The Scouse Bird Salon - Liverpool's New Beauty Hotspot | Just Add Ginger

Let's start this post off with a little test....Close your eyes, think about the Liverpool blogging community and try to come up with three names that you think define it. I'll bet you anything Scouse Bird Problems is on that list. Launching her iconic Twitter account back in 2012 and since leaping into the forefront of the Liverpool blogging scene, Steph has worked exceptionally hard and over the past six years has forged herself a Scouse Bird empire that now comprises of social media accounts, her website, online store, and now - The Scouse Bird Salon.

scouse bird salon balloon

With the Scouse Bird Shop originally starting off as an online venture, Steph first opened the physical shop last year in the Rent-A-Centre in Aintree - a hop, skip and a jump away from Switch Island. The Scouse Bird Salon is an expansion. The OG stock is still there, but hand-in-hand with the shop there is now the salon, where customers can come and utterly spoil themselves. It's the most girly, glamorous and Instagrammable salon you'll ever see. And Steph has not held back. The salon delivers everything you could want out of a pamper hot spot. Offering hair, make up, tan and nail services it is a hub of all things beauty and means that if you've got a special event coming up, a big date, or you just want a day of escapism, the salon's got you covered.

interior of the scouse bird salon and shop, liverpool

Disney princess mural in the scouse bird salon, liverpool

When it comes to the salon's decor, it is pretty clear that from the moment you step through the front door you should feel like a celebrity. From the flirty floral archway into the salon itself to the funky mural on the back wall of all your favourite Disney princesses and the Insta-worthy backdrops that make the perfect place to snap your selfies, Steph really has thought of it all. And forget your clinical and cold feeling hairdressers that feel totally lacklustre. With the injections of colour and attention to detail you can imagine a real party atmosphere here. I get quite anxious when it comes to going to the hairdressers and I think a lot of it has to do with how pretentious places can feel but the vibe the salon gives is warm and welcoming and you can't help but smile just being there.

two ladies posing under floral archway at the scouse bird salon, liverpool
Photo: Jessi Lou Blog
Steph really pulled out all the stops for the launch of The Scouse Bird Salon, with a doughnut wall, photo booth, glasses of fizz and other delicious treats there for all the visitors to the salon to enjoy. You can tell she has put her heart and soul into making her vision a reality and the energy she brings with her is just infectious.

wall of rainbow doughnuts

ladies hand holding photo booth pictures
Photo: Jessi Lou Blog
But don't take my word for how fabulous the new salon is. Get your bum off your seat and get yourself down there for a pamper. But be quick - appointment slots are filling up fast! And with so much on offer in one spot I am really not surprised. I've already booked myself in for a cheeky little cut and blow dry in May and I can't bloody wait! Scouse Bird - you are the definition of a Girl Boss and I hope the salon is everything you dreamed it would be and more.

photograph of woman outside the scouse bird salon, liverpool
Photo: Jessi Lou Blog

So - Are you ready to treat your tresses to some TLC and make room in your diary for a much-deserved manicure? Click here to see all the available treatments at the salon. And if you're booked in already don't be surprised if you bump in to me there with Eric in tow. With the salon being my side of the city I can already see it becoming my second home!


Satisfying My Sweet Tooth With MIA Dark Chocolate* | Just Add Ginger

If there is one thing you need to know about me before diving head first into reading this posts, it's that I have the biggest sweet tooth. So give me the opportunity to try out a new brand and you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to grab it with open arms (and a growling belly). 

bars of MIA chocolate, white flowers and a candle

Offering a range of delicious dark chocolate, MIA (Made In Africa) 'works in collaboration with local communities and craftspeople in Africa to discover the best ingredients...' The ethos of the company is really admirable, operating a bean-to-bar production and adopting a '1 For Change' scheme that 'ensures 1% of all MIA sales are dedicated to development projects in places where a little goes a long way.'

I was very kindly sent three bars from the MIA range to try - the Coconut (which is 65% cocoa), 75% Cocoa & 100% Cocoa. Pretty much straight away I knew I couldn't just eat them all - I love me some  chocolate but 100% cocoa is just a little too dark for me. So instead I decided to sample a little of each bar, but put the darkest two to one side and use them to get my bake on and whip up some chocolate chip cookies for Ryan and I to share.

