Tuesday, 22 July 2014

38 Weeks

We took these photographs on Saturday because I'd been having contractions on and off for about 24 hours, and we were wondering if this might be our last opportunity to take some bump pictures. Sadly, it's Tuesday and the baby has not yet arrived, so here's an update on our pregnancy so far since, well, we're still pregnant!

How far along? 38 weeks & 4 days
Total weight gain/loss: Still 21lbs in total. I think I should be within the 25-30lb range by the end of my pregnancy, and I guess I'm technically already there if you count the 7lbs I gained and lost in the first 20 weeks when I was really sick. 
Maternity clothes? Since the baby has dropped, I'm starting to hang out of a lot of the tops that fitted me a couple of weeks ago. It's too warm to wear some of my maternity clothes (especially my jeans), so I'm pretty much rotating a few outfits that are suitable for summer and don't show of my belly too much.
Stretch marks? Still none! 
Sleep: It could be worse, I guess, but it's not great. I'm having to sleep with a pillow under my bump to stop it from being too uncomfortable, and it's an effort to roll over in bed. The last couple of nights I've woken up feeling nauseas several times, so it might be time to start taking my antisickness pills again, to see if it helps me get a better night's sleep.
Best moment this week: Contractions! Although we're a little disappointed that the baby hasn't made an appearance yet, we're definitely in the final stretch now. 
Movement: The baby has been a lot more active this weekend, so all is good on that front. 
Cravings/Aversions: I've been craving sugary/sweet stuff again, which may just be my body's way of trying to keep its energy up. 
Gender guesses: We've still only let it slip once, which is crazy. 
Labor Signs: Ooh, plenty. We had regular contractions on and off for about 48 hours, including a couple of hours on Sunday morning where I was getting them every five minutes, lasting 40 seconds each time. We really thought we were in labour, but then the contractions trailed off. I've also been having more backache, some nausea and headaches, and needing to pee constantly because the baby is sitting so low. Although it's exciting to feel like we're on our way to actually having this baby, it's also frustrating that I spent this weekend feeling drained from contractions and then it didn't actually go anywhere. 
What I miss: Having more than three outfits to choose from, being able to stay out in the sun without overheating within 20 minutes, putting on shoes without feeling like it's an olympic event, and being able to get things out of the cupboard under the sink without falling on my butt. (Which, incidentally, did not happen in a charity shop last week when I squatted down and reached for a book and overbalanced myself. I also did not just sit on the floor and try to make it look like I had intended to sit down to look through this particular volume. Nope). 
What I am looking forward to: The baby finally arriving! It could still be a few more weeks, but we're hoping it's a bit sooner than that.
Weekly Wisdom: If you've had, say, four or five false starts of pretty serious contractions in one weekend, it is totally acceptable to buy Tesco Finest cheesecake to cheer yourself up--especially if it's discounted. 
Milestones: Contractions have started! And also stopped. But still, we know what they're like now, and we definitely know how to use the stopwatch on my phone, so the practice run was useful for something. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Recent Meals #7

Fragrant Fish Tagine
Source: BBC Good Food
Who Cooked It: Simon
What We Changed: We reduce the quantities to make it suit two people, and fit into our small tagine. We also use smoked river cobbler fillets instead of tilapia, regular olives instead of pimento-stuffed, and sweet potatoes instead of regular.  
What We Omitted: Nothing
How Easy Is It? Well, you need to own a tagine, which isn't a typical item in everyone's kitchen. Other than that, it's not terribly complicated.
Verdict: This is one of Simon's favourite recipes, and I really enjoy it as well. We used to make it with unsmoked river cobbler, until we were substituted smoked river cobbler in one of our Asda deliveries last year. We decided to go ahead and make the meal with smoked fish and it added a wonderful element to the dish. It might not be the most photogenic meal, but it does taste good.

