10.08

Cider-with-Rosie-newborn-tips-with-Graco

There’s no denying that the early days of motherhood can be daunting, both when you’re pregnant and are anticipating the joy and chaos to come, and then once baby has arrived and you find yourself adjusting to life as new parents! I remember wondering what exactly you *do* with a newborn, when you bring them home from hospital, and spent much of my time during my final few weeks of pregnancy trying to prepare as much as possible for the unknowns that lay ahead. And so to that end, I thought it might be fun to put together a little post of tips and tricks for managing life with a newborn, with a few of the things I was so glad I’d sorted ahead of Ottilie’s arrival, and a few great ideas I’ve picked up along the way that I’ll be remembering for next time…

O N E  :  Fill your freezer!

Like many newborns, Ottilie had a knack for waking up wanting a feed JUST as I sat down in the evening to eat my dinner. Thankfully for both Jason and I though, I’d been given the wise advice to spend my final couple of weeks of maternity leave stocking the freezer with ready to cook/reheatable meals, and so with Ottie resting on a cushion on my lap feeding away and a bowl of something hot and tasty beside me, we’d both fill our bellies at the same time. Meals you can eat one handed are ideal, so think cottage or shepherd’s pies, ragu (to be heated then spooned over pasta or jacket potatoes), mild curries, chilli con carne (I’m veggie so would make this with lentils and beans instead of mince), ratatouille, stews, and soups (reheat and serve with some potato wedges or a stack of toast!). Those little foil pots that Chinese takeaways often come in are ideal, as they can be put straight in the oven and don’t need washing up!

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T W O  :  Set up feeding spots around the house.

I attended an event with Graco last week, and learned from Sarah Redshaw of BabyCentre that a newborn’s stomach is the size of a hazelnut, and by the end of their second week of life it’s expanded to the size of an egg. That explains why they want feeding around the clock, I guess! And it also explains why my abiding memory of the newborn days are the many, many hours I spent sitting and feeding!

Whether it’s by bottle or breast, feeding is time consuming and leaves you stuck in one position for often up to an hour at a time. It’s a great idea to set up a few little boxes around the house in arm’s reach of in spots you’ll likely be sat feeding, containing a bottle of water, some tasty snacks (flapjacks or granola bars are great!), the TV remote, a book, and other essential nonessentials like hairbands/lipbalm/handcream.

T H R E E  :  Practise, practise, practise with the pushchair and carseat!

I’m fairly sure every new parent has experienced the flummoxing stress that occurs when trying to assemble/disassemble a travel system in a car park, whilst a sleepsuit-clad 7lb person shrieks in the background. It becomes second nature in no time, but practise taking it apart and putting it all back together again a few times in advance to save on the early days-stress!

F O U R  :  Prepare for stain removal.

Babies poo. A lot. Usually at inconvenient times, and very often on things that are not a nappy. A tub of Vanish Oxy Action should be handed out to all parents departing hospital with a newborn, if you ask me, and plain white vests are best to buy as you can bleach them back to good as new as many times as is needed without messing up any patterns or designs.

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F I V E  :  Connect with other new mothers.

There is nothing, NOTHING better than the support of other mothers. Whether you attend an antenatal course whilst pregnant, reach out to other Mums you meet who live locally to you (my neighbour has a baby 10 weeks younger than Ottilie, and we’ve been a lifeline for one another more times than I can count this year!), visit your local children’s centre, or book onto a music, baby massage, or sensory class, the chance to connect with other women experiencing the same life changing joys, highs, lows and challenges as you will be invaluable. And you’ll be so glad you got brave and got yourself and little one out of the house!

Sarah Redshaw recommends contacting your local children’s centre in advance of baby’s arrival to request a timetable, and to see if there are any waiting lists for classes you might want to add your name to. Such a great idea!

S I X  :  Wraps and slings are your new best friend.

