Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter!

It has been manic for quite some time now as the big day is almost upon us (Mr B and I get married next weekend) but yesterday was lovely and we took some much needed time out to spend as a family. We headed to our favorite *almost* all vegan Chinese place - Veggie World, then got a bit of retail therapy in the form of John Lewis (grabbing last minute wedding related items!).
Amongst all the chaos there have been some really nice moments. Small has started to stand without support!


I have to admit that back when we started to plan our wedding I was a little naive as to when babies started to do things, so thought she might be doing this already - but I'm not and never want to be one of those parents who obsess over baby milestones. My little girl being happy is the most important thing.
We had a lovely visit from my parents on Good Friday and whilst Small tried her best to get hold of some of my egg, she had a lovely Easter bunny and chick to play with.



She's also got her first tooth poking through, although I wasn't overly successful at capturing this with a camera.






It's been nice to have a little break from the hectic wedding planning, but with little ones it's so important to be able to stop and enjoy the now - as it never lasts long! I hope you are all having a lovely long weekend!

Monday, 25 March 2013

B. Make Up @ Superdrug

It's no secret that I love Superdrug. All their own brand products are labelled if they are Vegan/ Vegetarian and they are BUAV approved too. It's great that a large high street store is so conscious like this - it makes vegan products readily available (and affordable!)
I use their 'Thermal Protect' shampoo & conditioner, 'Expertise' Heat Defense Spray and Expertise Straightening Cream as they are all great products which I have trouble finding vegan versions of elsewhere. I use the defense spray before blow drying and straightening - I get stunning results with my GHD's!
I've been using some of their skincare range since Simple was brought by Unilever and I've been really impressed - but always wished they sold a range of make up too! I've had to rely on buying Barry M (I use a lot of Lush stuff too) from there in the past, but not all their items are vegan and I've been less than impressed with a lot of it. So guess how happy I was to discover that now they DO have their own 'premium' make up brand?
Sadly, although they are great at labeling all of their products - they don't seem to put this information on the website, which makes online shopping with them slightly difficult! I headed into the store to take a look at it today and was pleased to find that everything I picked up was vegan!
I purchased - B.Loud High Volume Mascara, B.Cheeky Blusher in Marissa 037, B.Set Pressed Powder in Light/ Medium 152, B.Prepared Make Up Primer,B.Brilliant Lip Gloss in Bordeaux 080, B. Vivid Eyeshadow in Filigree 058, Regalia 139, Porcelain 131 and Cinnamon 107. Also at the time of writing this post they have it on a '3 for 2' deal.



I've ordered an ever so pretty Unii Palette and am planning to 'de-pot' most of this later in the week. The eyeshadow looks like it comes apart in a similar way to Mac pots, but I'll let you know how I get on. Making my own custom palette really appeals to me - I'm hoping to try out a Z palette soon too!



All the packaging is really clearly labelled.



So left to right the swatches are - Cinnamon, Porcelain, Filigree and Regalia. The blusher is on top (Marissa).
So how good is it? I love the mascara and makeup primer. The blusher and eyeshadow are so-so. I think I'm just used to really high pigmented brands like Urban Decay, but I felt I had to put on quite a bit for the colour to show up enough with this. I don't think much to the lip gloss or the pressed powder. I didn't buy any of their lipsticks as I like a matte finish and they are all very glossy.
I'm really glad they've started selling this range - I'm not sure I'm convinced enough to replace some of my current favorites yet, but it's certainly worth a look.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Snow Day

It can't of escaped anybody's attention that the weather is still kind of rubbish given that the first day of Spring has been and gone. In fact as I sit here and write this there is a thick blanket of white covering our street. So what do you do on a day when you are mostly consigned to staying indoors? Small isn't old enough to play in the snow, though next year I'm hoping we'll have lots of fun building snowmen!

Mostly we head for Starbucks. It's my guilty pleasure. Venti iced latte with soya milk and hazelnut syrup. Heaven.

We play too. Small is fascinated by technology. Mostly my Iphone.....

The booster seat she's using in these pictures is a Stokke Handysitt - which mysteriously lots of shops which initially sold it have stopped. For the first few months we had it I found it useless. I eventually managed to track down the 'optional' cushion (which is way overpriced) and it's brilliant. Why couldn't they just include it? The wooden seat base way far to slippy for Small to stay sitting upright without it.

She loves bright colours and will sit happily for ages and explore things with such wonder - it's a pleasure to watch.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

My Postman Brings Me Treats....

I realise that this post title could be interpreted in several ways, but hey. It's not often I get a parcel containing something as fun as this.

My photo quality on the blog has varied over the years - it depended what equipment I had at the time and what was also convenient. I've been using one of Mr B's old Cannon DSLRs recently, but in the past it's been on an iPhone, Blackberry and occasionally on a Sony Aplha.

