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Posts about life before baby!

Lifestyle Pre Baby

Just a quick update

The last half of 2014 has been pretty mad and I haven’t felt like reading since July because of it! So what’s happened? Well we decided to increase the family by one, due in April this year. It has been a bit of a roller coaster to say the least, however things have settled down now and I am looking forward to reviewing some lovely baby items!

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I salute anyone who has the energy to blog about their pregnancy experience when they have bad morning sickness during the first and (start of) the second trimester. But now at almost twenty five weeks I’m feeling pretty much normal and we have starting all the baby shopping.

I’m going to be doing a few posts hopefully on some of the items we’ve picked once they’ve been used a bit so I can get an idea of how good they are. I’m also doing just a few crafty type items for the nursery so hoping to post about that once I get all the items I need to start the projects.

Also I would love to do a nursery before and after with some organisation tips but we will see how that goes, so check back here soon for more reviews!

Pre Baby Trending Topics

Technology, evolution or the downfall of human social interaction?

I had seen this video circulating the web the past week, after watching it I had so much I wanted to say but rather than start a Facebook debate I figure I would voice my opinions in a way that don’t get lost in a mirage of abusive comments. If you watch the video you might think that the author is being hypocritical given the media he is using the output his voice. You might agree, you might not I don’t really think it matters in all honesty.

What the video made me wonder is this, are we now evolving using technology? Rather than needing to know everything about a subject now, we have a vast sea of factual information in the palm of our hands. We don’t need to retain that knowledge but instead we practice how to manipulate the knowledge into usage. There will always be a place in this world for people who do have brains geared up for data retention, we will always need people who understand in-depth one area without reference though.

Back to the point at hand however, the video seems to be suggesting that using technology excessively is reducing the potential for opportunities in “real life”. Is that really the case? Let’s take the lost person as an example, so the likelihood is that you use your phone to navigate these days if you are lost. In this example the guy doesn’t meet his “soul mate” because he doesn’t ask her for directions. There are lots of opportunities to meet people online, it’s true that this scenario could happen but you could say the same about any situation without technology. It’s a should have, would have, could have mentality and while I agree that I think it’s a nice idea in truth you never know when you with cross paths with the important people in your life. There is nothing to say that won’t be online in a chat room, in the street, on Facebook or other social media.

I think the we are evolving through the use of technology vastly seen in the use of the internet, I say this because we have access to a variety of information (accurate and not so), we have the ability to connect with others across the world, we have a world that never sleeps open for communication, we can work all hours of the day, we speak our minds without any though for the consequences of our actions, everyone has a voice and can be heard if they scream loud enough or invoke the masses to help them. It’s a medium in which the very best and the very worse of human kind can be seen for all to see, I’ve heard so many times people so surprised at the way people talk to each other online. But I always find it amusing because just consider, I’m sure people have been talking about others all along, the only difference is whether it’s in public or not.

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. – Albert Einstein

The other side of this of course is that we only have a limited amount of hours in the day, time spent boosting our online personas is  time not spent with the physical world. I enjoyed as a child playing outdoors, but I also enjoyed playing games online and social media in my teens. What I love about our time right now is the choice, if you want to go play outdoors you can. Obviously children who stay in playing games and talking to their friends online must find that easier or more enjoyable than going outside.

It seems like we are on the edge of learning to live differently, we no longer need to learn the roads we drive, the streets we walk, we are always just at the end of a phone ready awaiting for your call. The main theme being always connected, whether that be to people, systems, information we are no longer ever truly alone and yet physically we can be. Learning to live with yourself physically is the new challenge, but people are evolving to learn to accept that physical proximity is not required online.

Personally I like a balance, but I don’t know how long that balance will be able to hang on until one wins over the other. I am excited by the future, the projects that are currently being considered. I believe that technology is going to aid health care (nanotechnology, new prosthesis limbs) and it seems only fitting that the way we socialize and communicate will change along with that. How long before your phone is no longer required and instead we move towards biotechnology and the device is no longer a physical device but part of our body. There will be no device to put down and the database of the internet will be accessible to all, surely this is evolution whether you agree with the direction or not?

