26.09

Cider-with-Rosie-vegetable-patch-September-2

Oh September. What a month you’ve been! I feel as though I’ve barely set foot in the vegetable patch, other than quick trips down here and there to collect veg for dinner or pick kale for a smoothie on Ottie’s request (I know, so middle class ;).

What with being nine months pregnant and having a baby the size of a watermelon getting in the way of pretty much my every move, the nights drawing in so fast now we’re moving into autumn, plus work and all the last minute preparations that come the month before a baby is due, it’s become so tricky to keep on top of the gardening lately!

In fact, it’s made me feel kind of sad at times seeing the weeds growing as fast as the vegetables in amongst the neat rows I planted back in spring, slug damage galore on some of the brassicas thanks to the nettles providing such a perfect hiding place for them along the bed-edges, and caterpillars eating away unchecked at a few of the kale plants.

But I’m trying to remind myself not to fret too much, that I can only do what I can do, and that even the biggest of weeds can be pulled up come next spring!

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We’re moving into the season of brassicas now, and it’s so satisfying watching them grow. Most of the kales and swedes were netted until just a few weeks ago, but since they seemed to be fast outgrowing their tunnels I braved removing the netting, and for the most part they’ve been fine!

To take us into the colder months, I’m growing a few different types of brassicas- ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Red Devil’ kale, ‘Filderkraut’ and ‘Savoy’ cabbages, and a variety of swede promisingly called ‘Best Of All’! I’ve found kale such a satisfying thing to grow this year- being able to nip outside and pick three or four big, iron-rich dark green leaves to go alongside my meals is amazing, and the taste is a world away from the bags of pre-chopped, dried out curly kale I used to buy from the supermarket! I’m really, really hoping it lasts the winter…

The swedes I maaaay have gone overboard on- if they all grow to full size, we’ll have a good 10 or so to harvest later in the year! And beyond carrot and swede mash, I’m not that sure what I’ll do with them…answers on a postcard please!

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The promise of leeks to come…

I can’t say that our leek harvest will be particularly large, but it will be exciting nonetheless! We’ve maybe got 8-10 leeks that have made the grade- next year I’ll know to sow 10x as many, and also that they like a lot of water during hot weather to keep them from frazzling!

Still, I grew them and they’ll be delicious just for that fact alone I’m sure. I’m thinking of cooking them into some sort of gratin with potatoes and a creamy sauce, which is making my mouth water just thinking about it…

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This time of year is just so colourful isn’t it? What with the trees beginning to change colour and lose their leaves, the bright pink and red and yellow Swiss chard stems, and dark ruby of the beetroot leaves, the garden’s looking just as beautiful as it did back in the height of summer.

I’m excited to see the beetroot I planted as a second crop (after my failed attempt at onions…) do so well! They should be ready to pick around December time, and will accompany many a meal of sausage and mash I’m sure. I’ve grown them in multi-seed clumps again, with up to four beetroot seedlings per position. As they grow I just pick out the largest from each group, leaving the others to grow on longer. It’s worked so well the rest of the year, and has provided more food per row from the soil than traditional spacing!

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The Borlotti bean crop is still coming along, though since I’m leaving them to dry and only after the beans themselves instead of the pods, it feels like the most meagre harvest so far! But they do look so beautiful hanging from their teepee, and the dried beans will make a lovely addition to soup or a stew later this winter I’m sure.

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Perhaps the vegetable I’m most excited about though are my prize butternut squashes! Ironically of the two plants I have growing, it’s the that seemed to be lagging behind for weeks on end that’s suddenly put on a burst of growth and produced three full size fruits. They still have a little way to go before they’re that familiar tan colour and so ready for picking, so I’m just praying the weather doesn’t get too cold and nip them with frost before they fully ripen!

We’ve already had a mini butternut squash from the other plant already, which we cooked into a massaman curry a few nights ago with lots of coconut milk and some homegrown carrots too. It was the most delicious thing, creamy and warming and the squash itself was soft as butter too! I was so proud, ha!

