Monday, 29 December 2014

Recipe Index: Thai Yellow Curry from Against All Grain

I just love Danielle Walker from Against All Grain. She has the most amazing Paleo recipes, and she is my first go to place for new recipes. 

At the moment I am loving any kind of Indian, Thai or Chinese inspired meal, because my toddler just loves meals that have sauce. She loves chilli con carne and spaghetti bolognese, of course, and so anything with sauce, she'll give it a damn good try. 

Be warned though, there is a bit of spice in this dish. I didn't realise it when my toddler first had it served up in front of her, because I mistook it for Danielle's Thai Coconut Curry (also amazing), and didn't taste it before I gave it to her. When we ate it later on, we were both surprised that she'd eaten it, because it was a little spicier than food we tend to give her. She devoured it though, so obviously she didn't see anything wrong with it. 

I make it with chicken and prawn though, so that my toddler can have a little bit of prawn (which she almost never eats) and the rest chicken. Plus it's much cheaper than making it solely with prawns, because I love lots of prawns or chicken in my dinner, and lots of prawns gets expensive quickly! 

It's pretty simple to make, no messing about. Just throw it all into the food processor and then simmer, which is great when you have kids to chase round, and can't keep a precise eye on dinner!

It freezes fabulously too, so it's great for those hectic days when you just want something you can heat and serve. 



1 shallot, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1.5 teaspoons cumin
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ teaspoons turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon fennel seed
⅛ teaspoon ground Thai Chiles, or cayenne will work
3 tablespoons fish sauce (Danielle uses Red Boat)
2 kaffir lime leaves, or 1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon coconut butter (also called coconut cream or coconut manna)
2 cups vegetables of your choice (I used broccoli, zucchini, and carrots)
1 pound uncooked prawns, peeled and deveined, or chicken. 


Place the shallot, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric, fennel, ground chiles and fish sauce in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and a paste has formed.

Scrape the paste into a sauce pan. Add kaffir leaves, palm sugar, coconut milk, tomato paste, and coconut butter. Whisk the sauce together and heat over medium-high heat until it has reached a low boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low, then add vegetables and prawns. Cook for 10-12 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and slightly softened and the prawns have turned pink and are firm to the touch.

Remove from heat and let sit for 5-7 minutes. The sauce will thicken a bit as it cools. Enjoy!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Essential Oils: Amazing Christmas Presents!

I am so excited to finally be able to unveil the Christmas presents that were received by the female members of our family this Christmas! 

When I started using doTERRA essential oils, I made so many different beauty products with them, for myself, and just absolutely loved them. I also loved that there are no chemicals or preservatives in them, so I was happy putting them on my skin. Plus they made my skin look amazing, which is always lovely! 

So when I was trying to put together my Christmas lists for our family and friends, it seemed really selfish not to spread the yummy beauty product love a little! 

So here are a couple of pictures of what my nearest and dearest received for Christmas:

  • Lemon and Peppermint Lip Balm
  • Lemon and Peppermint Sugar Body Scrub
  • Oil Cleanser with Frankincense, Lavender, Melaleuca and Ylang Ylang essential oils
  • Healing Salve with Frankincense, Lavender, Melaleuca and Ylang Ylang essential oils

Making these beauty products was so easy, and so much fun! I can't wait to try out some new recipes, so that I can have a stay at home spa day on a more regular basis! 

If you are interested in doTERRA essential oils, click here for details on how to get started!

Please join my Facebook group on essential oils and like my Facebook page to be kept up to date on my latest blog posts. 

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This website is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, psychological, or psychiatric problem, or a disability that requires medical attention, then you should consult your licensed medical doctor or appropriate health care provider. Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Traditions

I absolutely love Christmas! Even before we had kids, it was my favourite time of the year. I think it's all the traditions and the planning gifts for other people. The fact that it's the time of year that brings families together. 

When I was younger, my mum had everyone round to our house on Boxing day for a Christmas dinner. I think there was usually at least 20 people there, aunties and uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters, family friends. The more the merrier. I used to love being crowded around the tables (we had to have two, the kids were in the conservatory!) with crackers and lots of noise and laughter. 

