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3/29/2017

Date Night At Piccola | Just Add Ginger


Piccola Italian restaurant Litherland - Just Add Ginger blog

One of the only sad things about our move was that we were no longer going to be near our beloved Yukti. Having such an amazing restaurant round the corner was such a luxury that I wasn't sure we'd ever have a similar "local" situation again. So when Piccola opened, I knew it would eventually be somewhere we had to try. Not quite on our doorstep, but close enough, I kept everything crossed that it would fill the void that moving further away from one of our favourite restaurants would leave. 

Saying "thank you" to Ryan provided the perfect opportunity for our first date night since the move. He has put up with so much from me over the past nine months (and still is) that I just wanted to both express my gratitude and apologise in advance for calling him all the names under the sun / wanting to bite him whilst we're in the delivery suite.

Every time we drive passed Piccola it looks full to the brim - even on a weekday, and upon arriving for our date night, it was just the same. With ambient lighting that created a cosy yet classy atmosphere, and the buzz of chatter in the background, it immediately evoked a romantic yet energetic vibe. With staff constantly checking on tables, delivering food and drinks and taking orders, it could have easily became chaotic, but I think the staff were so well organised that everything seemed to be ticking by in a calm and collected manner. After a short-ish wait at the bar (about 15 minutes) we were shown to our table and given menus to peruse. Having visited the restaurant on one previous occasion, and being a little restricted by the menu options, it didn't take me long to decide what to go for. Ryan was quick to decide too, and our order was taken pretty swiftly considering how busy the place was. 

Piccola Italian restaurant Litherland - Just Add Ginger blog


Piccola Italian restaurant Litherland - Just Add Ginger blog

To start us off, Ryan went for the Spinach and Taleggio Arancini, whereas I decided I really wanted the Caprese Salad side dish as my starter of choice (a majority of the starters either featured cured meats, were shellfish, or contained things I have gone off). Both dishes were ample size to whet our appetites for the main course, and jam-packed full of flavour. The addition of spring onions to my salad were a happy and zingy touch, and Ryan's arancini were crispy coated and perfectly cooked in the middle, with the cheese trickling out upon slicing. The pesto was a great sauce to dip each arancini ball in to (and to my delight the grilled peppers were only a faint note in the background). 

Piccola Italian restaurant Litherland - Just Add Ginger blog


Piccola Italian restaurant Litherland - Just Add Ginger blog

Acknowledging past experience, and with the thought in mind that I was 99.9% going to be ordering a dessert (blogger's prerogative) I decided to go for a small portion main course, and went for the Pappardelle Ragu Di Angelo (pasta with a slow cooked lamb ragu). Ryan chose a large portion of the Pappardelle Di Manzo (pasta with a slow cooked beef ragu). Both of these dishes we had sampled on our previous visit, and had been very impressed. With past experience on our side, I was interested to see how the consistency of quality held up. 

I definitely wasn't disappointed with my dish. After waiting a short time for it to arrive (again I was really impressed as the restaurant was still full of diners), I tucked in anxiously to find that the lamb was like butter, sliding apart underneath my fork willingly. The sauce was flavourful and rich without being overbearing, and the pasta cooked to perfection. Ryan I think was just as happy with his dish - neither of us offered one another a sampling of our dishes, which is always a good sign. The only thing that I was unsure about was the portion sizing. My small dish of pasta looked almost as big as Ryan's large portion. I was a little perplexed, but with the main courses being quite reasonably priced, there wasn't enough cause for me to draw attention to the fact. 

Piccola Italian restaurant Litherland - Just Add Ginger blog

Glad that my small portion plan had paid off, it didn't take me long to decide what to have for dessert. The Chocolate And Salted Caramel Mousse had been calling to me from the start (I can't resist anything with "chocolate" in the name). Ryan opted for the same, and once again, within a matter of minutes after ordering our puddings were with us. Creamy, thick and rich, this dessert definitely wasn't a choice for the faint-hearted. Deceptive in its size, I needed a break halfway through. All the flavours worked in perfect harmony, and it was with glee that hidden at the bottom was a thin layer of salted caramel sauce that added an extra sweetness to the dish. It was the perfect way to finish off the meal, and is definitely something I would order again.

It is of course impossible to compare Italian cuisine to Indian, however, in Piccola I think we have found our close by Yukti substitute. Within ideal travelling distance, and with really reasonable pricing (every main is under £15.00) it's going to be the perfect place for future parents-only escapes, and family outings alike.

To find out more about Piccola or to book a table, click here

3/28/2017

The Lonely Road To Mummyhood | Just Add Ginger


The Lonely Road - Just Add Ginger blog

Before you dive in to reading this post, please bear in mind that these are just my own personal feelings. Having never been pregnant before, I am sharing all the things I have felt along this journey in as open and honest a way as possible. This post stays true to that mantra. 

Pregnancy is.... 

Pregnancy is so many things. Pregnancy is exciting. It is frightening. It is shocking. Pregnancy is testing, trying, a beauty and a blessing. But there is one thing that I never thought pregnancy would be. Pregnancy is lonely.