This isn’t true for all babies of course, but many, Ottilie most certainly included, hate being put down. I’d been bought a Solly wrap as a gift when I was pregnant, and remember tying it on and putting Ottie in it for the first time when she was 5 days old, and she stopped crying at once and fell fast asleep. The proximity to your body and the secure way in which the wrap holds them to you is incredibly comforting for a baby during the fourth trimester, and having both your hands free at the same time will be a welcome relief for you! (Photos above from that very first baby-wearing occasion! Ignore how loose the wrap is, I got better at it as time went on!)

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A few more of my favourite tips and ideas:
- Have a bottle of Infacol in the house ready for when baby comes home from hospital. A Godsend for windy newborn tummies!
- Aden + Anais swaddle blankets are expensive, but worth it. As a light blanket in warm weather or for layering during winter, as a swaddle, breastfeeding cover, or throw-over for the pram or carseat, they’re invaluable. Ours have washed so well and are in mint condition for next time around!
- Pick up as many packs of maternity pads as you think you’ll need (Boots slimline ones were best, I found!) then buy at least 3 more packs. And you’ll probably still run out.
- If your baby hates being put down in the pram or a cot, try warming it with a hot water bottle first (Lady Ottilie of Surrey demanded this for the first three weeks!) and a rolled up towel placed around the edges of the bassinet and covered over with a soft blanket can help baby feel more secure.
- You might not think you want to use a dummy, but have one to hand just in case. I was stupidly adamant we wouldn’t need one but caved after 10 days, and the blissful silence that fell as soon as Ottie took it was a complete and utter joy!

In short, Sarah’s motto, ‘Whatever your expectations are- lower them!’, is a brilliant one. Ignore anything or anyone who tells you your 8/12/20 week old should be sleeping through the night, or be in a predictable routine, because it’s all nonsense. And hard though it may be at times, being kind to yourself should be as high a priority as taking care of your sweet baby.

I’d love to hear any more tips, tricks and ideas for life with a newborn in the comments!

~ This post is part of my ongoing collaboration with Graco. Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible! ~

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28.07

Cider-with-Rosie-DFS-garden-festival-chic-8

T I M E   F O R   A   G A R D E N   P A R T Y ?

Now, Jason and I are hardly your typical festival goers.

We’re too fond of home comforts- of the snuggliness of our own lovely bed and crisp, line-dried sheets, of familiarity and routine, of the dogs who fall asleep by our feet each evening, and of, let’s face it, the glory that is hot running water ;)

And, let’s face it, we’re just not that cool either!

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But, the lovely relaxed atmosphere of some of the more family-friendly festivals I’ve seen pop up over the past few years does totally appeal to me!

The ones where children and adults alike enjoy music and great food and refreshing summer drinks from sunrise to sunset, and the whole affair has a garden party kind of vibe, as opposed to being all about mud and tent-burning and the like! ;)

And so, when just recently DFS got in touch and challenged me to give my garden a mini ‘festival chic’ makeover using some of their gorgeous furniture, my immediate response was a big fat YES!

I loved the idea of trying to capture a little of the summer festival spirit, and bringing it home to my very own garden!

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The set we picked out for our garden makeover ‘look’ is called the Napa, and is made up of four woven rattan armchairs and a glass-topped table, comfy grey seat cushions, and a parasol to boot.

The chairs are insanely comfortable (especially when accessorised with a few colourful cushions to complete the look) and the table is the absolute perfect size for our pretty tiny garden and deck space!

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I love that right now the decking is looking so lush and vibrant, flanked on all sides by flowering plants and our hanging basket and wall planters.

The tomatoes are nearing the end of their life (I’ve been picking regular handfuls of ripe beauties for a weeks now, and eating them in salads and on toast in the mornings!) but our strawberry plants are just beginning to spring into action!

I’m a little concerned about the little nibble marks that have been appearing on the strawberry plant leaves, but I can never seem to spot any slugs or caterpillars when I go out looking for them. Keeping my fingers crossed Jason and I get to enjoy the fruit before the bugs do!

