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2/26/2017

20 Pregnancy Truths | Just Add Ginger


Baby bump collage - Just Add Ginger

I'm well and truly into the third trimester of my pregnancy, and hand on heart I can honestly say this journey has been an absolute learning curve. With ups and downs, funny and not so funny moments, here are some of the truths I've learned about being pregnant (with a witty and lighthearted spin of course)!

. CRAVINGS!! When you have them, you need that food... TWO MINUTES AGO!

. The most random things will make you cry.
(Things I've cried about include: Instagram, Donald Trump, a fox being on the John Lewis advert, because I miss our new house....)

. Leggings become your BFF.

. Pregnancy brain is really a thing. 
Seriously, if you want help remembering something, DO NOT ask me!

. You have never felt the kind of love you feel for your maternity pillow.

. Feeling baby kicks are so cute....until he finds your bladder and uses it as a trampoline at 3am, then 4.30am, then 5am.....

. There are moments when you realise just how unprepared you are for becoming a parent.
(I tried to put a onesie on a baby doll we have and suffocated it for 10 seconds!)

. Your boobs seem to grow at least 70 cup sizes overnight.

. You quickly realise that you can finally get away with farting loudly in public. 

. When you are hungry, it's just best for people to not be around you.

. Small things become the biggest achievement....like putting on your own socks! 

. The constipation is so real, that when you do have a poo, it's a cause for celebration.

. Late night online shopping for handbags gets replaced for looking up the best deals on breast pumps and baby wipes. 

. There's no better excuse to not shave your legs.... 

. ...Until you go for a scan and insist on apologising for not shaving your legs. 
(and other places!)

. When you watch OBEM, you spend most of it either hiding behind a cushion or laughing at the reaction of everyone in the delivery room. Even though you know you'll look just as over the top.

The thought of protecting this little tiny person in your belly is at the same time empowering, and utterly terrifying!

. The first time you see your baby on an ultrasound scan, there's a chance you don't have the foggiest what it is you're looking at, but you'll still nod along and agree with whatever bit the sonographer is showing you like you know exactly what you're doing. 

. .... You may still feel like this at your 20 week scan! It's not just you. They do look like aliens!

. You plan your daily activities around where the toilets are. Because even though you've already been, you'll need it again in five minutes.

2/22/2017

Bloggers You Should Be Following | Just Add Ginger


Blog recommendations - Just Add Ginger blog

Community is such a big part of the blogosphere! Without it things can get incredibly lonely and unnecessarily competitive. I think it's so important to give back and pay it forward, especially because the blogging world has shown me such incredibly support and love over the years. 

So without further ado, here are five bloggers I think you really should be following in 2017

Dorkface | Jemma 

Hardworking. multi-talented, crazily creative (have you seen her Etsy shop)?, and with an Instagram feed that is just absolute goals, I think Jemma - aka Dorkface - is just amazing. Creator of @TheGirlGangHQ on Twitter, this lady does so much it is a wonder how she ever manages to sleep! And to top it all of, she is just the loveliest person. Often, when I feel myself at a loss with blogging or un-motivated, just looking at her Twitter feed or catching up on a blog post is enough to push the accelerator on my motivation again and hurtle full throttle down the creative road of productivity. 

With blog posts that are vibrant and engaging, and with a honest and down-to-earth approach, Jemma's already achieved so much, and I know there will be so much more to come in 2017! 


There's no way I couldn't write this post without mentioning Sarah. Outside of the blogging world, we have been friends for a long time. From occasional "pudding clubs" to Happy Hour cocktails and support when it's needed most, she is party one of the reasons I have kept blogging for so long. There have been so many times when I've just lost all motivation, but just seeing how much drive Sarah has is enough to get me back on the horse. Her posts are always so relatable, personable and  that you can always look to her blog for an honest opinion on everything - from beauty trends right through to tea subscriptions.


Jo's is a name that I've seen pop up so much on my radar over the past year, but my true appreciation and enjoyment of her blog is something that has grown over recent months. It is just such a pretty place to peruse, with posts that cover all things beauty, lifestyle and pregnancy. Often engaging in a Twitter conversation or two (we are only a few weeks apart in our pregnancies), it is when her mummy-to-be posts pop up that I get the most excited. I love her writing style for how personal it is. You almost could be having a real life conversation with her, and bloggers who write with so much animation always have me coming back for more.

