Healthy but yummy dessert

My husband and I love a good sweet treat at the end of a meal [who doesn’t?!]. It’s a habit that mainly started when we gave up smoking a few years ago and having a little dessert became a replacement for the cigarette. Definitely healthier but our waistline didn’t certainly benefit from it!

However it got a bit out of control lately and, with the added excuse of work-related stress, we just binged on chocolate and cake at any given occasion. Pretty much every night of the week.

This. had. to. stop.

For the past couple of weeks we have just been buying tubs of [fat-free] vanilla yogurt in an attempt to reduce calories whilst still enjoying a sweet treat. We pour it in pretty vintage tea cups and choose different toppings every time, to keep it fun.

It is yummy, healthy [depends on the topping though!] and it doesn’t break the bank!

 

1453796821784

Here’s one I made earlier…Sugar sprinkles for hubby and chopped hazelnuts for me. Both topped with honey

Busy mum’s 10 minute make-up routine

As I already explained in a previous post, I get ready every day between 6am and 6.30am and then my husband and I switch places so I look after F. until 7am, which is when I leave the house.

Needless to say, I don’t have much time to waste and it is such a disaster when I’m not sure about what to wear or the outfit I had in mind really doesn’t look as pretty as I thought! A few months ago I cut my hair really short so my shower [and hair drying] time has reduced dramatically. This means that I have a good 10 minutes to put make-up on. Whoo-hoo!

I’ve never been that much into make-up but as time goes by [ie. more wrinkles to cover!] I don’t mind making a bit of an investment into good long-lasting products.

My make-up is very simple, really. I just rely on a good base, a bit of eyeliner and mascara and, when I’m really in the mood, a red or cherry coloured lipstick that I put on in the office after I’ve had breakfast [although I rarely re-apply it during the day so if you’re lucky you can see me wearing lipstick between 9am and 10am!]

1453989984982

Here’s some links for you:

ConcealerBenefit Erase Paste applied with Kiko Milano Concealer brush
FoundationYves Saint Laurent La Teint Touche Eclat applied with Real Techniques Foundation Blending Sponge
Matting powder – MAC Blot Powder
BronzerBenefit Hoola Bronzer
Eyebrows shapingBenefit Brow Zings kit
Eyeshadow PrimerUrban Decay Original Primer Potion
Eyeliner – L’Oreal Black Eyeshadow [I bought this so many years ago that what you see in the photo is not on the market anymore! However you can use any other black eyeshadow, like this for example]. I apply it with Kiko Milano eyeliner brush [I just wet it a little and that makes the eyeshadow very dark and very easy to apply and ‘stick’]
MascaraEstee Lauder Lash Primer Plus AND Estee Lauder Sumptuous Infinite
Lip stainMeMeMe Cherub’s Blush
OR
Lipstick – The one in the photo is a very old Giorgio Armani ‘Brick Red’ lipstick, quite similar to this one – Colour 401]

 

Can we really call it a holiday?

Here I am..I’m back!

Apart from being very busy at work, the main reason why I haven’t posted anything in a while is that I’ve been on holiday! I’ve been away with the little one a few times since she was born but this time it was a ‘proper’ holiday. In a hotel. On the beach. With a toddler..

This time last year, Frances was 3 months old so we went up to the Alps where my parents have a house [see post here if you fancy]. It was fairly challenging but, in hindsight, it was a breeze compared to this year’s holiday!

We went to Rimini, a busy and bubbly town on the east coast of Italy, pretty much opposite Croatia.

Rimini

It’s quite a popular holiday destination mainly amongst the young crowds due to its nightlife but it’s also very handy for families with young kids like us as there are long and wide sandy beaches where the little ones can run around and play.

