Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Baby Blaney Diaries: Pregnancy/Baby Wishlist...

Pregnancy is such an exciting time, especially when you've planned to have a baby. As well as those 'essentials' that you need, there are also a lot of things that aren't necessarily essential, but are either so handy or too cute to resist!

Me and Si have done really well so far, we have had a lot of lovely things given to us or kindly brought for us. Trust me, we could have easily spent a fortune though! Every time we go shopping, there are so many things we could easily buy, I must say most of it is clothing as everything is so cute when it's tiny and diddy, especially for girls! We are aware that as a newborn our baby girl won't need absolutely everything though and will quickly grow out of clothes, so we've done really well in terms of not going over the top prior to her being born. I must admit, I do love it when Si comes up to me in a shop saying 'look how cute this is' and I usually can't resist getting those things because I think it's sweet. Soppy aren't I?! Ha ha.

Apart from those 'essentials', there were also some key pieces that we wanted to buy for our little one, such as her first pink teddy. We picked up the Jellycat Bashful Pink Bunny from Selfridges as we thought it was a perfect size and colour and it's just so lovely and soft. I am hoping it will be something that she will cherish and want with her all of the time and god help us if she loses it kind of thing!

Since the beginning of my pregnancy (I am now in my third and final trimester, can you believe it?!) I've had my eye on a few other things that I either wanted for myself during pregnancy or for our baby. I thought I'd share those items with you...

Swaddle Blanket

I love the idea of wrapping our new born up in a baby swaddle blanket and making her feeling warm and secure, re-creating the feeling of being in the womb for her. We will probably experiment a little with bedding at first, so we can get a feel for what's right based on what she likes and what is best depending on the temperature of our bedroom, but this is definitely one thing that I wanted to pick up.

I have seen a few on the high street, especially from The Gro Company as they are sold in many places, including Amazon, Boots, Tesco, Mothercare and John Lewis. I was lucky enough to be sent one of their Butterfly Gro-swaddle blankets to have ready for when our baby girl arrives, so that's one other thing I was able to tick off of our 'to buy' list! It's so lightweight and soft (and that's before I've even washed it!). The design that I have is such a gorgeous print, it's a peachy pink colour with butterflies, birds, leaves and flowers all over it. Gro-swaddle blankets are shaped to go around baby, are suitable for over or under arm swaddling and they have no Velcro, ties or poppers so prevent any discomfort or over tight swaddling. Check out their range of baby swaddles.

I have been umming and ahhing about getting a baby sleeping bag too, which is designed to be used instead of blankets and sheets and helps baby to stay at the right temperature without the problem of blankets and sheets getting kicked off and/or tangled up. As the baby swaddle is suitable from newborn to 3 months, I might just use that first whilst she is tiny and consider getting a sleeping bag a bit later on when she is moving around a bit more...we will see!

Sit Me Up Cosy

I spotted the Sit Me Up Cosy nests in Mothercare when I first got pregnant and thought they looked really good. I know if I really want to get something because there's no umming and ahhing. I often umm and ahh about buying some things, but I loved these from the moment I saw them and I knew I wanted us to get one for our baby girl. There are many variations and my mom helped me to choose between the designs because I couldn't decide between two. I was also wondering whether to go for a neutral design so it can be used for any other children we choose to have, but I've thought that about so many things so far that I just wanted to go for a cute, girly design. I ended up choosing the Butterfly Fields design as it has an absolutely gorgeous print and includes two toys.

The 3-in-1 feature is what attracted me to these in the first place. Firstly, the nest that baby can sink into as a newborn where she can lie and kick, figure out her arms and legs and discover early play. Secondly, the play mat along with toys and support for tummy time and thirdly, the supportive prop for when she gets older and learns to sit upright and play. They also enable baby to discover different textures.

I'm still waiting to sort things out a little in regards to baby's room, but I can't wait to set it up and see her in it :).

Pregnancy Pillow

A pregnancy pillow is something I knew I'd probably have to get. Our bed isn't the comfiest at the best of times, we need to get a new one to be honest or a new mattress/topper at least, but as I was progressing into my second trimester I was getting more and more uncomfortable when it came to trying to fall to sleep. Before I was pregnant I usually fell to sleep on my front, so not being able to do that is hard and they also say that sleeping on your back after the first trimester isn't the best either (something to do with baby pressing on the vein that returns blood from the lower body to the heart which can cause us to feel faint or dizzy if we're lying on our back for a long period of time).

Dreamgenii was the pregnancy pillow that seemed to be the most raved about and it came up quite often in online search results or conversations with other parents. I was lucky enough to be sent one of these to try out. I liked the fact that it had won many awards and that it was a full body pillow, so supported the back, bump and knees. The pillow encourages you to sleep on your left side, which is meant to increase blood flow between mother and baby, but it can be used on your right side too. I have to alternate between both sides as I find being on the left all night isn't that comfortable and sometimes I do have a few minutes on my back as it feels the most comfortable, but I fall to sleep on my side and always wake up on my side. I think something like this is great to use in pregnancy as soon as you start to feel uncomfortable when trying to fall to sleep. Using the pillow from 20 weeks is meant to encourage optimal foetal positioning, which can lead to a shorter and less painful labour with less chance of intervention. I guess time will tell in regards to that one! It also comes with a removable, washable cover.

I find it hard without my pillow now. If me and Si stay elsewhere and I don't have it with me, I get really uncomfortable and feel like I'm just fidgeting all night. It's not always convenient to take it with you though, for example, if you're staying in a hotel (which happened recently) and don't have a car. We stayed at my mom's the other night, but we went to where she was having her birthday meal beforehand and already had our overnight stuff in Si's backpack as it was convenient for us at the time to go straight to the meal. We were trying to take a minimal amount of stuff and taking a huge pregnancy pillow wasn't really appropriate, so it took me a while to settle that night. The best part for me is the cushioning either side which can support the bump and the back at the same time. Those are the areas that I feel most uncomfortable in bed, so they're a huge help.

TENS Machine

A TENS machine is something I've thought about as alternative pain relief when it comes to going into labour. I wanted to buy or hire one so I have it at home to use in early labour right up to the point of getting into the birthing pool (I want to have a water birth) at the Midwife Led Unit where I am hoping to give birth. I had a MamaTENS machine in my Amazon basket a few weeks ago, but as we've had a busy month, I thought I'd get it next pay day but for some reason it's increased from just over 25 to just over 50 quid to buy now. I'm not sure if the previous price was a mistake or something but I thought it was a bit of a step up! Anyway, previous to finding that one on Amazon, I saw that Mothercare rent out MamaTENS machines for £29.99, so that is my back up option if the Amazon one doesn't go back down in price. I've heard really good things about them, so I'm feeling positive. A lot of people (who opted to give birth in a hospital or Midwife Led Unit) have said that they've been able to stay at home for longer with one of these, meaning they are further along and more dilated when they reach the hospital or MLU. Some people have also said that they haven't needed any other pain relief when they've used one of these. Fingers crossed I have just as good results!

