Monday, 1 February 2016

A love affair with Diptyque

I've had a love affair with Diptyque for as long as I can remember. As a teenager I could often be found lusting after their fragrances and candles in a Paris boutique. Little has changed since; I can still be found doing the same thing when given the opportunity. 

Diptyque perfume bottles are beautifully designed little works of art and nothing beats inhaling their wonderful aromas. 

I'm a great believer that different smells can change your mood and the way you feel. When I find a perfume I like, I generally stick with the same perfume for years. I have a love for Lilly Stella, Flower Bomb by Viktor and Rolf and Neroli by Yves Rocher. But we all need a change occasionally. 

The great thing about Diptyque is that they have gift sets which mean you can try and sample multiple perfumes to help you settle on your favourites. Or you may well be one of those individuals that likes to wear a different perfume each day. Whatever you like the five eaux de parfum discovery set (£75) is a great option. 
The L'Art Du Parfum set comes with five bottles of perfume. It pays tribute to childhood memories and has a different perfume depending on your mood. 

Tam Dao perfume: An exotic, spicy and woody perfume with tones of sandalwood, Cedar, Coriander, Ginger and Amber. For me this fragrance is quite masculine and reminds me of exotic travel.
Philosykos perfume: This perfume has the scent of a pine forest, with tones of white cedar, wood and fig leaves. 
Eau Duelle perfume: A spicy perfume that for some reason reminds me of a whisky lounge with its scents of bourbon vanilla, woody rockrose and Ambroxan. 
Do Son Perfume: A sweet musky fragrance of orange and peppercorn. Diptyque create their perfumes to recreate a memory and for me this perfume reminds me of holidaying in France, fresh air, the sounds and smell of the sea and windswept hair.

L'Ombre dans l'eau: This is my absolute favourite of the five, a floral perfume with scents of blackcurrant and rose. It reminds me of a lovely walk in a National Trust garden on a beautiful summers day with a big glass of white wine waiting at the end (and maybe a cheeky scone with cream and jam!). 
The next set is an assortment of five Diptyque scented candles (£58). 
Diptyque candles are a firm favourite of mine because unlike so many other brands they burn clean and evenly. They are expensive though, so making sure you get the smell that you like is quite important, there is nothing worse than having to burn a candle you hate to justify the spend. 

Similar to their perfumes the candle fragrances have been created to emulate memories, this chosen set has the theme of winter. 

Feu De Bois: A woody candle that smells just like a crackling wood fire. It reminds me of a ski lodge in the Swiss Alps, divine. It is definitely one of my favourites, it has a homely aroma. 
Opopanax: For me the main smell is that of Vanilla notes. It is slightly too sweet for me, but that is personal taste. 
Ambre: A warm smelling candle of patchouli, aniseed and spices. Perfect for a warm bath with bubbles and a wonderful candle. 

Pomander: Christmas in a candle, orange, cloves and cinnamon. 
Although Christmas smelling I would happily burn this all year. 

Vanille: A floral candle of vanilla and sandalwood. 
I will definitely be repurchasing L'Ombre dans l'eau perfume and the Feu De Bois candle. 

Do you have a favourite Diptyque perfume or candle? 

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Monday, 25 January 2016

Having a baby the first few weeks

Having a baby
One thing you're always guaranteed on this blog is total honesty. Whilst being pregnant I was selective with what I read, the websites I visited, apps I used and vlogs I watched as a source of guidance and support. 

The information out there is overwhelming and is often contradictory. When looking for information on becoming a parent I went for resources that gave me the facts, research and information but the conclusions and decisions I came to were my own. 
Pregnancy websites
What I now realise post birth is that much of the information available gave me the essentials, but very little about the true realities of the first few weeks with a newborn.

I guess there is a distinct difference between reading about parenthood and living it first hand. The other consideration is that babies are not all the same; so someone might give you suggestions of what the first six weeks might be like, but it is unlikely your baby will follow that path.

I'm sitting writing this post with Noah perched in my arms, he's just been fed so is currently quite content. 
Having a baby
The aim of me writing this post is to help those considering having a baby, those who are soon to be parents and those that have often wondered what parenthood is like. This is a long post, so if you're sticking around grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake (It would be great if someone could make me one too!).Parenthood
I like to consider myself a strong person both mentally and emotionally. Over the last ten years I have had to deal with quite a lot and let's just say that life doesn't always play fairly; so I've had to learn to be strong, deal with some challenging situations and find a way to bounce back. 

