#MakingOverMotherhood

Next week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness week. Bit of a mouthful but nevertheless very important!

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I didn’t know anything about mental health issues after birth. I just thought, you have the baby and that’s it! You just have to cope. Anyway, how could you ever feel sad, down, depressed, angry, lost or just nothing while looking after your gorgeous baby? Oh, how I laugh now. I definitely had my fair share of all the above every now and again (and Lord knows sleep deprivation can do scary things to you) but I was lucky to not feel like this all of the time.

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So, when I saw that it is Maternal Mental Health Awareness week next week, I wanted to do something. A quick Google and I stumbled upon #MakingOverMotherhood. A social media challenge to raise awareness of Maternal Mental Health disorders and struggles. Everyday, for 5 days, post something that shows what motherhood is really like. The good, the bad and the ugly. It can be something light-hearted that might make someone chuckle or something serious and revealing. It’s up to you. The idea is to end the stigma of mental health issues for mothers.

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As Mothers, it’s very easy to feel like EVERYONE relies on you and therefore you don’t have time for yourself. You don’t have time to be weak because you’re so busy being strong for everyone else. You can’t be seen to be struggling because you might be seen as a bad Mum, a Mum who can’t cope, a lazy Mum, an incompetent Mum. You might not even notice you’re struggling because you don’t have time to take a step back and see that you are. Well, take that step. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you do. And if you notice you are, reach out. There is no shame. I truly believe that everybody struggles with something and I guarantee, you won’t be alone and you won’t be the only Mum who thinks the way you do.

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It’s so vital to get help when you need it because (as the old saying goes) you can’t pour from an empty cup. Basically, you can’t take care of others, without taking care of yourself too. Now, I don’t mean going to get your nails done every week or making sure your hair is perfect (unless that helps you feel better). I’m saying practise self care on the regular, be selfish when you need to be, reach out for help even if you think you aren’t desperate for it. Don’t feel guilty (and trust me, I am no stranger to Mum guilt) because fundamentally, you’re doing it for your kids.  You’re taking care of you so they can have the best Mother possible. A happy Mum, a calm Mum (most of the time, I mean, whistles, right?), a Mum who isn’t constantly emotionally and physically exhausted, a Mum they deserve.

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Now, I’m not saying every time you have an outburst and scream at your child about playing the baby shark song for 1098th time that day that you need to call the doctor. There are many ways you can reach out for help.
Obviously, during these times, it’s a little different. I can’t reach out to my Mum to watch Olivia for a few hours while I get some work done or just lay down in a dark room for a while. However:

  • Talk to your partner (if you have one). I cannot imagine how I would do this whole motherhood thing, without Steven by my side. I’m so lucky because he is such a good Dad and so supportive. So I know, if I ever need to, I can talk to him about my stress and if he’s home to help, I can ask him to give me a couple of hours. He will happily take Olivia and Cody (because sometimes, he causes me more stress than my human child) out for an hour long walk and give me the house to myself. I cannot tell you how blissful that is. Even if I just need to rant or cry or a cuddle or time he will give it to me. THAT is invaluable!
  • Reach out to family. I know not everyone is on par with their family but maybe you can meet some mummy friends and they can be your family. I am fortunate that my Mum absolutely adores my little girl and would do anything for her (or me). I honestly love having her one town away and I know that if I needed her, she would be here at the drop of a hat (she has done many times before). In the early days of my new adventure into motherhood, she took a week off work to come over everyday and help me with Olivia. Nothing major. She would watch Olivia while I had a shower (absolute heaven), bring me lunch everyday (I love her) and sit with me while we watched TV and chatted (priceless). She didn’t know it but all of these things meant the world to me. Especially when she made me cups of coffee, I could have cried!
  • Mummy friends. I couldn’t cope without my mummy friend, Lisa. It is so worthwhile to have that someone who gets it. Before lock down, we would grab a take away coffee and go for a walk with the babies every week and just talk. Talk about our struggles, our stresses and what crazy stuff the babies have got up to that week and it was so therapeutic. We would then laugh together at how messy our lives have become but how beautiful it all is too. I would come home and feel refreshed (not to mention caffeinated, which always helps) and like maybe I am a good Mum because I’m not alone in this, because someone else is thinking the exact same things as me!
  • Reach out to professionals. Reach out to your GP, midwife or Health Visitor. That’s what they’re there for! They are the superheroes equipped with all the resources and connections to get you the help you need!
  • Baby Buddy App is an NHS accredited app which offers evidence-based information and self-care tools to help parents during pregnancy and early stages of parenting. Best bit is it is absolutely FREE! Download in the app store or click here for more information.
  • If you are in need of immediate help or support call 999, go to A&E or call Samaritans 116 123 (free to call and it doesn’t show up on your phone bill)

