Today, was a good day!

Today was one of those pretty darn awesome days where everything goes so well it makes one feel all warm and fuzzy inside! After a mammoth lie in I ventured downstairs and played with my little prince until Daddy J took him out to the shops. With all this free time on my hands I decided to channel my inner Mary Berry and bake! A couple of weeks ago while we were watching one of my cookery programmes Stuart said to me that he “remembered when I used to make him treats” ha! It occurred to me that it had been ages since I’d actually found/made the time to bake, so I figured there was no better time! And here are the fruits of my labour;

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They were so quick and easy to make so I thought I’d share the recipe;

250g self raising flour

2 eggs

100ml olive oil (or veg if you have it)

4 squishy bananas

100g caster sugar

teaspoon of baking powder

100g fudge pieces & dark chocolate chips.

– Mix the 2 eggs together and add to the oil. – Mash bananas in one bowl. – Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar in another bowl. – Add in the egg mix and whisk together (I used an electric whisk but you could do so by hand if you have the time or patience!) when it’s all mixed up and looks like cake batter, add the fudge and choc chips. And you’re done! Spoon into 12 muffin cases and pop in a 200C oven for 20 or so minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Et Voila! Now, pop the kettle on and enjoy.

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So this afternoon comes along and Mr J springs a surprise on me…an afternoon at a near by spa! To my warm and fuzzy delight he had booked me in for a facial, back, hand and foot massage and it was uh-mazing. Pure luxury. If any of you reading live nearby, I would most definitely recommend The Courtyard in Basingstoke. (http://www.thecourtyardhampshire.co.uk)

The Courtyard

Now, due to my self-consciousness over my bad skin, I’ve had quite a few facials in my time. But I have to say, this was definitely the best I have had. The Courtyard use Clarins products and my therapist Stacy explained to me each of the products she would be using throughout my treatment. As I lay down under the soft, warm covers with towels in all applicable places I let myself drift off on a dreamy massage induced cloud. There is just something about the way each move feels during any treatment like this. The hot towels on your face, the cool eye compresses, the way each movement doesn’t leave the body until the next is initiated. Stacy’s delicate, warm fingers worked a certain magic on my knotted shoulders and it melted away all the strained tension I’d gathered along my way.

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Tonight the hubbo has gone for an Indian with the NCT boys, so I am going to treat myself to a glass (or 2) of wine whilst watching ancient episodes of Carrie and her friends! If Carlsberg did Saturdays…

Skin Saviours.

Well, with just 1 week to go before my due date (although my money is on Monday!) I thought I would write a little on the products which have helped get me through the hormonal turmoil my skin has been subjected to! I have always felt I have had poor skin, with blemish after blemish haunting me, but with the joys of pregnancy also comes more of those wonderful side affects; in my case even more spots! It is said that if you are carrying a girl they can “suck the beauty out of you”… As we don’t know the sex yet I can’t blame that reason, but what I do know for sure is that when pregnant our skin produces more sebum to keep it as supple as possible (think of the help with stretch marks!) and this sebum can block pores and cause all manner of problems. You may have noticed your skin is more greasy than usual? It is also more sensitive than normal; so approach a new beauty regime with caution so you don’t bombard your skin with too many new products at once.

My first product on the list has to be Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish – £15, in my opinion a must have staple of any girl’s bathroom regime, and I am sure most of you are already aware of its existence! But in case you haven’t been introduced to it, here’s the lowdown – Containing all natural, plant based active ingredients it is so gentle on your skin, however the hot cloth muslin gives a real feeling that you are getting deep down cleaning action. Using Liz Earle products is pure luxury, from the moment they arrive in the post in their hand wrapped parcels to the excitement of finding what this month’s free mini included in the box is. Followed by the Instant Boost Skin Tonic £13 it refreshes and brightens your skin making it feel loved and smooth with no tightness often felt with some toners. It’s no wonder these products have won so many awards.

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Next is the Clearing Skin Wash from Dermalogica – £24; a foaming cleanser which breaks down the oiliness of my skin helping relieve breakouts. It also contains an antiseptic ingredient which cools inflammation and clears blocked pores. I also have the PreCleanse product – £19, which lifts debris from your skin before using the cleanser, however it bought my sensitive skin out in a dry rash so I have put that on hold until I get my non-pregnant skin back.

Clearing skin wash                   Precleanse

Whilst in Paris, I picked up a few products from BioDerma; a brand I learnt of from a fellow blogger. I went the whole hog whilst up against the language barrier and bought about 100 Euros worth of product (ensuring Stuart was aware of how it was half the price in France than it would be at home of course, and therefore an essential purchase!) but for this post I will talk through just a couple of products; 

Sebium Purifying and Foaming Cleansing Gel – Around £14; it balances out the skin, and reduces sebum secretion, therefore in theory reducing breakouts. It’s a soap free formula which lathers up and really feels like it is cleaning my skin deep down. It doesn’t really have a particular scent to it so you know it’s not coating your skin with perfumed chemicals but leaves you feeling refreshed and clean. I follow up with the Bioderma Sebium Pore Refiner Corrective Concentrate – £16, which refines the texture of my skin, tightening dilated pores and mattifies their appearance – over time reducing the size of the pores which are creating this extra oil causing me such dismay.

