Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Folk Print

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I hope you all had a lovely Easter. We made the most of the good weather and managed two picnics over the bank holiday weekend. On Saturday we headed to Stanhope, a small and charming market town in County Durham. We walked along the river and browsed the shops before heading to Hill End for a picnic.

I wore my new folk print dress from Topshop. I first spotted this a few weeks ago and tried to convince myself that I didn't need it. Then I stalked it on the Topshop website a couple of times after that and was gutted to see it go out of stock. Then I saw a girl wearing it in town and she looked great in it so I decided it had to be mine. As fate would have it, there was only one left in my local store and it was in my size. It's kind of complictaed to try things on when shopping with a baby so I took it home and was so pleased to find that it fit and it's a decent length for a Topshop dress. It was meant to be!

On Saturday, the sky was clear and the sun was shining, but there was definitely a cold spring breeze in the air which meant I chickened out of wearing this dress the way I would have liked, with a fedora, bare legs and my Blowfish platform tan sandals. Instead I paired it with tights, a denim jacket and these brown shoes. It's a good job I did because much to my protesting my husband had us walking through a stream! That's right a stream! There were stones to step on, but my foot managed to slide off one of the stones and straight into the water! Fortunately it was only about 3 inches deep. I dread to think how I would have fared in my platforms! I'm sure the people near by, all dressed in outdoor clothes must have found it hilarious! I just hate practical dressing and never feel comfortable in it which is a bit of a problem because I actually love the countryside. Although, I'm not as bad as my friend who refused to pack any outdoors clothes on our trip to the Lake District and climbed a mountain in style in hot pants and Hunter wellies. I've got to admit she looked good and if I had legs like hers I would probably live in hotpants, but she found getting back down the mountain quite a challenge. Let me know if you have any tips for practical outdoors clothing that doesn't look...well...too practical and outdoorsy!

Anyway, after the drama of the stream we managed to find a lovely spot by the river, against a bank that sheltered us from the wind and we sat down to enjoy our picnic. We ate delicious sandwiches based on a Jamie Oliver recipe and made with homemade tomato focaccia (We recently got a bread maker and I am obsessed with making and eating home made bread. It's really not helping me lose my baby weight). Sophie was a little angel. She laid back and seemed to be taking the birdsong, sounds of the river and gentle sun. I didn't want to leave.

The only problem was I had to contend with that stream again on the way back!

Dress - Topshop (this has sold out online, but is available in tall and petite)
Denim Jacket - New Look (old)
Bag - Primark
Tights - Dorothy Perkins
Shoes - Topshop (old)
Watch - Michael Kors 
Bracelet - Pandora
Ring - Topshop (old)
Midi fingertip ring - Topshop (currently in the sale)
Shoes - Topshop (old)


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Mushroom, Basil and Cashew Nut Pate

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Since starting my maternity leave I have been really enjoying having so much more time to cook. Don't get me wrong, looking after a baby takes up a huge amount of time, but I am now able to cook around her naps. Before I started my maternity leave I was working almost 60 hours most weeks and I relied on my husband to do a lot of the cooking so it's been really nice to swap roles lately.

I am especially enjoying making lunches and I have been trying out a lot of different lunch and brunch recipes which is such a welcome change from only having 15 minutes to eat a super quick sandwich.

One of my favorite and easiest things to make is this mushroom, basil and cashew nut pate. I made this recipe up after trying to recreate something I had at my favourite vegetarian restaurant. Because it's something I made up, I am afraid it is a little haphazard and none of the measurements are exact, but I've made it several times and it's always turned out well. I've made it for a few people now, for lunch and as a starter and it's always gone down well.

Ingredients - serves 2-3
4 or 5 large chestnut mushrooms
A handful of cashew nuts
A large bunch of basil
2 tablespoons of cream cheese

1. Slice the mushrooms and dry fry them until they are cooked through. This usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes and I find dry frying them works fine and saves on calories.

2. Once the mushrooms are nearly ready add the cashew nuts for the last couple of minutes.

3. Put the mushrooms, cashews and basil leaves in a blender and blitz. I like my pate slightly chunky.

4. Stir in 2 tablespoons of cream cheese.

That's it! I usually serve it with toasted bread, but if I have time I make these flat breads. I sometimes also add some soaked porcini mushrooms to give the pate a more intense flavour.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Bare Minerals 15th Anniversary Mineral Veil Finishing Powder

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I'll be honest, I'm easily lured by a beauty gimmick. Give me a gimmick or cute packaging and I am much more likely to part with my hard earned cash, but this is a gimmick that really works.

I don't have particularly oily skin, but I like to keep my T-zone in check. I have loved the Bare Minerals original mineral veil for quite some time and have gone through several pots. It's perfect for setting make-up in place and reducing the appearance of fine lines and pores with out looking too heavy. The only draw back I have found in the past is that the product was never very travel friendly. With the original product you have to twist the top and tip a little product into the lid and swirl your brush around. Please tell me I'm not the only person who has forgotten to twist the lid back only to open the product and get powder everywhere?! 

This limited addition packaging is so cleverly designed. It has an in-built brush. You simply slide the clear half circle around to expose the brush, give it a quick shake to get the powder to flow and then buff it into your skin. It means you can just pop in into your bag for on the go touch ups and means you don't need to carry a bush around. It's so quick and easy which is exactly what I need as a new mum. I was concerned that the powder might spill out everywhere, but after using it for a week I haven't had any spillages. The brush is pretty decent too and very soft. 

