Wednesday, 30 March 2016

babymoon: Manchester

With 13 weeks to go until our baby's due date, the husband and I headed off for a mini babymoon at the weekend. We decided to have a final frivolous night away before the mayhem hits! As well as taking advantage of the long weekend.

We had a few criteria: it needed to be fairly close to home, fairly cheap and somewhere we knew we would enjoy. We hit upon Manchester. I hadn't been to Manchester until about 18 months and immediately loved it.

I did some research on hotels and their amenities and their prices. With only a few days until we wanted to go, nowhere was a bargain as such. But we did find that a hotel I'd been wanting to stay at for a while was almost the same price as some of the more bargain chains. So we booked four star hotel, The Midland.

Opened in September 1903, The Midland was built by the Midland Railway to serve Manchester Central railway station, its northern terminus for its rail services to London St. Pancras.

The hotel boasts The Spa at The Midland which offers treatments, a steam room, relaxation area, pool and much more. We made use of the pool on Monday morning before we checked out - I particularly liked the rainfall showers in the changing rooms!

We spent our 24 hours mainly chilling out and eating. I feel like a very bad blogger as I took nearly no photos the whole time we were away! Only the one above of the hotel and this one of my virgin cocktail on Sunday night in The Botanist.

What can I say? We were clearly too busy enjoying ourselves! But I am slightly annoyed that I didn't get a photo of my Sunday night outfit as I made quite an effort to dress up - even doning a black body con dress! Oh well.

After cocktails (served alongside honey and mustard sausages!!), we had a long and rather decadent dinner at Jamie's Italian before retiring.

On Monday we spent the morning at The Spa before hitting town for a spot of shopping before our babymoon was over and we were on our way home.

Monday, 28 March 2016

3 things: I miss about not being pregnant

Last week I posted about 3 things I was missing because I'm pregnant. I quickly realised that there were a few more...

3 things i miss cos i'm pregnant

  1. A cup of coffee. Particularly my morning coffee. I know I could still have a coffee once a day - or even, occasionally - but before I was pregnant, I used to have 4-5 cups a day to get me through the day. When I first found out I was pregnant, I came down with flu and completely went off coffee. Once I was feeling a bit better, I decided not to go back on it at all. But I do miss it.
  2. High heels. My feet are already a bit swollen and bloated and even some of my flat shoes aren't very comfortable anymore. High heels are definitely out of the question. I didn't really wear heels that often before I was pregnant, but I miss dressing up in them now.
  3. A good night's sleep. This is the thing I'm missing the most! My back and hip pain wakes me but even before that started, my hormones were waking me up every few hours during my first trimester. For someone who used to sleep like a log for eight hours a night, this was a shock to the system.

Friday, 25 March 2016

style: stripes for every season

Last week we took advantage of the gorgeous spring-like weather with a trip to see our local rugby team, as well as a trip to the park with our niece and nephew.

I rocked out my new Marks and Spencer striped tee – picked this up in their recent sale. I like the bright turquoise coloured stripes and the longer length which helps to cover my bottom in the leggings. Now these leggings we need to talk about! I’ve tried a few pairs of maternity leggings now. I’ve got a couple of pairs from George at Asda and they are fine but they are quite see-through. These are from Matalan. They are a lot thicker and the fabric is so so soft.

I’m also wearing my Clarks Glove Puppet trainers. They no longer do the leopard print version (these are a few seasons old) but they do have a few pairs I’m coveting right now:

Clarks glove puppet trainers

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

top tips: 5 products you need to style a fringe

A fringe is a great way to create a new look without loosing any length in your hair style. If you've taken the leap and had a fringe cut, you might suddenly be wondering how you style it and what you need to style it.  I blogged about my inspiration and ideas for a fringe at the weekend.

I realised that once the baby arrives I will have little no time to wash my hair, let alone style it. So I decided that three months out from the big due date, I would mix up hair style a bit and add a fringe. I've had a fringe before and know that they take a little extra attention so thought that while I was still able, I'd change it up.

