Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Breastmilk Sweet Buns

So I had some expressed milk that needed using up again; after my recent discovery of how easy it is to make bread rolls I thought I'd use up the milk by making some for my lo.

Same recipe except I used the milk instead of water and also added an egg, a large spoonful of honey (instead of sugar) and some chopped prunes and dates. Also I couldn't be bothered to leave it to rise twice so just shaped the rolls straight after kneading and then let them rise.

Fortunately they turned out really nice (better than the biscuits which went kinda hard and stodgy after a few days unfortunately) and, most importantly Isa liked them, yay! So now I have something yummy and healthy to give him for lunch at nursery the next few days =)


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Morning Rolls!

I met up with a dear friend a few days ago whom I hadn't seen for a long time and she gave me a recipe book. In it was this recipe for morning rolls, and since we had run out of bread this morning I thought I'd have a go.

Unfortunately I had neither bread flour nor light brown sugar but decided to have a go with what I had - normal plain flour, soft dark brown sugar and a decent attempt at kneading and I got some surprisingly nice rolls!

They were so easy to make, all you do is add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 of salt to a third of a packet of plain flour (500g) along with a 7g pack of yeast, mix in warm water until you get a soft sticky dough then get a good work out by some vigorous kneading for ten mins.

Leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours which you get whatever else done that you need (laundry, breastfeeding, lesson planning....) then, give another couple of minutes kneading, divide into small balls on an oiled tray.

Leave to sit in the oven for half an hour or so before turning it on to let them rise up again, then bake at 200C for 20mins (or till they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and are slightly golden) and there you have it, warm freshly baked bread, delicious! And perfect for any time of day, breakfast, a snack, an accompaniment to lunch or dinner. Plus they make your house smell lovely!

I've been inspired now so hopefully will be trying out some more bread recipes soon, and these will definitely become a regular staple to our diet - fresh, cheap, delicious and I'll get nice toned arms hopefully!


Monday, 30 September 2013

Home Made Chocolate Mousse

So, I had a big tub of double cream to use up and short of pouring it on my cereal didn't really know what to do with it (my husband isn't a fan of cream and there's no way I could drink 600g myself before it went off!).

Then I remembered the chocolate mousse cake I made a while ago and after looking through various websites decided this would be the best way to use the cream. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the process as I was trying to get it done quickly (no time for pretty cakes with a 9 month old!) but I got some of the end result and I hope my description is clear to follow for anyone who wants to try it, it's really quite a simple recipe.

1. Whip 600ml of double cream and refrigerate. Keep a little aside in another bowl.



2. Whip 4 egg yolks until they go pale and form soft peaks

 

3. Put a large tablespoon of sugar (I used soft dark brown cos I love it), a large tablespoon of golden syrup and a tablespoon of water in a saucepan and heat until large bubbles form.



4. Add boiling sugar mixture carefully to eggs mixture and whip to mix.

5. Melt 150g of plain or milk (I used a mixture) chocolate and mix into egg-sugar mixture.


6. Add chocolate mixture to whipped cream and mix together.

7. Spoon into glasses, add whipped cream and chocolate powder/sprinkles/similar to decorate.




8. Refrigerate for a few hours, then enjoy!!
                            
   


As you can see in the picture I used rather large glasses as I didn't have any others! Next time I will probably use shot glasses or something of a similar size as it's rather rich, it would probably be good as an accompaniment rather than a desert by itself.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Breast Milk Baking for Baby....

Before anyone says 'euuww gross!!' I made these for my BABY! (hence the word 'baby' in the title!), not other members of my family, not my friends, not other people's babies, not the general public!

For those people who still think it's gross I'm guessing you think breastfeeding is also gross so I suggest you find another blog to read! This is intended for people who support breastfeeding (which should be the entire human race since we'd be extinct without it but that's another discussion!) and would like to hear about it's benefits!

One benefit that is perhaps not as obvious as it should be is that it can be used in cooking! So, since I had some left over milk and didn't want it to go to waste, plus I've recently started weaning my baby I decided to try out the recipe below:

Soft Banana and Spinach Cookies

  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 0.75 cups soft dark brown sugar
  • 0.25 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix together in one bowl
  • 0.5 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 0.75 cups breast milk
  • 1 ripe banana mashed
  • 2 tablespoons honey/maple syrup/date syrup
Mix together in another bowl, then boil:
  • 3 balls frozen spinach
in a small pan, strain and ix it into the wet ingredients.  Then add the wet to the dry ingredients, mix together and use a spoon to put drops of mixture onto a baking tray. Bake at 180C until they start turning brown.



