25
Feb
2015

Conor’s 8 Month Update

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It’s official – we’ve entered the phase with Conor where he just cannot sit still. He wriggles and squirms and jumps around and refuses to be held like a baby. He wants to be sitting up at all time so he can see everything that’s going on! He’s trying to form words and he’s certainly found his voice, trying to yell things at random people as they walk past…I’m pretty sure he gets very confused why they never reply. The grabbing phase has well and truly begun…hair, necklaces, clothes, buttons (resulting in embarrassing flashing incidents for me). You name it, he’ll grab it!

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Milestones: Conor is sitting up all by himself now and he flat out refuses to lie down most of the time – he gets very frustrated if he is confined to lying back in his stroller! He’s developing into a little dancer, bopping his head from side to side whenever he hears music or when you sing to him. He’s sleeping through the night without waking up at all. Rolling is his preferred mode of transport but he’s beginning to crawl more nowadays. He stands any chance he gets and I have a feeling he’ll try and go straight from rolling to full on walking! ha ha. He is becoming a lot more dextrous now and can hold his own bottle to his mouth and pick up biscuits and the like without any trouble. He now also has two teeth clearly coming through on the bottom which doesn’t really seem to be causing him any problems at all! He recognises his name now as whenever you say it, he turns around and looks at you.

Sleep: His sleep schedule has been the same for a couple of months now and I’m pretty happy for it to stay that way! I have developed a good routine during the day and the only time his sleep becomes disturbed at night is if he has missed naps during the day. Wherever possible I try to keep things consistent for him. That’s not always possible as there will always be times when we will be out of the house and he is distracted by things and just won’t sleep. But at the moment his routine is still to get up at 7:30am, nap at 11am, up at 1pm, nap at 4pm, up at 5:30pm then he has his bath, bottle and goes to bed at 7:30pm. That’s how we work it and it seems to keep everyone happy!

Best Moment: The best moment would have to be when we bought his new playpen from Amazon which you can view here. I can’t rave about this playpen enough – it’s huge (1.2m across), it looks good, it’s incredibly easy to put together, it’s sturdy and it comes with a washable mattress lining. It has an average rating of 5 stars on Amazon and that doesn’t happen very often! Now that Conor is getting so mobile, it’s just fantastic to have somewhere spacious to keep him safe where he can play with all his toys. I can get on with other things and I know he’s safe in there – that gives you so much more freedom and peace of mind when you’re running around trying to get a million things done. It’s definitely in my top 5 must have items for a baby over 6 months!

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Worst Moment: I struggle with this section with every update because no matter how much I wrack my brain, I can’t come up with anything! I’m forever saying to people that I’m pretty sure everyone thinks I omit all the bad stuff just to make Conor look perfect. But he rarely gets cranky and if he does, it’s for about 2 minutes and he’s over it. He wakes up every single morning with a smile and a giggle, he’s so laid back, he is happy just entertaining himself a lot of the time, he takes no more than 5 minutes to go to sleep, he eats with no trouble.  I’m really trying to think of something…I’m guessing he’s probably going to be a nightmare when he hits 2 years old because at the moment, he’s just an absolute angel.

Health: The only thing we’ve had slight issues with in the past month is the transition to solid foods. He has been getting constipated which I’m told is pretty normal when you switch to new foods so we’ve been trying to make sure he stays hydrated. He really doesn’t like drinking plain water but I really try to get him to drink it, so I add a touch of pure unsweetened apply juice and that seems to make it more palatable for him.

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Eating: He’s now down to 4 bottles of formula a day and 4 portions of solids. Some days he has more of an appetite and I generally just keep feeding him until he loses interest. He’s now used to the solid foods in a smooth puree form but he’s still getting used to the more textured stuff which sometimes he finds a little strange (I’m guessing by the funny faces he pulls). I try to introduce new things to him every week and he’s now started to eat rusks, biscuits and rice cakes. He makes an unholy mess with them but he seems to enjoy it!

Things I want to remember: The sound of his little giggle when the dogs make him laugh, or when you tickle him – it’s just the best and most beautiful sound to me. It’s like music to my ears and even if you’re not in the best mood, it just lifts your spirits. If he’s laughing then all is good in my world. It just makes my heart swell and makes me feel so blessed to have such a happy child who brings so much happiness to so many people.

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21
Feb
2015

A Drugstore Dupe for the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat?

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I can’t claim the credit for discovering this drugstore dupe as it’s been doing the rounds on some of the big beauty blogs.  However, in the event that you haven’t yet seen the comparison or you just want to hear my two cents on the situation then today’s post is for you!