Whatever you think you’re going through, whatever you think you’re struggling with, I can guarantee there’s a Mum out there going through the exact same thing. So do the right thing, reach out and talk. If not for you, for your kids.

For a pick-me-up read my Mum-tivation post!

Lock Down Help!
Lock Down Daily Routine For Toddlers
At Home Activities For Toddlers
Best Bedside Books
My Netflix List
Movies Made For Comfort

To see more pictures like this one the regular, follow me!
Instagram: @charlotterose293


 

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GRL PWR

Hello Readers,

This Sunday is International Women’s Day and I thought I would express my appreciation for some of the women in my life and share some of my role models.

What is International Women’s Day? It is a global day celebrating the economic, social, political and cultural successes of women. What’s the point of it? The International Women’s Day website have launched a campaign called #EachforEqual to encourage us to collectively create change for a gender equal world. What can I do? The campaign runs all year long not just on International Women’s Day and you can help spread awareness. Post a picture of you with your arms out in an ‘equal’ shape and share your #EachforEqual pledges and messages.
Visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com/ for more information.

I am a feminist. I know, I know, that’s a scary word. You probably get an image of an angry woman with hairy armpits, protesting for women’s rights and hating men. This is not true. A feminist is anyone who supports equality of the sexes. So really, we should all be feminists regardless of gender, race or religion. It’s not about women wanting to conquer men because they are the superior sex. It’s about equality for all. The best visual representation I have seen of ‘double standards’ is in the music video for ‘The Man’ by Taylor Swift.

This brings me onto my first role model, Taylor Swift. Most of you reading this will probably be thinking “Really? A pop star?” and yes, she is a ‘pop star’ but through her art she raises awareness. In her most recent music video, ‘The Man’, she portrays many gender inequalities. Swift herself is ‘the man’ and we can see ‘Tyler’ getting praised for: doing the bare minimum of parenting, manspreading on public transport, urinating on ‘women’s work’ on a brick wall, throwing a hissy fit when he loses at tennis and doing the ‘walk of celebration’ after sex as opposed to the ‘walk of shame’ women experience. It was really eye-opening to see the parallels but also it felt reassuring and that, finally, someone gets it! She raises awareness through her music while also being an amazing girl boss herself. She fights for the right to own her music and create things that are completely hers, which is something I can only aspire to do. Not to mention, I love her music and think she’s absolutely gorgeous in everything she does (totally girl crushing).

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Role Model #2 is Zoe Sugg. I know “first a pop star now a YouTuber, ugh, grow up”. No. I have watched her videos for 8 years (wow!) and just admire what she has made for herself. She started with a blog, then did YouTube videos and now runs her own brand, has written fiction and non fiction books, released multiple beauty and life style ranges, worked with companies I can only dream of and even went on celebrity bake off! Through it all, she has the best smiley, positive attitude and kind-hearted approach to things. I just find her creativity inspirational and makes me want to continue doing things that I love. She also (like me) struggles with anxiety so I love the fact she’s so honest with her audience about anxiety and can still pick herself up and have a good mood. She encourages me to do the same.

