COLLECTING MEMORIES

A picture paints a thousand words, so the saying goes. And it really does. Long after the memory fades, I can look back at a photo and remember that feeling of stumbling across an empty beach during our roadtrip in South Africa or how great that cocktail tasted in Cambodia celebrating the fact that both kids were simultaneously napping. Photos are beautiful memories of moments gone by that for one reason or other, we feel the urge to capture. For this reason, it’s important that they live on beyond just a black screen or worse still, a social media platform – otherwise, genuinely what is the point ?

Once you actually get round to getting photos printed out, that is really only half the issue solved. I have piles of photos that have been developed that are either pretty shoddy quality and / or have not yet found their way into an album and are just gathering dust in our living room. Even once they do make the cut, our photo albums are sitting high up on a shelf and barely get opened from year to year.

For all these reasons and more, I am absolutely chuffed to have found The Little Square Gallery who are all about creating pieces of art with photos (or drawings – they can also do amazing things with kids art). Forget photos hidden away in albums gathering dust, this a genuinely beautiful object that – in our home at least – holds prized position and is something we look at time and time again.

 

My piece is the ‘Thirty Little Squares’ – a collection of my favourite thirty styled photographs displayed in a series of little square giclee prints. I chose to have them mounted against a white backdrop and framed in a black solid wood frame. You can do forty eight little squares or just single squares (and many in between) – there’s a whole range of sizes available.

All you need to do is send the gallery your favourite photos – I sent a whole bunch through and Natalie, who runs the company, was amazing at helping me create a shortlist of my favourite thirty. The gallery then need some time to analyse and style the images, they then crop them into little square images and meticulously review, edit and style them. And we’re not talking one-tap picture editing filters here either: each photo is analysed and contrasted, corrected and balanced. (If working with childrens’ artwork, they’ll also smooth out any paper creases or remove any smudges). I have to add that I was pretty fussy with my design and had to make quite a few changes – Natalie was incredibly patient with me. We finally agreed a proof, and a few weeks later, the piece arrived. I could not have been more delighted with it.

If you’re looking to get all your travel photos printed out quickly, cheaply and in one go, then The Little Square Gallery are probably not for you. But if you’re looking to have some of your most treasured photos expertly curated and styled for a one-off display in your home, then I recommend popping over to their website to take a look as you might just have found your next gift and new favourite possession.

As ever, thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed this mini post. Are you one for developing photos or do you just store them on your phone? Do you get them bulk printed out or would you prefer something a little more special?

Emma xxx

 

DISCLAIMER: The Little Square Gallery kindly gifted me one of their thirty little squares collection – it is genuinely one of my favourite things in our home.

Regular readers of my blog and followers of my Instagram will know that simple things make me happy so when it comes to kids parties, I like the idea of them being low key and relaxed affairs without all the gizmos (what a great word). I didn’t want to go overboard but there were a few small touches that I did that I thought I’d share with you all. View Post

Today on Mamalina Meets I’m talking to Leata and Lucy who are both Doulas based in South East London. Leata is also a reiki practitioner and lover of all things herbal and Lucy is a yogi, specialising in pregnancy and postnatal yoga. In today’s post they’re exploring some of the myths built up around doulas, why they’ve come about and explaining why they don’t stack up in today’s society. Keep up to date with their journeys by following them @lu_ledoula and @ldashmae and if you’re interested in meeting them and other Doulas in south London come along to Zen Yoga in Camberwell on May 6th for Meet the Doulas night! Donation based, 6pm.

A little doula history

Contrary to popular assumption, doulas have always existed for as long as women have been giving birth. There is often a woman of the community who just knows when your birth date is close and will be there with food, love and capable arms. She might leave a nourishing meal on your doorstep without a sound knowing that your privacy is sacred in those Golden Hours with your newborn. When we birthed in caves a doula might guard the door. She might be your neighbour, your sister, your friend. She might have only met you during your pregnancy and you just know you want her close when you are birthing. She might call the midwife, blow up the pool, strategically lay out snacks or just hold the mother while she works towards meeting her baby.
There are many myths about Doulas, and sadly they often come between a woman and the support she wants and needs when birthing. So we decided to bust them…

1) “The only person you need at your birth is your mother.” 

