Thursday, 25 May 2017

Supermarket Style

When I was at school, there was a rhyme that people used as a taunt for those who didn't quite fit in with the latest fashion trends. I recall it with a shudder because more than once, I fell victim to this lovely little rhyme.

"She thinks she's really cool man, but she shops at Oxfam.
She think's she looks so fresh though, but she shops at Tesco."

Catchy little ditty ain't it? At the time, I did actually buy clothes from Oxfam - indeed any charity shop or jumble sale I could find, such was my love of clothes from bygone eras. We used to call clothes from charity shops 'retro' but now the High End call it Vintage (daaah-ling) and stick an extra zero on the end of the price tag which, back in my day, would have had £1.50 on it.What was once sniggered at is now incredibly stylish.  We all want to be that insouciant girl at the dinner party who replies with a faint smile "Oh this? It's Vintage." When somebody asked me where my clothes were from in school, I mumbled something incoherent about Miss Selfridge or Tammy Girl (remember Tammy Girl?!) Fashion certainly has a sense of irony.

Now, I own my charity shop bargains. I've bagged a Louis Vuitton scarf for £3, Phase Eight dresses for a fiver each, sweatshirts by Sandwich. I even came across a tweed Gucci jacket in a little village charity stall for £40...but was, alas, too small.

Yet buying your clothes at supermarkets still seems a little taboo in the fashion world. Dare I say shameful? The amount of women I've complimented on their shirt or dress who have then blushed and replied that it's 'only from Asda' is surprising. Surely it doesn't matter where you spend your money as long as you're buying something you love and feel good in?

Want to know a secret? Today I'm wearing a black maxi skirt...from Lidl. It set me back a bargainous £4.99 and it's brilliant. It doesn't feel cheap and nasty, it fits well and it's washed really well so far. It also looks pretty good on me. So why should I not be screaming from the rooftops about the benefits of kitting yourself out in new gear when you're buying your bread and milk?

For me, the benefits of supermarket shopping far outweigh the cons. It's convenient for one, because after the age of thirty with a baby in tow, who really has time to trawl around a shopping centre with a bunch of nubile teens making you feel like a frump? Secondly, clothes from supermarkets are generally cheaper than on the high street (not counting Primark here or as I call it 'the place where clothes sizes go to die. How can i fit in to an 8 and an 18 in one shop? Hmm). Finally, supermarket clothing ranges are seriously cool. The brands are stand alone fashion houses with well designed pieces that are on trend and well made. George at Asda, Florence and Fred at Tesco, TU at Sainsbury's are the big three but don't underestimate the power of Esmara at Lidl or Avenue at Aldi. They are as yet undiscovered.

As a new mum on maternity leave, I don't have the finances to buy a new Summer wardrobe but just because I'm a new mum on maternity leave doesn't mean that I don't want to look stylish and on trend. Supermarkets solve this dilemma for me. So in honour of supermarket style, I've out together a range of outfits from a capsule collection of supermarket buys, old and new, to show you just how versatile and fashion forward buying your outfits with your groceries can actually be.

First up, Gym gear. Yes you really can buy super stylish, comfortable and fit for purpose workout wear from your local supermarket.
Leggings, TU at Sainsbury's, Sports bra, vest and sweatshirt all, F&F at Tesco. Trainers by Puma.

"But I love my designers" I hear you wail! Ok then, check out this Barbara Hulanicki dress from George at Asda. That's case you didn't know. Shoes F&F at Tesco. Necklace, DP
Double denim can be dangerous but a denim shirt dress over striped jeans is a great way to tackle the trend. Plus the dress can be worn on it's own on warmer days.
Denim shirt dress, T-shirt and sandals: F&F at Tesco, Jeans, TU at Sainsburys

 What's that? A dinner date outfit for under £30? Cheers Tesco! Top, trousers, shoes all F&F at Tesco. Necklace Ben De Lisi at Principles

The infamous Lidl maxi skirt with very on trend gingham. Skirt, Esmara at Lidl, Vest - pack of 2, shirt and sandals all F&F at Tesco.

This is a great Summer in the City Outfit. It looks stylish and expensive. You'd never know the whole outfit cost me £10...supermarket sales people...they are epic.
Top and shoes F&F at Tesco. Cropped linen trousers, Esmara at Lidl.