I decided to add spinach to make them more healthy! I boiled frozen spinach for a few minutes, strained it and stirred it in. You could also use fresh spinach, make sure it's soft and cut into small pieces you don't want anything that could pose a choking risk in there like a long leaf...

The original recipe didn't have it in, actually it didn't have breast milk in either but normal milk, but I didn't see why I needed to treat it any differently to normal milk, apart from the fact that it's sweet so you'd need less sugar. Also some people might not feel comfortable putting honey or date syrup (it's not recommended for babies under 1 due to the small risk of botulism) so you could put maple syrup instead, apparently this does not have a botulism risk as the method of collecting it includes boiling. However, some people also say maple syrup is not good for babies for a reason I'm not sure of, but then again refined sugar isn't either but you have to give them something!

Anyway, my baby liked them and he ate one and half, yay! Now I just need to figure out what to do with all the rest since I doubt he'll be able to finish the all my himself... I guess I'll have to help him eat them, they actually taste quite nice! You could make them for yourself and just put normal milk of course!

My Favourite Breakfast



1 cup porridge oats
1 cup full cream milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon soft dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
Berries

Cook on a low heat for around 10-15 minutes, add the berries to the porridge and enjoy a tasty and healthy breakfast!

I love making this breakfast when I have time e.g. on the weekend, so thought I'd share it with you. It's quite straight forward, I have put ingredients for one serving - by cup I mean a small cup, however much porridge you can eat in one serving, the important thing is the milk:porridge:water ratio. This recipe yields quite a thick porridge so you may want to add more milk or water if you find it too thick. I use full fat milk (it's more healthy apparently despite the extra fat) but if you prefer skimmed milk you may want to use more milk and less water.

I keep frozen berries in my freezer, once cooked they work just as well as fresh berries. You could use them fresh though, perhaps add a few uncooked ones too. This is how I like it but you might also want to alter the amount of honey and sugar to your taste.

Enjoy! And check out this page to find out about the health benefits of porridge oats!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Help! My breastfed baby won't take a bottle!

After 8 months maternity leave I'm due to return back to work this Thursday. For the past few months I've been panicking about leaving my lo on his own for so long, especially because it's been such a struggle to get him to take the bottle!!

I thought I'd write a post on this to share with other mums who are facing the same problem! Unfortunately for me it's not possible to feed him at lunch time or anything like that. Even if I did take him on the 1.5 hour commute (involving walking, a bus, a car and a boat) a leave him in the creche at work my lunch break is too short to feed him anyway. I'll be away for around 11 hours at a time so him hanging on till I get back (as I've heard some people do with their babies) isn't an option either. Plus I need to express during the day unless I want my students asking me why I have two big wet patches in the middle of a lesson!

Thank goodness I'm only going back 3 days a week, but after 8 months of not being away from my lo for more than a couple of hours inbetween feeds this is still a daunting prospect!

Babies who are used to breastfeeding often don't take to a bottle very well. Can't blame them really, but for many people it has to be done! My lo has never really liked pacifiers so it didn't surprise me when he didn't like his milk from a bottle! Every time I tried giving it to him the most we could get is a couple of little sucks but mainly he just saw it as a toy/teether and chewed on the teat without actually drinking anything! When he was really hungry he wouldn't let me put the bottle anywhere near him, he would just scream and push it away.

He's still not at the stage where he'll take to a bottle like he does to the breast but he has improved and he'll now drink 2-3 ounces at a time and he'll actively reach out and put it in his mouth. He stills chews the teat but sucks too now! These are the things that worked for me:

- Only give him the bottle when he's in a good mood

- Never try to force him to have it, be very patient and let him figure it out and play with it if he wants

- Get a teat with a big hole (I've got this one, I also have some other teats and I just cut the hole bigger with scissors - this way the milk goes into his mouth even when he's just chewing it)

- Give it to him while he's distracted doing something else e.g. watching a cartoon


- Don't try to make it breastfeeding replacement, sometimes he just wants to comfort of breastfeeding it's not just about the milk, so I don't try to give him the bottle instead of the breast, at first I still breastfed him the same amount as before, this is something extra that happens at a different time so he doesn't feel like if he has the bottle I'm not going to breastfeed him. 


- Give it to him in a doidy cup - sometimes he prefers this to a bottle


- Give it to him sitting up


- Co-sleep (safely!) so they can make up for for the lack of bf during the day! 


- Start to wean him onto solids so he's not so dependant on milk. So far we've been doing a combination of spoon feeding and baby led weaning, we've tried baby rice (mixed with breast milk), mashed potato with other vegetables, pieces of watermelon on the skin (so big lumps don't break off into his mouth), baby crisps, baby rusks, potato wedges, small pieces of very soft cooked chicken, bread, peanut butter, cream cheese, yoghurt. 