Not that I'm not used to being alone. I grew up as an only child with no brothers or sisters for company. This is where my imagination comes from. If I didn't have anybody to talk to, I would create friends, write stories, and surround myself with toys who I filled with as much life as if they were real, living things. Away from home, I made friends. At school. On holiday. Language barriers never an issue, abroad I'd find children of a similar age and just mesh with them. We didn't have a clue what was going on, but friendships were created. My friends, although not many, became an extension of my own family. 

It is still the case to this day. I love my friends wholeheartedly and beyond measure. When they hurt, I hurt. When they are happy, I celebrate with them. I cherish each and every one and if I ever think I have hurt them, well....I'm pretty much inconsolable. Without them I would be lost. I wouldn't be me. I wouldn't be whole anymore. The phrase "sisters before misters" resonates powerfully with me, and with everything we have been through, I never take friendships for granted. 

Which is why writing this post is incredibly difficult for me.  Blame it on the third trimester emotions, but for the past nine months I have found myself not knowing where to place me anymore. And it is something I haven't been able to articulate, thus separating myself from my friends. Unintentionally of course, but it is something that has made me realise that the road to mummyhood is not only a blessing, it is also bloody lonely. 

There have been only two others in my friendship circle who have had babies. And they made this journey a few years ago. So going into this, I was on my own from the start. It's no secret that the first and even part of the second trimester were very frightening times for both me and Ryan. But I underplayed, turning to Google for answers because there weren't really a lot of people I could talk to. From unexplained bleeding to amniotic bands to secondary sacs, changes in movement patterns impromptu visits to the EPAU, it all became a bit much. I let my constant longing for positivity take over, and felt the need to put on a brave face, only letting Ryan see how much it was getting to me and take the brunt of my distraught state. I didn't want to burden people with my worries. I didn't want to admit I wasn't coping very well. 

It's partly down to me. I'm too stubborn and independent to admit when I need support. I don't like to ask. But it wasn't and still isn't easy to ask people for what I really need. Especially now. Some of you may know, and some may not, but my coming into this world wasn't the best experience, and now that the finish line for my pregnancy is near, I am in a constant state of fear that something will go wrong. It is something that made me so scared at the start that immediately I was put down to go and see a consultant midwife who would help me write my birth preferences and help squash my concerns. Oh, and to put a cherry on top of this great situation, I am also not the biggest fan of hospitals, so, as you can imagine, as I inch closer to D-day, I feel more and more out of my depth with no idea what to expect. 

It is a time where I need the pregnancy and me to be seen as separate. And it is a situation where I think it can be difficult to make the distinction. Yes, my mummy hat will soon be on, but that doesn't mean it can't ever be removed. Underneath it all I am still the girl who lives for champagne Fridays, loves dancing until her toes go numb, and makes jokes that nobody finds funny. Does being a parent mean that that girl has to go away? For good? I'm scared of being forgotten as the person I was but instead will be seen as the hat I wear. Will she be lost forever? 

It's unquestionable that soon she will take second rung. The baby will be the centre of attention. I expect that. I want that. A first grandson for every parent of ours, and the newest baby for my friendship circle. But after the cooing, the cuddles, and the kisses, will I start to feel like me again? Will this pang of loneliness linger? Or will I be able to go back to popping open the prosecco occasionally, giggling over celebrity crushes and past nights out with my friends? Can that separation of lives ever be made again? 

I suppose I'm scared of losing my friends. I'm scared that things will have to change and I'll be left behind. Because I already feel that has happened ever so slightly. And this is where this has sprung from. Combine my stubborn Capricorn nature and my inability to travel to see loved ones as much as I used to, I miss everybody. But I just can't build up the courage to admit that to anyone. A simple "would you mind popping over to see me for a cup of tea" has turned into the hardest question to ask because at the end of the day, everyone has their own lives, their own issues and their own plans, and I don't want to get in the way.

The road to mummyhood is paved with so many blessings, and so many slabs of scary thoughts that it can be hard to keep it together without tripping up over something. And feeling lonely is where I have stumbled the most. So to all friends, loved ones and family member of a mummy-to-be, please remember the girl she once was, as well as seeing her as the parent she has and wants to be.


3/26/2017

What's In My Hospital Bag | Just Add Ginger

Baby boy nursery decor - Just Add Ginger blog

I've always been one for a little bit of early organisation. The minute we moved into the new house I knew that packing my hospital bag was high on the agenda. And now, with D-Day just around the corner (quite literally) I wanted to share everything that I will be taking in with me when it's time for Baby Ginger to be born.

hospital bag contents - Just Add Ginger blog

For Mummy (In Labour & After Delivery):

. My notes - pregnancy and birth preferences. 
. A towel - just in case I need / want a shower. 
. Nighties - with thin straps. They are lightweight and easy to pull down for breastfeeding access post-birth. 
. PJ bottoms - to wear walking round the hospital (I'm hoping to stay as mobile as possible).
. Dressing gown - for comfort. 
. Cosy socks - for keeping my feet warm. I have heard they can get cold during labour.
. Slippers - just to wear during active labour or walking around the ward. I'm taking my Crocs with me to wear around the hospital.
. Bikini top - part of my birth preferences is to get into a birthing pool. 
. Disposable knickers - I've heard these make the early post-birth moments easier.
. Maternity pads - because things will get messy! 
. Massive underwear - oversized for comfort. And dark because I don't want to know what's going on down there! 
. Nursing bras - the sexiest things I will ever own. 
. Boppy pillow - to help make breastfeeding easier.
. Going home clothes - Leggings, a soft jumper, nursing friendly top and comfy socks.