This is a great look for weekend day trips with the family! Whole outfit: F&F at Tesco. Necklace: Debenhams.

So there you have it, 7 looks from varying supermarket stores that can be mixed and matched throughout the summer at a fraction of the price of high street stores. Maybe now I won't be so stumbling when people ask me where my outfit is from...or maybe I'll keep it our little secret. And to those playground might be 15 years too late, but I have a response for you: I know I'm really fresh though, cos I buy my clothes at Tesco.


Friday, 19 May 2017

Burning Out: Underneath The Filter

The Lurgy has entered the house. I woke up this morning, after an awful night's sleep, with a stuffy nose, a scratchy throat, aching joints and a pounding head. I was surprised at this as I've not been around anyone with a cold and I've been eating so well and exercising regularly that I thought my immunity would be a little stronger. So foul do I feel, that I felt something must have caused it and I looked back over my week trying to find the source of my misery. Only then did it occur to me that I might be taking on a little too much...

Working as a teacher I'm used to busy days and heavy workloads and countless marking and data deadlines. As Head of KS3 English, I constantly have a to do list longer than my arm and I rarely have a day that sees everything ticked off. Although I occasionally moan about my workload, I know I thrive in situations when stuff just needs to get done. I'm guilty of leaving things to the last minute because I know I can't procrastinate any more and I HAVE to finish a task. It's like I'm on my own Challenge Aneka episode only it's Challenge Jen and I'm competing with myself and time. The adrenaline is addictive and the pride at completing a task makes me feel like superwoman.

Being on maternity leave hasn't made me any more relaxed. Despite no longer having lessons to plan or essays to mark or data to review, I still give myself a huge workload...and I have to ask myself why I do this.

Take this week for instance. On Monday, I went to Mum and Baby group, completed a workout, went in to the local town to top up my grocery shop, even though I didn't need to. Tuesday I got up early to go running in the rain, took a shower and took Seb to Rhythm Time before racing home to have dinner before making the 4pm mum and baby showing of Beauty and the Beast. Wednesday saw a 10am Story Explorers class and a 12.45pm baby yoga class on opposite sides of the town and another browse around Tesco. Thursday? A particularly challenging day of a HIIT and weights session and a baby swim class all before midday followed by an hour's drive to York to have two work meetings before coming home to take Smeagol on an hour long birthday walk. On top of all this I do all the usual mum things: putting Seb down for routine naps, feeding him, dressing him, changing him, preparing bottles and meals, loading the dishwasher, cooking three healthy meals a day, doing laundry, tidying the house, walking the dog twice a day, showering, putting on make up, playing with shopping. More? I meet up with friends for coffee, arrange play dates and clothes swaps, clear out my wardrobe and donate clothes to friends or charities, update this blog and instagram plus I'm doing the British Heart Foundation's My Marathon May.  It's no wonder that I'm starting to burn out a little.

Why though? Why do I do this? I frequently hear my friends ask how I manage to do so much - how do I find time to cook? To clean? Why am I so busy?

The classes with Seb I do because I think it's important for his development and because I can't stay in the house all day or I'd go crackers. They're as much for me as they are for I know that when I go back to work I'm never going to regret all the time we spent playing and learning together. But everything else can be neglected a little, surely? Even typing that makes me guffaw because I know I couldn't just neglect my tasks completely. I will always need to tidy and clean because I simply hate unorganised chaos. I deep need in me since childhood has to organise things or people. I think it's the same part of me that will always get a thrill at buying stationary. 

I've always been a bit of an overachiever. I'm not the smartest, quickest, prettiest or funniest. In fact I am distinctly average in every way and so I've always had to work hard. A fear of ignorance means I'm constantly reading and wanting to learn. If I don't know something, I have to 'read up' on it so that I know the answers. I feel proud when I receive compliments on my outfit, carefully selected in my mind the night before, even though I might only be going to the coffee shop. It's not about being the best; I'm not that shallow. It more like I want to be the best that I can be. 

But life is not a competition...and it's foolish to compete against yourself all the time. 