But before we get on to the flavour we need to talk about the packaging. Aren't these just the prettiest,   most sophisticated bars of chocolate you've ever seen? From the glittering gold accents to the complementing colour choices for the typography, the MIA packaging is a really sophisticated in an understated way. I love the way each bar has its own individual colour scheme, meaning they are easily identifiable if you are reaching for a particular one in the fridge. Instead of having an outer wrapper you have to tear open, there is a outer cardboard shell you can pop open and then a sealed inner wrapper. Ive never seen anything like this before but it really adds a unique touch to the brand that makes it seem a lot more exclusive - an element I personally really appreciate. 

The bar itself is also pretty unique. Instead of your run-of-the-mill squares, the MIA chocolate bars are shaped in a way that directly mirrors the packaging - four outer triangles and then a bigger slab in the middle. It's a really cool concept and sets the brand apart from others.

So on to the flavour. MIA do not mess around when it comes to flavour. Each bar is velvety smooth, rich and creamy, packing a real punch that sets your taste buds tingling. When it comes to the dark chocolate with coconut, the shavings are incredibly delicate, adding just a subtle hint of coconut flavour that works really well alongside the chocolate. The 75% cocoa was at the top of my intensity limits but still enjoyable and hitting the spot when it comes to sweetness. A little bit goes a long way so if you really need just a little something to satisfy a craving, this bar would really be your best friend. I did try a little nibble of the 100% prior to using it for baking and it was unlike any other chocolate I'd tried before. Far too intense for me to be able to eat but the richness made it perfect to have to hand to use in cakes and bakes.

It has been a long time since I put on my apron, rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in to some cookie making, but having such beautiful chocolate to use made the idea so much more appealing. Considering myself a cook rather than a chef I pulled up a quick cookie recipe online to follow, pulled out my mixing bowl and got to work, using a little of the 75% dark chocolate and the whole 100% bar for the biscuits. 

The chocolate was perfect to bake with. The intensity of the bars worked so well as chocolate chips, melted down smoothly and added a hint of bitterness to the sweet cookie batter. These were one of the best batches I've ever made and I attribute that to the quality of the MIA chocolate. The chunks stayed soft and gooey even after the biscuits had completely cooled and meant they kept that melt-in-the-mouth quality.

MIA is some of the best quality chocolate I have ever tried. They deliver more than just dark chocolate. Each bar has multiple layers of flavour that subtly reveal themselves as you eat. The bars are a little more on the premium end when it comes to price but I think you really are getting what you pay for - big flavours, good quality chocolate and a company that is passionate about supporting African communities (read more about the MIA story here). 

With a range of different flavours to choose from, what are you waiting for? Head over to the MIA website, take a peek for yourself and let me know which bars catch your eye in the comments below! 

*I was very kindly sent three bars of MIA chocolate to try and for review consideration. This does not affect my opinions. For more details please see my disclaimer.


What My Baby Eats In A Day | Just Add Ginger

When Eric first started on solid food I envisaged such a different weaning journey to the one we experienced. I pictured him eating all kinds of things, sharing our meals and trying out new flavours and textures daily. In reality Eric didn't cut his first tooth until he was 11 months old so for months and months everything had to be mushy and soft - and often out of a jar or pouch - rather than just prepared and put in front of him. At the time of writing this post Eric is now cutting another three teeth so I'm hoping this means we can switch up his eating a little bit to incorporate even more texture but for the time being, this is a general overview of what Mr One Tooth eats day-to-day. 

bowl of heinz summer fruit multigrain baby cereal and tub

two crumpets with peanut butter

Breakfast - Eric starts the day off with whole cows milk. This is usually about 7oz and we put his vitamin drops in this as this is currently the only drink he will sit and have in one go. He still has this feed in a bottle so while he is drinking up I usually change his nappy and get him dressed. 

About 30-45 minutes later Eric will have his 'proper' breakfast. We always try to leave a gap in between milk and solids because he does suffer from a little bit of reflux so having the two elements too close together means that there is the chance he may bring something back up. Typical breakfasts for Eric include: 

Baby cereal.
Toast and peanut butter. 
Scotch pancakes and 1/2 banana
Scrambled eggs and toast fingers. 

plate with crumpets and a sliced banana

plate of toast fingers and bow of fruit and yoghurt

Lunch - We are out and about pretty much everyday so what Eric has for lunch will depend on what our plans are. Eric loves his food so will happily gobble up most things you put in front of him. Again if we are out and about and somewhere that serves food I will try and find something on the menu Eric can have but I always carry a jar of baby food and plenty of snacks (crisps and fruit) with me....just in case. If we are at home, I tend to serve up: 

