The intention: No Spend January

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that it’s a year full of love, health and happiness for you. We hope you’ve had a brilliant Christmas and Santa delivered everything you wished for. My two (and me) have been spoilt and got to spend some gorgeous time with our family too. We’re feeling blessed.

Oh how can it be over so soon, Delilah?

I have mixed feelings about 2021. I mean another covid year for a start, but it gave me my wonderful son. So who could be happy to say goodbye to newborn days, the new baby smell and all the newborn cuddles? But besides the loveliness, there’s been some moments I’m happy to be leaving behind in good ole ’21.

My little Euan boy

With January 1st comes the refreshed hope for the new year and version 6.8 of our best selves. And for the last few years I’ve not taken part. I’ve well and truly left the resolution making to the well meaning and permanently optimistic among us. I’ve honestly not made a single resolution, for at least three years, because I’ve given in to the forgone conclusion that by the 8th I’ll be no longer doing my best or chasing the resolution. On lucky years, I have probably last till about the 23rd of the month max, then those old habits have crept back in.

This year however, I thought I’d give a no spend January ago. Its only and month, that’s simply 31 days to not buy anything absolutely necessary. So here’s the plan. Pay the bills, meal plan and stick to a list for shopping, and anything apart from the essentials will be staying in the shops while my pennies stay firmly in my own pocket for a change. Anything saved from this endeavour will be planted into savings.

I intend to meal plan weekly, I’ll share my plans as I do them. They’ll be in keeping with slimming world and family friendly meals so I’ll link any borrowed recipes and share any I make up too. Weekends we will utilise local haunts and free things to do, packing picnics and snacks if the rain holds out or we find indoor picnic spots.

Ideas for no spend incoming!

I’ll be plotting out my incoming and outgoings for the month with you, which I know will be tight as I’m currently on maternity pay, coming off that and going back to work which will leave me brassic for a week or two because where the mat pay stops and my wage starts there’s a lull in the middle. This will actually be the first time I’ve ever committed to a no spend month, and I know my bank account will be looking forward to it. I’ve always found money difficult to manage and talk about(I’ll go into why another time), but I’d really like to change that this year.

How about you? Will you join me? Have you done a no spend month before? Do you think I’ll stick it out?

Love and best,
L, xox.

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

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

A Flicker of A Sweet Memory

It’s funny what you remember when you miss someone.

My Nana passed away sometime ago, while I was still at university studying (fat lot of good that venture did, but that’s another story). My dad’s mum, my nana was a larger than life character. Mum of boys, larger drinker, lipstick wearer and experimental cook. I knew I got my attitiute for cooking from someone, and I’m so giving my nana some of the credit.

I can’t even tell you what made my mind wonder to her sausages and flying saucer eggs today, but I found myself laughing as I remember dinner times at her flat. It was a smokey affair, she chain smoked when she chatted but because she had the window open as she did it, of course it wasn’t that bad (we would cringe now). Anyway, I digress. She owned a George Forman Grilling Machine. Or, in her words “George Formby Grilling Machine” she loved the thing, and it got used a hell of a lot.

My brother and I were always fussy with what we ate at nanas house, mainly as the older she got the more interesting the combinations became and the more the food tasted like smoke. She was however, a fabulous cook in her hay day. We ended up having chip pan chips, homemade of course or pancakes, finished off with crisps, chocolate and yogurt. All healthy stuff! My dad was subjected to actual real dinner, and this particular night was rather spectacular. I remember her wafting through the living room with dad’s plate in hand before plonking it down on the table. On the blue and white crockery was a breakfast for dinner. A staple of her household and very much enjoyed.

On dad’s plate there was a fried egg (sunnyside up), tomato, beans, bacon and what looked like two burgers. My dad stabbed one the burgers and held it in the air asking what it was. My nana asked him what the hell he was playing at waving that sausage about. We were hysterical, well all apart from my nana who was completely confused about the laughing. Dad asked why it was so flat, so she demonstrated her Formby Grilling skills in the air at the table.

She’d only gone and put butchers style (the really chunky, fat kind) sausages in the grill and squashed it down until the machine cliped shut. She returned to the kitchen to put her own meal together.

