Gifts for New Parents

February 5, 2014

I thought I would share some of the best gifts I received for ideas for gifts for new parents.

Excuse the length of this post, I hope it’s useful.

Gifts

Gifts for Baby
All the gifts I received were wonderful and I loved them all – if you want to buy your friend a cute outfit or a cuddly teddy then go ahead. Before the baby arrives you have no idea what you are going to need and all that cute stuff just adds to the excitement. That said this is a list of the gifts I received that I really love and have found useful.

Swaddle pods – a gift from gorgeous friends in Australia, we loved this when Jessica was brand new. Swaddle blankets are absolutely fine but if you have a wriggler then you’ll spend a lot of time re-wrapping the baby especially with the kerfuffle of night-feeds. I also received lovely sleeping bags which as soon as Jessica wasn’t up for swaddling we put her in. They too are wonderful for keeping her warm and you don’t have to fuss with blankets every time you feed.

Sleepsuits – I do love dressing Jessica in cute outfits but it’s a hassle when they are little especially if they don’t like fuss so if you want to give something seriously useful then all in ones are the way to go. My favourites are from Mama’s and Papas and John Lewis as they wash really well but we got given some seriously lovely ones from Petit Bandeau that I will keep forever – that first size is so tiny and something I want to remember.
Little tip you should get ones with feet and scratch hands on.

Pretty blankets and quilts – I am lucky to own a lot of beautiful quilts and I got given a few more, plus I treated Jessica to some little colourful ones for her nursery. I use all of them. I don’t believe you can have to many blankets or quilts. I use them to cover the bed when I am feeding, I use them to add an extra layer on Jessica at night, I use them when we got out in the pram and now for playing on the floor at home and out. They get puked on and dribbled on a lot, you need a few.
Find out if the nursery had a colour scheme and try and buy one to fit.

Huge Muslins – I got given some beautiful muslins at my baby shower, and they are huge. I always make sure I have one of these when we go out. Baby’s are sick a lot. You need to always have a muslin handy. I loved having pretty ones to take out with me and at home I have pack after pack of plain white ones.
I also have the softest bamboo muslins for wiping dribble and milk.
I love Aden and Anais.

Every baby needs a Sophie. The cutest toy and it has really come into its own recently (teething!)

Also the cutest, softest toys are Jellycats – you can buy them everywhere. Jessica has so many bunny’s and the sweetest musical star in the car.
I also adore Maileg toys, I am very naughty with these, Jessica is already growing a gorgeous collection.

If you are a Mama and have found you have used something a lot and love it pass that knowledge on, some of the best gifts I received were exactly these.

Gifts for Mama – so gratefully received!
If the Mama is on baby number two or more this is the way to go, they probably have everything they need!

Give a Mama to be a massage or mani-pedi for use before the baby comes and she will LOVE you. Those last few weeks before baby arrives are tough, you are fed up of being uncomfortable and just want to meet your little one. The best thing I did was relax and take time for me, these are amazing gifts to give and will be the last time she’ll be able to do it for a while.

I highly recommend pampering products, especially early on in the pregnancy. A few wonderful friends gave me treats and I spent a lot of time having long bubble baths and using all these lovely products people gave me. I am so glad I did enjoy them while I can because it is so rare now!
I loved the Mama Mio products, the rich body lotion felt and smelt amazing and was a pleasure to use, as were the oils.
I also like Burts Bee’s products and still do, I have some of the baby bits too and they are so lovely to use.
Also Neal’s Yard (my Mum gave me the seaweed and arnica foaming bath – which is for when you are overtired how apt!)

I think any products that are natural are great when you’re pregnant your skin can be a bit more sensitive than normal and natural products for me always tend to be worth the extra cost because they feel good to use.

I also loved the Elemis Japanese Camellia Oil which I am still using. It soaks into the skin so quickly and isn’t greasy at all and is a joy to use.

One more idea that I can pass on and it’s possibly the best is to be helpful when you visit. I could have kissed the friends that dropped in with food, my mother-in-laws came and cleaned and friends that insisted on washing up etc were life-savers.