We were lucky as my parents came along otherwise I wouldn’t exactly call it a holiday. I would most likely call it same daily madness running after a 1+ year old but with less clothes on and in the heat

Recently, Frances had developed a weird fear of water..I say ‘weird’ as up until not long ago she absolutely loved bath time and splashing around in general. Then, one day, she just started screaming when I put her in the tub. We overcame that by putting her in the empty bath tub and then running the water with her in it [personally, that would freak me out more]

Given this precedent, I was so worried that she would be scared of the sea, and understandably so. First thing we did when we got there [after a rather challenging flight!] was go to the beach and give it a try..Well, not only did she like dipping her feet into the sea, but she was trying to drag us forward! It was heart warming to watch and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Such a big softy 🙂

1437666495963

First time on the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the next two weeks, we played with sand..

1437666431864

Favourite activity: destroying sand castles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..we splashed around in the sea..

1437666467269

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..and in the hotel swimming pool..

1437666401519

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t all fun and games though..oh no no no!

First of all, her routine was all over the place. For the first few days there was no routine, really. We tried to keep her nap times the same as back home and we also let her sleep a bit longer in the afternoon [sometimes, she’d sleep over 2 hours..unheard of!]

Her usual 6.30/7pm bedtime was pushed back to 9/9.30pm which was the earliest we could do given that dinner in the hotel was at 7.30pm. Sadly, her waking time in the morning didn’t shift by even 10 minutes so she was up between 5.30 and 6am regardless. I’m sure she did it so that we could see the beautiful sun rise over the sea every morning. How thoughtful!

IMG_20150727_090734

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She point blank refused milk both morning and evening and every meal time it was a battle to get her to eat anything other than crusty bread. Whilst away she cut 3 pre-molars so surely that’s got a lot to do with it.

Did I mention how much fun it was to put suncream on her? Let me show you how fun it was..

1437581637940

Yes, you can see 4 hands in this photo..my parents’ hands. One would pin her down to the bed and the other would rub cream as fast a possible, like a ninja!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those two weeks away also brought a few new things in Frances’ developmental repertoire..Not only did she start saying No no no whilst shaking her little finger in front of her face but she’d also move your hands away with a stern No! if you were in her way.

She also started blowing kisses with her hand and smile on command when having her picture taken [that only happened on a few occasions but it was hilarious!!]. She also started saying bau bau every time she saw a dog as that’s the dog sound in Italian, as opposed to the English woof woof

All in all, it was a good break..break from the usual routine, from the rush in our every day life and from the same old toys back home. It wasn’t a breeze and it wasn’t the holiday I was used to [sunbathing and reading books. End of]. But even if I literally spent about 2 hours in total in the whole holidays lying down in the sun, I got to see my little girl discovering so many new things and that will never tire me out.

1437581783975

I *had to* document the only time I lied down in the sun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A day in the life of a [full-time] working mum

One of the questions I get asked more often now that I’ve gone back to work is how I manage my full-time day job AND being a mum.

To be honest, I’ve found it easier to go back full-time from the start, rather than starting gradually with just a 2/3 days a week. Once I got into the mindset that I was now a full-time working mum, I could just focus on creating a good routine that would allow me to do it all, without pulling my hair out.

The intent of this post is just to show how my average day is like – I don’t have any super-powers and I wear no cape. It is all doable, it just needs practice, like everything else in life..like having a baby in the first place for example!

1432274435237

Despite all possible efforts, Frances is still waking up between 5 and 5.30am. We have just given up trying to figure out why that happens and we just accept it. First things first..MILK!

6.00am. I get ready whilst my husband gets Frances dressed. He’s got the worst job ever..dressing a wriggling screaming octopus! I take a shower in the evening [and choose clothes for the following day], once I’ve put Frances to bed, so in the morning I just have a quick wash and I can be ready in half an hour.

1432274789732

While hubby is in the shower, it’s play time with Frances. These days she loves to look at books and chases after us with a book in her hand so that we can read it / turn the pages for her. Cuteness overload.

7.00am. I leave the house while hubby and Frances settle in the kitchen for a little breakfast [toast and peanut butter]. He then takes her to nursery at 8.00am. I’m very lucky because we have a bus stop exactly opposite our building so within minutes of leaving the house I’m already on the bus towards the tube.