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Role Model #3 is Melissa McCarthy. I have watched films with Melissa McCarthy in ever since I went to see Bridesmaids in the cinema with my Mum. I swear this woman has a direct line to my funny bone. Through her comedic roles, my Mum and I bonded in my teenage years and I will never forget watching Bridesmaids and Spy with her. Especially the moment my Mum (who is quite an introvert) forgot where she was and shouted “THERE’S A MOUSE ON HER TITS!” in the middle of a full cinema. I’m not even joking when I say, I nearly wet myself laughing. Not only are her movie roles genius but I love hearing her talk about her home life. The way I have heard her talk about her two daughters and two dogs on Ellen has me in stitches and I just love her outlook on life, even the everyday things. I like to remind myself to look at things through ‘McCarthy eyes’ sometimes and see the funny side of things.

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Role Model #4 is a personal one. It’s my Aunty Sandra. Since becoming a Mum myself, she has become a sort of ‘baby guru’ to me. My Aunty Sandra has had 4 children and since having her first, she has been a stay at home Mum and a great one at that. I guess she’s a role model of mine because she is always on the go and always doing things for others. Everywhere she goes, she’s a Mum (in a good way). I recently went to lunch with her and in the restaurant she was asking the waitress how she was, getting her life story and offering advice and someone to cuddle. When I was struggling being a first time Mum, she came to see me and helped me with my mood and struggles with breastfeeding. She was always at the other end of the phone when I was having a meltdown with Olivia (even while she’s getting her hair done). Every time I see her, she reassures me that I’m a good Mum and I’m doing the right thing which means the world because as a Mum you never know if you’re doing what’s best for your little ones. She also never lets me forget that this time with Olivia goes so quick and reminds me to soak up every moment. She’s just constantly putting her kids first and I seriously don’t know how she juggles everything and holds it altogether. I can only hope I can pull off motherhood like she does!

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Now that I’ve snotted everywhere, I hope you all take part in the #EachforEqual campaign or even just reach out to a loved one this Sunday and let them know you appreciate them.


Thanks for reading!

Some pictures were taken from Google Images.

Follow me on:
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Twitter: @Cook2903

You Can’t Bubble Bath and Candle Your Way To Self Love

After the devistating news of Caroline Flack hit the media this week, my social media has been bombarded with #BeKind and Self love content. I would like to clarify I 100% support the #BeKind movement however a lot of content advising people about self love is unhelpful.
As I scroll through my feeds, I see beautifully illustrated posters informing people how to achieve self love like: have a bubble bath, light your favourite candle, make a cup of tea, meditate, drink water and get some sleep. While this is all very good advice for SELF CARE, this will not help you achieve SELF LOVE.

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Self love is accepting yourself for who you are. No exceptions. It’s the art of being kind to yourself. I say an art because it’s more of a skill than you think. Everyone has that voice in their head telling them “You’re not good enough” or “Why are you so pathetic?” or even “You don’t deserve to be happy” and some voices might be louder than others. Self love is recognising that voice and turning your thoughts around. It’s harder than you think because we have such a nasty habbit of being cruel to ourselves. We would never say these things to someone in real life (I hope) or if we heard someone saying this to somebody else we would think it was incredibly cruel, so why do we talk to ourselves in this way?

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As someone who struggles with these voices (some days are louder than others), I am trying my hardest to turn them around. I’ve noticed they come more frequently since becoming a mother. I think this is because being a good Mum is so incredibly important to me. I constantly think, as long as I’m a good Mum, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter if I’m struggling, it doesn’t matter if I haven’t had 10 seconds to myself and it doesn’t matter if people judge me for being a stay-at-home Mum (and boy do they!). This means, as soon as Olivia has an ‘off’ day or is grumpy, I instantly hear those voices. “You’re a rubbish Mum”, “You can’t do anything right”, “You’re her Mum and you can’t even make her happy”. This is when I have to stop my train of thought, notice I’m being harsh on myself and turn it around. “You’re not a rubbish Mum, she’s clean and healthy. You’re doing fine”, “There are kids much worse off than she is”, “She’s just having a grumpy moment, it’s nothing you’ve done”.