The MamaTENS has been specially designed for use during labour and has pre-set, clinically researched programmes for each of the 3 stages of labour, with a boost button to help with contractions. Stage 1 will trigger the release of endorphins, helping to relax you and ease any pain. Stage 2 provides a stimulation pattern which is set to block any heightened pain and stage 3 ramps up the level of intensity during final contractions. It is easy and safe to use for mother and baby. It also doesn't interfere with the body's natural responses in childbirth and works in harmony with the body. The pads that come with the kit are attached to the lower back and the controls are used to provide pulses which encourage the body to release endorphins (natural pain relieving chemicals). It also targets the pain gate which stops pain signals from reaching the brain.

Changing Station

I wasn't even aware of at-home changing stations until my mom's friend showed me hers. She was meant to be selling it, but that hasn't come about and I wasn't sure about the colour of it as I figured something like this would be good to get in a neutral colour/design so that we can use it for future children, should we have any. I like the look of the My Child Peachy Changing Station and it's at a not too bad price. It's the same price on the Argos website and Amazon. Some I've seen are well over £100, so I like that this is well below that and has a nice design suitable for both girls and boys. We are going to pick this up next week and I have all of the changing and bathing items that we need so I'm looking forward to setting it up and having everything for bathing and changing in one place.

I think it's quite a handy bit of kit what with the changing mat, bath and storage facilities in one. I like that it can be wheeled around too, so we can use it in whatever room we like. The bath has a plug and draining tube, so it's really easy and convenient to use and the padded wipe-clean changing mat is removable so can still be used at a later date when baby is old enough to roll and sit. It also looks like there is plenty of room to hold all of baby's toiletries, nappies, towels and bits and bobs.

Bottle Maker

The Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Perfect Prep has been highly recommended to me by a number of people. At its usual price of approx £120 I'm not sure whether I'd buy it, but it's £69.99 on Amazon and I have a lot of Amazon vouchers so it really isn't going to cost us a lot. I think we are going to be getting it at the end of this week! I have seen people on YouTube with one of these, but when people I know personally started recommending it to me I looked into it a little bit more and I definitely think that I'll get a lot of use out of it.

It is definitely a convenience item as of course you can make bottles yourself, but with this you just measuring out the formula and the machine does the rest. It dispenses the correct amount of water and makes up a bottle in less than two minutes at the perfect temperature to feed to baby straight away, which at 3am is going to be a godsend and much quicker than making a bottle with a kettle! I also like that it has a filter system to remove any impurities from the water and that it provides an initial 'hot shot' of water that kills any bacteria that may be present in the formula. Any brand of formula can be used and it has an adjustable base so bottles of any size or shape can be used.

If you're expecting, what items are on your 'wish list'?

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* Images courtesy of Selfridges, The Gro Company, Dreamgenii, Mothercare, Amazon and Pramworld.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Baby Blaney Diaries: I'm Pregnant, What Happens Next?...

Doctor's Appointment

The day after I'd taken my last pregnancy test, I rang my doctor to get booked in. I knew that this was the way to get everything started. I saw my doctor on the 10th of April and I explained that me and my husband had been trying for a baby and that I hadn't started my period when I expected to do so. I also told him that I'd taken pregnancy tests and that they had all come back positive. I went into a lot more detail, but I started the conversation and then he asked me a lot more questions, including when the first day of my last period was, when my LH surge was (as I'd mentioned that I'd been taking ovulation tests), when I'd stopped taking the contraceptive pill, when I'd taken the pregnancy tests and my average cycles (as I'd mentioned that they were all over the place recently). He also checked my blood pressure and weighed me. It was all standard stuff that he asked, but it started everything off and he then referred me to the community midwife and said I'd get a letter/call soon.

I did offer a urine sample, but was surprised that my word of being pregnant was enough, rather than him actually checking for himself. He did say that he usually lets the community midwife test a urine sample, so I considered this to be a usual thing to happen.

Early Bird Appointment

The following week, I had a call from a lady called Jo, who is in charge of getting pregnant women booked in for an early bird antenatal appointment with herself. I got booked in to see her the week after the call (22nd of April), so two weeks since I'd been to see my doctor. At the appointment, I was given info and advice on healthy eating during pregnancy (including what is best to eat and most importantly what not to eat), pregnancy in general, the hospital where I want to give birth, antenatal classes, preparing for a new baby, breastfeeding and screening tests throughout pregnancy. I was also given a general pregnancy guide (an Emma's Diary one), which also had vouchers in for free samples.

Jo started to fill my pregnancy notes in and she asked me some general questions about myself, my husband, my health and other things, but it was all pretty straightforward and exciting knowing that everything was getting started. I was given my notes to keep and have been told, several times, to keep them on me at all times, as if anything were to happen, whoever deals with me would be aware that I am pregnant and would know everything about my pregnancy by looking at my notes.

At the end of this appt, Jo said to ring my doctor's surgery and get booked in for my first booking appt with my actual community midwife. Jo was lovely and she said Tracey, my community midwife was lovely too, which she is, so that put me at ease as I was worried about people dealing with me not being very friendly.

Booking Appointment

At my first booking appt with Tracey, on the 27th of April, a lot more of my pregnancy notes were filled in. I was asked a lot of questions about my health, Si's health and anything that runs in the family. I was also asked whether I was happy about being pregnant and if I have support. I was told that some of the questions might be quite personal, but this didn't bother me as I knew she was just making sure that me and the baby were going to be looked after in the best way. After I had answered all of her questions, she said 'well done, you've passed!'. We had a laugh about this as I was like 'oh...great!', ha ha! She went on to tell me that all of my answers combined determined whether I was considered low or high risk and whether I might need to have more checks, scans, tests or screenings throughout my pregnancy. I felt lucky that I was considered low risk, which also means that I'm able to give birth in a midwife-led unit (which has a more relaxed, homely feel) as long as everything remains low risk, rather than just the normal labour ward in my chosen hospital.

Tracey took some info from my recent doctor's appt, such as my weight and blood pressure for my notes and then she took my blood and urine samples to send off to test for a variety of things such as my blood group and any conditions such as sickle sell, antibodies etc. She also asked if I'd been pregnant before (which I hadn't) and notified me of the early screening tests that are available for Down's Syndrome, the routine ultrasound scans that occur throughout pregnancy, any vaccinations that I'd be offered and any important symptoms that I should seek medical attention for.

She estimated my due date to be the 27th of November 2015 (using the first day of my last period), but I knew this wasn't going to be correct as my periods had been all over the place and I knew when I'd ovulated and it just didn't add up. She did say this date was just an estimate for the initial part of my pregnancy notes and that I'd get my proper due date at my scan. At the end of the appt, Tracey told me that she would refer me to the hospital that I want to give birth in and that I'd receive a letter for my first scan soon. She booked me in for another appointment with her on the 8th of June, when she initially thought that I'd be just under 16 weeks.

