My raging hormones: @ 19 weeks


So it's week 19 and I thought I would share how things are going.  First, I cannot believe I am nearly halfway there.  Halfway to having a baby.  Eeeek how exciting and scary is that.  I must say though, I have really really really been struggling with my irritability, grumpiness and just not feeling all that motivated.

As soon as I feel myself getting irritated or slightly irrational I immediately try and calm myself and say "don't worry, it's just your hormones" or "give yourself a break, you're pregnant" but at the same time I feel a bit guilty for always using the pregnancy excuse.  I mean, is it just me who is extremently irritable or is it really my body's way of handling all the changes going on?

My poor husband - the kindest, most patient and understanding person I know must be starting to get slightly fed up with his wife constantly being exhausted, slightly cranky and just plain bleh with life in general (actually I know he is!).  But, maybe it will pass, this second trimester is supposed to be the best.  My belly is really beginning to swell now and the little motions I am feeling inside is our little baby kicking and squirming about, sucking his or her thumb and growing at a rapid rate.

Feeling those little kicks is the weirdest feeling - I can only explain it as bubbles popping in your tummy or a slight muscle spasm or twitch.  But they get stronger everyday and yesterday Mani felt him/her kick for the first time. It was so special ♥  We have our 20 week scan on Monday which will make sure little Choudhry is growing as he or she should as well as finding out whether baby is a he or a she.  Excited is not the word, I am just bursting to find out what we are having and can't wait to share it with you all next Tuesday.

We are starting to make a list of things we need to get, a cotbed, changing table, buggy, blankets, bouncy chair, nappies etc. etc. etc.  I have found some very useful blog posts about the must haves for newborns which is so helpful for a first time mom like me as I would just want to buy anything and everything that the market says to but at the end of the day there are actually only a few things which will be needed.  Elise's newborn essentials post and Vanessa's must haves are super helpful - thanks ladies!!

I also just want to say thanks again to the awesome Ffion, Chelsea and Laura for guest posting for me while we were in Sweden and again to Chelsea for guest posting for again on Tuesday.

And also a special mention to Bear and Robot - thank you so much for sponsoring the awesome giveaway which received a phenomenal amount of entries.  Congrats to Rebecca who won - enjoy choosing your print or totebag!! Remember B&I readers can get 20% off all prints using the code PRINT20 in their etsy shop.

{GUEST POST} Inspiration lately from Chelsea at sea, field and tribe

My blogger friend, Chelsea is sharing her inspiration on the blog today - enjoy ♥
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Hello there! I'm Chelsea from sea, field & tribe blog! Thank you to Claire for allowing me to share some of my inspirations of late. Like many of you, I too am on Pinterest and I use it quite frequently to find recipes or home inspirations, or nifty gadgets or things to help make life easier and simpler. So here is my wishlist/to-do list/inspiration list: 

1. mirrored recycled wine cork wall hanging | wow is this cool! I love how simple this art appears, I think it would be easiest with wine corks, but you can also use other types of recycled wood. What a fun weekend project!

2. a smooth cake is a pretty cake | I've never been quite adept at this technique, so I was thrilled to come across these directions - which was actually much simpler than I thought, and led me to realize my mistake all along (my pastry knife is WAY too small hah).

3. a floor to ceiling fireplace! yes please! | what a beautiful interior, even though I live in the Caribbean and have no use for a fireplace, I'm sure many of you can appreciate this structural component! My parent's home in Texas has a double floor to ceiling fireplace, and I have such fond memories of gatherings and photos in front of it, plus lots of long winter nights and Christmases spent gazing at the beautiful flames it contained. Can you relate to this one?

4. gluten free/ vegan no-bake cookies | although I'm not gluten intolerant, one of my summer goals was to start baking with gluten free flours, to test it out and see how versatile these ingredients could be when substituted into some of my favorite dishes. This recipe sounds delicious and just like my Grandmother's "Oatmeal Mud Quickie Cookies", which were the super fattening, Southern Texas version of this above haha. 

