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!

xx

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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.

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.

Simple Pleasures… Get Happy

September 5, 2013

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Want a quick feel-happy-right-now suggestion?

Write a thank you to someone. Try it, it works. If you honestly have no thank you’s to write, try your Mum… you can never say enough thank you’s there.
I just had a big pile of thanks you’s to write, it’s one of my favourite things to do. Just writing down why you are grateful for an action or for that friend makes it even more real and makes you think about how lucky you are.

I read once that happiness is 10% circumstance, so only 10% comes from what your life is like, 50% is genetic… but don’t let that stop you trying to be happy if you come from a long line of grumps… and 40% is from what you do with your life. A big difference can be made by you and what you choose to do day-to-day.

Try looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses, try to always see the positive, it may be hard in some situations but if you practise this eventually it will become habit. I definitely used to be more scathing and negative but it wears you down, now I do try to practise working myself out of a mood – only I can do it, you cannot expect anyone else to cheer you up if you don’t make an effort.

Feeling down?

– Exercise, you know this works… you do! Even going for a walk will pump out those endorphins.
– Call a friend and have a chat, even better meet a friend and have a chat. You may want to hide away, don’t!
– Make a get happy plan – think about what your life needs (big or small) to make you a little happier.

I am making all of these notes for me more than anyone… When I get fed up at the moment I need to remember just had thankful I should be, and when my sleepless nights start I have a feeling I will be a huge grump!

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A Costal Wedding in Wales

September 4, 2013

This wedding was photographed by Pete Cranston who exhibited at the Eco Wedding Fair last year and when he shared a link to the storyboard I asked if I could share it immediately… because it looked like such a fun day and the images are just amazing… take a look!

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Go to Pete Cranston’s website for more images of this day, including lots of great portraits of the newlyweds.

Swoon Round Up

July 19, 2013

It has been an insanely busy week, I had one night at home and that was on Monday…

Tonight me and my Mr are shopping for the last couple of big baby purchases and going for an alfresco dinner, then tomorrow I am very excited about a big BBQ at a friend’s house in the country and Sunday I am off for a few days of relaxation at Ragdale Hall for lots of pool time and a mama massage…

A quick round-up of some things I have seen recently that have to be shared!

In this weather I am dying of jealously over these amazing swimming pools

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I am LUSTing over this ring… like seriously.

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I still can’t stop watching this Rihanna video, I do love her, you may not… but this video is raw and beautiful.

I love this little marriage tip… it’s a good one, we don’t tend to argue very often but whenever we do I make sure to say this afterwards… in an argument that might be about something trivial this would definitely work.

These shoes by Sophie Webster are super cute, probably wouldn’t work for me right now but what a perfect Summer wedding shoe!

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An amazing movie with elderly couples talking about their wedding song… this totally make me tear up.

Let the Good Stuff stick – great advice from Oh Joy about remembering the good things that happen, not the bad.

 A real-life love at first sight story. Amazing.

THIS cake… my god Smitten Kitchen rules.

Successful people get up early… something I always have trouble with. This made me think I should change my morning lie in for a least having a coffee with the news instead, and possible even a workout!