London Pre Baby

Ten things I love about London

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you will look back and realise they were the big things.

  1. Public Transport – it’s rare for me to be a fan of public transport, when it comes to me and proximity to strangers. But here, it’s great; London really have public transport how it should be in every major city in the UK. It’s fast, reliable and you really don’t have to wait long. You find yourself complaining because the next train is in four minutes instead of one, 1st world problems eh?
  2. Shopping – it’s so strange to have immediate access to all the stores in glossy magazines, previously those clothes were some what out of reach without get effort or ordering online. No more do I need to take a day trip to London for the ultimate shopping experience, it’s just a short tube trip away.
  3. Restaurants and takeaways – oh my! The options are endless, you can easily go out to eat but if you feel like staying in then there are so many vast menus to pick. Not only is the selection great but they are usually pretty good when it comes to throwing in freebies or deals with their food. I guess when you have so much competition you have to try and find something to make you stand out, but no complaints here it’s great!
  4. Sight seeing – it’s really easy to go and spend a day out seeing the sights in London. I really must try to see more but even if you don’t use it, it’s great to have that choice. You don’t need to plan a day out in advance, although it helps!
  5. Not needing to drive – I guess this kind of fits under my first point but it felt like it needed it’s own section. When you don’t need to nominate a driver everyone has fun, you can have a nice alcoholic drink without excluding anyone.
  6. Diversity – London is so diverse, it almost feels like a different country. I like it because you get authentic food and retail and hearing the variety of different accents and languages spoken makes a nice change.
  7. Weather – this is a weird one, is it just me or goes it feel warmer here? It seems like the sun is out here more than the south west.
  8. Work – If I wanted to work full time there are plenty of opportunities out there for me.
  9. Recession? What recession – if your lucky you haven’t felt the pinch of the recession, but you would still hear about it from those who have. Here it seems like the recession never happened, money is being spent everywhere.
  10. Access – everything is here, whether that be great health care to brilliant beauty salons you can get access to the best of everything in the UK.

Next on the list coming soon, ten things I don’t like about London – I don’t want to say hate as I don’t think that would  be the right word.

Lifestyle Pre Baby Uncategorised

Time, where does it go?

When you are working it’s easy to assume that time is something that the working world consumes, only releasing it’s grasp on those long awaited weekends or authorised holidays away from work. With the age of retirement slowly creeping up as humans stick around for longer on this earth work can start to feel like an endless cycle. You get up, go to work, come home from work where you then spend the evening catching up on all the things you need to do before you finally retire to bed; all this for the cycle to continue again the next day.

Somewhere mixed into life there is time, I’m not talking about all twenty four hours of the day time but instead your own personal free time. From listening to others it seems that we in general blame work for the lack of free time in our lives, but I’d argue that whatever amount of free time we happen to have we would fill it with things we have to do.

Once you fill your time with things you have to do like work, chores, child care then it suddenly loses that label free time. Those who are retired will tell you they have less free time now than when they were working, how can that be?

I think this happens because when you work you are given a routine, let’s say for example you work Monday – Friday with the weekend and evenings as “free time”. Your week is very defined, you might choose to take some of your free time and make it into things you need to do. For example lots of people have a cleaning day, or they have to look after their children during certain times. But once this is done you have the rest of your time defined as free.

This routine I think allows you to relax, you’ve worked really hard the rest of the day so you feel no guilt in spending your free time watching TV or reading a book it’s deserved. Those who do not have such a structured routine, they don’t have specific times to move into the relaxation phase and switch off.

Take for example a house wife, if you are cleaning, cooking, looking after children when do you actually get that break off point? You work every day of the week including evenings and you don’t have that same guilt free “that’s it my hours are up time to clock off” moment. Of course throughout the day you do have down time but it’s usually very disjointed and fits in between other tasks.