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Finally the Clarins Daily Energizer Cleansing Gel – £12. A fresh and zesty foaming cleanser which lasts quite a while and gives my skin a feeling of being clean. In honesty, I think my skin has grown out of this product since I’ve been using it as I am not as impressed with the results any more; I also found the Energizer moisturiser cream was a bit too greasy for my already greasy skin, and the fragrance was a little too much for my sensitive skin. That said I do love the Clarins products and will re-visit this and other of their ranges once my skin regains some normality.

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I, for one, am still waiting for the “pregnancy glow”…with just a week to go I take it it’s bypassed me altogether! Luckily, I have so far escaped the puffy water retention stage – maybe there is something in all that water I always talk about drinking after all 😉

I hope you find these products useful if you feel you have similar problem skin. It’s important to mention that like the weather, your skin also changes with the seasons, and any other factors in life – such as pregnancy. So what works for now, might not work in a few months – which is great for someone like me who will jump at any excuse to try new products!

Annnnnnd Stretch!!

Way before my first scan, I was showing…It seemed to pop out of nowhere and just kept getting bigger each day! (Making it particularly difficult around the office, let me tell you!) My thoughts turned immediately to preventing the dreaded stretch marks. They say these are hereditary so unfortunately destiny may have already decided whether or not you or I will get them, but I thought I would give as much chance to my poor skin as possible as I knew it was about to get a lot more stretched as the weeks went on.

Baby J at 25 weeks.

So what are stretch marks and why do we get them?? They are caused by the dramatic changes your body goes through when the the skin is stretched suddenly and the middle layer of your skin (the dermis) breaks in places;  making room for the the new life growing inside of you. They start red, pink, dark brown & can even be purple, and as time goes on after pregnancy they will fade to lighter red or silvery, but unfortunately they won’t ever go away without laser surgery (and that isn’t always guaranteed to work). At least half of pregnant women will get them and they won’t just be on your tummy, they can be on your thighs, bum, boobs & hips too – lucky us!

I know I always go on about it, but water really is such a super help to so many functions of our bodies – Make sure you keep hydrated and try to drink 2 or more litres of water a day as this will really help your skin. (I know those loo trips every 20 minutes are annoying but it’s a small price to pay when it can help with water retention, swelling, stretch marks, nausea, constipation, bladder infections and even to help prevent preterm labour caused by dehydration) I already feel my bump is massive at 33 weeks, and I have no idea how it is going to keep growing – especially as the baby will put on half its birth weight from now until it is born!

Here are a selection of some of the best oils and creams I have come across over my time being pregnant, are there any you have tried which you can recommend to me?

  •          Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks 125g

A moisturising cream which I found helped with general dryness. It helped make my skin feel more supple although I felt I needed something a bit more heavy duty to feel like I was combatting the threat of stretch marks. It is only around £3 which made it a great budget buy.

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  •          Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Butter 125ml.

A pricier option at around £23, which I found was incredibly thick and nourishing. It has a great fresh citrus scent to it and doesn’t leave a greasy residue like some creams.

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  •          Clarins Stretch Mark Control 200ml

This lighter consistency cream rubs into the skin really easily. It is around £30, but you get a lot more for your money and it seems to go quite far. I would say this cream is more useful for the fading of stretch marks, rather than the prevention so I will definitely be stocking up on some more for after if I get any!

Clarins Stretch Mark Control

On to some oils…

  •          Cowshed Udderly Gorgeous Stretch Mark Oil. One of my faves!

Before I write anything, it’s important to mention this should only be used after the first trimester due to some of the botanical formulations which are in it. I found the oil felt really lovely and moisturising, all the while feeling like I was having a pamper morning and night. Cowshed also do a fab Balm which is gorgeous and smells divine!

Cowshed Udderly Gorgeous Stretch Mark Oil

  •          Bio-Oil 200ml.

I have added this in because it was the first thing I used, and I know it is very popular – However…I didn’t find it suited me at all. The greasy formula sat on my skin and sank into my clothes once I got dressed, making it difficult to apply in the mornings. I also found I was always really itchy after a couple of hours where it felt like it hadn’t moisturised; it just felt like it was coating my skin rather than sinking in. That said, many find they get on really well with it & it’s also on the low end of the budget scale at £8-£9. Maybe one for after to help heal stretch marks.

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  •          Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil – My every day potion!

I had this recommended to me by a friend who has 2 children and I have to say I have not looked back. It is around £10 and admittedly I do go through a bottle every 6 weeks, but it is so lovely to use. It has a lemony scent which doesn’t disturb even the most sensitive nauseous noses! It soaks in quickly and leaves my skin so soft and supple. They also do a lovely Belly Butter which feels lovely all over my body.

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil

  • Neals Yard ‘Mothers Balm’

I am yet to try this one, but I wanted to add it to the list as I love the brand and know that this will be as luxurious and gorgeous as their other products. Definitely one to try next!

Neals Yard 'Mothers Balm'

Whatever you do, try not to get down about them, there are lots of websites out there where people share stories and photos of themselves which can help if you are feeling down about them – you’re not alone, it is normal after all! And remember, they are testament to that miracle your body went through to give you that beautiful baby at the end of it.