Michelle Louise | Michelle

Another blogger who clearly writes every post from the heart, I've watched Michelle's blog grow over the years. A super-talented MUA (she has posted some really cool tutorials on her YouTube channel), frequently posting the most delicious-looking Vegan recipes, and with a definite passion for all things beauty hers is a blog I go to if I'm in search for an honest review, or if I've been on the lookout for a new palette/foundation/mascara to try. Aside from her make up skills and ability to make you feel hungry with a single food-related photo, she's also a really lovely person too, and I'm really looking forward to see what this year has in store for her.

Got a blogger you love? Why not give them a shout-out to let them know!?

2/19/2017

Making The Most Of Maternity Leave | Just Add Ginger


Baby bump and baby scan pictures - Just Add Ginger blog

Maternity leave for me started early (I explained why in this post). It is a decision I do not regret in the slightest. The bigger I get, the more uncomfortable I become, and I think the ten weeks rest I'll have had before I take my new title of 'Mummy' will have done me the world of good. 

However I do know it can be really easy to find that familiar feeling of boredom creep up on you. I suffer from it more frequently than not. And with us still waiting for the house move to happen, and my increasing inability to cope with lots of driving (the call of the sofa is too tempting at times) I knew that in order to be super-productive and keep boredom at bay, I'd have to come up with a plan. 

We're six weeks in to my time off, and here's how I've been making the most of it....

Writing 

My poor little blog became a little neglected towards the end of last year. With quite an extensive break away, I really wanted to take the time to concentrate on all things Just Add Ginger before the baby arrives. This means - if I can - scheduling blog posts up until April (at least). Seemingly a tall order, especially with a move imminent, and therefore a lack of internet for a while, this has been my main focus. I have been aiming for writing at least two blog posts a day, alongside scheduling tweets and doing daily Instagram posts. So far I have done pretty well, aside from the one day I had to dedicate to sitting on my arse doing nothing because I had the worst night's sleep!

Reading

Linked to my invested interest in writing, and not just focusing on mummy-to-be books, I've also been making a conscious effort to switch off from social media from time to time and get my nose stuck into a crime thriller. At the moment my book of choice is The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent. Choosing moments where I feel totally relaxed (usually bath-time) I am reading at a slow pace to ensure I take it easy and let the story sink in. Once I've finished this title, I have two more books to get through in the next nine weeks (so I guess maybe I should start reading just a touch faster).

Resting 

Sometimes I have just had to admit defeat. Combine a rubbish night's rest, sore back, and the fact that caffeine and I haven't clapped eyes on each other since the summer, and what you've got is the recipe for one grumpy Jackie. There have been days where I haven't managed to make it out my pyjamas, or met my self-given deadlines, and whereas normally I would be really disheartened, I've learnt to accept that this is just all part of the deal. Maternity leave is meant for rest after all, and it's pretty much a given that once the baby is here I'm not going to be getting much of that.

Nesting

I've never been one for being able to cope with a load of mess, but since being on Maternity Leave it has been my mission to ensure that the house stays as clean as possible. Taking control of the washing up, loading in the laundry, and running a brush over the floors downstairs there is not a day that goes by where I don't find myself pottering around tidying up or re-plumping the cushions. And it's really made a bucket-load of difference. With Ryan lending a helping hand with the chores I can't manage anymore, the house has stayed looking spick and span. Something that fills me with the greatest amount of pleasure. 

Although all these activities seem isolating, I'm not being silly. Ryan and I are actively taking time out at the weekends to get out the house so that I step out into the sunshine at least once a week. I have met up with family and my friends know that they are always welcome round for a cup of tea or to stay for the weekend if they have one spare. Mummyhood can be really lonely, and I'm not going to put myself in the bracket of becoming a recluse. It's just not in my nature.

2/15/2017

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24h Foundation First Impressions | Just Add Ginger


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Ever since getting pregnant I have had one very strange problem when it comes to makeup. My usual foundations started to oxidise on my face, making me fashion a slight Oompa-Loompa shade as opposed to my normal skintone. 

It's been incredibly frustrating. Especially because I find it so difficult at the best of times to find a good base that matches my skintone. I find it incredibly difficult to source a decent drugstore makeup brand that have a vast and varied shade range, and, now finding myself unable to use the foundations that did actual work, I was back to square one! 

I started perusing the Lancôme stand in Harvey Nichol's Beauty Bazaar by chance one Saturday. We had just gone out for my birthday lunch and I just nipped in, hoping to swing by the Nars stand to try and sneakily check out their selection of bases. However, finding the counter rather busy, I made a swift and stealthy turn and decided to look at Lancôme's range instead.