And these are some other suggestions I've found in my research that haven't worked for me or I couldn't or haven't tried but anything is worth a go, every baby is different so you just gotta keep trying until you find what works for yours!


- Put your little finger into their mouth with the teat

- Disguise it under your top so they think they're breastfeeding (apparently this works for some but my baby figured it out straight away and seemed rather angry that I was trying to trick him!)


- Get someone else to give it to him, i.e. someone who doesn't breastfeed him! 


- Try different teats if you can afford to! (I tried latex as well as silicone and different shapes but didn't seem to make much difference, the thing that worked was a bigger hole)


- Squeeze some milk into their mouth if you're trying a teat with a small hole so they realise what on earth this thing is!


- Spoon feed the milk!



This week I'm taking my lo to nursery every day - an hour on Monday, 2 on Tuesday and 3 on Wednesday so that hopefully by Thursday he'll be ready for a whole day! Today was his 2 hour slot and he was fine thank goodness, so I'm feeling more confident for Thursday! Please leave a comment below to let me know how you coped with leaving your baby and getting them to take the bottle! Good luck!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Swimming as a Muslimah

Snorkelling in Puerto Rico


It is well known that swimming is considered by Muslims to be a good sport to learn as it is a sunnah of the prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and mentioned in his teachings (ahadith) along with archery and horse riding.

Unfortunately, many people seem to assume that partaking in sports refers to men only, in some 'Islamic' cultures women are banned from many activities including cycling and even horse riding. One of the reasons I'd prefer not to mention (!) but the most common one is that it isn't modest for a woman to be running around etc, despite the fact that it is well known that the Prophet (pbuh) used to race his wife Aisha.

Swimming in poses a particularly difficult problem for women living in non-muslim countries where swimming pools and beaches are not segregated and unless you're rich enough to have your own private pool the options are rather limited. Sure some places have women's only sessions but they're not always on at times or in places that are convenient. Here in Portsmouth I know of 2 such sessions. One isn't too far away but the pool is too shallow to dive and the sessions are very busy. The other is far away and pretty late in the evening. Neither of these include baby swimming lessons or are particularly suitable places to take a baby.

Fortunately there is another option. A few years ago I decided to stop making my life difficult and let my religion be a positive thing in my life rather than a limitation! At university I undertook SCUBA dive training, I've also been diving in Malaysia and snorkelling in Puerto Rico. I now attend a non-segregated public swimming pool with my baby. The pool is 5 minutes walk from my house and open every day, and they do baby lessons! 


No I haven't decided to abandon my modesty and starting walking around half naked. I wear a full body swimsuit including a head covering, I have become a member of pool so I can attend during 'member only' sessions. Before about 10am this means you almost have the whole pool to yourself! This is not only so it's quieter for my baby and so there's less men around but also so I don't have to walk around staring at the floor to avoid looking at people's 'awrah' (the Arabic term which refers to the intimate parts of the body - for a man this is his navel to his knees and for a woman - in front of other women, it's more or less the same). Thank God the life guards are fully dressed lol.


Anyway, I've now been using the same swimsuit for a while and I'd really like to get another one, but despite the rising popularity of the 'burkini' it's harder than I thought! Now I know you're supposed to wear lose clothes but considering the fact that it's going to stick to you anyway once it's wet I prefer something a little more fitted and streamlined. 

And while I know you're not supposed to be 'attracting attention' I (like most girls!) still like to look nice (this is a debate to be having another time!), and wearing a big wet sack isn't my idea of looking nice I'm afraid. I did find this one site which has some really nice swimwear including the ones in the pictures, but it's pretty expensive. If anyone knows a cheaper one please let me know! Otherwise let's hope they have a sale soon!

Unfortunately I hardly if ever see any other muslim women swimming and I'm wondering why? In fact, I also jog along the sea front quite often and hardly see any other muslim girls jogging either! Maybe I don't go often enough I'm not sure, but why is this? Anyone would think Islam doesn't permit women to exercise, let alone recommend it as a sunnah of the prophet (saw)!


It's OK for Muslim girls to swim...!! OK?

Update: interesting article I found here, which shows the founder of new line of 'modest' swimsuits giving a speech about the evolution of the swimsuit and how wearing a bikini affects how people see you, it's interesting and the swimsuits are lovely! Unfortunately not most enough for me but maybe for a ladies only swimming session...



Monday, 5 August 2013

Making it Happen

Being mixed race a lot of people assume I speak another language apart from English. After all, my dad speaks Gujarati as well as English and so do most of my relatives. 