Looking at my instagram page, it's full of glossy, filtered pictures of home cooked, healthy meals, a smiling baby, a made up face and primped hair, motivating images of me working out. How pretty. How 'put together'.They're truthful images because yes, sometimes my life is pretty and put together, but it's not the whole truth. Sometimes, days like today happen.

Today I'm ill, grumpy, greasy and unmotivated. Today I haven't showered or put on make up or even changed out of my joggers and t-shirt which I slept in. I just put Military Man's hoodie over the top, because I'm missing him whilst he's away in Norway. Today, Seb and I have eaten a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs and avocado, beautifully instagrammed....but I haven't washed the dishes, or unloaded the dishwasher from last night. I haven't dressed Seb - he's still in his pj's. His toys are strewn around the front room, the dog's muddy footprints pollute my usually clean kitchen floor...and it's ok for today. I'm cutting myself some slack. I have no workout plans nor am I leaving the house apart from the obligatory dog walks which I will do in the same clothes I'm wearing now.

Everyone puts pressure on themselves but I do think mum's add even more weight to the load because they have a little person that they feel they're letting down if they don't do something perfectly. This is silly. Not once has Sebastian looked at me this morning, in his avocado stained superman pyjamas, and frowned at me as if to say 'you're failing as a mother'. He gave me his usual gummy giggle and blew a raspberry, spraying me with unswallowed remnants of scrambled egg. Sebastian thinks I'm perfect. One day, this will change and no matter how hard I try, he'll still give me stony teenage glares that will unhinge me. One day, he'll think I'm a rubbish mum and in a fit of adolescent rage he might even say it. But for right now, Sebastian thinks I'm the most wonderful mummy in the world, complete with greasy hair and a messy kitchen. And today, that's the best that I can be.


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

For The Love Of Chocolate

It's only natural that I should have been drawn to York. Despite now residing an hour away from the viking city, my heart will always call itself a Yorkshire girl, my feet ever longing for the higgledy piggledy cobblestones streets of the Shambles (the inspiration for Diagon Alley dontcha know?) and my nose ever sniffing up at the air yearning to smell the intoxicating scent of chocolate that roams around the York streets like a little sugar fairy.

York is the city of chocolate. Forget Vikings, Romans, Richard of York's vain battle or the Minster, York is instead made up of a dizzying array of sweet treats. The Nestle factory sits just outside the centre, filling the streets with a deliciously bitter cocoa scent if the wind blows the right way. The old Chocolate Works, once owned by Terry's (of Chocolate Orange fame) is treated like some holy shrine to all things confectionery. The park is even named Rowntree Park after Joseph Rowntree who opened the Chocolate factory in York before it was taken over by Nestle.  And then there are more recent chocolate accolades: The Cocoa House, Hotel Chocolat and of course the York Chocolate Story. You could say York has an affection for confection.

I love chocolate. This declarative doesn't seem to convey the depth of feeling I have for the stuff. My favourite treat is a jar of Nutella, ever so slightly melted, with a spoon. Nothing else, just the glorious, liquid simplicity of the velvety smoothness of chocolate. However, I also love my health and whilst chocolate is the food of the gods, it's not exactly conducive to a slim figure if you eat it for every meal (which I would. I totally would).

If you've read my other posts, you'll know I'm doing The Body Coach's 90 Day Shift, Shape and Sustain plan, using his recipe books and work outs to help me. I LOVE this plan. I eat delicious food, never feel hungry and after 4 weeks, I've seen incredible results. My one qualm? There is a significant lack of chocolate (or indeed sugar) on the plan. Quelle horreur!

I'm not a girl to do things by half. I've stuck to the plan pretty rigidly and haven't had so much as a brick of chocolate in nearly 5 weeks...but that's not to say I haven't had cravings. My god, have I had cravings. At times I've walked down the sweets and treats aisle at the super market and left a puddle of tears in my wake (or was it drool?) So, not content with the meagre offerings of cinnamon on the plan (i love cinnamon...but it is chocolate's less interesting, somewhat overbearing cousin), I decided to create my own chocolate treats that don't break the rules (too much).

Chocolate mousse
This is delicious and filling and has a slightly fluffier texture than angel delight.

