So, here are my answers to the questions all about life as a Mummy to Bert.
1. Are you a stay at home mum, or a working mum?
I'm a stay at home mum at the moment, as I'm still on maternity leave. The thought of going to work and leaving my little man makes me feel sick at the moment, so I have ultimate respect for any working mums out there - it must be so hard!
2. Would you have it any other way?
No way. I absolutely adore being at home with Bert all day - we fill our days with a lovely balance of getting out and about, seeing friends and family, doing a few necessary jobs, lots of playing, and mostly cuddles!
3. Do you co-sleep?
No. If I'm honest it frightens me. I've read so many horror stories and health warnings about co-sleeping and suffocation etc - although I absolutely love snuggling up with Bert in bed I am always wary and on edge - so I wouldn't sleep at all well. Saying that, we have co-slept for portions of the night on a few occasions (teething, illness etc) where I've known he won't sleep at all unless he's with me. Needless to say I barely slept on those nights. We're sticking with a swinging crib right next to my side of the bed. I can see him as soon as I lift my head, and can reach out and touch him without getting up - that seems to work best for our little family.
4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?
The bouncy chair! It is a god send. When he was tiny it was fab to pop him in knowing he was safe and comfortable. We have a vibrating one which he loved and helped get him off to sleep. Now its a great place to pop him if I need him to stay put for 2 minutes - he is now crawling, staying put is no longer something he can do - so the bouncy chair is a life saver for that.
My little rascal in his bouncy chair!
5. How many kids do you plan on having?
Realistically, two. Although I'm sure the temptation will be there to try for a third if we got a second boy. I really don't know - it comes down to a lot of factors, and I really try not to plan too far ahead like that - I feel so unbelievably lucky to have one beautiful healthy child that I can't really wish for more than that. Also…the thought of having to withstand another birth is enough to make me want to stick with just the one ;-)
6. Date night? How many per month?
Since having Bert, Liam and I have made a conscious effort to make sure we have some grown up time together -I'd love to say it is once a month - but maybe that isn't quite realistic - sometimes it is twice a month, and then we might go some months with none at all. We've been so lucky to have recently won two hotel stays - one in Kensington, and one in Brighton - which meant we had two blissful escapes just the two us. I have to say its always lovely to get home to Bert though - I miss him so much even just for a few hours. We also love going to the theatre and cinema - we've managed a few trips since Bert's arrival thanks to lovely friends and family stepping in to babysit. I think it is so important to get the balance right and make time to be grown ups as well as just 'mum & dad'.
Me and the Hubster!
We never manage to be that grown up!
7. Your child’s favourite show?
He doesn't really watch any children's TV yet (is that mean of me?) We watched Beauty & The Beast together when he was two weeks old (he slept through most of it, does that count?) Apparently he was glued to Bob the Builder at his Nanny Seaside's house last week - so maybe he'll be a Bob fan! On that note - I'm not a huge fan of current children's TV (I was subjected to lots of it in my job as a Drama Specialist for children with severe special needs) so I decided I'd go out and buy DVDs of all the classic children's shows I loved from my own childhood such as Rugrats and The Raggy Dolls. That reminds me - I must get a few more for the collection - I'd love to get The Racoons, The Moomins, and Arthur.
8. Name one thing you bought before you had your baby and never ended up using?
A breast pump - luckily I had the receipt and was able to take it back to John Lewis, as it wasn't cheap (around £45). It was a real shame I wasn't able to breast feed Bert - with hindsight, it actually was the best thing for me in the long run - and Bert seems super happy and healthy on formula - still, it would have been nice, and cheaper to have been able to feed him myself.
9. Your child’s favourite food?
Farley's Rusks! He blooming LOVES them - he currently has them mushed up with previously boiled water, or his baby milk - and I'm sure he'll soon love munching on one as a biscuit - especially as he now has two teeth!!
Bert loves rusks. He does not like Brussel Sprouts.
10. How many cars do your family have?
We have one car. A Suzuki Liana GLX - its maroon and I love it! It is a really great practical family car with a lovely big boot, and I think I love it so much because of the freedom it has given us. Saying that - I don't drive, only my husband Liam does, and he's only been driving for a year - so its all pretty new for us. It's great for the weekends though, and for going home to Surrey to see my family.