Sometimes it was the only time in the year that we'd see some of our cousins, especially as we got older. And having that day, where we were all together, was magical. Even after I was done believing in Father Christmas, Christmas and all the components that made up Christmas, was just so special. 

It's something I really want to recreate with my children, so that they can celebrate Christmas in many different ways, and not just the presents. Some of the traditions I'd like to start aren't really appropriate yet, because the kids aren't really old enough, but I can't wait to start adding them in, bit by bit, as they get a bit older. 

So what are your Christmas traditions, and which ones would you like to start? 

Here are mine:

Current Christmas Traditions:

  • The Christmas tree gets decorated on 1st of December. I can't wait to have our two year old help this year!;
  • Advent Calendars - they must be chocolate ones!;
  • Going to watch a Christmas Carol Concert. We only lasted 15 minutes last year because our two year old didn't have any kind of attention span, but we got a few carols in!;
  • Writing Christmas cards one evening with Christmas carols in the background and a bottle of wine to share;
  • Visit Father Christmas in his grotto;
  • Watching a Christmas movie with the kids, with popcorn;
  • Baking gingerbread reindeer cookies for the staff in our apartment building. I did this on my own last year but I'm hoping our two year old will want to help this time round;
  • Go and see the Christmas decorations in the mall. Even in Dubai, they are amazing!
  • Hanging up our stockings on Christmas Eve;
  • Leaving Food out for Father Christmas and the Reindeer. This year will be the first year we've gotten to do this;
  • Read "T'was the Night before Christmas" on Christmas Eve;
  • Christmas stockings contain Something you Want; Something you Need; Something to Wear; Something to Read plus a tangerine, your favourite chocolate (mine is Terry's Chocolate Orange) and some socks. 
  • Silver presents on Christmas day. We each have a wrapped silver present, which we are only allowed to open once we have tasted every vegetable on our plates at Christmas Dinner. 

Future Christmas Traditions:

  • Each child to choose a new Christmas tree decoration each year. We always did this at home when I was little and I loved browsing all the sparkly decorations and choosing one. I can still tell you which ones I picked, because they are still put up at my mum's house each year. 
  • Bake and decorate a gingerbread house. I think I'm probably more excited about this than the kids will ever be!
  • Writing letters to Father Christmas. I can't wait to see what my kids will write and ask for!
  • Giving one toy away to charity. This one is something I'm really looking forward to doing, to teach the kids that there are so many people less fortunate. 
  • Go to, or be part of, a nativity play. This is really important to me now that we live in Dubai, because they won't do the nativity at school at all. I don't want Christmas to just be about the presents, and the understanding of what is Christmas and where it has come from, is something I want the kids to learn. 
  • Do some more charity work. I'm not sure what there is in Dubai yet, but I'd like to add a bit more giving to our Christmas traditions. 
  • Playing board games as a family.

I think I'll leave it there, although I'm sure I can think of about 1000 more traditions I'd love to add to our Christmas celebrations! 

Is everyone really looking forward to Christmas? Only 3 sleeps to go! 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

My Christmas Wish List

So, the big question, what is on your Christmas Wish List? 

I absolutely love present hunting for my friends and family, and thinking about what they would really like. I love picking out the gifts and finding that gem that I know is a keeper for them. I'm really bad at budgeting for it though, and I often have to rein myself in! 

But I often don't really think about things for me. Family and friends ask me, and my answer is always "I don't know". So I started keeping a wish list with Wish Mindr. It's an online way of keeping tabs on things that you would like. I now keep one for both the kids and for myself and Gary. It's a great way of keeping track of those little things that you'd love, so when people ask you what you would like for Christmas, you do have something useful to say. 

So I now have a great wish list, and I'm so excited for Christmas! Here is what is on my Christmas Wish List this year:

Aroma Lite Diffuser:

I am so hoping that Father Christmas brings this diffuser for me this year! I have been salivating over it for months now! It is great because it can diffuse essential oils over a large area, so I can use it in any room in the house (including our open plan living area, which is huge!) and still get the full benefits of diffusing essential oil. I'm waiting to use my doTERRA Elevation blend in the diffuser, it's a great blend to lift the mood and give an energy boost. I could definitely use a pick me up, mood wise, when I'm at home with my baby and toddler during the day, because there is always a tantrum from my 2 year old and a meltdown or random sleep habits from my 9 month old. 

