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1/29/2017

Pregnancy Essentials | Just Add Ginger


baby scan - Just Add Ginger blog

Going into this pregnancy, I hold my hands up and admit I really didn't have a clue what I was doing. I still don't. Remember that episode of Friends where Rachel has her baby shower? That's me - constantly! It's safe to say that when it comes to preparing for motherhood, I'm feeling my way in the dark somewhat. 

Friends gif - Just Add Ginger blog

Thankfully there are a lot of incredible women around me who have been helping me out and offering me advice. Plus I have a fabulous midwife. However, as much as you can take advice, when it comes to some things, what is going to help you is entirely individual. The universal truths are the same; 

- 'Don't eat X Y and Z' 
- 'Drink lots of water' 
- 'Stay active' 
- 'Take a pre-natal vitamin' 

All of these are there to give us a hand no matter who we are. However, these are the additional things that I have found really useful throughout my pregnancy so far.

Pregnancy Essentials

1. A Pillow

As a front and back sleeper, I knew that sleep during pregnancy was going to be one hell of a bitch! And it took me a while to figure out (after a lot of self-training) just how to get comfortable. This also meant testing out a few different pregnancy pillow types. Not settling on one, I actually have three. But the one I find more useful is the full body style (like this one). Slightly more on the pricier side, this pillow has been an absolute saviour in terms of my sleeping. It's like getting a constant hug, and holds me in place, supporting both belly and bump in equal measure and ensuring I get a decent night's kip (excluding the 3-4 times I need to get up to pee).

2. An App

I downloaded the 'What To Expect When You're Expecting' app pretty much as soon as we found out we were expecting. Not being able to really tell anybody made the prospect of the first twelve weeks quite scary, and I needed to feel like there was something I could turn to for extra info and help. I really like the way this app gives you a weekly overview of your current stage of pregnancy, has daily articles to read, and community boards to join. It doesn't go into loads of detail, but there's something really exciting about watching a new video at the start of each week to let you know what's going on for baby, and for you. 

3. A Book

If you haven't heard of The Unmumsy Mum, you really need to give her blog a look-see. She doesn't hold back, tells you like it is, and is incredibly funny. With the shitty first trimester experience I had, when it came to looking for reading material I did not want to be preached to. I wasn't enjoying being pregnant, and the thought of some faceless author telling me about "the glow", and what I should and shouldn't be doing made me want to throw up! 

The Unmumsy Mum's book is just fantastic. Finding it one bleak Sunday whilst browsing the bookshelves of Waterstones in Southport, it was a book that I couldn't put down. It just instantly made me feel better, lighter, and full of hope that I wasn't the only expectant mother on the planet who was feeling the way I was. I had to force myself to read it slowly because it was just so engaging. 

If there's one book you invest in during your pregnancy, I can't recommend this one enough! 

4. A Tablet

One of those things that comes recommended right from the start, my pregnancy vitamin of choice has been the Vitabiotics Pregnacare Original. Now I'm not an expert, so I can't tell you what the difference between any of these kinds of things are, but what I can tell you is that not only do these work hand-in-hand with your pregnancy to support baby, but that since taking them, I have noticed a visible difference in my hair, skin and nails. It's bloody brilliant! I have gone from washing my hair twice a week to once, my hair has grown a tonne, and my nails are definitely stronger and grow faster. My skin works better getting rid of those annoying hormonal breakouts, and I just feel like I look a bit better for taking them. Highly superficial I know, but when you have restless nights and exhausting days, knowing you don't have to wash your hair for at least another night does tend to lift your spirits a bit. 

5. A Stretch Mark Cream

I've heard a number of things about stretch marks - they are hereditary, you can't prevent them, it's completely pot luck if they appear..... you get the picture. Basically I don't have a clue how they work, but thought that investing in some sort of cream would at east be erring on the side of caution. Not wanting to spend a fortune on something that might prove entirely useless, I have been using the Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks. One bottle lasts quite a long time, and it's definitely a worthy budget-friendly option to test out. 