Evidence suggests that a loving, female presence in the room has a tangible impact on the outcome for mother and baby. But a mother does not replace the role of a doula. A doula is a woman who is experienced in childbirth, who is neither a member of the hospital staff nor a part of the woman’s social circle (relative or friend). Because while a doula cares deeply about the emotional needs of the mother, she won’t bring any personal agenda or opinions about the birth. A doula simply informs and supports, always based on evidence-based practice and will walk the path with the mother in her choices, unconditionally.  It should also be said that for many women, having their mother at their birth is simply not an option. Not everyone’s mother is a calm, tranquil and relaxing presence in the room, and that’s ok! Nor do their mothers live nearby or are able to take time off work to attend the birth.
Current evidence (doulas love evidence)

In the 70s and 80s two paediatricians named Klaus and Kennell’s conducted studies of doula support which led to the founding of DONA (Doulas of North America) in the 1990s. Later, a Cochrane review found that there are such beneficial effects of doula support that it actually recommended all women have access to one regardless of the rest of her chosen birth team, including her own mother.

It’s always ALWAYS about choice

Doulas exist to illuminate all of the birthing mother’s choices for her, to help her to make her own decisions and feel empowered at every single stage. Ultimately, each person present at your birth serves a role for you and only you can decide that. Whoever you choose to do whatever in your birthing environment or at home with your new baby afterwards is yours and yours alone.

2) “Doulas are only for first births.”

Every pregnancy is different, every birth is different regardless if this is your 2nd, 5th or 10th. No birth is exactly the same so you may need information and support in a very different way for each pregnancy.  Many women who give birth without a doula present for their first birth, come to know about doula support for their following pregnancies. A mother may need a doula’s support to help work through some of her past experiences before birthing again, particularly if they had a difficult or traumatic first birth. Your other care providers i.e your doctor or midwife, may not have met you before or have the time to sit with you and unpick your fears, give emotional support and detailed information during your pregnancy.  And this isn’t even mentioning the immense impact that Postnatal doulas can have with helping the mother and father when they have more than one child at home. Navigating these transitions can sometimes be an ‘all hands on deck’ sort of task, especially with washing, cooking for and feeding multiple mouths.

3) “Doulas take over the partner’s role.”

‘Asking your husband to be your sole guide through labour is like asking him to lead the way on a climb of Mt Everest. He may be smart and trustworthy, you may love him, but in the himalayas you’d both be a lot better off with a sherpa!’ (Pam England ) A doula certainly isn’t there to replace anyone, but add support to everyone involved – including the partner. Partners are really important people in the birthing room. The love they share and the oxytocin the couple produces when they look at each other, touch, kiss, cuddle, will fuel her labour – way more effective than any artificial hormone drip.  Having said that, some dads want to wait outside altogether, some feel big adrenaline rushes as soon as her labour starts and need a lot of support themselves. A doula is there to be that extra pair of hands. Practically she might let the partner sleep, run and get snacks and she will have a host of doula tricks to help ease the mother through her surges too, (or suggest ways the partner can help her.) We are practical, emotional and informational support for the couple *as a team* and ensure the best possible outcome for mother and baby.

4) “Doulas are either for rich people, white people, or both!”

While it may appear that doulas are all middle class white women supporting….middle class white women, non-white doulas are here and growing. Diversity has long been an issue in the birth world with the majority of articles, videos, images and films all featuring exclusively white families, giving the impression that positive births and experiences are not for people of colour. This is something that is slowly changing with small collectives and birth justice movements growing and bringing variation, advocacy and awareness to birth work. Then there’s money – different doulas charge different fees and offer a range of extra services. So do your research, meet with many doulas to find one who will suit you and your family best. Be open with your doula about money early on and chances are she will have lots of ideas up her sleeve to ensure you can have her support if you want it. Such as; bartering, payment plans, payments in kind and vouchers. There is also the Doula Access Fund with Doula Uk which enables those on a very low income to have the support of a doula.