So I was totally delighted when this bright pink beauty arrived earlier! Sadly these pictures of it were taken on my iPhone, but I've been trying it out around the house and it's lovely (and simple) to use. I name her Betty.

The Magical Doidy Cup

Once weaning began I introduced a sippy cup. The aim being that she learns how to use it and has a drink of water with her meals. The thing is - she's never quite got it. I have tried MANY different brands and types - but no matter if it's a spout, hybrid spout/teat or straw - she just uses it as a teething toy and gets nothing to drink at all. She was 10 months old two days ago and I wanted to find a solution other than her drinking her water from a bottle.

I've heard parents of breastfed babies who can't get used to teats rave about Doidy cups, but I have to admit to discounting it at first as I thought it'd be messy without a lid.

Out of desperation really I picked one up on a recent trip to Kiddicare. She's been using it for just over a week now at every meal and I can't believe how quickly she's figured it out. I still have to hold it steady for her, but she holds onto it too. I don't put too much water in the cup in one go as it has ended up everywhere a few times but it's amazing how happy she is to drink from it. I've since brought another of these and binned most of the sippy cups.

If you are hesitant about trying one, I'd say definitely give it a go!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Nerves

I'm going to share a little secret with you. I'm kind of scared about going on my honeymoon. I visited my doctor today to talk about the medications I'd need. Prescriptions all sorted, so I should feel better... right?

It all started when I was pregnant. I've talked before about some of the problems I had health-wise then, but if you haven't read it - I'll sum it up. I had a pulmonary embolism (several) at 24 weeks pregnant. I spent a lot of time in hospital and had lots of tests.....

I ate some horrible hospital food, but most of the time had to rely on Mr B to bring me meals (as they couldn't cater for vegans most of the time)...

At 28 weeks I got a nice case of gestational diabetes..

THE high blood sugar reading that sent the midwife looking for a drip right before I gave birth!

At my last visit to see a specialist I was advised I'll need to take blood thinning medication whenever I fly, I guess it's pretty standard practice for anybody who has had a P.E. So I'm all sorted and ready for a lovely honeymoon after my big day, but talking over the "safety points" with my Dr just really set off the nerves again I guess.

Wear flight socks, do the correct leg exercises/movements, get up to walk around often. Repeat. No alcohol. Drink lots of water.

I know that it will be just fine, and it'll be a wonderful trip... but it really shows how much something like that happening can change the way you think about things for the rest of your life. It'll be FINE.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Hide That Spinach!

Small just won't eat spinach. If she can see it or taste it then it's not going to be eaten. So I came up with this 'cheesy' sweet potato based recipe that 'disguises' the spinach, yet is full of good stuff! For an older child this could be served as a mash type side dish - it'd work great with a couple of tofu based vegan sausages!

It's also great because it covers some of the things vegans and vegetarians need to be careful about adding to their diet - Omega 3, 6 & 9 (from the oil), Iron (from the spinach) and B vitamins (from the yeast flakes). You could also either give your child some diluted orange juice to drink with the meal or add some grated carrot as vitamin c helps the body absorb iron.

7+ Months

Ingredients

1 small sweet potato (peeled and chopped)

1 small baking potato (peeled and chopped)

2 TBSP Omega High Five oil

1 TBSP vegan margarine

3 TBSP nutritional yeast (I use THIS B12 fortified kind)

1 leek (chopped)

1 TSP crushed garlic

250ml stock (vegetable stock suitable for babies)

50g spinach

40g frozen peas

50g courgette

55g soya cheese

Place your oil, margarine, garlic, courgette and leeks in a high sided pan and saute until everything is nice and soft.

Add both kinds of chopped potato and stir so everything is coated - then add the stock right away. Simmer for about 8 minutes.

Add the spinach and peas and cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes.

Right at the end add your yeast flakes and soya cheese. Stir until 'cheese' is melted then remove from the heat.

Blend or mash according to what is suitable for your baby.

This makes enough for 5 or 6 servings which can be frozen for around a month.

Note: As I am always saying I'm not any kind of nutritional expert, I'm just sharing tips I've picked up along the way.

The Postman, Pondering & Pajamas

It's no secret, with a small person around it's really hard to find any time for yourself - and that includes time to shower, get dressed or brush your hair. With less then three weeks to go until the big day (my wedding!) we are having LOADS of parcels delivered everyday - I am so devoid of adult conversation some days that I even have my favorite couriers to have a little chat to. I guess where I am going with this is that I almost always answer the door in my pajamas or leopard print dressing gown.... and they pretend not to notice. You see, normally I'd be kind of ashamed of this type of behavior - I mean I once thought that not being dressed at 3 in the afternoon was reserved for the Jeremy Kyle generation, but I'll let you in on a little secret - it's moms too.

