Maple Holistics Review

One of the things I love most about blogging is discovering new brands, be they makeup, skincare, lifestyle or haircare. Recently Maple Holistics, a company I hadn't come across before, got in touch to see if I wanted to try some of their haircare products. It quickly became obvious why I hadn't heard of them before - they were a US brand but keen to expand my horizons, I was definitely up for seeing what they had to offer!

Something I always look for in a brand is good ethics, so I was very happy to see that Maple Holistics is a cruelty-free, vegan-friendly brand! What's more, they focus on a holistic approach, using natural ingredients in their products.

I was kindly sent the Degrease Moisture Control Shampoo* and the Silk18 Natural Hair Conditioner to try. As excited as I was to try the Degrease shampoo (as I do have the sort of hair that gets greasy fairly quickly) unfortunately I've had to hold off using it for now, as it contains Basil Oil, which you're not supposed to use in pregnancy (as far as I know). I will be reviewing it once I've had my baby but for now you can check out this page to find out more about it.

Thankfully I was able to use the Silk18 Natural Hair Conditioner* and I'm pleased to say I love it! It's a very lightweight, yet effective conditioner that is great for locking moisture in the hair, without making it greasy. The thing I love most about it is it's sweet and calming scent, which has been creating using 100% natural vanilla. It also contains pomegranate, hibiscus and sea buckthorn, which are great for nourishing the hair, repairing damage and boosting the vitamins you need for a healthy shine.

Although I can't find them on their website, Maple Holistics also have a lovely range of lip balms made from natural ingredients, which are paraben-free, GMO-free, gluten-free and soy-free. I got to try the pomegranate flavour and to me it smells and tastes like sweeties, so I love it! Aside from the gorgeous flavour it's also extremely nourishing on the lips and wonderfully soothes the dry lips I seem to have developed during pregnancy.

In addition to these lovely products, Maple Holistic also offer a fantastic range of shampoos and conditoners designed to treat various hair conditions, as well as skincare products and bath and body products, which I'll definitely be looking into trying myself in the future!

Now I know what you're thinking, that's all very well and good but what's the point if I can't buy the products in the UK? Well the good news is that Maple Holistics products are available from Amazon UK and the brand have also told me that they are planning to launch in the UK in the very near future - so if you're into natural, cruelty-free products, I suggest you keep your eyes peeled!

Have you tried any products from Maple Holistics?
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September Favourites

I'm back with another monthly favourites and this time I have a selection of hair, makeup and fashion items to share with you.

First up is the Percy and Reed Dry Instant Volumising Spray. It's rare that I get excited about hair products but this one actually seems to work on my hair! It's a blend between a dry shampoo and a volumising spray, great for second day hair. It instantly lifts my hair when I spray it into the roots and keeps the grease at bay.

I only own a few eyeshadow palettes but the Bobbi Brown Sand eye palette has quickly become one of my favourites. It contains eight shades in total, four matte and four shimmer and they're all so wearable. The shimmer shades are so pretty - I particularly like the warm copper shade. The mattes are also great for creating a classic neutral eye, perfect for everyday wear.

Lottie London isn't a brand I know much about but I've been loving their Make Me Blusher Blush. As the name suggests, this is a brush for blusher but that's not how I've been using it. Weirdly, I've actually been using it to buff in my BB creams! It's fairly large in size, making it great for applying your base in a rush but even in haste, I find it creates a flawless (or as flawless as I can get) finish. It's really quite soft and after a little research I found out Lottie London makeup brushes are cruelty free, which makes it even better in my eyes!

I love this little Pomegranate flavoured lip balm from Maple Holistics. It has a lovely buttery texture that leaves the lips feeling oh-so-soft. Even better, it tastes like sweeties!

Last but not least is my blue and white floral kimono from New Look, which I've actually used as the background for the images above! I bought this last summer but I've been getting so much wear out of it, over the last month or so. It's been one of my maternity fashion staples, as it's light in texture (so you don't get too warm) but still offers a little extra cover up. The pattern on it is so beautiful. I'll definitely be digging it out again next summer! Here's a little Instagram snap of me wearing it a few weeks ago (my bump has super sized since then.)

Have you tried any of these products? What did you think of them?


