Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Aside from the initial announcement, I haven't done a real pregnancy-themed post yet. Well, here it is! 20 weeks. We have our anatomy scan tomorrow, and I can't contain my excitement. It's been 6 long weeks since I've last seen our little one, and it seems like an eternity! I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight.

Oh, and this baby is ACTIVE. I was told that maybe I'd feel flutters by 18 weeks. Ish. Maybe.

15 weeks and I felt like popcorn was popping in my stomach. Regularly. Came out of nowhere, and hasn't stopped since. My midwife struggled to get a good count on his/her heartbeat because the little munchkin would not sit still during my last appointment (Let's hope that baby cooperates for the ultrasound tomorrow).

Now this little dude/dudette is definitely doing all kinds of acrobatics and throwing 1-2 punches. All day every day. No lie. This kid does not sleep, I swear.  What did I expect when both my husband and myself are super energetic people? A sleeper? No. There is a very hyper baby in my belly, and there is no denying it.

I must look like a completely deranged moron, the way I will just be going about any activity at work, on the train, at home, and just stop and smile from ear to ear. Come on, what am I supposed to do when this little one starts bouncing around? Joy has no measure for what I'm feeling. I can't wait to meet this baby fo' real, but I'm beginning to get concerned that my heart might literally explode from loving too much. Is that a thing?

Hunger: it's finally here. I had a really horrendous time towards the beginning, and my body pretty much refused any and all food intake. Coupled with starting a new job which involves at 3/4 mile uphill hike of a commute each day, and I ended up LOSING weight up for quite a while! But I've been eating like a horse for about 6 weeks now and all is good. I definitely, as you can see, have the bump going for me.

Clothing has only just begun to be a struggle. For a while I was really discouraged and insecure, because before the bump was really visible, I just felt fat and frumpy. I had a lot of bloat at the beginning too, so I really felt as horrible as I looked. I wore baggy dresses and tops to hide whatever hint of a belly I had, since I didn't tell my boss/colleagues the news until after we had our 12 week scan (which happened at 14 weeks for me, so they had to wait a while, and it was beginning to become obvious).

Now that I've got this cute little bumpy thing that I am so proud of, I'm trying to wear closer-fitting tops, dresses, and skirts to show it off! Jersey maxi skirts and my maternity leggings from Target are my bff's right now. Seriously, if you're pregnant, buy these leggings. I wish I was still in the States so I could order more. I have already gotten so much wear out of them, as elastic waistbands on everything else were first awkward and uncomfortable, and now are just downright impossible. I've really struggled to find cute maternity-friendly clothes here, since there are 0 high street maternity clothing stores in the UK, and most stores only carry their limited maternity range online. The few stores I've been to (Debenhams, H&M), had really disappointing jeans-and-tshirt options in very poor quality. What's with the horizontal stripes? Why are you making us look wider? Cut it out! And where are the work-appropriate clothes? Mommas-to-be need to go to work, too!

 There's a serious need for maternity clothing in the market here, but I digress.

I'm starting to get sick of hiking skirts up to my bra line and wearing giant sack dresses with a belt, but I'm starting to get the hang of dressing this bump. It's an uphill battle, since my size and shape is constantly changing every week (or every day!). Some days I panic about how much my body is morphing, and I worry that I'll always look like a funhouse mirror. But I'm sure that the motivation to get back into shape will come in spades, and that I'll always have to remember to be patient with myself. After all, it's going to take 9 months to change, so it will probably take a decent chunk of time to go back to "normal". Positivity and patience. It's all worth it for the end result.

Another total lifesaver is my Nutribullet. On those days when I can't be bothered to cook due to exhaustion or a picky palate, I blend up something fruity and green to make sure I'm getting all of the nutrition that baby and I need. We finally bought a transformer (this transformer) to convert several of my American appliances for use here in the UK. It's worked like a charm so far for both my Nutribullet and my Cuisinart ice cream maker, and I'll be using it for my sewing machine too. If you're moving abroad and don't want to have to replace expensive appliances, then I highly recommend it.

Enough rambling for now! I'll talk about this baby and everything associated with it until the cows come home if I don't stop myself.

Monday, August 24, 2015

On my plate: week of August 17-23

I'm hungry. Like, really hungry. An inhuman level of hunger has possessed me. Our meals last week were what I would normally classify as "man food"; the cold rainy weather didn't help either. Here's what I concocted in our kitchen: 

Breakfasts: Homemade oatmeal (porridge) using 1/2cup uncooked oats, a handful of mixed dried fruits, and 1 tsp brown sugar

Lunches: Soup! This is a carrot and coriander soup I whipped up when I picked up a massive bag of carrots on sale. It's not vegetarian because I used chicken stock as the base, then just cooked down carrots, onion, garlic, and the spices (mostly coriander), and hit it with an immersion blender and a splash of cream at the end. Oh, and homemade bread, because it's 1) so super simple that I can just pop a loaf in the oven after work twice a week, and 2) it's cheaper than store bought bread: about 33p (50 cents?) a per loaf. Plus, its delicious and amazing and packaged bread can't hold a candle to it. Here's my recipe


Dinners! I usually cook enough that we both eat leftovers for lunch the next day. First up to the plate (well, bowl) is my chock-full chili. It has all of the southwest chili flavor, but with the added magic of lots of veg and sweet potato to kick it up a notch, a la Emeril.  The sweet potato was one of my genius additions that has proven to be a real crowd pleaser. 