First Ultrasound Scan

The following week (I was extremely happy that I wasn't having to wait ages in between appts), I received a letter to tell me the date of my first ultrasound scan. This was booked for the 14th of May, two weeks after I first saw Tracey. I was quite nervous for our first scan, we both were, but this was to be expected as we were going to be seeing our baby for the first time and making sure that everything was okay, as well as finding out how many babies I was carrying.

When we went into the ultrasound scan room, it felt quite small and there were two midwives in there. One carried out the scan and the other wrote down notes from the scan and printed our picture. They introduced themselves and asked me to lie down on the bed and pull my jeans halfway down my thighs. I thought you only had to pull them down a bit! I kept thinking thank god I've got nice knickers on, ha ha. Me and Si laughed about that afterwards! As soon as the jelly and the ultrasound transducer was placed on my stomach, an image came up right away on the screen. The lady doing the scan had her screen and then there was one to our left, which was pointed in our direction. I'd read that it could take a while for the baby to be found and not to be alarmed if the person doing the scan was quiet for a while. However, she spoke almost straight away and her first words to us were, 'there's baby, the heartbeat is tickety-boo'. It was very surreal, we couldn't believe that we were actually seeing our little baby. It's so hard to believe you have a little one growing inside of you in early pregnancy, because aside from a positive test and some early pregnancy symptoms, you can't feel any movement or notice any immediate changes to your body, so the first time we saw our baby on that screen was an amazing feeling!

I was actually only 9 weeks and 6 days at this first scan, so the Down's Syndrome screening that can be carried out at 12 weeks (that we wanted to have done, but you don't have to have it) couldn't be done, so I was booked in for another scan, which was fine by me! It was £5 for a scan picture, but it was worth it as we couldn't stop looking at it! Me and Si were told that at this stage everything was as it should be and that my due date was the 11th of December 2015, but I was told that this date could change at my actual 12 week scan.

12 Week Scan

My 12 week scan was on the 2nd of June and we were so excited to see our little baby again. It was still nerve-racking because I was still so early on in pregnancy and we were just hoping and wishing that everything was still okay. The scan was a lot longer this time and in more detail, which was lovely. The lady carrying out the scan went through what we were seeing in depth, showing us parts of the body, the heartbeat and certain features. She asked me if she could wiggle the ultrasound transducer around a bit, to see the baby move a bit more. I said that she could and as soon as she did, our baby was wriggling around, touching body parts and probably thinking, 'excuse me, I was trying to sleep!', oops! I really appreciated the time taken to explain parts of the scan to me and Si, it wasn't rushed at all and I could have lay there looking and listening all day.

We paid £5 for another scan picture and we were told that baby scanned really well and that everything was as it should be. We were so relieved! We were also given our proper due date, which had changed by just a day, to the 10th of December 2015. For the Down's Syndrome screening test, the fluid at the back of our baby's neck was measured on the scan screen (this was done during our scan and there was no harm to baby at all) and I had more blood taken (this was done after the scan). The measurement and my blood were sent off to determine whether our baby had a low or increased risk of having Down's Syndrome.

2nd Midwife Appointment

When Tracey initially booked me in for this appt, she thought I'd be just under 16 weeks, but I was just under 13 weeks as my first scan had revealed how far along I actually was. When I arrived, I was told by the receptionist that I'd been booked in for the 22nd of June with Tracey, but as I had this appt written in my pregnancy notes and Tracey was still there at my GP surgery (she is only at the surgery on Mondays for community midwife appts), she said she would see me. The receptionist and Tracey weren't rude or anything, but I could still feel my blood start to boil slightly as I had this appt written clearly in my notes. It was a good job that she was still there to see me, otherwise it would have been a total waste of our time and money and I would have wondered and asked why I wasn't informed of this '22nd of June' appt! Tracey said that she'd thought it'd been a while since I'd last seen her and had actually tried calling me. I said that I hadn't had a missed call or anything. We worked out that she actually had a number missing from my mobile number, so that was why she couldn't get through, but that's sorted now.

There wasn't much to be done at this appointment, it was just a check up. She checked my blood pressure and tested another urine sample (I was told that I'd need to give a sample every time I saw her, which was routine, to check for protein). I had a few questions written down that had been playing on my mind, so I asked Tracey those and I left feeling much more at ease. My appointment for the 22nd of June was kept in place as I was going to be just under 16 weeks then and I was going on holiday to Spain at the end of that week, so she wanted to make sure that everything was okay before I went away.

3rd Midwife Appointment

This was another short and sweet check up of my blood pressure and urine on the 22nd of June. I didn't even have any more questions this time, so it was even shorter than my previous appt. It's nice though because my appts with Tracey never feel rushed, even if they are quick appts. She always makes conversation, checking whether I'm okay with everything generally and whether I have any questions.

20 Week Scan

My 20 week scan was on the 28th of July. We were extra excited for this scan as we were hoping to find out the gender of our baby. We were still a bit nervous though because this was going to be an in-depth scan to check that our baby was growing well and whether there were any potential issues with health, growth etc. We were also aware that this was going to be our last routine scan.

We were in a much bigger room this time and the midwife made sure that we were aware that this was a more in-depth scan and explained that if anything was found she would tell us. She also asked whether we wanted to know the sex of our baby if she could see and we said yes! This was a simple decision for us to make, we just wanted to know, simple as! The midwife started by showing us the heartbeat and then different parts of the baby's body. We saw the toes and fingers more closely and the lips, which were really well defined. She showed us our baby from all angles and again it was a lovely experience, not rushed at all. She told us when she was going to look at the baby in more depth, I suppose it was so we weren't alarmed that she was quiet, but me and Si kept looking at the screen, then smiling back at each other. It was definitely one of those 'moments', as we hardly felt the midwives there, let alone think about what was going on outside of the room. It was such a lovely, peaceful feeling. After a little while, the midwife told us that everything was great and as it should be. She told us that by the looks of what she can see, we were going to have a little girl! We were absolutely over the moon as I'd always said that I'd love a girl first, so Simon was really happy for me! We both felt so lucky that we were told we are going to have a healthy, baby girl. She did say (as she has to) that they can never be 100% when it comes to determining gender, but that it doesn't get much clearer than what she saw and she showed us the specific genital area on the screen. I was also told that my placenta was in the right position for a natural birth.

We paid £5 for another scan picture and comparing it to the others we had, we realised that the baby had turned around as the head was on the opposite side this time. After this scan, I had to have a routine MRSA screening test (I was told that all pregnant women have to have this at 20 weeks). It consisted of me swabbing both nostrils, both armpits and both sides of my groin area with cotton swabs. It was quick, easy and I was able to do it myself. I was told that MRSA is a type of bacteria that can be found on the skin and this screening test is done because if I end up having to have a caesarean section and I have this bacteria on my skin, it could cause problems. I was told that it's rare, but if it turns out that I have it, it can be easily treated with a body wash type of treatment.