It is also great to use for essential oils to help the body keep your airways clear. I haven't really found any vaporiser that really helps my kids when they get the sniffles, so I can't wait to diffuse doTERRA's Breathe blend during the night, to help them breathe clearly, and sleep better. Because sleep is a precious commodity in this household! 

Bamboo Socks:

Am I the only person who gets really excited about getting socks for Christmas? .... just me? Oh well, my mum was onto a winner when she made socks an obligatory part of my stocking from Santa! ;-)

These are not just socks, these are socks made from bamboo. I bought some when we were on our honeymoon in San Francisco, and they are unbelievably soft and snuggly. There is nothing like putting on super soft socks when you come home from The Circuit Factory and flop on the sofa (exercise makes me want to come home and snuggle!). 

Homeland - Series 3:

I know, I know, I know, I'm sooo behind in my TVwatching. Unfortunately I spend a lot of time watching Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly and Bing, and by the time the end of the day comes, I just haven't had chance to sit down and watch anything. 

So, despite that Gary doesn't want to watch it, and has already read spoilers on series 3, and series 4 (I keep having to shout at him not to spoil it for me), I want to watch it! So I think when Gary is away with work, I'm going to have a Homeland box set epic viewing.  

Laurent Perrier Rose:

This is "Our" champagne. Gary used to buy it when he came to visit me in Windsor when we were first together, and it's been our favourite ever since. 

So a bottle of this stashed under the tree would be very welcome Father Christmas!

Modern Essentials Reference Book:

I love the internet, and there is so much information on it, but there is just nothing like a good book. I love the smell of the paper and the feel of it under my fingers. So this Modern Essentials Reference Book is a must have for me. I'm learning all the time about the amazing range of different uses for essential oils, but it's so much information that it can't go into my brain all in one go. So I like to go back over it whenever I can, to try to absorb more information. 


Not something that can fit in my stocking, but a massage would be amazing! I love being pampered, and massages especially are so soothing and really put me back in balance and ready to face the world again. It's like they really did smooth away all my worries and anxieties. 

So a trip to the spa would be fabulous! 

What do you think? A good list or a bad list? What do you want for Christmas? 

Monday, 15 December 2014

My Clean Eating/Gluten Free/Paleo ish Lifestyle Changes - Trying to Adjust

Change is hard, especially when it involves food! 

At least, that's what I am finding. Starting exercise is almost the easy part, because it's something you do maybe 5-6 times a week maximum. Making changes to something that you do so many times a day, is much harder. It is so easy to slip and slide a long way back and have to start over again. 

At The Circuit Factory the trainers are always reminding you that it is 80% food and 20% exercise, not the other way around. That you can work as hard as you like at their sessions, but if you are still stuffing your face with McDonalds and KFC, then you are never going to get fit. 

That much is obvious, but I was so surprised at how hard it has been to clean up my eating habits, and how hard it has been to stay on track. 

First of all, the core changes have been relatively simple. My three main meals a day are in really good shape. Breakfast is omelette and gluten free pancakes. I've had to adjust to gluten free on a day to day basis, rather than a Paleo diet, because I have real issues with blood sugar levels, and I was getting weak and dizzy and close to passing out at The Circuit Factory classes without a higher amount of carbs. 

Lunch is my main meal of the day, and dinner is much lighter, with no carbs at all. That switch has made a huge difference for me, because the 3pm energy crash isn't so noticeable, and it's easier to handle. 

I am really struggling with the snacking, and the sugar that I really want to eat. On my good days, I eat two squares of 70% dark chocolate, and that's it. I'm yet to manage an entire day without sugar. On my bad days, I'm usually tempted by ice cream. I'm managing to stay gluten free, and I'm only eating high quality ice cream with very few ingredients at all, so I'm keeping the added preservatives etc as low as possible. So as it goes, I'm doing the best that I can, but there is still a shed load of sugar in ice cream! 

We have a family dessert once a week, and that is always from a Paleo recipe. Although, my husband doesn't really like the moist cakes that come from using Maple Syrup or Honey in place of sugar, so I'm still trying to find a balance between eating Paleo for dessert (because I definitely don't need carbs in the evening) and having dessert that he really likes to eat. It's a work in progress and I think I have my work cut out! 