After explaining my issues to the sales assistant, I was colour matched and recommended the Teint Idole Ultra 24h Foundation in 02Lys Rosé . With nothing to lose, and totally enabled by the fact it was my birthday, I decided to give it a go. 

Even though I have made purchases deom the likes of Clinique, Too Faced and Urban Decay before, this was the first purchase I have made that I truly considered high-end. Lancôme has always been one of those brands I've heard of but have been somewhat unattainable, so, walking out of the shop with purchase in hand, you could say that my expectations were really rather high.

They say to never judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to beauty products, I just cannot stick to that. The look of a product is definitely something I notice first, and - whether it is supposed to or not - it gives me a starting impression of what to expect, and the Teint Idole was no exception. Simple, sleek and chic, and presented in a heavy glass bottle, the packaging of this foundation is exactly what I would have expected. Delicately decorated with Lancôme's signature floral motif, the 30ml bottle definitely has that sense of luxury about it. The pump also makes the foundation highly appealing. (Who really wants to be trying to daintly pour out foundation to the back of their hands or strategically get just the right amount balanced atop of their makeup brush?) Durable, practical and timeless, this pretty bottle is definitely one of those that you would put pride of place on your makeup stand.  

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24h Foundation Swatch

When it came to testing out the foundation at home, my sceptical hat was on from the start. I am rather mistrusting of getting colour-matched for foundation in stores. The lights are so yellow and artificial that it can be difficult to tell the final effect. My biggest fear was that what looked a perfect colour for my skin in-store would turn me into a tangerine in the light of day. Especially because when I swatched it at home the 02 - Lys Rosé shade had a slightly peachy finish....My mind went into instant overdrive - 

'Oh bloody hell, I'm back to square one again aren't I?' 

But I needn't have been so concerned. Even though the foundation didn't look the right match at a first glance, the formulation is very smooth and extremely blendable when using a makeup brush. A little bit goes a really long way, meaning that if used sparingly, and built up slowly, there is no chance of overdoing it. If you like a finish that is more full coverage, this would easily be achieved too, just as long as you made sure all the product is blended out so that the 'seams' of your base cannot be seen. There is also a subtle scent to the foundation. To me it's like a mix of baby powder and florals, just like a beauty product your grandma would own. Not overbearing or sickening. this added to the high-end and luxe image that I always saw Lancôme having.

Even though the formulation of the foundation offers a matte finish, I found that not only did it give me a smooth and even look but it also brought some life and radiance into my cheeks. I was really impressed. (And trust me, after my oxidisation drama I absolutely scrutinised my face). In fact the only downside to the application process was that my larger, redder spots remained untouched and still visible. However his is just a small downside and easily rectifiable with a quick sweep of concealer. 

So, does the foundation last the 24 hours it claims to? Who knows! Never in my life have I worn a foundation for that long, so on that point I cannot comment. Nonetheless I was pleasantly surprised by how well the foundation lasted. I applied it first thing in the morning before we headed out for the day, and by the time evening came, even though the formula had faded (I hadn't touched up all day), the foundation was still clearly present on my face. The formulation had only slipped a little, had not left my face feeling oily, nor did it dry it out. And oxidisation? There was none! For my pregnant combination complexion it seemed a perfect match. 

Even though sceptical at first, I have been won over with the Teint Idole Ultra 24h foundation. It gives me a subtle radiance that definitely makes me feel like I look more alive, provides a flattering finish, and is long-lasting. For a purchase in which I had to blindly place all my faith, it hasn't let me down yet, and has definitely encouraged me to look more at a brand that otherwise I may have never otherwise tried.


2/12/2017

What's On The Bookshelf - Pregnancy Edition | Just Add Ginger


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There are so many book recommendations out there that are "must-reads" for the expectant mother that it is difficult to know where to begin. With everybody having individual preferences as to what they are looking for when it comes to reading material, when it came to making my own decisions it was a little tricky to know where to begin. 

The best way for me to decide was to literally look at the shelves in my local Waterstone's and pick at random, hoping and praying that what I had chosen was going to be exactly what I had been looking for. 

With some being a resounding success (and some not) here are the books I have loved having at my side throughout this exciting, scary, and at some points dramatic journey to motherhood.


