decline until I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight and can squeeze my arse back into my Topshop skinny jeans.

So there it is. The whole truth about my month of Veganism. I have found it’s just helped me to make healthier food choices and as a result, I feel a lot better.

I did a little ‘what I eat in a day’ video over on my YouTube channel, so if you fancy checking out some of the recipes I tried in video form, you can watch it here:

 

January 31, 2017

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Post-Baby Body Talk

Ugh. I really don’t want to write this post. Weight-loss/health based blog posts tend to be a bit controversial right now because everyone has their own opinions (and rightly so) about ways of maintaining their health that works for their bodies. So this post is really just me sharing my thoughts about my post-baby body, and my views on how I intend to approach it.

I remember the final day my midwife came to visit my home after I’d had Lawson. As part of their routine checks, they have a good poke and prod at your poor sensitive belly to feel how contracted your uterus is (sexy). I remember lying on my sofa and asking ‘how long will it take for my belly to go back to normal?’ to which her response was, ‘well you’re fully contracted down now so that’s pretty much it.’

‘Oh wow.’

Those were my exact words. So this is what I was dealing with, I thought. I remember the sheer panic in my brain thinking ‘surely, surely it has to go down more than this?’ And so began my journey to accepting that this was the state of my body post-pregnancy.

It’s no secret that pregnancy changes your body. But to be specific, here is a list of changes I have encountered. My (affectionately named) gullet. You know the bit of neck fat that gives you a double chin way quicker than it used to? That. My arms have got bigger, less definition there. My waistline has disappeared, as has any sort of definition in my behind area (oh hai, cellulite). I have a mixture of purple and white stretch marks on my (what is now pretty saggy) belly and on my thighs all the way down to my knees, and my wedding rings no longer fit; so clearly, my hands are slightly chubbier too.

I make this list, not to moan about my body, but to make a point. And the point I want to make, albeit a bit cliché, is that this is all totally worth it. I’d honestly do it again in a heartbeat. To me, pregnancy was the equivalent of Christmas every day. I woke up buzzing every single morning; regardless of the physical symptoms I was experiencing, because the joy of having a life grow inside of me trumped it all. Even childbirth, which gave me some pretty significant wounds, was honestly the most amazing experience of my life (please ask me about it sometime – it’s legit my favourite topic to talk about).

So even though my body is completely mashed, and so different to what it was before, I’m kinda OK with it (cue obligatory before and after pics).

That being said, I ain’t settling. I put on 2 stone and 2 dress sizes during my pregnancy, and I intend to lose that weight. I’m kicking off 2017 by doing ‘Veganuary’ (going Vegan for January), the link is here if you want more info. I have given up meat before, and our dairy intake is pretty limited in our household anyway due to Dan being dairy intolerant, it just makes me feel healthier, helps me to make healthier life choices, and hey, it’s a bonus that I’m reducing my carbon footprint and helping out some animals at the same time. I intend, at the end of the month, to do a ‘Veganuary review’ to let you all know how I got on, and whether I plan on carrying it on further – but here it is, for those of you that like your numbers – at the start of January I weighed 10st8lbs (Oh, Christmas, what did you do to me). I’m interested to see whether I might lose some weight with this change in lifestyle, but more than numbers, I want to be healthy. I want to get back into exercise. I want to be fit for my son. That’s the real incentive here.

So that is my post-baby body run down, in all of it’s rawness and glory, and my approach as to why I want to improve it, and how I intend to do it.

Did you do any specific exercises or make any diet changes after having a baby? I’d love to know what worked for you so leave me a comment so I can get some more ideas and inspiration!

Our bodies are actual miracles, mamas.

 

 

January 10, 2017

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5 Tips for Surviving Illness with a Baby

I write as I feel inspired. This week, I had wonderful intentions of writing a ‘Lessons I Learned During 2016’ blog post after reading Robin Sharma’s extensive list of 26 (he must have had a great year). But to tell you the truth, other than ‘you’ve got a higher pain threshold than you thought’ and ‘eating junk and not exercising for 9 months leads to dramatic weight gain’ (shock horror), I’m not feeling all that inspired to write that post.