In the meantime there was the fried egg. Same meal, same day. Dad struggled to cut the white of the fried egg so picked it up to see what was going on. Turns out this egg had been fried to with an inch of it’s edible life. It stayed perfectly flat as he picked it up. He starts making his idea of UFO noises as the yolk balances on it’s white plate like shelf with a slight yellow wobble. Again, both me and my brother fell about laughing while dad tried to put back on a straight face as nana came to the table with her own dinner.

I still remember the smell of her pressed powder, the shade of her lipstick, her choice in skirts and how she always wore a pinny over them. Her kindness and patience. Her spoiling us and caving to our every request for sweets as children. I remember having to watch the snooker when it was on because she loved it but then she’d let us watch the Simpsons over dinner time and let us sit of the sofa instead of at the table with our food. I miss her, her accidental funny anecdotes and the liverpudlian twang that still remained from her younger years in her voice. The raspy cough and the way she would order herself two halfs of larger instead of a pint just because it wasn’t lady like to order a pint (but it was okay to sit with two drinks).

I miss her – photo from my 18th birthday meal. A day of mixed emotions, I lost a dear friend that exact day.

What sweet memories do you hold of a missed love one? I’d love to hear a story or two.

Xoxo, L

Sit Still

Have you ever tried to take a photograph of a nine month old child? Yes? How much of a workout is that?

Heads up, it’s a picture dump post…

I had the brilliant idea when walking back from the village. I bought Dela a bubble wand, sensory play and all that. Yeah I’m down with baby sensory. Love the stuff in fact. ‘Wouldn’t it be cute’ I thought ‘to get a picture of her with bubbles around when she’s looking up at them’.

Optimistic me.

We started in our dark and (currently) shabbily decorated living room. Dela didn’t have a huge reaction to the actual bubbles, she was more interested in the wand so kept crawling straight to me to grab it. And I’ll tell you for nowt (Yorkshire term) it’s really difficult to take a picture, blow bubbles and fend off a child with grabby hands. As you can see from this picture of the first batch (oh there were many), the backdrop is awful and the baby isn’t even paying attention to the glossy bubbles falling around her.

‘I know’ my inner monologue piped up again ‘let’s go in Dela’s room and try with a nice, bright backdrop’. Tucking the baby under arm and doing a light jog up the stairs (she finds this hilarious), pop her on the rug in her room and we are joined by the menagerie. Yep, all three cats and the demon dog followed. So we’re sat (all of us) in a white and pink room and I’m blowing bubbles and trying to keep the baby in one place and the dog and cats out of shot. And breath.

Ushered the dog back down the stairs. Cats revert to basking in the sun on the window sill. Dela wanted to be everywhere but where I plonked her. In a wise moment I though the standing fan would make a great bubble blower, I’d still have to hold the wand but it would do the blowing.

No. Just no.

The fan blew the bubbles in an upward frenzy and popped against the walls. Sigh. Still no nice photo.

Dogs pushed his nose through Dela’s bedroom door, cats sat hissing at him, Dela is chasing the cats round on her hands and knees. ‘Maybe an outfit change’ inner Lotty chimes into the chaos. The bubbles now lost in the mix.

I westle with the baby to change her outfit. For every item of clothing I took off her she made a dash for a cat. “DAT” she’s shouting them. “No Delilah sit still, let mummy just… urgh” she’s pinned India to the floor and started to ‘pat pat the cat’. I’m so pleased India is the softest kitty ever, I’m afraid any other cat would have swiped out for this treatment. Lucky, lucky Dela. I shuffle my backdrop as she’s distracted by the purry furry, grab her and set her down and start snapping.

As you can see it went really well!

She got adventurous and crawled between her wardrobe and cot, but then she got stuck so had a melt down. “Delilah will you sit still!” I felt like I was going to follow suit with the melt down front.

She gave me the run around, but apart from the ‘I got stuck’ melt down we were pretty happy. A fidget but happy all the same. Finally, finally I got a couple of okay shots. Some are a little hazy, but I liked them anyway and no bubbles in sight.

Im no photographer as you can very much see, but we got there in the end. The best bit was she crashed out for a nap as soon as I put her down. All that run around really helped.

Star cushion was from Next (last year). Rug from Ikea and Delilah’s all-in-one from George @ Asda.

Now I’m going to fall in a heap on the sofa and enjoy a glass of wine. Happy Friday Lovers.

Xoxo, L.