This book has been an absolute God-send to me. If there was one thing that was clear to me when I was on the hunt for reading material one thing was clear - I did not wanted to be preached to. And this book is as far from preachy as you could possibly wish to be. Jam-packed full of funny anecdotes and touching memories, this book came in to my life at just the right time. At the beginning, feeling completely un-excited about being pregnant, I felt quite alone. It's a pretty taboo subject I think, to talk about how shit you are finding being up the duff. But when I was sitting there, waiting for the next thing to go wrong and the next hospital visit, The Unmumsy Mum provided that hope that would tell me that I wasn't the only one, and that as time went on, I wasn't going to be the only expectant mother / mum to go through difficult/stressful/ridiculous moments. 

Written in the first person, and in no way sugar-coating things, The Unmumsy Mum is a page-turner of a book, and one that I will definitely be referring back to again and again as I embrace motherhood and encounter all those first few three am feeds, poonamis, and days when baby refuses to sleep.



When I posted a picture of this book on my Instagram account, there was a lot of interest about it. I don't really know a lot about mindfulness, but knowing how anxious and stressful I get ( and that I also don't really like hospitals), I decided that perhaps I should give some calming techniques a go before D-day arrives. What do I have to lose after all? If these techniques worked, my mega-chilled labour might become legendary (yeah right)! 

Mindful Hypnobirthing is definitely one of those books that you need to refer to constantly. It covers all kinds of hypnosis and calming techniques in quite a lot of detail, which, in one go is a little difficult to remember. But because it is broken down in to three parts, each containing a number of chapters, it is easy enough to find what you are looking for. What I also really like is that there are three downloadable tracks that accompany the techniques and that you can use to practise at home. I have been doing these daily for the past week and am already finding myself shitting a brick less when it comes to thinking about what I have to do to get this baby out when the times comes. If you are open-minded about mindfulness and hypnobirthing, then this book is definitely worth a look. 

The only other book I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on is Happy Mum, Happy Baby by Giovanni Fletcher. Even though it comes out in February - a few weeks away from my due date - just from reading the summary I think I'll really enjoy it, for similar reasons as to why I got on with The Unmumsy Mum. 

If you have any pregnancy/ parenting book recommendations, please let me know in the comments section. I'd love to extend my collection

2/08/2017

Valentine's Day Gift Guide For Her | Just Add Ginger


valentine's day gift guide - Just Add Ginger blog

Valentine's Day is a mere week away. Not just a celebration for if you are in a relationship, it can be a time to treat all your loved ones, be it a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband, wife, best friend, or even yourself!

If you are still trying to think of a last-minute gift, are in the mood for a little pamper session, or are just in the mood to treat yourself, here are my top gift ideas:

Valentine's Day Gift Guide


Pampering

The biggest idea selection I have by far because taking some time out to relax is one of my favourite pastimes, the first few gifts are just perfect for those who love nothing more than to switch off and soak in a roasting hot bath.

In December, I reviewed a bath blaster from SoapBombs. Having been so impressed, when it came to collecting my thoughts on gift ideas, theirs was the first website I visited to see if they were bringing out a Valentine's Day collection. With a tab dedicated to products suitable for the day of love, I was instantly drawn to the Love Cloud Gift Pack. The perfect gift for bath lovers, and containing five of their pretty products, it looks gorgeous and does not break the bank (it retails at £13.99). This is one of those presents that will go down a storm and inject some extra girly vibes into anybody's beauty stash.

For those looking for something a little more high-end, then one of the Laura Mercier Bath products would go down a treat. A frequent feature on any of my wishlists, I just love their luxe look and the added feature of a honey dipper for a novel and quirky touch. Plus all the scents smell amazing. And what better way to add to the atmosphere than burning a beautiful three wick candle from The White Company? With a number of different fragrances to choose from, these again would be an ideal choice if you really want to splash out and spoil that special someone.

And once she's had some time getting comfy and cosy in the tub, then in my opinion you just can't go wrong with a luxurious body lotion. The ESPA Bergamot and Jasmine fragrance is one of my all-time favourites. Spicy, warm and incredibly comforting, lathering the body lotion on will help skin smell sensational, and keep it feel super-supple too. And if you fall in love with the smell of it too there's a bath foam, body wash, hand wash and  hand lotion to match!