At first when the baby is brand new and possibly Dad is off work they might have it all sorted but, unless it’s going to offend, when you visit someone with a new baby make the tea, take food – if you can take a big pie or casserole they’ll love you forever, take a look around when you visit see if there is anything you can do to help, especially if the new Mama is having a tough time, someone just cleaning up, throwing the vacuum around might just make their week a little easier.

I wish I had known this before… I was so clueless, I imagine I was the super unhelpful guest visiting friends with new babies… Sorry to all of you!

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I have been meaning to write about this pub since November, but a few more visits since then have cemented my love and I had to share.

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Since becoming a Mama eating out is a whole new ballgame. There is so much more to think about. Parking, access with a (rather large) buggy, baby changing ad of course the most important – whether a baby is welcome!

We first visited here on a recommendation that the roast was awesome from a friend who has a 2-year-old, so knew they’d be okay about kids. It was my birthday and there were two big tables of adults with quite a few babies and toddlers, in fact this has been the case every time we visit. We have also visited for dinner, when Jessica was younger and sleepier and tucked ourselves away in a corner with delicious fish and chips and wine.

Top tip – they sometimes do a mixed roast – all three meats! It’s like a gourmet carvery! Also get the scotch egg, SO GOOD.

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The staff are always so friendly and nothing is too much trouble. Little things like high chairs already out with plastic bowls and cutlery have been noted, so has the heater in the baby changing (SO needed) and then we found out the owner has a little one and another on the way – all explained. He knows what families need. He has us for life. It’s our favourite spot, we always end up bringing a crew.

Of course none of this would matter if the food was rubbish, but it isn’t it’s great. Really great. My favourite place for a roast. The wine list is good but the beer selection is even more extensive. The normal menu has an awesome burger which is served pink and you can eat in the bar as well as the restaurant.

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I love this place. Go visit, just don’t take my spot!

The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer.

Make Up

January 21, 2014

I thought I would share my recommendations for  make up today, what I love and wear. This is actually my basic face, what I wear every day…

I haven’t included eyeshadows as I change frequently, ditto with lipsticks although I love red and have way too many red lipsticks!

Make Up

I’ll start from the base, I wear Chantecaille Just Skin tinted moisturiser. It’s expensive but worth it as you really don’t need to wear a lot its great coverage for a tinted moisturiser. My last tube lasted me for ever so it’s totally worth the price tag, with cheaper foundations that I do buy when I’ve run out now and again might be £20 but last me a couple of months. Go to Space NK and get them to find the right shade for you.

Then Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat for those dark circles… so necessary. I am sure this product needs no introduction. Again go to a store and find the right shade. So important.

Blusher; I love the new Chanel creme blush, blusher is my favourite product I am obsessed! I also love Topshop’s creme blush especially the cute packaging.

I then double up with a powder – at the moment I am loving Benefit’s Coralista, I love benefits powder blushes, especially the fun packaging.

I discovered Laura Mercier’s loose setting powder when I was buying make up for my wedding. It’s amazing. It’s translucent and not cakey in any way and it helps hold everything in place. I also love Laura Mercier’s concealer for blemishes – do not use a high-lighter for that.

I discovered brow’s again before my wedding. I am very light-skinned and blonde so my eyebrows kind of get away with being untidy. But I do notice the difference when they are tidy though so I do make an effort now. I have them threaded as often as possible and tinted as well. In between I use Chanel’s brow scultping pencil to brush and fill in.

I always curl my eyelashes as they are also blonde and so short. When I can I get false eyelashes but they are tricky and a little annoying… but I do love how they look! If I don’t have false eyelashes I use Benefits they’re real and/or Benefits Bad Gal for more thickness. I have tried a lot of mascara’s and I always come back to these.

I love black khol eyeliner, and wear it all the time. I am currently using Mac’s but I also like Chanel. I always loose these which really annoys me.

Lastly every day I love Nivea lip balm and Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres. LOVE it.

So there you go. Seems like a lot but I have this down to about 5 minutes. If I really have no time it’s a little base cover, blusher (always) and mascara.

Old English Company

January 8, 2014

I absolutely adore this Etsy store… they have so many cute prints…

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This print would be great in a sophisticated but fun kitchen…

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We have the below two in Jessica’s nursery which we customised to fit in with her rainbow colour scheme.