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And that’s the round up for my little vegetable patch this month! I’ve managed to snatch some time in the last few days to pull up weeds, tidy up all the mess that had gathered round the edges of the beds throughout the summer, and just generally do a little maintenance before the weather turns truly cold (and before I pop!).

Our jobs for the coming couple of months are more about maintenance and preparation for next year- we’ve got compost to order ready for mulching all the beds over, two new 1x4metre beds to fill ready for raspberry canes going in later this winter, and four bulbs garlic to plant too! I’ve promised Ottilie she can help with that job, so I’m looking forward to a half hour of gardening soon with my favourite girl <3

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Posted in AUTUMN, COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, EATING SEASONALLY, GARDENING, KITCHEN GARDEN

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21.09

Cider-with-Rosie-birth-bag-6

Ahh, the infamous hospital bag. Subject of approximately seven thousand threads on Mumsnet, countless Youtube videos, and a source of (totally unnecessary, but very much real) anxiety for Mums-to-be from the third trimester onwards!

I actually loved packing my hospital bag ready for having Ottilie, and found it appealed just nicely to the side of me that’s super organised and totally into neat folding and careful planning and buying cute miniature beauty products, thank you very much. And I was so happy to find that when I’d had my baby girl, literally every single item in my bag was used and not a single thing was unnecessary or missing!

This time round I’ve worked from basically the same packing list as last time, but with a few tweaks…based mainly around the fact that I’m hoping not to have to go into hospital at all! I’m planning, preparing for, and hoping to have a calm, tranquil home birth with this baby, and have also been using hypnobirthing as a way of preparing for baby’s arrival.

The principles of hypnobirthing, and of home birthing too, encourage creating a safe, familiar, comfortable space in which to give birth as opposed to the traditional brightly lit, impersonal, medicalised environment of a hospital. Of course, there are countless different reasons why giving birth in hospital is brilliant and I wouldn’t change the experience I had with Ottilie, but am hoping that staying at home and nestling down in the comfort of my living room this time around will make the experience of birth all that much gentler for both me and baby.

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THE ‘DURING BIRTH’ KIT

This selection of bits is packed up into a small cosmetics bag, and is what I plan on using whilst I’m in labour to create a comfortable, cosy environment. The string lights were a Tiger find and look so pretty when lit up, I’ve got a couple of packs of electric tea lights for dotting around the room, and some essential oils (lavender and bergamot for relaxation, and clary sage to encourage or strengthen contractions if needed) to use in my diffuser. Crucially, all these items can be taken with us to use in hospital if needed too!

On the more practical end of the scale, I’ve got packed some earphones (I’m planning on listening to the positive pregnancy affirmations from my hypnobirth course, because I find them so relaxing), Magicool spray (a GODSEND when you’re burning hot in labour!), hair bands (for the obligatory top knot), and lip balm because gas and air makes your lips so dry!

The other things I’m packing for use during labour are:
Hospital notes
A bikini and old sports bra (dependent on what I fancy wearing, and where I deliver)
A water bottle and straw
Lucozade sports drinks
Snacks (Nakd bars, some sweets, and grapes…if we ever manage to make a punnet last longer than a day in this house, that is!)
A TENS machine (I didn’t use one first time round but have heard great things about them!)

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ALL THINGS POST-NATAL…

So, this is where stuff gets SERIOUS. Basically, the main things you’ll need post-natally are all absorbent (and super sexy…). Breast pads (I’ve bought some lovely washable Little Lambs ones this time round, but have a couple of disposable Lansinoh ones in my bag just in case I need them), maternity pads (last time I loved the Boots ones but am trying a brand called Naturacare this time- I’m sceptical of how thick and chunky they are BUT they are biodegradable!), and on the advice of my midwife for wearing immediately after giving birth, Tena pants! See, I told you, all about the sexiness right now.