I'd love for you to visit me: Facebook | Instagram | Bloglovin | Etsy


Sweden

We loved Sweden. It was amazing. We would move there if we could.  Seriously.
We stayed in a little town north of Stockholm called Fagertsa, only a 40 minute drive from Stockholm Vasteras airport (and its about a 2 hour drive from the main Stockholm airport).  It is a quiet town but the surroundings are beautiful - lakes, mountains and the Swedish houses are just so quaint.

We went for lunch on the Friday just around the corner from Jen & Jonas' house, where there was the sweetest little shop, filled with vintage finds and traditional Swedish things - basically I just wanted to buy the whole shop. We enjoyed lunch in a nearby cafe and soaked up the scenery.










Our friends, Jen and Jonas got married on Saturday 17th August at Wirsbo HerrgĂ„rd -  a stunning manor house, oozing charm and history.  The rooms were quaint and beautifully decorated - we had robes, slippers, toiletries and mineral water in our room when we arrived.

The food - wow - it was so divine.  We had lobster for starter, pork and steak for mains and profiteroles for dessert.  Honestly - I haven't tasted food that good in a long time.  Sitting with friends, both old and new and celebrating Jen and Jonas' love - it was a perfect setting and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves ♥










A big thank you to Jen, Jonas and their family and friends who made our stay so comfortable and fun. We had the best time and hope to be back soon.
xx

Today you can find me on | sea field and tribe |


I am guest posting on Chelsea's beautiful blog today with my favourite vegan chocolate brownie recipe - why don't you go have a peak?

Have a happy Wednesday ♥

Pregnancy Journal

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to start a pregnancy journal to record everything.  I love being able to look back and reminisce about feelings, look at photos etc.  And since this is my first pregnancy, its such a special time - something that should be remembered.

I contemplated making my own journal, but that takes a lot of time and enthusiasm, something which I am lacking at the moment so I opted to buy one.  There are so many options out there and most are online which also made it quite hard as you couldn't actually see the journal design.  I did pop to a few shops to see what was available but nothing really caught me eye and I went back online. (Sods law, a few weeks after I bought mine, I did find it in a little independent book shop in Oxford!)

These two were in my favourite list when I was looking for one:


The Belly Book - I like the design but not so much some of the questions, it seemed quite American and didn't have much space for scans.

The Nine Pregnancy Journal - I like the design and feel of this one, however it is also written for Americans hence some of the pages wouldn't really be apt for anyone living elsewhere.  It is also very detailed and I wanted something more general.

There are so many others out there, some are filled with facts about your current stage of pregnancy which is something I don't want as I already have the "What to Expect" book which I have mentioned previously (its brilliant!).

So after a lot of umming and aahing I decided on Bump to Birthday and I am glad I did.   I wanted something simple, nothing too big and I was drawn to Bump to Birthday and it records both your pregnancy and your baby's first year which is filled with special milestones so its all in one place.  I love the design, colours and images - its just my style ♥

Here are a few sneak peaks of the inside.




























































Any other pregnant ladies out there who have a pregnancy journal?  Which one did you buy or did you make your own?

{GUEST POST} Double Chocolate Chip Cookies from Laura on The Velvet Doe

Hi gorgeous Bright and Illustrious readers! I'm Laura from The Velvet Doe and the lovely Claire has asked me to do a guest post while she and her hubby are heading off to Sweden for a wedding (lucky!).

Just like Claire, I adore baking, I would do it all day if I could!  I thought I would share one my most simple but all-time favourite recipes with you - Double Choc Chip Cookies.  Now I know most people have their own favourite choc chip recipe but trust me, you are going to want these! My sister, who is a choc chip cookie connoisseur, calls these her favourite cookies of all time, other friends salivate at the thought!  I'm chomping on one writing this post... :)

I hope you enjoy!


Here's the recipe:

Double Choc Chip cookies
Makes approx 30 large cookies

INGREDIENTS

250g butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla essence
3 cups self-raising flour
1 x 250g bag of milk chocolate chips (I use Cadbury)
1 x 250g bag of dark chocolate melts (I use Cadbury)*

*alternatively, just use a slab of dark chocolate broken into small pieces

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 160 DegoC.
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (I mix in my mixer for about 5 minutes).
Whisk in the egg and vanilla.
Stir in the flour, then fold through the chocolate chips and melts (or dark chocolate chunks).
Place tablespoon sized balls on greased baking trays.  Bake in oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until cookied/lightly golden.
Cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy while warm.