Being married to a Puerto Rican, getting an A in GCSE, visiting Spain and having a half Puerto Rican baby you would have thought I'd know a little Spanish at least....

As a 'hijabi' I have been been spoken to in Arabic several times - the other person obviously assuming I'm Arab or speak the language... or at least some of it. Having studied the language in Morocco for 4 months and interacted with the local people in their language you would think I would be able to speak some... by now... since that was 5 years ago so I should have had time to get the point of holding a basic conversation by now... right???

Sadly very very wrong. Alas! My Arabic is terrible and my Spanish is worse. Yet I lament my lack of language skills on an almost weekly basis, I wish I'd grown up speaking Gujarati, I wish I'd done Spanish at A-level, I wish I'd kept up my Arabic after Morocco, I wish I'd taken advantage of maternity leave and practised another language while I didn't have work to preoccupy me....

Alhamdulillah my husband and I are sponsoring a child in Gaza. However him and his family don't speak any English.

We also, praise be to God, have a beautiful 7 month old little boy who is just starting to babble, starting to learn to speak...

As a Muslim I believe it is very important to be able to understand (at least in part) the Book that we are supposed to base our lives on, not just read it like a robot, at least, that's what I'm always telling people...

I also just re-wrote my C.V. and paused when I got to the part that said in my spare time I am 'interested in languages, particularly Arabic and Spanish'... it make me think... am I really?? Why do I keep wishing I could do things an saying I want to but not actually doing it?? The only phrase I can clearly remember in Arabic is how to say 'I want to learn Arabic' because I said it so many times. 

I think I need to do one of two things. Give up on my goals and stop whining, accept that I only speak English and I will never speak anything else, accept that I'm obviously not interested deep down in ever speaking anything else or I would have done it by now (I'm 28 for heaven's sake!).

OR, stop whining and being so lazy, stop being a hypocrite and actually make some damn effort to achieve my goals and give credit to my words. I'm always telling my students to make more effort to achieve their goals... I'm always telling my baby when I see him trying to do something for the first time 'don't give up! you can do it if you try!!'

The other day my husband shared a video with me, which really inspired me. This gentleman has only been Muslim since 1998, he converted as an adult yet by 2008 he has memorised the entire Qur'an and you can see from the video that he's pretty fluent in Arabic (as far as I can tell!). Obviously I don't expect to be able to move to another country and study Arabic intensively like he did, and I'm going to have to leave Gujurati as a regret that the time to change has passed, but who do I want to be? 

An inspiration and a role model to Isa? Do I want him to have the chance of growing up speaking more than one language, growing up understanding and learning from what he's saying in his salaah instead of just carrying out a set of exercises 5 times a day? Do I want him to be able to communicate with his great grandma in the same language? Or do I want their conversations to be limited to single works. Do I want him to ask me why he needs to bother learning another language or trying hard at anything for that matter when his own mum couldn't even make the effort to do it?

That shouldn't even be a question.

If anyone else has learnt another language as an adult or has taught their children another language (or simply achieved a big goal in your life that required a lot of effort) and has any tips or experiences to share please leave me a comment below. I need a plan to follow and some goals to set but I'm not sure where to start. Thanks in advance for any support! I need to follow my own advice - I can do it if I try!!!

above - I need to stop being the first two people!!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

(How) Do you celebrate EID?

The count down to Christmas each year seems to start months in advance. Trees get chopped down, decorations go up around in people's homes, in stores, in businesses, in the street, online even. Cards are prepared and posted, stockings and presents planned, purchased and wrapped, Christmas cake baked, wrapped and fed every few days, mince pies baked, Christmas special of Downton Abbey filmed (!), teachers plan and children take part in Christmas themed lessons at school, letters get written to Santa and fake beards and red suits are sold around the country...!

These are all the things I grew up with, even though I didn't really partake in the celebrations personally, except for a little bit when I was young due to having Christian family members, I was still caught up in the 'magic' of Christmas, seeing all the pretty lights and counting the trees in people's windows whenever we were out in the car. 

Alhamdulillah I also have some nice memories of Eid, mainly from when I was little and my parents helped me in making it exciting. Decorating my house, giving presents, wearing new clothes, making sweet bags for my non muslim friends at school, going to the mosque for Eid prayers.... but living in the UK in a non-muslim community I've also spent Eid at work, at Uni, at School, or even when I've had time off and been to the mosque for Eid prayers I've come home to a boring undecorated house, not received or given any gifts and gone out for dinner with my family to a restaurant or the cinema... nothing very special considering that's the only thing we usually do when we go out! (well, not much choice around here apart from pubs and clubs, even tried bowling a few months ago but it felt like being in a night club!).