1432274397603

As soon as I come out of the tube, it’s Pret a Manger time. It may not be the finest coffee on the market but their soya flat white keeps me going at least until I get into the office!

1432274476274

I get to Hyde Park, one of the most gorgeous parks in London town, and walk along the Serpentine river which takes me very close to my office. I started this about 5 years ago and it’s still my favourite part of the daily commute.

1432279928033

We have free breakfast at work between 8am and 9am (although we don’t officially start until 9.30am) so I take full advantage of it. I modified my working hours when I got back from maternity so I start one hour early and can leave one hour early as well, at 4.15pm.

1432274522685

The hours spent in the office are still very much of a blur. I work in an advertising agency so there’s always an energetic buzz around and plenty of running like headless chickens all the time! Before I know it, I’m waiting for the tube back home.

1432274559242

As soon as I pick Frances up from nursery, we go home [only a short walk away] and she has a little dinner. Nothing too big as she has a snack at 3.30pm which is normally jacket potato with beans so she’s not very hungry at dinner time!

1432274611190

More play time after dinner. Frances has been getting more and more cuddly and often snuggles herself up to me and sits in my lap.

1432282235749

Bath time. She kept climbing out of the basket we had inside the bath tub so we just scrapped that and she’s perfectly happy to sit in the tub like a grown-up! The rubber mat underneath is essential as she tends to pull herself up after a few minutes and just stands up.

After that, it’s PJ’s and straight on to the mini sofa in her room with a bottle of warm milk. Little red light on. She holds the bottle while I read her a story. Until a week or so ago she would still be awake after the bottle so we would go back into the bathroom, brush teeth, put sleeping bag on and then beddy-byes.

1432274641033

Now that she’s started walking and is visibly more tired she just hands me the bottle when she’s done and snuggles up to me. She’s asleep within minutes. I don’t even have to turn the light off!

I stay in the room with her sleeping on me for 20/30 mins. This is a habit I got during her reflux days, when I had to keep her upright after each feed for as long as I could. Now that the reflux is gone, I still hold her in my arms for a little while. This is the first time in the whole day that I can finally relax.

I spare you any photos of my oh-so-glamorous evenings which involve a shower, like I mentioned earlier, waiting for hubby until just after 8.00pm so that we can have a quick meal together [slow-cooker rules!] and a snooze on the couch before going to bed at 9.30pm!

 

 

Itching for a change

An old boss once told me that I was resistant to change as I didn’t know how to adapt to it.

I do like change but yes, I need time to process it.

Having a baby brings a lot of change into your life and you simply don’t know what’s hit you. At least for a [long] while. There’s no time to process it, you are thrown in the deep end from day one.

So much has happened in the past year that now change no longer scares me and what’s more curious is that I’m chasing it. As if I hadn’t gone through enough!

Going back to work after maternity has somehow helped me regain my ‘identity’. I absolutely love being a mum but I’m not just that.

My head has filled up with lots of projects all over again. Like the good old days, where my brain was constantly buzzing with ideas and not just thinking about nap times, milk bottles and finger foods!

I’m starting small..For example, I cut my hair [and dyed it dark purple!]. And now it this blog’s turn. My little creature, come to life to fill an incredible sense of sadness, and bit by bit it has become a little pregnancy diary and then a celebration of life, happiness, struggle, change.

I have been very inconsistent in my writing and quite monotonous too. So over the next few weeks this little creature of mine will get a bit of a facelift and hopefully will be able to contain my ever-changing interests and activities!

Watch this space x

Merry Christmas everyone!

It has been one of those days that turned out even better than how you’ve ever imagined it.