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Old English Company

Mama Fashion Essentials

January 3, 2014

So right now my options are limited due to breastfeeding and  not being back into some of my clothes yet (working on it) but I thought I’d share what I have found useful in terms of clothes.

So working bottom up…

I live in my hightops and biker boots… I am currently looking to upgrade them with these beauties from Whistles for smarter occasions now it’s getting colder.

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I like slipping into a little heel when I am going somewhere nice but for stomping with a buggy I highly recommend getting some comfy boots – you don’t want to wear trainers every day and with the beautiful English weather you need to keep your feet dry – you have enough to worry about without being uncomfortable.

I got my boots from Kurt Geiger they are the best on the high street and the sale is on right now, treat yourself Mamas (and non-Mamas!)

I am living in my black skinnies. I have tried to find some blue jeans and skirts but until I am back to myself these are the most flattering, go for a high waist it makes me feel pulled in. ASOS have a great selection of high waisted, soft denim at a great price point – I don’t want to spend much on clothes that won’t fit me for too long.

I have just added these ripped ones to my wardrobe to mix it up a little…

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I also have some great postnatal leggings from Emma Jane which are super tight and help in those early jeans to get your tummy flat again.

When out and about I like to be able to feed discreetly, this means I am comfortable feeding anywhere – and I live in my striped Jojo Maman Bebe tops, they are so discreet that once baby is latched on no one can see a thing. Very flattering and comfortable too. I have one in every colour!

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I have found it quite hard to find nice feeding clothes, even well known maternity brands don’t seem to make much and when I have found nice things they have been super expensive for a clothing item that I’ll only wear for a matter of months.
Having said that a good top is worth it weight in gold and you’ll live in the ones you like and feel comfortable in. Seraphine do really nice ones (and have a sale on) as do Isabella Oliver and Blossom.

I also recommend stocking up on scarves if you’re super shy like me, they are great for hiding even more as well as stopping baby from getting distracted. My scarf collection is strong!

I love this one from Whistles, am adding to my basket it right now.

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You’ll also need a good nursing bra, get yourself measured and get one that fits (no matter how upsetting your new enhanced size might be!) I am repeating myself here but it’s so important to be comfortable, breastfeeding is hard enough without being in pain. I went to Mothercare and the sales assistants were super helpful, I stocked up there as they have a huge selection and then got some pretty ones at Figleaves.

On top at home I am all about loose tees and cosy jumpers… I love my cashmere Whistles jumper for a cosy treat after I have put the little one to bed of course, I do not want accidents on hand-wash only clothing!

I also still, and this is upsetting for me as I used only wear them to the gym, live in leggings at home. I recommend you treat yourself to some nice ones as you’ll be in them a lot. I got some from Hush and Gap.

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I also treated myself to some nice loungewear, you’ll be home a lot so get comfy and relish it… as soon as baby is running around I am told I’ll miss these quiet days. I love these;

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You may as well be styling while you’re comfy right? A few nice bits have made me feel so much better when I am staying at home, especially when visitors drop by.

Last but not least you need a good coat this time of year. I am living in my Whistles parka (can you tell I am obsessed with this store?) you need pockets and a good hood and this is perfect. Parka’s are everywhere right now and it was the best investment.

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I’d love to hear any more Mama tips for clothes… especially for going out to dinner etc (something I have not done much of) and the future stages!

I want to recommend a birth preparation class today… for those that are pregnant!

I have been attending Relaxed Birth and Parenting since I was 25 weeks pregnant and it has definitely helped me so much in terms of feeling ready mentally as well as a couple of hours of real me-time every week.

The class runs for just under two hours every week and for the first hour it’s a time to talk. Sometimes Jessica has invited someone to speak, such as a maternity acupuncture practitioner, sometimes she will give us a topic and ask the group questions and we often spilt into little groups to walk about how we are doing, choices we are making etc.
I honestly thought I would hate it, I am no good at talking to new people especially about topics that are quite private but it has been great.
I have opened up a lot more than I thought I would, but there is no pressure to talk at all if you don’t want to, but talking to people who are at similar stages and making similar choices has been so nice, and also talking to people who are making different choices too has been really interesting.