Alhamdulillah last Christmas Eve (!) I was blessed with a beautiful baby son and in less than 2 weeks it will be his very first Eid inshaAllah. So that got me thinking, how do I want him to experience Eid? As a mixed race English/Indian with an American Puerto Rican husband we don't really have any strong cultural traditions when it comes to Eid, so we're going to think of our own inshaAllah. I personally love Christmas cake so maybe I should make my own Eid version! Other than that I'm thinking blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast (my favourite!), Eid prayers of course, gifts (all or part of which must be hand made) and new clothes. But that's where I get stuck, after the Eid prayers and breakfast and gifts we don't seem to have much else to do for the rest of the day. 

So what do YOU do to celebrate Eid? Is it a big event in your family, do you take a day off work to celebrate? Maybe you can give me some ideas! 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Spaghetti and Gnocchi

Since we've moved house and I've been on maternity leave it's become my job to get dinner prepared, and although I though I had quite a good variety of recipes (by recipes I mean my own made up recipes as I can hardly ever be bothered to follow an actual recipe) I've soon realised that my cooking is starting to 'all taste the same' and become the same 4 or 5 meals over and over. So I've decided make an effort to branch out and try something new!

Last night we had tomato and basil sauce with sugarsnap peas, spaghetti with olive oil, salt and black pepper and morzarella and tomato gnocchi. I'd never tried gnocchi before or even heard of them. They weren't bad (they like little potato balls with fillings) but not as nice as I was expecting unfortunately. Still, it was something different, and my husband seemed satisfied so that was good at least! Took me about 30mins in total to prepare.


Post Natal & Mommy and Me exercises (playlist)

Love this playlist, I'm going to try and do some of these exercises with my baby every day! I've already done it a few times but was running out of ideas, so this is great. Isa loves it too so hopefully I'll start to get back in shape and have a happy baby!

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Interrupters (2012)


*****



There's something satisfying about watching documentary films rather than just fictional movies once in a while. Particularly now when I'm not working I need something to stimulate my brain (!), so after a brief Google search I decided upon The Interrupters (see trailer). I was partly drawn to it because it is set in my husband's home city of Chicago. It follows a group of reformed individuals who have turned from a life of gangs, drugs and violence to help the very people they used to be like. Working for an NGO called ''Cure Violence'' (formerly ''Ceasefire'') they use their own experiences to try to connect with people who are at risk of becoming the perpetrators or victims of violence to help reduce the number of injuries and deaths that plague the mainly African American communities of South Side Chicago.

Before watching this I really had no idea about the level of violence that exists there. Having visited Chicago several times I suppose I'd never really thought beyond the tourist's impression of the city - Lake Michigan, the Sear's Tower etc. But this really interested me, particularly from a geographical point of view. It vaguely reminds me of a book I studied during my degree. I miss studying sometimes (even though at the time I'd probably have rather not read it!). But anyway, I digress, back to the point, Chicago apparently has one of the highest crime rates in the US, it's listed in the Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities and last year (in 2012) 506 people) were murdered (compare that to under 100 in London, a city with a population almost 4 times that of Chicago). So far this year 62 people have already been killed, including 6 month old Jonylah. As the mother of a 4 month old myself, I can't imagine how it must feel to witness your own baby being shot and killed, I feel worried when he just gets a bump on the head!

So, my point is, anything that can be done to try and prevent such events from happening is a very good thing, and I really admire the ''Interrupters'' in this film, who not only have turned their own lives around but are now risking their lives to help others. As a Muslim myself, It was also good to see another Muslim sister doing this type of work. I found it refreshing to see another 'type'' of Muslim, someone who, once they converted, did not turn their back on their old community, on the 'kuffar'' but went out of their way to be a positive influence, and did not let their new lifestyle and hijab get in the way.

In my experience some Muslims seem to want to keep away from ''fitnah'' by only keeping good company and thus shunning or judging those who's actions are far from praiseworthy. Of course it is good to seek the company of righteous and good people, so that you can be positively influenced yourself. And you should never hang out with people who are committing sins in a social context. I mean, how often have you heard of people getting into trouble because they 'got in with the wrong crowd'?

But on the other hand if the prophet (pbuh) had done that no one would have ever converted to Islam right? Surely it is our job to help misguided people to find the right path, and do so without judging them. This is what Ameena Matthews does. She was very understanding, and not judgmental. Yet she was also confident in her beliefs and convictions of right and wrong.