6. A Shoe

If you caught up with me in my Life Lately post, you'll know about the fall I had on New Year's Day. Yep, that common 'losing your balance' thing you can experience in pregnancy has hit me (not that I had great balance to begin with anyway). So in light of this, flats have become my BFF. Not embarrassed to admit that I just about live in my slippers or "Ugg" style boots, when I want to look a little bit smarter, my shoe of choice are these Chelsea boots from H&M. Cosy, classic, and with really good grip, these have seen me through the winter and will carry me right to the end of my pregnancy. Plus they aren't too expensive - BONUS! 

7. A Piece Of Clothing

I won't spend long talking about maternity clothing - you ca read this post to find out why - but the one fashion item that I spend nearly all my time in are my maternity leggings. Never a huge fan of jeans at the best of times, I have had so much difficulty finding a pair of maternity jeans that actually fit me comfortably, accommodating my bump, and my other constantly expanding wobbly bits. Leggings can be literally worn with anything, are super-stretchy, and perfect for postpartum wear too! 

If you are a yummy mummy-to-be with any other pregnancy essential recommendations, let me know in the comments!

1/25/2017

Hosting A Murder Mystery | Just Add Ginger


Just Add Ginger blog

In my head, when I pictured turning 30, I wanted it to be a spectacularly grand affair. An avid fan of The Tudors (Anne Boleyn in particular) I envisaged a Tudor feast, with lots of food, costumes, and of course, period dancing! 

Fast forward to late 2016, and, finding myself somewhat incapable of throwing my usual shapes, the plan had to change. 

As a teen, I really got into my super-sleuths (thanks MG), and one year, upon stumbling across the Murder a a Carte games series, decided that this was going to be a birthday tradition that would never cease to entertain. Now, as the big 3-0 approached, and finding myself at a bit of a loss, suddenly the now re-branded murder mystery game sprung to mind. 

Hosting one of these nights can be both incredibly entertaining (read Sarah's post about the night as testimony) and incredibly stressful in equal measure. Throw having an early January birthday into the mix and it could be a recipe for disaster. 

The key factor in making one of these nights fantastic is planning. There is no time to early to start the preparations, especially if you wish to incorporate fancy dress and have guests who need to travel to attend. I started in the latter months of last year to ensure that everyone had ample time to prepare for the festivities. A strategy that ultimately, worked absolutely in our favour. 

It really helped as well that Ryan flung himself into the party prep. Taking instant charge of the menu, in the weeks (and even days) leading up to the party it was pretty much all we talked about. From the dinner courses through to the cocktail menu, he was there with me, insisting on helping host and spending hours thinking about how to set up our living and dining space so that it was in keeping with the setting (all games are set at some-point in recent history). Having both of us there on the night guiding the proceedings kept things smooth and on track. It is very easy to get side-tracked during these evenings, but with just one quick look to him for help, we were able to steer things back on course.

Just Add Ginger blog

Just Add Ginger blog

Having everybody attend in fancy dress really helped set the atmosphere - along with a carefully put together Spotify playlist. The incentive of prizes really helped too, with these being awarded to those who guessed the murderer/s at the end, and a "Best Dressed" category too. Having guests who are entirely willing to put on accents, get into character, and not break from their role really adds to the enjoyment, and at some points during the evening we all found ourselves howling at each other across the table (how I didn't wet myself is beyond me)!

Even with a cooker that had been condemned hours earlier, the food went down a treat. The games themselves come with a party planner booklet, which guides you through how to host, with both music and menu recommendations that tie-in with the evening's theme. We opted for a food extravaganza, with a champagne reception, cocktails and caviar canapé, and a three course meal as the game took place. But the pièce de résistance had to be my birthday cake. I knew I wanted to treat myself to something spectacular for the evening, so called on Cakes by Andrew to help me out with something breath-taking that could take centre stage. 