This is the stage that I'm at now with my pregnancy appointments! My next appointment is next week with Tracey.

I have two pregnancy related videos on my YouTube channel that you may not have seen. One is a Pre-Holiday and Pregnancy Haul where I mention a few pregnancy bits that I've got recently, but the main one is a Mothercare Expectant Parent Event - Review and Haul. If you're expecting, I really recommend attending this event if you can, me and Si felt it was well worth it.

If you're pregnant, how have your appointments been so far?

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Saturday, 1 August 2015

Garnier Ambre Solaire Dry Mist SPF 30...

When it comes to purchasing a sun protection product, I don't tend to buy the same one again and again, I tend to just go for whatever I find on offer at the time that has an SPF of 30. This has all changed now that I've discovered the Garnier Ambre Solaire Dry Mist SPF 30.

When I go on holiday and even when there's a bit of sun (if we ever get any!) in the UK, I never tan. I might go a bit red where I've accidentally not protected myself properly, but my skin never turns brown, it just goes back white. I've tried tanning accelerator products of all kinds, but nothing ever works. We went to Spain in June and I decided to fake tan beforehand as I wanted to at least look a little bit bronzed. However, I still obviously needed to be protected from the sun!

Applying sun protection can feel like a chore to me. Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware it is essential and I wouldn't not do it, it's just not necessarily something I enjoy doing several times a day especially whilst on holiday. Sometimes I find that the standard creams are too thick and don't sink into the skin well enough, so you feel gross and things stick to you during the day and you end up getting back to your hotel and just diving into the shower because you feel grimy. Just me?!

I feel that the Garnier Ambre Solaire Dry Mist SPF 30 deserves a place on my blog for several reasons. Using this product was actually enjoyable, as enjoyable as applying sun protection can be. You simply shake it until you can hear the ball inside of the can, then spray onto all areas of your body in a well ventilated place. I do recommend making sure you do this because me and Si applied ours in our hotel room on the first day of our holiday, with the balcony doors open, but I swear I swallowed half of it :/, so from then on we went on the balcony to do it, which was much better.

The product sinks in really quickly, leaving you with smooth skin that feels like you haven't got an extra layer of something on it. The mist isn't greasy or sticky, it feels really light on the skin and I noticed if I sprayed it too close that a white residue would appear, which I then rubbed in. I don't know if you HAVE to do this, but after I'd finished spraying my whole body, I just went over and rubbed everything in, just to ensure I'd covered all parts of me. Clothes can be put on straight away with this mist and none of my clothes ended up with the yellow marks usually linked with a sun protection product. I also applied the mist during the day with clothes on and again my clothes weren't affected in any way.

I didn't get burned one bit during the holiday! The only thing I will do next time we go away is buy two. I just got the one for me and Si to use and two days before the end of the holiday we'd run out and just ended up using our mom's sun protection to save us from having to buy a new one for two days, plus I wanted to repurchase the mist one and I couldn't find it :/.

It sounds ridiculous, but I'm so glad that I've found a sun protection product that I can and will repurchase again and again :), it makes it so much easier as I was always wondering which one to go for previously.

Have you tried the Garnier Ambre Solaire Dry Mist Protection? I got mine from Superdrug.

Which sun protection products do you rate?

Thanks so much for reading!
Images courtesy of Superdrug and Pinterest.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Baby Blaney Diaries: I'm Pregnant!...

Me and Simon are absolutely over the moon and I can't describe how excited we both are! We have been trying for a baby since just after our wedding in September last year and I actually found out I was pregnant on the 6th of April 2015. I've been wanting to share this news with you all for sooooo long! There's been so many times I've gone to write something pregnancy related on Twitter and then thought that I better not say anything yet as it was a bit too soon. I wanted to wait until after I'd had the 12 week scan and that time has been and gone so I've been looking forward to writing this post :).

Trying For A Baby

A lot of you will know that me and Si have been married since September 2014. We have always talked about having children and about having them once we were married. It's a lovely situation when you're actually trying for a baby because although it can be hard every month waiting to see if you come on your period (I'm just gonna say it how it is in this post), it is also really really exciting! I stopped taking my contraceptive pill after our wedding holiday (I didn't want to risk coming on my period whilst we were away, so I carried on taking them during this time), so it was about the middle of September that I stopped taking my pill. I was under the impression that I probably wouldn't become pregnant right away as I'd be on the pill for about 11 years, so I figured it had to have a little time to get out of my system and my cycles would have to re-adjust to not being controlled by the contraceptive pill (whether this is true or not I don't know, but that's just what I thought at the time).

I felt like my cycles weren't anything out of the ordinary to start with and considering I'd just stopped taking the pill, my periods seemed pretty regular. I was just letting nature take its course to begin with but when January came, I started to write things down and work out dates. I'd worked out that my last few cycles had been averaging at around 35 days and so in Feb when 35 days since the first day of my last period came about and I still hadn't come on, I'm not going to lie, I started to get my hopes up. I took pregnancy tests that came back negative but had read that the pregnancy hormone HCG could be low in early pregnancy and some tests don't initially pick this up, so my hopes were still quite high. 15 days after I thought I was due to come on, I came on, so my hopes were shattered a little and of course there were things I'd read about saying that you could still be pregnant and initially come on with it only lasting a day or two. That didn't occur for me, I took one final pregnancy test to check and it was still negative and my period lasted for the normal amount of days that it usually did. I then knew that it wasn't to be that month.


In March I decided to start taking ovulation tests. I got mine from Boots for £9.99. In the pack you get 7 tests. You can get bulk tests online for good prices, but I wanted to start taking them straight after my period near enough as I was well aware at that point that my cycles were all over the place, so I just went into town and picked some up. Ovulation tests are similar to pregnancy tests in that you have to wee on the test stick or dip it into a container holding your urine.

The Boots ovulation tests that I used.

When you're trying for a baby and you read info online and in pregnancy books, it's a real eye opener as to when you can actually get pregnant. Unless you are aware, it is very easy to think that you can get pregnant at any time during a month, as long as you have periods. However, the truth is that there are on average only a few days during a cycle that you can get pregnant. Typically, a woman is said to ovulate 14 days after the first day of her last period, this is usually based on a 28 day cycle. With my last period, I ovulated four weeks after, so you can see that my cycles weren't regular and if I weren't taking the ovulation tests, then there's a chance that I might not be pregnant today. It was important for me to take these ovulation tests due to my cycles being all over the shop. Don't get me wrong, I'm aware that a lot of people get pregnant without planning on doing so or actively trying. To put it simply, when a woman ovulates, the egg lives for 24-48 hours and sperm can live for 3-7 days in a woman's body, so trying for a baby before and after you think you are due to ovulate will give you the best chance of conceiving.