Gluten free, on the other hand, has been amazing. My brain fog has completely gone, as have my stomach issues. I feel a lot more balanced and in sync with my body now, and I can really tell if I have eaten gluten because my stomach issues usually flare the day after I've eaten gluten. I'm still not perfect, and can be tempted by the odd chocolate digestive and Pizza Express pizzas, but in general I'm sticking to the gluten free pretty well. 

So although I still have a long way to go, I'm really pleased that the core of my diet is in line with where I want it to be, and it's a balance between giving my body what it needs (i.e. carbs) and removing the gluten. I'm definitely still a sugar addict, but I am trying to address that in slow steps. If I try to go cold turkey, I usually end up going out at night and eating an entire tub of ice cream, so baby steps it is! 

Have you made any big lifestyle changes? How are you finding it, and what are you doing to keep you on track? 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Exercise and the stuff I can't live without

Like most people, I absolutely love finding hidden gems for my wardrobe, even when it's my workout wardrobe. It's hardly the most glamorous, but finding the right kit to exercise in can make all the difference. 

For example, most people swear by the Dri-fit clothes for running or circuit classes. I absolutely hate them, with a passion. I hate the feeling of sweat slipping and sliding over my skin while I exercise. I don't want it to stick to me rather than my clothes, I want my clothes to absorb it, so I can forget about it and carry on working out. 

That probably puts me in the minority, but there it is. I have texture issues, and slippy, slidy sweat is one of them (I promise i'm not still a toddler, just never grew out of the texture issues). 

So mostly, my gym gear is all about comfort and fit, and clothes that I can forget about when I'm exercising. I don't want to have to worry if my bum is hanging out, or if one of my boobs is on show. Not something you want to have to worry about when doing burpees and planks and jumping squats. If I had to find space in my head for those worries, I definitely would not be working very hard. 

But then there are also the little things that make the workout more bearable. Like music for my 1 mile warm up. I started out by carrying my iPhone around. Yes then are thin, but they are bulky when it comes to running, and I don't need to feel like I'm carrying extra weight around with me when I'm trying to push through the burning in my chest!

So here are my favourite work out buddies, I hope it helps some of you find your own favourite gym gear. 

Sports Bra:

Sorry boys, this is likely useless to you, but for the ladies, a decent sports bra is so important. Trust me, I tried training in a normal, underwired, padded bra.... and spent the whole time yanking my top up. Even though I'm not particularly well endowed in that department, I still need support and containment!

I love the entire Fabletics line, so far. It's the line of exercise clothing founded by Kate Hudson, and I stumbled across it completely accidentally. I love The Sevan Sports Bra has been great. It provides great coverage and support, and it doesn't look monstrous either! 

Top of the Tops:

I'm afraid it's another Fabletics number. I love this tank top, and I have it in several colours, twice over. The Aventura Tank Top is loose, which I love, and it feels really light, even at the end of my workout when I've sweated to death. 

The Bottoms:

I hate being hot while I workout, so you would think that wearing yoga pants would be out of the question. But actually, I hate wearing shorts. I find that they ride up no matter what size I buy. If I'm working out, the shorts are riding up and irritating me. I'm also paranoid that they are showing a bit too much leg and way too much bum. 

So I am distracted, fixing my shorts every two minutes. So pants are much better for me, I don't have to worry that anything is on display, and I can just carry on with what I'm doing. 

It's another Fabletics piece, as you can see, I'm totally in love with their range at the moment! The Salar Baby Boot is my favourite!

Pounding to the Beat: 

I cannot run without music. If I don't have music on, I spend the entire time telling myself that I'm going to die and that I need to stop before my heart explodes out of my chest. Seriously. 

In actual fact, I don't really listen to music, I flick through songs at high speed, occasionally listening to 30 seconds of one track before discarding it. But playing "guess the song" stops me from giving up, and I find that fast music makes me run faster, so I'm all for something that can get me moving. 

My iPhone really wasn't cutting the deal, so my babies bought me an iPod Mini for my 30th birthday. I love it. It is lightweight and I don't have to look at it to flick through the tracks. So I can concentrate on where I'm going and keeping my pace up. 