11. Weight before, during and after pregnancy and now?
Always an interesting one for me. So, I was pushing a size 20 3 years ago, and managed to lose 4 stone and get down to a small size 16 for my wedding day in August 2012. Then I suffered a miscarriage on my honeymoon, and quickly put on a stone (feeding my misery, I tend to turn to food as my comfort). I fell pregnant with Bert in the November of 2012, and put on 3 stone during the pregnancy - and so got back to my biggest weight (and felt rubbish for it). Since having Bert I have worked really hard to shift the baby weight, and am pleased to say I'm just two pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight and back into all my size 16 clothes. Once I get this next two pounds off (hopefully in the next week or so) I'll be so happy as every subsequent loss from there will be a bonus. Ideally I'd love to lose a further two stone over the next year or so… so watch this space.
The year before my wedding, and about a month ago - getting there!
12. Dream holiday with your kids?
DisneyWorld in America - definitely. I've been to DisneyLand Paris when I was about 16 and absolutely fell in love with it. We've sort made an unofficial plan to go with our best friends Danni & Charlie in the future when they have kids too - it would be super magical - and definitely a once in a life time trip worth saving up for!
13. Dream holiday without your kids?
Liam and I are desperate to go to New York - do all the touristy stuff, and mainly just eat eat eat - we'd love to do a Man vs Food style trip and work our way round all the awesome diners, restaurants and food-challenges! Haha!
14. How has your life changed since having babies?
Irrevocably. Definitely for the better. I feel stronger because of Bert - because of all I had to cope with in the pregnancy and the birth, and because ultimately, I am responsible for him - I am officially the 'grown-up'. I feel a huge sense of achievement, and a stronger sense of belonging and 'home' now he is with us. Being Bert's mum is definitely the best thing that's ever happened to me (joint with meeting my hubby - without that Bert wouldn't be here after all).
first thing in the morning silliness!
15. Finish the sentence: ‘It makes my heart melt to see……?’
Liam and Bert having their special father and son moments together. There is something so magical about seeing the two people you love most in the world having that 'moment' together.
Daddy and Bert in their matching outfits
Best. Picture. Ever.
building a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles play set together!
16. Where do you shop for your kids?
We have been amazingly lucky in that we haven't had to buy very much in terms of clothes for Bert as my awesome cousin Michelle has passed on all of the beautiful clothes she had for her son Paris who was born 1 year and 1 month before Bert. Luckily all his clothes are the right season for Bert - so he looks super-trendy in his cousins togs! The few bits we have bought for him have been from Next, Debenhams, Cath Kidston and Joules. 17. Favourite make up and skin care products?
I'm not brilliant with skincare regimes and make up - I don't seem to get much time for it if I'm honest. I wear make up when I go 'out, out' - but day to day I just stick to my routine of a little moisturiser, some lip butter and a smidgen of pencil eye liner and mascara. I use Maybeline Matte Mousse foundation and cream blusher when I do a full face of make up. My favourite skincare products (when I'm bought them as gifts as I can't afford them) are Clarins' Beauty Flash Balm, and Dermalogica's Microfoliant - both amazing products.
I probably take the most care of my finger nails - as I used to bite them terribly as a teenager, and now have lovely long nails that I regularly manicure, and use Solar Oil moisturiser daily - I swear by it. 18. Huggies or Pampers?
Pampers - we swear by Pampers nappies - we've tried most own brands and found them to be leaky & unreliable, Pampers have always come up trumps for us. My hubby HATES Huggies wipes as he says they're impossible to get out of the packet - I like how thick they are though, and I seem to manage to get them out! Lol.
19. Have you always wanted kids?
I went through a stage as a teenager saying that I didn't want to have kids - but in all honesty I think I was just scared by the prospect of settling down and being a 'good girl'. Once I'd got all that out of my system I was like 'Kids?….Bring It On!!'.
20. Best part about being a mum?
The unconditional overwhelming love you feel that you never knew you had inside you. I also love seeing the little parts of me and my husband in Bert as he grows and develops - I suddenly get a glimpse of myself or Liam and think 'wow!'.
Since having Bert I have been astounded by how much washing just one baby and two adults can generate! Pre-Bert I never really worried about which washing powder I used, I just used to buy whatever was on special offer in the supermarket. However, when Bert came along I knew it was important to use something soft and gentle on his delicate skin, and after asking some friends and family members which powder they recommended, they all said Fairy Non-Bio. So we made the switch and have never looked back. I now wash all our clothes with Fairy - we buy giant 180 wash boxes of powder and 5L bottles of softener from Costco which work out at amazing value - so theres no need to search high and low for offers!