I started to take the tests in the second week after the first day of my last period. I took them every other day to start with, but as it got into the third week, I was worried I'd miss my ovulation, so I got more tests and started to take them every day. In the fourth week, I had the magic line appear which told me that the test had recognised a LH surge. This was the first time I'd ever seen that line appear, so I went running in to Si to show him. It's quite funny when I think of it now because he was aware that I was taking ovulation tests, but I didn't tell him every single time I went to the bathroom to do one, so when I ran in he said that he thought it was a pregnancy test and was getting excited. I told him to stay excited cause I was about to ovulate! Ha ha. When you get the LH surge it usually means that you are due to ovulate in the next two days. As mentioned above, you can see why trying for a baby before ovulation can be useful due to the amount of days that sperm can live in a woman's body, meaning it is already there ready to meet the egg.

The Wait

As I knew when I'd be ovulating, March into April was a very exciting time. Although I didn't come on when I thought I would, this had happened the previous month so I didn't want to get too excited again. You try not to get your hopes up but it's hard. I left it a few more weeks just in case I was really late but still there was nothing. Three weeks after I'd ovulated I decided to take a pregnancy test, on the 6th of April to be exact!

Finding Out I Was Pregnant

When I'd taken pregnancy tests the previous month, they took ages to come up with the result. I used to take them first thing in the morning, so I'd go to the toilet, test my sample and then while that little timer was going round and round on the test, I'd be having a wash, brushing my teeth etc. It was so disappointing when I looked over and it said that I wasn't pregnant. This time, I did exactly the same thing and it felt like I'd only just turned the water on to have a wash and when I looked back (as you do, you can't help but keep looking!) it said PREGNANT!!!! When I first saw that first test saying pregnant, I was holding it and just staring at it, I was thinking to myself oh my god, oh my god, really??!! I couldn't believe it. Si was working downstairs at the time, so I quickly text him and told him and he came running up to see the test and to give me a hug, bless him. Then I had to tell my mom. My mom then rang me on speaker phone with my sister and they were yelling yeahhhhh over the phone. Our closest family knew we were trying for a baby so I was often being asked, any news yet?!

I wanted to go and get some more tests to double (and triple, ha!) confirm it. I had read that it's very rare to get a negative positive though if you know what I mean and I couldn't believe how quickly the result had come up. I remember going into town to get more tests and feeling so excited. I saw my dad's girlfriend whilst out, so I was speaking to her for a little bit but couldn't say anything before telling my dad. I took another test that same afternoon and the same thing happened, the result came up really quickly. Simon told his mom that evening and I told his sister, as well as my dad. Everyone was thrilled for us. I did take another test the very next day, just because I wanted another confirmation and I had a spare test anyway, but it did exactly the same thing! I feel so incredibly lucky that I was able to get pregnant so quickly after trying. It's awful when you hear about people struggling to conceive (and I do know of some people) when that's all they want, so I'm fully aware of how lucky we have been.

At this stage, I am 14 weeks and six days pregnant! Look out for my next pregnancy post in which I'll tell you about my first lot of appointments and what happened at each, otherwise this post will be turning into a dissertation. We might also share our scan pics! :). If anyone wants to ask me anything, I will try to help based on my experiences.

It's so lovely being able to tell everyone finally!

Thanks so much for reading! Please like, comment and follow me if you haven't already :).
Gem & Bump XxOo
Image courtesy of Pinterest.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

I'm Back On YouTube & A Few Changes...

As you can probably tell from the title, I'm going to be filming YouTube videos again!

I'm really excited about filming again and even more so as me and Simon will be doing a lot more videos together. It's been two years since I last filmed for YouTube and I only stopped because the Movie Maker software I had available to me at the time to edit and upload my videos (on my little net-book), was so slow and it took so long to edit and upload videos, as well as failing every now and then, that I was getting frustrated and it wasn't as enjoyable any more. That is the main reason I started my blog, as it's a lot easier to write, double check everything and then publish a blog post than it is to go through all the steps of uploading a video. I take my hat off to those that film and publish videos every day. I'm sure they all have lives as well, which is why I find that I can't film a video to upload or write a blog post to publish every single day and sometimes not every single week, it just depends on what I'm doing and whether I have anything to write or film about. I don't like to blog or film just for the sake of it.

I'm going to be re-branding my main YouTube channel a little. My main YouTube channel is Gemsi2011 and I used to just upload beauty and fashion videos to this channel. I have a second channel called GemLivesLovesLaughs and that used to be where I uploaded cooking videos and vlogs. What I want to do is just have one main channel, that covers a range of subjects, like my blog. So I want to try and still film beauty and fashion videos, but there will also be travel, life, cooking and gaming videos on my one and only channel. These are all subjects that either I or both me and Simon have a passion for and so it will be nice to introduce a few new subjects to my channel. I am going to try and change my YouTube name and URL so that you recognise my channel as Gemsi - Gem. Simon is also going to be setting up his own channel, which will mainly consist of gaming videos and his will be called Gemsi - Si. This is something we've talked about and so it'll be nice to have our own little branded channels if we can. We are currently working together on the re-branding, so bare with us on this :).

You might be wondering what is going to happen to my second channel. My main channel has the most subscribers and so more of an audience to produce videos for. My second channel doesn't have that many subscribers or videos, as I only managed to upload a few before I stopped filming. However, they are still videos that I enjoyed making and that took time to make and upload, so I don't want to just delete them. The videos on my second channel are from two and three years ago, so they are some time ago but I am going to try and download them to my laptop and upload them to my main channel as a #throwbackthursday kind of thing. I will upload them one by one, either every Thursday or every other Thursday and they will probably be uploaded randomly with the title and description edited slightly so that people are aware, as well as us when we look back, that the videos are from two and three years ago.

I will probably also try to change my Google+ name and URL to match what I've said above, but I am not yet sure whether I will be doing the same for my email, blog, Twitter and Instagram. It would be lovely for everything to have the same name and URL but I'm not sure whether it might be a bit more of a disruption to my email, blog, Twitter and Instagram as they have all been active and current and I probably have links everywhere for them, whereas it's different with my YT channel, as I haven't filmed anything for over two years and my Google+ account is quite new, so I'd just update the links for those on my email signature, blog, Twitter and Instagram and I don't feel like it would have such a detrimental effect. We will see though, I'll keep you all updated along the way on anything I do change or update, keep an eye on my Twitter as I'll probably be mentioning things on there.

We uploaded a new travel vlog a few days ago, which you can check out below. We hope you like it! Please feel free to like, comment and subscribe if you do. It would mean the world to us :).

Thank you, as always, for your continued support! We are both looking forward to filming again and we hope you like what we or I produce :).

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo
Image courtesy of Day To Be You.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Top Tips For Planning A Trip Away...

Decided where you want to go but wondering what step to take next? Me and Si love to travel and try to get away as often as we can. I always find that we do the same things prior to a trip and we're going to Tallinn, Estonia soon, which inspired me to do this post. Here are my top tips for planning a trip away yourself, whether abroad or in your home country (bare in mind, this is what me and Si do, it's by no means the best way or the only way of planning a trip)...

How are you getting there?

