My Morning Routine – Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow

So, in the interests of getting to know one another a little better, I thought it might be fun to take you through what an average morning looks like in Casa Rhoades! I have learned over the years that starting my day hungry and in a rush does not make for a productive (or happy) day. In fact, I know if I leap out of bed, into the shower and out of the door (or straight onto the laptop as is more often the case), I’m pretty much setting myself up for failure. So here’s a little insight into how I try to get the most from my mornings with a baby in tow.

Let’s Eat

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it’s drummed into us on what feels like a daily basis. So, it always astounds me the number of people who don’t eat before they start their day. Excuses range from ‘im just not hungry in the mornings’ to, ‘I don’t have time in the mornings’ or even, ‘I feel sick in the mornings’! Well, personally I’m pretty darn starving in the mornings! I’m not talking a little bit peckish here, I’m talking full on, stomach growling in protest hunger! So, (after Luna has her water and her nappy changed) food is my number one priority. I can quite honestly say that breakfast is my favourite meal of the day so I really go to town with a big bowl of warming porridge topped with lashings of fresh fruit, nuts and a generous drizzle of honey. Also tea…a big, unsophisticated, mug of tea!

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Keeping Up With Them Fitness Goals

If you’ve read my posts regarding postpartum fitness, (check them out HERE) you’ll know that I have a bit of a love hate (actually it’s more of a hate hate) relationship with exercise. I am never going to be that girl who loves getting down and dirty in the gym – I’ve waited 30+ years, tried every regime going – it ain’t gonna happen! That being said, being on the wrong side of 30 and having (fairly) recently had a baby, I am in no way prepared to rest on my laurels! So, it’s at this point in the morning that I’m usually to be found having a stern word with myself as the devil on my shoulder systematically delivers today’s excuse as to why I can’t work out. I’m not going to lie – sometimes the devil wins out but more often than not, I suck it up and endure each and every painful minute. Personally, I find that it actually helps to have some level of accountability where fitness is concerned and the fact that I’m paying actual money to do it gives me one less reason to quit.

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Making Plans

As a self-respecting Virgo, I love a good to do list and find it quite therapeutic to at least plan for productivity. The sleep situation is pretty dire in our house so I already feel a bit like I’m starting the day on the back foot so to speak. If I can make a rough itinerary of work to be done, housework that needs to be addressed and meals I intend to eat, then I feel as though I’m giving myself a bit of a leg up for the day to come (though inevitably, with a baby, things do veer off course more often than not).

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Baby Comes First

Everything revolves around Luna – as it should. I can organise and make lists until my heart’s content but if she has other plans then those are the ones we’ll be going with. As she’s not a big sleeper I try to leave the jobs that require the most brain capacity for the half hour she deigns to have a nap (although there are plenty of occasions where the lure of a peaceful shower is too tempting to ignore). If things are going to plan then by mid morning Luna should be ready for a nap and I should be ready to make a start on my to do list.

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Top Tips For A Productive Morning

  1. Buy a playpen. This has pretty much changed my life. No exaggeration. As soon as Luna started to move things became ten times more difficult as I couldn’t simply pop her down on the floor with her toys while I nipped to the loo/put the washing on. It may look a little draconian – putting your baby in what is essentially a cage – but the peace of mind it gives you when you need to leave the room for a moment is beyond priceless!
  2. Lists. I touched on this earlier but I find it so helpful to get everything that’s swirling around my head down on paper. That way I can organise my jobs and commitments in order of precedence and I know I’m giving myself the best possible shot at actually getting them done.
  3. Make a routine. Obviously, not every day will be the same but I think it can be really helpful particularly with a young baby to have a routine to fall back on so you both essentially know what you’re supposed to be doing and when. It certainly helps to keep my mind clear and allows me to move from one activity to the next without getting into that mind fog of ‘what comes next’.
  4. Create a happy space. In terms of getting work done I find if I’m wearing something comfortable have a nice hot drink and perhaps a lovely scented candle on the go then I feel so much more productive and inclined to knuckle down and get things done – for me, if I’m feeling uncomfortable or if I’m in a messy space then I really struggle to get my mind focused on the job at hand.
  5. Sleep. I know, I know, no-one is getting enough sleep and there is absolutely zero most of us can do about it! If getting more sleep just isn’t an option then I have a few ideas to keep you moving forward when you feel like your wading against the tide.
  • Drink a large glass of water. It’s amazing the effect knocking back a pint of water (or liquid life as I like to call it) can have when you’re just about ready to drop.
  • Get some air. I find getting some fresh air – even if it’s just stepping into the garden for five minutes can really give me a much-needed boost.
  • Exercise. It’s usually the last thing you want to do after a sleepless night but getting straight into a workout, gets the blood circulating and actually helps shake that limp, boneless feeling that becomes all too familiar when you have a baby in tow.
  • Product. A friend bought me the ‘Energy Boosting Kit’ from NEOM when Luna was born and it’s amazing how a little luxury and a zingy scent can really give you a lift.

Can We Talk About Tea?

