Friday 26 September 2014

Bump Watch 2014: 39 Weeks

Here we are---my very last bump post. It's the night before my c-section so technically I'm 38 weeks, 6 days and 23 hours but I think it's okay we just call it 39 right?  I'm casually munching on a pop tart and drinking a pint of milk before I have to fast from midnight. I've finished packing my hospital bag (literally 10 minutes ago) and we just have a few baby clothes to finish drying and the baby's bag will be done, too. The house is all in order with prams, moses baskets and the like all built up. Laundry done, dishes clean, floors vacuumed--all thanks to NotBlondeHusband and his mother.

I'm more than ready for this pregnancy to be over. It's not a secret that my body pretty much did not like me being pregnant and that I've gotten pretty fed up with how incapacitated I've become because of it. My Mom and her husband both arrived in Glasgow tonight and have gone to Troon with Blondie Boy to stay at my mother-in-law's house while I'm in the hospital.  It means BB gets time with both his grandmas and NBH doesn't have to worry about taking care of him and visiting with me.

I'm slightly anxious about the hospital stay--in UK hospitals husbands are only allowed in 9-9 which is the part I hate the most, followed quickly by the fact you are on a ward with 6 other people separated only by a cloth curtain. I've packed ear-plugs and an eye-mask and am hoping for the best. I'm very grateful for the NHS but I do get jealous of my friends back home with private rooms where their husband can spend the night too.

NBH's Dad is picking us up at 7am to drop us at the hospital and then well I don't really know what will happen. They don't tell you specifically what time your turn is so we could be first or we could be in for a long wait. I've packed magazines and downloaded a lot of intellectually stimulating tv shows  Here Comes Honey Boo Boo to the iPad; hopefully that will keep me distracted from the fasting and the waiting. If I'm honest I'm not sure I'll sleep much tonight so maybe I will nap too.

So when you are reading this maybe I'm sitting waiting in a hospital bed, in a theatre getting prepped for surgery or recovering with our new baby. I'm always surprised that people read the random things I have to say here and I'm really grateful to anyone who's followed along this pregnancy journey. It's been a weird one from going on job interviews in the 2nd trimester to severe SPD but I'm glad y'all were here to share it with me.

*How far along?: 39 weeks
*Total weight gain: 13kg (according to MW 12.5 is average)
*How big is baby?: A watermelon
*Maternity clothes?: No I'm gliding around in a string bikini
*Sleep?: The past two days I've woken up before 5:30am; not cool.
*Best moment this week?: Started maternity leave
*Movement?: Yes, while the bebe has mellowed slightly and isn't quite as violent they are still moving tons.
*Food cravings?: I really want a Barq's Red Creme Soda mostly because no one can source one for me!
*Labor signs?: None; if I didn't have my section booked I think we'd be looking at another 41 weeker.
*Belly button in or out?: Innie.
*What I miss: Same as always--not being sore & being independent.
*What I'm looking forward to: Hmm let me think....maybe having a baby today?
*Milestone: See above--WE ARE HAVING A BABY!

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Tuesday 23 September 2014

What I Wore Wednesday: Stylish Changing Bags

The words stylish and changing bags (diaper or nappy bags if you prefer) don't always go hand in hand. For those not in the know babies require a lot of crap (and produce a lot of actual crap) so you need a fairly large bag to cope. It's something you will take with you every time you leave the house for the next two years minimum so you really don't want something sub par. I had a great OiOi changing bag my BFF got me but five years later it has seen better days.

This time around we've opted for a bag each--one for NotBlondeHusband and one for me. We have over a foot of height difference between us so there is no dealing with constantly adjusting straps and it means we can each have a bag that is more our own style.

First up NBH's bag: Chester Satchel by JoJo Maman Bébé

Leather Satchel Changing Bag

The Chester Satchel changing bag has been designed to be both stylish and practical. Made from smart hardwearing leather-look material with internal pockets to keep everything you need organised. It also has a large exterior back pocket with magnetic closure that contains a co-ordinating padded changing mat. The shoulder strap is fully adjustable and there are additional buggy clips making it easy to hang on most prams/strollers, too.