Bacon Fried Rice
Source: Dine & Dish
Who Cooked It: Rachel
What We Changed: We reduced the quantities slightly as we were just serving the two of us, and added bird's eye chillies. We used regular carrots instead of baby ones, and less bacon (and we cooked it ourselves--I've no idea if you can even get precooked bacon in the UK). Next time we'd probably use three eggs, as we like our fried rice to be more eggy than this. 
What We Omitted: Nothing
How Easy Is It? This may well have been my first attempt at making egg-fried rice and I found it surprisingly easy. It's not terribly complicated, and a good way to use up leftover vegetables. 
Verdict: We love regular egg-fried rice, so this meal was a hit for us. We'll definitely be making it again. 

Mexican Red Lentil Stew
Source: Kalyn's Kitchen
Who Cooked It: Rachel
What We Changed: Tesco must sell magic lentils as we never need to soak ours--we just simmer this stew until the lentils have softened. We use fresh chillies instead of chilli powder, regular tinned tomatoes instead of roasted, and either Chipotle or Habanero Tabasco instead of Green Tabasco. We usually add in at least 1 tsp of smoked paprika to make up for the lack of roasted tomatoes. 
What We Omitted: Nothing
How Easy Is It? Pretty easy. Chop up some vegetables, chuck everything in and let it simmer. This recipe doesn't require a lot of effort, and it's cheap. 
Verdict: We make this recipe a lot, and it's definitely become one of our favourites. It's always nice to discover a relatively cheap recipe that's packed full of so much flavour.

Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers with Roasted Garlic Cream and Avocado
Who Cooked It: Simon
What We Changed: We serve these on regular white burger buns, but I think we may use more cumin.
What We Omitted: Onion powder
How Easy Is It? Not overly easy--there's a lot of preparation involved, starting with roasting the garlic and sweet potato, then making the burger patties and the sauce, then finally griddling the burgers. The recipe calls for a skillet, but trust me--griddled burgers are the best.
Verdict: This is one of our all-time favourite recipes, and I think the only reason you haven't seen a photo of this one yet is because we always start eating before we remember to take a picture. We often serve this when we're entertaining guests because it's cheap (no meat!) but packs a lot of flavour, and the burgers look surprisingly glamorous and colourful for, well, burgers. 

Spicy Black Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise
Source: Skinny Taste
Who Cooked It: Rachel
What We Changed: We used precooked black beans and white buns. I don't think we froze these for quite two hours, but they turned out fine. Also, we griddled them instead of grilling.
What We Omitted: Nothing
How Easy Is It? Relatively easy. You have to make sure there isn't any excess liquid on the beans, and food process the vegetables, and remember to prepare these a couple of hours before you're ready to eat, so it's not something that can be just thrown together, but it also doesn't require any particularly unusual ingredients or multi-tasking.
Verdict: I'm honestly not sure why this recipe sat on my Pinterest board for so long, because it's definitely our kind of meal. We really liked these burgers, and the only thing holding us back from making them again is that we need to buy more chipotles in abodo from Lupe Pintos.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Recipe: Cheese & Bacon Meat Loaf

When Simon and I first met, I wasn't terribly proficient at cooking. In fact, the one thing I felt confident about making was lasagna--which I completely and utterly ruined on the first time I attempted to cook it for Simon. Simon loved to cook, and had a terrible habit of taking over in the kitchen because he was convinced he could prepare something better or quicker than I could. It took him a while to relinquish control and let me chop onions the way I preferred, and just as long for me to start finding recipes that appealed to me and develop my own love of cooking.

This meatloaf was one of the first things I made for Simon after we moved in together in our third year of university, and in spite of how simple it is (I don't change a lot from the original recipe) it quickly became one of his favourite meals. I can nearly master his favourite roast potatoes (courtesy of Delia Smith) and we've served this meal with a variety of side dishes: green salad, roast asparagus, and braised cabbage.

I'm fairly certain I first came across this recipe on when I was searching for Amish-inspired meals, since I'd come across some appealing dishes in some Amish novels I'd read. I'm not sure how authentically Amish it is, but it's a great comfort meal and incredibly easy to make. 

