Monday 30 September 2013

Surrey/Sussex Based Photographer Barney Warner....COMPETITION TIME!!

Barney Warner Photography

Barney Warner - Photographer

Entrusting someone to capture your most special moments on camera is a big deal. Every couple dream of getting the 'perfect' wedding shots or of getting some stunning family portrait images taken, and sadly, sometimes can be greatly disappointed with the final images. I always find it best to hire a photographer on recommendation - and today I want to recommend the wonderful Barney Warner photography to you, my lovely blog readers! 

Barney is based in the Sussex and Surrey area of the UK (the area I was born and grew up in) and we hired him (after many recommendations) as our wedding photographer. I cannot tell you how wonderful he, and his wife Emma were. Not only did they produce some absolutely STUNNING images, but they were also the friendliest and most relaxed and fun photographers ever. They didn't boss people around (which I've witnessed at other weddings) and they really seemed to genuinely enjoy the day themselves, joining in and having fun with us all, all the while staying professional and capturing magical moments on camera. 

I'll let the images speak for themselves - here are some of my favourite images from our special day, all taken and edited by Barney Warner Photography....

Such happy memories! 

Not only does Barney offer wedding photography he also does portrait photography. 
We recently took our little man Bert to Barney to have his first ever professional photos taken. I can't tell you how wonderful the whole experience was. Barney and Emma made it so much fun, popping Bert into fun poses, and being really patient and gentle with him. And yet again they haven't disappointed on the images - they've captured our boy beautifully, and we will treasure the images forever.

Barney's photos do the talking...

The awesome Barney is offering you lovely blog readers a chance to win an amazing prize ... 

If you are based in the Surrey/Sussex area and fancy winning a family portrait shoot with Barney Warner Photography for up to 5 people including images up to the value of £230 then please enter the rafflecopter giveaway below.... 

Entries must be in by 30th November 2013

Best of luck!!

Mrs B


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday 27 September 2013

GUEST POST: Post-pregnancy Nutrition & Weight Loss Advice from Nutritional Expert Farrah Malik

Hello Lovely Blog Readers, 

I have a real treat for all my lovely yummy-mummy blog followers today - some sound advice from the wonderful Farrah Malik (Nutritional & Supplement Expert) about nutrition after giving birth and realistic advice about losing your baby-weight!

Expect to hear more from Farrah in the future, we have plans in the pipeline for some other great guest posts later in the autumn. 

Bye for now

Mrs B 


*********************** GUEST POST *************************

Post-pregnancy Nutrition & Weight Loss

After the 9 months of carrying them around they’ve finally arrived, and you couldn’t be happier. For the majority (with the exception of the celeb super models) we are left with the ‘mummy tummy’ as the souvenir. Not one most of us want to proudly display. Even for those who had a C-section, we all need to be careful as our muscles readjust and work back to the positions they were in before. Exercising too early postpartum can result in your joints, core muscles and ligaments not correctly re-aligning. On average your muscles can be loose for around 3-5 months after. If you were one to regularly exercise before/during your pregnancy mild exercise can be reintroduced, failing that those of you that had tapered off or weren’t particularly gym orientated, slowly starting with low impact activities such as walking.

During pregnancy a gap can form in your abdominal muscles as the baby belly expands to accommodate your growing child and can develop during labour, a condition called diastasis recti. It takes four to eight weeks after giving birth for this gap to close.

Starting a diet too soon after giving birth can affect your mood and energy level as well as your milk supply. If you're patient and give your body time to do its work, you may be surprised at how much weight you lose naturally.

There is no magical way to take off baby weight, but with healthy eating habits and regular exercise, you can get your pre pregnancy body back or an even better one if you like!
Unlike normal dieters, a new mum’s body needs certain nutrients to keep her healthy and needs to be careful to not crash diet or follow some silly regime that wouldn’t provide you with enough energy to brush your hair let alone look after an infant.
Here are some food and tips you might need to trim down, boost energy, and get healthy, all while taking care of your lovely bundle of joy.

Post Baby Lift
Sleep: Get as much sleep as you can when possible! Cat naps during the day are vital to help refresh your energy levels and keep you on the right foot throughout the day (and possibly during the night!)

Stay Hydrated: start the day with a 1.5-2L bottle of water and finish it by the end of the day. Not only will it keep you hydrated it helps to curb hunger and provide that satiety feeling, meaning you are less likely to snack. Water is also great for your skin. After that youthful pregnancy glow you need to ensure you’re doing what you can to maintain that radiant appearance.