- If you need to look at flying to your destination, Si recently discovered that Google now compares flights. If you search 'flights to ...' in Google, it should come up at the top of the page. We booked our flights to Tallinn, Estonia this way as it was the cheapest. Skyscanner is another company we have used in the past. When flying, we always have a quick look at what we can and can't take to our chosen destination, just in case you are going somewhere where they have specific policies. Airlines tend to have different allowances for the weight of your luggage, so consider how long you're going for, what you think you will bring back etc. You can of course buy extra allowance, but compare the price of flights with the luggage allowance/price to add extra and see what works out best for you.

- If you are travelling to your destination by road and don't have access to a car, I'd recommend taking a look at National Express. We used this company to organise our transport to the airport that we are travelling from to go to Estonia. When you enter your initial journey info, results will tell you the time it will take to get to your destination and prices. You can change the times there and then to see if there are any quicker or cheaper journeys.

- We also used The Trainline to see if it would be cheaper or whether there were more convenient times to get to the airport, but in our case, as we have an early morning flight, it was cheaper and more convenient in regards to time, to get a coach. The Trainline is a company that we often use, so it's definitely one to consider having a look at to compare prices.

- If applicable, you might want to think ahead to how you're going to get from the airport/coach/train station to your accommodation. If you arrive during the day and it's within walking distance, you might want to take in the first sights by walking, otherwise have a look at reputable taxi companies or the regularity of public transport at your destination and see what will be better for you. Planning beforehand will give you more confidence when you arrive in a place that you don't know that well and it will give you more of a heads up just in case there are people around trying to fool tourists with high taxi prices etc.

Where are you staying?

- Me and Si use, Trivago and HotelsCombined to look for the best deals for accommodation. A lot of people use, so there are a lot of reviews on the website where you can see how different forms of accommodation have been rated. Trivago and HotelsCombined are comparison websites, so you can make sure you're paying the smallest price for exactly what you want. If you require further help when choosing a place to stay, check out Tripadvisor as it has reviews and ratings for accommodation.

- When we've booked where we want to stay, we usually look at the direct website of where we've booked. Hotels, hostels, guest houses etc usually have their own website where you can find out a lot more in-depth info about the place you're going to be staying. I like to look at what facilities they have to offer, the food and drink they have available, if they have spa/beauty facilities, check in and check out times, what's included in the room, local transport links, how far it is away from the local airport, train/coach station etc. By doing this, you can often find out more than you initially knew when you first booked the accommodation and knowing more always makes me even more excited to go!

- In regards to flights and accommodation, it's rare that we use a travel agent, we usually just book it all ourselves. The majority of the time you'll get a better deal as you aren't having to pay commission. Also, if you're flexible in terms of the dates in which you can go away, do a couple of searches for different dates for both flights and hotels. Different factors can affect prices, such as weekends, special events in your chosen destination or holidays (in your current or go-to destination).

What To Do?

- I like to get our place of stay up on Google maps. You can often see what is around your accommodation, for example, supermarkets, places to eat and local attractions. You can then search for these places online and check them out in more detail. A supermarket is one of the first things we like to seek out when we arrive at our accommodation, to get essentials for our room.

- We use Tripadvisor and Google to find out more about places of interest in more detail. Using Tripadvisor allows you to see how such places are rated by people who have been there previously. I like searching for where we are going on Tripadvisor and looking at the separate categories, for example, restaurants, attractions and places of interest. I then research such places in more detail and make a note of places not to be missed so we have them as reference when we are there. You'll also be able to read about places that maybe aren't worth your money/time, especially if you have a limited amount of time to explore or are exploring by foot. You don't want to spend time walking somewhere for it to be a disappointment, so researching beforehand will make sure you don't waste your time/money. You might even get a better deal by buying tickets for such attractions/places of interest before you go or you might find vouchers online to use whilst you're there (Tallinn has a card that you can buy (designed to save you money), that allows free entry onto public transport, into many attractions and further discounts in restaurants - looking to see if your chosen destination has something like this, could save you a lot of money). Me and Si have already researched a lot of things to do in Tallinn, including a day trip to Helsinki. We are there for five nights, so planning beforehand has saved us time and we are going to Tallinn being a lot more informed than we were last month, before we'd booked this trip.

- Wherever you are going, type it into a search engine with the word 'visit' in front of it. I always do this and every time I get a tourism website come up for the place we are going to. Websites like this not only show you what your chosen destination is known for in terms of attractions, food, places of interest etc, but you will also learn a lot of important, valuable information. You will often find out facts about your chosen destination, weather info, what the currency is, any laws you should abide by as a tourist, entry requirements, the official language, things you should know before you travel, important telephone numbers, whether you need a visa, any vaccinations you should have etc. Every destination will be different and if you're going to a place within your home country then you might already be familiar with things, but this is a great tip if you're going abroad to somewhere that is a little different to what you're used to. Lonely Planet is also a great website to get destination information, expert advice and travel tips. Using these websites, you should also be able to find out or get links to important things such as a country/city discount or travel card, travel timetables, events that are being held, day trips you can take etc.

Things To Remember!

- Travel insurance is my number one tip of things not to forget. We have learned first-hand that travel insurance is something you need. You might think that everything will be okay and that nothing will go wrong, but don't take that for granted, something could happen and you need to make sure you're protected. We use Money Supermarket to compare travel insurance. You enter a small amount of info and a lot of results will come up, including brands that you might not of heard of before. If I'm honest, we go from the top and scroll down until we recognise a brand name, such as Virgin or Debenhams (which can still be inexpensive). The policy price, excess, amount covered for medical, cancellation, baggage etc will be stated and you can choose the travel insurance that's right for you. You can also add optional features, such as gadget cover, missed departure and wedding cover.

- We tend to make sure we have English money (mainly for the airports and the flights), foreign currency cash and our debit card with us when we go away. If you're looking for foreign currency, I recommend looking around. We don't tend to use any websites for our foreign currency, we just look around locally and check the rate in banks, supermarkets, the post office and travel agents. That way we know we're getting a good deal rather than just going to the first place we come across. We always get any foreign currency we need before we go and only use our debit card if we really have to.  If you are going to be using your debit/credit card whilst you're away, let your banks know. If you're staying within your home country, this isn't something you usually have to do, but if you're going abroad then it's good to let them know. This way, your cards won't be declined if they presume fraudulent activity. This is always on our to-do list before we go abroad.

- Save space in your luggage by getting miniatures when it comes to beauty products. If you're travelling somewhere and the weight of your luggage doesn't matter, then it's all good! If not, then getting miniatures is going to be a good shout, as packing your normal sized products can really take up a lot of your allowance. Asda and Boots are usually good options for miniatures and they usually have a wide range. Otherwise, you can get little decanter pots and bottles. Primark and Poundland are good for things like that.