Avocado on toast. 
Buttery toast and a diced (very ripe) pear 
Pre-made baby food. 
Cream cheese on toast and a yoghurt. 
Mashed avocado and banana. 

plate of scrambled eggs and baked beans

bowl of baby food, yoghurt and beaker of water

Dinner - I can be a bit more varied with dinners. Our weekly shops revolve heavily around having Eric-friendly foods in stock so it is rare I am stuck for ideas. If we have opened a jar of baby food during the day he will finish this off, but if not I will often cook him something warm and comforting. We try and include Eric in what we are having as much as possible so that he isn't a fussy eater. It might not be that simple but so far there hasn't been a food he hasn't had a little go at eating. Dinners often are: 

Baked beans and toast fingers. 
Scrambled eggs and baked beans. 
Cheesy scrambled eggs on toast
Soft veg and a fish cake. 
or.... a small portion of what we are eating (if we are all eating together).

Just before bedtime we will give Eric another bottle of milk (8oz). He used to love drinking this but over the past few days he hasn't seemed that fussed by it so I don't know if he is dropping this feed. This does seem pretty early to me but if he's ready for it so be it. It just means I'll have to offer milk during the day and ensure he gets his calcium intake another way. 

Snacks - If my baby is hungry everyone knows about it. So having snacks to hand at all times is pretty much a necessity. I always have a bag of baby crisps in my pocket or in his changing bag, a banana and jar of food so that we are not caught out. I still don't really like Eric having sweet treats but if it is a special day I will let him have a few white chocolate buttons but as he doesn't seem that bothered by chocolate (which is exactly what I wanted) I only tend to offer these every once in a while and in very small amounts.

Drinks - We only offer Eric milk or water, both of which he loves. Finding a beaker he would accept for his water was a little tricky in the beginning but we soon realised he was really good at using a straw (I still don't know where he learnt that one) so picked up a cup from Mothercare with an inbuilt straw that we use for water. We are going to try transitioning him onto a beaker for his milk to see if he likes that better but of late nothing will coax him into having his last bottle so I'm not sure how to solve that one just yet.


10 Things I've Learnt About Motherhood | Just Add Ginger

It is true what they say - becoming a parent does change you, and in ways that you would never have dreamed. So inspired by an idea given to me by Sam - here are some of the biggest and most interesting things I've learnt about myself - and motherhood - over the past 12 months.

photograph of mother and baby boy laughing

1. You Master The Art Of Not Giving A Shit To Perfection - Since becoming a parent I have learnt that I really don't care what people think of me. Yes the vain side of me still likes getting compliments and feeling that I look good, but when it comes to life on a day-to-day basis, I no longer give two hoots. There seems to be the surge of confidence that has come over me since having Eric that means I don't really care about how the world sees me. I know I'm a good mum and a good wife and a good friend and a good person. That's all that matters.

2. You Learn Who Your True Friends Are - When you are a parent every part of your world changes, including your social circles. You no longer have the time to constantly make plans, meet up or travel, and when you do it often needs meticulous planning. You want to be there (and the FOMO is real) but you just can't be. And this means that friendships change and some of them may even disappear. And that's okay. Because it's the ones who stay firmly fixed, the ones who understand that your friendship has evolved into something new and embrace the new hat you wear, they are the ones who really matter.

3. You No Longer Have Time For Playground Games - Pettiness, being catty and holding on to the little things - you just don't want to know about them any more. There are much bigger and more important things to worry about and getting involved in childishness isn't one of them. Playground games and squabbles should stick to wear they belong....next to the hopscotch lines with the rest of the five year olds!

4. You Develop The Ability To Predict The Future - As a mum you have this sixth sense. You can see things happen before the do and avert disaster. I am constantly jumping up to move pieces of paper, books and toys out of Eric's way before he slips, stumbles or trips over them. The same goes for objects I know he's going to be tempted to stick in his mouth or mistake for food. As soon as I enter a room I instinctively scan it and hone in on the hazards and make the space safe or get things out of the way.

5. You Develop This Superpower To Power Through Hangovers - They don't happen as much as they used to, but when there are occasions when I've let my hair down and indulged in one too many glasses of red then the next day I somehow have this ability to just feel okay. Sure I might feel just the tiniest bit fuzzy but overall I seem to avoid the feeling of wanting to curl up in a ball and hibernate with a packet of crisps and a gallon of water. I don't know how it happens but it does, and it shocks me every time.