If all else fails there is always tea. (Tetley, Skimmed Milk, No Sugar FYI). Tea is singlehandedly responsible for my sanity remaining largely in tact. I’m usually at least three cups down by lunch time. Tea is life!

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

My Morning Routine - Top Tips For Staying Productive With A Baby In Tow | jessicarhoades.co.uk

I hope you have found some of these tips helpful. I’m acutely aware that there is definite room for improvement in my own levels of productivity and I would be delighted to hear any tips or tricks you use to stay focused and positive. Leave me a comment – I’d welcome any thoughts or ideas.

What’s​ In My Bag? The Mum Edition

I was really quite excited to purchase my changing bag but was disappointed to be met with an array of spotted, striped and floral designs which, while clearly practical, weren’t really what I had in mind. Losing my sense of self after having a baby was, to a degree, inevitable, but I would be damned if I was going into the experience without suitable arm candy! For some reason, a lot of my hopes and fears seemed bound up in the outward appearance of my changing bag. As if it would be a measure of what kind of mother I was or how well I was coping. I wanted to convey an unruffled, glossy visage of an impeccably groomed woman who clearly had her shit together (and just happened to have a baby). So in my hormone addled pregnancy fog, that meant that by hook or by crook I would have me a killer bag – but where to find it?

The Bag

I discovered the ‘Jemima’ by Jem + Bea about half way through my pregnancy. Everything that I had seen up until that point was the stereotypical changing bag outlined above – a bit too wipeable to be chic. Though considerably more expensive than the majority on offer, I reasoned that this was going to be something I carried with me pretty much 100% of the time and would be in need of for at least the foreseeable future. Even before Luna was born I was hyper aware of the psychological impact having a baby could have. I had no idea how I was going to look, what clothes I would be able to wear or how I would feel in my own skin. Having an amazing bag seemed a no brainer.

It should come as no surprise that the girls behind Jem + Bea have some serious fashion credentials. With backgrounds in law and designing for the likes of Mulberry and Anya Hindmarch respectively, these new breed of baby bags were never going to be anything short of impeccable!

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Jemima is a large tote made from super luxurious textured leather and has a pocket for everything! The ‘Jem + Bea’ logo is subtly embossed in gold (another tick – you know I love my gold) and for an extra £21 you can have a personalised leather tag (if I’m honest that kind of sold it – love me a monogram!) I also snapped up the stroller straps which have made carrying the bag on the pram a breeze.

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Contents

  • Nappies – I’ve tried a number of brands and always come back to Aldi! Soft, substantial and super cheap
  • Wipes – Water Wipes always. An amazing and very ‘wet’ wipe with no hidden nasties! (I always have a packet stashed on my dressing table for any makeup mishaps)!
  • Spare Babygro and Vest. There is nothing more gorgeous than a baby in a simple white babygro. I’ve tried M&S, John Lewis, and Mothercare but these ones from Mamas & Papas are far and away my favourite! They are ridiculously soft and don’t seem to suffer any shrinkage in the wash!
  • Sippy Cup. I’m very conscious that Luna doesn’t become dehydrated and I’m forever thankful that she LOVES water, so we always have a sippy cup to fill up on the go.
  • Muslin. Brilliant for everything from protecting yourself from projectile vomiting cleaning up said projectile vomit, a makeshift bib, a sun shade or as something to lie on for emergency nappy changes. Aden & Anais make the most gorgeous muslins and I always have one of their ‘Jungle Jam’ styles stashed in my bag.
  • Snacks – I usually have some wafer biscuits for Luna and a granola bar for me for munchie emergencies
  • Purse. The Jemima bag comes complete with a small pouch – great for phone, change, keys, lipstick – anything you want to be able to grab in a hurry. (I’ve found this so handy that I’m eyeing up the gorgeous blush ‘Mama’ pouch  as a bit of an ‘extra’).

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Overspill (I.e the cast of In The Night Garden)

Shhhh. Ok, so one bag really isn’t enough – particularly as your baby gets older and needs to be entertained pretty much constantly! Though it’s nowhere near as glamorous as my ‘Jemima’ I love my Fjallraven ‘Kånken’ backpack! I would call it ‘utility chic’ and it really is brilliant for housing the never ending pile of books, soft toys and plastic bleepy rubbish you end up carting about with you! It might seem excessive to lug two bags and a baby around but trust me – there is nothing more likely to spoil your day than forgetting your pre-packed entertainment!

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Jem + Bea – My Top Picks

  1. The Jemima (which now comes in grey…Be still my beating heart)!
  2. The Amber – It was a toss up between the Amber and the Jemima – the Jemima won on sheer size but oh dear lord the Amber is just to die for!
  3. The Jamie Backpack  – so cool. I think if this had been available this time last year it would have been a serious contender for my back up bag!

