Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Gleneagles Spa Day - a review

by Roz

Last Tuesday I went along to Gleneagles for a spa day and it was utter bliss!  I've been lucky enough to go to Gleneagles a number of times, a few through times through work, and have both visited the spa before and stayed a few times.  I'm not exaggerating when I say it absolutely love everything about this hotel and it's one of my favourite hotels in the world.  However, it's an expensive visit, whether you are there for food, an overnight stay or a day spa visit but for me it's definitely a case of you get what you pay for.

The hotel is set in large, beautiful grounds and has three adjoining golf courses, which I've played, and is hosting the Ryder Cup this September which tells you how good the golf is! There are lots of activities you can do here including gun dog training, horse riding etc. but I love just going for a walk around the grounds, especially when the sun is shining.

The spa day package I chose cost a total of £155, so at the top end of the scale for a day of pampering but honestly the whole experience was perfection.  I was lucky enough to have some vouchers which were bought for my birthday in January by one of my besties, Clare, and my mum and dad, so a big thanks to them for their generosity :) This price included two specially tailored pregnancy treatments, a 55 minute body treatment and a 55 minute facial, and a two course lunch.  When you arrive at the spa, you are checked in and shown round by one of the lovely staff, you get a giant locker with your robe, slippers, towels etc. and the different areas of the spa are explained.  There are saunas, steam rooms, tropical showers (where the water is scented!) and the loveliest relaxation room ever.  It has adjustable beds with giant pillows and fluffy throws, with snacks and refreshments on tap.  It's difficult not to doze off in there but then that's part of the chilled out experience.

I stayed away from the steam room and sauna, but enjoyed floating in the hydro pool and enjoyed the feeling of almost lying on my stomach.  Pfffft how I have missed lying on my tummy.  The pool in the spa is not big enough to actually swim laps in, you can go to the main pool to do this (which is just a short walk from the spa) and also has a large outdoor jacuzzi pool, but I was quite happy to stay chilled in the spa.My treatments were excellent.  The perfect balance between relaxation and working out some knots in my tired pregnant lady body!  The therapist started my treatments by chatting through any skin / body concerns I had to incorporate the correct oils / products in to my treatment.  I still got to chose, by doing a few smell tests on the back of my hand, which ones I wanted to be used on me, which I like as the smell of the oils etc. play such a big part in the enjoyment of the treatment for me.  It was a little bit strange getting a massage lying on my side and not my front, but my therapist did a great job and working out my back muscles.

At the start of the facial, they analysed my skin with what looks like a black light (I'm sure it has some posh name, maybe a wood lamp??) but the therapist says it shows any areas of dryness or skin damage so that the facial can be tailored to what your skin needs.  Mine showed a little bit of dryness (Baby Star has been causing a lot of dryness in my skin!) and a bit of sun damage around my eyes.  The facial itself was perfect.  My skin felt pampered through out and I enjoyed the hair and scalp massage whilst my skin mask was at work.

After my divine treatments it was time for lunch, which was honestly some of the best food I've eaten! When I sat down I was brought some warm seeded bread with sun dried tomato butter (yum!!) whilst I waited on my drink to arrive.  They bread was so good, I ate the lot.

For my starter I ordered a nice healthy salad of orange, walnut and pomegranate.  Just look at what arrived....

It was massive!  Still super healthy and very, very tasty but I was genuinely shocked at how large a portion it was.  I couldn't quite finish it and left a bit of spinach, still happy in the knowledge that I'd got three or four of my five a day.

Then my main course arrived...

You'll see there's quite a bit more spinach on my plate!  This was on the menu as part of the dish but I had expected a side salad portion with the chicken, ha!  The chicken, cooked in their tandoor oven, may be the best chicken I have ever eaten.  The flavour was simply amazing.  They way you wish chicken cooked on your own BBQ tasted.  Really juicy and full of flavour and the roasted apple, with a hint of cinnamon, went perfectly with it.  Mmmmmmm, honestly I could go back tomorrow for that chicken salad.

All that's left for me to say is I can't wait to go back, who wants to come with me??

Roz xx

Monday, 14 April 2014

Phuket - Kamala Beach

by Bex

Basically just some random pictures of our time in Phuket.  This was an evening we went down to the beach for sunset and checked out Skyla's Beach House for the first time (Nik found it on Tripadvisor).

This wedding had kilts!  I so wanted to go and say Hi!

I love how the cloud seems to mimic the shape of the tree

Wish I had my tripod to capture awesome lightning shots!

Apparently Nik has a much steadier hand than me!


Friday, 11 April 2014

Avocado & Pineapple Blitz Smoothie - Foodie Friday

This was another successful recipe I found in Waitrose magazine.  Much nicer than I expected and actually a favourite now!  I also found this an easy and delicious way to get even more avocado and pineapple into my diet to help those embryos stick (not sure if that's scientifically proven but I figured it couldn't hurt!)

With added spinach, even more green :)

400ml pineapple juice
1 small avocado
juice of 1 lime
handful of ice
(optional - handful of spinach or any other leftover fruit which needs using up)

Add all ingredients to a blender and whizz until smooth.