6. You Realise There's A Lioness Living Inside You You Never Knew Was There - I am so, so over-protective of Eric. Not in a stifling kind of way (I let him be as independent as possible) but in the sense that there is nothing I wouldn't do for him. All I want to do is love him and protect him from harm. I hate seeing him upset or in pain so if there's anything I can do to keep him happy and content, steady and safe then I am going to do it.

7. Talking About Bodily Functions Becomes Second Nature - The first question that normally gets asked when Ryan gets in from work is 'has Eric pooed today?' Talking about poop, wee, reflux and snot just becomes normality when you become a parent. Not just in between mums and dads but in front of anyone. Don't get me wrong I don't just randomly bring up my or my son's toilet habits as a conversation starter, but that prudishness (not that I really ever had that) that is centred around things like that seems to just slip away when you become a parent.

8. Instead Of Adding Things To Your Own Online Shopping Baskets, You Become Obsessed With Buying Things For Baby Instead - I used to love shopping for myself online, but now I'd much rather look at things for Eric. Not that he needs much - he has an enviable wardrobe full of cute clothes and never wants for toys, but it's like a compulsion. No matter how many items of clothing he has, I can always think of something he might need or that 'would be useful to have in stock.' You can't really blame me though - baby clothes are just too bloody cute to resist!

9. No Matter How Little You've Slept, You Still Manage To Act Fully Awake - I don't know if it's just me, but even though Eric is really a really good sleeper, I am not. I'm a light sleep anyway but now it seems like if there is just a tiny grunt or grizzle my eyes pop open and it takes me ages to settle. I even sometimes hear phantom noises and convince myself it's Eric (the other night I mistook a rustling piece of rubbish outside for him crying). This means that sometimes the amount of shut-eye I get is really minimal. However, whether I've had a good night's kip or not, come the morning I am awake and back to being 'Silly Mummy'. Now that Eric is mobile I don't have a choice. He needs chasing, entertaining and to be taken to classes. He doesn't understand if I have zero energy. All he understands is that I'm here, so no matter what, I need to stay full of beans.

10. Life Takes On A Whole New Meaning - Before Baby you live a somewhat 'selfish' life. You can go anywhere you want and do anything you want because all you have to worry about is number one. But when you have a little one everything you do becomes about them. Anytime we want to go somewhere the first thing we think about is if it is Eric-friendly. Weekends we would have spent just lounging about on the sofa and doing nothing are now filled with trips out, nature walks and family coffee dates. Eric is the centre of our universe and we plan everything with him in mind so that he has the best and most exciting time.


Lush Sleepy Body Lotion | Just Add Ginger

If you have followed me and my journey through my first year of motherhood then you will know that Eric is a baby who constantly fights his sleep. It has gotten better as time has gone on, with now only a few naps being a battle and bedtimes being a war of willpower but when things were really bad, we were willing to try anything to try and get a bedtime routine in place that would actually work.

Last year it seemed like everyone was talking about the Lush Sleepy Body Lotion. After reading nothing but good things, I knew the next time I was in the city centre I needed to pop into Lush and do a little investigating of my own. After talking to one of the sales assistants to ensure the lotion would be gentle enough for baby's skin I left with a tub in my hand and all my fingers crossed. This was during one of the dreaded 'sleep regression' phases and I was clinging on to the last shreds of hope I had that this would turn things around for us and save me from constantly falling asleep on the sofa before 8.30pm every night.

tub of sleepy body lotion by lush and a 'baby bot' bath bomb

But before we get into how Sleepy plays its part in Eric's bedtime routine, we need to talk about the scent of the lotion. In a word it is beautiful. I am a massive, massive fan of the Luxury Lush Pud and this body lotion is a dead ringer in my eyes for it. The lavender notes really carry through, but not in an overpowering, old lady smell kind of way. They are creamy and gentle and delicious - intoxicatingy so! It lingers on the skin long after application and every time a little bit tickles your nostrils you just can't help but smile, take a deep breath, and let your troubles slip away.