5) “Doulas are a new made up role”

While the word ‘doula’ may seem new, the role has been been around for a very long time, as long as women have been giving birth, there have been doulas.  A lot of time and energy is spent supporting each and every mother as a doula and offering continuous care and support isn’t always easy. Getting that call in the middle of the night, leaving the warmth of our bed, sometimes arranging complex childcare and leaving our family without knowing when we will be back is hard. There might be times where we lose out on food and sleep just so we can be there by her side. Of course we wouldn’t have it any other way but it takes a lot more than an ‘interest in birth’ to be a doula and we certainly wouldn’t categorise it as a hobby, aka a leisure-time activity. Some of us say we answer a calling to be a doula – so that all our past experience and passions come together and make sense. It’s been that way for centuries and long may it continue.

6) “Doulas are only for unmedicated home births.”

Doulas can be found anywhere; hospitals, in birth centres, and at home, in large houses, small flats, boats, tents, prisons and even in the birth pool. Not all doulas are built the same, some of us use soft words and herbal remedies, some of us are straight talking, some of us have babies ourselves, some of us don’t but what we do all have in common is the desire to support mothers & their families, that all women have choices and are heard, and that we can give you the tools to empower yourself. A doula doesn’t care where you give birth what they care about is that you feel supported, respected and cared for. Your birth is exactly that, your birth! And a doula doesn’t hold preferences on what that could look like if it is not your choice. Whether you want to birth at home unmedicated or in a hospital using any pain relief method available, as long as you are making informed decisions that is what matters & having a doula will give you access to that information, giving you the chance of your most optimum birth outcome. >

7) “Doulas and midwives do the same job.”

This is a common one. Doulas complement the role of the midwife, who don’t always have the time or opportunity to get to know the mother over her entire duration of her pregnancy. 88% of women will only meet the midwife present when they birth their baby when they are in labour. Continuity of care is important to ensure the mother feels relaxed and really held.  Sometimes women seek the support of a doula once they realize they may not see a familiar face when they’re in labour. This always seems a bit sad because Doulas don’t replace midwives. Every woman should have the chance at a nurturing, caring and supportive relationship with her midwife. Doulas aren’t either/or when it comes to midwives and there’s no such thing as too much support in that room. We all have our roles and a doula’s is not medical. She won’t recommend treatment, take your blood pressure or do a fetal heart check. Nor will a midwife give you her personal mobile number, bring food, apply counter pressure for 20 hours or hold your weight while you sway right up until your baby is safely in your arms.  A doula can help you get the best out of your midwives and complement their excellent care.

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If you are pregnant, live in London and like the idea of having a Doula, Lucy and Leata will be at Zen Yoga, Camberwell on May 6th for a Meet the Doulas evening. Come and ask all your questions to a bunch of community doulas, maybe find a doula for you, share some refreshments and meet some other pregnant women like yourself! Donation based, rsvp to leata@holisticdoulaservices.com
Research
Cochrane review of the effects of continuous emotional support in labour.

Also included in this article is research on the effects of early and prolonged skin to skin contact after birth.

http://www.cochrane.org/CD003766/PREG_continuous-support-for-women-during-childbirth

Rosen, P. Supporting women in labor: analysis of different types of caregivers Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health Jan-Feb 2004, Vol 49(1), pp.24-31 Paper available from:http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/467128

https://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/
Interesting reading….

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-evidence-that-we-just-need-to-give-women-more-time-to-labor_us_56ec4f66e4b084c672203418
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11766317/crowd-birthing-mums-social-media.html
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/30/birth-crowdbirthing

Aside from a distinct lack of toys and hoping my friends’ children enjoy playing with tupperware (on a good day) and socks (on a bad day) as much as mine, deciding what I’m going to feed mini guests when I have Jack’s friends over for a playdate is always a bit of a worry, isn’t it mums. Below I’ve listed my top 3 snacks that I keep up my sleeve and that always go down well with other children. They are genuinely super easy to prepare or even better, to do as an activity with the kids. They’re all vegan but I’ve also given non vegan alternatives.