Makes 2 good sized portions
1 tub250g of plain quark ( high protein, low fat, zero sugar cheese - just go with me on this)
2 tablespoons of cacao (you could use cocoa at a push)
1/2 teaspoon of agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

Tip all the quark in to a food mixer with a whisk setting, though a hand whisk won't kill you.
Whisk on a medium setting  until the quark starts looking fluffier (or until your arm feels achey).
As you whisk, add in the cacao and cinnamon one tablespoon at a time. Continue to whisk until all combined.
In a lower whisking speed, add the agave syrup and whisk until combined (don't worry if the mixture looses a little 'fluff')
Empty the mixture in to storage containers and refrigerate overnight.
Serve with raspberries.

Snickers Smoothie
I can't get enough of this. It tastes just like a snickers and feels like a real treat. It makes a great breakfast on the go!

250ml unsweetened Almond Milk
1 tablespoon of almond butter
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
handful of walnuts
1 tablespoon of cacao
1/2 tablespoon of agave syrup

Chuck it all in a blender and blend well.

Bounty Bites
I love Bounty chocolate bars but I know a lot of people don't. If you're one of them, just leave out the desiccated coconut.

300g Medjool dates
1 tablespoon cacao
1 tablespoon almond butter
100g flaked almonds
50g of coconut oil
100g desiccated coconut

Put all the ingredients, apart from the desiccated coconut, in to a blender and blitz to create a sticky soil like texture.
Form golf ball sized spheres by rolling handfuls of mixture in between your palms.
Roll in the desiccated coconut.

Chocolate Pudding Oats
This seems like such an indulgent chocolate dessert. If it's a little rich for you for breakfast, why not try it as a mid afternoon snack?

50g rolled oats
2 tablespoons cacao
1 teaspoon of agave syrup
1 tablespoon of flaxseeds
250ml unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon greek yoghurt

Put all the ingredients apart from the yoghurt in a bowl and give it a mix.
Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes (check after 2 minutes). You want a gooey, pudding-y texture.
Top with a dollop of greek yoghurt.

If you decide to give these recipes a try, I hope you enjoy them! Leave a comment if you do or if you have any of your own chocolate hacks to share!


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Yorkshire Days Out With Kids: Part Two!

Continuing on from my last post, here are my next 5 places to visit with my little boy this Summer whilst his dad is on Operation in Cyprus. I'm so looking forward to seeing his little face as we visit these lovely places. If you're new to Yorkshire or have never been and fancy a visit, check out Welcome to Yorkshire, a website that lists events, places to visit, eat and sleep.

6. Whitby

I've been to Whitby many times. I've been to the beaches, the abbey, the museums, the cobbled Old Town streets and it's beautiful. But this time, I'll be seeing it through the eyes of my little boy who has never seen the sea, or sand. I can't wait to paddle with him on sunny days and play with a bucket and spade again before taking a ride on the Bark Endeavor replica ship around the bay!

Whiby images from yorkshire,co,uk

7. Sealife Sanctuary - Scarborough

An online ticket to this gem costs £9.50 but under 2's are free. This sealife sanctuary presents a range of fishy friends in different zones from the Great Barrier Reef to Penguin Island and Otter River. There are opportunities to touch some of the sealife and there are live feedings and talks on conservation and breeding for the older ones. But on a purely visual and sensory basis I think this would be a fantastic day out for the smallest of babyfolk and it's a great rainy day activity.

8. Stockeld Park, Wetherby

I have wanted to go here for the longest time. Each year they host a Winter Wonderland with ice skating and Nordic skiing along with and enchanted winter forest so I'm delighted that they have similar events during the Spring/Summer seasons. With  inflatable play, soft play, indoor and outdoor adventure zones, a spider's lair, enchanted forest, buccaneer boats, a maze, go Karts, scooters and plenty of picnic areas, I'd say this is well worth the £12.50 per adult online booking price which includes entry to everything apart from the boats and includes parking...and under 2's go free.

Image from Stockeld Park website

9. Monk Hill Farm - Thirsk

This is a really lovely farm for all the family. Sebastian recently looked the small petting farm we took him to so I'm looking forward to him being able to see a wider range of farm (and none farm) animals like rabbits, wallabies, peacocks and llamas. Whilst we're there I can take advantage of the lovely tea room  and we can sit in the sunshine and have a play on the playground! Adult tickets are £7.50 and under 2's are free.

10. Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo - Malton

Ok admittedly, this is a bit of a blow out day in terms of cost.The online price for a day ticket for an adult is £32 though under 3's are free and there are family ticket deals available. You can get 2 day passes so you could even make a weekend of it as a family mini break and the passes give you access to both the theme park and the zoo. I used to go there every year as a kid and I loved it - the zoo is brilliant and is a conservation centre so the animals aren't there to be entertainment. You can be a zookeeper for a day and learn about the animals or you can adopt an animal. It's a great learning experience and the rides are great fun for older kids. Malton is not too far away so you could always have a little drive out to explore the beautiful little town and if you're lucky, their monthly food festival will be on! 

Image from Flamingo land website

So these are my top summer 2017 bucket list picks!  Favourable mentions that you may want to check out are: The Forbidden Corner ,  York Chocolate Story , National Rail Museum  and  Mother Shipton's Cave.

Do you have any secret gems to share? 


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Yorkshire Days Out With Kids: Part One

This post is inspired by Emma's Summer '17 Bucket List over at her blog which includes loads of fab ideas for days out in Yorkshire. If you're sprogless, definitely have a peek at her list!

My list is for those that have mini humans attached to them this summer (or if you're just a big kid at heart!).

Every Spring, I find myself making grandiose plans for the Summer. There was the Summer that Military Man and me were going to go on a Staycation, camping in a 2 man tent around England to see all the places we've never seen (Glastonbury I'm looking at you!) but being 7 months pregnant with a beagle puppy, it didn't really feel like the right time. Another Summer  we were going to do city breaks. A weekend in Vienna here, a jaunt in  Rome there...but life got in the way. Besides, city breaks are expensive!

So this year, facing the prospect of a long (hopefully warm!) season without Military Man who will be sunning himself whilst working in Cyprus for 2 months, I've decided to make some plans a little more realistic that will be enjoyable for me and keep baby Sebastian happy too!

1.  Eureka Children's Museum - Halifax

This place looks amazing! It caters for children from birth to 12 years old and encourages hands on interaction with the exhibits. With 9 different 'zones' to explore - including sensory areas and soft play, you really get a lot of bang for your buck. An adult pass is just short of £13, under 1's are free but once you've got a pass it's valid all year. This would be a rainy day out!

Image credit:

2. Ponderosa - Batley

I love the idea of this place. It's a therapeutic centre which is suitable for children of all ages but is specifically catered towards children with disabilities. There's a small zoo with animals ranging from the Tropical Jungle of Brazil to the Sandy Plains of Australia and children can pet and feed some animals. There's a picnic area and a man made beach with a pirate ship to play in plus a zip wire area for older kids. An Indoor play area and an ice cream parlour makes this a really fun day out for a really reasonable price of £5.50 for a combined adult ticket.

3. Baby Rave by BoomChikkaBoom - Various places

I have to admit, I'm so excited for this one. A Baby Rave, for those not in the know, consists of messy play, light shows, bubbles, confetti and noise makers all with music and glo-sticks! Events are held regularly in Halifax, Leeds, Harrogate and York and are often themed and held at baby appropriate times. At £6 for an adult and 1 child, it's not going to break the bank either.

Image credit:
4. The Rainbow Factory - Leeds

This is one for the kids who love storytime. The Rainbow Factory is a play centre that caters to children from birth to 10 years old with weekly drop in sessions ranging from Music Monkeys and Sensory Stories to themes events like Harry Potter Day and Enchanted Theatre performances. Event prices do vary and you have to book events ahead of time so keep checking the website.

5. Ilkley Lido - Ilkley

If we are lucky enough to get a day a beautifully hot and sunny day I am definitely taking a trip here. Located near Bradford, the Ilkley Lido is one of the few remaining operational Lido's in the UK. Inflatables are allowed and there's a paddling pool for little ones. A picnic area is available to save on costs but there's also a cafe. An adult pass is £4.50 and a junior is £2.35. Please note that this isn't a heated pool so be sure to put your little one in a full body wetsuit and take lots of towels for snuggles after splashtime!

Image credit: Ilkley Lido

I hope you've found some inspiration in my list so far. Tune in next time for Yorkshire Days Out With Kids: Part 2.


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Fitness, food and fitting in to my old jeans...