The formulation of the lotion is just as lovely. It is rich but not thick, and absorbs really quickly which is so handy if you have a baby who doesn't like to keep still. It makes Eric's skin feel instantly soft and nourished and doesn't leave that tacky, sticky feeling that clings to clothes and leaves you feeling really uncomfortable (I don't think he'd thank us if we used anything on him that did that)! 

open tub of sleepy lotion from lush

Unlike some babies, Eric doesn't have a bath every night. It's just not something that is feasible for us to do. Ryan isn't always home before Eric's bedtime and I still feel a bit nervous bathing him on my own. Plus E has quite sensitive skin and we are conscious that too many baths could make it dry out. So instead we have put things in place that created that element of relaxation in other ways. And the Sleepy body lotion plays a big part in that. 

5pm marks the start of what I call 'pyjama time.' Eric will have dinner, the noisy toys will go away and we will try and evoke a more calming atmosphere for him. Sometimes we will watch a film (usually Moana, Aladdin or The Gruffalo) or we will play together quietly and read books. Then it's time to put his pjs on. I'll massage the Sleepy lotion into his arms and legs, apply some to his back and chest, paying close attention to his elbows and knees, and then dab a bit under his ears and chin so that he can smell it. Lights in the living room go out and he has his final bottle and we brush his teeth before heading up to his room to have a story (we're currently reading him The Wind In The Willows) and then go to bed.  

Having the Sleepy Body Lotion in our routine has become second nature now and I think Eric has started to recognise that when we put the lotion on him it's definitely his wind down time. I can't speak for Ryan but I have definitely noticed a difference since we started using it and it certainly fills the gap of having a daily bath. We do only tend to apply it at bedtime rather than after baths too just so that there is a distinction (personally bathing Eric in the morning or during the day tends to work better for us). And the scent of it? Oh. My. God. One sniff alone is enough to make me feel relaxed so I can only imagine the effect it has on little one.

Have you tried Lush's Sleepy Body Lotion? What did you think?


What Eric Got For His Birthday | Just Add Ginger

I've always been a bit unsure about posting 'What I Got For My...' posts, but as the years have gone on I've seen them as less of a boast and more as inspiration. And this one is no exception. Before having Eric I was pretty dreadful at knowing what to buy for babies or children, so as well as this post being a bit of a thank you, it will also - hopefully - be one that gives you some ideas about gifts you can get any little ones you know if you are finding yourself at a bit of a loss.

baby boy looking at cake at cake smash

From Us - 
We decided that we didn't really want to get Eric any conventional presents and instead opted for ones that he could take with him throughout his life. After having had such an amazing experience with Songfinch I decided to order from them again, this time for a song for Eric based on this blog post. And once again I was completely blown away with the results and bawled my eyes out on hearing it. I also decided to send off some of his first clothes to be turned into a weighted keepsake from Baby Threads Keepsakes. This has not yet arrived yet but I can't wait to see how it turns out. And of course there was the cake smash we had for him back in March. Not wanting to leave him without something to open on his birthday, we wrapped up a little box of dinosaur board books I'd picked up in TK Maxx. 

From Friends And Family - 
Eric - so far - hasn't really been one to have an attachment to toys. He will play with them for a few minutes or take an interest in one you have or even just walk around clutching one but he is just too inquisitive to stay still for long. It was my fear that he would be given hundreds of toys that he would never play with but in fact everybody who gave him a gift did really, really well

'Big' Presents - Offering to buy something helpful, my parents bought Eric his new wardrobe. This really helped with making his room toddler-ready and has meant that all of his clothes are now stored in the one place. The one Ryan and I chose was the Ikea Busunge which fits the space we envisaged for a wardrobe and the style means that it will grow with Eric and therefore last longer. 

One of the gifts Ryan's parents bought Eric was a little play gym for the garden. It is by Little Tikes and made from thick plastic, with holes to climb through, a platform and a small slide. It hasn't quite been the weather for it yet but I can't wait to set it out on the grass and let Eric explore it and use it for role play (it would make a great castle or pirate ship). 

selection of books for babies

selection of children's clothes

selection of baby toys

Books, Toys And Baby Clothes - Our little boy absolutely loves books. From turning the pages to reading together and bedtime stories, books are something that bring Eric a lot of joy. And for his birthday he got some really lovely ones to add to his collection. And there were no duplicates! I've separated them out (Eric is pretty heavy-handed so we keep less durable books hidden away to be read under supervision) and we have already looked at some but I know he is going to love them all. 