Then I had one of those really naughty down-home comfort food cravings, and resorted to linguine with broccoli and chicken in a pesto cream sauce. (A little note: When I poach chicken for recipes like this, I use the "stock" leftover as a base for soups!) We effectively committed carbicide that day. Don't judge the preggo. 


These sausages were picked up at our local farmer's market. They're venison and red currant sausauges, which I browned and braised in a fresh tomato sauce with some peppers and onions and served over creamy parmesan polenta. Rainy day food at its finest. This was actually a small side plate, not even a large dinner plate. It was that filling.     


Veggie night (we try to do this at least twice a week): Spinach and ricotta canneloni! With fresh spinach and tomatoes in a really light, fresh sauce. Ok, I was craving Italian this week. At least I mixed it up a little bit. This photo was before baking, because they lasted all of 3 minutes once they came out of the oven. This was the hub's favorite meal last week, if I'm not mistaken. 


And that's all the photos I've got! I was inspired to do another post in this series today as I caught up on some much loved blog reading this weekend. Comment below if you'd like me to post any of the recipes (on the blog or by email!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Proper Use and Appreciation of Scented Candles: Summer is Over

I'm obsessed with candles. Specifically, scented candles. The kind that stank up your house like you've been running a bakery or making professional floral arrangements out of your home. I just do. And I like my candles to be seasonally specific. I'm actually kind of insane about it. Fun fact. 

Consider this my version of a public service announcement, which I feel like my new surroundings warrant more than ever. Pregnancy hormones coupled with homesickness and general me-style rage have ended in a rampage through every known possible retailer and purveyor of scented wax in the country.

 I've been writing these little blurbs seasonally for years because it's a particular personal passion of mine, and a joke between myself and a friend. I cannot understand, for instance, how anyone - ANYONE - could see the logic in burning a peach scented candle in the middle of January, or a Japanese cherry blossom wax melt in October. It baffles me. Also, "Amber"? That's not a smell, it's a rock. Come on, enough with the generic scents that make your bedroom smell like a middle aged men's clothing store.

Since relocating internationally, I have massively struggled to find ANY scents that are seasonally specific, because apparently "that's not a thing here". Do you know what is a thing? Ridiculously expensive imported Yankee Candles. And I cannot support my habit if I have to resort to them. So let me enlighten everyone that I possibly can, and maybe we can all avoid nasally offending each other this year. 

They apply to everyone, and I mean everyone, so please, for my sanity, follow these recommendations. It's basic logic. Don't let me down.

So, here are the guidelines for this particular time of year, which I typed up in... lemme have a look here... 2010? You need to know.

August-September Transition

This is probably the second most highly anticipated candle season, next to waiting for it to be pine-sap-on-my-shoe season.

Let us highlight the key acceptable transition scents until September 15th, beginning on August 15th:

-Hazlenut, Hazlenut cream, and all variations of nut scents that do not involve cinnamon or clove notes.
-Warm vanilla, Vanilla Sugar, Buttercream Icing. *Sugar cookie is not acceptable*
-Dark Berry Pie Scents
-Caramel-Pecan and Pecan Pie
-Peach Cobbler (peaches ripen late in summer, so this scent is acceptable. Springy peach scents that resemble a Bath & Body works fragrance from the early 1990's are not acceptable)
-Banana Nut Bread (although this scent will undermine all diet plans. This is a fact)
-Cinnamon Bun
-Black Cherry
-Coffee scents

 It is time to retire the following until after the holidays:
-Beach scents
-Anything white that is not vanilla
-Green scents that resemble a mixture of cut grass and laundry detergent 
-Country Breeze, Country Linen, and anything else with a picture of laundry on a clothesline on the sticker. I'm sorry if you have a half-burnt Fresh Linen jar on the table, but just think, it's almost pumpkin time!

If you, like myself, are stranded in the UK with no sign of anything nasally pleasing in sight, adopt my new strategy: to buy candles on clearance a year in advance, per season. My husband is going to love that I'm accumulating more crap. But I digress...

Here are a few examples of some candles on my shopping list this month:
This will be like, my payday treat if I get it, and I won't be allowed to buy any more candles for a month.

Displaying WL PP C.jpg
This sounds like exactly what I need, except its £4 for a tiny little bathroom-sized tin. In a pinch, and on sale, I bet it would satisfy my baked goods scent craving if nothing else can be found.

Buy Voluspa Clove Pomander Tin Scented Candle Online at johnlewis.com
It's my party and I'll cry if I want to. I feel like that should be the name of all Voluspa candles. If I win the lottery someday, my home will be full of them, and you'll know it from about a mile away. I don't even know what this scent actually is, I just love them all and I'm guessing it will be OK for this time of year, based on the color alone.

That's pretty much all I've found so far. I know of a store or two that imports Village Candles, and that's an option, but once again import = expensive. I might as well splurge on Yankee. I just can't wrap my head around it. Last year, Febreeze released a few seasonal scents around Thanksgiving/Christmas time, so I'm crossing my fingers that they pop up again. They're quite small, though, so they don't hold up for long when they're burnt every day, but they definitely pack a smell factor, in the best possible way. 

If you're a UK candle lover and you know where to go for (cheaper) seasonal scented candles, please drop me a line in the comments below! I'm desperate over here!!!