Cakes by Andrew Liverpool

And oh boy did it just do that! The beautiful cake consisted of layer upon layer of delicate sponge and filling, topped with assorted chocolate, chocolate-dipped strawberries and fresh red roses. Everybody couldn't resist snapping a few photos before it was cut and handed out. Befitting a 1920s dinner party, and fulfilling all my birthday cake wishes, it was just an incredible way to finish the evening, and just thinking about how delicious it was now is making my mouth water with glee. 

The evening was an all-out success from start to finish, and I am so grateful to Ryan for helping me. He spent hours in the kitchen as chef, played bartender and co-host, and really alleviated the pressure. 

With a number of titles and themes to choose from, I cannot recommend the Inspector McClue murder mystery games enough. For those who love crime dramas, this is the ultimate opportunity to release your inner Poirot. For those who love to play host, it is the perfect way to gather your friends and spend the evening entertaining. And for those who can't/don't want to spend the night stumbling over cobbles through town and elbowing your way to the bar, they provide a much more intimate alternative.

If you have ever hosted your own murder mystery dinner party, let me know in the comments - I'd love to hear all about it!


1/22/2017

Nursery Decoration Inspiration | Just Add Ginger


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Preparing for Baby Ginger's arrival is a little strange at the moment. We have put in an offer on a new house and are in that incredibly annoying stage of having to sit around twiddling our thumbs whilst we wait for the date when we can finally...finally move out!

I'm trying to not let it stress me out. Sure, I mean there are only two months until we become parents. Sure we are practically falling over ourselves just with the amount of things the two of us have accumulated over the past four years. Sure it's not ideal. But at least we have a roof over our heads and space to house a baby (even though it is rather minimal). 

Nursery Inspo
Should we still be in this house when we bring the baby home, I'm not going to bother decorating his room. Quite frankly, it's just too much effort to put in for somewhere he won't be properly living in... 

...But you can be certain I have big plans for the nursery in the new house. It's what I find myself daydreaming about constantly. And although the finer details do change daily, the concept is pretty much set in stone. A mixture of greys and blues and neutral tones, with lots of different textures to add extra touches...Ooo I get so excited just thinking about it.

The Cot

We are planning on "co-sleeping" with a Chicco Next To Me Crib for the first few months. This is all set to go at my in-laws' house. But after that, the cot I have my eye on is the Anna Dropside Cot from John Lewis. Having a dropside cot is going to be so much handier for me, and this one has three different levels for the mattress, which makes it ideal. Even though he won't be using it for a while, we still plan on getting this soon so I can practice with the mechanism. Finished with some beautiful bunting, this cot will definitely be totally Pinterest-worthy!

The Mobile

I am absolutely in love with this mobile from The Little White Company. It is just so pretty, and will definitely be appealing for a newborn. It will look lovely no matter where we are, and will fit in with whatever final décor we decide to go with. 

The Chair

As of yet, I'm undecided on whether I'm going to be bottle or breastfeeding. I'm going to leave it in the hands of fate and just see what Baby Ginger feels like doing, and what works best for us. However, a nursing chair is definitely something that will be a part of the nursery. The prefect little place for bonding with baby pre-bedtime, or sitting trying to soothe the teething tantrums. Fortunately we have a lovely one we are going to borrow from my sister-in-law, as I know these can be rather pricey. And what's better to throw over it for that extra bit of comfort than one of Dunelm's teddy bear throws in a lovely grey or duck egg blue!

The Walls 

My plan is to keep the majority of the walls as neutral as possible, to save us the hassle of redecorating when Baby Ginger is older and has more of an opinion. However, where the cot will go will be our main feature wall. I keep flitting between a wall sticker, mural, and an array of prints, but at the moment I am loving the idea of a mountain mural. This will tie in Ryan's love of walking, and will sow the seed in baby's mind about the great outdoors. It also means we can do this ourselves to save a little money, which, when you're having a baby is always a plus. 

Alongside the feature wall, I have also invested in two prints. One by Clinton Banbury and the other by Jazz Stan Artworks (you can check them both out on my Instagram). These will be going up on a wall opposite to the cot, and hopefully this is a collection that will expand. And let's not forget the two pieces of pottery Ryan and I painted at Center Parcs this Christmas, which will take pride of place on the windowsill. 