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Once Jason and I had finished bedecking the lovely parasol with a set of the festoon lighting we’d bought for our wedding last year, we put some music on (still obsessed with Bear’s Den, and also the Spotify Weekly Discovery playlist!) and then sat back with a tall jug of watermelon and apple juice pepped up with some frozen berries and mint.

Candles were lit, Teddy and Elsie pottered in and out of the house proudly showing off the rawhide treats I’d given them to keep them from getting under our feet whilst we set up the garden, and eventually we all settled down outside on the deck, and whiled away the evening whilst the sun went down.

So what’s that- music? Check! Fancy drinks? Check! A beautiful and cosy outdoor space to enjoy? Check!

All the ingredients for a ‘festival chic’ vibe at home, don’t you think? :)

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Thank you to DFS for sponsoring this post.

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Posted in HOME, Sponsored, SUMMER

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17.04

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-Kent-15

W A K I N G   U P   I N   T H E   B A R N

We slept so soundly, that first night in Kent. The bed was a total dreamboat of crisp white linens and soft, feathery pillows, and so we were quite reluctant to climb out from underneath the duvet when Elsie began her 6.30am ‘banging on the crate door’ routine…

But get up we did, and I wound up being grateful for our early morning furry alarm clock, as it meant we were up in time to see the sun rising over the fields that lay behind the barn. I watched the sunrise out in the garden with coffee in hand and with the dogs running around in the dewy grass by my feet, thinking about the fact that that morning was the first of my 19th week of pregnancy. It was a pretty lovely way to welcome in the new week.

And then, to breakfast!

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We’d had a delivery of groceries the previous afternoon, which thankfully for me and my fruit craving, was packed full of berries, as well as so many other things besides.

We washed and chopped, fried and scrambled, and between us put together a breakfast table fit for kings. Or, two hungry people plus two doe-eyed dogs…

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Blouse

Is there anything better than a warm croissant, spread with salted butter and berry jam? We had a pack of four arrive on the Sunday afternoon, and despite Jason not eating any, we went home on the Tuesday with only one croissant left in the packet.

I’m going to pretend the dogs snuck into the cupboard and ate some during the night…

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With bellies full of fresh strawberries, croissants, eggs, and orange juice, we got ourselves ready to head out into the woods with Teddy and Elsie. In fact, maybe my belly was just a bit too full (with breakfast & baby…), because me and my jeans had a bit of a tussle when it came to getting zipped up that morning…

Emma, our host, had pointed us in the direction of a walk we might like to head out on the previous day, and so with the dogs in tow, we headed off through the sheep fields and into the woods.

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Shirt || Chinos

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Layered up in our fancy new checked shirts (you know how much I do love a checked shirt!), we made our way through the forest with the dogs bounding along ahead of us. Elsie was in heaven chasing fat bumblebees (and giving me heart attacks every five minutes in doing so…) and Teddy’s heaven came in the form of the pheasants he kept flushing from the undergrowth left and right.

The woods were alive with the sounds of spring- birds calling, bees buzzing, lambs and ewes calling out to one another- and as Jason and I walked we played our new favourite game of shortlising baby names. You should know that it’s currently a very short shortlist, because it turns out we’re both super fussy about names…it’s just *so* tricky to choose!

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Shirt || Jacket || Jeans


With both the dogs suitably worn out from our walk through the woods, and the lure of a lemon drizzle cake calling us back to the barn, we retraced our steps back through the fields and up the lanes back home.

The rest of that drizzly, cosy Monday afternoon was spent curled up on the sofas, sipping our way through cups of coffee and eating generous slices of lemon cake. We went out for a lovely dinner that evening at a pub called The Milk Barn, and despite not being able to eat most things on the menu (I miss unpasteurised soft cheeses like you would *not* believe!), it was totally lovely.