Cheesy kale chips

Switch the oven to 200 ‘C. Rinse the kale leaves and pat them dry with a dishcloth (this part is actually quite important as otherwise they don’t get as crispy). Choose the big looking leaves as they are going to shrink a lot and place them in a big bowl. If vegan use 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, otherwise sprinkle a big bowl of grated cheddar cheese into the bowl and mix well. Spread the kale onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Now turn the oven OFF and put the kale in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until they get crispy. Enjoy :))

Power towers

Slice a banana thickly. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of almond butter, 1/2 teaspoon of cacao powder and drop of agave. Dab some of this mixture onto a slice of banana and place another slice of banana on top. Keep building until you have a banana tower. Alternatively, cut an apple horizontally into slices. Spread with a thin layer of almond butter or peanut butter. Place another slice of apple on top and keep building.

Home made pizza 

Pre-heat the oven to 180′ C. Spread tomato sauce on to the surface of a tortilla / pitta / chapati / whatever flat carb you can find. Sprinkle with cheese / nutritional yeast and load with whatever you happen to have in the fridge. We always use sweetcorn and broccoli. Cook for no more than 10 minutes, add some olive oil and any avocado or herbs if using.

Other easy tips:

  • Add beetroot to pretty much anything to make it pink and therefore automatically more fun for everyone. This works amazingly with cous cous and porridge
  • Keep a bag of frozen spinach in the fridge – it comes in small balls and I often just pop one into a dish (for example, a pasta sauce/ scrambled egg)
  • Hide vegetables in smoothies – hands down the best way to get greens down children
  • Make berry tea by dropping some goji berries into a small cup of hot water. It makes a super sweet lovely tea and Jack loves eating up the berries afterwards
  • Use coconut oil to ‘glue’ hemp seeds onto pretty much anything. Hemp seeds are super high in protein and contain all 9 essential amino acids. They also contain loads of omega-3 which is amazing for brain development
  • Make your own nut mixes by buying bulk big packets of raisins, nuts and seeds and mixing – also far cheaper than pre-mixed nuts
  • Make fruit skewers to wow the kids

I hope you enjoyed these quick snack ideas. If you want to see more food posts, it’s actually Jack’s third birthday coming up which I’ll be blogging about so keep an eye out for that. I’ve decided to make him a breakfast party largely to avoid a load of sugary cakes (though I have a feeling there’ll be a good few croissants to make up for it!) I don’t want to be a scrooge either and deny the children of any ‘treats’ so there’ll be some Organix Goodies cinnamon popcorn dotted around too.

Finally, this post is in conjunction with Organix who I will be collaborating with over the course of the next six months as one of their No Junk Mums working on their No Junk Journey project – an awesome initiative helping families make good food choices and avoid junk (which is totally possible when you realise how many tasty alternatives there are!) I’m super passionate about this concept and am really excited to be able to share my thoughts with you over the coming months.

I’d love to know what you give children when they come over for playdates? And do you worry what your little one will eat when they go over to someone else’s? What’s your number one rule when it comes to kids snacks?

Emma xx

P.S What’s Really In Our Kids Food and a Healthy Vegan Snack Idea

 

 

 

LIVING LIFE ON THE VEG

From the moment I opened my door to the bright cheery man bearing a huge cardboard box and a giant smile, I knew I was going to like Riverford. Once I’d bundled the box inside (which the kids later loved playing in = added bonus), we opened it up straight away. Packed inside were two gorgeous recipe cards and an explanation of the contents, a newsletter giving news about Riverford farm, and of course the most delicious looking veg, spices and carbs all neatly packaged and labeled with the exact amounts measured out. Everything looked so fresh and ever so slightly muddy, which I appreciated as it just confirmed what I already knew: these veg were not long ago in the ground.

I decided to really put Riverford to the test as both Sonny and Jack were pretty much attached to me as we cranked up the radio and set about starting to cook. Sure, the process may have taken a little longer than the suggested 30 minutes and the meal may not exactly have turned out Instagram perfect but on the whole it was so super simple even with two small kids in tow. Oh, and it tasted AH-MAZING. I’m not sure I can imagine a time when Jack will willingly eat brussel sprouts sprouts again so that alone was pretty special and I’m sure it was simply because they tasted so much fresher than any ones he’d previously tried.

