A week ago today, Pete and I tied the knot! We travelled up north with our two witnesses (our dear friends Ashley and Liam) and stayed in the stunning Driftwood House on Camusdarach Beach in Arisaig. Our elopement was a closely guarded secret, and we only confided in a handful of family and close friends about the plans for our big day. Despite the wild Scottish weather taking a turn for the worse the morning of the ceremony, we still had a magical time and ended up exchanging our vows in the main room of the house, overlooking the beach. What's that lyric about rain on your wedding day?! It might have been ironic but it was still bloody beautiful. I'll let these photographs do the rest of the talking ♥
Our wedding was conducted by a humanist celebrant, the lovely Paula Wilkinson from Fuze Ceremonies. My friend Ashley also happens to be a dab hand with a camera (understatement of the century!) and she captured all the photographs for us, while Liam filmed parts on my camera so we can make a wee video for our reception party in May. I can honestly say that this was the best day of my life (well, on par with the day that Reuben came into the world) and it was over far too quickly. I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat, and I can't wait to party with our family and friends in a couple months time... and get to wear my dress again! (duh!)
I wanted to share the pictures here, on my blog, before anywhere else. As this is such a special little corner of the internet for me. Those of you who have read this blog for the 8+ years I've been writing it have grown up with me. You've seen my heartaches, milestones and life achievements. I've shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. So it only felt right to share on here first, the next big step in my life as I start a new chapter as Mrs Duthie. Thank you, as always, for your endless support and for coming along with me on this adventure ♥
Never in my life have I felt less like 'me', than the day I came home from hospital after just having a baby. It's not like the movies, where the mother has a healthy glow, hair tied up in a perfect bun, and a miraculously flat stomach. No one actually told me how long it does take for your pregnant belly to go back to (almost) normal size. Right after the baby is born, you STILL look (and pretty much feel) 9 months pregnant. I guess I had an idea in my head of coming home from hospital, slipping back into my size 10's and just getting on with things. Spoiler alert - I was wrong.
My body felt absolutely alien to me on that Saturday night when we left the hospital and headed home as a family of 3. Physically, I felt sick with the aftermath of the morphine along with the other cocktail of tablets I'd got given in a doggy bag to take home. I felt like I couldn't retain any information in my head whatsoever, I had to get Pete to set alarms on my phone for what pills I was to take and when. All my brain had room for was this new little person, suddenly earthside 3 weeks earlier than he was supposed to be (I had developed pre-eclampsia) How to feed him, how often to feed him, how to change him and hold him and everything else which you'd think I'd have felt prepared for after 8 months of pregnancy, always knowing that this was going to be the final outcome.
I'd had a c section, which never really crossed my mind as "major surgery" (I know, I'm silly, I try not to think about the reality of these things - even the word surgery fills me with fear) I was scared to cough, or laugh, or sneeze, as it hurt SO much, and my walk was reduced to a shuffle. I got a shower when we got home from the hospital, changed into fresh pj's and I don't think I wore normal clothes again until about 10 days later. Even at that, normal clothes meant I was actually just back into my maternity jeans and leggings, and everything I'd been wearing while I was heavily pregnant. The contents of my wardrobe looked and felt like they belonged to a different person. I felt like a different person. Physically shattered, mentally exhausted, a body which was no longer pregnant but didn't feel like my own. I wore the same clothes on rotation, out of comfort and what felt practical, but also because thinking up an 'outfit' wasn't even on my radar. Just the thought of it was SO far out my comfort zone.
Slowly but surely, I started to build my confidence back up and think about things apart from Reuben. That may sound really odd/mean, but I'll try my best to explain. Our routine began to gain momentum, we got out and about more, comfortable with feeding and changing and general baby logistics, and a tiny voice inside my head was saying 'Hey Ayden, how are you doing?'. Thinking about yourself is a big thing after you've had a baby, because really all you've been thinking about in every second of every waking moment before then is your baby. Even friends and family who come to see you, they ask how the baby is, but less often do they ask how you are (I mean, how you REALLY are) My answer, to myself, sorta went like yeah, I'm fine... but I would really like my nails done.
Routine and life with Reuben was great, and all of our basic needs were being met (sleep, food, cuddles, etc) So once we got a hang of that I felt like I had the brain capacity again to blow dry my hair and pop some makeup on. Getting my nails done may not be the most revolutionary thing you have ever heard, and it might even sound vain, but to a new mum it really is something. Claiming back little bits of your identity, your aesthetic, and just being able to do something for yourself.