It’s hard to reverse bad habits as anyone who has tried to quit smoking, cut out sugar or stop biting your nails, knows. It’s even harder to reverse bad mental habits. Especially when you don’t even notice them happening.

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A lot of these voices can be prompted from Social Media. Seeing perfectly sculpted and airbrushed models and comparing your body or seeing that person’s ‘perfect’ life and comparing yours, can make you feel fat and ugly or like your life is a mess or not good enough. One woman you should follow to break up your ‘perfect’ feed and inject it with realness and self love is Chessie King! She promotes a lot of body confidence, healthy habbits, self love and anti-bullying. She is such an inspiration on how to keep smiling through this messy life and enjoy it! She is planning her wedding at the moment so I’m loving watching her process on how to enjoy wedding planning rather than getting stressed. Not to mention she recently became a Doula too. She’s just incredible.
So definitely follow @chessiekingg on Instagram!

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Chessie King @chessiekingg on Instagram

 

So please remember to #BeKind to others but also remember it’s equally important to #BeKind to yourself!

Images taken from Pinterest.

Super Easy Valentine Crafts To Do With Your Kids

Simple and fun crafts to do with your little ones.

These are all really easy and simple, fun crafts to do. All of the following activites have no more than 6 steps and you probably already have everything you need to do them in your home. 

I love doing holiday crafts and as my daughter gets older, I look forward to being able to do more crafts with her. I have very fond memories of sitting at my dining table with my Mum doing different crafts throughout my childhood and I hope to give my daughter the same memories. I am also hoping that doing themed crafts will get Olivia excited about holidays just like me. 

Here are some of the crafts we did this week and some I hope you can have fun with your kids too.

Valentine Card

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This is one of the easiest cards to make with your baby or toddler and it looks so good. It’s perfect to keep as a momento and is super fast to make during painting time.

What you will need:

  • Blank greetings card
  • Craft card
  • Tape
  • Finger paint

Method

  1. Cut out a heart shape out of craft paper.
  2. Using tape, attach the cut out shape to the center of a blank greeting card. This can be done by folding the tape against itself to create a piece of double sided tape.
  3. Let your baby/toddler fingerpaint over the shape and on the card. You can use paint brushes, sponge stamps, paint rollers or simply their hands.
  4. Before the paint drys, carefully remove the shape and tape from the greeting card and leave to dry.

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LOVE Canvas Art

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I really loved making this. Not only is it a perfect gift for Valentine’s but it’s also a great decor piece for your home. Is there anything better than having your baby’s hand and footprints to look at years later when they’ve all grown up?

What you will need:

  • Blank canvas
  • Finger paint
  • Acrylic paint/sharpie

Method

  1. Mark out on your canvas where you would like the handprint and footprints to go.
  2. Paint your baby’s hand and gently press it onto the canvas.
  3. Paint your baby’s feet and gently press them onto the canvas in a V shape.
  4. Draw out the L and E and, once you’re happy with them,  go over it with black paint or a sharpie (I used a black felt tip and a fine liner to go around the edges of the letters).

Hanging Paper Hearts

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These are so simple! This is probably something to do with slightly older children but they sure do brighten up the place. You can hang them on banisters, door handles or even a small decorative tree or branch. I have hung them on my ugly serving hatch as we’re having it patched up at the moment before we remove it and redo the whole wall! For now it will hang these paper hearts.

What you will need:

  • Coloured craft card (I used pink and red)
  • Stapler
  • Scissors
  • String

Method

  1. Cut coloured paper of various lengths and widths. I started with red strips of 2cmx21cm to create the chain of hearts.
  2. Fold strips equally in half.
  3. With the fold at the bottom, bend the ends together to make a heart shape and staple together. If you want to make a chain, tuck the fold of the next heart in between the edges of the first.
  4. If you are making a nest of hearts, join all edges of hearts together, bend and staple all together with one end of a piece of string in between.