hospital bag contents - Just Add Ginger blog

For Mummy (Washing & Pampering): 

Wash Bag:

. Deodorant - because like it or not, I'm probably going to stink.
. Shampoo & body wash - see above! 
. Water spray - for use during labour to help keep me cool.
. Cooling foot cream - a little luxury, but if it helps me keep cool, I'll try anything. 
. Face wipes - for removing make up. 
. Toothbrushes and toothpaste - for Ryan and I to use.
. Hairbrush - a small compact one in case I want to get my hair out my face. 
. Hair ties and scrunchies - for getting my hair out the way. 
. Lipbalm - I've heard that your lips can get really dry in labour, especially if you use gas and air. 
. Breastpads - for leaky moments. 

Make Up Bag:

Just in case I want to freshen up a little bit. I expect a lot of people will want to take photos, and I don't want to look like a ghost.

. Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation 
. Benefit Hoola Bronzer 
. Urban Decay Brow Tamer Gel 
. Revlon Volume & Length Mascara
. Makeup brushes 
. Fleur de Force eyeshadow quad
. Concealer
. Eyebrow pencil 
. Soap & Glory lipstick 
. Makeup Revolution blusher 
. Autograph highlighter stick

hospital bag contents - Just Add Ginger blog

Extras For Mummy:

. Headphones - so I can listen to my Push Playlist and hypnobirthing tracks. 
. A book - I doubt I'll feel like reading, but am bringing one of my favourite books just in case. 
. Playing cards - as entertainment for Ryan and I.
. Disposable camera - so that we are not relying on having charge in a camera or on a phone. 
. Extra scrunchies - you can never be too prepared! 
. Cereal bars - for midnight energy (I'll also be popping in some energy drinks too). 

hospital bag contents - Just Add Ginger blog

For Baby: 

Baby has his own changing bag, but these are overflow things that wouldn't fit... 

. Towels - for if he needs a wash / cleaning up. 
. Blanket - it's soft and snuggly and will look really cute in photos. He has a cellular in his own little bag too. 
. Nappies - a massive pack - you can never be too prepared. 
. Cotton wool - for early nappy changing. 
. Water wipes - I personally will find these easier to use than cotton wool. 
. Baby milk - in case Baby has problems latching / I have issues breastfeeding.

*** 

This may at first seem like a really extensive list, but I have taken guidance from the Liverpool Women's Hospital website, as well as guidance from other mums and professionals before adding some creature comforts for myself. I'd always check with your hospital what to bring in with you when having a baby, as all hospitals are different. 

If there's anything else you think I should be bringing in my hospital bag, or if you'd like to see what's inside Baby's bag too, let me know in the comments.

3/24/2017

Getting Ready For Baby | Just Add Ginger


Baby scan photos - Just Add Ginger blog

The weeks and days leading up to the time you are due to give birth can be really stressful and scary. I know that I am currently in a state for being excited to meet our little bundle, terrified in case I go in to labour alone, and fretting that I don't have everything ready. However, not one to be defeated, Ryan and I have put some measures in place to ensure that we are both as prepared as we can be for when the time comes to head off to the hospital.

Batch Cook Your Meals 

This was an early tip that we both decided was a fantastic idea. Picking up a whole load of supplies from the supermarket, Ryan put on his chef hat and spent the weekend cooking meals to freeze that we can whip out and prepare in an instant. We have enough in the freezer to last us a week and a bit, and also have stocked up on essentials like long-life milk, snacks, coffee and soup so that there are lots of options for us in the house and we don't have to worry about having to nip out to grab things if we are both in a state of delirious, sleep-deprived zombie-ness

Shop For Your Post-Bump Self 

This was something that didn't really register with me until I realised the weather was slowly getting warmer. But I haven't bought any Spring/Summer clothes for non-pregnant me in a year, thus meaning that my post-bump wardrobe is completely non-existent. Aside from maternity leggings and cami tops, I'd be rather stuck for things to wear. So I hit up Boohoo (my main lifesaver when it comes to clothes) and ordered a few bits and pieces that will spruce up things already in my wardrobe, that are "grab and go" items if time is limited, and that are easily adaptable if I am breastfeeding and need to whip out a boob at a second's notice. You don't need to spend a fortune, but if the seasons have come back round full circle by the time you drop, having a little wardrobe update will not only be practical, but might make you feel heaps better about having more fun and feminine pieces to wear again.

Do A Hospital Test Run

Always a good idea. Look up the best and quickest routes to your hospital on Google and give them a test run. That way you're not going to find yourself in a frazzle when it comes time to do the real thing. And don't rely on just one route - you never know when road closures or road works may pop up and you don't want to find yourself getting lost trying to find an alternative way round everything.

Pack Your Hospital Bag 

...And then unpack it. Lay everything out and ask your other half / birthing partner to pack it instead. This means that they know where everything is you need, where to find the important things, and will pack according to the time you may ask them to grab different bits and pieces. After they've packed away everything, give them an on-the-spot quiz every now and again to ensure they have all the important bits committed to memory.