Some fresh nail varnish becomes stepping stone to a trip to the hairdressers, which becomes an eyebrow wax and a generous slathering of fake tan. Your stomach starts to shrink, and your scar starts to fade. You sort of feel like a butterfly, reborn. A distant version of yourself but with a new purpose in life. Multi tasking by keeping a little human happy and healthy, but also by starting to claim back little pieces of your own identity, which in turn helps to keep yourself happy and healthy too. You emerge from that fuzzy newborn haze (which feels never ending) getting the hang of things more and more each day. Reuben will be a year old in a couple of weeks time, and I can confidently say it has taken this long for me to feel like myself again. I'm hardly fashionista of the year btw, I still pick clothes based on 1. What I liked when I was sixteen, 2. Does it have pockets? and 3. Is it comfy (ie can I pull those knickers/trousers/skirt up above my belly button and also chase around a crawling toddler)
So, you're not gonna catch anyone street style snapping this Mama above, but I am starting to find my love and confidence for clothes again. Hopefully this will continue, and I can start to share more outfit pictures on here as I begin to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit more when it comes to fashion (as long as it's got pockets)
*Items marked with an asterisk were kindly gifted to me
Inspiration comes from the strangest of places. I totally get it now, how musicians can write and produce hit records after experiencing extreme heartache, and how in that episode of 'You', Beck found the motivation to write her novel after a bit of encouragement from Joe (okay, he locked her in a glass room, but whatever) It has taken me until 10pm on the 24th day of January 2019 to even open up blogger and start writing something. Before now, I'll be honest, even looking at or thinking about my blog made me feel totally, well, meh.
I've been feeling the change in blogging over the past few years, and I've just sort of rode the wave and observed from the sidelines how much the platform has changed since I wrote my first post 11 years ago. How it isn't even really about blogs and writing, or youtube and videos anymore, it's most often about your presence on instagram and the content you post there. I've never quite known my 'place' as the view around me changed in recent years. I've always tried to do my own thing, but it's bloody difficult not to compare yourself to your peers and want to try and keep up with the trends going on round about you.
This blog isn't my job. If it was my job, and I had deadlines to follow and targets to meet I think I would enjoy it even less. Even less than I do right now, and I guess you could say I'm not actually enjoying it right now anyway. I work well under pressure (which happens on the daily in my real life job) but this blog is something which I've never wanted to feel any pressure from. But sometimes, lack of pressure means lack of direction. Lack of direction results in you becoming uninspired and when I'm uninspired I just don't want to write. I don't know what to write.
I enjoy instagram and twitter (most of the time) I enjoy taking selfies on a good makeup day, and sharing proud pictures of my baby, and chatting with people on insta stories, and being a little bit goofy and laughing a lot. I like memes, I like finding new tv shows and films through people I've only ever spoken to online. I love discovering new indie brands, seeing real pictures of real food I could eat at restaurants I'd like to visit. I love connecting with people who my path would probably never have crossed with pre internet era.
I filter my photographs, I tend to only share the good stuff (with a lot of honesty and openness when I do mention the shit times in life) and I am lucky enough to work with companies and experience some fun perks of having an online presence. But through it all, I think tonight I have came to a realisation, a really simple one. I could literally fucking spell it out to myself. I am not a brand, I am not 'my' brand. I am literally just me.
I struggle to keep up with my own life sometimes, never mind keeping up with anything or anyone else. My online presence isn't my job, so I've decided I'm not going to let it worry me as much as it has been. It doesn't pay my bills, yet it keeps me up at night thinking I am falling behind in something. I'm not going to get wound up over my nostalgia for the 'good old days'. I'm just gonna let the inspiration come to me when it comes to me, like it used to before I got caught up in some imaginary (but also quite realistic at times) rat race.
I think I struggle at times for content, because everything I share on instagram now is what I used to share on my blog. Shopping trips, food, makeup, adventures, tattoos. The lifestyle posts I used to write on here many years ago is essentially what I use instagram to share on a daily basis. It's such a quick and easy platform to use, but I feel like my poor blog has been neglected for it. Why spend an hour writing a big blog post when you can share a short and snappy highlight in a matter of minutes? When I really think about it, the reason above is because blogging used to be something I enjoyed, and instagram is something I have grown accustomed to out of habit.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want to start sharing my proper lifestyle posts again on here, and rather than quickly offloading snippets of life onto instagram and twitter, I am going to give them their place on my good old blog like I used to. What or when that will be, I don't really know. I guess I just need to be ready to pounce whenever the inspiration starts to bubble inside of me. Soooo, maybe see you here, 10pm one evening in the not so distant future?!
I do believe there are still people out there who like to sit down and read longer entries with multiple photos. I do believe that old school blogging still has a place in the online world. It's maybe just sitting on the bench for a bit, but I do believe there will always be a place for this type of platform. And I guess (and hope) if you are sitting reading this, then you believe it too ♥
*Header image credit to http://authorbradjensen.tumblr.com*
I'll start with the good old cliché that this year has went by in an absolute flash. It has been the busiest year of my entire life - a complete roller coaster ride of ups and downs, but one which I wouldn't change for the world. As we close the door on 2018, I thought it would be nice to share some of my highlights from the year gone by.