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T O   T H E   B E A C H

For our final day in Kent, we packed up and said goodbye to the barn, then drove the half hour or so journey down to the beach at Camber Sands. The sun shone more brightly on us than it had the whole stay so far, and so what else was there to do but hit the sand?

Sure, the winds were strong enough to make your eyes water and neither of us dared venture down into that freezing water, but still, you just can’t beat an English beach if you ask me.

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It was Elsie’s first taste of salty air, and I think she loved it! Though to be honest, so long as that little pup is running free alongside her big brother, it’s safe to say she’s happy. She’s pretty low maintenance, and we’re glad of it!

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Dress || Cardigan

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It felt so, SO great to ditch my tights for our walk that day! I’d put a pair on in the morning, but the weather was so lovely and warm I ended up shimmying out of them in the car as we drove over to the beach.

This little outfit combination, of a floaty dress and longline open cardigan, is one I think I’ll be living in over the next few months. It feels so lovely to do away with any pressure on my lower belly from waistbands, and wear something so loose and comfortable for a change.

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That walk on the beach was the perfect way to wrap up our few days away. With salty winds whipping through our hair, and the dogs leaving tracks of paw prints in the sand all around us, I was pretty happy.

In fact, the whole long weekend was filled with happiness, and I’m already dreaming of recreating another trip just like it before the summer ends, and four becomes five…<3

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This post was sponsored by FatFace, who right now are offering an exclusive online 15% discount to Cider with Rosie readers!

The offer is for 15% off a single purchase of full price merchandise at FatFace, and is valid until the 24th April. Quote ROSIE at checkout to redeem the discount!

(Terms and conditions: This promotion cannot by used in conjuction with any other promotion. Returned items will be refunded (on production of a valid receipt) at the discounted price paid. Offer cannot be used in FatFace stores.)

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Posted in BEACH, Sponsored, TRAVEL, WEEKEND BREAK

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10.02

Cider-with-Rosie-VQ-Emma-Bridgewater-vintage-radio-2

L O V E   I S   I N   T H E   A I R

There’s nothing like music for making a moment complete, is there?

I grew up in a family where music is considered to be as important and essential as food, and the songs and albums my Mum brought me up listening to have become defining markers in my childhood.

Now that I’m older, music forms the backdrop to my time spent in the kitchen, mainly. There are few things I love more than pottering around in the kitchen, assembling a cake or rubbing butter into flour to make a batch of pastry, with the radio mumbling along quietly in the background.

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After having made do with using various radio station apps downloaded to my phone for such a long time, you can’t imagine how happy I was to receive an offer of this heart-covered beauty of a radio from VQ!

It’s a special one designed by Emma Bridgewater for Valentine’s Day, and not only comes complete with auto-tuning digital radio stations, but also hooks up to your phone via Bluetooth too!

Isn’t the miniature retro shape so sweet? I’ve been completely obsessed ever since it arrived, and just love how comforting the sound of background music or the voice of a radio presenter is during the daytime.

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As part of their #MyLoveSong campaign, VQ asked me to put together a playlist featuring ten of my all-time favourite love songs for Valentine’s Day!

The task was both a pleasure and a cinch- I mean, what better way to spend an hour or so than listening through Otis Redding’s back catalogues on Spotify!?

The songs I chose all have special meaning to Jason and I. Most are favourites that we’ve played over and over whilst cooking together in the early evenings, or washing up dishes late at night, and one, of course, just had to be the song we danced to as our first dance as a married couple back in July.

We always like to keep our Valentine’s Day pretty low key- you know Jason and I, never happier than when at home! But you can bet that the cosy meal we’ll eat together will be accompanied by the music of Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross…

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VQ are offering the chance for one lucky reader to win their own VQ Retro Mini Pink Hearts radio, and to do so all you need to do is vote for my playlist by sharing it on Twitter, and use the hashtag #MyLoveSong!

Good luck, and happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds!

~ This post was sponsored by VQ. ~

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Posted in HOME, LOVE, Sponsored

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