The flip-brush packaging is limited edition celebrating the 15th anniversary of mineral veil finishing powder. I got mines from Debenhams for £22, but I have since seen it cheaper at feelunique.com for £19.35, but it's currently out of stock. I'm not sure if they will get it back in stock with it being limited edition, but it's worth checking back. 



Sunday, 20 April 2014

Baby Girl Clothes Haul: The Little White Company, Next, Primark, TK Max, Debehamns etc


Oops I did it again! It bought and received (but mainly bought) a LOT of baby girl clothes, an awful lot considering I only did my last baby girl clothes haul about 3 weeks ago. 

I have put links to the things I could find in the info under the video on YouTube. I'm starting to get the hang of this scary YouTube stuff, but I had a major fail when I forgot to select at least a half decent thumbnail so instead you and I are stuck with the crazy face I am pulling! Sorry about that! 

Let me know which items are your favourite and if you've seen or bought any cute baby girl stuff. I have seen some amazing stuff in H&M for really good prices (lace Peter pan collar babygrows had me at hello and super cute summer dresses for only £2.99) but I am determined to make some money on eBay before I spend all of my maternity pay on baby girl clothes!




Friday, 18 April 2014

Stained Glass Windows

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I absolutely love the print of this dress. I resisted buying it when I first saw it on asos because I'm not at all religious, but when it went down to only £14 in the sale I caved in. I might not be religious, but I really can appreciate the beauty of stained glass windows and I love visiting old churches and cathedrals. 

This week we headed into our home city and went for a walk along the river banks and around the cathedral and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to wear this dress. I may be slightly biased, but I love our Cathedral. I have visited a lot of religious buildings all over the world and nothing quite compares. It brings back so many nostalgic memories of climbing to the top with my mum when I was only a little girl and going for our school carol service before Christmas each year. It's hard to get your head round the fact that it was built in 1093! I remember doing a project on it in school and for some reason that date has always stuck in my head.

I have been really enjoying days out with my husband and baby girl. I haven't been a party animal for a good few years and it's obviously a lot harder to go out for drinks these days, but I love nothing more than going for breakfast, lunch or cake, especially cake and a walk and I cannot wait for picnic weather to finally arrive! 

Stained Glass Smock Dress - Asos (currently £14 in the sale)
Bolero - Oasis (old)
Boots - Topshop (old)
Satchel - Asos (old)
Necklace - Delilah Dust


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Food Diary Week 2

Here's what I ate this week:

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Monday
Breakfast: Weetabox, semi-skimmed milk and a glass of orange juice
Lunch: Bagel, Quorn bacon, poached egg and beans
Dinner: Butternut squash, chickpea and cauliflower rogan josh with rice and carrot, almond and coriander salad. Recipe from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute meals. You can find it here

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Tuesday
Breakfast: Lemon curd and homemade raspberry jam on seeded toast.
Lunch: Mozzarella, tomato and pesto panini with salad and coleslaw at a National Trust Cafe
Dinner: Mexican bean burger and chips (we were very late back so had a quick 'stick it in the oven' dinner). 

I can't believe how much bread I ate!

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Wednesday
Breakfast: Weetabix and semi-skimmed milk
Lunch: Homemade mushroom, cashew and basil pate with homemade bread.
Dinner: River cobbler with caponata (recipe here) and watercress salad.

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Thursday
Breakfast: Jordan's Country Crisp Chunky Nut Cereal (this is high in protein but contains a scary amount of fat and sugar)
Lunch: Homemade red pepper and onion pate and mushroom, cashew and basil pate with homemade sunflower and honey bread. I didn't eat all this myself, but shared it with my parents who were visiting. 
Dinner: Vegetable chili wraps with lemony gaucamole, cheese, sour cream and lettuce. Recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday. Again, I didn't eat all of this myself, but share it with my husband.

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Friday
Breakfast: Jordan's Country Crisp Chunky Nut Cereal
Brunch: Eggs Royale at Browns in Newcastle
Dinner: Butternut squash, chickpea and cauliflower rogan josh with rice and carrot, almond and coriander salad. Recipe from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute meals. You can find it here

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Saturday
Breakfast: Weetabix and sem-skimmed milk
Lunch: Poached salmon, spinach and lemon creme fraiche sandwich on homemade sunflower and honey bread
Dinner: We went out for a Chinese and shared a banquet for 8. My brother in law is the restaurant manager so he made sure the banquet included  three meat free dishes for me. It was delicious!

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Sunday
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast
Lunch: Two Graze boxes that I actually shared with my husband.
Dinner: Butternut squash, fennel and goats cheese lasagna with lambs lettuce. 

Again, it was a carb/bread heavy week, but we just bought a bread maker and there are many recipe I want to try so I imagine the next few weeks will be pretty carb heavy too! 


Friday, 11 April 2014

Baby Bump

From week 14 of my pregnancy my husband and I were pretty good at taking photos of my ever expanding baby bump! We managed to take a photo most weeks although we became rather lazy in the last few weeks. I think I was just so frustrated by the time I got past week 40 that I just couldn't bare taking any photos! I had planned to take my last photo in the early stages of labour, but I was unexpectedly induced so never got the chance. 

I am so pleased we did this. It is lovely to look back on these photos and I have printed them all out and placed them in the Bump to Baby Journal I completed throughout my pregnancy.