I have no doubt that my love affair with Jem + Bea will continue for some time and if we are lucky enough to have a second baby, there is every chance I could be tempted to another. Did anyone else get caught up in the world of changing bags? What do you keep in yours? Can you have too many baby bags? As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Browse The Jem + Bea Website HERE

Pearly Queen…One Jacket, Three Ways

I have a bit of a thing for pearls – I chose them to adorn wedding dress (quite the endorsement) and there’s just something so bloomin chic and regal about those little luminous orbs. Polished and modern yet a true classic. I’m also a jacket lover – sharp blazers, leather bombers, cropped tweed – a good jacket has the unrivaled power to up your jeans and t-shirt game in an instant. So, when I came across this pearl embellished stunner from Spanish brand Uterqüe, I was in heaven (if St Peter is truly guarding those pearly gates then I’m pretty sure he’s rocking this jacket)! I managed to sneak this little beauty through as an anniversary gift (Mr. R & I have just celebrated our 2nd Wedding Anniversary – read about my anniversary conundrum HERE) by proudly pointing out the 100% Cotton label (that was maybe a bit of a stretch but hey, sometimes you have to get a bit ‘creative’ with your reasoning – ha)!

The jacket itself is quite a statement piece and statement pieces (often the pricey ones you really want to get your wear out of) are frequently the items in your wardrobe that see the least action. I’m always guilty of not getting enough wear out of my keys pieces as they are, by nature, so noticeable – nobody wants people to think ‘oh have they got that on again’! So, I’ve styled it up in a couple of different ways – dressed up and down to demonstrate how to get longevity out of your star buys!

The Jacket – Uterqüe

Look One

Denim jackets are a casual wardrobe staple but I think we can all agree that the heavy embellishment easily elevates this style to the next level. Here I’ve teamed it with a wide leg cropped trouser jumpsuit, heels, and my YSL Bag. Finish with a red lip and statement earrings and I think you have a suitably cool evening look with a real rock chick vibe. I can imagine wearing this out for cocktails with Mr. R!

Pearly Queen - One Jacket Three Ways | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Pearly Queen - One Jacket Three Ways | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Look Two

From Rock Chick to Princess Chic. By wearing the jacket draped over the shoulders, it takes the edge off the sweet feminine vibe of this flirty Me + Em number. I’ve styled it with my red Gianvito Rossi pumps and red lips for a more modern look and tied the pinks and blues together with this vintage clutch by McQueen. This look could easily take you out to dinner or maybe even a relaxed summer wedding!

Pearly Queen - One Jacket Three Ways | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Look Three

Such a simple look and one that takes my everyday ‘mum’ uniform to the next level. Here I’ve paired inky blue high waisted jeans with a long line tank, tan belt and white trainers for a sporty yet glam daytime look. Amping up your accessories (an armful of bangles and a cool pair of earrings go a long way) and throwing on a statement piece like this jacket can really transform your daytime style without much effort!

Pearly Queen - One Jacket Three Ways | jessicarhoades.co.uk

So there you go, three ways to wear a statement jacket. I hope you like the looks and have inspired you to try styling some of your key pieces in different ways. How do you make sure you get longevity from your star buys? I’d love to hear your tips for getting the most out of your wardrobe.

Pearly Queen - One Jacket Three Ways | jessicarhoades.co.uk

My Top 5 Holiday Must-Haves

We have just returned from our first family holiday so I thought it might be a good idea to put together a list of my summer essentials. Now, I started writing this before we actually left and now I’m back I’m of the opinion that the ultimate holiday must-have (when traveling with a 10-month-old) is as many spare pairs of hands as you can possibly get…summer hols with a baby in tow is a whole different ballgame! So, here are my top 5 holiday must-haves (for those moments where you are not sat under an umbrella with Makka Pakka and Iggle Piggle)…

My Top 5 Holiday Must Haves | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Skin Prep 

When I was a child I would turn purple in the sun. My mum and dad both tanned easily and my brother to this day has the olive complexion of dreams! I, on the other hand, would burn (in patches – I couldn’t even turn lobster pink evenly). Things slowly improved as I got older but the Tan Accelerator by Elemis was the game changer! This product works by stimulating your skin’s natural melanin production and, (shouldn’t matter but does) smells like heaven! I use this without fail before every holiday to ensure that a. I don’t burn and b. I tan safely and evenly!

I’ve mentioned before that I am now super careful when it comes to exposing my skin to the sun and am a real stickler for SPF (check out my review of the TILI Beauty Box HERE). Nothing ages your skin quite like the sun (quite aside from the obvious health implications) and I have found Decleor’s Suncare range to be really quite excellent in prepping and soothing my skin both before and after sun exposure. The ‘Aromessence Solaire Tan Activator Face Serum’ is a beautiful face oil which preps the skin in a similar fashion to the Elemis Tan Accelerator, while the balm just melts into your fingertips on application and feels sublime after a long hard day on the beach! Call it aftersun for the dedicated skincare junkie!