There is always a silver lining though, if you don’t work and you still keep structure in your life then I think you can have the best of both worlds. I’m slowly moving into this, I now only clean on certain days and make sure I have plenty of time each day just to myself – bliss!

Hats off to mothers with young babies that work, I imagine that would be the most demanding routine! Of course none of this applies if you enjoy your job so much that it’s your hobby, although I haven’t met anyone who wouldn’t prefer to be on a beach sipping a cocktail rather than at work just yet.

Lifestyle Pre Baby Uncategorised

Coffee Shops the new meeting rooms

The coffee shops where I live are an extension of the board room, this makes them very busy most of the day and I wouldn’t want to attempt a lunch time trip again. It’s rare to see the usual coffee crowd, you know the guy sat reading a book alone, the students or the two mothers having a catch up while their children mush food around their faces.

Pretty much everyone here wears a suit and when they are sat around a coffee table they are usually talking business. The only other exception is when professional couples take a moment to remove themselves from their busy lives and they meet for a coffee. But even then they are still in suits and usually business talk isn’t far from their minds.

I am the exception, I do occasionally see a casually dressed soul or two but there is certainly a different vibe here. I have to admit it is strange, I suppose because even outside of the coffee shops the majority are wearing workwear.

Usually you can hear what the nearest tables (while drinking your coffee of choice) are talking about. Right now two professional dressed people are talking about a wedding, what suits to order and the bridesmaid dress style. I can’t quite work out if I’m listening to the soon to be bride and groom or just a interested work colleagues sharing updates about their personal lives.

Either way it’s fair to say if you sit in this coffee shop long enough I’m sure you could work out what major project every company in the financial sector is working on. Having now exchanged the professional world for a slower paced life as a house wife, I have to admit listening to professional talk the talk sounds almost comical and staged to me. When I say that, it’s not to dismiss the important of talking professionally in the working world.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved meeting and enjoyed bouncing around the technical lingo. But when you are removed from that and become an onlooker listening, the huge constrast to the way you might speak at work and the way you speak in more casual settings is very different. So when listening to professional meetings you can hear the this new project is so important that if it’s not done and X, Y, Z dependancies aren’t done exactly on time then it’s the end of the world.

Which it’s far off the truth for most, if you want to stand out in this busy world of work you need to make sure you are meeting your deadlines. Often heard at this time of year are people talking about their internal professional development reviews and what grade they are currently on. Just now I heard one guy saying he was hoping for a raise because he had met his requirements for his this year.

Wouldn’t it be odd if we all spoke as we do at home at work? If a professional attitude never existed, it never occurred to me how staged it sounds when you are no longer being professional five days out of seven in a week.

Lifestyle Pre Baby Uncategorised

Why is waiting for something to be released so difficult?

When it comes to waiting I’m not the most patient person out there, whether that be waiting for a tube or waiting for a game to be released I find the whole process challenging. I’m currently waiting for the latest model of Roomba robot vacuum cleaner to be released in Europe, which is proving difficult as there is no definate date as of yet.

The endless cat hair’s that require my attention every day, multiple times a day in fact are beginning to drive me nuts. If it isn’t cat hair then one of the little darlings have decided to push their litter around the room. Once we moved from carpet to hardwood floors I knew it would mean much more maintenance for me.

To tackle this issue I have been working on persuading my husband, he’s now onboard (yippee) and agrees we need a Roomba in the house. I don’t know if you’ve seen much about them but they really have come leaps and bounds over the last few years and I’ve always been interested in them. Roomba make a variety of cleaning robots from vacuuming to dusting/mopping or even scrubbing the floors. The one I’m interested in is the vacuuming robot, as I think it will help keep that light level of dust down.

The latest robot vacuum cleaners even go back to their charging base now and they seem to do a pretty good job at keeping things tidy. We don’t tend to keep much on the floor so hopefully it shouldn’t get stuck too often, they also come with light houses so you can corner off areas where you don’t want it to clean. I think this will be useful as the cats might be quite upset if the vacuum were to steal their food.