There are a few tools and products that really help when it comes to a fringe:

  1. Hair dryer. Even if, like me, you're unable to give yourself anything close to a professional blow dry, your fringe will be somewhere you can excel. I'm rubbish at blow drying my hair but I am ok at my fringe. I tend to clip the top layer of my fringe back and then blow dry the bottom layer first. Make sure to point the nozzle down the hair from the roots. Dry to one side and then to the other side, to ensure it moves freely.
  2. Round brush. I swear by my large round brush to give my fringe a good amount of bounce. As I'm blow drying the fringe, I use this underneath the layers. I swear by my Denman Head Hugger brush for this - it also helps to blow dry the sides of my hair well too.
  3. Straighteners. If I want my fringe to last all day, rain or shine, I run the straighteners over my fringe too. It helps to "finish" the look.
  4. Dry shampoo. Your fringe sits right on your forehead, right where you'll likely have applied day cream, foundation and possibly even powder. You might also, like me, find yourself playing with your new fringe more than normal. All of this equates to a quickly greasy fringe. Yuck! Dry shampoo is a godsend. Keep a small can in your handbag for daytime touch ups, if necessary. I love Batiste dry shampoo for their really affordable collection and extensive fragrance range.
  5. Grooming brush. Keep a grooming brush handy throughout the day to keep your fringe looking smooth and sleek. Also, you'll find your new fringe is a little susceptible to any gusts of wind. Denman grooming brushes are my favourite - they offer a really affordable collection. If you're after something more high end, you could try Mason Pearson who are famous for their grooming brushes.
  6. Hair spray. Ok, so that makes six - I know! But if you find your fringe is splitting during the day, spritz a little hair spray over it and it should stay as you want it all day.

Monday, 21 March 2016

#3things: I'm craving right now

I didn't get any pregnancy cravings in the first trimester because I was busy being sick most of the time. The first half of the second trimester was pretty much the same. So it's been strange suddenly finding myself craving foods.

3 things i'm craving right now

  1. Right now, I'm constantly craving mango. It's weird because I'll be honest, they were not my favourite fruit before I was pregnant - I always found them a bit slimy and stodgy. But now I can't get enough of them!
  2. Lasagne is something I did crave a lot in the first trimester. Carbs in general - pasta, bread, potatoes, etc.
  3. Melon. Like the mango, I can eat a lot of this right now. Unlike the mango, I was more of a fan before I was pregnant. I think the melon (and maybe the mango too) might be a water/hydration thing?

Sunday, 20 March 2016

style: new hair do inspiration

I'm in need of a new hair do. This happens every 6-12 months that I suddenly decide to do something different. Last summer, after my wedding and honeymoon, I chopped my long hair off into a bob. I loved the freedom it gave me for the summer and the fact that it completely changed my look. Since Christmas I've been gradually growing out the bob (it is now shoulder length) so that when baby arrives, I can tie it up and hide the fact that I've not washed it for days! For now, though, without a baby in tow, I figure I can have one last style (for a while) that needs a bit of effort. So I've gone for a fringe. I'm not new to a fringe, I've had them before and I always love them for a bit and then grow them out.

Of course, a new do requires a Pinterest board - here is some of my fringe inspiration:

fringe benefits

All images via Pinterest

Friday, 18 March 2016

style: Next maternity jeans

I bought my first piece of maternity clothing at 14 weeks. It felt like it was really early but my skinny jeans were feeling very skinny and as I was still suffering from nausea, I wanted something that felt more comfortable around my middle. So my first maternity purchase was a pair of jeans and they were a revelation. A friend of mine who was nearing the end of her pregnancy at the time said she’d gone out at 14 weeks and bought new jeans, a size up from usual, only to then have to buy maternity jeans a few weeks later. I figured I may as well save my pennies and just take the plunge!

I've tried two different brands so far: H&M and Next.

The Next jeans (that I'm wearing in these photos) are more of a geniune denim which makes them a little less stretchy but the big bonus of the Next jeans is that they come in different leg lengths! For a short girl, different leg lengths is a must! I usually have to do a DIY turn up job on my jeans! The Next jeans also have a button on the lower waistband - in addition to the over the bump band.

Next (!!) up, I want to get a pair of their black leggings style jeans which I think will be a little more flexible.

I'm wearing: Next maternity jeans, Matalan maternity top (I love the scooped hem of this top - plus it was only £8!), Mango leather jacket (like cardigans, I'm making use of pre-maternity jackets and just not doing them up) and Superego trainers.

*Disclosure: I was sent the Next maternity jeans to try but all views are my own.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

pregnancy progress: busy b pregnancy journal

I'm a complete stationery addict - I love all things, pens, paper, notebooks, etc. So when I spotted this post over on Oh So Amelia, I knew I just had to have the Busy B pregnancy journal.

I love being able to document how I’m feeling and what I’ve been doing throughout my pregnancy – partly the reason I started this blog too!

There are four sections in the journal: a diary section with a page per week to document thoughts, feelings, etc, a notes section, a birth plan section and an early days section to document those first few days of motherhood.

I didn’t get this until a bit later into my pregnancy but I have managed (through looking at texts to my mum!) to update quite a few of the earlier weeks.