When it comes to clothes Eric is at a awkward stage where some clothes barely fit and others swamp him. Which means that we are always in need of something because he outgrown a pair of joggers / several babygrows seemingly overnight. For his birthday he received several clothing items that are all in the size he is currently in so he is going to get a lot of wear out of all of them. 

And finally toys..... Without giving much direction, everyone nailed it when it came to choosing what to get Eric. From a noisy fire engine to a knitted cat, wooden crane, a talking torch, a bouncy dog and bath toys, each gift was something new that we can put into rotation. 

If you are on the hunt for something to buy baby for their birthday and you're not quite sure what to get, I'd definitely recommend reaching out and asking their mum or dad what would be useful. Toys often come with the ages they are recommended for which can be confusing, but I always take these as more of a guideline (it is stage not age after all). Babies are so fickle too and their tastes and preferences are always so it is always good to check whether they are still liking playing/watching/reading (fill in blank here) or if they have moved on to something new. 

I just wanted to put a little note in this post to say thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes to Eric on his special day. It really meant a lot to us. Thank you also to our friends and family and all of those who bought Eric gifts. You are all so kind and each present was very thoughtful. I'm sorry I couldn't feature them all individually in this post (it would be so long if I did) but please know that we cherish everything he was given and cannot express our love and gratitude enough! - Jackie O xo 


Eric's 1st Birthday Party | Just Add Ginger

I started thinking about Eric's birthday party months ago. His first birthday fell at such an awkward time that dates we could hold the festivities were really slim (his birthday itself was on Easter Monday and the Grand National was scheduled for a few weeks afterwards). So we needed to fix a date and give guests enough time to book tickets and/or accommodation before prices went sky high. 

baby boy wearing birthday crown and looking thoughtful

When it came to a theme I didn't want to do anything too over the top. Eric isn't at an age yet where he is 'obsessed' with anything and I never like things to look too fussy anyway. The only thing I was pretty decided on was that I wanted to incorporate a few elements that were inspired by 'The Gruffalo'. Although fickle when it comes to things he likes to watch and not really bothered by the TV, 'The Gruffalo' has always fascinated Eric and he will actually stand and watch it. 

So I jumped straight onto Amazon and searched for 'party packs'. Ideally I wanted something that I could order that contained all the decorations we would need so that I didn't have to hunt around for bits and pieces that all matched. Thankfully I found exactly what I was looking for (you can check it out here), and the morning of the party me, my friend and Ryan spent an hour or so unfolding tissue paper pom-poms, blowing up balloons and threading ribbon through a DIY Happy Birthday banner. We then picked up two giant balloons from Hobby Craft (a 1 and an E) and the decorating was complete. 

I took the same 'as easy as possible' approach when it came to ordering party food. Nearly everything was ready-to-eat, with only a few bits needing to be cooked, and nibbles that were as baby-friendly as possible. Prior to the party I reached out on social media and asked about food ideas that could be related to 'The Gruffalo' and these things were marked with a little label on the buffet table (with the actual food written underneath to avoid confusion). 

the gruffalo birthday cake

gruffalo cake figurine

Eric's birthday cake was made by one of my close friends who is really talented when it comes to baking and cake decorating. She hid herself away in the kitchen the day before to tackle the majority of the cake and then finished off little elements of decoration the morning of the party.

When it came to Eric's outfit I decided to treat him to something special. Having discovered The Monochrome Baby through somebody I follow on Instagram I put in an ordered for a personalised t-shirt. Pairing this with a pair of jeans, a cardigan and his bib from Totally Bows & Co* it meant that he was in clothes he could move freely in and stayed comfortable all day.

The afternoon seemed to just fly by. The house was jam packed full of friends, family and children and everyone seemed to be having a good time which is exactly what we wanted. After nearly a week of suffering with his teeth, Eric rallied himself and lasted for the whole party without whinging or having a nap. Staying true to himself the smiles he cracked were few and far between, but you could tell he was so excited to be the centre of attention and have so many people around him. He also loved interacting with the other children that were there and watching what they were doing, even managing to sit for a photograph with all his cousins. 

I wanted to make everyone feel as at home as possible, so we opened Eric's nursery for all our guests who had babies and young children so that if anybody needed to feed or there were any nappy changes there was a quiet place to do so. I set up the room to be as accessible and inclusive as possible, with toys, lotions, potions, wipes and books to hand that everyone was free to use. I also made a little sign for the door for anybody who was breastfeeding to stick up in case they wanted extra privacy.