In January, we saw in the new year with a few days away at Meiklebob holiday lodges in Dumfries with our friends. I worked the final few weeks before my maternity leave started on a film with Artist Rachel Maclean, and had to leave the job a week earlier than planned due to pulling a muscle in my back (I resembled a beached whale by this point, and felt like shit, so it was probably a blessing in disguise)
In February, after finishing work up early my friends and family threw me a lovely baby shower in Pete's shop... and three days later Reuben made his arrival! I had developed pre eclampsia, had to get an emergency c-section as he was still breech, and this little pudding weighed a hefty 8 pounds 10 ounces despite being three weeks early. Me and Pete also celebrated our 3 year anniversary!
In March we were still very much adjusting to life as new parents. Reuben had a newborn photoshoot (which I'm really glad I ended up doing, I'll treasure those pictures forever) and I had my very first Mothers Day. I got to meet old school blogging buddies Lil and Jen when they visited Glasgow, and in a bid to feel more 'me' I went to Blow and got my blonde hair back.
April saw my first night out (and first hangover) since having Reuben. I had a lovely spa day with Ashley at Gleddoch House Hotel, and Reuben went to the Childrens hospital for a hip scan which came back all clear, thankfully.
May brought a lot of exciting new firsts for Reuben, and we started getting out and about together more. This is the point where I started to feel like I'd recovered from the c-section and also had the confidence to drive places with Reuben. We took him swimming for the first time, he attended his first blog event at Braehead, and we also went to Drag Queen Story Time for the first time too!
June felt like a month long celebration for my 29th birthday! I saw Katy Perry and Beyonce/Jay Z in concert, got my nails done at the new Naf Salon, and had a night out on the town with the girls for my birthday.
In July, I had a little cameo on BBC Supershoppers reviewing some skincare products. I got my tattooed eyebrows their yearly top up, went on my first Punky Moms UK night out, and stayed the night at Loch Green in Troon for Pete's brothers wedding.
In August, we bought and moved into our very first family home! We spent most of the month organising and unpacking - with an extra sigh of relief as my Mum lives just 5 mins down the road from us now. Making the move out here has been the best decision for us, and although I do miss the city at times I love having more space here and a big garden for Bronson to explore.
By September we were STILL unpacking and getting settled into the new house. Most of my best friends live nearby which has been a godsend for catch ups and baby dates. Oh, and this is the month where one of my closest friends Heather gave birth to her beautiful baby girl, Violet.
In October, I took my little sister Tyler down to London for the BTS gig. We spent a couple of days exploring the city and she loved it. I also now love k-pop, whooda thunk it?! I also went to another Punky Moms meet at the M&D's pumpkin festival. We dressed Reuben up as a Ghostbuster for Halloween, and Bronson was a ghost, LOL.
November was a pretty tough month. My Uncle had a heart attack, and my Papa had a bad accident which landed him in hospital. It brought us closer as a family, as we all rallied together to get a care plan in place for him and make life as easy for my Gran and Papa as possible. Reuben visited Santa, and went to a soft play for the first time, and this month saw the official end of my maternity leave.
And finally, December. This month, my darling Binx left us to stay with a new family, and I am so over the moon that he is happy and thriving in his brand new home. My friend Katrina came back from Australia for the first time in two years, and it's been amazing catching up and being able to introduce her to Reuben. We celebrated Reuben's first Christmas, in our new home, surrounded by family and more importantly surrounded by love. Tonight me and Pete are going to have a quiet night at home for the bells, and today it's been emotional reflecting on what the past year has been like.
Right now I feel in a pretty good place when it comes to my mental and physical health. I'm kinder to myself, and I can mostly put this down to becoming a Mum and completely changing my outlook on life - along with the things I do and don't give a fuck about. In looking after a baby, I also look after myself more. I learn more about myself every single day, and rather than fighting change I have learned to embrace it. I have good people around me, and I've learned the hard way that sometimes you need to say goodbye to the people or situations who drag you down. 2018 has been a year of growth, that's probably the best way I can explain it in a nutshell. With lots of exciting plans and milestones on the horizon for 2019, I can confidently say for the first time in forever that there's no place I'd rather be ♥
I genuinely still can't believe I have an almost 10 month old baby boy, and that less in three weeks time we will be celebrating our first Christmas with him. We'll be spending this Christmas in our first family home together, and although Reuben will have no idea who Santa is or how this day is any different from the rest of the year, we would still like it to be special without breaking the bank! Plus he'll be one in February so I don't think going overboard on gifts is necessary. As long as this boy has warm clothes, lots of milk in his belly, unconditional love and a roof over his head then I think that's truly all that matters.