Cosmetics-wise, I didn’t expect to care about how I looked after having Ottilie but was surprised to find I did! Well, it was more how I * felt * that mattered, and so I’ve packed a small cosmetics bag for this birth just like I did for last time. Some cotton pads and cleansing water (I remember it feeling so good to wash my face last time after having been hot and clammy for about 48 hours solid beforehand!!), moisturiser, some light foundation and mascara, and a bottle of the Roget + Gallet Rose shower gel that my lovely aunt bought me after having Ottilie that made those first few post-natal showers feel extra relaxing and luxurious!

On top of the above, I’ve also got packed:
Two sets of pyjamas, one short and vest top set and one heavier-weight set.
Nursing bra and vest top
Comfy joggers for wearing after giving birth/going home, if we happen to transfer in
A new cosy but lightweight dressing gown
Dark towels…dark for obvious reasons!!
Big pants
Lansinoh nipple cream (the BEST for dealing with any early days feeding soreness!)

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FOR THE NEW ARRIVAL!

And this is the best part! Baby things! I’m keeping my packing fairly minimal, just like last time- just a few basic bits to have on hand for when baby makes his or her arrival! Of course, if all goes well and we do birth at home most of it will just be unpacked straight away and won’t be needed immediately, but it’s good to have it all together and organised just in case we do end up in hospital for whatever reason.

So, in the bag for little one is…

A pack of size 1 Kit + Kin nappies (my favourite biodegradable nappy brand!)
1x pack of Water Wipes
A cellular blanket and large swaddling blanket
2 muslins
1 hat for right after birth
3 sleepsuits and 3 vests (rolled up into little outfit bundles, because they’re much easier to find and grab when needed that way!)
A knitted cardigan and hat.

~ ~ ~

And last but not least, let’s briefly chat about home birth specific stuff! I’m borrowing a birth pool, pump, and tap connectors via a home birth community group that runs in my area, and then have bought a liner and hose via Birth Pool in a Box.

I’ve also got put aside, on advice from my midwife…
-  Plenty of dark towels in varying sizes, for both me and baby after I’ve delivered
- Absorbent bed pads, for protecting soft furnishings from any blood or amniotic fluid (what an image!)
- Large plastic ground sheeting to cover and protect the (CREAM!!) carpet in our living room, where I hope to give birth

I’ve also stocked our freezer full of homemade cake and cookie dough balls, so that we’ve got plenty of sweet treats to enjoy during and afterwards AND to share with our wonderful midwives too!

~ ~ ~

And that, as they say, is that! I’ve had so many questions about home birth via my Instagram already, and though I of course can’t vouch for the experience itself yet, I hope that this post helps anyone trying to pack and prepare for one! And, bar the last few items, it’s exactly the same as I had packed for my planned hospital birth with Ottie too. I’d love to know if it helps you if you’re planning or packing your birth bag right now… or if I’ve forgotten anything vital!

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21.09

Cider-with-Rosie-10-things-2

1. Finally having my birth bag all packed and organised! Ready when you are, baby…

2. Having a husband who came home from town a week and a half ago to tell me he’d booked me a pedicure for last Friday morning. The best gift ever for this Mama whose feet are so tired and sore by the end of each day!

3. Cake. Cake for morning treat, cake for an afternoon treat, cake after dinner. Basically cake eaten at any point during the day is a winner in my book, because sugary carbs are aallllll I want to eat these days…

4. Swimming with Ottie. I’d not been with her in ages, and she’s just as much of a fish as ever! She’s decided she likes using arm bands now, and is swimming by herself when she wears them which is amazing to see!

5. Slow cooked garlic runner beans. The recipe idea was from a River Cottage cookbook, and it’s so delicious!

6. A super chic ensemble comprising a pair of maternity leggings, one of Jason’s T shirts, and an oversized supersoft jumper. Bliss!

7. Taking the dogs for an evening walk, with a bag in hand of course for blackberry-picking on the way! It feels so good to blow the cobwebs away with some crisp evening air, and lovely to see the dogs bombing around so happily too.