Take Some Together Time 

Whether that's with your other half, family or friends, I think this is really, really important. Pregnancy can be a very lonely thing, but Maternity Leave can be something much worse. With everyone working when you are at home with a newborn, life can get very quiet, and isolation soon creeps in. And to top it off, you will gain a hat you never had before - "Mummy". And whereas this is such a blessing, it can also mean that the old you gets forgotten, even though she never went anywhere to begin with. In the last few weeks leading up to having a baby, try and spend as much time as you can with everyone who loves you - you will rely on them a lot after you've given birth, and opportunity may not arise so easily as before. It is also a test of the strengths of all your friendships - of who will be there to readily come over and make you a cup of tea, to listen to you vent, or be that shoulder to cry on. If you have a partner, rekindle that flame over and over again together, because, like it or not, soon there will be times where you can't stand the sight of one another. This is why friendships are so important too - to enjoy that break away, even if it's just for five minutes, to remind everybody that you are still you underneath it all.

 This is also a time to research mum and baby groups in your local area so you can reach out and make new friends too. For support. For play dates, and for those numbers on your phone you can text at 3am and know somebody will answer you, sharing in your despair over a stubborn baby who refuses to settle,

Get Into A Good Routine

A cleaning routine that is. Having the house spick and span on the lead up to having your baby will make you feel loads better, and mean that whenever you go, you'll always be coming back to a tidy house. The first few days / weeks with a newborn will be really trying, and the last thing you want is to be arguing about a dirty bathroom, an un-made bed, or laundry. To not overwhelm myself I've been doing little jobs everyday to keep on top of the tidying, and then asked Ryan to pitch in on the things I find tricky (usually the sweeping / taking out the bin bags). Don't forget, it's one thing to keep a house tidy now, but with a baby it's a completely different kettle of fish. 



3/22/2017

Mug Cakes - Do They Really Work? | Just Add Ginger

Mug cake ingredients - Just Add Ginger blog

The day of my dinner party, our oven was condemned! It was an absolute potential disaster situation - not just for the event, but also because at that point we didn't have a definite moving date. Thankfully. Ryan rescued the dinner party menu by cooking on a camping stove, but it got me thinking about baking. Not a dedicated cake maker, but with the inclination to dabble and tap into my inner Mary Berry, would it be possible to indulge my sweet tooth without an oven. With mug cakes having been on my radar for a while, I knew that it was something I just had to give a go. 

Not wanting to dive into the deep end and start guessing, I decided to follow a reputable recipe, and chose this one from the BBC Good Food website. The steps seemed simple enough to follow, and with a shiny new microwave on my side, one weekend, finding myself with some time on my hands, I collected the ingredients, swept my hair off my face, and got my baking hat on. 

In principle, the cake should have been easy enough to make. There were however some ever so slight hiccups along the way that I didn't initially factor into the equation. Firstly, making the switch from mixing bowl to mug was a little tricky when it came to mixing ingredients. It was nearly impossible to see if everything was mixed thoroughly, and initially really difficult to decide on just what to use to combine everything. A wooden or silicone spoon is my usual weapon of choice, but these were far too big for the mug, so instead a metal dessert spoon seemed appropriate. Whilst this seemed to be just the ticket at first, it soon became clear that everything was going to get stuck to the surface of the spoon, so I had to periodically stop and shake the mixture back into the mug. Not an arduous task, but one that definitely made whipping up the mixture a little longer than expected.

The second hitch was getting the timings right for the mug cake. The recipe and method indicated that in between 4 and 5 minutes should be adequate for the cake to cook sufficiently. However, without a large surface area for the mixture, deciding whether the cake was done all the way through was quite hard to deduce, resulting in me "over-baking" slightly. I think if I had known the microwave a little better this wouldn't have been so much of an issue, but this being the first time I had used it, things were not on my side.

However, when the cake finally emerged from the microwave I was really surprised to see how well-risen it was, and, more importantly, how much it actually tasted like a cake! The texture was a little dry, but there were fluffier patches, and the chocolate chips that I had added were dispersed pretty evenly. It was the perfect portion size for Ryan and I to share too without either of us feeling too naughty about it.

Mug cake - Just Add Ginger blog

Hiccups aside, I think that the concept of making microwavable mug cakes is really smart. To an extent, it is incredibly child-friendly and easy to do - the perfect rainy day activity. They would also be really fun to whip up if you have somebody pop round for a cup of tea and you don't want to go overboard with providing too many accompanying sweet treats. With a recipe that I think must be quite universal, it also means that you can experiment easily with flavour combination (I'm tempted to try a Rocky Road inspired concoction next). And most importantly, you don't need an oven at all! So if you ever find yourself in a similar situation to us, you can still get your baking fix in a few simple steps.

3/19/2017

Baby Ginger's Baby Shower | Just Add Ginger


Just Add Ginger blog

Prior to being pregnant, I'd never really known what having a baby shower entailed. Aside from all your nearest and dearest gathering to talk all things newborn, nappies and night-time feeds, I wasn't really sure what you were meant to do at a shower. But, never one to turn down the opportunity for a party, and with a new house to show to everybody, I dived in head first and began planning an afternoon of laughter with the ones that I love the most. 