So, you can tell that I found the people and work they do inspirational. As for the film itself, I have given it 5 stars to credit the people in it, but I did find it was dragged out a little in places. Although this might have been because I couldn't quite understand what was going on in some scenes! Perhaps because I'm not familiar enough with the culture/accent/slang, but I understood enough to get the gist.

Well, if you've been inspired to watch it or already have, please leave me a comment and tell me what you thought. You can also see an interview with the director here.

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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Mum & Me New Mum Stretch Mark Fader

During my pregnancy I applied Palmers Cocoa Butter Massage Cream for Stretch Marks every day to my growing bump, and for a while it seemed to work. In fact I didn't have any marks at all up to 38 weeks and I boasted about this fact to my family and friends... until one day my husband uttered a phrase I'd been dreading 'is that a stretch mark??'

'No, of course not!' I replied, 'it must be eczema or something'. I couldn't see very well as it was on the underside of my bump, but I had a quick look at it didn't seem too bad so I didn't pay much attention, convinced that I wasn't going to get stretch marks since I'd never really had a very flat stomach (despite numerous attempts to try and tone it!) and always been able to stick it out making it look I was pregnant long before I ever was! This must mean my skin is already quite stretchy so why would I get stretch marks? After all, there must be some benefit to not having a flat stomach right???

Unfortunately my theory was totally wrong as by week 41, despite continued application of the cream, the dark redish purple stripes had spread all over each side of my bump, and once the pregnancy was over, and I was left with a huge scar and stretched sagging skin... I was feeling a lot less positive about the whole 'pregnant bodies can be beautiful/sexy too' attitude and more thinking 'aargh my stomach is like a deflated stripey balloon! *sob*.

Alhamdulillah my cute little baby did take my mind off it a lot, and, even though I really did not want a c-section and still wish I hadn't had to have it, I am very grateful to have such a beautiful baby. However, this doesn't mean I don't want to just leave things the way they are! So after the birth I continued to apply Palmer's cream until it ran out about 3 weeks ago so I went to Boots to look for some more. I decided to try out something different. Perhaps Palmer's cream had made a difference and they would have been worse without it, but I didn't have much faith in it at this point! I'd heard that Bio-oil was supposed to be amazing so thought I'd try that. However, I found that it was only one of many different products available for stretch marks and scars. I decided to buy Cussons Stretch Mark The main reason was because the Cussons looked so much easier to apply! I've tried using oils on my skin before and I always get fed up when it gets on my clothes/drips onto the carpet/the bottle gets all greasy/you have to wait for a long time for it to be absorbed/you hands get all greasy etc. I wanted something easy so that I could keep using it for a long time without any hassle (trust me, when you have a new baby the last thing you want is another thing to do every day!).


So, finally, onto the review! I really like this product! I love the applicator - it's a smal metal roller which means you can apply the serum directly to the areas you need to and massage it in with the roller (I tend to roll it back and forth around 20 times for each application). The metal feels nice and cool against your skin and you don't have to waste any on your hands. It's a serum rather than an oil so it doesn't drip or spill or anything, it moisturises and absorbs quite easily. It also smells nice. I've been using it twice a day for 3 weeks (almost!), I leave it out by my bed so I won't forget and my stretch marks and scar definitely seem to be paler. The redness has reduced a lot and in the bedroom light I can hardly see my stretch marks any more. Even my husband has noticed, which must be a good thing!


Whether my stretch marks have faded due to the serum or it would have happened anyway is question I can't answer, but it says on the bottom they've done some proper trials on this product which have shown results, and I have no reason to disagree. I figure it must be doing some good to moisturise and massage my skin regularly.

My stomach has also gone down a lot since giving birth and now I look back to normal when I have clothes on. I've been exclusively breastfeeding since Isa was born so I'm sure this has something to do with it. Unfortunately my skin is still stretched and my abs are not exactly in great shape having done no exercise for months and months (my plan of antenatal exercise sadly failed, but at least I had an excuse then since I worked full time up till 39 weeks!). I

 am well past the '6 week post csection' mark now (my baby is 14 weeks!) so now I really need to start working on core conditioning exercises, and exercises in general! I want to get back in shape and also help my muscles to recover from being cut into, especially if I want to try for more children in the future inshaAllah. I've been meaning to do so every day since week 7 but so far haven't had the motivation to really get started so that's the next step! But yes, using this product is definitely a good thing! And now I'm going to work on my next goal - going to bed early!!!


Summary

Pros :)

  • Ease of application
  • Reduces appearance of scars and stretch marks

Cons :(
  • None!


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Django Unchained (2012)

*****



Last night was our weekly movie night so my husband picked this, which I had never heard of before. I quite liked that I'd never heard of it though 'cause I enjoy watching movies where I have literally no idea what it's about, what genre, who's in it or anything till it actually starts.