The very latest model is the Roomba 880 which it seems only sensible to wait for it to be released seeing as it’s already out in the US now. So I emailed Roomba to ask when they intended to release the 880 for the Europe market, they said the 880 release date would be sometime in March/April/May so I guess that means spring. They couldn’t give me an exact date which is a shame but promised to put me on a list of contacts when they do have more information.

Should it get released any time soon then I’ll be sure to do a review of it and how it can help your housewife needs.

Check out this video for more information Roomba 880: A clean sweep

Roomba 880: The best cleaning robot is back with a new design

Lifestyle Pre Baby Uncategorised

IKEA – Please hold while we steal your soul away…

I have always liked IKEA, as long as you accept what it is then I think it fills a great hole in the current market. Usually I like it for the neat storage ideas and for inexpensive items which you don’t mind getting lots of wear and tear. Since moving to London my experience of IKEA has really changed, back in the south west I was close enough to visit their store.

I actually used to enjoy the walk around IKEA even though they pretty much force you to look at their stuff, rather than the conventional stores where you have a choice. Even with that, I saw the whole thing as an event in itself; something to enjoy and hey? why don’t you stop off at their cafe while you are at it, really make a day of it.

It’s not quite as easy to visit their store when you live in London, sure if you live right next to one then great. But the nearest to me is around a fifty minute drive away and thats assuming there isn’t traffic. You know that traffic you experience that google doesn’t warn you about when you find yourself  driving through CENTRAL LONDON. Or even just driving anywhere inside the M25 circle seems to be quite congested, specifically the north side anyway.

The last few times I’ve ordered online, you usually have to add quite a few items before they will deliver it which is fair enough really. It’s quite annoying then that IKEA take an age to actually ship your goods, it’s the longest time ever. The last order they had missed one single trouser hanger, no biggie it’s literally worth nothing much but you would think they would still correct it right?

Well no, you spend about thirty minutes on the phone (which by the way is not a free number) waiting for someone to pickup. I eventually gave up and tried submitting my problem online. Ha! That’s a mistake because they quote at least six days to get back to you. In what world does a company take six days at least to get back to a customer service query? I don’t think I know of any company that has openly quoted that long. At least they are honest I suppose!

So to the bring the story along to more recent ventures, they called me back and told me they will send the items out immediately. Did it ever arrive? No. Could I be bothered chasing it up again? No.

Then onto my second experience of ordering online with IKEA and perhaps my last! I thought that maybe the last phone call I made had long waiting times on the customer service line due to the time of year (christmas). Anyway the order arrived today and I immediately can tell it’s not going to be all roses. One of the boxes made a noise when I took it out of their poorly packaged larger box. I ordered some ceramic plates, I spent quite a while trying to decide whether to order cheap or go for hand made but we’ve had dinnerware from IKEA before and it’s always lasted ok.

So I ordered a complete set including pasta dishes, start to unbox and see that three pasta dishes are in pieces. The next box I opened had two little side plates in the same state.

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Immediately I call the IKEA customer service number, I’m warned that I’ll need to wait at least twenty minutes. It’s like 1-2pm, not exactly peak time so I wait and it hits about thirty – forty minutes some guy picks up.

The poor guy has a terrible cold so they must be understaffed if he’s still working being that sick, I explain the situation and he tells me that it would be too expensive for them to ship the items again. Wait? We paid you for delivery in the first place, the items you sent are broken, give me my items. Blah, Blah, “courier known for throwing items around a lot” Why use them then?

Anyway the guy goes to speak to his manager  and is pretty set that we have three options.

1. We go to the nearest store with the broken items and a case number, they throw in a gift card and some free food vouchers so we can “make a day of it”.

2. They refund the plates (this sucks because I want a set of six for a reason).

3. They send the items from their distribution centre but it’s going to take two weeks and they can’t guarantee that the items won’t be damaged again. They way they said this made it sound like they expected it to get damaged?!

So I went with option 1 but I honestly don’t know if it’s even worth bothering with, once you factor in the cost of the plates against the cost of petrol. But mostly I’m more annoyed that I had to listen to their terrible music for forty minutes of my life.