Listening In:

Confession, these aren't mine, they are my husbands. I steal them whenever I can, or think he's not looking. They are amazing (especially considering mine only have one working ear). They stay in my ear the entire time, and are much more comfortable than they look. The sound is great too, and I actually feel like I run much better with these rather than my own. So I think I'll be investing in a pair at some point! 

Feel The Burn:

I cannot go to a Circuit Factory class without feeling immense muscle aches the next day. I usually fall out of bed the next morning and curse whichever trainer had given me a hard time and made me work well past my comfort zone. 

The best thing for me has been a nice warm bath with a few drops of doTERRA Deep Blue essential oil blend. It really helps my body to relax and unknot itself and I feel so much better after a good soak! 

I'm really excited to try out the Deep Blue Rub that doTERRA does, so that I can carry it with me and apply it during the day when my muscles stiffen up (usually after sitting for so long!). 

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes:

Lastly, but most importantly, my footwear. I actually wore sketchers trainers to my first few weeks at The Circuit Factory (I know, I know, I know). They are definitely NOT running shoes, and I managed to give myself Tendonitis wearing them, because they gave me absolutely no support and I could have done some serious damage. 

So I invested in these, the Adidas Supernova. They are great. They give me great support and are a great fit. I've had to skip on set of holes when lacing them, because I have a really high instep (so high ballet dancers want my feet!), and if I fully lace them, it puts too much pressure on the top of my foot. But otherwise they are perfect and I am really glad I invested in a decent pair of trainers. 

I'm always looking for new favourites to add to my list, so what can you not live without when it comes to exercise? 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Essential Oils: My Five Favourite Essential Oils for Skincare

I love using essential oils as part of my skincare regime. I really love how much better my skin looks, so much more nourished and healthy, than it did before!

Here are my top five favourite oils for my skin:

Frankincense really is my favourite of all the essential oils. I use it for everything, because it seems to have so many uses. As Dr Hill (Medical Advisor for doTERRA) says "If in doubt, get your Frankincense out". I do and I love the results. 

I particularly love Frankincense for skin care because Frankincense is great at giving your body what it needs to help repair itself on the cellular level. 

Frankincense is great for wrinkles and lines, age spots and stretch marks. It's also fantastic for itchy skin, I find it really soothing for my eczema, along with Lavender. 

Lavender is the ultimate soothing essential oil. It's great for itchy and scaly skin, and on burns. I find it really soothing and comforting, and my skin literally drinks it up!

Lavender is also good for any excess or flabby skin, it helps the body to tone that area when you apply it topically. 

Myrrh is great for helping your body to deal with those under eye circles. Mine are dark anyway and having two babies means that they are more like suitcases than bags! i find that Myrrh really helps my body to minimise the dark bags, so I look less like I should be a cast member from Twilight. 

Geranium is the "poor man's" Helichrysum, which is fantastic because Helichrysum can be expensive! It is great for acne that is hormone related (spots at time of the month anyone?). It also helps to balance the skin's sebum production, so it's fabulous for both dry and oily skin as it helps the body to regulate the amount of oil produced. 

Melaleuca, or Tea Tree Oil is fantastic for spots and blemishes. It has antiseptic properties and so it's always good to have around for cuts and scrapes (or that spot that you just had to pick). 

Melaleuca is also great for dandruff, I add it to my shampoo and it really helps my scalp to regulate the dandruff production. 

So there are my five favourite essential oils for skincare! Which ones are your favourites?
If you are interested in doTERRA essential oils, click here for details on how to get started!

Please join my Facebook group on essential oils and like my Facebook page to be kept up to date on my latest blog posts. 

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This website is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, psychological, or psychiatric problem, or a disability that requires medical attention, then you should consult your licensed medical doctor or appropriate health care provider. Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Photography: Family Photographs by Natalie Robinson Photography

The reason that I absolutely love family photographs is that they really capture the moments, and the family how they were at that point in time. Life goes by so fast and children grow so fast, and change so much, that without photographs, it's hard to even remember that your children were that small.

It's always been really important to me to capture our journey and the changes that happen along it. I love having professional pictures taken because first of all, I actually manage to get on some of the photographs, and because they really seem to leap off the page and grab your attention. When our family sessions come in, I just pour over them for hours, looking at all the tiny details and those moments that we'll never see again, and it helps me really remember how we were. 