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Thank you to Laura for sharing this delcious recipe! I am definitely going to have a go at making these - they sound divine.

You can find Laura on Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter // - be sure to follow her to get some more delicious recipes and inspiration.


{GUEST POST} Words to live by from Ffion on Give Me Magical



Hi folks, it's Ffi here from 'Give Me Magical' - I'm so happy to be filling in for Claire whilst she's off cruising round beautiful Sweden. I have some little words of wisdom for you today.

I am a bit of a dreamer, a hopeless romantic and a lover of beautiful things. That's the idea behind my blog - give me magical is somewhere i document the beautiful things in my life, it's somewhere that fuels and pushes my creativity and it's somewhere to collect all my thoughts, dreams and loves. However, every now and again, I get frustrated and overwhelmed and I lose all my confidence and momentum.

I never knew the 'bloggersphere' was so big. There is an obscene amount of talent out there – from the big-league bloggers who do it for a living to the hundreds and thousands of incredible, undiscovered individuals who blog purely for the love of blogging.
As i scroll through twitter, instagram, pinterest and my blog feed, I often find myself no longer focusing on the beauty of what they produce but completely intimidated by the perfect lives they appear to be living. I find it so easy to believe that these people’s lives are beautiful and perfect every second of every day. 

I get so inspired sometimes that it’s exhilarating but I can go online only to instantly feel that thrill disappear because I see someone doing it better than I think I can. I get so excited about making someone I love a birthday cake and crafty gifts only to go on pinterest for inspiration and instantly file the idea into a‘maybe one day’ file at the back of my mind. It isn’t even solely to do with blogging – i can find myself comparing my life to those in my facebook feed, I compare it to stories I hear about friends of friends of friends, i can even compare myself to people I see on the street.

There are so many moments of inspiration and possibility that are dampened by the small act of comparing myself. So this lovely quote from Theodore Roosevelt has become a mantra of sorts – when I compare myself to others, nobody really wins. By giving up before I’ve even started, I’m never going to get anywhere and the only person that’s really going to affect is me.



We are all unique, our lives are all beautiful, special and important. By all means, look to others for inspiration, aspire to be as successful as your idols but don’t lose focus on what’s important. Do what you do because you love it, do it because it makes you happy. Persevere and don’t let feelings of envy or inadequacy crush your dreams before you’ve even started.

Do not let comparison steal your joy ♥

Thank you to Ffion for sharing her wise words - inspiration at its best.  Don't you love her illustrations? She is one talented lady - be sure to check out her lovely blog to see more of her along with recipes, daily musings and her Sip by Sip series.

{GUEST POST} How to make Hazelnut Milk by Chelsea on sea, field and tribe ♥

Hi everyone! I'm Chelsea from sea, field & tribe. I'm delighted to be guest posting for Claire while she's away traveling! Today, I'd like to share a simple dairy free milk DIY that is super easy and delicious.Did you know you can make a non-dairy milk from almost any nut? And that it's actually super simple? Well prepared to be shocked and awed!
I recently received my issue of Chickpea magazine, which features a nice spread about all the different sorts of non-dairy milks that you can make easily from your own home and with some basic supplies (no fancy blenders here!). So I decided to try this out and test just how easy it all really is...

I chose hazelnuts. Because I love the taste and my grocer actually still carries these out of season. I bought one bag of Diamond brand hazelnuts for $4, a box of all natural coconut water, rounded up my cheese cloth, and prepped my blender. That's all the materials needed! Now here's what to do:
 