As everybody left they were handed a party bag to take home. It was only a little token and had a packet of sweets, a cake bar and a little 'thank you' photo postcard in it of Eric but I just wanted all our guests to go home with a little memento of the day. I did separate party bags for the children too with a few extra bits in. 

Not really knowing the correct etiquette when it comes to children's parties we put gifts and cards to one side and opened them when everybody had gone home. It was really overwhelming to unwrap everything and see how well our friends knew Eric or had picked up on things we had said about him because all the presents were spot on. 

baby boy sitting on his father's knee

I'm not going to lie, planning Eric's party was pretty stressful and was quite draining, but things could not have run more smoothly. There isn't a single thing I would have changed. Although we're thinking about keeping it rather low-key next year and sticking to having just a family meal. Don't get me wrong it was nice playing hostess to everyone but I am still knackered from it all now. So throw in a walking, talking toddler into the mix and I think if we had a birthday party for Eric next year I'd probably have to hibernate for a week afterwards!

Images in this post c/o Sarah


A Very Special Day | Just Add Ginger

I've said it before and I'll say it again - when you have a baby you can never have plans, only ideas. Whenever you need to go out or be somewhere things never run smoothly - there will be an unexpected nappy change, a sleeping child, a forgotten change of clothes.... it's always just best to set yourself up for the day with the best intentions and then just wing it as you go. 

And this was so true for Eric's birthday. Falling on Easter Monday and our wedding anniversary we wanted to do something super-special to mark the occasion. So it was decided that - weather permitting - we would head off to Chester Zoo for the day. 

baby boy smiling and looking off into distance

baby boy wearing birthday crown surrounded by toys and looking off camera

Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans. With snow being threatened for the Easter weekend we woke up instead on the morning of E's birthday to rain pelting it down from the sky. Ordinarily this wouldn't stop us from heading out, but we knew that in reality there was no feasible way we could make going to the zoo work. The animals would undoubtedly want to find shelter, Eric couldn't toddle about and he wouldn't be able to see too much from the pushchair with the rain cover on it. 

So instead we had to stay put and spend the day in the house. And this is something I dread. Baby Ginger is so independent now that if we ever have to have a whole day at home we just spend it chasing him round the living room, trying to stop him emptying all the cupboards and hiding things he will inevitable try and eat. However, preempting a day of absolute chaos, the Saturday before Ryan and I decided to pick up some baby-friendly craft supplies so that if our ideas (and patience) started to run thin, we could squeeze in round the dining table and indulge in some mark making, drawing and colouring in. 

baby boy wearing blue and gold glittery crown and looking to camera

baby boy smiling

In the morning we brought Eric downstairs so that he could open the cards and presents we already had here. Completely confused by the fuss we were making over sheets of brightly coloured paper and envelopes he was more taken with crawling round and playing. Taking the opportunity to exchange our own cards, we all then headed into the kitchen to have a family breakfast, with pancakes on the menu for Eric and mugs of steaming hot coffee for us. 

The hours passed so quickly and it was actually really nice to spend some time together being busy doing nothing. Eric went down for a nap in the latter part of the morning and then Ryan's parents popped round to see the birthday boy and deliver presents. We brought out a little cupcake with a candle on it and sang Happy Birthday and then headed out to visit Ryan's sister, our brother-in-law and niece. Not content with all the food he had already eaten during the day, Eric decided to spend our time there walking round and eating all the food he could spot. 

baby boy looking at a candle on a chocolate cupcake

baby boy looking at a candle on a chocolate cupcake

baby boy eating chocolate cupcake

Seizing the opportunity to snatch some time during the day that was just for us, after the visit we sent Eric off with Ryan's parents for an hour or two, giving us the chance to cook an anniversary meal, eat it in peace, and start the new Murder On The Orient Express, which I had been dying to watch.

Going to the zoo would have been a brilliant day out, but we actually had a really lovely day celebrating our two special occasions. Still - I'm keeping everything crossed for a rain-free day next year. With Eric already a confident walker, if we have to stay in next year we'll probably be trying to coax him down from the curtain pole because he's decided to go for a climb or something! 

Fellow mummies - what did you do for your baby's first birthday?


Eric's One Year Update | Just Add Ginger

It's so strange to think that this time last year I was in my very first week of motherhood. Back then I was still in shock, with a million new questions running through my head every day and jumping at the slightest little snuffling sound.