This is another reason why I'm not doing any gift guides this year. Since buying a house and becoming a Mum, my priorities have changed and I've really stripped down on what we are buying for Christmas this year. I'm getting some small but thoughtful gifts for family members, and for the first time in forever I'm not buying for any friends (I used to spend over £30 per person for around 10 friends and their kids, so it really does add up and that's not even including family, where I have around another 15 people to buy for and used to spend around £50 on each person) I love seeing other peoples gift guides and shopping hauls, no doubt about that! But taking a simpler approach this year has really taken the pressure off financially, and mentally too. I heard a great rhyme recently on the Punky Moms UK facebook group which has inspired how I shopped for Reuben, and you could easily apply it to bigger kids and adults too...
Something they want, Something they need, Something to wear, Something to read.
And that's it, simple! Of course you can spend as little or as much as you like, but it's helped me be more mindful when shopping for christmas gifts. Rather than just buying pointless rubbish for the sake of it. This year I have teamed up with St Enoch to shop for Reuben's first Christmas all under the one roof, and here's how the rhyme played out:
Something they want:
Okay, so it's hard to know what a 10 month old wants apart from cuddles and snacks and Hey Duggee on repeat, but since Reuben has become more mobile he constantly reaches for Pete's Xbox controllers sitting under the TV. I spied this cute Fisher Price Game & Learn controller at Boots and thought it would be cute for Reuben to have his own version of the real thing (where he can batter it off the coffee table and squish all the buttons with his sticky fingers as much as he pleases haha) I love Boots for Christmas Gifts and their 3 for 2 offers always save you a lot of money, so it's well worth a look as the deal includes everything from toys, to food gifts, and beauty/grooming/pamper products too.
Something they need:
Although Reuben isn't walking yet, I have a feeling it might happen in the next few months, so we wanted to pick him up his first pair of hard soled walking shoes in preparation for the new year. There's a Schuh Kids store in St Enoch, and they had the cutest selection of brands for little ones, I was torn between the baby Doc Martens and the Vans, but I knew the latter would be more comfy for him. Plus look how sweet they are! This boy has a cooler wardrobe than me and Pete combined.
Something to wear:
New pj's for Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning is a tradition between me and Pete, so we knew we had to bring Reuben into the mix too of course. We picked up this adorable christmas sleep suit from The Disney Store, and some comfy fluffy penguin slippers from Mothercare. Not gonna lie, if they did this combo in adult sizes then I'd want to be matching!
Something to read:
Reuben's library is growing by the month (I'm jealous, quite frankly) and when we spied this festive read in Hamleys I knew it would be the perfect addition for Christmas. There are some gorgeous illustrations of Glasgow inside, and I'm super excited to cosy up in front of our fire on Christmas eve (with christmas pj's and mulled wine on the go) to read this lovely book to Reuben. We almost picked up a beautiful box set of Roald Dahl books which Pete found, but they were too nice and I feel like they'd be better for when Roo is a bit bigger (most books still end up in his mouth right now!)
So there you have it! I'll wrap all of the above for Reuben to open on Christmas morning (minus the pj's and slippers) and he'll maybe have a few additions on the run up to then but it will only be something which fits into the rhyme above. There's loads going on at St Enoch on the run up to Christmas, including Santa's grotto (with dedicated quiet sessions, designed for children with Autism or with sensory or learning disabilities or vulnerabilities) and their easy access parking is my go to in Glasgow city centre all year round - so it makes for the perfect place to start your festive shopping in Glasgow. The final person I have left to buy for now is Pete, but I'll not be making a peep about it on here in case he is having a read!
If you've never heard that little rhyme before, I hope you find it helpful and can maybe apply it to little kids (or bigger kids) who you're buying for this year. You don't need to get yourself into debt or make yourself sick with stress when it comes to Christmas, it's just not worth it. A fancy and stupidly expensive candle might be a 'stocking filler' to some, but in reality it's a couple days worth of wages to others, and this sort of pressure is something I'm trying to avoid like the plague when reading christmas shopping guides on the internet this year. A simple approach with lots of thought and love behind it is worth its weight in gold, and don't let anyone tell you or make you feel any different ♥
This post was written in collaboration with St Enoch, but all thoughts are my own, as always!
Never in 2019 did I think I would start a blog post saying 'I need to take more pictures of my cats'. But I really, REALLY do. I share so much of Reuben and Bronson on my social media these days, that some people might wonder what happened to my OGs, Dexter and Binx. They're still here, snoozing away in the background, slipping under the covers for cuddles and watching the view of the birds in our Garden at the new house. I never give these two furry lads enough credit. They've adapted extremely well to so many big changes over the past few years. Moving house twice, gaining a puppy fur brother and now a human brother too.