Baby Shower cake - Just Add Ginger blog

The Food

I didn't want to go overboard when it came to nibbles, so decided that a buffet setup was the most plausible option. Going for a children's party theme, Ryan and I headed to Iceland and Aldi and stocked up on mini pizzas, sausages rolls, crisps, macaroons and breaded chicken galore. A very good friend brought up homemade chocolate lollipops for everybody, and PG made the cake (lemon drizzle - it was delicious). We adapted one of my favourite cocktails into a mocktail, turning it from "Sex on the beach" to "Cuddles on the beach" instead, then popped  non-alcoholic prosecco for everyone to share as well as various fizzy pop options. There was plenty of food for everyone, with the option of seconds or thirds, and this definitely was the best route as - all in all- I think we only spent about £40 on everything.

Just Add Ginger blog - baby shower


feed the daddy baby shower game - Just Add Ginger

The Games

This took a little bit of thought and planning. Deciding from the get-go that I wanted to go for team games, I chose ones that would be easy for everyone to get involved in. As everyone was settling, I planned an ice-breaker to get guests talking. The Who Knows Mummy Best Quiz was easy to type up on the computer, and got everybody chatting away and getting very competitive in the process (I think the incentive of prizes for the winners helped). 

Next was the most gross, and yet one of the most fun. The Dirty Nappy Game made all the guests squirm and squeal as "dirty" nappies (filled with melted chocolate) were passed around. The aim of the game was to guess which chocolate bar filled each soiled nappy. Guests could smell and touch the contents but not taste. I think we put everybody off chocolate for a bit, but to see the reactions on everybody's faces was well worth it. 

The third and final team game was a Blindfolded Nappy Challenge. Two players were selected from each team to take part in this "against the clock" challenge. With several experts amongst the guests this was a really close call, with everyone putting a fresh nappy on Fake Baby within a few seconds.
I threw in one fun free-for-all game at the end in the shape of Feed The Daddy. Taking it in turns, each guest was blindfolded and supplied with a spoon and bowl of baby food. Ryan sat centre stage, draped in a bin bag and sporting safety specs. Similar to Pin The Tail On The Donkey, guests had to try and feed Ryan baby food and not get it all over him. This was by far the most hilarious game, and got everyone laughing (some to the point of crying). 

To end the afternoon's entertainment, I had put out a babygrow guest book for all the guests to sign, alongside a Baby Predictions chart. Again, these were relatively easy to put in place. I took a bodysuit from Baby Ginger's stash, filled it with a sheet of cardboard broken off a box, and supplied fabric pens. The predictions chart was easily whipped up on MS Word and printed off for everybody to fill in. I did have to prompt a few times, but led to some really cute and funny messages left for Baby Ginger. 

***

 I think traditionally someone is meant to throw a baby shower for you, but I wanted to go down the DIY route. Ryan made a brilliant co-host, acting as my lackey for the afternoon so that I could mingle. It was great having him there to join in the fun and I honestly couldn't have managed without him. I think it's a bit against the grain to have your husband at the baby shower, but because all of our friends are located across the country, it meant that we could see everybody at the same time, as in the start at least, travelling will be a little out the window.

If you have ever been to or hosted a baby shower, let me know what yours entailed in the comments!

3/15/2017

Life Update - We Moved! | Just Add Ginger


new home cards - Just Add Ginger

After months and months playing the waiting game, on the last weekend in February we finally moved into our new house! A definite upgrade from our last house, closer to family, and with a lot more space, this was something I had been dreaming for for a long time. It wasn't stressing me out, but I just desperately wanted to be in and settled before Baby Ginger arrived so that we could bring him home from the hospital to a brand new start. 

spring flowers - Just Add Ginger blog

mantelpiece - Just Add Ginger blog

Because we still have our old house, the moving process was relatively smooth, with Ryan and I making weekend and evening trips to and from our new home with our little Aygo fit to burst with bags and boxes. Taking maternity leave when I did came in to play to our advantage, as most of my days were spent packing away all our things, meaning when it came to the big moving weekend, it was really only the big pieces of furniture that needed to be brought over. It was an easy transition, with me spending most of my time staying out the way until all the heavy items were in, and then unpacking at a steady pace.


iCandy Strawbery 2 pram - Just Add Ginger



nursery decor - Just Add Ginger blog

child's bookcase - Just Add Ginger blog
Print: JazzStanArtworks

Just Add Ginger blog

Setting everything up was just as easy a process. We were very lucky in the fact that the previous owners decorated each room immaculately, with feature wallpaper, built-in appliances and bits and pieces of furniture left for us to use. The only room that needed anything doing to it was the nursery, which was originally a mixture of pinks and princess themes. But with a quick lick of blue paint on one wall, and the addition of some paintings and prints (including the gorgeous one above by JazzStanArtworks featuring lyrics from Tenerife Sea, a song that featured in our wedding ceremony). 

We all I think also know how much I love upcycling, so the majority of our furniture and decorations came with us, either to serve the same purpose or to be used for another. MG brought up a re-painted bookshelf from my room at her house to use in the nursery, and I re-purposed the box my birthday present from Ryan came in to act as a perfume holder. The only new things we have had to buy are the cot for the nursery, and finishing touches like curtains and cushions. In terms of sourcing things, we did extremely well!