The satchel style is a lot like the bag I got NBH years ago from a wee stall in Camden Town that he then took to Uni everyday. A lot of diaper bags can be overly feminine which to be honest look a bit silly on my 6'3" broad shouldered husband so it was great to find a bag that would work for him but also wouldn't look strange if I grabbed it for a day out, too.

That being said y'all know what I'm like and  I needed a glam bag of my own if I was going to be using it daily:  Paris by Béaba

Suede Stylish Changing Bag

The Paris bag's chic style is inspired by the leather trade with all the functions of a changing bag. Large storage space. Faux leather. Supplied with removable changing mat, anti-bacterial soother storage case, pushchair straps, isothermal meal pouch, dirty laundry bag--everything you could need disguised as a handbag.

I love that you wouldn't look at it at first glance and think changing bag. Also it is the perfect size to take my MacBook Air on my commute to work without having to carry around a giant back pack too!

We obviously still have to check them out to see how they work in real life but we are really happy with them thus far and I'm sure they will stand up to the test in practice!

Who's bag do you prefer? If you have kids did you share a bag with your partner or each have your own?


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Friday 19 September 2014

Bump Watch 2014: 38 Weeks

Only one week left. It's been a crazy week. I went in Monday for acupuncture again and had a bad reaction to it and almost passed out. The first odd reaction I felt unwell but I really felt like I was going to pass out this time; because of that I'm not allowed to try acupuncture any more for my pain. Frustrating but makes sense. So after crossed wires with my doctor today I've finally gotten some co-codamol to try when I really need it. I've not taken any opiate based pain killers since I was 17 and had some post tonsillectomy and they made me puke. I'm a bit nervous to try them but if they help me sleep through the pain at night it will be good.

Otherwise we (and by we I mean mostly NBH) are getting things done around the house. Our Shnuggle Moses Basket is built and my mother-in-law has been taking away loads of baby clothes to wash and bring back for us as well. I went through and separated and washed all our smaller size cloth diapers so slowly but surely hopefully we will be somewhat ready when baby arrives.

My pre-op appointment was pretty uneventful. I've put on .5kg more than the average weight gain in pregnancy (not too shabby) and everything else seems fine other than my SPD. I'm also allowed to have my nails done for my c-section which is awesome because I'd heard different conflicting things about nailpolish and surgery.  I have to fast from midnight the night before and take an antacid before bed and then take another the morning of my surgery. We have to arrive at the hospital at 7:30am but we don't know when my actual surgery will be; the midwife said there are normally 4-5 scheduled for a day and they prioritise on a case by case basis.

So now we just wait. I'm working through Tuesday (still from home) and my Mom and her husband arrive in Glasgow on Thursday so I hopefully the next week will fly by. I haven't decided yet if I will take a late night bump photo for one last post next Friday or not yet but no matter what within a week I will not be pregnant any more!

*How far along?: 38 weeks
*Total weight gain: 13kg since my first weigh in 
*How big is baby?: A pumpkin. Now I want a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
*Maternity clothes?: Yes but I only have a few tops that fit.
*Sleep?: It's crappy but hopefully co-codomal will help.
*Best moment this week?: Am I allowed to say getting a new iPhone 6?
*Movement?: I actually think this baby is now MORE active.
*Food cravings?: No.
*Labor signs?: No, the bebe is in this for the long haul like their brother.
*Belly button in or out?: Innie.
*What I miss: Still miss being pain free and being able to go where I want when I want.
*What I'm looking forward to: My Mom arriving!
*Milestone: Had my pre-op appointment 

Here is Blondie Boy's 38 week update from 2009 if you like to compare/contrast.

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Wednesday 17 September 2014

What I Wore Wednesday: Post Natal PJs

So two weeks ago I asked y'all for help to find some maternity nightwear. I really thought I'd hit a dead end but then the lovely Lynn from More 4 Mums reached out to me and asked if I'd like to try the Hot Milk Twilight Nightie that they stock. 