The first time I made it according to the recipe.

I also added some frozen mango and raspberries to this version.

Obviously I didn't put the pregnancy pills IN the smoothie!  ;)  (And I forgot the lime in the before shot!)

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Pregnancy so far - thoughts, feelings and symptoms

by Bex

Although I have always written about everything we've faced throughout our IVF treatment, now that things seem to be going right, I am a bit more apprehensive about it.  Obviously I am super excited and really want to write about everything (and as I said, I think it gives a different view on early pregnancy as I can write about it as we go unlike many others who keep it secret for weeks) but I am also very aware of tempting fate.  Although we have finally made it this far, we are very conscious of the fact that so many things can still go wrong.  That might sound very pessimistic but I'm trying to be realistic.  As you know it's been a hard slog to get to this stage.  I truly lost hope that it would ever happen and now we're actually pregnant if we end up disappointed again I know I will take it extremely hard.  Obviously the positive is that we now know we CAN get pregnant but I'm so scared of losing this baby.

I'm also acutely aware that anyone who was following our IVF story and is in a similar situation, may now find anything I write extremely difficult to read, I know I felt like that when it seemed everyone else was getting their happy endings except for me (and Claire).  The thing is, and I hope this doesn't sound unreasonable, as much as I was jealous and sometimes found it hard to say my congratulations, I never begrudged anyone their happiness.  If I found it hard, I would either say nothing or say congratulations and then take myself away from the news, the happy messages and the joy.  I knew that if my turn did ever come that I would want to shout it from the rooftops too.  I want to be able to enjoy this time and share it with those who have supported me all along.  Having so often shared sad news and setbacks, it was so much fun and brought me so much happiness to be able to share our happy news (even if it was with a piece of plastic I'd peed on!)  Having waited so long to get to be a part of the pregnancy conversations and join in the baby chat without those feelings of jealousy and longing, I really want to immerse myself in being pregnant, finally being one of SO many of my friends who has been blessed with a positive result.

If anyone reading this or seeing my tweets/pins does find it hard, I completely understand.  I get it, I was there, I know the feelings.  I hope that you make it too and in the meantime, please try to understand my OTT reaction.  We finally get to be happy and really look forward.  By all means, stop reading and following if it's too much but please don't try to make me feel bad for sharing my happy news.  We deserve this, just like anyone else who's pregnant.  I'm sorry that so many of us struggle to get pregnant or give birth to healthy babies and I feel OH SO LUCKY just to have made it this far.  I am allowed to be ecstatic.  I am allowed to share my news and be happy in public.  Just as I shared my sadness.  If you don't get it or you don't like it, just leave.  Leave my feed, my blog, whatever, but please don't make me feel guilty.  There is already an element of that, now that we get to be the ones who are happy but to have it pointed out to us on our happiest days just seems cruel.  (If you didn't see this - yes, it happened, on the day I announced we were pregnant and it is hard and sad and I am trying not to let it get me down.)

So I will continue to write.  I want to be sensitive to those who are still struggling or who have had to deal with the most harrowing of losses but I have always written about my experiences on here and whatever happens, good or bad, I will write.  Obviously I'm hoping for good!

Anyway, this post was initially going to be about my pregnancy so far but obviously I had quite a bit relating to it on my mind.  I'm currently in week 5 of my pregnancy and have suffered only mild symptoms so far.  If I don't eat when I feel hungry (i.e. if I wake up super early as I have been and wait too long for breakfast) then I start to feel nauseous.  I am seriously tired most of the time.  I'd heard about this from many pregnant friends and while we're in Thailand I feel like it's a terrible waste as I have about 2 naps per day!  Goodness knows how I'll cope when I have to work and have no time for naps!  I'm trying to swim once a day to keep my body healthy and keep my energy levels up.  I'm pretty sure my body shape is still the same, other than my boobs being bigger (which Penny and Roz are loving pointing out on instagram!  lol).  I wasn't as fit as I wanted to be before the implantation so after a meal I can look like I have a bump already but to be honest, that was true even before!

[Edit: I'm now in week 6 and the pregnancy sickness (because it's clear it's not just in the morning) has really taken hold!  As much as I hate myself for complaining, oh it's hard.  I have no idea how so many women keep this first stage a secret while suffering so much, especially at work!  I remember Katie talking about the struggles she'd had travelling on the underground while sick and it just sounded awful!  I just keep telling myself it's a good sign, I wanted this (and paid for it!) and all the articles I read say that sickness is an indicator that you will likely have a healthy pregnancy with less chance of miscarriage.  So, yay for the horrendous nausea!  It does mean that I am no longer enjoying the yummy thai food, spiciness really isn't working for me right now but luckily both hotels have a good range of international foods all of which have been lovely.]

I have, of course as someone who loves knowledge, signed up to a weekly embryo and pregnancy information email and last week's advised me that calcium was particularly important for that stage of development.  I was a little worried that I might not manage to get enough in Thailand as I would be unlikely to be drinking milk (I'm not, the stuff they have out for the cereal isn't chilled enough) but it's actually been easy.  I'm taking pregnancy vitamins anyway but every day at breakfast I've had a decaf latte (the hotel makes really good ones!), some yoghurt from the buffet and miso soup which has a lot of tofu in it (a good source according to the email).  I really don't like slimy tofu but have been slurping down lumps of it with the soup every morning.