Dexter is 6 years old now, and Binx is 4. Dexter is a typical Ragdoll through and through, the chillest cat you will ever meet who loves the quiet life. Then came along Binx, the wild cat (literally) who constantly has a look of mischief in his eye. I don't know what breed Binx is, as he's feral, but the older he gets, the larger and fluffier he's become. He's developed a sturdy build similar to that of a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat. I know deep down that Binx isn't meant to be an indoor cat, but I was never able to let him out at our old flat as we lived on the second floor of a tenement building on a busy main road. He has a lot of built up energy, and tends to take it out on Dexter or the dog (or us!) and is an intense character who loves a bit of rough play. Since we have moved to the new house Dexter really enjoys watching the view from every single window in the house, and Binx has started to show an interest in what's on the other side of those windows. I've been in two minds about letting him outside, but we live in a very quiet area and have a massive garden at the back, so he's started venturing outside whenever Bronson goes out for a pee. I've been told if I want to start letting him out properly I'll need to get him vaccinated (and possibly get Dexter vaccinated too just to be safe) so if anyone has any experience of turning an indoor cat into an outdoor cat then I'd love to hear how you got on!
Dexter is a die hard fan of dry food (he won't even eat tinned tuna or cooked chicken - weirdo) so I've ended up giving Binx the same diet as him. But oh boy, Binx LOVES wet food. I often forget this until sometimes in the supermarket I'll randomly pick up some sachets for him, and he absolutely laps them up. These Whiskas Cat Casseroles are a total treat for Binx, he likes the ones in jelly (so he can lick all the jelly off before he eats the meat, whatever floats your boat my darling!) And when he licks the bowl clean, I do ask myself why don't I give him wet food every day? Cause this boy deserves whatever makes him happy, every single day. All of my furry babies do! I think if I decide to graduate Binx from indoor to outdoor cat, I'll probably up his calorie intake and start introducing wet food as well as dry. It's funny speaking about cats as if we 'own' them, when everyone knows it's really the cats who own us...
I mean, Dexter has already pursued a career in modelling thanks to Blow (and the gorgeous Sheri aka Forever Yours Betty) so he's already halfway there to earning his rent!
Although some days with animals can be stressful, and you lose count of the amount of furniture and wallpaper that gets ruined, and the litter you sweep up and the occasional furball... I feel very blessed to have these fluffy little pals in my life and how well they have adapted to changes over the years. They've comforted me when I've been down, curled up asleep next to me when I've not been feeling well, and they are so good with Reuben it's amazing (hoping I'll still be saying that once he's up on his feet and can run after them) The most common phrase I hear from visitors to my house is 'I don't usually like cats, but I like your cats' and that fills me with joy. As long as they don't mind a good patting down from the lint roller on the way out!
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” - Jean Cocteau
This post is in collaboration with with WHISKAS® but all thoughts are my own
I probably shouldn't have started writing this post while I'm waiting on my dinner and super hungry... or when it's a cosy Sunday evening, we've got the fire roaring and the thought of a wee cocktail sounds just ideal right about now. We have more nights in rather than nights out these days, but a couple of weeks ago my Mum took Reuben for the afternoon so me and Pete could go on a lil daytime date. We went to the cinema to see The Wife, a film I worked on a couple of years ago now which has finally been released. Then we popped down to the newly opened Revolution on Mitchell Street for a bite to eat and some drinks.
Situated in the old Tunnel night club on Mitchell Street, the new Revolution is just a 2 minute walk from Central Station, slap bang in the city centre. The interior is fab, a huge open plan space with quite an industrial edge - exposed brick walls, distressed copper tables, quirky lighting and lots of artwork depicting scenes of anarchy with a russian propaganda vibe. I celebrated my 29th birthday with my girl pals at the Revolution on Renfrew Street, so I was excited to see what the new bar had to offer.
Starting with drinks, I went for a Glug Jug which was a sweet but strong concoction of gin and fruit juices, and Pete went for the non alcoholic Smooth Talker, which tasted like an alcohol free version of an amaretto sour (my favourite drink!) The virgin cocktails are mixed into the menu with the regular alcoholic cocktails, rather than being in their own separate list. But oh my days, they all looked and sounded delicious. I managed to work my way through quite a few on the list when I was out for my birthday, but I've still got lots left to try. I love the design of the menus and posters at Rev, they've got their branding down to a t and I think that combined with the interior design makes for a really cool vibe and atmosphere. As I've grown older, this tends to matter more to me as I'd rather spend time with my friends in a cool bar with a nice vibe rather than going to a nightclub.
Food wise, I'll be honest and say it is essentially pub grub, at pub prices but with some really quirky options on the menu. I went for 3 grazer plates for £14, which was good as I like to nibble at a few different things rather than the one big meal. The Katsu Chicken Strips were delicious, the curry sauce was sweet and tasty and if anything I could have done with a little more of it. The Sticky Chicken bites were also really nice (and very moreish!) and their rib ticking bbq sauce has just a little kick to it which is perfect for spice-phobes like me. I'd love a bottle of that stuff to take home with me! Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed by the Bocconcini, I usually love mozzarella and sunblushed tomatoes but I'm wondering if the tomatoes were a little past their use by date as they tasted that sorta 'fizzy' way which happens when they're less than fresh, so that's not great. Pete had the Blackened Chicken Burger with Skin On Fries, served in a nice wholemeal seeded bun. He's on a health kick at the moment otherwise I think he would have went for The Mother Clucker or The Smoke King burgers, both sounded out of this world! But he was very happy with a tasty (and somewhat healthy?!) cajun chicken burger.