You can find the Decleor Aroma Sun Expert Collection HERE

Skincare Saviours | My Top 5 Holiday Must Haves | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Shades 

We all know that the shades maketh the woman. A well-chosen pair not only adds instant glamour to pretty much any outfit but also, truth be told, hides a multitude of sins. Hangover? Insomniac baby? Headache? If eyes are windows to the soul then all of the above have the power to mist things up pretty quickly! If no eye cream on earth will save those peepers then a killer pair of shades are your best friend! My sunglass collection is actually on a list of things to share with you…there are some real corkers including a very retro heart shaped pair by Chloe! My current favourites are my trusty Rayban aviators (an absolute classic-every girl should have a pair) and a perfect pair of ‘fuck off I don’t want to talk to anyone’ tortoiseshell Prada’s!

Summer Shades | My Top 5 Holiday Must Haves | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Sun Hat 

I adore Panama hats but we have a somewhat troubled relationship. I managed to lose one over the side of a cruise ship and my husband and I fell out spectacularly on arrival at our honeymoon in Mauritius when my hat emerged, let’s just say, a little worse for wear! (I blamed him obviously). That said there a few things that can take an outfit to the next level better than a well-chosen piece of millinery! This season there has been a plethora of designs to choose from. From the classic to the outrageous – I’m in love with the sequin emblazoned floppy sun hats from Lily and Bean and the pom-pom embellished straw fedoras by Yosuzi are just sensational! As I type they have 50% off at Netaporter – I’m hovering perilously close to the buy now button!

Puerto Banus | My Top 5 Holiday Must Haves | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Swag 

Make no mistake, the year of the tassel has arrived. You’d have to have been living under a rock not to notice that any fashionista worth her salt is currently to be found wandering the streets of Santorini/Marbella/Sicily (delete as appropriate) bedecked in layers of drippy beads and bangles. Tribe & Fabel make the most gorgeous pendants and the overseas market stalls are awash with brightly coloured pom-poms, tassels and shells I think the secret here is to mix it up and curate your own summer vibe. If you aren’t already then check out ‘Anna Skoog’s’ Instagram (@annamavridis) and prepare to lust after her perfect Summer Styling!

Summer Swag | My Top 5 Holiday Must Haves | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Sandles

What says ‘summer’ more than a set of prettily pedicured tootsies in a killer pair of strappy sandals? My nail polish of choice veers between hot pink and a juicy coral and the tan is obligatory! I have never enjoyed a pair of flat sandals as much as I enjoy my Jimmy Choo ‘Wyatt’s’! Black with the glitziest of gold hardware, these babies can take a look from boho to glamazon and are perfect when it’s just too hot for heels (and when you are attending a wedding at 7 months pregnant)!

I’m beginning to be of the opinion that if you are going to spend a lot of money on an item then it has to be both wearable and comfortable! As Coco Chanel said “Luxury must be comfortable otherwise it isn’t luxury”! There are so many gorgeous summer flats out there this season! I’m loving the Pom Pom styles by MABU By Maria BK and you just cannot go wrong with a classic espadrille (though as I said, I do like to see a flash of that summer pedi)! Slides are having something of a moment too. The eponymous Givenchy Slides are a no brainer (pretty sure they would be one of those life purchases) but Topshop have a great selection starting at just £19!

Summer Sandals | My Top 5 Holiday Must Haves | jessicarhoades.co.uk

What tops your list of summer essentials? Maybe swimwear is your thing? A prettily embellished kaftan, a straw beach bag or perhaps a fully loaded Kindle and Gin’O’Clock is your idea of heaven! As always, leave me a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

 

The Anniversary Conundrum

Does anybody else hate buying presents for their other half? Let’s face it, men are (sweeping generalisation alert) quite practical creatures. If they want something, they’ll buy it – end of story. Forgive me if I speak out of turn but men, at least the men in my life, are a complete ball ache to buy for! Unless you’re about to present them with a Ferrari or (in my husbands’ case) a classic Mini Cooper they really couldn’t be less interested. Useful gifts are boring, novelty gifts are met with a polite chuckle and sentimental gifts with a shy smile (before its relegated to a bottomless drawer full of equally useless stuff you have no idea what to do with). So what’s a girl to do when, within the space of 2 weeks you have your husbands birthday, his first fathers day and our second wedding anniversay? (yes that was bad planning on my part)!

Our Wedding Day | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Horseshoe | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Our First Wedding Anniversary

The first wedding anniversary is traditionally celebrated with the gift of paper. Now I’m quite a traditional girl at heart and so I wanted to honour this custom. He’s not a big reader so any sort of book was out, then I struck gold. I ordered a custom illustration of us on our wedding day which I then framed and presented as a gift. I LOVE it! Unfortunately, this gift came under the ‘sentimental gifts’ header so, after the obligatory shy smile, the picture was left to me to display. If I asked him now I’m pretty sure he won’t recall where that picture came from or indeed that it was intended as a gift for him. This is probably as good as its going to get and I’ve pretty much made my peace with that.

Wedding Illustration | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Check out Custom Portraits by Blanka Illustration HERE

Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary

The second wedding anniversary is traditionally celebrated with the gift of cotton so I’ve gone full on cheese-central with this years gift…matching Mr & Mrs. Cotton Waffle Bathrobes! I’m not even going to apologise – I’m completely embracing the naffness and can’t wait to cosy up in them, Sangria in hand, on our first family holiday (as you read this we will be living it up in the South of Spain)! Fingers crossed he will actually get some wear out of it (even if he does forget where it came from and why)!