- This is more applicable if you're going abroad, but if you want to keep in touch with people back home or even use the Internet whilst you're away, it's a good idea to see whether there are a lot of Wi-Fi hotspots where you're going to be (me and Si have looked into this and we're lucky that there are a lot of Wi-Fi hotspots all over Tallinn). If not, then you can contact your provider and work out how much it's going to cost you to make calls, text and use the Internet (if needed). They might even be able to do a deal for you during the time you're away. If you're on PAYG it's more controllable, but the last thing you need is being on a contract and using your phone wherever you are and coming back to a sky high bill.

- Photocopy important travel documents such as your passport, hotel/flight info, itinerary, your European Health Insurance Card (if you have one) and travel insurance documents, just in case you lose any of this info, have to prove anything or wish to leave some info back home with someone. Also, don't forget to fill in the emergency contact details on your passport!

- Make sure your passport is valid! Some destinations require that your passport be valid for 6 months after the date you travel. Me and Si got married (as you may know!) in September 2014 in Cyprus and we had to renew our passports when we returned as they were due to expire within a few months. So now we have new passports for our upcoming trip. The passport office tend to add any remaining months from your old passport onto your new one. If you need your passport for where you're travelling, it's worth checking that it is well in date and that you'll be able to travel with it if there isn't long left on it.

- Consider getting Tag&Track luggage labels. If any of your luggage happens to get lost, it can be easily located if you have these labels on. It might even be the case that whoever finds your luggage can locate you before you locate your luggage, this is because all of your details are linked to the pack of labels upon purchase. Me and Si got these when we booked our wedding last year and the good thing about them is that they last for a year! One pack should be enough for two to three people. You can read more about this pack and purchase it for £14.95 plus p&p on their website.

Lastly, enjoy your time away to its full potential. Don't be afraid to go somewhere a bit different and get involved in amazing experiences. Do your research beforehand, check it's safe to travel there, be open-minded and have a great time. Me and Si went on holiday to Tunisia in 2009 and we'd done our research and found out it was absolutely fine to go there. Some people we know weren't so sure and thought it'd be dodgy, not unsafe but probably not their kind of thing. However, we had one of the best experiences of our life, going on an overnight trip and taking part in some amazing activities such as riding camels over the Sahara dessert until the sun set! It was so surreal and something we will always remember. Do something you wouldn't ordinarily do if you can and make it a trip to remember!

What are your top travel tips?

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo
Images are courtesy of Pinterest, Imgarcade, Wild Junket, Backpacker Guide New Zealand, Be My Guest, Go Blue Tours and I Am Not The Babysitter.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Legally Blonde: The Musical...

On Tuesday 10th March 2015, I took Mother dearest to our local Grand Theatre to see Legally Blonde: The Musical. It was an early surprise for Mother's Day, but I sneakily asked if she remembered the film a month or two before, to get an idea as to whether she'd fancy going to see it and if she knew a little about the film. She said that she did, so I booked tickets for us to sit in the stalls. I was so happy when the 10th came around as I was looking forward to it for ages!

I love going to the theatre, especially to see musicals and film/book to stage adaptations. I get such an adrenalin rush after seeing a theatre performance. I come out feeling fantastic, singing parts of songs that might have been in the show and talking about the show with whoever I go to the theatre with or whoever will listen, ha ha! I love to sit in the stalls when I can, just to have an optimal viewing position and be able to see facial expressions etc. With this performance, as it was amateur, the prices were pretty decent for stall seats.

This musical was based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the famous film starring Reese Witherspoon. If you aren't familiar with the story, it's about a blonde, happy-go-lucky woman called Elle Woods. Elle loves her family, friends, Chihuahua Bruiser, the colour pink and at the beginning her boyfriend Warner. Elle's life gets turned upside down when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her so he can get serious with his life and attend Harvard Law. Determined to get him back, Elle uses her charm to get into Harvard Law. Once there, she struggles with peers, professors and Warner. With the help of her friends, Paulette and Emmett, she quickly realises her potential and sets out to prove herself to the world, strutting her stuff, telling people about themselves and finding someone who loves her for her along the way.

This amateur premiere production was performed by the Wolverhampton Musical Comedy Company. The first thing I thought after the show was that it was one hell of an amateur performance. It was as good as any West End performance that I've seen. The acting was superb, the singing was fabulous (I still have the songs in my head!) and the dancing was top notch. Katie Astbury who played the main role of Elle Woods was simply outstanding. She was pretty much in the whole show, acting, singing and dancing and I take my hat off to her (and the whole cast) for remembering everything! That's what terrifies me the most about theatre performances, when I think about myself in their shoes, remembering all the spoken words, the lyrics to songs, the dance routines and trying to be a different person on stage. Those that perform in theatre productions are a huge inspiration to me and I assume a lot of other people. At just 19, Katie finished her studies at a local school last year and although she has played a few roles in the past with various companies in the West Midlands, this was her first role with MUSCOM and what she describes as being the most challenging role she has ever played. I just want to put it out there and say that you did the role justice girl! #snaps.

Katie Astbury as Elle Woods & Fiona the Chihuahua as Bruiser.

The show was two and a half hours long, but I didn't want it to end if I'm honest. It was fast-paced, colourful, engaging and there were plenty of laugh out loud moments along the way. Being amongst the audience you could hear that people were eagerly awaiting the famous bend and snap scene, as well as the scene where Elle wins her court case at the end. That's the thing with film to stage show adaptations, people always look forward to the most famous scenes and this performance didn't fail to please from start to finish. Paulette Bonafonte was portrayed excellently by Harry Golightly, she was quirky and hilarious. The arrogant, full of himself Warner Huntington III portrayed by Tye Harris was spot on and the friendly, supportive nature of Emmett Forrest portrayed by Liam Sargeant, who stuck by Elle the whole way through Harvard Law, was genuine and admirable. The whole cast were wonderful and you could really see not only how much hard work had gone into the production but also how much everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves! No one was lagging behind and I predict that they'll all go onto bigger and better things.

We do have West End performances come to our local theatre but we have just as much amateur performances and they aren't something that put me off. For those of you that aren't as keen as you prefer to see well-known faces perform, I'd say give it a go, you won't be disappointed! I've loved all amateur performances just as much as any West End production that I've seen and just because the individuals are amateur, doesn't mean they are any less talented or rehearsed. A lot of time and effort go into these performances to make sure they are flawless and that audiences will enjoy every minute of them.

Have a look at amateur theatre companies near to you and see what productions they are putting on. It really is a fab afternoon/evening out and you'll be supporting local talent!

Legally Blonde: The Musical is on from the 10th-14th March 2015 at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. I know that other amateur companies from around the country are also performing this show throughout the coming year, so keep your eyes peeled!

You can find out more about MUSCOM on their website.

Are you a fan of the theatre? What's your favourite theatre production?

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo
Images courtesy of Grand Theatre and Native Monster.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Abra-Ca-Debora Pancakes & Recipe Ideas...

When I was younger, Pancake Day used to be all about those traditional pancakes with lemon and sugar, I wasn't a huge fan so could take them or leave them to be honest. More recently, me and Si have been loving the scotch pancake variety and have found a topping that we love! So much so that we don't just restrict ourselves to having them on Pancake Day, we have them as a dessert all year round - more about our favourite topping later!