I love love love these beautiful family photographs captured by Natalie Robinson Photography. They really capture the fun and the innocence of children, and you can even see the balance of sibling relationships leaping off the page at you! 

When you are an expat, you never know where in the world you'll end up next, or how long you'll stay where you are currently living. So for me, it's even more important to document not only who you are at that stage of your life, but where you are. 

It's possible that my kids won't ever remember living in Dubai, and it's so important to me that we can show them where we lived, and how we lived. I lived in Saudi Arabia when I was two, and looking back at those photographs is the only way I can link into that part of my past, because I don't really remember it any more. 

So take a look at these beautiful images of the Hall family. These were taken just before they left Dubai, so i'm sure they are going to be a most beautiful way to remember their time in the city of eternal sunshine! 

Here is a little bit more about Natalie Robinson, and what led her to capture these absolutely gorgeous images:

"I am Natalie Robinson and I am a photographer and mum to Ruby (age 6); Max (age 4) and Isla (age 18 months).  We have lived in Dubai for just over 4 years.  

I took up photography as a hobby at first, with one main goal: to take better photos of my kids.  I thought that *maybe* I had an eye for what makes a good photo; but I had very little technical knowledge or how to really create the outcome I wanted in my mind.  A bit like having an idea for a story but not knowing  where to start; an idea for an amazing dress but no idea how to sew.

I took courses. Many, many, many courses.  I read books; watched videos; read articles; spoke to people; listened to people; shadowed other photographers.  But most importantly, I practiced, practiced, practiced.  I tried stuff out on my camera.  I got feedback from others.  I took my camera everywhere. To the park, the beach, to playdates, to parties.  Then I decided to simulate what being a working photographer would look like.  I started doing some test shoots for friends.  It all went from there.

My areas of specialism are newborn babies; pregnancy and families.  This shoot featured by Lora was for a fellow photographer Samya and her beautiful family.  They wanted a mixture of classic portraits and natural family moments, captured on the beach, before they left the UAE.  The beach we chose is a favourite of mine as it offers a lot of variety for the kids and for me as the photographer.  There’s a rocky area; a pier; and the beach itself.  Whilst my aim is to capture natural moments, I also like to give some direction when I shoot, so that the kids are kept focussed and busy.  My main tactic on a shoot is to engage the kids – getting to know them from behind a camera can be tricky.  Luckily knowing the minds of children reasonably well, I usually manage to do this easily by getting them to do challenges or by ‘helping’ me out – I have an array of little openers and tricks that helps me to connect with them".

You can find more of Natalie's work at her website and on her Facebook page

Monday, 1 December 2014

It is ok, I promise

The choices that you are making, they are ok. More than ok, if they are the choices that are working for you and your family, then they are great. Even if the choices aren't necessarily the choices you thought you'd make, that you planned to make, or even that you'd prefer to make.

Pregnancy and motherhood is the most mind-blowing, life changing thing you can do. You can read all the books in the world and nothing can prepare you for your experiences, because the people who wrote those books? They aren't you.

I feel like every pregnancy and parenting decision I have made so far puts me in the minority. I often feel I have to defend my choices and I have to quietly give myself a shake and stop myself from talking (which takes a ridiculous amount of effort, I am never quiet).

I was the one with the hyper emesis who took anti sickness medication every day. Every. single. day from week 8 to when my son was born at 38 weeks. Because without it, I might as well take up residence in the bathroom for the full 38 weeks. I still vomited, pretty much every day. Just not all day, every day.

With a 12 month old, I didn't feel like there was really a choice for me, she still needed her mummy. But being honest, I'd have taken the medication anyway, abstaining because there was a slight chance it might harm my baby just wasn't an option because of the way I was feeling. Yet there are people who judge.

I was the one who asked for an induction, because I wanted one. Both times.  I didn't "need" one, my baby wasn't at risk. But I am a control freak. A control freak who knew that I wasn't going to have much control over my life once I was a mother, and I wanted control in the areas I could, for as long as I could.

I had a date for when my baby was born, for both of my babies. We drove leisurely to the hospital discussing our hopes and dreams. We paid the hospital in advance and I wasn't doubled over having contractions. Yet there are people who judge.