It will be a great record to look back on after the baby arrives - when the pregnancy is nothing more than a distant memory!

This week I've reached week 25. I had my home visit from my midwife this week. We heard ourbaby's heartbeat for the first time which was pretty special. She also confirmed what I already knew - he/she is very active!

Unfortunately she did find some glucose in my urine sample so she's sending me for a diabetes test. This pregnancy isn't really turning out quite as I envisgaed. I think I imagined glowing my way through and instead I've found it a bit of a struggle.

Don't misunderstand me, I feel incredibly lucky to be carrying this baby - it just isn't quite as easy as I'd envisaged. But then maybe if we knew how it was going to be, we wouldn't do it.

I'm still struggling with the SPD. I tried to go to an aqua exercise class last week but it left me so achy and my hip so painful for two days after that I could barely sleep - so I won't be going back to that. I will keep with the pregnancy yoga that seems to be helping and with walking.

I'll be trying to change my diet a little over the next few weeks - trying to cut out sugar and carbs. I'll post how I'm getting on with that and any recipes I find to help along the way.

In lighter news, we have started to create our baby's nursery. We've moved the spare bed out (into what was the office/guitar room!) and have moved in a chair and a chest of drawers. My mum and I went shopping for the cot and that is now ready and waiting for dad-to-be to put it together! It's starting to feel even more real!

Brilliant blog posts on

Monday, 14 March 2016

#3things: I miss about not being pregnant

Sitting on the sofa the other evening, watching TV and thinking about how things have changed over the past few months and that got me thinking about the things I miss...

3 things i miss cos i'm pregnant

  1. Brie - this is a weird one. I wasn't ever really that into brie before (I mean, I'd eat it and enjoy it) but almost the minute that I found out I was pregnant, I wanted brie - A LOT! Go figure!
  2. Prosecco. This really isn't a weird one. For anyone who knows me, they'll know that I love prosecco! A glass of gorgeous fizzy bubbles is my idea of perfection. I miss that. A LOT.
  3. My waist. Admittedly, this isn't quite how my waist looked before bump appeared but I really don't think I made the most of having a waist when I wasn't pregnant! I intend to change that after this little one is born!

Friday, 11 March 2016

style: poncho

Last week I posted the six pieces (maternity and non-maternity) that are seeing me through my pregnancy right now. In addition, during the winter months, I’ve found my collection of non-maternity ponchos have come in handy. They are so easy to layer over a long sleeved t-shirt (either maternity or non-maternity) and leggings or skinny jeans.

See what I mean in these photos! Just please excuse the silly poses!

I’m wearing an H&M non-maternity poncho (£7 in the sale – still in some stores), H&M maternity jeans, Clarks ankle boots and Next bobble hat. Underneath I’ve layered an old Primark t-shirt that has enough stretch to go over my bump (which feels huge right now!). The poncho still has loads of growing room – I’m hoping it’ll see me through to the warmer months.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

brand: Isabella Oliver - plus 20% off discount code

One of my favourite non-maternity brands is Baukjen. Baukjen was launched in 2009 by the founder of maternity brand Isabella Oliver to provide fans with a ready-to-wear collection that would work all of the time. Baukjen originally launched as Isabella Oliver 365 but three years later rebranded as Baukjen, after Baukjen De Swaan Arons, the creative brains behind both brands.

So it was only natural that when I found out I was pregnant, I would look to the maternity collection by Isabella Oliver to get me dressed.

In their own words, Isabella Oliver creates effortless outfits you can wear again and again. Prints are pared-back, colour palettes are subtle and every piece must pass their "can I wear this 100 times?" test.

They know that your body and tastes constantly change throughout your pregnancy. Whatever your preference, they design shapes that fit you perfectly, in fabrics that grow as you do.

Isabella Oliver source the finest quality fabrics. The ones that are kind to sensitive skin, wash well and flatter you completely – at every stage of pregnancy. While you look after your bump, their clothes look after you.

If you're looking for wardrobe essentials that will see you through your pregnancy, for work, for play, for dressing up and for dressing down, then look no further than Isabella Oliver.

The best thing too, is that the clothes at Isabella Oliver are designed to grow with your bump but also to fit post-pregnancy too. So you're investing in pieces that will last beyond the nine months.

I've picked out my top three favourite pieces from the collection that will help to build the foundations of your maternity wardrobe:

isabella oliver top maternity pieces

  1. The Betty Stripe dress is perfect for a growing bump. Stripes are always in style and this dress could be dressed up for the office - add a blazer and a pair of flat or heeled court shoes - or dressed down for the weekend - just add a pair of your favourite trainers and a denim jacket and you're good to go. This is top of my list right now!
  2. The Harris maternity cardigan is a great but that will certainly see you well beyond your bump. It's a great cover-up for cooler weather - can totally see myself wrapping this around me in the evenings.
  3. The Libby maternity shirt tunic is another piece that will work well for the office. I'd layer this over leather leggings with boots for a day in the office.