However, it obviously has to be a good movie for me to enjoy it! This is difficult to do since it requires that someone else pick the movie whose judgement I trust. My husband manages to pick out some good movies most of the time though. One time I got him to pick a movie at the cinema and I made sure I didn't find out what it was till it started - that was fun, I definitely recommend it. At the very least I don't like to see trailers till after I've watched the movie, or at least not the whole trailer (sometimes need to get a feel for whether I'll like it or not if I'm paying to see it!). Some trailer just totally ruin the movie for me (e.g. for a comedy it shows the funniest parts, or a thriller it gives away key features of the plot - an example would be Quarantine - so glad I saw the movie before the trailer!). 

Anyway, I'm totally going off track here so back to Django. It starts out following a group of half naked black men chained together by their feet as they walk through the forest, so immediately I figured it must be to do with slavery and set in the past. Which it was, but I was also expecting it to be rather more serious and factual that it turned out to be. While the main theme and issues addressed in the movie were serious and based on fact (set in the 1860s btw) the storyline and things that happened were definitely not, which made it very entertaining and quite humorous in some places. A nice balance between the two. Be warned however as there is a high level of violence, a bit too much for my taste I have to say, but it didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the film, I just think it was a bit unnecessary.

The characters are really interesting and make you want to get to know them better, while the storyline is simple but intriguing and it kept me guessing about what was going to happen next. There were no parts in the movie where I was bored or felt that this would be a good time to nip to the loo or make a cup of tea. There's quite a few 'uh, that would never actually happen' moments (e.g. 'how come he's suddenly riding a dressage horse?? or 'that is such an inappropriate moment to be kissing!') but in general there were not too many of them and most of them I liked, made it fun to watch. 

So, I definitely recommend it, but if you're still not sure and you'd rather not follow my strategy of watching the movie first and the trailer after, here it is to convince you. Please leave me some comments on what you thought if you've seen it. 


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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Graco Baby Delight Swing Candy Stripe

It was great having my mother in law and her friend over from Chicago recently, and while she was here we went to Toys R Us and she bought us this baby swing. She has something similar for my husband when he was a baby and she found it really useful and wanted to get us one.

 

They didn't have that much choice to be honest but out of the ones there I liked this one best. I didn't want anything too big and cumbersome and this one seemed quite small and neat. Some of them had different swinging motions and toys hanging and music playing but I just wanted something simple that did the job and musical toys tend to get on my nerves - if I want some music to help him fall asleep I'd rather play something on my laptop that we we can both enjoy listening to!

It cost £44.99 which I thought was pretty good (considering my Bjorn bouncer cost me more), but don't forget it takes 4x D batteries, which cost £10. Not sure how long they'll last but we've had it about two weeks and used it every day for over an hour and there's no signs of them running out yet. I'll try to remember to post an update later when we have to get new ones! Apart from the price another annoying thing about the batteries is that you can't open the compartment very easily, you need a screwdriver or something and it's quite fiddly. I'm sure they could design an easier to open baby proof cover!

 

Anyway, it comes in this box and you have to assemble it. I didn't actually assemble it myself but my husband seemed to get it done pretty quick and said it wasn't too difficult.

It has 2 'speed' settings, setting 2 swings higher than setting 1 rather than faster; Isa seems to like the second setting better; it puts him to sleep as you can see in the video. Have to say not sure how he can bear to be in there so long and not feel sick lol, but he must be comfortable or he wouldn't be sleeping right? I have to say it does look kinda fun like a mini fair ground ride! I never actually knew these things existed before my mother in law came over! So yeah, we prefer setting 2, also because setting  makes a really irritating clicking noise. I was hoping that it would go away once we 'broke it in' but it's still there so I think we might see if we can exchange it for another one tomorrow! So maybe don't order this online as it would be a hassle to send it back if you have the same problem.


video

It's suitable for babies up to 9kg (not sure how old this would be?) but it says on the box 'not suitable for babies who can sit up by themselves' (again, not sure what ages babies sit up by themselves! this is my first as you can tell!). It does swing quite high so it has a harness to strap baby in and make sure he's safe. It's quite easy to put on but the button is a bit fiddly to push when trying to take it off, however no big deal.

It has an arch (moves back to get baby in and out of if you just want it out the way) with two little balls hanging down but they're not exactly very interesting so we've added our own one as you can see in the picture. It nice it has the arch as you could always hang your own toys from it make it personalised.

The seat has 3 reclining settings but we've only used the most reclined one so far since Isa is only 13 weeks.