Bathrobes | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Bathrobes | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Custom Bathrobe Available Online HERE

If anyone has any completely brilliant suggestions when it comes to buying for the boys then please do leave a comment below. Yes, this is most definitely a first world problem but I can’t be the only one who finds it impossibly tricky? I have a full year to plan for Anniversary No3 – Leather! That’s one full year to lay a trail of subliminal messaging leading to the Chanel Classic Flap…Hmmmm (insert scratches head emoji)!

All Wedding Photography by the brilliant Claire Penn

 

 

 

Postpartum Fitness – The Journey So Far

Call me naive but I was completely unprepared for the way I would feel about my body after giving birth to my baby girl. I had read all the books and I had all of the necessary information, but there’s just something about pregnancy that makes you kind of, mentally block out the thought of anything potentially ‘icky’ or uncomfortable. Consequently, the profuse leakage, aching knees (seriously, no one ever tells you), and sheer bone exhaustion (not to mention the sizeable gut) came as something of a shock. Now I don’t mean to sound dramatic. Putting experiences down on paper seems to make them appear ten times worse and, if I’m honest, everything has been perfectly manageable  – that’s not to say I wasn’t caught off guard!

I’m about as far removed from a health and fitness fanatic as it’s possible to get – this is not a tale of how I grew to love exercise or a detailed testimony of I got my pre-baby body back. Simply put, 9 months down the line I still struggle every day with motivation (or the lack thereof) and lack of confidence in my own abilities. It’s been a long hard slog and I still have a way to go. Here are a few discoveries I’ve made along the way.

  • No one tells you why your body looks and behaves the way it does. At each postnatal check, my midwife would feel my tummy. I never thought to question why as it seemed a perfectly logical thing to do. My tummy had, after all, recently housed an 8Ib human so it made sense that someone would ‘check’ that it was doing o.k. in the aftermath. I wasn’t aware that she was checking the extent of my abdominal muscle separation (Diastasis Recti). If I’m honest I wasn’t aware there was such a thing!
  • Most women have some degree of separation after childbirth – some are lucky with only a minimal gap that will reduce over time. Others have a more severe separation that does require targeted core strengthening techniques to rectify and can be MADE WORSE by the wrong types of exercise.
  • Planks, crunches and other advanced abdominal exercises are the worst possible thing you can do for a post-baby pooch! Without regaining core stability these exercises will do very little for your mum-tum and may even make matters worse There is a definite lack of information as to how to optimise postpartum workouts.
  • Postpartum bodies do not simply snap back to what they were before. I think this myth needs busting right now. Yes, some women recover more quickly than others – every woman’s body responds differently and every woman has a different experience of both pregnancy and birth. Keep in mind that old saying – 9 months on 9 months off (in fact give it a good year or more).
  • As much as it pains me to say it (believe me I’m eye rolling myself right now), you do need to do something to help your body along. I love sweets, I love tea, I hate getting sweaty. It has taken an enormous amount of effort and willpower to summon the energy to prioritise my health and well-being. As I said, this is not the tale of how I now love exercise. It is hard! I don’t love it and it really is a struggle especially when you are in a permanent state of sleep deprivation. But here’s the depressing truth – exercise works! When I get out for a walk first thing in the morning I do feel better. When I finish a workout, I do get a buzz (simply from the sense of satisfaction at having completed it without keeling over) and after 12 weeks of core exercises, I am far less likely to end up in a puddle of wee when I sneeze! Having babies is nothing if not glamorous!

Postpartum Fitness - The Journey So Far

Postpartum Fitness - The Journey So Far

Click Here for a full review of the targeted postpartum system I have used to get to grips with healing my body post pregnancy.

*Update…Going Forward – BBG & Beyond

If I’m being honest, this post has been sitting in the drafts folder for a number of weeks. I just haven’t known when was ‘the right time’ and I certainly don’t feel qualified to advise anybody on the rights and wrongs of getting the ‘old bod’ back in action. Since completing my 12 weeks on the Mutu System, I’ve found myself wanting to (tentatively) take my fitness journey to the next level. My friend Kim recommended the ‘Kayla Itsines’ BBG Programme to me and, after four weeks (of beginner level) I’m certainly feeling stronger though the workouts are INTENSE! As I said I am no great exercise lover so would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned that I might not be able to go the distance – particularly as I have a holiday coming up! I have a feeling this could be an ongoing saga…watch this space!

Postpartum Fitness - The Journey So Far

I would love to hear anyone else’s experiences of working out or dealing with body woes after pregnancy. If you have any tips, tricks or stories to tell please do leave a comment below!