I do feel inspired, however, as I sit surrounded by a pile of tissues (of which I can’t distinguish clean from used), to write a post about my first cold as a mum.

Today I am a proud mother. At the grand old age of 3 months old, my baby has learned to share. That’s right. Over the Christmas week, Lawson suffered his first sniffles (actually the cutest thing ever), and for some reason my rationale for the past week has been that if he passes his cold to me, I won’t be that ill because it’ll only be a baby sized cold. New mothers – that’s not a thing. When babies share their colds with you (bless their hearts), it is an adult sized cold. Can’t emphasise that enough.

Being sick when you’re a mum sucks. No more duvet days, no more binge watching Sex and the City (yes, I’m still into that), you kind of just have to carry on and get on with it regardless. I’ve heard mothers get pretty good at that. But as I sit here in my maternity pyjamas, I’m trying to consciously come up with a game plan for how I’m going to get through the next week looking after Lawson whilst feeling like I’ve been dragged through a bush. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

 

  1. Get outdoors.

I am so resentful of the fact that fresh air is actually the best thing for a cold. The last thing I want to be doing right now is traipsing to Sainsburys pushing my iCandy Peach with one hand and blowing my nose with the other in sub-zero temperatures. But I feel like if I want to get better, I need to up my health game. Which leads me onto my second strategy…

 

  1. Eat well.

Again, the last thing I want to be doing. All that is within me wants to stuff my face with leftover Christmas cheese and crackers (despite the fact I’m doing Veganuary this month), but I’m fairly sure that doing that for the past week is probably what got me ill in the first place. I’m going to make a special effort to get as much fruit and veg down me as physically possible this week in the hope that their magic nutrients will get me better quicker.

 

  1. Accept help.

Today (Sunday) I actually did manage a daytime nap, thanks to my wonderful husband who offered to take Lawson while I attempted to sleep this off. Actually woke up feeling worse, but I feel like that’s the cold’s way of coming out of my system. May have just made that up. My point is – accept help from people around you who offer to look after your child so you can sleep/take a bath/eat cheese.

 

  1. Make use of technology.

Oh I’m a bad mother for writing this one. I’m going to put it out there anyway. Lawson is obsessed with this black and white animal app on my iPad (I think it’s the Fisher Price one?) So this week, if I’m feeling particularly rough and like I need a bit of a break from repeatedly saying ‘who’s a gorgeous boy?’ in my son’s face in an attempt to make him laugh (FYI – the answer is him – always him), I fully intend to whip out the old iPad, stick on the black and white animal thing and enjoy a coffee, or an undisturbed scroll through Facebook (bad mama smack wrist).

 

  1. Sleep lots.

They say sleep is a great healer (do they?), so I’m going to try squeeze in 40 winks whenever I can this week. If I’m honest, I think the whole ‘sleep when they sleep’ thing is a load of crap when you’ve got a house to keep clean (which I fail at, by the way), a blog and a YouTube channel to run, but when you’re sick, I think this is what you have to do. So this week, when he naps, I nap. Although 40 winks is more likely to be around half that because Lawson refuses to sleep for more than 45 minutes during the day.

And there you have it. My top tips for surviving illness when you have a baby, and my plans laid down for the first week of 2017. You can get through this, mamas, a bit of positivity and a large dose of Lemsip Max can go a long way.

January 3, 2017

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New Year’s Resolution Tag

So I wasn’t actually planning on writing any blog posts, or doing any work for that matter, until the New Year, but I read something today that has just got me a bit pumped to be honest, and I had to respond. My big brother is one of the most inspirational people I have the pleasure of knowing, and in his most recent blog post, he shares his goals for 2017 in light of (albeit slightly shoddy) research that states that goals are 95% more likely to have a successful outcome if written down. Factual or not, I’m grabbing hold of it and running with those figures.

