Quick Fire Catch Up and Birth Story

It’s taken a while, but here it is. A play by play of the last year. In bullet form because a full year is a lot and nobody has time for that.

• July ’20: Bloomed a garden. The veg patch was amazing. I didn’t see any tomatoes because my small girl ate them straight off the plant. We also got a new kitchen!!

• August ’20: positive pregnancy test, small girl turned 3, the blooming veg garden made my morning sickness peak. Oh the vom inducing kale nightmares I had then.

•September ’20: First scan and baby announcement. My 32nd Birthday. Working on flexi furlough. Morning sickness was real, it certainly wasn’t just mornings. Little Miss started nursery.

•October ’20: Halloween hosted as a mini treasure hunt in the house for little miss because of covid. Another Lockdown announcement. Our 1st wedding anniversary, we managed to stay at our fave hotel for the night.

•November ’20: nothing particularly notable. Still sick, preparing for a lockdown Xmas.

•December ’20: Found out our bump was a little boy, Delilah thought it was the end of the world because she wanted a sister. Santa visited and we got to spend Xmas with my ma and step pa.

•January ’21: soaked in all the mama of one moments and pulled little miss out of nursery. On government guidelines, from 28 weeks pregnant we were supposed to shield so she stayed home with me and we barely saw a soul.

• February ’21:  we saw snow, and a 7 month (still sick) pregnant mama hauled delilah about in a sledge. We also baked alot this month.

•March ’21: my little brother hit 30, there seemed to be tulips in every vase I owned and I’d finally started buying baby stuff and packed the baby’s hospital bag.

•April ’21: the strangest weather month. One day delilah was in a swimming costume, the next a warm coat. Baby arrived exactly 1 day before his due date. Life as a family of 4 began. Found out about delilah’s school.

•May ’21: the month that seems to have just disappeared. Between getting established with breastfeeding and baby bonding the month just vanished.

•June ’21: we celebrated hub’s birthday, had a holiday.

•July ’21: celebrated my dad’s birthday. Visited delilah’s school and here we are.

So there it is in bullets. Big year right?! And all through a pandemic.

So, let’s talk pregnancy and birth.

My second pregnancy was clinically speaking straight forward. My experience on the other hand was borderline painful. Sickness started immediately. It was the first thing that made me suspect I was pregnant. I must have only been about 3/4 weeks, and the sight of the kale I had grown made me actually sick. Hence the demise of my veggie garden last year as well as my blogging. It also lasted till about 30ish weeks.

This pregnancy was lonely too. Pregnancy through a pandemic was dark some days, but I’ve far too much to say on that subject; I’ll save it for another post.

Baby made me craved kebabs which I’d never dream of eating before. Like the really unhealthy takeaway versions, with hot sauce despite having the worst heartburn for the entire pregnancy. Veggies made me heave, not ideal especially when you invite over family for a Sunday roast and end up gipping at the sight and not eating it. Energy levels were so low, turns out I was anemic. Weeks of iron supplements my energy returned thank goodness.

The little bugger then decided to lay on my sciatic nerve. This left my hips, lower back and butt in agony on waking. There was literally no way of being comfortable throughout, especially for the later end when he positioned his but and legs right up in my ribs. This made it hard to breath when walking anywhere.

I can not tell you how much I wanted him to arrive. I walked, I bounced on the ball, I drank all the raspberry leaf tea, ate the hot curry in hope to help bring on labour. But let’s face it, these babies arrive when they feel like it.

Finally my waters broke on the 13th of April at 5.10am with super mild contractions. Just one day before my due date. Went into the birth unit, checked over and sent us home to progress naturally. A film, coffee and cinnamon bun later the contractions were stronger and a ton closer together. I pre called the unit to let them know we were on the way. I followed the instructions, but as you will find out there wasn’t much point in the end.

On arrival the parking attendant watched me get out the car as hubs reversed parked it, then told us we couldn’t park there – then despite being mid contraction asked me if I was there for a covid jab. And in all honesty I couldn’t help but laugh in his face mid contraction as I told him “my son is about to pop out”. Needless to say he didn’t really know what to say to that. Got in the hospital and despite calling prior to going, we ended up in maternity assessment unit because I totally needed to be told I was having contractions and progressing towards active labour.