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Ever since discovering the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillowtalk (£16) I haven’t been able to keep my paws off it. I initially bought it after Amelia Liana raved about it in one of her videos – her recommendations have never let me down in the past! AmeliaLiana inspired purchases include the Living Proof Amp2 Instant Texture Volumiser and the Loreal Mono Eyeshadows which are both amazing! The Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat pencil is the absolute perfect shade to re-shape and accentuate your natural lipline and the result is flawless and undetectable.  Your lips appear fuller and the colour stays put incredibly well for being a nude shade.  The pencil is a lovely pinky brown and falls within just the right hue to be the holy grail of all nude lipliners! It has a really nice creamy formula that glides on and doesn’t drag on the skin.

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However, recently the Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Eastend Snob (£3.99) has registered on the blogger radar as being a very close colour match to the aforementioned Charlotte Tilbury gem.  It’s a fraction of the price and although it veers on the more pinky side in colour, it’s pretty damn close.

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As you can see from the swatches above, the formulation of the Rimmel lip pencil isn’t quite as smooth and falls a little bit short in terms of pigmentation but for the price it’s a really great alternative. I would also say that I prefer a pencil that I can sharpen rather than a twist up lip pencil as they tend to be easily broken off if you aren’t gently with it. However, if you’re on a budget then definitely pick a couple of these Rimmel ones up – they make a really lovely base for a nude lip and offer great value for money with pretty much the same staying power!

16
Feb
2015

Healthy Eats: Italian Marinated Chicken with ‘Creamy’ Lemon pasta

I love Italian food as much as the next person but I think there’s very much a ‘british italian’ way of cooking that involves massive portions, cream and a whole lot of white refined flour carbs. In coming up with this recipe, I’ve tweaked everything to make it much more healthy. My kind of healthy eating isn’t about counting every calorie obsessively, it about creating great flavours, lightening things up and making it more nutritious. This meal is filling, healthy and you’re not sacrificing any of the flavour you’d expect from Italian style cooking.

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Serves 2

Chicken

2 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon italian dried herb seasoning
black pepper
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon water

Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 4oz wholegrain pasta (I chose fusilli so the sauce would cling within the grooves)
  • 100ml low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 1 small courgette (finely chopped)
  • half a cup of finely sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon half fat creme fraiche
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1) Fill a pan with water and bring to the boil. Envelope the chicken breasts in clingfilm or baking parchment and beat lightly with a rolling pin to slightly flatten them. This will decrease the cooking time. Cover both sides of the chicken breasts in the marinade. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and place the chicken breasts in there, browning on both sides, then turning down to a low heat to cook for a further 10-15 mins.

2) Add your wholegrain pasta to the boiling pan of water and cook until al dente (around 10 minutes).

3) Heat a little olive oil in a small pan and add the onions, courgettes and mushrooms, sautéing until golden brown.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, cooking for a minute or so.  Add the black pepper, salt, creme fraiche, chicken broth, lemon juice and Parmesan. Turn the heat back up to high to reduce the sauce and thicken.

4) Take the chicken breasts off the heat and slice. Add the sauce to the pasta with the fresh chopped basil and combine throughly. Serve with wafer thin shavings of parmesan and additional basil leaves or alternatively some parsley.

16
Feb
2015

Weightloss: Dealing With A Plateau

The biggest hurdle in any weightloss journey is the dreaded plateau. We all hit it at some point but it’s so important not to become discouraged by it. Having a period where your weight loss slows to nothing is a natural phenomenon. When you consume fewer calories than your body is used to, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy. It’s a survival method your body employs and was much more suited to the days when humans had to go days without food! However, as long as you stay consistent with your workouts and healthy eating, you’ll typically start losing weight again after about three weeks. Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that if you are doing strength training, you’ll be gradually gaining muscle.  Muscle weighs more than fat and therefore you’re bound to see a slight increase in your overall weight at some point.

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If you’re working out regularly and eating healthily 80-90% of the time, you should be experiencing positive changes to your body like a smaller waist, a more toned physique overall, stronger arms and legs. If you simply can’t wait for those 3 weeks to end and want to jump start your healthy weightloss,  there are a few things you need to think about.

The smaller you become, the harder it will be to lose weight. That’s a given. If you’re body fat percentage is in the normal range then your body is already healthy, which makes it tougher to lose weight. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cut even more calories from your diet because that simply will not work. That will just slow your metabolism down and send your body into starvation mode. What you need to do is feed your body a little more (mostly healthy) food in order to make it feel more ‘secure’. By varying your calorie intake, in other words by having 1 or 2 days a week where you have ‘cheat meals’, you can prevent your body from plateauing. For example, for the next three days, try varying your calorie intake between 1,800 and 2,400 calories. It sounds illogical but trust me, it works. After those three days, revert back to your normal healthy calorie allowance. It’s imperative that you never allow your daily calorie allowance to fall below 1,200 if you are a woman (and 1,500 if you are a man) because on a longterm basis that can cause damage to your metabolism and will ultimately result in excessive loss of lean muscle tissue.