For anyone that hasn’t heard of Riverford, they’re an organic farm based in Devon that run box schemes delivering super fresh, organic fruit, veg and meat to doors around the country with locally grown produce. There’s a whole range of different types of boxes to choose from ones specifically for juicing containing 11 varieties of fruit and veg which will make at least 3 litres of juice, 100% veg boxes packed with 8 varieties of freshly picked seasonal vegetables to ethically produced organic meat boxes containing fresh cuts of meat. The box we were sampling was one of their veg recipe boxes but again there are a whole host of different types of recipes boxes from low calorie meals to veg ones to mixed meat and veg ones.

What I love is that Riverford aren’t just a pretty (or delicious) face – not only are they competitively priced compared to organic supermarket food, they’re also extremely passionate about sustainability as well as reducing food waste and have systems in place whereby nothing goes to waste through donations to charity or simply giving free fruit and veg to their staff when a batch can’t go into the boxes for example, if it’s too ripe or partly damaged.

Using one of their recipe boxes really made cooking a joy – especially with the kids. Together with the fact they deliver straight to your door which is so mega convenient and exciting for Jack who loved looking through the box with me and naming everything, as well as the real difference in taste that I an genuinely vouch for, unless you have your own allotment and can get hold of such gorgeously fresh produce, I hugely recommend trying out a Riverford box and seeing what you make of it. I’d love to hear what you think if you do give it a go. Which box would you go for? What did you make?

Thanks for reading, as ever and do leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Emma xxx

 

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Disclaimer: Riverford kindly sent me one of their veg boxes to try out – we are huge fans 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

How To Book The Perfect Family Air B n B

Great news – you’ve sorted your dates, chosen a destination and booked your flights. But unless you’re heading to a resort, you’re still left with the hardest decision yet when it comes to a holiday …Where the heck are you and your brood going to rest your – and if yours are anything like ours, they really will be – weary heads at the end of a long day? View Post

Return To Work Post Maternity Leave – The Fear

I wish I were sitting here writing about my favourite zero waste products as a continuation of this post or sharing a delicious new recipe (I am VERY into black beans right now) but I am totally and utterly consumed by something else right now and I can’t get it out of my mind. I think about it all day, every day and I am really, really confused. What I’m referring to is Post Maternity Leave Fear, otherwise known as PMLF, doh. I know this is not exactly a banging acronym, but the feelings are hard hitting, trust me. View Post

10 Ways To Reduce Waste And Live With Less

I want to talk about two ‘movements’ that have taken ahold of me over the past few months and arguably, changed my life. Interestingly they could be seen as contradictory: on one hand, minimalism tells us that we only need the very bare essentials whether that’s clothes or beauty products or food items whilst zero waste tells us not to dispose of anything, not even the liquid brine from your can of beans which could go towards making a perfectly delicious meal. What they do both have in common though, and what talks to me on a profound level is consciously not buying shit I don’t need. This has led me down the path of waging a bit of a personal battle against ‘stuff’ with the following goals:

I want to know what I own.

I want to make a conscious decision to consume less.

I want to care for and enjoy what we do own much, much better.

I want to stop always reaching for more.

I want to simplify our lives.

smoothie jar, smoothie jar, reusable

Old jars make the best smoothie bowls

I’ve had enough of buying yet more kirby grips when I have two packs hiding at the back of my bathroom cabinet, enough of clothes piling up on top of each other but when I want to find that one black top, I cannot and enough of three wooden spoons on my kitchen counter when last time I checked, I only stir food using one hand? That sewing machine sat on the floor in Sonny’s bedroom brings me no joy so why don’t I give it to charity or sell it on ebay so someone who really needs and wants it can have it? Why do I need to keep using disposable coffee cups when I can just have one cup I use again and again? In essence, I have generally just had enough of STUFF.