Food and Drink 

Another regular guest on many of my gift wishlists, in my opinion any of the Charbonnel et Walker truffles are the ideal chocolate for Valentine's Day. My ultimate favourite are the Strawberry truffles, which, for some reason I can't find on the website but I have spotted in John Lewis (they're also on the website). If you can get your hands on these, definitely consider picking some up and try to sneak a few whilst she's not looking - you won't be disappointed. Wash down with a glass orc two of your favourite tipple (nothing says love like a bottle of Veuve) and you're all set for a romantic and incredibly decadent day.

Fashion and Beauty 

Want to say it with flowers in a really un-traditional way? I spotted these embroidered ankle boots on the New Look website and instantly fell in love. I think these would make the perfect Spring accessory for any fashion lover, and even if she doesn't wear a lot of colour or likes to be outlandish when it comes to style, these would make a subtle talking point that would look great with any outfit. I think this style has been really popular on the website, but there are other variations available that are just as pretty!

More into lipstick bullets than block heels? Say it with Charlotte! Again inspired by my magpie tendencies, one of these stunning shades in sumptuous rose gold packaging would no doubt take centre stage on her dressing table or in her make up drawer. A little bit splurgy, but what better excuse to treat the one you love than Valentine's Day?

Stay Traditional

You can't go wrong with flowers. A huge fan of fresh bouquets, I always get so sad when those pretty blooms start to wilt and have to be thrown away. I think investing in a beautiful arrangement is a great alternative. Yes they can be a little bit expensive, but they will last and last and act as a constant reminder of the day. Next have got some really pretty options at the moment, ranging from minimal to magnificent, and suitable for a range of budgets - big or small (this bowl is my personal favourite).

What will you be treating your loved ones - and yourself - to this Valentine's Day?

2/05/2017

Palmers Massage Lotion For Stretch Marks | Just Add Ginger


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I don't know what to make of stretch marks. I've read that they are inherited. I've read that the chances of getting them during pregnancy are completely random. I've read that applying creams, oils, lotions and potions don't help at all. It's all a bit confusing. But there was one thing that was for certain. When it came to getting stretch marks, I was going to be prepared!

Unsure of what was the best product to go for, I went for the tried and tested method of looking on Amazon and finding the cheapest option. If it wasn't going to make a difference, what was the point, right? 

The choice best be-fitting for my needs was the Palmers Massage Lotion For Stretch Marks. I didn't know a lot about it, but remembered from my teenage years that Palmers had quite a nice scent to it that hopefully would not become too overbearing! And for under £5.00, I didn't think it could it could do much harm to try. 

Clearly marketed towards expectant mothers, the 250ml bottle boasts pretty inoffensive labelling, with an easy-to-use pump top and extensive list of ingredients. All pretty impressive, if they were going to help keep stretch marks at bay. At 5 weeks pregnant, and hardly any signs of being pregnant at all aside from the constant urge to pee it was pretty difficult to tell. 

The formulation of the lotion was a happy medium in between thick and watery. It was easy to apply, and soaked into the skin relatively quickly without leaving a sticky or greasy feeling afterwards. Following advice I had been given, I applied the lotion twice daily to my belly, boobs, hips, lower back, upper thighs and bum. The scent wasn't too sweet and sickly to bear for me, but I think if you suffer from a really heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, it may become too much to handle. 

After a few weeks of religiously applying the lotion twice daily, it soon became pretty clear that with the onset of tiredness, I just couldn't be arsed to follow this routine anymore, so cut down to applying it just before bed. It just became a bit too much trying to follow such a set pattern and I got really lazy. I'm not sure if it was this cut back, or to do with the consistency of the product, but one bottle lasted my quite a while, so in terms of cost per use, I definitely got my money's worth.

The body lotion's creamy consistency helped a lot to pour moisture back into my skin and alleviate all the itchiness I started to feel once my skin began to stretch a bit more. I remember watching an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (a viable source I know) where somebody said to avoid scratching at all costs, so, with that in mind, whenever the urge took me, I'd apply an addition soupçon of lotion, which quickly made the discomfort disappear. 

Now, at seven months pregnant, I have only just come to the end of my second bottle and have not deviated away from using Palmer's up until this point. My skin feels really soft, and so far I have only got three stretch marks on my hip, with any others unaccountable for. I have been really impressed,. especially because it is just so affordable. It has really shown me that there is no need to break the bank to find things that help give you the results you want.

Of course it all could be just luck. MG said she never really got stretch marks, so is my experience the result of good genes? Who knows. What I do know is that with having the Palmers Massage Lotion For Stretch Marks a part of my mum-to-be beauty routine my skin has stayed soft, happy, and both red and itch-free, and for that, I am incredibly grateful!