General weight loss tips:
Eat slower: Busy mums may only get the odd minute here or there to grab some food, but enjoy it and slower. It takes on average 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from the stomach to send the ‘I’ve eaten enough’.  So taking your time gives the brain a chance to catch up with the stomach, and you're less likely to overeat.

Love Red Meat, but want to cut the fat? Try Soya meat. It’s lean and is a great substitute for beef or lamb even for those that don’t eat meat. Consumed in a typical far eastern diet, it has been proven to help cope with PMS. Soya is contains natural isoflavones – known as phytoestrogens or plant based oestrogens, perfect for post pregnancy hormone balancing. Other benefits of soya include helping to maintain strong bones and a healthy heart.
The protein in Soya can contains a hunger-fighting hormone and will fill you up more than carbs.

Fight Inflammation - Trauma and stress to the body - i.e., giving birth, can cause the immune system to respond through inflammation internally. You can help fight this inflammation by consuming foods that are considered to be anti-inflammatories. Examples include everything from green tea to berries to spices such as turmeric and garlic. Steer clear of processed sugar, which increases inflammation and raises blood sugar.

Power of Omega-3 - Fish Oil is considered a potent anti-inflammatory and can help raise your Omega-3 levels as well. Small fish such as anchovies, mackerel, and lake trout are some of the purest sources of Omega-3 which is great for your breast milk to boost an infant's sensory, cognitive, and motor development and for your own brain and may decrease the incidence of postpartum depression. Breast milk is rich in DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain growth.
The Department of Health recommends consuming at least 3 portions of these oily fish a week to maintain your Omega levels. If that isn’t your cup of tea - try a high potency formula Omega-3 supplement.

Calcium – although there is some debate about how much calcium breastfeeding women should consume, current recommendations for non-pregnant women are also sufficient for pregnant and breastfeeding women. For strong bones and teeth, make sure to eat plenty of low-fat dairy products and other calcium-rich foods such as figs, beans and peas, or leafy greens. Try to eat your way to a recommended 1,000 mg of calcium a day.

Healthcare and Nutrition fanatic, Supplement Expert
West Sussex.

Perfect Post-Pregnancy Recipe idea...

Makes: 10 tacos
400g pumpkin, finely cubed
1 large carrot, finely cubed
1 (122g) medium onion, sliced
1 (200g) Courgettes, finely cubed
100g button mushrooms, quartered
1 small (200g) Aubergine, finely cubed
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander
1/2 cup yoghurt

1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove
1/2 small jalapeƱo pepper
1 ripe peeled avocado

  1. Heat a little oil in pan and cook pumpkin, carrot and onion for 5 minutes. Add Courgettes, mushrooms, Aubergine and tomato and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  2. Add Taco Spice Mixes, 3/4 cup water and simmer for 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir through coriander.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Remove Tacos from plastic, keep heatproof wedge inside shells to retain shape. Fan Tacos slightly apart on tray and heat in an oven for 5 minutes.
    Meanwhile whiz all the Guacamole ingredients, except the avocado in the food processor or in a pestle and mortar. Once blended together add the guacamole and work until the consistency is per you liking. I prefer it chunky!
  4. Fill Taco Shells with cooked vegetable mix and top with a dollop of salsa, yoghurt and a homemade guacamole- et voila! 

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Jamie Oliver Dinners: Black Bean Burgers with Coconut Buns and Falafel Wraps with Homemade Hummus

Here's some lovely family-friendly recipes - all from the wonderful Jamie Oliver. I love these dinners - proper homemade comfort food with some really interesting flavours. 

Black Bean Burgers with Coconut Buns

This is a combination of a few recipes I've seen Jamie make - I popped these together for a Chinese-style feast at home. I made a vegetable and noodle stir fry, twinned with these delicious beef patties and coconut buns (chinese dumplings) in this instance used as burger bun style replacements. 

For the Burgers:

500g lean minced beef
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
runny honey for drizzling over
25g sesame seeds
olive oil for frying


Mix the mince with a tablespoon of black bean sauce, and season with S&P. Divide into 4, and make round burger shaped patties. Fry in a little olive oil for around 10 mins. Then add some runny honey, and sprinkle over the sesame seeds, let the honey caramelise and the sesame seeds stick and brown making a delicious crust on the burgers. 

For the Coconut Buns:

1 tin reduced fat coconut milk
2 tins of self raising flour


Pour the coconut milk, flour and salt into a food processor and blend until you have a sticky dough. With a floured surface and wet hands separate the dough into 8 equal sized portions and loosely roll into balls. Pop each bun into a double layer of paper cupcake cases, and then place into a bamboo steamer. Steam above a pan of simmering water for 15 minutes until light and fluffy. 