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The Calm Birth School

When you think of hypnobirthing what springs to mind? Kumbaya-singing? Inner-goddess channelling? How about the giggle-worthy vagina whispering? (Yes that is the first time I’ve said the ‘V word’ on my blog – shocker.) I’m pleased to tell you that hypnobirthing isn’t any of those things and how do I know? Well I’ve been doing The Calm Birth School programme for the last couple of weeks and it’s completely opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking.

Prior to enrolling on the course, I’d been interested in hypnobirthing, though I wasn’t really sure what it entailed or where I could go for more information. So when the lovely Suzy, co-founder of The Calm Birth School along with the equally as lovely Hollie, got in touch to tell me about their online course, I was eager to see what it was all about.

The Calm Birth School is basically a four week home study programme that is delivered online in the form of training videos. It’s all about helping women and their birth partners to create a calm and joyful birth – a birth they can enjoy. Whether you’re planning to give birth in hospital, at home or in a birthing centre, the videos guide and educate you on how to create a smooth birthing experience, so you can enjoy your pregnancy, free of fear.

So far I’ve completed the first two weeks of the course and I’ve already found it to be incredibly beneficial. Suzy and Hollie are so welcoming, friendly and funny in the videos. You feel like they’re in the same room as you, chatting away! Their videos are incredibly informative and I feel like I’ve already learnt so many valuable things from them, from breathing techniques to use in labour to making informed decisions and how to let go of some of the negativity surrounding birth. Essentially it’s about taking control of the things you can and letting go of what you can’t.

What I really love about this course is the way in which it’s delivered. The fact it’s online bite-sized videos (3 a week) makes it suitable for even the busiest of soon-to-be mum’s. I tend to watch the videos, as I’m winding down and getting ready for bed. There’s also a handbook to go alongside the weekly modules and mp3s, which you can download onto your phone and listen to as you go about your day. For extra support or a simple chat with other mum’s and dad’s to be, you can join the Facebook group. What I love most about the group is hearing other ladies' birth stories. It makes me all emotional (in the happiest way) and excited about what’s to come.

If you are pregnant and considering hypnobirthing then I’d highly recommend The Calm Birth School approach. I’m planning on doing another update once I’ve completed the course and then another once I’ve had my little boy. For now, I hope this has inspired you to see what The Calm Birth School is all about, whether you’re currently expecting or planning for a baby in the near future.

I received complimentary enrolment on The Calm Birth School course in return for an honest review.
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My Most Prized Possessions

I like to think of myself as a fairly non-materialistic person. The question ‘what’s the one thing you’d grab in a fire?’ always leaves me puzzled, as I think, well as long as my family were safely outside (that includes my animals), I wouldn’t really worry about anything else. But this article How Much Do We Value Our Possessions? by Legal & General, got me thinking that perhaps I do underestimate the value of some of the things I own – especially the sentimental stuff. With this in mind, I thought I'd share some of my favourite items in my bedroom...

Whilst not necessarily a sentimental item, I guess one of my most prized possessions is my Macbook. I invested in it for work purposes and it's something I use for hours and hours every day. Even when I'm not working on it, I'm likely to be blogging on it or watching videos, so I think it's definitely an item I undervalue, considering how much of a 'staple' it is to my every day life.

I have quite a modest makeup collection, compared to most beauty bloggers, however it's something that I do take pride in. I love being able to try out different products and as daft as it sounds, I take great pleasure in organising the makeup in my Muji drawers and rotating it on a regular basis.

These are some of my newest possessions, yet they are some of the most important to me. As many of you will know, I'm expecting my first baby in a few weeks time and already he is my everything. Over the last few months I've been doing big clear outs and cutting back on 'Megan purchases', so I can make sure my little Mr has everything he needs once he enters the world. This drawer in my bedroom is filled with some of the clothes and toys I've bought for him. Just opening it gets me all excited about his arrival!

Amongst many other beautiful baby-related things, my parents have recently treated me to his pram (Silver Cross Surf 2) and I've got to say, it's up there as one of the best things I've ever owned. I've not pictured it here, as we've boxed it back up for the time being, but I'll definitely be doing a full review of it once I've had chance to test it out properly with the little one.

Out of all the items I'm lucky enough to own, this ring probably means the most to me and not just because of the beautiful diamond! The reason I treasure this ring is because it belonged to my late grandma. She was such a lovely lady and I do wish that we had got to spend more years together but I know she's still with me and I think about her every single day without fail.