Just Add Ginger blog

The house isn't finished by all means. Even now I am still unpacking boxes and re-jigging things. There are things that need to be built and fixtures that need to be put in place, but other than that it is definitely feeling like home, more so than the old house ever really did for us. I will never tire of looking out the window an seeing the sky, and grass, and birds. I will never get over the fact that we now have a driveway, and more storage than we could possibly want and need. I just feel so incredibly lucky that things fell into place exactly as they were meant to, and at the right time. I don't think I'll ever take our home for granted, and I just can't wait to bring Baby Ginger home to somewhere both Ryan and I are immensely proud of.

I won't be doing a new house tour, but I wanted to share little accents of the house that I think are just gorgeous. Don't worry - I'm under no delusion that with a new baby the house will stay pristine, but now, with my nesting instinct in full swing, I couldn't be happier with how pretty things look. 

I also vlogged our big move. Not just for YouTube, but as a living record of our very first full weekend here, and just how happy we were to finally say "we did it"!

3/12/2017

My Push Playlist | Just Add Ginger


Music for labour - Just Add Ginger blog

I always saw music playing an integral part of being in labour. I'm one of those who can't really work without some kind of background noise humming away, and labour will be no exception. With some opting for relaxing melodies and dulcet tones to lead them through contractions, I've instead gone for songs that I can sing along to (albeit through gritted teeth) or have playing in my head as a bit of a theme tune. Using Spotify as my app of choice for making my compilation, here are some of the songs I want to be listening to as we welcome Baby Ginger into the world. 

. Could You Be Loved - Bob Marley & The Wailers
. Jamming - Bob Marley & The Wailers
. Tenerife Sea - Ed Sheeran
. Partition - Beyoncé
. Who Run The World (Girls) - Beyoncé
. Make Over - Christina Aguilera
. Express - Burlesque Soundtrack
. Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars
. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses
. Back In Black - AC/DC
. You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC
. Harvest - Opeth
. Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul - The Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack
. Boom Clap - Charlie XCX
. Paradise City - Guns N' Roses
. Time Warp - The Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack
. Pigs - Pink Floyd
. Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard
. Lovely Day - Bill Withers
. The Wizard - Black Sabbath
. Army Of Me - Sucker Punch Remix - Björk, Graham Massey
. The Fox - Steeleye Span
. Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
. Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2 - Pink Floyd
. After Midnight - Eric Clapton
. Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours) - Stevie Wonder
. A Hard Day's Night - The Beatles
. Black Magic - Little Mix 
. Friend Like Me - Aladdin Soundtrack
. Crazy Glue - Josh Woodward
. Of Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Etc... - Late Night Alumni

You can see my full playlist here (I keep adding to it).

Let me know what songs you had / would have on your Push Playlist. Any recommendations? Leave them in the comments!

3/08/2017

Garnier Ultimate Blends Marvellous Moisture Hair Balm First Impressions | Just Add Ginger


Garnier Ultimate Blends Marvellous Moisture Hair Balm - Just Add Ginger blog

My hair has always had a life of its own. Starting off as tight ringlets as a toddler, it is now a cross between curly and wavy, and rarely without at least one massive knot hidden at the back. Throw in several colour changes over the years, and it's fair to say that it is never wholly in tiptop condition. 

However, since introducing additional vitamins in to my diet, things seem to have improved slightly. I can now get away with washing my hair just once a week, and I've seen quite a lot of growth (even since my awful visit to the hairdressers in January, which I still can't talk about)! But the condition is still a touch questionable. Smooth and glossy one day to fried and frizzy the next - I just haven't been able to find the right balance. 

I've been using the Garnier Ultimate Blends shampoo and conditioner range for quite a while, with rather good results (albeit for a day or two) so during our latest "big shop" I decided to pick up one of their hair masks to try in place of my normal conditioner from the line. With options limited, I went for the Garnier Ultimate Blends Marvellous Moisture Hair Balm. Won over by the pretty packaging, affordable price and promise of rescuing my hair, I didn't really have a lot to lose. 

Garnier Ultimate Blends Marvellous Moisture Hair Balm - Just Add Ginger blog

With a subtle, salon-inspired fragrance akin to all the Ultimate Blends products, and silky consistency that glided onto my hair with ease, I jumped right in to lathering the product on my hair after an initial shampoo. Sectioning my hair into two parts and ensuring every strand was covered, During application I was surprised to see how so little product went such a long way. After coating all my hair, it barely looked like I had used any of the balm at all. Instantly, the words "bang for your buck" rang through my head - I think we all know by now that I am a sucker for a good bargain! Ignoring the 1-5 minute recommendation, I instead decided to leave the balm in for a few hours. My hair is so coarse and thick that just a few minutes wouldn't have done very much, but if you have a finer texture, then I think leaving it on for this amount of time would have been perfect.

After a few hours of sitting with the balm on, hair slicked back into a bun, it was time for a final rinse. Unsure as to whether it would be as easy to remove as it was to apply, I was ready to reach for my conditioner as soon as I hopped into the shower. But this was a totally unnecessary move, as the balm rinsed out my hair with relative ease, instantly leaving my hair feeling smoother. Although wet hair is nothing to go on really, it still left me with a feeling of hope that the end result would be the one I had been seeking. 

Fast forward to the next day, and a Jackie with dry locks, and my hair was definitely feeling happy. With a claim from Garnier on the packaging that the balm "....leaves hair feeling replenished with moisture and glowing with a gorgeous glossy shine." I was definitely impressed. Whereas normally a hairbrush would snag over knots, this morning it slipped over each strand without me wincing or hearing that dreaded sound as the brush caught a matted area.