Pre Baby Trending Topics

February Tube Strike Madness

As I am sure you have heard this week there was a tube strike in London for 48 hours,  personally I have been able to avoid the strike and stay indoors. However this is the first tube strike that I have been in London for, although I have seen them on the news back when I lived in the South West (SW). I could not believe the massive impact it had on London, everyone here seems to be so used to the tube being excellent and when it was taken away people struggled trying to find any way into work.

Having been on the outside looking in previously tube strikes that were plastered over the news invoked very little sympathy from me, London is the rare example of excellence in the UK for public transport. Back in the SW buses don’t always show up and you usually have at least 10 – 15 mins if not much longer to wait between them, many of the buses only come every 30 mins or each hour. The trains were always cancelled and late, my husband used them for about five years and they were more often late or cancelled then on time!

People generally drove to work, I certainly did! Some of my best memories are sat in the car waiting, did you know that Bristol is the most congested city in Britain?  Traffic would be pretty terrible if there were any accidents on main roads but you just a few routes in your head which you could take. Oh route A is blocked? I’ll take route B, or C, or D .. you get my drift, of course everyone else would try and take those routes too. So when we would see that the poor Londoners had to wait longer than 1 – 5 mins to get a tube which would get them to work in record time, forgive us but we did not have much sympathy.

Now living in London I can see how much London just caves when the tube is not working, I can’t believe that the tube employees can even go on strike. Everyone panics because they are so used to good public transport via the tube that they just don’t know the bus routes, they don’t drive very often so they don’t know the roads. They don’t have a route B, C or D to rely on and suddenly everyone starts trying to get any bus they can.

On Wednesday morning tube stations which should have been open were shut, people were queueing to take a boat, queueing to take a bus, all the bikes were gone and people were actually dusting off their cars to try and drive. Of course though London is set up to give right of way to public transport over cars, so the traffic by car just added to the mess.

I’ve never seen all the offices over the road totally empty on a morning, I would put the level of frustration on par with snow days in the SW. People just could not get to their destination, they would have to take a boat then a bus, then another bus. The other transport methods just were not able to cope with the amount of people trying to use their services.

They think that it has costed London 50 million pounds each day of the strike and who knows how many people had their plans totally ruined. Sadly we have it all to look forward to next week again! Crossing my fingers that the strike doesn’t happen. Hopefully David Cameron will get his way and make the Tube a essential service!

Lifestyle Pre Baby

The Rug is Lava! – Pandora & Tiberius

We recently bought a new rug and I noticed that both our cats would not step on it. I’ve been training them by putting treats on the rug and tempting them onto it, Tiberius has taken to it much more than his niece Pandora who is much younger.

Check out this mornings progress!

Pre Baby Recipes

What’s cooking – Halloumi Couscous salad

Now I have more leisure time on my hands I have been trying to hunt down some new recipes to try. It’s all to easy to get yourself stuck in a rut, eating the same meals each week purely because those are known to be good.

I should also mention that I don’t eat meat, I wouldn’t really call myself a true vegetarian as I do eat shellfish and fish. My husband on the other hand does eat meat, so I try and balance that where I can.

So this evening we tried a new recipe called Halloumi Couscous Salad, I modified the recipe slightly as I did not make my own couscous. I bought some lovely ready made Moroccan style couscous from Tesco which was awesome, my husband rated this highly and he really enjoyed the cranberries and raisins they add.

Everything else was followed as described here at the BBC Good food website. You pretty much just add small tomatoes, I found on the vine to be the best flavour and also courgettes to bulk the recipe out. We also ditched the mint in the dressing, so I can’t say whether that is nice or not but I’m not a huge fan of mint myself.

What we are both great fans of however is Halloumi cheese and I’ll be sure to show you my Halloumi stacks which I do as an alternative to burgers shortly.

This recipe is one that we are going to put on our list of favourites, why don’t you try it out and let me know what you think below?