Shopping My Wardrobe – The Accessory Edit

Having babies is an expensive business. Just as soon as you’ve forked out for the ‘big things’ (i.e. the pushchair, the car seat, the cot), then they’ve grown out of them and before you know it you’re in a costly circle of spending and desperately trying to rehouse everything that is now surplus to requirement. So, not only do we have a great big hole in the bank balance but also a house bursting with swing chairs, bedside cribs and baby gyms that our (now 9 month old) has long since outgrown.

This is a roundabout way of saying that the time of the disposable income and of treating myself (succumbing) to the odd luxury splurge are (temporarily) a thing of the past! So, my new challenge to myself is to ‘shop my wardrobe’ and uncover the lost gems that are undoubtedly lurking beneath the boxes and designer dust bags. So, without further ado, here are a few rediscoveries that I shall be attempting to insert into my new ‘mum-drobe’ (Apologies in advance for the overuse of the word ‘classic’).

The Bag – The Louis Vuitton ‘Alma’

They say you never forget your first and I can think of no reason why this shouldn’t apply just as well to handbags as to, ahem, other areas. This timeless tote probably wouldn’t be my first choice today but holds so much sentimental value as it was a gift from my mum & dad when I received my A Level results. The eponymous brown monogrammed canvas is a true classic, eschewing the ‘naff’ tag that comes with so many brand logos (Burberry still hasnt recovered)! Although this bag doesn’t see as much use as it once did I think it’s definitely still relevant to a modern mum wardrobe as it goes with pretty much anything and is surprisingly roomy – I’m pretty sure I can squeeze all the baby changing essentials in here as well as my phone/purse/keys etc. (*sidenote – the mobile phone pocket is not at all conducive to iPhones but I’m pretty sure that this must be because mine predates the whole Smartphone genre (granny alert). I can only assume that the new ones have been adapted accordingly?)

The ‘Alma’ is still available to purchase HERE for an eyewatering £1050!!!! (pretty sure we paid £450 back in the day)

Shopping My Wardrobe | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Belt – Dolce & Gabbana Gents Belt

I love a bit of menswear. Give me a pair of boyfriend jeans, a gents watch, my hubbies shirt and a pair of Gucci Loafers over a floral mini dress any day of the week! I picked up this belt during the ‘Great Dolce & Gabbana Splurge of 2004’ (more on that later) and have worn it every year, without fail since (it’s still pristine)! You would go a long way before you found a belt that looks this achingly chic with a pair of kick flares and a crisp white shirt!

This Belt is long gone but there are some amzing logo belts out there including this lustworthy Gucci Number 

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

The Bling – By Malene Birger Lily Bell Necklace

I’ve mentioned before how much I love the brand By Malene Birger and I just knew when I bought this necklace that it would be one of those things that lived in my wardrobe forever! I always think it’s worth paying that little bit extra for these kinds of pieces – the ones that are really unique! Statement jewellery, like anything, has its moments in and out of the spotlight but this little number can really take an outfit from ‘meh’ to ‘scene stealer’ in an instant. I’m really excited about this rediscovery as I can stick to my mum uniform of jeans & a tee but add this necklace and a pair of heels and it immediately takes it to a whole new level! This brand is another that has skyrocketed in price since I made this purchase – another reason why it’s so exciting to delve into the archives – you never know what gems you might unearth that you would pay an arm and a leg for today!

I can’t find anything remotely similar but there are some lovely Statement Necklaces at THE OUTNET HERE

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

The Beckham Acquisition

There was a time that I would covet everything and anything that was championed by the ever fabulous Mrs. Beckham.  These shades are a case in point. Does anyone remember the (oh so cool) collaboration between Victoria Beckham, Dane Bowers, and True Steppers? Yep, that was the one that was pipped to the No1spot by Sophie Ellis-Bexter’s ‘Groovejet’. In the video, VB plays a badass chick in a Matrix-style coat, an Audi convertible and ‘those’ Chanel shades! These were sold out everywhere in the UK and it was actually my grandparents who tracked them down for me in Marbella. This is what I love about these ‘stashed at the back of your wardrobe gems’ – everything comes with a story!

Find Similar HERE

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

The Dolce & Gabbana Affair

The year was 2004. A new designer had just installed themselves on the front line at Puerto Banus. It was the year of Dolce & Gabbana. It was one of those collections that gave you goosebumps, where each and every item seemed to scream ‘buy me’. The look was darkly glamorous – almost goth. Think black velvets, emerald green satin, ruby red jewels and rich gold tapestry. It was a look that was luxurious, regal and so very romantic. In the years before babies and mortgages, when disposable income was just that, I splurged…and then I splurged again. That summer is a distant memory but I still have those treasured pieces and treasured they are…

The Swag…

  • Jewelled clutch bag.
  • Crystal & Leather monogrammed cuff.
  • Leather & Chain monogrammed belt
  • Tusk pendant necklace.

I believe there was also a pair of jeans in this haul which (if I still owned them) I’m pretty sure wouldn’t go over my knees! That people is why, if you’re going to lose all sense of practicality and responsibility, you should do so in the accessory department only!