I was the one who had an epidural sited before the induction even began. Who had that epidural re-sited twice, because my right knee happens to hog the epidural, leaving none for the rest of me. I did not even consider a "natural birth". I'd have panicked if I hadn't had my baby monitored for every second of my labour and delivery. The idea of a water birth made me feel faintly sick and the contractions I endured while my epidural was re-sited, twice, did not convince me that flying solo without pain medications was the way to go. Yet there are people who judge.

I was the one who didn't breastfeed. At all. I didn't even attempt it. Not once did my children even get offered the breast. I embraced my flaws and my reality and accepted that I did not want to. That breastfeeding was not the right thing for our family.

That the lack of sleep would have killed me, or at the very least ruined my relationship. I am the worst person to have to deal with when I am sleep deprived. I loved my children but I wanted my body back, and I did not want to resent them for my choice to breastfeed. And I plain didn't want to. It did not appeal and I had absolutely no desire to try.

I did all the research, read all the articles about how "breast is best", and my decision didn't change. Breast maybe best, but only if it is best for your family as a whole. Yet there are people who judge.

I am a clean eating, gluten free, paleo eating, essential oil using, crunchy mama, who did not naturally fall into a "natural" pregnancy and labour and delivery. Because it just did not suit. Yet there are people who judge.

I've seen them. On the forums I read, they are there. The most poignant post that I can remember,  was a women who posted a cry for help. Who was so exhausted with her colicky, screaming, cluster feeding baby; her cracked and bleeding nipples and her mastitis; her backache and the cramps from cosleeping (which mean't not sleeping at all for fear of crushing her precious newborn), that she asked whether it would be "so bad" to feed her baby a bottle of formula to enable her to get some sleep.

She was repeatedly told that it was a growth spurt, that she shouldn't give up, that she should pump in-between feeds (which were every hour) and drink fennel tea to get her supply up. And on and on and on the advice came, except the advice she was looking for.

It is ok to give your baby a bottle of formula if you feel it is the right thing to do for you, your baby, and your family.

That answer (which I quietly gave, three pages into the discussion on how to increase her supply), was quickly shot down by those around me, dismissed and ridiculed.

I (who had a 12 month old by then, and was considerably better rested than the poor woman who had asked the question) felt judged, berated and a little harassed. And I'm betting that is nothing to how she felt, she who had dared to ask such a provoking question.

For the record, I don't believe that everyone should request an induction (particularly as they don't work for everyone), or get an epidural, or formula feed. I do believe that people should be left alone to their choice. And people should answer the question that was asked, not use it as an excuse to push their own personal opinions.

But there are those who have taken up the natural birth, breastfeeding mantel, and have chosen to wear it as armour and march into battle. Who feel it is their prerogative to "educate" those that have chosen a different path (i.e. bully and intimidate).

It is always much more subtle in person, but you can still see it. You can see the flash in their eyes when you say "formula feeding" followed with "from birth" or when you say "requested an induction and epidural" or even "chosen to vaccinate".

I am the only person I know, who has had a baby in the past three years, who formula fed from birth. The only one. Sometimes I feel guilty, feel like I should have been better, done better, tried harder.

And then I realised that I am better, did better and tried harder. Every. single. day. I am doing the best I can, with what I have, and who I am. I work with my flaws, and my strengths, every. single. day.

I love my children, and the choices I make are always made with them in mind. The choices I made, they are ok, and so are the ones you are making. It is ok, I promise. 

Modern Dad Pages

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Essential Oils: The Oil Cleansing Method

As I have really sensitive skin along with eczema, I'm always looking for skin care products that have the least amount of ingredients. I definitely cannot use anything that is perfumed, or that has a large amount of chemicals in it. My skin just reacts so badly to it and gets all red and blotchy. Followed by itchiness and scales. 

I have really been struggling to find a cleanser that doesn't strip my skin, but not using a cleanser means that traces of my make up sits on my face and gets lodged in my pores, which are large and always open. 

So while I was reading around about using essential oils in beauty products, I came across the Oil Cleansing Method. 

In short, to cleanse your face, you massage a layer of oil onto your face (with or without essential oils, depending on your preference) and leave it on your skin for a few minutes to let the oil break down the skins natural oil that has gotten stuck in your pores. 