Hmm... I think that's all I can think of for now... oh one more thing, you need to be a bit careful when putting baby in as it swings so easily it's not stable so a couple of times it's kinda swung away from me when I'm trying to put him in. It would be nice if there some type of latch to keep it steady while taking them in and out.

Overall, despite all the complaints I have, I would recommend this swing. Unlike the bouncer you don't have to stand there moving it, it does it by itself! Plus, my baby likes it, so that's the most important thing right?


Summary

Pros :)
  • Good value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Light and compact
  • Looks nice
  • Baby likes it!

Cons :(
  • Unstable when putting baby in and out
  • Expensive batteries required (but maybe you could get a better deal than we did!)
  • Fiddly harness and battery compartment

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Twins!!

Was makin myself some lunch earlier when I found this!!! It made my day lol, two little yolks instead of one big one, so cute lol, don't think this has ever happened to me before!

But then I thought about it more and felt a little sad... Little twin chicks wouldv been a lot cuter...instead I just ate them for lunch... =(

At least they tasted good!


Monday, 25 March 2013

Looper 2012





* * * * *
So, I finally got round to watching Looper after seeing the trailer for it when it came out and thinking 'that looks interesting (plus I like Bruce Willis), I'd like to check it out' but never getting round to it.

Have to say my first reaction was a little disappointed, maybe because I'd been looking forward to watching it for so long that I'd built up this idea in my head that it was gonna be great. It wasn't great but it was pretty good and I recommend watching it. The main thing I didn't like was some of it was rather confusing and kinda rushed, took me a while to get into it and feel like I knew what was going on! There was some parts that I ever quite got even after I finished watching it. e.g. the part where old Joe saves young Joe and then suddenly young Joe is looking for old Joe, it's like, hello wasn't he right next to you 2 minutes ago? The time travel thing was a little confusing too and didn't quite add up in some places. Plus I'm never keen on naked scenes, I really don't think it's necessary to actually show someone completely topless from the front! =S

The acting was good though and it did have a good storyline, and a good balance between action and less-actiony scenes if you know what I mean! The ending was cool too, though the little boy freaked me out a bit have to admit! Couldn't decide whether I liked him or not!

If you've seen it, let me know what you think below... oh, and here's the trailer:


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Monday, 28 January 2013

A Man of Jannah

Someone posted this on facebook the other day and I thought I'd share it. I'm not sure how authentic it is (anyone?) but it's a really nice story and I was gripped to find out what the ending was just as much as the man in the story!

I won't give away the end you can listen for yourself, leave me a comment though please! =)


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Brigadeiros

So, ages ago we had a competition for Sport's Relief at work and we were put into houses had to raise money. I was in Brazil house, so for my contribution I decided to make some traditional Brazilian sweets called Brigadeiros.

I can't remember exactly where I got the recipe but this is how I made them. They turned out really well and were a great success at work, though they took a while to make and were very rich! I think it would be better to make them smaller but I was already using the smallest cups I could find, and you need them in individual cups to stop them sticking together. Also the cups are really expensive and not really reusable so any alternative suggestions would be great!

NB - with these ingredients I think I made about 25 but they were quite large. You might want to cut the quantities in half if you're only trying it for yourself.


1. Take 8 tablespoons (about 113g) of butter and melt in a pan on a low heat



2. Meanwhile take 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder and dissolve in a little water. Make sure you mix till it's smooth and has no lumps.









3. Add 2 cans of condensed milk to the melted butter and start to stir...




4. Add the chocolate and continue to stir until mixed...

















5. Keep stirring and do not stop or it will burn! You must keep stirring for around 20 minutes.... you might want to get some friends to help!




6. Your brigadeiro mixture is ready when you run your spoon across the bottom of the pan you can see the bottom and the mixture takes a while to go back. If you take it off too soon you won't have nice round balls as they will collapse.



7. Pour the mixture onto a plate and refrigerate for about half an hour to let it set. I think mine was a little overcooked (I was determined to get nice round balls but I think I got a bit carried away!). It should be a bit thinner than mine when you pour it out.






8. At this point my hands got too messy for me to take pictures but what I did was roll the mixture into little balls and then role each ball in chocolate sprinkles (I used brown and yellow - yellow for the Brazilian flag, sadly I couldn't find any green!).

One issue I found was that they're quite oily because of the butter so if you roll them around too much the sprinkles don't stick very easily and start falling off. Therefore I would suggest to roll them quickly and put them in their little cases and don't worry if they're not completely covered. Trust me, the more you try to cover them the more they'll fall off! Next time I might try just rolling them in cocoa or chocolate powder instead (even though the sprinkles are ore traditional Brazilian). 

So, this is what I ended up with! Let me know how yours turn out!