It’s a goal that has taken me on an interesting and at times, quite comical journey – from not buying a single thing beyond bare essentials (food + toilet paper…) for 6 months to becoming “no-poo” (ditching commercial shampoo and conditioner) and at times finding myself with such greasy hair I could pretty much cook off it. So, when the wonderful Unpackaged, a business focused on refills, invited me to attend a talk by Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home I jumped at the opportunity. Last year Bea and her family generated one single jar of waste – I find that idea incredible. Just being at the talk, I left feeling ‘lighter’ and less bogged down so I thought I’d share with you some of my highlights from the evening and some personal learnings I’ve had through my own journey.

Instead of loads of plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner, I just use one single soapnut bar that lasts me for months

 

1.First up, this is not about recycling, it’s about not letting it enter your home in the first place. We all get offered things all the time. A free pen when you sign up to a new bank account? A blogger’s goody bag? A paper napkin tucked in with your cake? If you try to be discerning about what enters your house in the first place, this job gets a whole lot easier. Consequently…

minimalism

This is my tea cupboard – I can see everything I own 🙂

2.You can’t be too British. By this I mean, you need to learn to be forthright and say no. People try to give you stuff THE WHOLE TIME and you need to learn to politely decline.

3. Follow the Marie Kondo mantra – let go of what doesn’t bring you joy. I recently noticed a candle which had been sitting on my kitchen table for months. I’d probably lit it about twice since I’d had it (since our wedding – so four years), it’s kinda grubby, part broken and do you know what, I don’t actually like it. On just removing it from my room, I immediately felt a little happier. Tune in to what brings you joy, people.

4. Buy in bulk – this is an amazing way to reduce unneeded packaging and to save money. (and no I’m not talking about buying 72 mars bars – in my case, I’m talking cous cous, nuts, and Weetabix) I really recommend Suma – it’s all organic, vegetarian and fairtrade.

5. Catch yourself in the right mood to reduce your belongings – I find there are days when I can’t bring myself to throw out an unused paper clip and other days where I get rid of a binbag of stuff. When you’re in the right mood, go go go!

6. Trial it – before getting rid of something, I will often put it away for a few weeks to trial if I miss it or need it. For example, I took a whole load of kitchen utensils and put them away in a bag out of sight. Have I needed them or wanted them once ? Nope.

7. Rotate things – sometimes you don’t need to get rid of things, you just need to give them a bit of a break. I often collect up the kids’ toys and books that are getting lost amongst their other toys and put them away – a few weeks later I bring them out again and they’re like new in their eyes.

Bruised apples? Make them into apple rings – delicious and perfect for teething babies

8. Make use of charity shops and the second hand market place – you know those golf clubs gathering dust at the back of your shed? Sell them on ebay, make some dosh and let someone who loves golf and will genuinely use them have them. I have found so many gems for the children in charity shops – for any North London mums, check out Farah in Primrose hill.

9. Make what you do own visible so that, as silly as this sound, you *know that you own it*. When I started on this journey I ordered a load of Le Parfait jars – every single one is full with dried good and being used so much more than when all the produce was stuck at the back of the cupboard. The amount of half empty packs of cous cous and half finshed packs of dried fruit – I’ve sorted and amalgamated everything and am enjoying it so much more.

10. Always consider reusable – from napkins to nappies, coffee cups to clingfilm, there are so many alternatives to the plastic, throw away version that are equally effective not to mention super lovely and cost – efficient. I’ll be doing a post soon all about my top zero waste products…

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So where am I at with it now? Although I’ve got a lot more focused on reducing the amount ‘stuff’ in our house, as with every ‘movement’ or particular lifestyle, for me it’s about being obsessive. I’m not going to not have a coffee if I forget my reusable cup one day or carry all the grocery shopping (although I do have a good go at stuffing most of it into my nappy bag) home if I forget my totes at the supermarket.Who knows where this will all take me but I do know that since starting my ‘mission’, I’ve found that I consume in an entirely different and far more conscious way. I no longer browse shops just to see what might be nice; I’m satisfied with what I already have. One of the things Bea Johnson talked about is the concept that “buying is voting” and I could not agree more – so I try now to make the stuff we do own really count, one way or another.

Have you tried reducing your consumption or waste. What do you make of it all? Leave me a comment below…

Emma xx

P.S Why And How To Buy In Bulk and 10 Essentials for Family Travel