Then use a hand hot wash cloth (it must be clean, no reusing of washcloths) and place it over your face until it cools. This allows your pores to open further, so that the oil and impurities that are lodged within them can come out. Then clean away the layer of oil. 

Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat until your skin is clear. 

The idea with the Oil Cleansing Method is that our skin needs oil in order to function properly. Without it, skin takes on a dull appearance. So when you cleanse, you are not looking to strip the skin of all of it's oil, and therefore it's source of moisture, but to remove the impurities that have become stuck in your pores. 

Oil dissolves oil, so the oil that you apply to your face can dissolve the oils that has hardened with impurities and gotten stuck in your pores. 

I was really excited to try this, as I could use completely pure, natural oils, and add essential oils to it which would benefit my skin. I would know exactly what was in it, and I could adjust the type of oil I was using to suit my skin type. 

So I thought I would give it a go! 

I started with organic virgin coconut oil. It was what I had in the house, and I wanted to start immediately (I am not very patient). 

I decided to use the coconut oil for the first couple of weeks and then reassess whether I needed to add in a different oil (most websites suggest a mix of two oils). 

I decided to add Lemongrass and Ylang Ylang essential oils. Lemongress is supposed to help the body to close pores and Ylang Ylang was supposed to be soothing to the skin and helps the body to balance the production of oil. 

Apparently there is a detox period of about two weeks where the body adjusts to having oil added to your skin rather than being stripped away. So breakouts are common. 

Two Weeks In:

My skin is in a bit of a breakout phase, although the breakouts are all occurring around my chin, which is usually hormonal for me. This is normal for this phase of my cycle, so I'm going to continue and see if it evens out. 

I am definitely going to add in another oil to promote moisture. I have very dry patches of skin along my jaw line and across my eyelids, and the coconut oil doesn't seem to be moisturising enough. 

It has been recommended on various websites that everyone should use Castor Oil in their Oil Cleansing Method. It is supposed to be the best oil for cleansing and it is also antibacterial. However it can be drying, so you'll need to add in another oil to make sure your skin doesn't dry out. 

Here is a list of the different oils people use in the Oil Cleansing Method and what they are for:

Jojoba                          good for most skin types and work especially well on acne.
Sweet almond              oily skin
Grapeseed                   oily skin
Avocado                      dry and ageing skin
Sunflower Seed           all skin types
Apricot Kernel             dry and ageing skin
Argan                           all skin types, especially ageing skin, but it's really expensive! 

So I think I'm going to add some Apricot Kernel Oil to make sure my skin doesn't dry out, and add in a bit of Castor Oil to make sure my skin is properly cleansed. I'm going to use 2/3 Apricot Kernel Oil and 1/3 Castor Oil so that it's not too drying. 

Because so many websites are also suggesting that coconut oil may not be as good as the others and can cause breakouts, I'm going to swap it out completely for now and see whether that makes a difference. 

Four Weeks In: 

I'm two weeks into my new oil cleanser of Apricot Kernel Oil and Castor oil. I also got my new shipment of doTERRA essential oils, so I have added Lavender and Frankincense to the Lemongrass and Ylang Ylang. 

I have definitely noticed a difference in the quality of my skin. It is much softer, and the dry patches on my eyelids and on my jawline are so much better. I also feel like my skin is much clearer and looks fresher. 

I soon realised how moisturising the oil cleansing is, because I used face wipes one night, rather than take my make up off properly, and the next day my skin was parched and tight and dry. So I won't be making that mistake again!

My pores seem clearer, although they still look huge to me! I'm hoping that now they are not full of gunk that they will start to close a little bit. I also feel like the sun spot I have on my left cheek has faded a little (which is fabulous news!). 

I am really liking this cleanser and I think I'll stick with it and see what the next two weeks brings. 

Six Weeks In:

Six weeks in and I love my oil cleansing method! My skin is softer and I actually don't really need a separate moisturiser anymore. I've also been rinsing the cloth in cold water and laying that over my face, to try to close my pores a little, it seems to be helping. 

So I'm definitely sticking with this method. The oils are so soothing to my skin, and I really do feel the difference! 

All in all, a complete success! If you are interested in doTERRA essential oils, click here for details on how to get started!

Please join my Facebook group on essential oils and like my Facebook page to be kept up to date on my latest blog posts. 

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