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

I hope this has encouraged you to revisit items in your own wardrobe you may have stashed and try mixing them up with a few newer pieces. We all have things that we hang on to because we either paid a lot of money for them or simply because we love them. why not have a rummage, pull out a handful of long-forgotten items and see if you can give them a new lease of life. If your anything like me and need to save a few pennies then it’s a very interesting and worthwhile exercise in self-restraint and imagination!

Try It, Love It…The Tili Beauty Box

Beauty boxes are having something of a moment and really what’s not to love? A pretty box filled with tempting treats – it’s like crack for the discerning beauty junkie! So enamoured are we with these little boxes of delights, we’ve already seen beauty eggs at Easter and Advent Calendars at Christmas (the Diptique advent calendar is truly exquisite) and my favourite beauty girls (that would be Caroline Hirons, Lily Pebbles and Anna of The Anna Edit) have all partnered with online mecca Cult Beauty to create their own edit of beauty must haves! FYI, next time you see one of these collaborations coming up, get your name on the waitlist asap as they sell out FAST!

Try It Love It – The May Edition

This is the fourth incarnation of the Tili (try it, love it) Beauty Box which always contains a really good mix of niche and premium brands for a (quite remarkable) price of £20. You don’t need to subscribe to the box and you can see exactly what’s inside before you go ahead and hit the buy now button (so no nasty surprises lurking in its depths)!

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

What’s in the box????

  • Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose – Wahhhhh, I think would have bought the box for this alone – this is a brand new launch (so no, the box isn’t full of old or discontinued items)!
  • OPI Nail Colour (this isn’t my shade but I love a bit of OPI and again this is from the new season collection)!
  • Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish – An absolute classic. I haven’t used this in years but I’m looking forward to trying it again.
  • IT Cosmetics CC Cream – I already own and love the full size of this product. It’s an amazing full coverage CC Cream that glides on a dream and gives a gorgeous glowy finish.
  • Erno Laszlo Cleanser Travel Set – This is a new one on me and I can’t wait to give it a go (apparently Audrey Hepburn was a fan and if it’s good enough for Holly Golightly…)
  • Benefit Rollerlash Mascara – I love a travel sized mascara. I find you can really get to the root of the lashes with a smaller brush although I don’t think I’ve ever tried a benefit mascara (I’m usually a Lancome girl) so I’m intrigued to give this a go.
  • Ultrasun SPF 30 For Face – I’m a bit crazy obsessive with SPF these days – I’m definitely starting to see the effects of my sun worshipping teenage days so a good daily SPF is a must.
  • Vita Liberata 10-Minute-Tan – The Vita Liberata Mousse from a previous Tili box was a real winner so I can’t wait to take this on my hols to try out!
  • Julien Farel Vitamin Shampoo and Conditioner – I’m not going to lie, shampoo and conditioner aren’t the most thrilling items in a girl’s beauty arsenal – essential yes, exciting, not so much. On the other hand, these smell amazing and it’s always nice to have travel sized essentials!

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

5 Favourites From Previous Boxes

  1. Liquid Gold – I’ve mentioned this before in my Post Pregnancy Skincare Post but it really is one of my desert island products! (Although, obviously, if I was on a desert island, SPF would probably me the smart choice)!
  2. Vita Liberata Mousse – I hadn’t fake tanned for so long. I think I was bored of the whole sticky, smelly rigmarole and let’s be honest, it never looks that authentic. This mousse was a bit of a game changer – light, easy to use (i.e no streaks) and surprisingly convincing colour wise.
  3. Becca Illuminating Primer – I’ve used quite a few illuminating primers before but wow – this is a game changer! Every time I wear this I get ‘your make up looks amazing’ comments! Becca always make incredible ‘glow’ products (I’m lusting after their new ‘Chrissy Teigen Glow Face Palette’) so I’ll definitely be adding this to my shopping list.
  4. Percy & Reed Volumising Mousse – I’m not one to get excited by haircare products but this has given my heavy hair a much-needed boost not to mention its a FULL-SIZE product! (It retails at £12 on its own)!
  5. Decleor Aromessence Mandarin  – I absolutely love Decleor Facial Oils. I would usually go with Aromessence Neroli to calm my skin and give it that all important glow but the Mandarin is equally glow-inducing with the added benefit of smoothing those little lines that seem to be popping up a bit more frequently than I would like.

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

Beauty Box Losers

By losers what I really mean is that these products either just didn’t work for me or that they simply don’t do it for me. I don’t think there are many losers in boxes like this as you can always pass something on to a friend or family member if it’s just not for you.

  • Laura Gellar ‘Spackle Tinted Under Make-Up Primer’ I’ve tried other products from the ‘spackle’ family and it’s a product that just doesn’t agree with my skin. It tends to give me breakouts and leaves my skin feeling greasy.
  • Nexxus ‘Nutritive Shampoo & Conditioner’ Not really a loser just something that fails to tickle my ‘beauty junkie’ tastebuds.
  • Essie ‘Mint Candy Apple’ Nail Polish. I think we’ve discussed my limited tolerance for anything other than Uma Thurman’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ Nails. Yup, mint green nails are just not my bag!