The muscles in my bum are on fire. Every time I take a step up the stairs, or bend over to pick up my son or tidy something away, or even so much as take a step, my glutes cry out in shrieking pain that they hate me. I move around with low grumbles of  'ouch, ow, ooh, ouch, gah' like I've just had a hip replacement and am off to Bingo.

This pain is self inflicted after a particularly intense HIIT workout yesterday that involved Sumo Squats. Sumo Squats. Sumo = large wrestler with a wedgie. Squats = using your bum muscles to dip down low and (hopefully) get you back up again. Those are two words that should not be put together but unfortunately have been collaborated to create a squat from hell that involves you dipping down into a regular squat and then jumping... jumping back up in to a legs together position. Sounds easy? Try it after high knees, burpees and mountain climbers and do 5 rounds of each, as fast as you can. It's HARD.

I'm in my third week of training for a running challenge for the British Heart Foundation called My Marathon. I have four weeks to run a total of 26.2 miles - that's 42K if you like it metric. You can choose to walk, jog or run it and you log the miles you complete on a fitness app connected to your own Everyday Hero page. I've chosen to jog and run the miles as best I can but considering I'm more unfit than I ever have been, I thought I'd better get some training in.

The apps I've been using are my trusty Samsung Health app and the Baby Steps to 5k program which promises to get me fitter and running a full 5k in 10 weeks. If I can manage to get through the My Marathon month (not that I have a choice now that the sponsorships are coming in!) then I might put myself in for a charity 5k. The other app is Strava, a fitness tracking app for athletes which is only a little bit intimidating but also really good at showing me at which points in my run that I'm at my fastest and trends in pace, distance and longest active time.

Whilst this may all seem very benevolent and selfless I assure you that my motives are not purely charitable. Frankly, I want to lose weight. 

Before my eggo got preggo I was a size 10 to 12 and at 5"7 I weighed in at 12st which, incidentally is considered overweight despite the fact that I ran three times a week and ate healthily due to having coeliac disease. At my most ill, when I was passing out and my blood pressure was dangerously low resulting in an iron infusion, I was a size 8 and 10st and considered 'normal'. I was skeletal and it just didn't suit me.  Now, post baby, I'm a size 14 and nearly 15st. It's not the largest I've ever been but I don't exactly feel confident. Whilst I'm realistic enough to know that my body is never going to be exactly the same as it was pre Sebastian, I would like to lose some of the flab which seems to have piled up on my hips, thighs and arms...accumulations of fat that have come from the slabs of chocolate I've lived off in the last 6 months. Worth it? My tummy says glutes disagree! Trying on my size 12 pre-pregnancy jeans a few weeks ago saw them fastening, only just, pushing up a muffin top that made me seriously crave a blueberry breakfast muffin but simultaneously made me want to stop breathing in case oxygen contained calories. 

Me as a size 10 to 12 before I had my son

Just a few weeks after having Sebastian

I was lucky really. I got no stretchmarks or wrinkly skin as a result of my being pregnant. My stomach looks squishy but, aside from my c-section scar, you wouldn't be able to tell I'd been pregnant in the last year. My fitness levels, however, tell a different story. The first time I went out for a run I was out of puff before I'd even made it past the end of my street. But I know I'll get there. 3 weeks in and I already feel the difference...and the burn in the bum muscles. 

Foodwise, I've started following The Body Coach's 90 day Shift, Shape and Sustain plan, inspired by my pal Rachel over at The Inelegant Wench (check her out!) who was kind enough to talk me through her tailor made plan. As I am a pauper on maternity pay, I can't afford the £150 three month plan so Rachel has let me purloin some recipes and I'm using the book to help me learn, plan and workout. I'm 2 weeks in to the food plan and it's been illuminating. Essentially, it's a low carb lifestyle which suits me fine as I love a bit of meat (get that smut out of your mind) but it educates you on what to eat and when. Carbs are allowed, but only as a refuel after a workout so if I want a bowl of pasta that's fine, but I'm gonna have to work my ass off for it first. Food as motivation? Oh Joe are a genius.