This ring feels like my connection to her and although I rarely wear it (especially at the moment as I have slightly swollen pregnancy fingers), when I do, I feel so empowered by it. In the past I've worn it when I've felt nervous about something (like an exam at uni or a job interview) and it's always made me feel so much better. In this case, it's really not about the monetary value but how much it means to me sentimentally and that's something you can't put a price on.

What are your most prized possessions?
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Holiday Swimwear

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I've spent most of this summer with a rather large bump. Yes, as much as I was looking forward to wearing this gorgeous swimsuit from David Swimwear* I haven't been able to squeeze into it. Maybe next summer yeah?

Despite not being able to sport this rather gorgeous number, I still wanted to give it a little feature on the blog, since I know some people go on late September / early October beach holidays and will be looking for the perfect swimwear. What I love about this swimming costume is that it's not only got a beautiful, eye-catching design but that it's also been made to a really high standard. Some swimwear feel so thin and flimsy when you pick it up but this feels like a real luxury piece that I can imagine provides plenty of support and a great fit.

Most of the swimming costumes from David Swimwear come with built-in cups (a must-have in my opinion) as well as extras like girdle and power nets for added shaping and control. The swimwear is available in a wide range of sizes and designs, with something to suit every taste.

In addition to the gorgeous swimsuit, I was also sent this beautiful sunshine yellow kaftan from Iconique*. This would make the perfect beach cover up and will look stunning with a tan. I'm looking forward to wearing it next summer, even if it's only an England beach holiday I go on with my little one!

If you're still on the hunt for the perfect swimwear and beach cover-ups for your late summer / early autumn getaway then look no further! Use the Patricia Eve website to find your nearest stockist of David Swimwear and Iconique.

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OAKS Nottingham Review

As a pregnant lady in her third trimester, there is nothing I love more than my food, so when my lovely friend Sophia (Tattooed Tealady) invited me along to join her at OAKS Nottingham for a complimentary lunch, I think I literally had hearts in my eyes, just like the much-loved emoji.

If you haven't heard of OAKS, it's probably because it's only been open for about a month. You'll find it on Bromley Place, which is just a short walk up from the Market Square.

As soon as we walked in, I had a great feeling about the place. It was so beautifully decorated, as you can see below and the staff provided a very warm welcoming; even offering to make us our very own mocktails, despite them not being on the menu!

As we sipped on our delicious non-alcoholic strawberry and raspberry cocktails, we had a look at the menu and I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of great vegetarian options. OAKS specialises in serving locally-produced sausages and meats, cooked over wood embers but it was great to see that they had catered for the veggies too.

We decided to go for the Garlic & Rosemary Baked Olives to start with and Sophia also ordered the Pork Crackling to try. Whilst I didn’t sample the crackling, I have to say, the olives were some of the best I have ever tasted. They had been marinated and baked for twenty four hours and were jam-packed with flavour. It’s great to see a restaurant take so much pride in it’s ingredients and cooking processes – it definitely paid off!

I followed up the Baked Olives with the Portobello Mushroom, Avocado and Aubergine Burger, Hand-Cut Chips and the OAKS Chopped Salad. Sophia chose the Sea Bass, with the same sides. Just like the olives, the burger tasted absolutely divine. The hand-cut chips were mouth-wateringly delicious and the salad was refreshing and very well seasoned. Sophia definitely enjoyed her Sea Bass and was pleasantly surprised to be presented with the entire fish, rather than just a small fillet, as you’d get at other restaurants. We both enjoyed the selection of signature sauces, which were all homemade.

To finish it off, we both enjoyed a helping of the Marsala Cream Doughnuts. Ashamedly, I only managed two as I was so full from the first two courses, however they were delightful! I’d recommend sharing them (you get a portion of 5) with one of your fellow diners, if like me you tend to get full before making it to dessert.

If you’re after a unique dining experience in the heart of Nottingham, OAKS will tick all of the boxes. Not only does it offer high quality food that is reasonably priced but a stunning setting and a lovely team to match. I also love the focus on locally sourced produce and the fact the food is cooked over a custom-built wood ember grill. The logs used to create the grill are the natural by-products of sustainable coppicing, approved by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. I do like a company with good ethics!

After having such a wonderful time there with Sophia, I’ll definitely be heading back for another tasting in the future and have already recommended it to my Nottingham-based friends.

Disclaimer: I was kindly invited along as Sophia's +1 for a complimentary visit.
Images C/O Tattooed Tealady
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August Favourites

After having a couple of months where I really couldn't be bothered with doing my hair and makeup properly (that's pregnancy for you), in August I seemed to get back into the swing of things. So here's what I've been loving...