Of course, it will take more than one test to see if the Garnier Ultimate Blends Marvellous Moisture Hair Balm solves my current hair woes, and even stands the test of time after I've popped (I've heard that your hair can go a bit crazy after you've had a baby - and that's without factoring in spit-ups and going days without having any motivation to even wash your hair)! But having said that, if first impressions are anything to go on, I have extremely high hopes for this being my treatment of choice when my hair needs some TLC. Affordable, with pretty packaging, and a result that met its promises, it's definitely going to be taking pride of place on my bathroom shelf, at the ready to rescue my hair in the lead up to heading to hospital. Cos if there's one thing I do know, it's that this mummy-to-be is going to pack in pamper time as much as she can!

3/05/2017

Third Trimester Update | Just Add Ginger


Just Add Ginger blog

At the start of my pregnancy, I had every intention of documenting it from start to finish. Not just as a part of my blog, but as a sort of diary to look back on in remembrance of what being a mummy-to-be for the first time felt like. However, if you've been following me for the past eight months, you'll know that things didn't quite go to plan all the time, and I became somewhat overprotective of myself and Baby Ginger. Not wanting to overshare, and partly living in fear waiting for the next bump in the road, I just didn't want to open up about positive things only to get struck down with negativity. 

However, being so close to the finish line I did want to share how things have been lately. As a first time mum I find it so difficult to source truly honest experiences of how pregnancy can be. And whereas it can all be very exciting, it can also be utterly terrifying!

Me:

I distinctly remember at the start of my third trimester, turning to Ryan and declaring how I thought this part of the pregnancy I would enjoy the most. My energy levels were on the up, and things had been pretty much smooth sailing. I had no complaints. Oh how naive I was!

Soon after making this statement. On New Year's Day to be exact, I ate my words. Falling arse over tit I somehow managed to trip on the stairs and tumble all the way down to the bottom with an almighty thump. I didn't fall on my belly, but instead landed on my knee and ankle, giving myself one hell of a fright, a horribly bruised knee, and an ankle that was puffy for a day and a bit! Not concerned for myself, but terrified I had hurt the baby, I was inconsolable. Fortunately I am surrounded by highly rational, sensible people, and after resting, and monitoring baby' movements, I was reassured that everything was okay. Surely after starting the third trimester with such a bang,, it would be easy-peasy from here, wouldn't it?

Well...not quite. The day before I was due to finish work to go on Maternity Leave, I found myself back in the hospital after having an episode of feeling less movement from baby! Again, I was petrified. Everything I had read seemed to indicate that babies should have a kick pattern established by this point, but Baby Ginger very much marched to the sound of his own drum. Unsure if he was napping, playing a joke on me, or trying to tell me something, that hour session hooked up to a fetal monitor was the longest of my life. Thankfully everything was okay and he seemed perfectly happy in there. Okay, so after this we could turn the eventfulness dial down couldn't we?

 Yeah, right!....A few weeks later I was struck down with what initially thought was a UTI. After a trip to the Drs, picking up antibiotics and heading home, my symptoms changed and got progressively more and more uncomfortable. In place of a constant urge to pee, my hands became covered in the most angry-looking rash that was incredibly itchy. I wanted to tear my skin off. Nothing eased the pain, and it kept me awake for two nights because I had to keep applying Aloe Vera, E45, Aqueous cream, then soak my hands in water in between taking paracetamol and antihistamine. After several subsequent visits to the Walk-In Centre and the Drs (again) it was deemed that somehow I had got hand foot and mouth disease! Not heard of it? Imagine the worst sunburn you can - that burning, itchy feeling that doesn't go away, and times it by ten! It was just horrible, and something I would not wish on anyone. 

After a week of looking like I had the plague, and having to be put in quarantine against the world, everything seemed to ease up a bit. I still had scabs on my face, hands and feet, but I felt a hell of a lot better! 

Aside from my apparent enjoyment of touring surgeries and hospitals, overall everything has been alright. My anxiety flares up from time to time, but I think after everything this is to be expected. I am definitely looking very, very pregnant right now, and am embracing everything that goes along with that - tiredness, constipation, back ache, and serious bouts of lightning crotch! Baby's movements are getting increasingly stronger and can be really uncomfortable, but overall I think I'm coping okay, considering I am completely feeling my way in the dark, don't have the highest pain threshold, and am susceptible to extremely unpredictable mood swings!

The next jobs are: finishing off the new nursery, sorting out my birth plan (we are awaiting an appointment with the consultant), packing my hospital bag (my first experience of Braxton Hicks made me want to finish that off sooner rather than later) and keep practising with the cot, car seat and nappy changing (I've already got my one-handed technique set). 

Baby: 

Baby Ginger seems perfectly content to be curled up in my belly. At every appointment his heart-rate has been strong, and my midwife has been happy. I was getting a little worried that he would have a giant head, but I'm told I'm on track for an average-sized baby. 