Prodded and poked (joy) and finally get the all clear to move to the birth centre after being told I was only 3cm (which I swear was such a wrong diagnosis). When they said I could move I swear I heard a chorus of angels, after being verbal that I wasn’t about to give birth to my son in a curtained cubicle with an audience. We grabbed our stuff and walked through the cafe. I had nothing but a bed sheet wrapped round my none existing waist, no pants on cos I lost a ton of my waters in the assessment unit and I was still contacting like you wouldn’t believe. There was no way I was going to put pants on at that point. There was no way I could.

Finally in the birth unit room, I had a contraction as soon as I got in there. Midwife wanted to examine me again; my little one is thinking ‘sod that, I’m coming out’ and boy, did he gave me all those feels too “nope he’s coming now”. Student Midwife delivered him (supervised). 2 contractions and he was in the world.

Practically perfect. Although how he got away without any complications because of the true knot in his cord is beyond anyone! Even surprising a midwife or 3.

No water birth as I had in my head, but got away with only gas and air and a slight graze (no need for stitches – whoo). Discharged within 4 hours because I was damn sure I wasn’t staying in. So we all trekked home and got settled into life as a family of four.

Euan Peter Douglas has arrived and is now currently 13 weeks old as of today.

So yeah, thats how that part of my year has gone. How did you get on? What’s new? I’ve very much missed writing, so here’s to getting back into a weekly post again.

Sending so much love and chaos,
L, xox

DIY Jam and a Touch of Green Stuff

I’ve been spending my mornings inspecting my garden veg patch and I take delight in seeing my produce grow. This morning was no different apart from my poor tiny cucumber plant had been munched by some little critter (slugs I expect). So with a quick question to my Facebook gardening community, I got outside dug it out of its little space in the veg bed and re-potted it. Turna out it was far too early to be planting a cucumber outside anyway. Lesson learnt! It’s now safely inside the propagator/mini greenhouse with the hope it might survive it’s near death experience.

Miniature Cucumber plant; clearly the slugs had a party.

Lettuce, kale and radishes are doing pretty damn perfect in the veg bed. The peas are peeping, the carrots have started to sprout, rainbow chard is popping up left, right and centre too. Leeks are few and far between with only about 4 sprouting so far but beetroot looks good at the moment. My chillie plant on the other hand is inside on the kitchen windowsill and it is thriving. It makes me ridiculously happy to see it all doing so well.

Chillie plant.
Red lettuce
Carrot seedlings
Peas peeping

Today had been awfully miserable weather wise. We’ve been tuck inside our four walls, jigsawing and baking. Dee and I made some fruit and cherry scones and some homemade jam. Bit of a use it up/budget bake to be honest but after just paying for our new kitchen (doing a little dance) which has used up our savings entirely we should be watching what we spend so it’s not a bad thing.

The jam was easy. Frozen mixed berries I used about 500g from the freezer along with sugar to taste (about 2 tbsp) boil the heck of it. Mash the berries together a little Take it right up to 105c and then pour it carefully into a pre-serialized jar. We like the seeds in but strain it if you dont, but please be careful as it’s like molton lava when its finished cooking. But yum, how easy!

Mixed Berry Jam.

Happy jammin’

Love,

L, xox

An Easy Tea Loaf

I’ve been baking again. No surprise there if you know anything about me. Tried this beaut out today because I’m in short supply of icing sugar. I’ve even had to turn down customers because I just couldnt guarantee that I’d have my usual basic ingredients.

This recipe requires no icing sugar or butter and only uses 1 egg. It’s an amazing recipe for using up dried fruit you may have stuffed in your cupboard. I used raisins in my loaf cake but it will work with any dried fruit you have. I’ll be trying dried apricots and glace cherries when I have them in next, but with out further a do (knowing how frustrating it is to scroll through a life story before the recipe reveals itself) here is the recipe!