BeFri Brush by Nanokeratin System*
The Nanokeratin BeFri is my go-to brush for detangling my hair. It works like a dream, leaving my wet hair free from knots and tangles, ready for blow drying. I find it's nice and gentle on my fine hair and really recommend it as a wet brush for when you get out of the shower.

Sk:n Vitamin Rich Cleanser*
I've been using the Vitamin Rich Cleanser by Sk:n religiously for the past couple of months. It's fantastic for taking my makeup off in the evening and leaves my skin feeling really well nourished. I'm a little sad that I've nearly used it up but I think I'll end up repurchasing it at some point.

Benefit Ring My Bella Perfume
I got this perfume in a gift set not last Christmas but the one before that, so it's lasted pretty well! Ring My Bella is such a gorgeous fruity floral scent, with notes of pink rose petals, soft lily, summer daisy, white patchouli, vanilla tincture and white musk. After doing a little research on the Benefit site, I read that they actually recommend blending them to create your own unique scent - I think I'll definitely be giving that a go!

Max Factor Creme Puff Blush (Nude Mauve)
This has been my favourite blush of the year so far. It's such a beautiful, subtle shade that adds both a hint of colour and definition to the cheeks. I don't tend to bother with bronzer if I'm using this blush, as I feel it does everything I need it to 'contour-wise' and even adds a slight highlight. If you're after a blush that does it all, Nude Mauve will tick all of the boxes.

Soap & Glory Supercat Liner
If you want to do the perfect cat eye liner or puppy liner (apparently it's the latest trend from Korea) then I definitely recommend picking up the Supercat Liner by Soap & Glory. It's one of those fine-nibbed felt tips that's super-easy to use, even if you're clumsy like me. It's a really good shade of black (other eyeliner snobs will know what I mean) and is very reasonably priced at just £6.00.

Have you tried any of my August favourites?
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Secret Saviours Anti Stretch Mark Pack Review

Back in July, the lovely people over at Secret Saviours got in touch to see if I'd like to try their Anti Stretch Mark Pack*. The pack includes a bump band, day gel and night cream, all of which have been designed to work together to prevent stretch marks in pregnancy. Secret Saviours is currently the only prevention system that has been clinically proven to reduce stretch marks appearing by more than 70%. With claims like that, I thought it was definitely worth a go!

Now before I get into it, I just want to point out that I didn't have any stretch marks on my stomach before using the kit (just on my hips and legs) and that I personally think they're either something you're going to get or your not. Having said this, I was still keen to give the anti stretch mark pack a go, as I liked the idea of the bump band providing extra support and wanted to see what it was all about.

Using the Anti Stetch Mark Pack

The first step is to apply the day gel to the stomach area. This is made from a luxurious blend of ethically sourced, scientifically proven ingredients. The idea is that the day gel will prepare your bump for the anti stretch mark band, so it's supposed to feel a little tacky. One of the things I noticed about both the day gel and night cream is that they smell divine! They have a real 'high end' scent, if you know what I mean - a scent that leaves you feeling calm and relaxed.

Once you've applied the day gel, you can pop on your bump band. These bands come in various different sizes, so you need to measure your bump, taking the reading from the largest part, which is where your tummy button lies. At the time I was around 26 weeks pregnant and measured 40 inches, so I was fitted with the medium size band.

What you'll notice from looking at the band is that it has small pads, which are designed to face the skin. These pads have been strategically placed to prevent stresses and strains and help reduce the likelihood of internal tears, which can lead to stretch marks. The band provides a snug, yet comfortable fit and leaves your bump feeling well and truly supported.

I found that the bump band was extremely comfortable to wear in the day time, though I did take it off to have my dinner in the evening, as I like to feel free when I'm eating haha! It was easy to fit under my maternity tops, however it did tend to shine through a little if I was wearing white. This may be something you want to consider when choosing between the black and pink bump bands, as obviously the black will shine through more if you're wearing light colours.

After taking off my band, I followed up with the night cream, as recommended by Secret Saviours. I found applying this product much more enjoyable than the day cream, as whilst that was intentionally tacky, this was a lot smoother and great for soothing my bump.

Sorry for all the mess behind me! This was my office that I'm now turning into a nursery!