So far, I feel full...constantly full. There is a LOT of veg and eggs and I'm getting pretty tired of spinach though I have discovered a lifelong love for kale but in truth, I'm finding it fairly easy. I love to cook fresh and have to anyway to ensure none of my food contains gluten so it's not that much of a change for me. The first week I had major sugar cravings and was in a serious grump with Military Man who  thought it was acceptable to eat MY easter egg in front of me. But really I'm glad he removed the temptation! I had headaches, lethargy and general sluggishness but this week I'm feeling much more refreshed...although I do seem to be spending rather a lot of time on the loo, side effects of all that green veg!

The recipes are delicious and I've been posting pictures on my Instagram so check them out.

Joe Wicks instructs his 90 Day-ers not to step on the scales or the Sad Step as he calls it but as I'm technically not a paying 90 Day-er, I figured I didn't have to stick to the rules. I know...I'm such a rebel. So far? I've lost 14lbs.

I tried on my pre - pregnancy size 12 jeans earlier. My sore ass fit in them without a splodge of muffin top. Suddenly, my glutes don't ache as much.


Monday, 24 April 2017


Sebastian Shaun Rothwell was born at 9.06am on the 25th October 2016. He was a healthy 8lbs and 14oz and the first thing he did when he was placed on my chest was take a dump on me followed by a wee that rivalled Austin Powers after he'd just come out of biofreeze, This was most definitely a sign of things to come.

For those that didn't catch my last post, he was born by elective c-section after the discovery of a dermoid cyst that was blocking my cervix and twisting my ovary. It turned out to be a big, hulking bezoar of a cyst, just slightly smaller that Sebastian's head.

Seb, as he has become affectionately called, is a an amalgamation of every cliched description a mother can have for her child. He is obviously the most beautiful baby in the world, the most advanced, the best baby whilst simultaneously being the worst... he is, quite simply, superlative.

When were taken to the ward in a mist of shock and joy (he was here! Finally here! oh God. He was here) Seb had already latched but just kind of lay there, eyes closed, mouth open waiting for the milk to come. He didn't suckle for two days and I had to be hand expressed every few hours by the most wonderful midwife. 14 hours after Seb's birth, he still had not ingested any colostrum. My midwife expressed 10ml in to syringe to give to him but said, very matter of factly: "Your child needs to be fed. Give him some formula. FED IS BEST.' Weeping, I gave him formula, thinking I'd never breastfeed but the next day, Seb began to suckle and we had 6 beautiful months of breastfeeding. I have also formula fed him alongside breastfeeding and this has worked for us. My little boy is happy and my advice to anyone who is worried about whether to breastfeed or not...just do what feels right for you and your baby. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed... and I did for a month. But mixed feeding was so much better for us.

Sebastian smiled at 4 weeks, sat up at 3 months and started feeding himself at 4 months. He is currently 6 months and is able to stand up, supporting himself. if you hold his hands, he walks with you. He loves music. Nursery rhymes, songs from the radio, classical...he likes it all. He is also a gogglesprog. He'll stare at the television for hours on end so we're very careful about what we put on the tv. You Tube's Super Simple Song's channel has been amazing. Seb now recognises songs and 'sings' along, batting his tambourine around like some little hippy.

It's not all fun and games though. Sleep is a long forgotten friend. In fact, Seb has always been a poor sleeper. I don't include the newborn phase here because no newborn is a poor sleeper - they just have no idea how to sleep 'properly'. I mean from 3 months, when his rhythms settled, Seb never really showed a great interest in sleeping. He would wake every two hours, nap for only half an hour and would become antsy if he wasn't in our arms. So we co-slept. I had never intended to do this...but worked for us.  Now, at 6 months, Seb occasionally sleeps through the night but mostly, he sleeps from 7pm til 3am then til 6,30am and has three short naps during the day. This is manageable and far better than a lot of babies, I realise. We've only managed this by following Tracy Hogg's The Baby Whisperer Sleep Guide. It saved my sanity.

I could write so much about Sebastian. He is my best pal and he's just so much fun and he's the most interesting person I know. Military Man adores him also...and despite his hesitance to do ANY of the night feeds...seeing him with our son makes me love him even more deeply. 

My experience of pregnancy was ok - I had a fairly healthy, normal pregnancy though I wasn't one of those Earth Mother type people who adored being pregnant and growing a child. But it was all SO worth it. In wasn't all that bad. I might even do it all again...