The Power of Soft is Fairy's latest campaign all about cherishing every moment with your little ones - Fairy are happy to be there every step of the way - surrounding you and your little ones in their snuggly softness. It is no secret that your time with your child as a newborn races away from you at the speed of light - it seems to only last 5 minutes. Bert is now 6 months old and I genuinely cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. So far, the smell and softness of Fairy has been with us every step of the way - as soon as I smell that fresh washing smell I think of little Bert all wrapped up in his snuggly bath towel just a few days old…
And now he's so much bigger, but still loves to be snuggled and cuddled just as much as he did when he was tiny!
Bert after his bath time, snuggled in his Fairy soft towel
sleepy boy in his Fairy soft baby grow, snuggling up to Daddy!
Fairy asked me to share with you a lovely little poem/mantra from their new campaign. It pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about being a new mummy - you really do have to cherish each and every moment, and try not to sweat the small stuff - the dishes don't matter, trust me, just snuggle down for an afternoon snooze with your little one and make the most of how gorgeous and tiny they are.
In exchange for sharing my thoughts about Fairy washing products, they sent me a sample of Fairy Gel and softener, as well as this absolutely stunning personalised snuggle cushion to help Bert and I snuggle up together and make the most of our precious time together as mother and baby. Blogging has given me so many amazing opportunities, and I can't believe how lucky I am sometimes to receive such lovely things in the post for free. I fell in love with this beautiful cushion as soon as I saw it - an item to treasure for the rest of my days.
In order to personalise the cushion Fairy asked me to sum up what a cuddle with Bert was like, then they embroidered my thoughts onto this stunning cushion…
"A soft cuddle with you Albert is my favourite thing on Earth, your smell, your smile…all perfect!"
Bert's smell has such a powerful effect on me - it is my strongest memory from his birth - he just smelt so amazing to me as soon as I held him - I couldn't stop smelling his tiny little head, and now, as soon as I breath in his scent I completely relax!
our stunning snuggle cushion…thank you Fairy!
What a beautiful cushion - a perfect addition to Bert's lovely nursery - now sat in our rocking chair ready for a snuggle.
We've begun using the great samples Fairy sent us, and as expected our washing smells heavenly and is beautifully soft.
So, here's the low down from Fairy about their products, and their Power of Soft campaign...
Many mums start out with Fairy Non Bio to provide great softness next to baby’s skin. But once you’re a mum, you never stop caring! That’s why many mums choose to stay with Fairy Non Bio.
Fairy Non Bio gives you amazingly clean clothes, soft towels and bedding, all with that gentle feeling of softness next to precious skin.
Fabric Softener: Adding even greater softness to your wash, just one capful of Fairy Fabric Softener keeps the little ones, and no-longer-so-little ones, safe and snug. Whether it’s for softer towels at bathtime, cosier covers for bedtime, or more comforting clothes when they are out and about, Fairy helps you care for your family.
Gel:Everyone loves the convenience of Fairy Non Bio Gel. It packs all that huggable softness into one little bottle, complete with its own dosing cap. Pop a precise little squeeze of gel into the cap, then add that direct to your wash. You’ll soon be marvelling at the wonderful softness and sparkling cleanliness of every load.
Key outtakes from our survey of 1500 mums, as carried out by Mumsnet:
• Almost 60% spent at least a quarter of their entire day cuddling their new born.
• 74% of new parents most savoured “cuddle time” over any other moment in the day.
• 15% of parents with a baby aged 0-6 months found only an hour or less a day between chores and other pressures to enjoy cuddle time.
• The number one piece of advice from more experienced parents to new mothers was to “forget the little things because time flies and you can’t get it back”.
• 70% of parents with babies 9 months+ said that the one thing they would have done differently as a new parent was spending more time cuddling their baby.
More than two thirds of parents say the one thing they would have done differently is spend more time cuddling their baby!
70% of parents wish their child would stay new born for longer
Anastasia Roumelioti from Fairy Non Bio comments, “We understand that baby’s first few months are incredibly precious for both mother and child. Fairy Non Bio is helping to make every embrace as special as possible by leaving the baby’s clothes super soft. We know time is fleeting and so are encouraging mums to spend as much time cuddling with their new born as possible. This is the power of softness: unlocking the memory of the perfect, soft cuddle before time takes it away.”
The findings also reinforced how tough it is to be a new mum with respondents who are parents of young babies agreeing that it’s easy to become preoccupied by other ‘jobs’ which encroach on precious cuddle time. Cleaning the house (83%), working yourself back into pre-pregnancy clothes (69%) and getting baby into a strict routine (62%) were listed as the biggest demands on new parent’s time.
With the power of hindsight, the number one piece of advice from parents with children 9 months+ was to forget the little things, such as staying on top of the housework, because time with your new born soon flies and you can’t get it back.