I'm now 31 weeks pregnant and I still don't have any stretch marks on my stomach. Admittedly, I haven't worn the bump band every day, so I can't say it's completely down to that, however it certainly provides good level of support, so if you think you are more prone to getting stretch marks, I can imagine it really helping to prevent excess stretching.

The few stretch marks I have developed are on my hips, where there aren't any pads, however I am wondering whether I would have had more if it wasn't for wearing the band? I think the fact it supports my bump stops my hips being pulled forward as much, so there's a possibility that I may have less stretch marks in that area because of the band but I can't really say for definite.

Something else I was thinking about was the fact that I have a sedentary job and whether my bump needed as much support as someone who was on their feet all day? Maybe if you have a more active job or lifestyle, where you are moving around more, it could provide a higher level of support and help to prevent stretch marks caused by movement. I'm no expert on these things, it's just something I was thinking about.

If stretch marks in pregnancy are something that really concern you, then I would recommend giving this kit a go. It's not the cheapest at £69.95 but you have to remember that you are not only investing in high quality products, made from ethically sourced ingredients but also products that are backed up by science! The Secret Saviours website says that you'll probably need to purchase two bands as your bump grows, so it does end up costing quite a lot of money, with bands being sold separately for £29.99. I guess it all depends on whether you have the money spare and how bothered you are about the possibility of getting stretch marks.

As someone who hasn't had any stretch marks on their stomach so far and believes that some people are more prone to them than others, I won't be getting the next size up, as I personally feel that the bump bands on my maternity jeans and leggings provide enough support. I've also been using the Palmer's Tummy Butter to keep my skin supple and it seems to be doing the job just fine.

I know this is a bit of a mixed review but I wanted to be completely honest! I think there are definitely a lot of positives to this kit and it has certainly worked well for many pregnant women (I've read the reviews myself) but for me personally, it's not a pregnancy essential, especially at a time where for most people money is a little tighter.

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Newborn Baby Wishlist

Most of the 'big ticket' items for my little Mr have now arrived, including his pram, crib and car seat, so I've started thinking about some of the little extras I want to get him. I've always enjoyed sharing wishlist posts, so I thought I'd put one together featuring some newborn baby items I've got my eye on!

Musical Toy Crumble Bear - Mamas and Papas
Crumble bear plays a lullaby when you gently pull his suitcase. What's not to love about that? I loved teddies when I was younger and still do, so I imagine my little one will end up with plenty of cuddly friends in his nursery.

Sophie la Girafe Starter Set - Lucy and Belle
I've heard so many good things about this baby skincare brand, bought to you by the makers of the Sophie la Girafe teething toy! It was launched last year (I believe) and features eco-certified, vegan natural and organic ingredients. I definitely want to make sure I'm using gentle and kind products that haven't been tested on animals, so this starter set really appeals to me.

Millie & Borris Bear - Mamas and Papas
You can never have too many teddies and I just love this Millie & Borris Bear! His little bow tie is adorable and he looks so, so soft.

Little Star Gro Swaddle - Gro
Gro is another brand that I've heard really good things about. Their swaddle blankets are designed to help young babies feel warm and secure, mimicking how they felt in their mummy's tummy. They have a specially designed shape, allowing for easy swaddling and don't use any poppers or ties, so you don't have to worry about it being over-tight. I love the Little Star Gro Swaddle and think it'll look really cute with the little Mr's cloud print crib sheets.

Milestone Baby Cards - Amazon
I've seen so many people using these Milestone Baby Cards when taking pictures of their babies and think they're such a good idea! They come in a number of different designs but these are my favourite. I definitely want to pick some up so I can look back at photos of him and know exactly how old he was at the time.

Gro-Egg & Owl Shell - Gro
I couldn't resist featuring this Gro-Egg & Owl Shell (sold separately). It's a thermometer that also doubles up as a night light. As well as telling you the temperature of the room, the thermometer also adjusts in colour, so you can tell if its too low, high or just right at a glance. The Owl Shell can be placed over the top to make it look that little bit cuter. Other animal designs are available too. I just love them!

Bandana Dribble Bib Pack - M&S
Last but not least are these adorable bandana dribble bibs from M&S. They've very reasonably priced (you get 3 for £6). Some places seem to charge a fortune for bandana bibs so I definitely think I'll be picking up a pack of these and maybe another one of their designs. I've been told you can never have too many bibs!

So there we have my newborn baby wishlist. Are you currently shopping for a newborn? Feel free to leave your recommendations for products and essentials below!
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