But nothing could have prepared me for the first few weeks of motherhood with a new born. A new baby turns your world upside down and it's absolutely gruelling. 

Becoming a parent
Firstly your body has been through a battering, your emotions are heightened through fluctuating hormones which are rebalancing post birth and you're sleep deprived beyond belief. There is of course the additional pressure that you have a small person that relies on you whilst your learning on the job. There is absolutely no let up, you're constantly on the go and your only option is to hold on for the ride. It's like SAS training in hyper speed. 

Did friends share with me how hard it was? Yes a little but to be honest I really could have done with a survival manual for the first few weeks and some serious reassurance that it is a phase and it will get easier with time. 

The first few weeks had additional challenges for us, as I was recovering from labour, my C-section (which developed an infection), not having slept for well over a week,  and Noah having a tongue tie, which made breast feeding a real challenge. In between breast feeding we were topping up with finger feeds (a bottle with special tubing that fits to a finger to mimic breastfeeding so that a baby can have combined feeding with expressed breast milk). 

During the day not so much of a challenge but at night trying to make a bottle up, by performing Blue Peter surgery, by cutting a feeding tube and teat, sticking the feeding tube to my finger whilst holding a baby in pitch black bloody hard work.

Our first few weeks passed by in a absolute blur of feeding, winding and changing, on repeat.
A new baby
In between that I seriously spent hours fretting. Was Noah getting enough milk/sleep, too much milk/sleep? Was he too hot or cold? Was he putting on enough weight? Was he weeing and pooing enough? etc... you get the picture.

You realise quickly that the simplest of tasks becomes a military operation in which you have to consider and plan out all possibilities. 
Having a baby
Why on earth it is named maternity leave in the UK I seriously have no idea, actually I find it quite insulting. Leave implies that you are having a break, going away from it all and motherhood couldn't be further from the truth. There is no leave at all, it is a full time job and as I said before unrelenting. 

Leaving the house takes hours. Yes you might be sitting there thinking why? It's got to be easy to pack up and organise a little baby. A baby requires things to happen at particular times especially feeding and having their nappy changed. Otherwise you will be negotiating these whilst out and with a screaming baby who doesn't really care what social situation you are in. Imagine being delayed on a packed commuter train and the little one decides they have had enough and wants a feed. 

There is no me time any more (not that I really expected it), no pulling the covers over your head for a lay in, no relaxing baths and you can forget about catching up on your favourite programme unless this is watched in 10 min slots. However, Youtube on my phone has been a blessing for late night feeds.

Evenings are spent comforting, feeding, expressing and winding. This also means that you and your other half are passing ships in the night. 

You will become the juggler, feeding a baby one handed, removing the washing from the machine with the other, emptying the dishwasher, folding clothes and unpacking the shopping.

Going to the toilet is no longer a single pursuit as a little person is attached at all times; they go where you go.

Will I ever get to complete a meal without a screaming baby in tow, eat with both hands and whilst it is still hot?

The battle is real, having a baby turns your world upside down. So your probably thinking would I trade places with my old life?

Absolutely not! We are besotted and in love with our little man. We can't imagine our lives without him and we are blessed to have him in our lives. With each day we get to know each other a little bit better and it becomes easier.

The trick to remember is nothing lasts forever and as soon as a phase starts, it is very quickly passed and replaced by something else. So if you hit a rough spot try and remember this.

Yesterday we had our first smile; it's moments like these that make it all worthwhile.
having a baby
Survival tips:
  • Cook and store food in the freezer before the birth; make these easy meals that can be reheated and taste delicious.
  • Have a food shop order on standby.
  • Every mother worries but stop, you are doing a great job. Stop fretting. Googling everything is a waste of your energy. 
  • You will need another pair of hands so make sure your partner, husband has at least three weeks off to support you.
  • If you don't want to be totally sleep deprived you have to sleep when the baby sleeps which means heading to bed at all hours and early evening. 
  • The sleeping baby trade off. You have a moment of peace, what will you do, options run through your head: sleep, breakfast, shower, hair washing etc. You can't do them all so choose very wisely.
  • Get dressed and get out of the house. Yes it might well take you a good few hours but it will do wonders for your sanity.
  • Look for groups to meet other mums, sharing your worlds and tips will mean a lot.
  • Set up a WhatsApp group so you can keep in touch with new mums. Especially important for the early morning feeds.

The baby bump website has loads of additional ideas on surviving the first few weeks here.