After all it is Frances’ first Christmas and I wanted it to be special. She won’t remember it but will have plenty of photos and videos to show her what it was like.

image

We are up in Scotland, in a beautiful manor house that I wrote about just over a year ago. This place is stunning and so magical. This is the first time in over ten years that (almost of) my husband’s family gather together for Christmas (his sister couldn’t be here as she works in retail and her holiday request was denied because of the big Boxing Day Sale. Boooo)

image

My parents have come too all the way from Italy and have loved every single minute. What’s not to love..Staying in a luxurious manor house surrounded by stunning views and spending Christmas with your daughter who lives abroad but most importantly your granddaughter!

image

Hope you’ve all had a fabulous Christmas and got spoiled just as much as I (and Frances) have .

image

First holiday with the little one

On the day Frances turned three months old (nearly two months ago already!) me, my husband and the little one spent some time in Italy (where I’m from, if you missed that bit of information previously)..In the Alps to be precise. We spent weeks leading up to it in a panic as Frances’ passport wasn’t being processed within the time frames we’d been given and we only received it the day before we went away! Next on my list of worries was the actual flight as I’d heard so many babies crying especially at take off and landing when flying for me meant just reading a magazine and chewing through a bag of Haribo’s.

Now that screaming child could be mine and I couldn’t bear the thought of all those other passengers pissed off at me, secretly wishing I’d shut the kid up instantly. It’s easy for me to say ‘I don’t care about what other people say’ but deep down I feel terribly self conscious and incompetent when Frances kicks off in public..The day arrived and good job that my husband was with us as Frances screamed half the time, poor little thing (while she slept the other half, to be fair!)

Once the dreaded first flight was out of the way, I could finally relax. My parents came to pick us up at the airport and from that moment on I knew that all I had to do was basically feed her and everything else would be taken care of!
image

My husband could only spend one week with us as he was running out of annual leave so we tried to get the most of his time with us. We went for long hikes (just the two of us) and ate our packed lunches in the sun overlooking snowy mountain peaks,  all synchronised around Frances’ feeds of course. Yes, because as much as we tried to give her bottles of expressed milk she wasn’t convinced at all. Although we didn’t have much time in between feeds, my husband and I got to spend some lovely time together, making plans for the future and not just talking about nappies and reflux!
image

Frances and I stayed there two more weeks after my husband left and although it was tough to stay away from him for so long, it was the right thing to do especially for her as it would have been too unsettling to go back and forth in a short amount of time. She adapted very well to her temporary home and to her huge travel cot! Habits and timings were completely different from our usual ones but I tried to at least keep the bedtime routine as consistent as possible. She loved all the attention and was a happy and smiley baby most of time.
image

In those three weeks she:

– started ‘talking’..a mixture of little screams and cooing sounds. Absolutely adorable

-took a dummy for the first time. We’d tried a few times before with no success. Then one day she just started sucking on it

– slept longer stretches in between night feeds (isn’t it amazing to sleep 4 hours in a row?!) and then actually started feeding only once a night (this happened because when she was waking up I’d try and give her a dummy instead and she’d fall back asleep, making me realise that many times before she’d comfort fed)

– got her first ‘forward facing’ stroller..a bit early at 3 months but our pram was too bulky to carry around in the boot of the car all the time so we bought a light and compact stroller. We didn’t use it much but she actually liked looking around instead of just staring at us

Unfortunately three weeks went by quite fast and, before we knew it, it was time to go home. Again, I was quite worried about the flight back especially since this time I was on my own, but it all went smoothly and Frances slept most of the flights and didn’t even complain once when we were stuck in a never ending queue at passport control for over an hour.

Things have been quite tough since we got back home a month ago as we hit the dreaded ‘4 months sleep regression’. Big time. Plus she got her first cold 😦 A real shock to the system, even though Frances never slept through the night before. Things have slightly improved now but we’re still waking up 4/5 times a night. Every night. It’s a combination of teething, hunger, gas, comfort and the fact that we’ve got her used to being rocked/fed to sleep so every time she wakes up she needs us to fall back asleep. Just kicking myself about it but I can’t deny that I do still love all the cuddles and the feeling of having her asleep in my arms.

The Baby Centre Birth Club (http://community.babycentre.co.uk/groups/topic/1/birth_clubs?sortby=pop) has been a life saver as so many mums have been going through the same thing and it does help to know that we are not alone!