Other top advice to new mums from the Mumsnet survey, included:
1. Mummy knows best even when she thinks she doesn't
2. Try not to be super mum
3. You can’t spoil your baby with cuddles
4. Sleep when the baby does
5. Housework can wait
6. Take a ‘baby moon’
7. Don’t compare yourself to other mothers – every baby is different
8. Trust your instincts
9. Treasure every moment
10. If you thought you were in love before you had a baby – wait till you meet your baby!
Please trust me when I say you must make the most of every single moment - before you know it your tiny weeny newborn is crawling and sprouting teeth!!!!
My crawling munchkin - still Fairy soft in his PJS, but gives a pretty wriggly cuddle these days!
And look…he even has two teeny tiny teeth - where has the time gone?
Do you use Fairy Non-Bio?
How long did/do you spend snuggling your newborn each day?
I happily spend as much time as I can snuggling Bert at the moment, and try not to worry too much about the housework - hubby and I share the jobs and try to keep on top of things as best we can. Our priority is always Bert, and what's best for him.
Plus there is genuinely nothing better for your mental health and happiness than a snuggle with your little one.
A common problem among parents is suddenly not being able to wear the pretty jewellery they wore pre-baby…I always wore my 'signature' necklace (A tweetie bird by jewellery designer Alyssa Smith) but once Bert came along I was too worried about it being broken.
me pre-baby always wearing my Alyssa Smith necklace!
Then at Christmas just gone my lovely sister bought me a gorgeous Estella Bartlett necklace - I'd had my eye on this gorgeous present bow necklace for ages, and I was so chuffed with it that I popped it straight on. Three days later and Bert grabbed me by the chain and completely snapped it! I was gutted :-( It is still sat in its box, waiting for a replacement chain to be purchased.
My Christmas Bow necklace - waiting for a new chain! :-(
So when I discovered the products over at Mama Jewels I was instantly interested - they design and make jewellery that is not only pretty but also indestructible and non toxic/washable! Anything that is baby proof but still stylish definitely gets my vote.
The pendants contain Liberty prints in their design, and the necklace that the lovely people at Mama Jewels sent me is a swallow pendant - anyone who knows me know how much I love birds and Liberty (read about my love of Liberty here) so it really is a perfect combination for me.
Amanda Wearing is the founder of the company, and came up with the concept when she had her first son and could no longer wear the jewellery she designed through fear of it being broken, sucked on, chewed etc. Soon after she began designing this new baby-proof jewellery and has never looked back!
I was sent the lovely Clare de lune necklace which retails at £22.95 - here's what Mama Jewels say about it...
A delicate and oh so pretty necklace which is still amazingly baby-proof!
Made with liberty print bird charm, silver and pearlescent white beads, mounted on silver cord and finished with a Mama Jewels toggle clasp.
Approximately 16'' drop
washable. non-toxic. strength tested. gift boxed
My gorgeous Clare de lune necklace with Liberty print - lush
Bert road testing the necklace - giving it a good pull!
Bert loves to pull on my clothes or jewellery when he's snuggling up to me, and so far there's been absolutely no sign of this necklace breaking - the woven cord that holds it all together (instead of a chain) is so so strong - I feel confident when I wear it and know that it is safe for Bert, which is the main thing. The fact that it looks really pretty is a huge added bonus!
I think this jewellery would be such a lovely thoughtful gift for a new mum - as it was something I really didn't think about until Bert was here and had already ruined some of my precious jewellery! It would be a lovely way to spoil a new mum, as well as knowing you'll be helping to keep the little one safe too.
Check out some of their other stunning designs on their website.
Disclaimer: I was sent a Clare de lune necklace for the purpose of this review - all words and opinions are my own.
So - for February's challenge I decided to make a Gala Pie using hot water crust pastry - I've been desperate to try making this pastry for ages, and last weekend when visiting our favourite local farm shop to buy sausages (the best sausages you've ever eaten!) I was inspired to try this new bake.
Summerhill is a local farm shop we use in Cardington, Bedfordshire - we discovered this shop around 3 months ago when out and about on a family day out. I love a good farm shop, and like to support local food producers and when I saw that their sausages had won multiple awards I thought we'd give them a go. We've never looked back and now drive especially to stock up the fridge and freezer with their scrummy sausages.