These are some other things to think about:

Keep a Food Diary

Keep a note of all the things you eat and drink over a week and it will be much easier to see where you’re making mistakes.  Sometimes we eat unconsciously without thinking about how many calories we’re consuming, especially in the case of liquid calories! My Fitness Pal is a fantastic app for your phone that can help you track your food intake, with a existing database of thousands of food types, giving accurate nutritional data. I’ve been very surprised by how much fat or sugar can be in so-called ‘healthy’ food. .

Practice Good Portion Control

This one is important because you can be eating the right healthy foods but your portions might just be slightly on the large side. You can have too much of a good thing! I measure out all of my pasta, rice and meat portions so I know I’m not going overboard. It sounds a little OCD but over time, it just trains your brain to be able to spot the correct portion size. It becomes second nature. I also have my main meal in the evening on a side plate instead of a large dinner plate.  By filling a smaller plate you can trick your brain into thinking you’re really treating yourself. Often we keep eating from large plates long after we’ve satisfied our hunger! Remember that weightloss is 80% about what you eat and 10% exercise and 10% genetic.

Introduce Good Fats 

Try introducing more oily fish with healthy omega 3 fats – they actually help you to burn fat by allowing the body to release it. Fats do not make you fat – carbs and sugar do! Great sources of healthy fat include avocado, olive oil, or flaxseed oil.

Look at your Exercise Routine

Don’t over-exercise! Often doing a good 30 mins of cardio followed by some strength training 3-4 times a week is enough to make a remarkable difference. Exercising too much can elevate cortisol levels and elevate insulin, which is not good for weight loss. I actually found that when I reduced my workout sessions from 6 days a week to 4 times a week, I saw increased results. Allow your body to rest and recover because that is when the lean muscle and fat burning occurs. On the other end of the scale, if you’ve been a bit lazy and not working out as much as you should then try switching up your workouts to something you enjoy. You’re more likely to exercise if you enjoy it!

Drink more water

I know it’s boring but drinking the correct amount of water on a daily basis will definitely help with weightloss.  We all need H20 for the body to perform all of it’s most basic functions.  It flushes out toxins, hydrates and assists in cell function. Drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day and try to keep caffeine at a minimum.  If you find drinking plain water too boring then try adding the juice of half a lemon.  The lemon juice will further detoxify your body and help to keep your metabolism ticking over.

Sleep & Rest

These two factors are so important to weightloss because it’s those precious hours of deep sleep we get that helps to keep our bodies and our minds healthy.  It keeps energy levels high, prepares the body for optimum fat burning and it’ll keep your mind in a much more positive state. Stress, over exercising and worrying about your weight loss will all negatively impact your progress. Take time out to relax, mentally as well as physically.

14
Feb
2015

Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Balm Perfectors

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Looking for THE perfect lip balm/lipgloss hybrid product? Clarins definitely has it down. Their Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors have been a favourite of mine for the last couple of years and I literally use them every day. There’s always one in my handbag at all times. They are the perfect combination of hydration, practicality and a sheer colour for the lips.  When I heard Clarins were launching a lip balm, twist up solid version of this product I did wonder whether the formulation would still be as fantastic.

So lets have a look at the Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Balm Perfectors (£18):

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“A beautifying lip balm for incredibly irresistible lips. This melting gel lip balm with a deliciously sweet taste glides on the lips effortlessly adding a naturally coloured glossy shine with a barely-there effect. Lips instantly look plump, smooth and luscious. 4 hours of non-stop hydration*: lips look fuller and perfectly shaped. Nutrition, total comfort and protection. “

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Left to Right: 02 Coral, 01 Rose, 06 Rosewood

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I was quite surprised at how small the lip balms were and I would hazard a guess that the Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors in tube form contain more product.  They are however the same price. The formulation has lost none of it’s fabulousness I can assure you! They are really hydrating, they glide onto the lips smoothly and they leave a lovely natural, sheer glaze of colour on the lips for an understated appearance.

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I love all three shades but if I really had to pick a favourite then it would be the Rose shade. They keep your lips in great condition and they don’t collect on the inside of the lips like some lip glosses can.  The perfect formulation prevents any of the downfalls of lip gloss so you don’t have to worry about it becoming sticky.

I have really enjoyed using these and they work just as well as the original tube version but because I have the niggling feeling you get more for your money, I’d plump for the original Natural Lip Perfectors.  Either way, you can expect an extremely high quality, effective product for your money!

*PR Sample