As a family we're really looking forward to the next adventures to come and sharing them with you as we go. If you have any questions do ask.

Have a great week.

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Monday, 11 January 2016

My Little Box

My Little Box
Motherhood is keeping me very busy so bear with me whilst I get back into some kind of routine. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Share in the comments below what you got up to and any highlights. 

Christmas for us passed by in a blur of sleepless nights, nappies, feeding and getting to grips with a new little addition to our family. It is for this reason that this post has been a little bit delayed. 
For well over a year now I have purposely resisted the urge to indulge in the subscription box epidemic. Not because I don't like the idea of trying out new products every month, but more to do with that I'm not that great at spending money on myself. 

For Christmas one of my presents from the other half was a six month subscription to My Little Box.
Subscription boxes
To be honest it was a brilliant and well thought out gift. With a new baby I won't really have the opportunity and time to be wandering around the shops looking at and trying out new products for a while. This way the new products come to my door. 

Each month I will be sharing with you what I think about the current months box and the items enclosed inside. 

Before I talk about the items in the December box, one thing to mention is how great the illustrations are on the packaging. 
Subscription boxes
Considerable thought has gone into My Little Box which each month offers beauty, fashion, lifestyle accessories and a magazine "My Little World". 
My Little Box
As a first box I was really impressed with the quality of the different items enclosed. 

First out of the box was a pair of sparkly black gloves with gold flecks. I absolutely love that they have the option to be full or fingerless gloves. 
As someone who uses their phone constantly whilst out and about being able to use my fingers is very much needed. These gloves are not only a fashionable addition but practical also. 

The four beauty items enclosed: 

I haven't tried a Nars Blusher previously but was impressed with the sample size that had been given. 
As someone with a pale complexion blusher during the winter is a must as it adds a bit of life back into my skin. The shade is also perfect for my skin tone and complexion.

I love shower gels with a wonderful aroma and that bring both the senses and skin to life. Rituals has been a favourite of mine for a number of years, but I hadn't tried this product previously. 

I have really enjoyed using this product as not only does it smell wonderful, it is also very moisturising with the addition of rice milk. This is a definite repurchase.

During the summer I love wearing nail varnish and matching it with clothes, but it is generally banished for winter. Opening the My Little Box and seeing these beauties however got me excited and within seconds I had painted my nails. 
Nail Varnish
They are the perfect shades for adding some sparkle to the rainy days that we have been experiencing here in London. 

The last item in the box was Kusmi Tea Anastasia the perfect accompaniment to sitting down and reading The My Little World magazine. 
Kusmi Tea
The bergamot, lemon and orange blossom make for a wonderful refreshing drink. 

Overall a wonderful first box and I am really looking forward to the next five. The My Little Box is £11 a month plus £3.95 postage and packaging. 

Do you have any subscription boxes? If you could make up your perfect box what items would you include?

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Monday, 21 December 2015

Birth Story

Birth story
Sorry for the radio silence everyone, I have a really good excuse I promise. If you didn't see the announcement on Twitter, I stepped away from the blog to deliver our beautiful baby boy Noah and this is the first moment I have had where I have been awake enough to write and also not had a little person latched to my chest. 

Writing a blog post with a newborn has been a challenge so we will have to see how far I get with writing this post. In this post I will share the lead up to labour and our delivery.

Being pregnant is like being on a roller coaster that you can't get off. 
Birth what to expect
There are some bits of the ride that you love and others that you wish would hurry up and just happen because your not sure you have the resilience and patients to cope. 

The end of pregnancy is a mixture of emotions I'm sad that I will no longer be carrying around this little person that I have managed to grow, cherish and share some wonderful moments with.
But at the same time I will be glad to obviously meet and hold our baby. I am looking forward post labour to being able to see my feet again, have my waist line back at some point and see a reduction in the need to pee every five seconds. 
But that said at the same time with the end in sight I'm also nervous about labour; (there is only one way this baby is coming out, there is no U Turn and as much as the prospect terrifies me there's no get out clause). 
birth story
Horror stories about giving birth follow you absolutely everywhere when you are pregnant, everyone wants to share a grisly tale. In most circumstances in your life you often wish for advice in advance but this is certainly not the case with giving birth. 

Although billions of women have gone through labour no one really shares that giving birth was a positive experience, so as a first time mum you're left with the worry that excruciating pain is the only way that your baby is going to arrive. 