It has an internal shelf bra for modesty and support, and easy to pull down if you choose to breastfeed. The front has a lace insert and the ruching detail provides a flattering fit for both during pregnancy and after. I was honestly really surprised at how supportive the shelf is as normally tops with shelves are pointless for me; it's not something you'd wear out in public without a bra but more than supportive for around the hospital or home. I'm currently a 34GG so if it can support me it can support anyone! 

Cute and comfortable, stylish and supportive--what more could I ask for? The material is also really soft as well so it won't scratch or irritate my incision. 

I also got a large pink flannel nightshirt from Tesco (in case the ward is cold) and a Ramone's tee and legging PJ set from Primark (so I can walk off/around the ward) as well. I don't know how many days I'll be in hospital but I figure 3 options means if I have all eventualities covered and NBH doesn't have to scramble to wash anything if I get puked or pooped (nice!) on by our new arrival, either!

Right now More 4 Mums has a competition to win any one piece from the Hotmilk sleepwear range, too! Hurry though it closes September 30th. Even if you don't win you can use code MM6 to get yourself 10% Hotmilk--how fab is that?

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Transatlantic Blonde was provided a Hot Milk nightie for review but all opinions are our own.

Friday 12 September 2014

Bump Watch 2014: 37 Weeks

Here I am full-term in all my sans-fards glory. No make-up and only half dried hair doesn't make for quite as nice as the fab photo Steph took last week but it is most more realistic to what I look like day to day.  I had acupuncture on Monday and made sure to eat in the car on the way over, had NotBlondeHusband drop me at the door & wore a sleeveless top and my blood pressure was A-ok. I actually felt like walking was a little less painful the next day but then Wednesday evening/night  I was crazy sore.

Today as well has probably been the most pain I've been in; I think I'm just near the end and in addition to the SPD I have the weight of baby on my pelvis plus their head banging in to it as well. I pretty much can't walk anywhere with the crutches so I'm only leaving my bed if I have to. It sucks and I'm basically having a pity party for myself 24/7 but there are only 2 weeks until my c-section. 

It's not fair on Blondie Boy and especially not NBH that I can't do anything and I'm very lucky they are both being crazy helpful and understanding. I'm also grateful for NBH's parents who are helping out with Blondie Boy when they can.  

Next week is a big week--first we have the Scottish referendum on Thursday and I have my pre-op appointment on Friday. I'm also going to try and get booked for some pre-op pampering as I have vouchers that my old co-workers gave me that expire at the end of this month. Since I can't park near the salon NBH is going to drop me off at the door and pick me up. It's really frustrating having to rely on someone else so much and I know it can't be easy for NBH to have to pick up all the slack either.

So if you see me bitching and moaning on twitter I'm sorry. The baby is perfectly fine, it's just me who's having issues and while I have tried not to moan too much publicly I've pretty much hit my limit. I honestly don't know how people with chronic pain and mobility issues get by on a regular basis and I'm very lucky that this is all only (hopefully) temporary.

*How far along?: 37 weeks
*How big is baby?: Winter Melon--is that a real thing? It looks like a girthy cucumber.
*Maternity clothes?: No I'm living solely in Size 0 Designer Samples
*Sleep?: I tend to have one night where I only wake up once (yay!) followed by the next night of waking up tons. It's a craptastic pattern.
*Best moment this week?: NBH's Mum treated me to some Yo Sushi, yum!
*Movement?: Yes this kid takes after their brother and is not letting up
*Food cravings?: I really like this New Yorker from Pret last week and I'd like to have it again but there is no way for me to get to a Pret
*Labor signs?: No but I think I'm having Braxton Hicks unless they aren't supposed to hurt in which case I'm having random real contractions
*Belly button in or out?: Innie
*What I miss: Being able to go places and do things and not be in pain
*What I'm looking forward to: Acupuncture on Monday
*Milestone: 9 months pregnant! Baby is officially full term. Just for fun I've got some polls below if you want to wager what you think bebe will be!