Every day begins with good intentions, but there's always So Much to do that time just kind of gets away from you. I don't think anybody would disagree that looking after a 10 month old is hard work, but wonderful and rewarding at the same time. So at a hectic time of my life I tell myself that this kind of thing is forgivable. It's also really exciting. I picked up my wedding dress on Saturday and it was amazing to see it finished after around 6 months in the making. It's a one off design specially made from vegan friendly fabrics - I'll be sure to add some pictures to the blog after the big day.

There's also MANY MANY other things to consider, but a big one that has been on my mind for some time is my tattoos. I'm currently a few sessions into having laser removal on some tattoos I have on my arms. I have several others which I'm happy with, but these I'm not. I have plans for a cover up on one arm, so I'm just trying to fade it down - but trying to remove as much as I can from the other. The thing is, whilst it's all going really well - I'd like to cover it up for the wedding. I've been watching too many Youtube videos about make up techniques to achieve this. So I have a ton of products on order and I need to practice!

The next few weeks will be filled with crafting, organising, packing, even more crafting and an inevitable bit of worry. It will all come together on the day - then I have an amazing trip to New York to look forward to!

Here is a little insight into the past week via the wonder of IPhone camera roll!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Cosy Tea Review & Giveaway

Tea. It holds a very special place in my heart. As a kid/teen I really didn't like any kind of tea, but as a student a very special friend introduced me to it (as well as veganism!) and for that I'm forever thankful. I've tried many MANY kinds, but if I'm honest I'm not such a fan of a lot of brands available in supermarkets. I like to be able to taste my tea.

I was very kindly sent a set of lovely Cosy Tea and I've been thoroughly testing it over the weekend. I'm a big Roobios fan, but with nine flavours to try I wasn't going to stop there. They are - Breakfast, Earl Grey, Roobios, Chamomile, Lemon Green, Jasmine Green, Peppermint & Blueberry.

I just love the packaging - the pictures on the boxes are imagines of knitting, and each box features the name of the knitter. You can even look HERE for details on knitting your own tea cosy. What could be more Cosy than knitting? They are fully organic, fairtrade, Viva! and Vegetarian Society approved.

I tested the Breakfast, Earl Grey and Roobios with soya milk and a tiny bit of sugar. I always steep my teabags for about 5 minutes whatever the packaging says (tea making is almost a science!). They were all delicious, I think everybody has their favorites - and my firm one is still Roobios, however I was pleasantly surprised by the Blueberry and Jasmine Green - perhaps they could be new contenders!

If you fancy giving it a go - then listen up! The kind folks at Cosy Tea have agreed to provide two lucky winners with sets of all nine flavours! All you need to do is enter below - I'll contact the winners once the giveaway has ended & it's only open to UK residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 10 March 2013

My First Mother's Day

I'd been really excited about Mother's Day coming round. As Small was born in May last year she had a Father's Day within a couple of weeks, but I've had to wait almost a year!

As it's just how it goes Mr B was away on business but he was sure to help Small pick out a lovely card and present for the big day. Rather than the two of us hanging out by ourselves I decided to have a nice day out with my mum too. Whilst hoping it'd be a nice day it turned out to be quite a snowy one - but we braved the weather for a nice look around a National Trust house (Small's first trip to a place Mr B & I went when we first started dating).

As the Midlands has become a little less vegan friendly with the close of the Warehouse Cafe (Birmingham) we headed towards Oxford for The Gardeners Arms.

The pub (and it's very much a pub, despite the websites claims of being "Oxford's premier vegetarian dining experience") is very traditional inside and the real fire was really welcome on a cold and snowy day. I had a vegan calzone with olives, rocket & sundried tomatoes - whilst both my mum & dad had the Indian Thali Plater.

I tried both - the curry was really yummy. It came with ceylon curry, aloo saag, basmati rice, poppadums, mango chutney and carrot salad. The curry isn't always the same, and works on a 'curry of the day' basis. My calzone came with fries and was pretty tasty - although the flat-bread may have benefited from being a little softer.

For pudding I had a pear & ginger crumble with vegan ice cream - it was really good. It's got to be the best crumble I've had in ages. I think it's fabulous that Oxford has a 100% vegetarian pub, and the food was good pub food. My only critism is perhaps that it's quite expensive for what it is.

I really had such a lovely day, and now that I am a mother myself I love the fact that there is a day to celebrate all the hard work that mothers do. All the nappy changes, 4am feeds and mountains of washing - not the mention the unending love and playtime we have together - it's just nice to celebrate that beautiful bond.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers out there and those who support them in their journey.