Being British we are also known for our stiff upper lip and no where is this more true than in labour. 
Birth Story
It is seen almost as a badge of honour if you can get through labour without any pain relief. If you need pain relief, you are made to feel like you have somehow failed as a human being. But the rational and sane part of myself thinks why? No one would willingly go to the dentist to have their wisdom teeth extracted and say "do you know what, don't worry about the anaesthetic". 
But maybe I missed out on the brave gene, I'm firmly hovering between excitement and panic. 

My advice to anyone is if you haven't been through labour before you have absolutely no idea what you will and won't be able to put up with or how your body will respond; so be open minded about your birth plan and pain relief.  If you haven't read my post about preparing your birth plan and hospital bag have a look here.

You've waited for the day to arrive and when you get closer to your labour date you suddenly feel unsure that you will know when labour has arrived. 

This was how I felt, sounds daft, possibly but in many circumstances there can be a build up to labour and distinguishing between false and real labour can be tricky. For myself I had three weeks of regular braxton hicks (contractions), perfectly timed three minutes apart. I also had period pains, but they never progressed. 

There are some signs that you might have leading up that can mean labour is not to far away. 
  • Insatiable appetite  
  • Upset stomach the need to empty bowels
  • Nesting - impulsive need to tidy up like a loon 
  • Pains in lower pack 
  • Period pains
  • The show (loosing your mucus plug) 
  • Your waters break
  • You have regular and consistent contractions 
So whilst I knew that it was highly unlikely that the baby would arrive exactly on its due date, I do think I was slightly delusional that the baby would make an appearance around 40 weeks. I hadn't really considered that I could still be pregnant at 41 and then still at 42 weeks and still have no baby. 

What had been a calming pregnancy process to date then is heightened with everyone suddenly in a rush to 'want the baby out!'; you'll hear people say "you need to have a sweep" "if that doesn't work, we will book you in for an induction". Oh the stress and pressure applied is immense, does no one realise that a baby is not likely to make an appearance if you are stressed. 

Being a foodie even in the early stages of my induction and labour food was involved. When the hospital had started the induction, me and the other half headed to the Christmas markets on the South Bank to while away a few hours. 
After having a wander around we had a wonderful lunch in Giraffe.
Little did I know at the time that this would be my last meal for thirty two hours. 

I did wonder before labour started if I would know when I was in labour, now I am in labour having been induced at 42 weeks (a membrane sweep, pessary and having waters broken) I can see that there is absolutely no means of missing it. People had said trust me you will know and I had always felt that this was a bit dismissive as everyone is different but they are right. You will definitely know...

Contractions are like a wave of intense pain, your stomach tightens in an upwards motion, to begin with they feel like bad period pains but as they progress the pain intensifies and when your in a contraction you are desperate for it to end. When it has passed it is difficult to describe the pain, as labour develops the gaps decrease between contractions and the pain intensifies. Some people describe a pain in their back for me most of the pain I had was in my bum and hips.

My bed in the hospital had the best view imaginable of London, facing the House of Commons and London eye. In any other circumstances I would have been pretty pleased with the vista but to be honest in active labour I wasn't really concentrating on much. I do however remember Big Ben chiming the hours away with each passing contraction which intensified. The London eye also looks beautiful at night, all lit up in red. 
As I had been induced my contractions were regular and intense from the beginning of labour, there was no gradual build up. I laboured for thirty two hours in total and whilst I had clear hopes for my delivery, I ended up having an emergency caesarean section because in the final hour my heart rate became erratic and our baby went into fetal distress. 

Now whilst this certainly was not the labour I had imagined or wanted I really did feel surprisingly calm and in control throughout. This was definitely in part due to the Hypnobirthing classes that we had attended a month before and the fact that I had a wonderful birthing partner.

There is also something that those who happily share their grisly birthing stories don't tell you, there is a reason women have babies you will find an inner strength that you cannot imagine that you posses that will totally surprise you.

Noah entered the world startled and unresponsive for over one minutes and was unable to breath unaided for ten minutes. They were the longest ten minutes of our life; and I can't lie that laying on the operating table I was willing with all my heart and might that the little man would let out a cry. All thoughts of the man rummaging and poking around in my stomach had long since passed. 

I cannot describe the relief when for the first time I heard this startled high pitch little cry from our little man. I sadly didn't get to see him or have the cuddle that I had laboured so hard for and to be honest by this stage really needed as he was whisked off to intensive care. 

The love though when I did get to see him a few hours later was instant and we are absolutely in love with our little man. 

Welcome to the world Noah. 

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