I did a brief video on this over the Vlogmas period, but in all honesty, I feel like I was diluting my real goals for next year. Sometimes you’re just too scared to say them outloud, right? Well, in the words of my wise older bro, “eff you safe road” – I’m going big.

My ‘un-watered down’ goals for 2017 are as follows:

1. Get to 10,000 subscribers on YouTube

Having only started in March of this year, I’m pretty pleased with my 900 subs – it’s been a steady growth and to be honest I never thought I would even get 50 subscribers! So now I have some momentum, I’m putting this out there. Let’s go for 10k.

     

2. Lose 2 stone in weight

This is the total amount of (not including Christmas turkey) weight that I gained throughout my pregnancy. I want to lose it by focusing on being fit and healthy, not by following fad diets and constantly feeling crap about myself. I’m giving myself a whole year, and a whole load of grace for when I mess up and go on a late night Chicken Nugget run(s).

3. Start pursuing new interests in social media

More recently I have developed a massive passion for social media and wanting to help small businesses out with their marketing on various outlets. This year I’m going to work towards that, and also set in motion some other project ideas that, for now, will remain a secret (you’ve got to keep some mystery!)

4. Work more on my ‘inner self’

What a hipster. In all seriousness though, I feel like this year I’ve developed what I’m calling my ‘outer self’ a lot, with my YouTube channel, Instagram and other various social media platforms. I’ve gotten pretty good at portraying my life well through pictures and videos (although we all know that’s just a snapshot, right?) but this year I feel like I want to work harder on the inner me. I want to be more generous, more authentic, more real. These things are infinitely more important than having semi-decent skills on Photoshop.

5. Read more books

I’m aware that this one isn’t really measurable, but I’m putting it out there mainly as a reminder to myself that I need to keep on top of this. By ‘this’, I mean I want to read more books about successful people that inspire me, and their experiences. Reading massively relaxes me anyway, so not only is this a good goal for my wellbeing, it also helps me to catch the mindset of successful people and apply it.

So those are my goals for 2017, in black and white, no diluting, no hiding! I’m a great believer in visualisation (since visualising my perfect birth actually worked out), so I’m currently working on visualising the crap out’a these goals and believing for big things this year.

I don’t know if this is a ‘thing’ – but I’m going to make it one. I would like to tag some blogging and vlogging mamas who inspire me, to talk about their goals. Not only because I think it’s important to get them down on paper, but also because I’m a nosey bugger and want to know the goals of successful people.

I am tagging:

Mrs Meldrum (Rebecca)

BLOGYOUTUBE

This Mama Life (Sarah)

BLOGYOUTUBE

Anna Saccone Joly

BLOGYOUTUBE

The Girl Behind the Camera (Jules)

BLOG / YOUTUBE

Sprinkle of Glitter (Louise)

BLOG / YOUTUBE

These are mamas I seriously look up to  – go show their blogs and YouTube channels some lovin’ – and if you’re reading, ladies, I’d love to hear your goals for the New Year.

And of course, I’m not going to get to 10k subs without some shameless self-promo, so here is MY CHANNEL for you to view at your leisure.

Happy New Year, Mamas. Dream big.

December 29, 2016

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Celebrating Autumn!

Autumn is my all time favourite time of year, bar Christmas… This year my enjoyment has taken a new high, since it’s Lawson’s first Autumn! Granted, he’s been asleep for the majority, but I like to think that deep down he appreciates my attempts to show him the leaves, conkers and fresh crisp air that you only really get this time of year.

Today’s post is a celebration of all things Autumn, and all things baby. We went to one of our favourite parks, Coombe Abbey, and revelled in the Pinterest worthy surroundings and Instagram friendly spots. Here’s what we got up to…

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Since having Lawson, the one phrase that I have heard most often is ‘enjoy every moment while he is still this little’ – so that’s what I am doing.

Happy Autumn everyone.