(Can I suggest with hindsight that you add a teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice, and a splash of Soy Sauce to the mix before steaming to add some extra flavour, as personally I found these slightly too bland - although they are a good flavour carrier - so they were great twinned with the yummy patties!) 

Cut or break open the coconut buns and eat with the beef patties, and a vegetable stir fry. 

Making Jamie Oliver Black Bean Burgers
Stir fry, patties and buns-a-steaming

Jamie Oliver Black Bean Burgers with Stir Fry
The finished stir fry and black bean beef patties with sesame crust

Jamie Oliver Coconut Buns
Coconut buns! A weird phenomenon ... but satisfying to both make and eat (also good cold the next day with left over beef patties according to my husband!)

Falafel Wraps with Hummus & Griddled Peppers

These are along the lines of a Turkish style fajhita - meat free, but full of protein, very filling, and just so scrummy - I insist you all have a go at this easy and fun dinner! 

For the Falafel:

1 tin of chick peas
1 tin of mixed beans
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 heaped tsp allspice
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 bunch fresh coriander
olive oil for frying


Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz. Empty the paste onto the counter and divide into 8 equal sized patties. (Use wet hands as the falafel 'dough' is very sticky). Fry on a medium heat in olive oil until golden and crispy on the outside and heated through. 

Homemade Falafel - Jamie Oliver recipe
My falafel cooking 

For the Hummus:

1 tin of chick peas, drained
30g/30ml of Tahini paste or smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp Greek or natural yoghurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika (I used hot smoked paprika for extra kick!)
salt and pepper to season


It couldn't be easier - bung all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you have a thick paste. Spoon into a bowl and drizzle over some extra olive oil.

Homemade hummus
My homemade hummus

Griddle some peppers of each colour for 10 mins or so until soft and lightly charred. Once cooked pop your wraps into the microwave for 30 seconds to warm through & make pliable! 

Picture this: a warm tortilla wrap smothered in homemade hummus, with sweet charred peppers and broken chunks of falafel, all wrapped up and ready to tuck into... what more could you want? 

Falafel feast
The meal all laid out ready to tuck in - seeded tortillas, griddled peppers, hummus and falafel (think Turkish style fajitas!) 

homemade falafel close up
Yum - the finished falafel - I will SO make these again and again - scrummy! 

Falafel wraps
All ready to be wrapped up and devoured

falafel wraps
Close up - all ready for wrapping! 

I honestly didn't miss meat at all in this dish, it is a perfect vegetarian dinner, and a really good meal to make for a dinner party - so fun to eat, a very sociable dinner. 

Why not give it a go? 

I hope I've inspired you to give these fun but easy dinners a try....

Mrs B


Sunday 15 September 2013

I'd better shape up...

It's now 3 weeks and 3 days since our little bundle arrived. Bert is a wonderful baby and has already bought Liam and I so much happiness. He's settled well into his new life, and Liam and I are both adjusting well to our new roles as Mummy & Daddy. 

Now that the dust has settled (so to speak) and I'm beginning to heal physically from the birth (mentally is a whole other story!) I feel it's now a good time to start thinking about how I intend on getting back into shape post-baby. 

Everyone tells you not to rush into crash diets & crazy exercise regimes and I totally and whole heartedly agree. Now is not the time to be working yourself into the ground, now is the time to be enjoying your new baby & adjusting to your new life. And I also know from my previous weight loss journey (I lost 4 stones before my wedding last year) that there are no quick fixes when it comes to losing weight and shaping up. Therefore, I'm being very realistic: I don't expect to "bounce back" straight away, and in fact I don't expect my body to ever be as it was, a few extra stretch marks and a softer tummy and boobs are part of me now, they're my war wounds...proof physically that I'm a mummy, and that I grew my little man safely for 9 months-I'm proud of that, and so am proud of my new body.

But, for my own sanity, for my own happiness and for my health I do want to shift the weight I put on during pregnancy, and I want eventually to work past my pre-pregnancy weight and achieve a new lower weight that will put me in the healthy BMI category (finally!). For the past 3.5 weeks since Albert arrived I haven't been worrying about what I'm eating - in fact I've probably eaten more cakes, biscuits and treats in the past few weeks than I ever have before (think 40+ visitors to ply with tea & cakes, quick snacks, and sugar-fuelled feasts to keep me awake!) Now the visitors have died down, and I'm more settled into life as a Mum I feel like there are no more excuses to eat myself into a sugar-coma! 