You could even use the chain method to make a wreath or a long paper chain to wrap around your banister or hang on your mantle. 

Woollen Heart Garland

I love how this turned out! Again, this is probably something to do with older children (or by yourself like I did) but it looks so cute. I did different sized hearts along the garland just because I thought it was pretty but you could do the same sizes, different coloured hearts or even different shapes like stars!

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What you will need:

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Stapler/tape
  • Red wool

Method

  1. Cut out several heart shapes from the card board (or double up craft card).
  2. Staple the end of the red wool to the heart.
  3. Randomly wrap the red wool around the cardboard shape until no cardboard is shown.
  4. Secure the end of the wool by tying it off or using a stapler.
  5. Repeat the above until all shapes are covered.
  6. Measure out desired length of wool and attach the hearts in equal lengths.
I hope that you try some of these crafts. If you do, please take a picture and tag me in it so I can see your creations! 
I will shortly be uploading a Valentine Treats post so keep your eye out for that!

 

I am the owner and creator of all images in this post.

The Best Gingerbread Biscuits

I think my most favourite part of this festive season is the baking. One of the best things to bake, that will most definitely get you in the Christmas spirit (and make your house smell amazing), is gingerbread. I recently made a batch and I forgot how much I love to bake and decorate biscuits. I got fully immersed, to the point where I didn’t realise hours went by. This is only because I was doing really intricate decoration and I’m a perfectionist. The average person will do this in way less time. Especially when each batch only takes 10 minutes in the oven!

These biscuits are perfect to make with kids. You can make the dough ahead of time. Just allow 10 minutes after taking it out of the fridge for it to de-chill and simply roll it out onto a floured surface. You’ll want to roll it out to about 4 mm thickness. If you wish for your biscuits to be crunchier and have a snap, roll them slightly thinner. Similarly, if you wish for them to be more chewy, roll them slightly thicker.

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When it comes to decorating, I always favour a simple plain white royal icing. Royal icing is harder than water icing so your design is more likely to last longer. I prefer not to colour it as I think the white looks so elegant against the dark brown gingerbread. If you’re decorating with children, I recommend lots of different colours and perhaps using a simple water icing. I get a lot of enjoyment from piping so I spent a lot of time preparing my designs and getting them perfect.

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Below you will find the gingerbread biscuit recipe I use and also the royal icing recipe.

Gingerbread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 400g Plain Flour
  • 3/4 tsp Bicarbonate Soda
  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Mixed Spice
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 180g Butter (soft)
  • 125g Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 125g Black Treacle

Method

  1. Sift flour, bicarbonate soda and spices together into a large bowl.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and treacle. Mix until combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture gradually as you mix until it is all combined and forms a loose dough.
  5. Divide the dough into 3 and wrap individually in cling film.
  6. Chill overnight – 2 days.
  7. When you’re ready to bake the biscuits, preheat the oven to 170°C (fan).
  8. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to de-chill for 10 minutes.
  9. Roll out dough onto a floured surface 4 mm thick.
  10. Cut biscuit shapes out and place on a lined baking tray.
  11. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray then transfer onto a cooling wrack.

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Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients

  • 325g Icing Sugar
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice

Method

  1. Sift icing sugar into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk egg whites in a stand mixer or hand held mixer with lemon juice until frothy.
  3. Slowly add icing sugar until all combined.
  4. Whisk until it forms soft peaks.
  5. Pour into a prepared icing bag if you wish to pipe your designs. Otherwise, you can store in an air-tight container in the fridge for a week.

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Then, start having fun! You can get the family involved or use it as some therapeutic me time (like I did). You can add sprinkles, edible glitter or sweets. Go wherever the Christmas spirit takes you! I would love to see your creations so please share them!

Merry Baking!

I am the owner and creator of all images in this post.