Fast forward to now and I'm still in shock. I just cannot believe how quickly this past year has gone. When people say 'cherish the first year it goes so quickly' you scoff a little and think 'yeah right' but it really is so true. A couple of weeks ago Ryan and I were putting some of Eric's things into storage and we both got a bit sad. He's not a baby anymore. He's a little boy now. And that is just terrifying to think about.

photo of baby holding a wooden letter N and smiling

When it comes to Eric he definitely doesn't conform to any preconceived notion I had of what life was going to be like with a baby. He often disregards the whole concept of having a 'routine' and instead we find ourselves having to adjust times for feeds, naps and activities just so that we can keep up with him. He's constantly on the go, is incredibly independent and hates to be held back. Toys often lay forgotten on the floor because he would rather be investigating the living room, emptying cupboards or reaching for things he knows he shouldn't have.

A good little eater and hardly ever fussy, Eric is on three meals a day, with a bottle of cow's milk in the morning and at bedtime. The Tommee Tippee Prep Machine and steriliser are packed away and soon we will have to start transitioning him on to beakers and cups. 

Nap times are going better and there's peace throughout the night. Baby tantrums have started but we know he doesn't understand why just yet. I say 'no' about twenty times a day and watch The Gruffalo at least once. I chase him round the living room during nappy changes and he still hates getting dressed. He doesn't really care for lots of cuddles during the day but when he starts getting sleepy we will snuggle up together and it is the best feeling in the world. 

The past year of parenthood has been the biggest rollercoaster. But in between the meltdowns and the mistakes it is by far the best thing I've ever done. Eric is both a little treat and a little tinker and I wouldn't change him at all. 

To hear more about Eric's first year, from favourite foods to foot size, give the video below a little watch where I go into a lot more detail - 


A Letter To My 1 Year Old | Just Add Ginger

Dear Eric, 

Tomorrow you turn 1. It's going to sound so cliché but it is honestly crazy how fast the past year has flown. This time last year I was breathing through contractions and longing for you to be in my arms. It seems like both two seconds and a lifetime ago since I cuddled you for the first time. You were so small - a 6lb 11oz bundle, with rosy cheeks and big dark eyes and I just couldn't get my head around the fact that you were finally here. 

bay sitting on mother's knee

baby boy pulling tongues - just add ginger blog

Sometimes your daddy and I sit back and scratch our heads at how we created something so beautiful. You are the funniest, craziest, happiest little boy and you make us proud every single day. It is a joy to just sit and watch you learn and grow. From the perfectly-timed gurgles and baby farts you do to break the tension and the sleepy snuggles we have before bedtime to the way you love playing peek-a-boo and never sitting still we cannot imagine what life was like before you were born. You are the jigsaw piece we didn't realise we were missing and you have made me and your daddy complete. 
Not every day is easy. You are the worst for fighting your sleeps and if you don't nap then you are grumpy for the rest of the day. But even when times are tough you still manage to crack that gorgeous grin and muster a smile. You are an unstoppable ball of excited energy and it's rare for you to be unhappy for too long.

You love to explore and investigate everything around you. Toys are often left to one side because you would much rather walk around the living room or try to climb the chimney or sometimes just sit and look and listen. You love looking at books and being read stories, often taking yourself off to choose your favourites or drift off to sleep as you listen to mummy or daddy read. 

Wherever we go you seem to light up the room and make everybody smile. You have the cheekiest grin and a mischievous twinkle in your eye that everyone loves. You enjoy being around other people and children (especially other babies), often trying to catch up with them all and join in the fun. When we go to classes most of the other babies sit still and listen but you are happiest when you are on the move and walking round to say hello to everyone. 

Becoming your mummy is the best thing I have ever done and you have taught me so much. There have been some times over the past year where I feel I have let you down, but it is because of you that I have had the strength to pick myself up. 

You make all my days so much brighter just by being in them. Every morning I find myself desperate for you to wake up so I can see you and I miss you when you are asleep at night. Seeing the world through your eyes is so wonderful and I always try to make every day as magical as I can. You are the light of my life - I could not love anybody more than I love you and just thinking about it makes my heart want to burst. 

baby boy crawling - just add ginger blog

There are times when I look at you and I feel sad because you aren't my little baby anymore. You are a little boy - independent, inquisitive and full of personality. But then I remind myself that there are so many exciting times to come. There are so many adventures to be had and I cannot wait to share them all with you. 

With all my love, now and forever, 

Mummy xxx