If you like to compare/contrast here is Blondie Boy's 37 week update form 2009.

Is it a boy or girl bump?

Poll Maker

Blondie Baby or....
Another Blondie Baby
Dark like Daddy
Radom Redhead
Poll Maker
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Wednesday 10 September 2014

What I Wore Wednesday: Debenhams AW14

Last week I headed off to the Debenhams AW 14 Press Show with my friend and fabulous photographer Steph. I haven't been attending many events recently since I'm on crutches but there was no way I was going to miss a preview of what Debenhams has on offer this autumn and fall. I definitely paid for it the next day but I'm so glad I went.

There was lots of glitter and glam on offer for the holiday season with full length sequin gowns and loads of faux fur but my favourite holiday offers came from the beauty department. Debenhams has some amazing beauty counters and their holiday treats did not disappoint.

How cute are these Benefit Christmas sets? I particularly love the  advent calendar filled with 24 miniature products plus one of the brand's bestselling products or a surprise gift. It will be available from mid-October at Debenhams and is sure to sell-out! There are also smaller gift-sets like Cutie Cravings if a full 25 days of surprises isn't your thing.

I've been looking for a new shadow palette since I started commuting in June; I love my Urban Decay Naked palette but wanted something a bit more compact I could easily throw in my bag and use on my hour train ride every morning. I love the new palettes from Too Faced. The bottom palette is an amazing value all-in-one that would make a fab gift but I love how the smaller Cat Eyes palette has everything you'd need for a simple smokey eye to a sexy evening look. It doesn't hurt that it's leopard print either!

This Ole Henriksen gift set grabbed my eye as I've been using their Truth Serum Collagen Booster for the past few months. It is a potent vitamin C complex to brighten and smooth and I absolutely love it. I received a sample of the African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser, which also appears in the gift set, which I can't wait to try, too.

It wasn't just all beauty though. Steph and I both fell for some hot pink fabulousness.

I mentioned before that faux fur was a big feature in many of the collections and it probably comes as no surprise that I fell for hot pink faux fur. I love this H! by Henry Holland leather motorcycle jacket and the faux fur collar just takes it to a whole other level. Leather, zips, hot pink---I'm sold!

Steph fell for this blinged out hot pink clutch evening bag that would be perfect for dressing up a little black dress or for a night out on the town. She's just as much a sucker for bright colour and sparkles as I am.

We had a great time and as much as I'm sad to see summer weather go I'm looking forward to what autumn fashion has in store for us all. I have a feeling I won't be getting my flip-flops out again any time soon!

What AW trends are you most looking forward to this year?

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Monday 8 September 2014

Scotch Lamb: Minted Lamb Koftas and Spiced Lamb Pittas

I'm always up for messing about in the kitchen, I don't think it's a secret that my wife is not the world's most confident cook, so faced with the bulk of the food prep in the house I tend to gravitate to things that I enjoy: a lot of the time that's red meat. Perhaps surprisingly then, lamb is not something that we often eat at home. I'll often have it at an Indian or Thai restaurant but I didn't eat much lamb growing up and Blondie was pretty convinced that she didn't like it at all. So when Scotch Lamb asked if I'd like to do something for them I was pretty keen to try something I don't normally do, as well as convince her that we should eat it more often!

I think the obvious thing to do with lamb would be some kind of stew or hotpot, so in an attempt to do something a bit different I made one dish which I cooked outside on the barbecue and one "inside" dish. Possibly my favourite thing about the challenge was that, as well as having two very good meals, I discovered an amazing butcher. I picked up the meat from S. Collins and Son in Muirhead, it's a fairly short drive from the city centre (just past the Crowwood Hotel) and I can't adequately describe how amazing it is. I've already been back inside a week and I'll be a regular visitor from now on!