Just realised I'm talking about Pete being on a health kick - he did get dessert! Haha. After the pictures I'd seen on the Revolution instagram there was no way I wasn't gonna try one of these bad boys. Pete got the Bombshell Brownie, which consisted of chocolate brownie bites, salted caramel chocolate sauce, golden honeycomb chunks and chocolate ice cream, sprinkled with popping candy. It was as delicious as that description sounds! I went for the Cookie Dough S'more, and I feel like crying looking at that picture because it was honestly SO GOOD, I couldn't finish the whole thing. It was so sweet and 3/4 of the way through my stomach started to ache (worth it though) Half baked chocolate chip cookie dough, melted nutella and toasted mini marshmallows, served with salted caramel chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. All of the desserts at Revolution are under a fiver, and there's nothing traditional in sight! (well, apart from a cheescake, but I shall never discriminate against cheesecake)
I'll definitely be back to Revolution again. They have great options for sharing platters on the menu (I'm looking at the tear 'n' share baked camembert which I DEFO wouldn't be sharing with aaaaanyone though) which makes it a perfect place to head with your pals for a nibble and some awesome cocktails after work or on a night out. Laid back all day dining, a cool but cosy interior, open until 3am for you party people, and a mixed range of options to eat and drink to keep the whole crew happy.
Oh baby boy, just look at you. The past 7 months have went by in an absolute blur, but at the same time it feels like Reuben has been here forever. I look at my timehop from a year ago, and being pregnant feels like such a distant memory (not distant enough yet that I could confidently contemplate the thought of bringing another human into the world any time soon - ha!) We have spent the last couple of months settling into our new home, away from the bright lights of the city and instead we nestle into the leafy suburbs, everything quiet and calm and more than we could have ever wished for. I'll be sharing some photos of the new house on here soon (if anyone fancies a nosy?) and thought I'd start off with a little tour of Reuben's bedroom and how he's been doing since the last update a couple of months ago.
Folks, it's true that when you have a baby, your bathroom loses the expensive candles and cleansers by the side of the bath and is replaced with all the colourful stuff that gets thrown into the tub at 7pm every night. Reuben gets his dinner at 6pm, a bath just after that, then a final bottle before bed and he's generally asleep by 7.30/8pm every night. Bath time is something which he really enjoys, and recently he is LOVING having some toys to play with, especially ones which squirt water because apparently that's just hilarious. The Hape Rock Pool Squirters and the Ocean Floor Squirters are super cute, with one from each set sticking to the side of the bath (again, another hilarious thing in Reuben's opinion) and you can take them apart to clean and dry them inside too. The stacking set was a gift from my Gran, I can't seem to find a link to that but the brand is Nuby. Next in the bath line up we have the Hape Teddy and Duck Mitt Set, which Reuben seems to like better to have his dirty post dinner face wiped with rather than a sponge. The lil baby duck mitt which comes with it is so damn sweet I could cry, it fits over his wee hand and is like a mini version of the big one and basically my emotions (and my ovaries) just can't handle that sort of cuteness right now. At the moment we are using Childs Farm bath and body bubbles, along with the Eco By Naty Shampoo (all cruelty free and smell lovely) and our bath thermometer from the Scottish Baby Box is still going strong too.
I think that middle picture is what we call 'instagram vs reality' haha. I just wanted to put it up there for the people who say Reuben never cries - he DOES cry, and there's generally a good reason to be honest. Normally hunger or being over tired (I would cry for those reasons too tbh) But the night I took these pictures he was being particularly tricky... however with very good reason, as he's suddenly sprouted two teeth! Both the typical first baby teeth, at the bottom and in the middle. They are so smol and precious but also very strong and jaggy as I discovered when he decided to take a wee nibble of my finger the other day. You can also see Reubens tongue tie quite well in the crying picture. This was the reason our breastfeeding journey ended so abruptly, but that's a chat for a whole other post.