Adapted from Taste of Home.

Serves: 3-4
Prep. Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

2 slices of bacon
500g of minced beef
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 Ritz crackers (or similar), crushed
100g of Emmental or Gouda, cubed
1 tsp of dried sage
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper, dependent on personal taste

1. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F. Fry or grill the bacon until cooked but not crisp, then drain on paper towels before breaking into pieces.
2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl, making sure that the egg coats as much of the mixture as possible. Keep a few pieces of cheese aside to place on top of the meatloaf.
3. Transfer meatloaf mixture into a loaf tin and top with bacon. Cook in oven for 30 minutes.
4. Top the meatloaf with the remaining cheese and cook for a further 5 minutes.
6. Serve with roasted potatoes and your preferred vegetable side. Salads, asparagus and cabbage work well!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Recipe: Sweet Potato, Chorizo & Kale Enchiladas

It's no secret that we love enchiladas, or sweet potatoes, or chorizo. So when I spotted a recipe for sweet potato and chorizo enchiladas on Pinterest, I knew that we had to try it. Given how simple the original recipe was, I played around with the ingredients a fair bit and came up with something that suited our tastes. Other than waiting for the sweet potato to soften, this is a relatively quick and easy recipe to throw together. Enjoy!

Adapted from Budget Bytes.

Serves: 2-4
Prep. Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 bird's eye chillies, finely chopped
Approx. 450g of sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into half-inch cubes
1 tsp of chilli flakes
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp of cumin, ground
1 spicy chorizo sausage, chopped into rings, then halved
A few handfuls of kale, stems removed and chopped
4 large flour tortillas
One portion of your favourite enchilada sauce (we like this one)
Grated extra mature cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F. In a large frying pan, fry the garlic and chillies until they become fragrant. Add the sweet potato and spices and cook until the potato softens. Add the chorizo and cook until it starts to brown, then toss in the kale and cook it until it wilts. 
2. Pour a little of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish and spread it around until it covers the base evenly. Fill each tortilla with a quarter of the sweet potato mixture and roll tightly so that nothing escapes when placed in the enchilada dish. Once all four enchiladas are in the dish, cover them with the remaining sauce and as much grated cheese as suits your taste.
3. Cook in oven for 20 minutes, and serve with your favourite toppings: spring onions, fresh coriander, sour cream, etc.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

36 Weeks

We haven't done one of these in a while, and we're definitely glad to be entering the final month of our pregnancy! The last month was rather eventful--as well as finishing up our antenatal classes and gathering up most of our newborn/home birth supplies, I also took a nasty tumble and scraped my knees in a rather dramatic way, and then came down with a cold that jump-started my morning sickness. If you thought morning sickness at 8, 14 or 20 weeks was bad, it's even worse at 34 weeks. I'm very grateful for Cyclizine Hydrochloride and Peptac Liquid for allowing me to get through the day without puking, and actually get some sleep at night. 

Everyone keeps commenting on how I don't look particularly big, and as of my last midwife appointment, my bump was still measuring two weeks less than it should have, but trust me--I feel pretty big. This is the biggest I've ever been, after all! There are some days where I have tons of energy and get all of the housework done with little extra effort, and others where just standing at the sink washing dishes hurts my back and I don't really want to move. I feel like I'm constantly flipping back and forth between the extremes. 

We technically have just under four weeks left until our due date, but since only 5% of babies are born on their due dates, we're trying not to think of a specific day on which to expect the baby. Since we're having a home birth, we've been given a four week window in which the NHS will provide midwives to attend us at home (otherwise we'll have to go to the birthing centre or hospital), so we're just imagining that the baby will arrive within that period of time. Depending on how huge and uncomfortable I'm feeling, I may start guzzling raspberry leaf tea at 38 weeks, or I may feel brave enough to wait until we go overdue. 