Baby loves it when I get in a warm bath, and enjoys getting my up the wall by insisting on having no kick pattern. But he does seem to really like it when he knows Ryan is around, and will nearly always kick when he feels his daddy's hand on my tummy. He gets the hiccups quite a lot, and loves the occasional head -banging session on my bladder, making me need the loo a lot. We are trying to educate him in our musical tastes, and he is often subjected to the likes of Slayer, Opeth, Ed Sheeran, Guns n Roses, and Smooth FM, We are hoping that with such an eclectic mix that anything will sooth him back to sleep rather than terrify him. We'll just have to wait until he's here to see who's musical taste he really prefers! 

Even though the third trimester so far hasn't been stress-free, I am increasingly looking forward to becoming a mummy, whilst hand in hand knowing I am really going to miss how it feels being pregnant. There's something really comforting about having your ow little in-house side-kick who never fails to make you smile with a kick, a prod, or even a big stretch that makes you feel like you are slap-bang in the middle of that scene in Alien. Pregnancy is hard work. but I wouldn't change it for the world! 

3/01/2017

Lunch At Yard & Coop Liverpool | Just Add Ginger


Yard & Coop Liverpool - Just Add Ginger

A few weeks ago, I was struck down with hand foot and mouth disease. After a really shitty week of isolation, hardly any sleep, skin that I wanted to tear off my body, and generally feeling sorry for myself, to say I had cabin fever was an absolute understatement! So in order to get some semblance of normalcy back, and to say thank you to Ryan for being an absolute hero for putting up with me and looking after me, I decided to take us to Yard & Coop as a bit of a lunchtime treat one Saturday. 

Yard & Coop has been top of the list of places I've wanted to try out since before Christmas. I was actually invited down to an event there in December but due to a combination of work and a family birthday I was unable to attend. But their menu stuck with me, and as a big fan of anything battered and chicken-y, I just knew I had to head down there at some point and see if the food tasted as good as it sounded.

Heading down the stairs to the main restaurant space, I was really impressed with how aesthetically pleasing everything was. Set in what looked like an old warehouse, the industrial-style fixtures and original building features made for an intimate and cosy atmosphere, which was added to by the inclusion of a designated "Coop" booth seating area towards the back of the restaurant. 

After spending most of the previous evening perusing the menu, there was no doubt about what I wanted to order. But with such a wide variety of dishes from which you could choose, Ryan asked for some guidance from one of the front of house team. With all dishes under £20, light bites, large plates and salads to sample, I think for a first-time visit it is definitely worth getting some input as to what some of the staff's recommendations are. If you're as indecisive as me, you could be sat there for a long time otherwise.

Yard and Coop Liverpool - Just Add Ginger

Yard and Coop Liverpool - Just Add Ginger

Fortunately, with choices narrowed down, we ordered quickly and waited for our food to arrive. At the time we went to Yard & Coop, it was relatively quite, and service was really prompt - something I was incredibly grateful for (don't cross a hangry heavily pregnant woman)! 

Deciding to try something a bit different, I opted for the "Not chicken nuggets" (aka crumb coated halloumi) with chips, a side of Mamma Mia sauce, and slaw. The only thing that was a little frustrating when it came to ordering was the selection of sauces. In between mega spicy ones, ones containing ingredients I can't have, and BBQ based options, choices were a tad limited. But this is no fault of Yard & Coop, and entirely circumstantial. (If I wasn't up the duff I would have nailed that blue cheese sauce!) Ryan went for the boneless thigh, chips and both Bourbon BBQ and Blue Cheese sauce coupled with a cheeky Gamma Ray

I think it's testament to how good a plate of food is if you get totally engrossed in eating and ignore everything else around you. And for the first few minutes this was definitely us. We must have looked like a right anti-social pair, but the food was just so delicious neither of us could help it. My haloumi came out hot, creamy and melt-in-the-mouth and really hit the spot, whilst Ryan boldly commented that the chicken was some of the best he has ever had. Of course with such a statement I had to have a nibble and it was really delicious - the perfect blend of succulent meat and crunchy crumb - definitely something I need to order for myself next time! 

I was really impressed with the portion size. It was perfect for lunchtime, and comfortably filling. Yeah, sure, I couldn't quite finish everything, but I'd rather that than to be left wanting. And I think for anyone else, the plate size would be perfect. Forever on the lookout for a new and affordable place to stop by when we're in town, where you always get bang for your buck, Yard & Coop definitely made it to one of the top spots. 

Even though our bellies were full, we just couldn't leave without having at least some kind of dessert. It was my duty as a food lover and blogger and a sacrifice that just had to be made! Deciding to be sensible and share, we opted for an Oreo milkshake. Incredibly smooth, without those annoying bits that clog up your straw, and undeniably more-ish, this was the perfect way to round off our meal. So involved in polishing off our shake we didn't even realise there had been a mix-up and we'd actually been given a Nutella one instead. It didn't bother us at all (we hadn't even noticed the difference in flavour) but it was lovely that the staff were so apologetic and willing to make us a new one. 

So, would I head back to Yard & Coop? Oh yes! I think the concept is just brilliant - the blend of chicken dishes and a super-cool setting make for a really refreshing change to our usual L1 haunts, and it's great knowing there'll always be something on the menu that I want to eat. And with a range of affordable dishes (I think the most expensive is £15.00) there is something to suit all budgets, whether for lunch, light bites or dinner. 

For more details about Yard & Coop, head over to their website. Headed there already? Let me know what your favourite dish was in the comments.