Ingredients

175g Dried Fruit (use any you like- I used raisins)

110g Caster Sugar

150ml Hot Strong Tea (again, use your preferred but I used normal black tea in this one)

150g Self Raising Flour (alternatively the same weight of plain with 1tsp of baking powder)

Zest of 1 lemon (or orange)

1 Egg (beaten)

Method

Make some hot strong tea (I used two bags) and soak your fruit along with the sugar, preferably overnight but if you’re in a hurry to create this beauty 2 hours will do. My baking for my family is always a little off the cuff and unplanned so 2 hours did suffice in my case.

Tea bags stewing, give it at least 5 mins.
150ml black tea. Next time I’ll be trying earl grey.
175g dried fruit
110g caster sugar

Once the fruit has had at least 2 hours, preheat the oven to a low temp, around 150 degrees. This is a low and slow cake. Line the tin with baking parchment, these measurements are suited to a 1lb loaf tin, just double the recipe if you have a 2lb tin. If you dont have a loaf tin, use what you have, but do line it regardless of the shape or size.

Line the tin well, will save sticking cake and scrubbing the pan later.

To the tea soaked fruit add the flour, beaten egg and Zest and mix well. That’s practically it. Tip it into your lined tin and bake for around 40 mins (double the time if your doubling the mixture) or until golden and when a skewer comes out of the loaf clean.

Tea soak fruit and the rest
Mixture snug in the loaf tin
The tip drip on my mason and cash bowl

Cool for 10 mins before tipping out on to a cooling rack. Once cool, slice and serve with or without butter. If your a fruit cake and cheese kinda person, then I’m pretty sure that a slice of this with a tiny wedge of Wensleydale cheese would hit the spot.

Share with your household of course, then leave some with neighbours so you cant eat the lot.

Sliced tea loaf

I’m still playing with this recipe, and may do a marmalade take on it too; but I really hope you enjoy it. Dee scoffed a slice after her dinner and it got the cheesy grin of approval so happy days.

Stay well and stay safe,

Love

L, xox

How To: Dog Treats

Making something seem the sweetest way to pass some abundant time during lockdown. If like me you’re totally sick of eating your baked good right now and do not want to put on another half pound, pound or hell even a stone, then might I suggest a treat for our four legged friends?

Dee and I make “Aro Doggie Biscuits”. Super simple, “easy squeezy peasy lemons” as Dee would say (then follow it up with “I’m a funny thing mummy” and a big cheesy grin on her darling face). There are only 4 ingredients (3 if you dont count water) and super great for little ones to help you out with or just take over till its time for popping them in the oven. I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found online, if I can find the link again I will post the original.

Ingredients:

1 & 1/2 cups of Plain Flour

1 Egg

2 tbsp of peanut butter (optional)

Water enough to form a dough

You guessed it, combine all the dry ingredients till thoroughly combined. Add in the peanut butter and tablespoons of water until it forms a soft (but not sticky) dough. We used our hands but feel free to use a dough hook in a mixer or a fork or spoon or whatever is to hand. I ain’t prescriptive about these things.

Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and then use a cutter to make small shapes. If you have no cutter, just get creative, use your hands and make little shapes that way. On a lined tray, bake for around 12-15 minutes at about 180. Perfect little treats, made by you for your furry friends.

How simple right? A tiny activity to get on with in lockdown. That’ll take up at least half an hour (including the washing up).

I hope the majestic floof in your life enjoys as much as Aro Doggy does.

Love,

L, xox

How To: Mini Home Spa Evening

This is my plan for a mini spa evening. Little one will be in bed, I’ll be turning on the shower and getting my mini home made spa treatments going. I can not stress to you how important it is to take time out for yourself. Especially at the moment when there is an endless pile of washing up, clothes washing, cooking, cleaning, entertaining small ones and yourself. It is paramount. Give my little home spa treatments ago and invest some time on yourself.

Fresh faced, dont forget the toner and moisturiser!