2019 Christmas Decor

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, again! I could not be more excited. I’ve always loved Christmas since I was a kid. It’s not the same excitement, obviously, because as you grow up, Christmas Day is just not as good. Let’s face it. However, I am still excited for the lead up to Christmas. I love watching the same Christmas movies year after year, writing cards to people and, of course, the food.

I kick off the festive season with a tradition-filled December 1st. On the first day of December we decorate the house, walk into town to see the spectacular Christmas lights and visit the church’s Christmas tree festival. More than likely, we will also grab a Pecoro pizza on the way home. This year was no different.

We started the day by blasting Bublé on the TV while unpacking the mass of decorations. This year was particularly fun because not only do we have Cody to ‘help’ but Olivia has reached that age now where she can also ‘help’. She wasn’t as intrigued by the decorations as I’d hoped but rather she wanted to use the boxes as a climbing frame.

I always really love getting the decorations down from the loft and rooting through the boxes, looking at decorations of Christmas past and seeing what excuses I can come up with to buy new ones. It’s a sickness. I also have way too many garlands, lights and baubles. I mean, is there such a thing? So you can find them throughout my house.

I have baubles going up my stairs, in a glass dish and my special Swarovski ones on a special Swarovski stand. There’s something so pleasing about a bauble. Aesthetically pleasing, elegant and magical.

My garlands stretch from windows to hallways to the kitchen hob. And lights? Well, they’re on the tree, above the TV, in the kitchen, up the stairs and around our bed frame. Is it even Christmas if you can’t light your whole house using just Christmas lights?

After the hours of decorating (and redecorating until everything looks right to me) we get all wrapped up in coats, hats and scarves and walk into town. There’s one particular house, which is famous in our local community, that do a huge Christmas lights display to raise money for the air ambulance. It is a must-do as they are the best lights around.

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A more recent tradition is to go to a local church to look around their Christmas tree festival. Every year the church is filled with different and creatively decorated Christmas trees. They are all decorated by local businesses, schools and charities. Each one has a different theme and I really look forward to it because I thrive off of other people’s creativity.

There was even a tree with a few familiar faces. The Shuttleworth tree featured my handsome fiance, a few members of his family and the late Fred Harris. Topped with the Shuttleworth bear.

As we stroll home in the dark, we always happen to pass Pecoro, our local Italian restaurant. They do the best pizzas and the tiramisu is to die for! Steve and I always struggle to pass it without getting something. So this time, we got the Monti pizza to take home with us. It was the perfect end to a perfect day. Olivia was asleep in bed, we had warm pizza with a glass of wine and watched the last series of Gavin and Stacey in preparation for the Christmas Special! Who else is excited for it?!


And so, the tree is on, the halls are decked and the dog is asleep under a festive blanket. Christmas has begun! Have you decked your halls?

 

 

I am the owner and creator of all images in this post.

Olivia’s 1st Birthday

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So, my baby turned one year old this week. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d feel the way I did. I thought I would be excited to throw my little girl her first ever birthday party and have a great time with friends and family, creating a memory that would last a life time. I did not see it this way.

Instead, the week leading up to her birthday, filled me with dread, heart ache and reminiscence. I couldn’t believe that a year ago I was holding this precious, tiny baby that was all mine and depended on me for everything. Now, she crawls around the house at speed, wants to feed herself and doesn’t need me to rock her to sleep at night. I felt like time was already slipping through my fingers and I wanted it to slow down. I got quite down about it, to the point where I didn’t want to throw her a party but the fear of regret forced me to power through.

I teared up in the middle of HobbyCraft buying decorations, I cried putting up pictures of her monthly milestones and the night before, I laid in bed thinking back to my labour I was in a year ago. The first time I saw her face.  I sobbed like a baby. I felt ridiculous. “She’s only 1! It’s only the first year of many. I have 17 more! Oh… I only have 17 more. This last one went so quick and let’s face it, she’s not going to want me to throw her birthday parties when she’s a teenager so maybe I only have 12 at most?” is what I thought to myself. It was that moment I realised, I’m not going to have many chances to throw her birthday parties so I need to grab every opportunity and go all out!