8. Big bowls of pasta for dinner, eaten with tons of sautéed kale and Swiss chard from the garden.

9. The start of the new school term bringing with it the reopening of playgroups and toddler classes, plus a quietening down of soft plays as so many children return to school. Win win!

10. Ottie’s frequent exclamations of ‘I love you baby! I want to kiss you baby!’ which make my heart melt into a puddle <3

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14.09

Cider-with-Rosie-Ottilies-2nd-birthday-19 Cider-with-Rosie-Ottilies-2nd-birthday-12

T W O   Y E A R S…

of loving you, Ottilie Dorothy!

It’s of course the biggest cliche going, but I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we’ve had Ottilie in our lives for two whole years already.

I’m an emotional wreck at the best of times anyway these days (third trimester hormones are killer, I tell you!), but I was extra soppy all last week in the run up to Ottie’s birthday. I’ve found myself just staring at her sweet face as she’s been playing or reading stories or tucked up in bed at night, thinking how strange it is that it was her we were waiting on during those long days of labour in the first week of September two years ago. We didn’t know what joy we were in for, that’s for sure! And it’s making both Jason and me extra excited to meet this new little baby, knowing that there’s a real little person with its very own personality just as distinct as Ottilie’s coming to join our family in the next couple of weeks!

Ah, parenthood. It’s a rollercoaster isn’t it?

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We’d gone to bed late the evening before Ottie’s birthday, staying up past our bedtime to decorate the living room, set out gifts, and bake cakes for the family tea party we were hosting the following day.

Ottie woke around half past 6, and the look on her face when we told her it was her birthday was just the sweetest. ‘Now?’ she asked, ‘it my birthday now? I go downstairs?’

Knowing that there’d undoubtedly be a mountain of presents coming Ottie’s way later that day, we kept our gifts minimal and simple. A chalkboard easel for our little artist, a dolls house and some dolls and furniture, and her very own shopping trolley and basket because a trip to the shops or to the supermarket is still my baby girl’s favourite thing to do! I just don’t know where she gets it from…

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You can’t have a birthday morning without cake, and this simple vanilla traybake was just the thing! When Ottie saw it she shouted ‘BIRFAY CAKE! Look Daddy, birfay cake!’ which made my heart melt!

She ate one single bite of cake and then decided she was far more interested in the icing and sprinkles (what toddler isn’t, I guess!), but I’ll be honest and say I ate more than my fair share that day. It was just SO delicious and the baby wanted it, okay?! The recipe was one I found on the lovely Martha’s Instagram, and it was the easiest thing ever to make. Definitely would recommend for a quick throw-together cake with great results!

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This little girl was a PRO at blowing out candles!! We were very impressed, haha! I guess all the practising she’s done with her wooden birthday cake and candles has paid off…

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We decided to keep the celebrations this year low-key, so that it wasn’t too overwhelming and Ottie could enjoy celebrating her birthday just with family. And it worked so well! She was so happy opening up her presents (and even wanted to share the fun of opening with her cousin Beatriz!), and playing with all the lovely new toys she was given.

p.s. Ottilie’s dress is linked below. I absolutely love it!

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And a few hours of play and lunch and chat later…time for more cake!

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Ottie had been requesting chocolate cake for her birthday for weeks on end and so of course I obliged, in the form of three-tiered chocolate cake, covered in white chocolate ganache drizzle, and topped with enough biscuits, buttons, and Smarties to give you toothache!

A toddler’s dream, ha!

Ottilie and Bea dove straight in, picking off biscuits and buttons quicker than I could cut slices for all our family! The cake itself went down a storm though, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out. It’s Jason’s birthday in less than a month, so I might have a go at making another one in a similar style for him…providing I’ve not got my hands full of newborn, that is!

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All in all, the day was just perfect. So good to take time out with all our family to celebrate our sweet Ottie, and to see how happy and loved on she was all day long.

Here’s to being two, and to all that the next year will bring! <3

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