Reuben is getting so active during the day, that I've had to move him onto pull up pants for daytime (just the standard pampers ones) and I've got him on the Aldi Mamia 4+ nappies at night. These nappies have never leaked, and that's with him sleeping 11-12 hours, which is absolutely fantastic! Unfortunately the Naty nappies started not working for us anymore at bedtime, because as soon as he started flipping onto his tummy and lifting his knees up that pee was escaping from somewhere. And as soon as he was wet through to his sleeping bag (often a couple of times a night) he would wake up crying and we'd need to do a full change... which made me want to cry too. The Mamia nappies are only £2.69 for 44 (ABSOLUTE BARGAIN) and to be honest if they did a pull up version I'd probably use them for Roo during the day too. Although they don't come with the same level of biodegradability as the Naty Nappies, the Aldi range are made using fibres from a sustainable forestry initiative, so that's a thumbs up from an eco point of view. The absolute golden new find from Aldi though is their wipes. OH MY DAYS. Folks, they are the one. They don't break apart when you pull them out the pack, they don't have a strong scent, and they have the perfect level of moisture to wipe up whatever is waiting for you in that nappy. I have been using the Sensitive Baby Wipes (at 49p a pack) and we've never had a problem with nappy rash either. I was determined that the cheaper brands wouldn't be able to compete with the bigger household names, but I'm happy to have been proven wrong. Every baby has a different body shape and as they grow and change I think you need to be not scared of trying different brands and seeing what works best for your little one.
Another default in household name vs cheaper versions is the Ellas Kitchen meals and snacks vs the Aldi Mamia range. Reuben has tried both, and loved both, yet the price differs greatly and the ingredient list looks identical. I lined up the Organix Carrot Stick Crisps next to the Aldi Mamia version and word for word the ingredients are the same, along with the organic rating, yet the Mamia version are considerably cheaper. I think it's easy as a new parent to fall under the trap of 'whatever is the most expensive must be the best for my baby' - but now I'm confident with Reuben and our routine it's been interesting to move away from the comfort zone of the big brand names whose advertising has wormed its way into your subconscious (often before you've even had a baby) and give some alternatives a go. Reuben is happy and my bank balance is happy too. Plus, you've got to love an underdog eh! We've went down the baby led weaning route with Reuben, but while stocking up on nappies and wipes I grabbed some baby snacks, fruit puree tubs and dinner pouches for when we're on the go, and he's thoroughly enjoyed them all so far.
We've been so lucky that our house was pretty much in move in condition, so right now we've held off from painting or laying new carpets etc as we feel like it's not a priority at the moment. This has meant working with the existing decor when it came to kitting out Roo's room (and every other room) and I'm pleased with how it turned out considering this! We bought Reuben a wardrobe from Ikea to match the drawer unit we already have, and the Next 2 Me Crib has been popped up in the loft and replaced with a cot bed kindly given to us by my friends Luisa and Ian. For the curtains, rug, and other accessories I shopped at a mixture of Dunelm Mill, H&M Home, Flying Tiger, Ebay, and Amazon. Too many products to list but if there's anything in particular you want to know where it's from just leave a comment below. Moving home is hella expensive but I'm happy at how the room turned out considering we were on a budget.
A fresh start in a new home, with more space for all of us, had been something I was craving ever since I found out I was pregnant. We live 5 minutes down the road from my Mum and my Gran, and it's lovely to be able to swing past and visit them so easily, and much more convenient whenever we need to get the little guy looked after for a few hours (especially when I'm starting to dip my toe back into the world of work) Now I'm off to make a cuppa and get ready, as we're heading out to hang with my bestie Gemma today (again, she only lives 5 mins away now - result!) but I hope you all have a smashing Friday whatever you're up to.
I am definitely not an expert when it comes to applying makeup, but I like to think I've improved since my early blogging days in 2010 (this post was my 'daily face' back then, looool) I remember fondly posting makeup 'hauls' and aaaall of the selfies, in particular when we all got excited about new launches such as Mac Venomous Villains! Back then I wasn't scared about posting my makeup face on the internet in comparison to today... where I feel like the standards are super high and I'll probably get laughed at by some young 'uns who have perfected their cut creases and contouring down to a t. In my opinion, teens nowadays miss out the rite of passage which we had after the millennium, of amateur (and very lovingly) applied makeup with the likes of Miss Sporty foundation (on your lips too of course) Barry M Dazzle Dust (the green shimmer was my fave) and absolutely nada on your eyebrows because that just wasn't a thing yet. Actually, having a lot of eyebrow hair wasn't really a thing either - and 10 years on I am still suffering from the over plucking 19 year old Ayden thought was a fabulous idea to do.