We had a party at our house and only invited family (as that is all we could fit in our house). I would have loved to invite all our friends too and have Olivia surrounded by as many people that love her as possible but we struggled for room as it was. I decorated the whole of the downstairs, the day before. As well as baked cupcakes and a separate cake for Olivia to destroy. I even made a fondant duck, as we have a bit of an obsession at the moment, in hopes it would encourage her to destroy the cake. I spent 4 hours cooking and preparing party food and organising how to display it (I’m a bit OCD when it comes to parties).

So, the big day arrived. I felt fine. Steven got Olivia out of bed in the morning and we all sat in our bed talking about the day ahead and then he hands me a card. I assumed it was for Olivia but he said it was for me. Puzzled, I opened it and on the front was a picture of all of us and the words ‘Happy Birth Day’. Upon opening the card, I couldn’t stop the floods of tears as I read the words ‘Thank you for being such a good Mum’. Any Mum out there knows, there’s nothing more rewarding than someone telling you, you’re a good Mum or that you’re doing a good job because that’s all you hope for and you don’t really know if you’re doing a good enough job for your little ones. So there you go, my plan to hold it all together was thrown out of the window before 9am.

Afterwards, we took Olivia downstairs to show her the present from us. The night before, Steven and I had spent the evening building an IKEA play kitchen so she could play with it the morning of her birthday. It filled us with joy to see she immediately was smiling and trying to open the doors and move the tap.

The party started after Olivia’s nap and afternoon bottle. Soon, the house was filled with family and a serious amount of presents for Olivia. She was very spoilt. I loved seeing people’s faces when they saw Olivia. She just lights up a room and makes everyone smile. Everyone wanted to hold her and speak to her and as a Mum you can only hope that she continues to be surrounded by such love.

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After opening presents, we stripped her down to her vest and sat her on the dining table. We sang happy birthday (which she hated as she is not a fan of group singing) and let her go to town on her birthday cake. I’m so glad I decided to do this because the pictures are ones I will treasure forever. She was in her element (she’s more like her mother than I thought) grabbing chunks of cake and eating them, making a mess and just enjoying herself.

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One of the many lessons I’ve learnt this past year of being a Mum is how to sacrifice your own feelings to make your children happy. I know this was only a small thing, a birthday party, but it’s made me more comfortable to do the best for her and create as many happy memories for her as possible, even if it breaks my heart. In the end, seeing her happy will mend it again.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart xxx

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Thank you for reading!

I am the owner and creator of all images in this post.

5 Reasons You Need To Get Outdoors This Season

Everyone who knows me knows that Autumn is my favourite time of year for many reasons. It gets a little chillier, the leaves are beautiful colours and you can get all wrapped up in your comfies and cosies to go for a walk. Nothing brings me more joy than wearing snuggly jumpers, brown boots, winter coats, scarves, hats and gloves and going outside. Not to mention, watching Cody run through the multicoloured leaves on the floor brings such a sweet smile to my face.

I understand that this time of year isn’t for everyone, but it is still important to get outside this season. There are so many benefits!

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#1 IT’S GOOD FOR THE MIND

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It’s been proven that walking outside can improve your mental health. Even just taking a walk around your local area can force you to be mindful. Taking time to admire and appreciate your surroundings can keep you present and in the moment. As you walk, listen to your breathing or your rhythmic steps to help you relax from your stresses and clear your head. If you can, organise a walk with friends or family and take time to appreciate them in your life. Which brings me onto my next point.

#2 FAMILY TIME OPPORTUNITY

Taking a walk with the ones you love is a good way to make memories. On a walk it is harder for family members to be distracted by mobile phones, laptops or the TV, encouraging more quality conversation amongst one another. It’s also really beneficial for children to be outside in the fresh air (not to mention help get rid of some of that excess energy). Kids love to explore so taking a walk in the woods or your local nature reserve will also engage their brains. Even if it’s raining. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to put on their waterproofs and wellies and go splashing in puddles and then coming inside to dry off with a nice hot chocolate or soup. That’s guaranteed to make memories.