2/01/2017

What I Got For My Birthday | Just Add Ginger

What I Got For My Birthday

In the five years I have been blogging I have never done one of these posts. I'm not really sure why. It could be because there's a slight taboo surrounding them, or perhaps because I've never been sure how to go about putting one together. But I was so overwhelmed with lovely and thoughtful birthday presents this year that I wanted to put together a little blog post to celebrate my love for them, and for the ones who gave them to me. These are just a select few gifts, and I am in no way showing off. I just wanted to ensure I captured as many of the special touches that made my birthday amazing this years as I can.

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Books

Books have always been a big part of me as a person. I did both a BA and MA in Creative Writing, so whether it's reading, writing or collecting, stories and storytelling are very important to me. Which was why I was incredibly touched to receive two lovely books for my birthday from two very special friends. The first is a stunning Penguin Classics edition of Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen that Sarah gave me. Scattered with pretty illustrations and containing an extensive collection of stories, this is a book that not only I will enjoy, but one that I can also read to Baby Ginger.

The second is an Old Bear story by Jane Hissey. Happy Birthday Old Bear was brought out to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the book series. What made this gift extra special was the really touching message that my friend wrote in the front for me. This was an entirely apt present for me because of the age I turned, and also a thoughtful gift because again, we can put this in the baby's collection. Ryan actually read this to my bump the other evening, so we are both making sure this little boy appreciates his stories from a very early age.

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Chocomel carton

Food And Drink

Normally, whenever a birthday comes along, there are at least two bottles of fizz chilling in the fridge ready for me. Unable to partake in my usual debauchery this year, my friends and family were very clever and thoughtful and I received several bottles of non-alcoholic options to enjoy. Both I had never tried, and am saving for true times of appreciation so that I can savour them fully. I also received a beautiful personalised champagne flute which will come in very handy when I'm ready to pop a cork and enjoy fizz properly again.

Not technically a birthday present (I got these at Christmas) but still worthy of a mention because my birthday is so close to the festive season are the nine bottles of Chocomel my parents got me. For those of you who may be unaware, Chocomel is a chocolate milk drink that is only available in certain European countries and I am obsessed with it. This gift was the ultimate surprise, especially because one of my biggest cravings during my pregnancy has been chocolate milk. 

...It's just a shame I am now on my final carton. Like it was ever going to last a long time anyway!

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Jewellery

I really don't wear that much jewellery any more. My earring holes have long closed over, and my necklace collection has been severely pruned back. The pieces I have nowadays are pretty, minimal, and very precious to me. For my 30th, I received two very beautiful new addition to my collection. The first is a locket from Warren James which I can't wait to fill with photos of Ryan and the baby. The second is a pearl hanging on a beautiful set of mixed metal chains from Honora Collection. Both pieces will go with so much in my wardrobe, and will be treasured so much.

Sanctuary Spa Mum to Be Ultimate Retreat - Just Add Ginger

Valentina Assoluto flatlay

Pampering 

Taking time out for myself and having a good pamper session is something that I really do love. I have this fear of being smelly, so any excuse to treat myself by layering on some amazing-smelling lotion or spritzing myself in my favourite fragrance always makes me feel better about myself. 

But with a list of ingredients that I should steer clear from when it comes to skincare, I am now incredibly careful with what I put on my skin. Which is why receiving the Mum To Be Ultimate Retreat gift set from Sanctuary was just so lovely. Containing an array of different products, everything is midwife approved, luxurious, and incredibly useful. It also came at the right time because I had just run out of my bump cream! 

Ryan was very secretive about his gift this year. Having no idea what I wanted. I also had no idea what to expect. He utterly spoiled me on the day anyway, and to be honest, just having him put up with all my shit is a gift enough at the moment, but he outdid himself when he presented me with a Valentina Assoluto gift set. The Valentina Pink is one of my favourite scents (I wore it on my wedding day) and the fragrance range I think is just beautiful. The Pink was limited edition, so I save what I have for very special occasions, and now having a brand new scent to try out means I will always smell beautiful, even when I look like absolute crap! 

I am always worried that I am a difficult person to shop for for gifts, but I felt so overwhelmed by all the thoughtful and special presents I received for my birthday. From everything in this post to the mat leave appropriate DVDs, the bath and body products, cards and even just being able to leave work early, it was a 30th celebration beyond anything I could have ever hoped for,