Summerhill Farm Shop, Cardington, Bedfordshire
Beautiful fresh produce right on our doorstep
Double award winning sausages & Our free pork pie
In January Summerhill gave out vouchers to claim a free pork pie when you shop with them in February - so when we went last weekend we redeemed our voucher, and had a pork pie picnic on a country walk around Willen Lake in Milton Keynes. The pork pie was amazing - beautifully spiced and seasoned, with crispy rich pastry - and while eating it I thought how much I wanted to try making my own pork pie.
yummy pork pie picnic at Willen Lake
So I bought loads of sausages: some for dinners, and 3 big fat sausages (300g) for my gala pie. I originally saw this recipe on Paul Hollywod's Pies & Puds TV series, and it appealed to me as although using hot water crust pastry you don't have to funnel jelly into your pie - which makes the process so much easier than a conventional jellied pie. This is a great first time recipe for someone who has never worked with hot water crust pastry or made a pork pie before.
This week my lovely mum and auntie came to stay with us for a few days - so I took the opportunity of having guests to help us eat it, and someone to watch Bert while I spend a couple of hours in the kitchen, and I got on with the new baking challenge.
Bert with his lovely (Great!) Auntie Sandra (left) and Nanny Seaside (right) - the perfect babysitters while mummy bakes yummies in the kitchen! :-)
I found the recipe for the pie here on the BBC website
Raised Pork and Egg (Gala) Pie
For the filling
300g/10½oz good-quality sausages, such as Lincolnshire, skins removed
300g/10½oz pork mince
150g/5½oz cooked ham hock, cut into roughly 1.5cm/½in pieces
2 banana shallots, finely chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
salt and white pepper
For the hot water crust pastry
450g/1lb plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g/3½oz strong white flour
75g/2½oz unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1cm/½in cubes
½ tsp salt
100g/3½oz lard, plus extra for greasing
1 free-range egg yolk, beaten
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Grease a 1kg/2lb 4oz loaf tin (measuring about 10x20cm/4x8in across the base) with lard, then cut one long strip of baking parchment, the width of the tin, and place it in the tin so that there’s an overhang of parchment at each end, which will help you remove the pie later.
First make the filling. Put all the ingredients, except the hard-boiled eggs, into a large bowl and season lightly with salt and white pepper. Mix together thoroughly using your hands. Cook a little nugget of the mixture in a frying pan and taste it to check the seasoning. Add more seasoning, as necessary, to the remaining filling. Put the mixture in the fridge while you make the pastry.
To make the pastry, combine the flours in a bowl, add the butter and rub in lightly with your fingertips. Heat 200ml/7fl oz water, the salt and lard in a saucepan until just boiling. Pour the mixture onto the flour and mix together with a spoon. Once cool enough to handle, tip onto a floured surface and knead into a smooth dough.
Working as quickly as you can (the pastry will become more crumbly as it cools), roll out two-thirds of the pastry and use it to line the prepared tin, leaving any excess hanging over the edges.
Press half of the meat filling into the pastry-lined tin. Take a thin slice off the top and bottom of each boiled egg (this helps them sit next to each other and makes slicing the pie easier), then place the eggs lengthways down the middle of the pie. Add the remaining meat filling and pat it down.
Brush the overhanging pastry edge with egg yolk. Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid and place over the pie. Pinch the pastry edges together to seal and trim the edges neatly. Make three steam holes in the top of the pie and brush with more egg yolk.
Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and bake for a further hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
To remove the pie, turn the tin on its side and use the parchment paper to slide out the pie. Serve in thick slices.
my pie before I filled it with the rest of the pork filling
the gala pie fresh out of the oven
a nice generous slice of pie! It looks very pink because of the ham - but had been cooked for 1 hour 30 minutes and was well and truly cooked through!
Our 'nursery' dinner - Homemade Gala Pie served with wedges (made with our Tefal Actifry), and beans.
The leftovers! On the recipe it says that the pie serves 8 people - but we made it serve 7 so as we could eat a generous slices as a lovely treat!
You really don't want to know the calories - but I'll tell you anyway...please keep in mind that this is a treat food, and not something you would eat every week!
Per slice (if pie serves 8) 593 calories.
It is truly worth every single naughty calorie and is a really lovely enjoyable bake! I would definitely make hot water crust pastry again - in fact I will be looking out for some recipes using this pastry now as it was fun and quite simple to make. If anyone has any great recipes using this pastry please give me a shout :-)
I hope you all have a lovely weekend planned-we're nearly there…
Hubby and I are off to Brighton for the weekend for some more grown up time - we're claiming our second competition prize with Thistle Hotels - I can't wait! Watch this space for a blog post all about it!
Happy baking for those of you who hit the kitchen this weekend and I'll look forward to sharing March's baking challenge with you next month!