For my outside recipe I made:

 Minted Lamb Koftas

1kg lamb mince
3 large cloves garlic
2 slices stale bread
1 tbsp cumin
1 small green chilli
15g fresh mint leaves
Zest of one lemon
Salad leaves
Yoghurt Sauce (recipe below)

 1) Season the mince and knead

2) Pulse the bread, cumin, mint, lemon zest, garlic and chilli in a food processor until a fine crumb and season season with salt and pepper.
3) Mix with mince and knead until evenly mixed.
4) Form into sausage shapes and skewer. If you have flat metal skewers so much the better. I didn't and the round wood ones just tend to spin in the meat, unless you do what I did and use two per kebab. This means you can turn the meat much more easily and it breaks up less on the barbecue. I made 8 large kebabs from the 1kg but they could be sized however you like.

5) Preheat barbecue to a medium-high heat, we want the outside to be crispy and a little charred.
6) Once the outside looks crispy all the way round (2 mins each side-ish) then turn the heat down to medium and cook for a further 8 minutes, turning halfway through. If you make them smaller, obviously they'll cook quicker.
7) Check that the koftas are cooked through and serve with salad and yoghurt sauce. I make the meat a little spicy with the green chilli, so I like a cool sauce with them but it could just as easily be some kind of chilli sauce. I made them as the main part of a meal but at a large barbecue I would make smaller ones and serve them as finger food.
The meat mixture could make a really nice burger if formed differently. I think next time I might try using the same spicing and making burgers, maybe topped with halloumi and the same yoghurt sauce.
Inside the house I made:

Spiced Lamb Pittas

Half leg of lamb
2 tblsp curry powder
2 tblsp smoked paprika
2 tblsp dry coriander
2 tblsp cumin
1 tblsp chilli powder
1 tblsp garam masala
1 lamb stock cube
2 green chillies
1 pepper
1 onion
4 pitta breads
Yoghurt sauce (recipe below)

Here is my delicious half leg of lamb. I think most often people would roast it whole, so what I'm about to do to it may seem like sacrilege...

1) Cut off the external fat, debone and dice it (leaving the internal fat on). Yes, it's a pretty expensive cut to dice and the recipe would probably work just as well with shoulder but using leg make it so damn good. The meat will be stay in cubes, not flake and it will be melt in the mouth tender at the end. It's definitely worth it. Your butcher would probably dice it for you but I wanted to do it myself.
2) Mix the dry spices and dredge the meat until covered.
3) Add a little oil to a saucepan and heat to a medium-low heat. Add the chopped chillies, meat and crumble the stock cube over the top.
4) Cook at a low heat for 1-1 1/2 hours. The lamb will release quite a lot of liquid and in an ideal world that will be all the moisture we need. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world so I checked every 15 minutes and topped up with 1/4- 1/2 a cup of water at a time so there was just enough so that it didn't dry out.

5) About an hour in we should have something like this. The lamb should still be solid pieces but it should pull apart pretty easily.
6) Add tomato puree until you have the consitency of a curry sauce. Add chopped peppers and onions and cook for another 10 mins, I prefer veggies to still have a little bite so stop before they go soft.

7) We should then have something like this. Toast the pittas in anticipation of the upcoming feast.

8)Fill the pittas and serve with salad and the yoghurt sauce. (same one, recipe below)

The lamb is spicy but not too spicy and hopefully by using the leg it will be so soft and tender as you won't believe. Having said that by substituting shoulder for leg the cost would reduce substantially and it would be quite a decent option for a cheap midweek meal.

Both meals were a pretty big hit in our house. Like I said lamb hasn't been an integral part of the meal rotation in our house for a while but now that I've shown what I can do with it I'm expecting it to be featuring much more in future.

Yoghurt Sauce

I use this with everything from Greek and Mediterranean spiced food to Indian, including my infamous Greek Nachos (which would also be delicious with lamb, that's now my next project!) It's piss easy to make but tastes amazing.

200g Greek yoghurt
15g fresh mint
A lemon
1/4 cucumber

1) Zest and juice the lemon. Chop the mint and mix it together.

2) Add in the yoghurt and mix until combined. Finely chop the cucumber and mix in.

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Transatlantic Blonde were provided lamb for the purpose of creating these recipes but all opinions and creations are our own.