Finishing Touches

Keeping with the cosy elements, and as an extra source of light during nighttime feeds/nappy changes, there will definitely be some fairy lights draped somewhere. No nursery of my dreams would be complete without them. And the final feature comes in the form of a sweet Mamas and Papas fox soft toy we bought for Baby Ginger after our 12 week scan. It's the first thing we ever bought, and is officially Baby Ginger's first soft toy.

And of course, in terms of extra furniture, I intend to up-cycle a lot of the bits and bobs we already own. Where there's a chance for a little project that helps save some pennies, you can be sure I'm going to give it a go! 

1/18/2017

Life Lately | Just Add Ginger


Just Add Ginger blog

It seems like I've been taking a break away from my blog forever! December and the start of January are always so hectic that I really needed some time away just to digest everything and enjoy myself without feeling too much pressure.

Christmas gave me that time away. Ryan and I, together with my parents, went away to Center Parcs for a week. I cannot tell you how lovely it was to just be able to sit, do nothing and watch the world go by without feeling guilty for it. Unlike some years, I didn't have a jam-packed schedule, which meant that I made optimum use of the sofa, and just generally made the most of being a lady of leisure for seven days. 

The new year started with a bang....literally. After a lovely new year's eve spent with Ryan's family, I decided that it just wasn't going to be eventful enough unless I fell down the stairs. I did the ultimate in a drop stop and roll from the top of our stairs to nearly the bottom, landing spectacularly on my arse and giving myself one hell of a fright. Thankfully, after a few days of an incredibly sore leg, and slightly puffy ankle, both myself and Baby Ginger were fine. Although, 17 days on, the bruise on my leg still hasn't gone away!

Let's just say trying not to be as clumsy has risen to the top of my resolutions list. And thankfully, I haven't done anything as silly since. Even though I am well and truly into the third trimester, I have kept stumbling to a minimum, and aside from the odd bit of bother putting on a sock or picking something up from the floor, I am actually feeling pretty good. 

Which goes hand in hand with my other resolution. To be more positive. If you read this post, then you'll know that at the start of my pregnancy, I suffered from a little bout of anxiety. That has resurfaced a little bit lately, but now that I am officially on maternity leave, I intend to take some time out to practice some hypnobirthing techniques to help keep my stressyhead-ness under control. As yet, we don't know what kind of birth I will be going for, but irregardless, I think having something to turn to to get me through those moments of worry will be immensely helpful. 

The biggest thing to have happened over the last few weeks is me turning 30. To be honest I really wasn't looking forward to it. I always pictured a night I wouldn't remember to celebrate, but being up the duff coupled with my birthday being on a Monday, this clearly wasn't going to happen. Nevertheless, the Saturday before, Ryan and I, together with my in-laws went to Wahaca for a pre-birthday lunch (which was preceded with lots of tears from me after a shoddy visit to a local hairdressers - drama, drama, drama!) With every intention to go out for a meal on the actual day, Ryan and I ended up getting takeaway and watching TV and then we hosted a dinner party the following weekend, which definitely made up for the lack of major celebrations during the week.

My maternity leave started on 15th January. I made the decision to start it at an earlier point (30 weeks) because, quite frankly, I didn't know how I was going to feel. With a left side that naturally has tighter joints, there was no guessing what was going to happen in terms of feeling more pain (my back has already been playing silly buggers with me for ages). Add a low-lying placenta into the mix and a potential house move, I didn't want to feel bombarded, especially should there be a chance I deliver early. Thankfully we are going for a scan next Saturday to check the status of my placenta, so fingers-crossed we can start to formulate a better plan after that! 

Oh, and did I mention my blog makeover? With a beautiful header by Jemma, followed by lots of  research by me how to do certain design related things, I am really pleased with the revamp and feel fully prepared for my 2017 relaunch. 

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!