Plus, Isabella Oliver has a great offer for all newly expectant mums right now - 20% off your first order AND free UK standard delivery and returns. To get the offer, use the code NEWMAMA before midnight GMT on Sunday 20 March.

Monday, 7 March 2016

going social!

Did you know you can now find the trainee mum on social media?

I love friends and followers and like, so pop over and say hello:


Sunday, 6 March 2016

Friday, 4 March 2016

style: six pieces to see you through your pregnancy

I’ll be honest – I didn’t want to spend a fortune on clothes throughout my pregnancy that I will wear for a few months and then never again. Also, what is it with stores adding an extra “0” to something just because it says maternity?! With this in mind, I've been keen to re-purpose pieces I have in my wardrobe. But I did quickly realise there were a few things I would need to buy. These are the six pieces accommodating my growing bump right now:

six pieces to see you through your pregnancy

  1. Trousers/jeans/leggings – I live in my skinny jeans and these were the first thing that got tight. Some people suggest wearing low slung trousers/jeans under your bump. I did not find this an option – around week 13/14 your uterus starts to move up and very quickly hits the point at which your trousers do up. At this point, the pressure was so uncomfortable that I succumbed and bought a pair of maternity jeans. I’ve not worn anything else since!
  2. Tights – if you’re planning to wear dresses, I would definitely advise investing in maternity tights. When I first saw how expensive they were, I thought I would stick with my old pre-pregnancy tights. But very soon they were digging in too and really uncomfortable. And then I spotted that Primark do maternity tights for about half the price of other shops (£3.50 for a pair of 100 denier maternity tights) and there was no looking back!
  3. Bras – this was something that I was hoping to really not have to buy. I already wear non-wired bras most of the time anyway (the perks of a small chest!) but what I didn’t count on was the expansion of my ribcage/back. Plus, my chest also grew a fair amount too! Most maternity bras look a little like scaffolding to me. I wanted something that would be plain, simple and fairly inoffensive. I’d also decided to get nursery bras, so that they would last a little longer. Enter Primark – again! My local store stocks two maternity pieces: tights and bras. The bras are two (one black, one white) for £8 – another bargain!
  4. Long-line t-shirts – long sleeved/sleeveless/whatever. These will stretch with your bump and will cover any elastic waistbands. I’m wearing out all my old Primark tees and vests and figure I’ll buy nice new ones after the baby arrives.
  5. Trainers – ok, so I guess this should really read flat shoes but I’m having a trainer moment! They’ll be comfortable now as you get bigger and will be useful in the months and years after the baby arrives and you’re first, pushing a pram around and then, running around after a toddler!
  6. Oversized dresses – I’ve found that many maternity dresses are wrap style or body con style. Neither of these are what I would normally wear. Instead, I have maxed out of oversized t-shirt dresses from Primark that fit loosely and comfortably over my growing bump.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

pampering before the pampers!

I’ve said before that I’ve struggled with being pregnant. The morning sickness – which lasted all day for most of the period between week six and week 16 – meant that any pampering went out of the window really. Just showering and getting dressed each day and going to work felt like an achievement.

Before I was pregnant, I would paint my nails at least once – sometimes, twice – a week. It was my little treat to myself, a little bit of time out when I would completely concentrate on me for half an hour or so. I love the whole process of removing old polish, filing my nails, moisturising my hands, applying a base coat and then choosing a coloured polish.

As I finally begin to feel a little more like myself, I decided to dedicate a little time to myself. No7 sent me a box at the end of last year (yep, terrible blogger for sitting on it for this long!) with some different coloured make-up products as a part of their #ColourYourWay campaign. Have you seen the advert on TV? It’s running at the moment - I love it – it makes me really excited for summer!

In my box from No7 was the gorgeous blue polish from the ad – No7 Gel Look Shine Nail Colour in Persian Blue. I totally love this colour (so much so that it was one of the colours for my wedding – think, shoes, bridesmaids’ dresses and more!) So I decided to give myself a pedicure – while I can still reach my feet! Again, I love the whole process of doing my toe nails too. I allow them to soak, I then cut them and shape them. Then a use a separator and take my time, applying a base coat (the No7 Ridge Filling Base is my current choice) and then the colour.

Next up, tackling my poor finger nails...

*Disclosure: No7 sent me a box of make-up to try out. As always, all views are my own.