  • First, you will likely need to de-shell your hazelnuts. I did this very quickly and easily by placing several nuts in between a soft kitchen towel. I then took a hammer and gently cracked each nut. Your first couple of tries will likely result in busting the hazelnut too, so be aware of your own strength. You'll adjust to where you're only cracking the shell. *I used the shells for compost!*
  • Many nuts require soaking. I suggest looking this up first depending on what type of milk you want to produce. Hazelnuts do not require soaking, but I toasted mine for about 7 minutes in a preheated 350F oven. This helps bring out a lot of that nutty flavor.  *My bag of hazelnuts was a heaping 1 cup full*
  • After toasting, place your nuts into the blender and add 2 cups of coconut water. I also added some purified water to the mix after I starting blending, because I noticed my milk was a little thicker. Blend for just a couple minutes until you notice lots of pieces of hazelnut floating around. You'll smell a beautiful aroma immediately!  
  • Take your cheese cloth and cut a large enough square that will drape over the edge of a small bowl. I had a little trouble with this initially, as my cheese cloth edges would drop into the bowl when I poured the milk on top. Just be sure you stretch it out but not too tight, allow a little wiggle room for the milk and nuts to settle. Carefully gather the edges of the cheese cloth and squeeze the milk from the cloth. Repeat these steps until all the milk is in the bowl and all the nuts are elsewhere. *I spread out the chopped nuts onto the baking sheet and placed back in the oven to dry them out. I will use these for baking! 
  • Now grab a couple mason jars with lids. Take a smaller piece of cheese cloth (*by the way, these can be washed and re-used!*) and place it over the mouth of the jar. Put a rubber band around the edge to keep the cloth in place. Now pour your milk into the jar and see how many hazelnut pieces squeaked past you the first time! Once finished, cap that jar and place in the fridge!

So simple, right? Now, hazelnut milk does tend to separate from the coconut water. Just be sure to shake well before serving or using. You can also spice up this delicate blend with a bit of cardamom or cinnamon, maybe also a tsp. of vanilla? Your choice, try it out! 

This is a perfect example of sustainable living. A $4 bag of hazelnuts produced around 3 cups of milk, 3 cups of chopped hazelnut bits for baking and a heap full of shells as fonder for your compost. And best yet, you didn't use any plastics or non-recyclable materials!
 
Let me know how your attempt at non-dairy milk goes! I'd love to hear your experience and the different types you try!! Best of luck!




Thank you to the lovely Chelsea for sharing this - sustainable living is the way to go and its fun to try out new things and experiment ♥ 
Be sure to follow Chelsea on Facebook | Instagram | Bloglovin | Etsy for more inspiration.

We are off to Sweden!

{Source}
Tomorrow, we are flying to Sweden for a friend's wedding.  We are beyond excited - firstly because I love weddings, secondly because we have never been to Sweden and last but not least - this will probably be our final holiday before the baby arrives. 
While I am away, I have the awesome Chelsea from sea, field and tribe as well as the talented Ffion from Give Me Magical and the lovely Laura from The Velvet Doe to keep you company.  Thank you to these lovely ladies for agreeing to guest post on my little space and for keeping my readers entertained. ♥

See you next week!

Claire
x

Banana Bread



My Great Granny or Great, as we used to fondly call her passed down her banana bread recipe to my mom and then my mom to me.  I was picking up some bread and milk on my way home from work one evening and saw some reduced bananas on the shelves.  They were Chiquita bananas - I had never seen them before - they are basically mini versions of your average banana - they looked so cute sitting on the shelf with their yellow reduced sticker.  I had to buy them and put them to good use.  So banana bread it was.

My mom's old recipe book // My Gran and her mom, Great

I have actually had a few cravings for banana bread but we never had any ripe bananas to make it with.  This bread is super moist, tasty and so quick to whip together.  I also added some raisins and a dash of mixed spice and it truly is mouth-watering. 

Great would be proud :)

My Great Gran's famous Banana Bread

Ingredients

120g butter
1 cup brown sugar
A few teaspoons of vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 cups of flour (I used self raising and omitted the baking powder and bicarb)
1 tspn bicarb
2 tspn baking powder
Pinch salt
4 ripe bananas (I used 8 x Chiquita bananas)
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 tspn mixed spice
125ml milk

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time with the vanilla essence.  Mash the bananas and add to mixture.  Add the flour slowly along with the baking powder, bicarb, salt and mixed spice.  Add in the milk (and raisins if you wish) and stir until all the ingredients are blended together.

Pop into a greased loaf tin and cook for 45 min - 1 hour.

Best enjoyed with a cup of tea ♥

P.S. Watch out for a giveaway (open worldwide!) next week with Bear and Robot plus a surprise for all my readers!
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