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November 2, 2016

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DAIRY FREE COOKIES!

In celebration of the Great British Bake Off being back on our screens, I thought I would get my bake on and make the most delicious dairy free cookies I have honestly ever tasted. Now, the official name of these is ‘dairy free banana oat and peanut butter cookies’, but seeing as that’s not so catchy, ‘dairy free cookies’ it is. The thing I love about this recipe is that you can pretty much add whatever you want to the ingredients and it tastes good! I’d like to try it with cranberries and white chocolate chips one day. Yum!

For this recipe you will need:

1 1/2 cups self raising flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup oil

3 tbsp water

1 banana

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 dollop peanut butter

2 1/4 cup porridge oats

Dairy free choc chips

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Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius

2. Combine the flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl

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3. In a separate bowl, mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil and water

4. Mash in the banana, and add a dollop of peanut butter (the size of the dollop is totally your call!)

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5. Add the oats and stir in with a fork

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6. If you have one, use a handheld blender to blend all the ingredients together. This makes sure the banana is properly ‘mashed’ and also crumbles the oats a bit!

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7. Add the chocolate chips and mix in with a fork. Of course you don’t have to use dairy free chocolate chips if you don’t want to, you could pretty much add anything at this stage – raisins or blueberries maybe!

8. Line a baking tray (or two, in my case!) with greaseproof paper, and spoon the cookie mixture onto the trays. Smooth them out with a spoon so they look roughly circular!

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9. Bake in the oven for 13 minutes…

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And voila! Easiest, tastiest cookies ever! This recipe should make about 10-12 cookies, depending on how big you like your portion sizes! (We like to go pretty mega with ours, so today’s batch made 10 cookies.)

Hope you loved this recipe, give me a comment if you tried it and let me know what you think!

Happy baking!

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August 26, 2016

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PLACES TO GO: STRATFORD UPON AVON

Living in the middle of England, Stratford Upon-Avon has always been one of my favourite places. I was lucky enough to go to college there, and am conscious to make an effort to visit as often as physically possible!

We recently had a bit of a family visit to Stratford, and we checked out two places that I hadn’t been to before, so I’m excited to share them with you!

The first place we went to was Boston Tea Party. This company has cafes all around the country, and having visited the one in Cheltenham recently, I was pretty keen to check out Stratford’s version. I was not disappointed!

The cafe is located on the same street as Shakespeare’s house, which happens to be one of my favourite streets in Stratford. Mainly because it is also home to the Christmas shop, which is Christmassy all year round. The decor inside is what can only be described as delightfully Instagramable, so of course I took full advantage.

btp 1I ordered an iced coffee, which is made with avocado (as they say on the menu, trust them, it’s good!) It was honestly like drinking a fluffy cloud of coffee-y, milky, sweet goodness. Seriously yummy. To eat, I went very plain Jane and had a ham and cheese toastie with sun blushed tomatoes (how very British), and this came on the most delicious bread and was probably one of the best ham and cheese toasties I have had, as far as ham and cheese toasties go. We also sampled the sweet potato fritters, which are most definitely worth a try.

btp 2The cafe is also really baby friendly. I do find myself checking out the ‘baby friendliness’ of pretty much all new places I visit, and this place didn’t disappoint. My sweetheart of a niece had her own high chair and there were changing facilities within easy access (even if she did get a tad emotional whilst being changed!) I also noticed a lot of women there with small babies and prams, which is always a good sign.

btp 3We then ventured literally across the street, in search of more coffee, to a place called Box Brownie. I opted for another iced soy latte (I know… what an addict… But third trimester tiredness!) and despite tasting slightly more ‘coffee-y’ than I would usually make – it was cold and infused with caffeine, which was exactly what I needed. I would recommend highly.

btp 4The owner of the cafe is also super nice, I say that despite him teasing me that my baby looks like it’s going to be a ’10 pounder’ (his words). Please no! Stay small little one!

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August 12, 2016

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