We've had some lovely weather lately, and I've been trying to enjoy it, but Monday and Tuesday of last week were just a bit too much for me. Apparently it was only 21C on Tuesday, but it felt a lot worse than that--I was wearing a cotton sundress and dripping with sweat after just hanging out the washing. Normally I'd be outside all day long when the weather is this nice, but the heat tends to set off my Braxton Hicks, and as huge and uncomfortable as I sometimes feel, I'd rather not go into labour just yet. 

Also, our baby officially dropped as soon as we hit 36 weeks! I had a different midwife for my appointment on Monday, and she didn't believe that it could have dropped already as I was only measuring 34 weeks (my normal midwife has pretty much accepted that I'm always going to measure a bit less than average) but there is definitely more space to breathe, and the baby's head is officially making its way down. Pretty exciting! Even if it does mean that I need to pee even more than usual ;)

How far along? 36 weeks & 5 days
Total weight gain/loss: 21lbs. Apparently 25-30lbs is average for my pre-pregnancy BMI, so I'm happy with this. A few people have cheerfully told me that I'll balloon in the last few weeks, so we'll see if that happens. 
Maternity clothes? I'm down to a pretty limited wardrobe--lots of loose skirts and dresses, plus a few long tops and my two pairs of maternity jeans. This is more to do with the heat than my size, to be honest. I can still fit into a dress that has an age 13-14 label on it, so I'm kind of giving up on paying attention to clothing sizes right now.
Stretch marks? Still none! I'm not sure if this is genetic (my mum never got stretch marks with her first pregnancy) or because I've always kept my skin really hydrated with lots of body butter. 
Sleep: I've had one night last week where I slept for seven hours straight, which was downright miraculous. Because I'm getting occasional nausea (even with my antisickness pills) I sometimes wake up during the night feeling sick (generally because the baby is lying in a really awkward position). And I can't sleep past 8am because I always need to pee. Honestly, I can't predict how well I'm going to sleep right now. It's all over the place.
Best moment this week: Getting seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, and spending most of the day shopping with one of my friends. Just the fact that I managed to spend over half the day in town without getting too tired or uncomfortable was exciting for me! 
Movement: They're mostly still on a usual schedule (first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and sometimes around lunchtime) but it's hard to predict how strong the movements are going to be. Sometimes I barely notice them because I've got used to them, and then other times the baby gives some really sharp kicks. At the moment, most of the movements feel more like the baby is elbowing me than kicking me.
Cravings/Aversions: I've been craving sweet stuff a lot lately, and for the most part (except when I'm feeling nauseas or have heartburn) I'm eating more than usual. 
Gender guesses: We're still finding that everyone is pretty split in their guesses, and I think we've still managed to avoid letting the truth slip. Impressive!
Labor Signs: I think I must be getting used to Braxton Hicks now as I'm not noticing them as much. I can pretty much guarantee that I'll have them if I walk anywhere when it's relatively hot. And the baby dropping is a sign that we're definitely on our way, but that can happen up to four weeks before the baby's born, so it might still be a while.
Belly Button in or out? Still in. I don't think it's ever going to pop. 
What I miss: A lot of things! Uninterrupted sleep, being able to carry or reach for things without toppling over, being able to put on my shoes without major effort, and alcohol!
What I am looking forward to: This might sound kind of lame, but I'm looking forward to going shopping with my mum this weekend and finally getting fitted for nursing bras. I've changed bras three times so far in my pregnancy, and the cheapy, ugly, non-wired ones I picked up at Tesco (2 for £9) six weeks ago are starting to feel really uncomfortable. Mothercare has some really pretty stuff, so I'm going to treat myself to something attractive but practical. We also have a couple of final things to pick up for the baby, and then we'll be sorted :)
Weekly Wisdom: It's okay to feel ginormous even when everyone keeps telling you how small you are. They aren't carrying around an extra 1.5st on their front.
Milestones: We're into the final month! The third trimester has gone by really, really fast (in spite of dramatic bruises and morning sickness). I'm not sure if we feel ready, but we're nearly there :)