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

Let’s Talk About ‘Those’ Boxes…

The physical Tili Beauty Box is a JOY to behold! Each box is themed to a particular colour with a full list of product ingredients and the whole effect is always crisp, clean and just yummy to open. It really is like receiving a gift, the packaging is that pretty!

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with the Tili Beauty Box. The price point is crazy for the amount and quality of premium product and the box itself (yes we’ve established I’m a crazy box lady) makes the product as a whole look so well thought out and pretty. Great gift, great gift to self, get thee to QVC on the double!

The Tili Beauty Box is available online HERE

The Hundred Pound Haul

The Premise

Feeling a bit disillusioned with the process of updating her wardrobe for summer, my mum came up with the (quite frankly genius) idea of the hundred pound haul. Let me explain. Five, time poor, fashion savvy girls are challenged to spend one hundred pounds in a designated high street store with the goal of creating stylish new looks! All items purchased must work in at least TWO ways with current wardrobe staples. Once the mission is complete we all meet up, present our wares, drink Prosecco and hopefully learn a little something from each other’s choices.

Planning The Hundred Pound Haul

The Store

Marks and Spencer, no longer the sartorial home of your gran or a one stop shop for  Percy Pigs, is having something of a fashion moment. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wary of the fit of trousers and jeans in particular but for pretty summer tops and accessories you really can’t go far wrong.

The Meet Up

We really weren’t sure how this was going to work in practice – did we need to show the complete look or could we simply talk the others through it? What would happen if we all ended up buying the same items (believe me it wouldn’t be the first time). Would we get sidetracked and end up 5 hours later ordering Chinese in a prosecco coma? Nope, it worked a dream – so much so that we’re going to try and make it a bi-monthly event! We chatted, asked questions and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one that left with some great styling tips that would otherwise never have occured to me and there are at least two new pieces on my wish list. On this occasion, I’ve focused on the pieces that I personally chose but I can feature everyone’s choices next time if that’s something people would like to see.

The Haul

I’ll admit, I didn’t put 100% effort into thinking up and planning my haul – I just kind of went with my gut and purchased things that appealed on first sight. Next time I promise I’ll put more thought in but without further ado, here are my picks…

Embroidered Off Shoulder Top

The Hundred Pound Haul | Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

I had been on the lookout for a summery off shoulder top to pair with jeans or white shorts on holiday and this really fit the bill. I loved the‘Riviera’ blue stripe with the contrasting red embroidery. On the downside, its a little short in the body and I fear it may make a bit of a shelf out of my gargantuan, breastfeeding boobs! Hopefully, I can minimise this with my favourite ‘le tuck’ technique (aka tucking the front of your top into your jeans or shorts) as the top itself is a bit of a winner.

Find it online HERE

Bee Print Split Shirt

The Hundred Pound Haul | Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Hundred Pound Haul | Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

I was a little torn with this one. As much as I loved the print (shocking as print usually scares the heck out of me) I wasn’t overly convinced that I could pull off the longer length without looking a bit mumsy. Yet, the fit is so on point and the fact that you can tie the shirt at the front really modernises the shape. The sleeves are such a good length which, for me, is always a big bugbear with most of the M&S offering and the fit over my bust is perfect. I’m intending to wear this over a bikini on my more glamorous days or knotted with a pair of white shorts and my Panama for shopping trips (and a few cheeky cocktails).

This seems to have sold out online but they have other styles in this print HERE

Biker Skinny Leg Trousers

The Hundred Pound Haul | Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

I’m still umming and ahhing about these. I love the idea and they remind me somewhat of the ‘J Brand Houlihans’ which incidentally, I threw out for being far too big (and then I got pregnant and now nothing is too big)! I digress. In my head, these look great with both heels or trainers, my ‘Me & Em’ Blazer and a plain white tee but I’m still on the fence about whether they’re actually that flattering on the hip area.

Find these online HERE

Drawstring Detail Sweater

Drawstring Detail Round Neck Jumper |The Hundred Pound Haul| Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The wild card. I bought this because I quite literally had no simple sweaters just to pull on with jeans – my post pregnancy wardrobe clearout was quite severe and I’m pretty much having to start from scratch. I was quite surprised by how much I liked this given my relative ambivalence. The ties are just enough of a nod to the whole statement sleeve trend without being obtrusive and getting in the way while you’re trying to eat.

Find It online HERE

Ideas I’ll be pinching

  1. Pure Cotton Striped Short Sleeve Shell Top. Find it online HERE
  2. Pure Cotton Poplin Ruffle Sleeveless Blouse. Find it online HERE

Both remind me of one of my favourite brands, By Malene Birger. She makes beautiful (but pricey) summer tops with a twist and these are just so perfect – ideal to style up with cut off denim or white shorts.

So there you have it, the inaugural hundred pound haul. Leave a comment if there’s any particular store you would like us to focus on or maybe you would like to see hauls of specific items or targeted at particular events? Let me know and I’ll do my best to make it happen.   http://convertalinktest.awin.com

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