Fast forward to today, the biggest change in my makeup bag/routine is that everything I use is cruelty free. Don't get me wrong, I didn't chuck out every Mac lipstick in my makeup bag but there are certain products I won't be replacing and have found cruelty free alternatives for. I had a couple of baby free hours last week so decided to photograph a 'taking my sweet ass time' makeup look, which is essentially exactly what it says on the tin haha. This is the sort of makeup I like to do when I have time to actually sit down and do it - full coverage, smokey eyes and winged liner (normally before a night out, with a glass of gin in hand, but I've not had one of those in a while!) Here's what I used on my face:
As you can see in the close up I was pores galore when I took these photographs! Which is in no way a bad reflection on the primer or foundation I used - my skin had just been feeling really dull for a while and I felt like any bit of makeup clung to the troublesome bits of my skin quite badly. Since then, I've been doing some at home facial peels (Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel) which I was kindly gifted by a local salon - Roar Hair & Beauty, and this week I got dermaplanning done for the first time and OMG IT WAS HEAVENLY. Seeing all the crap then scrape from your skin is extremely satisfying. And my face is feeling so much better for it. I need to get back into a good skincare routine before bed, so if there's any nice new products you've tried and would recommend please let me know! I have 5 empty Lush tubs sitting in my bathroom at the moment, which equals a free fresh face mask when you hand them in, so I shall need to do that soon. I also still have a voucher for the Lush Spa through in Edinburgh which Pete got me for my birthday last year, so hoping we can book up for that in the next few months. You know that feeling where your whole body needs a complete overhaul - a proper deep massage and exfoliation, moisturising hair mask, all of the face masks, basically a full MOT! Like that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her gang get taken for makeovers in the Emerald City. That would be bloody lovely ♥
You know that feeling when it's Wednesday, your to do list is giving you evils, your self care is at zero and your shoulders and back are in agony (let's face it, most of your body is sore because that's what unexplainably happens now that you're almost 30) Well, that's what is punching me right in the feels today folks, that and photos of my day trip a couple of months ago to Gleddoch Hotel with one of my best Gal Pals, Ashley.
I would never have met Ashley if it wasn't for this blog, and to this day that still BLOWS MY MIND. She is one of my closest and dearest friends, and one of the most hard working people I have ever met. Actually, she probably IS the most hard working person I've ever met. Those who work hard should also rest equally as hard. So when Gleddoch got in touch to invite me along to their 4 star hotel & spa for afternoon tea and some treatments, I knew just the gal to bring as my plus one (who probably deserved some R&R time much more than me!)
Gleddoch House Hotel is situated in Langbank, around a 20 minute drive from Glasgow City Centre, heading west out towards Loch Lomond and the coast. I'd driven that route many a time going to see friends who live down in Gourock, but little did I know there was a beautiful resort nestled just up the hill from the waterfront, hiding amongst the trees and overlooking this stunning view across the Clyde. Gleddoch sits in over 360 acres of this glorious countryside (with a view of their championship golf course from the restaurant balcony) A truly lovely way to escape from the city without having to venture too far.
Being sore (and stressed, and old...) both myself and Ashley decided to go for full body massages. Ashley had the Elemis treatment, and I went for the Ishga Invigorating Massage as I have used their products before and love them. They're a Scottish company (Cruelty free!) who use sustainably harvested organic seaweed as the base of their products. Gimmie all them natural anti-oxidants please! We spent some time relaxing and chatting in the pool and hot tub before our treatments (they also have an outdoor hot tub on the sunbathing terrace - ya beauty) and then went along to the super chilled relaxation room to meet our therapists. Our treatments were held in a double room and were absolutely fantastic. I've been to a handful of spas in my time and I can't stress enough how nice it is to have therapists who just have the right 'vibe' about them, making everything flow like clockwork and not awkward at all. Totally professional and really puts you at ease when you feel relaxed and comfortable in their hands. I was so relaxed that I fell asleep, but thankfully I didn't start snoring. Ashley loved her treatment too, and we both shuffled out of the treatment room and up for our afternoon tea floating on fluffy little clouds.
Now I have actually been to Gleddoch twice for afternoon tea! Once after just visiting to use the pool and steam rooms, and the second time after getting our treatments for this review. For some very strange reason I didn't find this second afternoon tea quite as good as the first. I get that the cakes and sandwiches changing on perhaps a seasonal basis is quite normal, and that's totally fine, but second time around I felt like the sandwiches hadn't been given as much tlc as they had when I first visited (sort of thrown on the plate in the photo above) Don't get me wrong, they were still delicious and so were the cakes, but I didn't feel consistency between these two visits which were only a month or so apart. The bar was set really high with the first afternoon tea, and let down a little by the second.
That's me really scraping for some constructive criticism though. All the staff were fantastic and attentive, the setting absolutely beautiful and the spa treatments were flawless. The pool area could probably do with a bit of modernisation at some point as some of the decor felt a bit tired and dated. That sort of upgrade could probably help Gleddoch rival their scottish spa competitors even more. One thing they do offer which many others don't, is a doggy friendly environment (apart from the Spa and Restaurant) - which is always high up on the priority list for me, and a big thumbs up when our furry pals are welcomed with open arms. I never got to see what the rooms are like in person but on the website my eyes were drawn to The Residence, which is a sort of 'hotel within the hotel' and consists of 10 bespoke designed rooms within the original Gleddoch House. Since I started wedding planning I can see why Gleddoch is mega popular with brides and grooms to be, it ticks so many boxes and has an idyllic location only a stones throw away from the city.
Have you ever visited Gleddoch Hotel? Where is your favourite place in Scotland (and beyond) for a spa getaway?
Photos by Ashley Baxter. Spa treatments and afternoon tea were kindly gifted to us by Gleddoch in exchange for an honest review.