I was recently given the opportunity to sample some pancakes from a company called Abra-Ca-Debora. They have three varieties, which are Original Dutch Pancakes, Sweet Dutch Pancakes and Diddy Sweet Dutch Pancakes. The pancakes look and taste home-made but offer a stress and mess free solution to Pancake Day. Sometimes it's not convenient for people to make loads of pancakes for their family and then try to come up with interesting fillings or toppings. Time, the stress of it and the mess of it can all get in the way. These pre-made pancakes put aside all of these factors so that Pancake Day can be a more enjoyable experience, leaving you to experiment with exciting fillings and toppings. They're also handy if you're a big fan of pancakes and want to have them throughout the year. They are ready to purchase from the chiller in Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Waitrose, with prices starting from £1.50.

The sweet pancake variety is the kind that everyone will be more familiar with, whereas the original variety gives you the chance to try out sweet or savoury fillings. The Diddy Sweet Dutch Pancakes have the light and fluffy texture of scotch pancakes - mine and Si's favourite kind.

The Abra-Ca-Debora website has an amazing amount of inspiration when it comes to fillings and toppings for pancakes. If you're one that likes to stick to the traditional lemon, sugar, golden syrup or honey, then take a look at the recipe section of their website, they have an endless amount of ideas to suit all moods and tastes, so you're sure to find something to suit you and/or your family.

I adapted a couple of their recipes and made up a couple of my own, so I thought I'd share them with you and hopefully they'll inspire you this Pancake Day :). If you're picking up some ingredients later on tonight or on Pancake Day itself, keep in mind Abra-Ca-Debora pancakes and my recipe ideas below...

Abra-Ca-Debora Diddy Pancakes With Strawberries & Vanilla Cream

This Vanilla Liqueur Cream from Asda is amazing! As I mentioned above, me and Si like the scotch variety of pancake and our favourite topping is this cream and strawberries. Simple but delicious! I re-created this topping with the Abra-Ca-Debora Diddy Sweet Dutch Pancakes. This combination goes really well together and is honestly scrumptious. The cream is a real treat! You can enjoy these pancakes warm or cold, but in this instance I used them straight out of the packet.

Abra-Ca-Debora Sweet Pancake With Biscuit Butter

Here I used an Abra-Ca-Debora Sweet Dutch Pancake with the equally amazing Biscuit Butter. This stuff is incredible. If you like biscuits then you'll definitely like this. It's a spread that tastes like biscuits! I thought this would be gorgeous spread on an Abra-Ca-Debora Sweet Dutch Pancake and warmed in a frying pan so it melted and became all gooey. I spread some of the Biscuit Butter over one half of one pancake and popped it in a non-stick frying pan, over a medium heat. The Biscuit Butter started to melt and so I folded the other side of the pancake over the Biscuit Butter half and left it to warm and crisp for about 30 seconds to a minute. I flipped the halved pancake over so the other side got warm and crisp too. I then folded the pancake again so it resembled a quarter of a circle and popped it onto a plate. I cut it in half to look like what you see in the image above. This is lovely eaten straight out of the pan or cold, but I'd definitely say it's a tad more yummy when warm! I got our Biscuit Butter from The Good Food Show Winter in Birmingham last year, but you can buy it online or see if one of your local stores stocks it here.

Abra-Ca-Debora Diddy Cake Pops

This was a recipe that I saw on the Abra-Ca-Debora website (I adapted it) and thought it was something a bit different. I think kids would absolutely love this! I used milk chocolate that I melted down in the microwave (in 30 second pangs) and a variety of sprinkles. I had these little sandwich sticks that I just put to use as I had them there, but I've seen cake pop sticks available at Poundland and I'm sure you'd be able to get some online, Amazon might be your best bet! As I said above, I melted the chocolate in the microwave and put the sticks on the Diddy's. When the chocolate was melted, I used a spoon to cover the pancakes on sticks. I made sure the Diddy's were covered in chocolate but not dripping and then I poured some sprinkles onto a plate and pressed the Diddy's on sticks into the sprinkles to cover both sides. I made a make-shift cake pop stand using an egg box and some decorative food wraps from Squire's Kitchen (I also used the food wraps for plate decoration as you can see in some of the other images. They would also be good to wrap up some of these items if you were to put them in a lunch-box or take them on a picnic) and popped the cake pops into the stand before putting them in the fridge to set. You could also put them on a plate if you don't have a cake pop stand.

Abra-Ca-Debora Quick Quesedilla

Last but not least is my chosen savoury pancake, which I have to say was my favourite! I've never made a savoury pancake before, but it was delicious and I'd definitely recommend giving it a go :). For this recipe, I used three Abra-Ca-Debora Original Dutch Pancakes. I prepared a mixture of cherry tomatoes, cheese, a red chilli, coriander, salt and pepper in a bowl. I was just making one so used my initiative when it came to deciding what to use (I just imagined I was making a toastie or a sandwich for one), but there is a recipe on the website that serves 6, so you can work out what you'd need from that. I put the three pancakes together and put the filling over one half (I tried using one pancake but realised it was too thin to hold all of the filling, hence why I used three) and folded the other half over, pressing down and trying to seal as much as possible at the open end. I put the filled triple pancake on a baking tray and into the oven on medium to warm and crisp for 10 minutes. When done, I put the pancake into a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat, just to crisp up even more. I flipped the pancake over so each side was cooked, warm and crisp and then put it onto a plate, cutting it in half. The picture above was taken about 10 minutes after it was out of the pan as my camera battery died, so I had to wait for it to charge a little. I tried taking pictures on my phone but the quality wasn't as good. I say this because when it was first cut, the cheese was oozing and it was amazing, but you can see from the image above that it had cooled a little by the time I took the photo. You'll also be able to tell that I tried a little before a picture was taken and oh my god, it was delicious! I honestly didn't have the highest hopes that I'd like it, I'm not sure why, probably because I've been brought up with pancakes being a sweet treat. It was extremely similar to a toastie, it's making my mouth water now just thinking about this, I might have to make another one later! The recipe that I saw online was a quick quesedilla recipe (I adapted it to make mine), but if you look at their recipe image and mine, mine is a lot less clean and not as thick. Their quesedilla looks more like an omelette, where as mine is more cheesy and oozy. Trust me, I'd give this a go!

I hope my ideas inspire you to keep it simple with the pancakes and to be a bit more experimental with fillings and toppings. I'd love to see if any of you carry out any of the recipe ideas above or from the Abra-Ca-Debora website. Let me know in the comments section below, on Twitter (@GemsGemz86) or Instagram your pancakes and add me (@GemsGemz86).

Have a flippin (oh dear!) fab Pancake Day lovelies!

Thanks so much for reading!
Gem XxOo
* Pack shot images are courtesy of Abra-Ca-Debora.
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