So, I am setting myself some achievable goals ...

•By Xmas (14 weeks) I want to have lost the 1 stone 7lbs extra weight I'm carrying to get me back to my pre-pregnancy weight. 

•By Albert's FIRST birthday on 22nd Aug 2014 I want to have lost a further 34lbs (a loss of 1lb per week each week from Christmas)

•By 6th Dec 2014(my best friends' wedding!) I'd like to have achieved a further 8lb loss and have maintained that loss! 

This will total a 4 and a half stone loss in total. Over a period of 15 months. I know this is do-able for me.


I'm not planning a crash diet & I'm not banning any foods at all. I love food & cooking. Always have, always will. And the thought of banning things from my diet scares the crap out of me quite frankly! So, I'm going to do what I know works....everything in moderation. Basically a calorie controlled diet & lots of exercise. It worked for me before, and I know it can work again.
So here's my basic plan... 

•eat lots of fruit & veg
•brown bread, pasta and rice products (only occasional white flour)
•drink plenty of water
•mostly replace skimmed milk with almond milk 
•LOTS and LOTS of walking with the buggy. 
•a once weekly evening swim (starting once my stitches have properly healed in a couple of weeks) 
•a once weekly 30 min session on the cross trainer, building up to twice and possibly 3 times a week as my stitches heal & fitness improves. 
•keep treat foods to a minimum 
•keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. 
•lots of freshly prepared meals rather than processed foods. 
•black coffee with sweetener
•tea with sweetener and almond milk
•three meals a day and sensible snacks
•try not to drink my calories, stick to water and very low calorie/low sugar drinks
•try the things I bake but then give out the rest to friends/family/Liam's workmates/neighbours
•try on the whole to make sensible choices when eating out, or at least try to choose just 2 courses instead of 3. 

The idea of these 'rules' is not that I'll stick to them for a set period of time and then go back to eating what I want, when I want, in whatever quantities I feel like - I plan to stick to them long term, so that they become ingrained, and become the way I eat and exercise all the time. These rules allow for treats, meals out, alcohol, and all the foods and things I love, just in moderation. 

What are my motivations?

-My gorgeous little boy - what bigger motivation do I need to be my healthiest, and fittest? I want to be able to run around with him, and be a mum full of energy. I also want him to be a healthy child at a healthy weight, I need to be a good role model to my son. 
-My vanity - I can't deny this. I am vain, I want to look my best and feel my best FOR ME. Not for what other people think, not to impress my husband - but to impress myself. 
-My health - This is a big motivation... Two years ago I was falling down a slippery slope of weight gain, and heading towards a life of weight-related health problems. I decided to turn this around and when I lost the weight I noticed a huge increase in my levels of fitness, my energy and my mental well-being, I reduced my BMI by 7 points and was so proud of my achievement - I so badly want to continue on this journey now that I've had the baby and no longer have to refrain from calorie counting etc. 
-Future children - Liam and I plan to have another baby in the future. I want to be at my absolute fittest before I put my body through pregnancy again. I don't want to fall down the oh-so-common slippery slope of not getting a chance to lose baby-weight before falling pregnant again, and gaining even more weight! 
-Fashion - I absolutely adore clothes and fashion - especially vintage inspired clothes - I don't get to indulge in this passion as much as I would like mainly due to my lack of self-esteem due to my weight, and because I don't feel I can 'pull off' wearing some of the clothes I aspire to wear. Also, you can't always source the clothes in the size I need (16/18).

On the days where I'm struggling or feeling deflated and tempted to pig-out I will read back over my motivations and hope this will encourage me to stay on track.

Another motivational technique I find really helpful is looking at inspirational images of women with figures I feel might realistically be attainable for me eventually...I call these my thinspiration...

stunning ladies with really stunning curves! who wants to be skinny when you could look like this? :-)

 Photo's of me so I can chart my progress visually...

a work photo of me at my biggest 2 years ago (*ashamed face*)

mine and liam's engagement - feb 2011 - at my heaviest :-(

3 pictures of me at my slimmest after 4 stones weight loss pre-wedding last year! 

Me at 40 weeks pregnant! 4 weeks ago

me post-pregnancy - 1 week after the birth - a little curvier than I'd like - but I have just pushed a baby out! ;-)

So, I hope to chart my progress on the blog, and would appreciate any advice and support from fellow mummies - how did you shift the baby weight? How long did it take? What inspires you? I'd love you guys to get in touch - any fellow bloggers who want to join me in my quest for weight loss I'd love to hear from you.

Onwards and upwards! 

Mrs B


hehehe ;-)