Just having space to think about myself and the baby every week has meant that I do it a lot more than I would have otherwise and I have learnt a lot about birth too, we don’t get into detail but alongside my reading and working with my Doula I have been able to plan my birth without going to ante-natal classes which I really didn’t want to do and it’s completely not what I thought I would want (and of course might not be the one I get!)

We also hear birth stories from others in the group so as people leave to have their baby they often come back to share what happened.

I didn’t watch any birthing tv shows, or go to classes or even read any stories so until I came to this class I had shut all of that out but the best thing has been seeing that no matter what everyone that has come back has been so positive about their birth that I cannot help feeling okay about it – which is a big transformation from how I felt at the start – terrified!
It has been amazing to hear about some natural easy births and also hear new Mama’s speak about their births that didn’t go to plan so positively and know that whatever happens as long as my baby is healthy I will not care.

The second half of the class is yoga. I have done yoga classes for years and used to really push myself in class and I did really miss exercise (I did nothing for the first 4 months as I was so ill) and although it is light stretching and I don’t push myself like I used to I always feel really good after the class and the next day too. As I have been getting bigger the day after yoga is the day I always feel lightest and walking around not as much of a struggle as it is at the end of the week. It has also been a nice surprise that I can still balance!

You don’t have to push yourself too hard in the class in either part you can just be there and take that time to listen and learn and think about your baby. That is the nicest part of it.

So a bit of a rambling essay I apologise.

My class is run by Jessica in the Southville Centre every Tuesday and there are spaces available from next month so I highly recommend if you are pregnant and around 20 weeks then book in. If you are elsewhere in Bristol there is also a class at the Relaxation Centre run by Dom who a few of my friends went to and they also love and highly recommend.

The sessions are £10 a week which sounds like a lot but I promise you are worth it.

You can find out more at Relaxed Birth and Parenting, they also have a network of doulas (some of whom I have met and are all amazing) and other classes and workshops available.

Lately…

September 9, 2013

I am a little behind with these diary posts… but I’ll try to catch up this week.

I have just started my maternity leave, so am trying to relax and rest but also sort a few things out before Baby arrives and do nice things with friends and family too… which means I am actually still fairly busy. Who has time to go to work?

I have been shopping for Baby T, still trying really hard to stop but sometimes I cannot resist.

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There was a lovely lunch in the country with friends and a massive brownie the likes of which I have never seen before!

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I am still addicted to swimming, and really miss it when I can’t go… and this yogurt is the winner of the best yogurt ever. Blood orange compete and thick gloopy yogurt. So good. Go get it.

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There have been some lovely meals out and coffee dates with girlfriends at my favourite spots Thali and Poco.

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More presents too… I am in love with this Aden and Anais muslin from my ever generous friend Sarah and am taking it to hospital to swaddle Baby for her ride home… my Mama also got me some Neal’s Yard bits which I cannot wait to use…

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I am filling my tummy with cake while I can, trying to enjoy these last few weeks of a big belly…

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We also celebrated our second wedding anniversary, while we kept it low-key it was the nicest day and we took time out to reflect on these years and to get excited about someone joining our little family.

My Mr absolutely spoiled with a beautiful necklace and dinner at Bell’s Diner.

You should go if you haven’t been, super cute restaurant serving small plates, and the setting is so French you could be in Paris!

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I had to have a little glass of bubbles and they added a beautiful blackberry syrup… My favourite dishes were the salt cod fritters and the slow cooked cauliflower…

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And the Onglet steak with onion puree and mushrooms was SO good,

Special mention goes out to the Abernethy butter and the Blackberry and Apple Crumble which we are both still talking about now.

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While I was still at work I did start to struggle… working till 38 weeks was not my best plan, so I treated myself to lots of naps and rest over the weekends with a new book to help me stay put and Biggie the cat looking after me I got through it.

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The flower lady by Marks Bread is back and I have been to see her a lot… with beautiful bouquets of wild flowers and mini bunches of sweetpeas appearing all over the house.

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We also had another visit out to Wiltshire to celebrate my Gran’s 88th birthday with a roast beef lunch and mini afternoon tea treats on a gorgeous August day.

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Lots of lovely times!

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