First thing is first, grab everything you need and shut the bathroom door. No distractions, you deserve your full attention. Get the shower on; as hot as possible and create some steam. This will help open up your pores and let which ever products you use do their magic. My essentials for locking myself in my steamed up bathroom are; some icy water (add in some fruit or cucumber, mint if you have it), body brush, body scrub, razor, shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, face mask, hair brush or comb, body lotion/cream (your favourite, this is about what you like).

My recipe for body scrub is super simple and just below, but if you have your preferred which you use anyway, go with what makes you happy. First get your hair mask on. Give it enough time to soak up into your hair and do what it’s supposed to do. Time is the essence with this my lovelies. Spend the time on yourself, you owe yourself.

Let’s talk body brushing! I love my body brush. I aim to use it every time I shower or take a bath. Mainly on legs, but I’ve been using it over my entire body these days. The benefits of body brushing are endless, but to name a few; Exfoliation, getting rid of the dead skin cells that build up between showers is a really good idea if you want to have glowing skin. Dead skin cells make you skin look dull, and not one person I know wants that. Also supposed to be good for cellulite, I’m sceptical about this but it certainly dose promote blood flow to the area you are brushing. Ergo no downsides, in my opinion at least. Brush upwards, make you sure you are brushing towards your heart. Keep sipping that icy water.

Get your scrub on, but firstly turn down the shower. Hot water, as good as it feels aint all that for your hair; and that comes next so get prepared! Exfoliation is amazing, and with my DIY super simple body scrub you just have no excuse not to scrub your pins. The simplest recipe ever. 2 part granulated sugar to 1 part coconut oil. The coconut oil should be liquid form, I normally melt mine quickly but gently on the hob, but if you don’t have coconut oil, try olive oil its great for your skin. Mix thoroughly, and let cool. When you’re ready to use, slather your legs in it. Work it in to your skin in circular motions and then rinse off under a warm shower (not hot), before shaving your pins to leave them gloriously smooth.

Hair pep. Get under the warm (not hot, warm is better for your hair) shower and soak your hair and shampoo your roots, not your tips – just your roots. This will clean your scalp and save you drying out your ends. I’ve switched my products recently to a natural product. I’ve really enjoyed using it so far and its paraben and sulphate free. It’s good for the curly girl method which ive been doing for about 6 weeks now, it’s a work in progress but my hair seems to have improved in texture already, so my current method is based on my findings (if you like) so far. Remember, just your roots, not your lengths or tips. Same for conditioner. Use it like a wash, only on your roots and leave it in for the suggested time. When you rinse the product out the water will help work it through the rest of your hair, it is your scalp that needs the attention. While you’re waiting for the conditioner to do its thing use your fave body wash. Rinse that wash off and as you do use either a comb or your fingers to untangle your mane and rinse your conditioner out.

Absolute new staple, wouldn’t be without it.

Before jumping out of the shower, when your hair is still sopping wet run a little leave in conditioner through your lengths and tips. Do not get close to your scalp, if you do you’ll most likely be oily before the drying process is out let alone the day. Squeeze out the water with your hands and t-shirt dry your hair. Yes, you read right, use an old t-shit. It is less harsh on your hair. Towels create frizz; they are simply too rough, and no matter your style -curly, straight, wavy or coiled no one wants the frizz. I ‘plop’ my hair at this point after some scrunching with curling creams and gels (curly girl method – post for another day), but get it off your face regardless of the method your using and apply your face mask. I’m using Garnier’s moisture bomb sheet mask at the moment which I have on subscription through amazon. I buy two a month, so aim to do one every other week. This one is really hydrating, but feel free to use your fave or get creative and make one.

Plopped hair dont care.

Enjoy your face mask and as you do smother your body in lotion or body butter as soon as you can to lock in the moisture from your shower. When your face mask timer is up, rub in the remaining serum if there is any and get a toner on your skin; again to lock in the moisture. Running theme here, but skin hydration is a must.

Dry your hair in your own fashion, I’m avoiding heat when using the curly girl method meaning air drying for me. Get in your comfies et voilà. Basic spa evening completed, add in mani/pedi for extras. Most importantly, feel good and do this for yourself. Enjoy, you deserve it.

Love,

L xox