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As a Mum with a young daughter, meeting with other mums (to vent and share experiences) is so valuable. One of the best ways to do this is to wrap your babies up and go for a walk. Maybe even grab a coffee to walk round with (Mums always appreciate a caffeine intake whenever possible). As a dog owner, nothing makes my day that bit easier than a tired pooch. Cody especially gets tired out when he has had the chance to run around with other dogs (like his girlfriend, Darla) because it’s not just the exercise that wears them out, it is also the social interaction (I guess they’re more like humans than we think). Speaking of sleeping…

#3 YOU’LL SLEEP BETTER

Being out in the daylight, soaking up that vitamin D, even if it is minimal this time of year (I mean, this is England) is a huge health benefit. The exposure to daylight helps our body clock and our struggle with daylight savings time. We find it easier to adjust to the darker evenings if we spend more time outside. Vitamin D fights day time fatigue and can battle that sluggish winter feeling. So if you’re feeling the affect of the winter blues, get outside!

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#4 IT BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY

Not only does vitamin D fight off that sluggish daytime feeling, but going for a walk can really blow away those mental cobwebs. Exercise gets your blood pumping and muscles working which can start your momentum for the whole day. Once your body and mind have been kickstarted you will feel more alert and may even feel more inspired. Even going for a 20 minute walk during your lunch break can stop you hitting a wall in the afternoon and losing your energy.

#5 ENJOY THE BEAUTY BEFORE WINTER SETS IN

This is probably my favourite reason. Mostly because of all the photo opportunities (I’m kind of obsessed with photos) but also the chance to marvel at all the things that make me love this season. The different coloured leaves falling from the trees like confetti, hunting for conkers and seeing the last glimpses of wildlife before they hibernate for the winter. Autumn is a beautiful reminder that even in darker times, there is beauty.

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Here are some pictures from our most recent autumnal walk.

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Thank you for reading. It really means so much!

I am the creator and owner of all pictures in this blog post.

Super Easy Slow Cooker Chilli

Super Easy Slow Cooker Chilli

It’s that time of year, again! There’s a chill in the air, the nights are getting darker and winter is creeping in. What better way to warm yourself up in the evening than with some good old fashioned comfort food. This slow cooker recipe is so easy and has under 15 minutes of prep time, making this the perfect mid-week meal.

The only prep needed to do is brown the mince with some chopped onion and then bung all the ingredients into the slow cooker and leave it to do its magic. In this recipe, I’m using beef mince made from my auntie’s cows. She raises Dexter cows (which aren’t just delicious but amazingly cute) and I was lucky enough that she filled my freezer with beef. I simply defrosted the mince in the fridge the day before and browned it the morning I was going to use it. After the slow cooker has done its thing, boil up some rice and bish bash bosh that’s dinner sorted!

Top tip: If you want to save even more time (or you’re lazy like me) use frozen, already chopped, onion.

Top tip #2: Spray your slow cooker with oil (I use Fry Light) before adding the beef.

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Ingredients

  • 450g-500g responsibly sourced, free range, minced beef
  •  1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp mild chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 190ml hot beef stock (I use OXO)
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tinned red kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

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Method

  1.  Brown beef mince in a frying pan and season with salt and pepper. Half way through cooking add chopped onion.
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  2.  Once fully cooked, add to slow cooker (do not turn on yet). Add chilli powder, smoked paprika, tomato purée, beef stock, chopped tomatoes, drained red kidney beans and Worcestershire sauce to the beef.
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  3. Mix together and turn on slow cooker to low. Cook for 6 hours stirring occasionally. Taste as it cooks and alter spices to personal preference.
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  4. Serve with rice and (optional) grated cheese on top.
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This recipe is so versatile and you can make it personal to you and your family’s taste. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below. If you’d like me to do more recipes, give this post some love and click the like button.

Sending good vibes!