The food I was enjoying before the sickness kicked in!

Since we've moved to our new hotel this week, it's been a little bit more of a struggle at breakfast as we realised we'd been pretty spoiled at Swissotel.  They don't have decaf here, there's no miso soup, they don't have boiled eggs ready (waiting 10 minutes as well as getting them to understand that soft yolks are a bad thing is a bit annoying when you just need to eat!), they don't have smoothies (our last hotel spoiled us with 2 healthy option drinks at breakfast each morning - most of the 'juices' are actually squash, yuck), the yoghurt here is all incredibly sweet and the smells of the fatty foods here turn my stomach.  However, I discovered just this morning that the milk here at breakfast is VERY chilled and therefore I'm loving drinking that, yay!  I'm also finding potato is what helps with my nausea so I'm having fries with everything, even soup!

One of the major things I noticed in the first couple of weeks following implantation was my thirst!  I usually find it difficult to drink the recommended volume of water each day but I was constantly thirsty and downing 500ml bottles of sparkling water like nobody's business.  Obviously keeping that up in this hot, humid weather has also been easy and I've been enjoying the odd fruity mocktail as well.  And since my nausea has been worse, we've been buying 'dry ginger'.  We're not convinced it has any actual ginger in it but I like it and it seems to help.

Happy hour - My Shirley Temple and Nik's Mai Tai

I'm being as cautious as I can, considering how precious this wee embryo is to us and although I might be missing some of my usual foodie favourites and cocktails, I am still enjoying what food I can eat, safe in the knowledge I am doing the best I can for our baby.  I want it safe in there for as long as possible and missing out on the odd treat is nothing in comparison to the joy we feel that we have been given our chance.  I am actually pregnant!  We still keep saying this to each other.  It's amazing how difficult it is to get it to sink in!!

Saying that, we're enjoying being able to have the fun chats we always dreamed of.  Last week, on the super rainy day when I built a den on our balcony, we sat and made a list of baby names using a website as inspiration.  This week, I've introduced Nik to my 'baby stuff' Pinterest board and he loves most of the ideas on there.  We started a nursery ideas board together (and he now has the power to pin things to my boards, eek!) after seeing some lights we both liked at the thai market we went to last night (I know, I said I didn't want to tempt fate but sometimes you just have to grab opportunities) which have been purchased for our new home when we move.  I like them anyway, not just for a nursery.  It's fun being able to think about things like this again.  I haven't let myself for so long.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

#PinItDoIt - Creative Gift Wrapping by Make Thrift Love Life

I am delighted to write a guest post for Bex at The Olive Dragonfly while she's away enjoying a fabulous holiday in Thailand... lucky thing!  My blog is Make Thrift Love Life - a frugal, creative lifestyle blog about living the good life on a budget. 

I love the idea of #pindoit, as I have so many wonderful projects marked on Pinterest, and never get round to doing them.  As luck would have it, this is a busy gift-giving time for me so I chose to try a series of pins on creative gift-wrapping ideas. 

My beautifully-wrapped offerings!

Wrapping a gift thoughtfully can instantly add luxury, giving the "wow" factor to the smallest of presents. You needn't spend much money either- these wrapping methods actually cost less than buying gift bags and fancy wrapping paper.  For my #pindoit projects, I used brown parcel paper, costing only 50p for 3 metres, bits and bobs from my craft stash and recycled materials.

Just 50p in Morrisons!

Bunting-inspired gift wrap
All you need for this gorgeous wrapping is a piece of twine and a few pieces of patterned paper or card.  I cut these bunting flags from a label on packaging, which was otherwise being thrown away.  

See this project on Pinterest

Button and embroidery thread
This design is ridiculously easy, yet absolutely striking!  All you need is a funky button and some embroidery thread.  Thread the long side first, then the short side and tie in a bow.  You could jazz it up even more by adding more buttons along the thread.

I think I'll use this a lot!

Weaving Pattern
This one is actually my favourite visually, but definitely the most time-consuming.  It was difficult to get the threads to line up uniformly, but doesn't it look great?  I would take the time to do this for a very special gift. 

Simple weaving pattern

Sweet book page package 
Deviating from the "brown paper" theme, I fell in love with this cute package made from book pages!  I happen to have an old, scrappy copy of Little Women that I use for lots of crafts, so this cost nothing again. It was also very easy to do (I simply glued round all the edges, added a paper rose cut from wrapping paper and tied it with twine).  Beautiful! 

If you have scraps of haberdashery trimmings lying around, you can really dress up a parcel with them.  I have lots of lace offcuts as I made bridal garters for a friend to sell in her lingerie store.  Tiny ribbon offcuts can be picked up very cheaply and finish off the presentation of a gift beautifully. 

My Pinterest inspiration

I hope you enjoyed reading my guest post, and are inspired to go and #pindoit! You can read more about my thrifty tips and crafty projects at Make Thrift Love Life, or on Bloglovin'

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