The name of this blog really rings true when it came to me knowing what the hell I had to do for the birth of Hunter by way of legal documents and appointments and the whole Centrelink debacle. Even just the other day when I […]
I was insanely excited to read this book; as soon as I learned of its existence, I was intrigued. Non-fiction, autobiographies and memoirs are not something that I read often, nor are they what I enjoy reading (which sometimes I think is a bit strange seeing as I only write non-fiction, autobiographical, memoir-y kind of posts), but there was definitely something about My Thoughts Exactly that made me purchase it, even when doubt started to creep in.
Before I started reading it, I will admit that I was scared that I was going to be as underwhelmed and uninterested as I have been with previous forays into the non-fiction literary world. I was tentative.
As soon as I began reading it, I knew that I was going to be pleasantly surprised (that’s an understatement really). I absolutely loved the voice of Lily Allen. I loved the simplicity of her words and that never, not once, did she give any more information than absolutely necessary. Her stories were her stories and nothing more – she didn’t ever need to beef them out with random details or filler fluff. And that is what I have never liked about biographical works; I don’t like being treated as a simple reader that can’t follow emotional syntax and experiences. More often than not, when I have tried to read biographies they are either too detail-orientated or too self-centred. Now I realise that as a autobiography it will be about someone and yes, will be centred around them, but there is a certain amount of story-telling needed rather than just “I did this, I felt that,” etc. etc. Ya feel me?
Anyway, I digress.
My Thoughts Exactly provides an honest, raw and uninhibited foray into the world of Lily Allen. Even though her experiences, lifestyle and childhood are so far removed from anything that I have ever known it didn’t stop me being able to connect with them at all. In fact, I was able to really empathise with her because instead of talking about the experience itself (private jets, drugs, a pretty full on stalker, famous parents, a deeply upsetting stillbirth etc.), Allen looked inward and spoke mainly of how she interacted with the world around her. The entire book felt like a really big, powerful and very emotional letting go for Lily Allen – and it made me really envious that she was able to write and publish so freely everything that has made her the woman she is today – scars, mistakes, flaws and all.
I also loved that she remained incredible humble whilst also acknowledging her success. She spoke frankly about her achievements, many of which I was unaware of, but didn’t rattle on about them. She spoke of them matter-of-factly which I respect immensely. It allowed me to continue to connect with her words throughout the book, no matter the grand nature of her dalliances. Another thing that really surprised me was the understanding I felt around her drug use. I am not comfortable with drug use, at all. I don’t like hearing about it, knowing about it or thinking about it. For me, there is just something about drugs that triggers fear in me, and that has always been the case. For a majority of her adult life, Allen struggled with substance abuse – both alcohol and drugs. But once again, the stories were told with such delicacy and instead of focusing on the event itself, Allen instead used this book to explain the ‘why’. I love her introspection and her knowledge of self and the fact that every one of her decisions, behaviour and actions has reason behind it – not an excuse, but a reason.
I have, for a very long time, longed to write something autobiographical detailing my own experiences, mistakes and flaws (again, I realise how weird it is that I want to write non-fiction but don’t like reading it) and My Thoughts Exactly has only fed that want and desire. What I really gained from Allen’s book is that there is such confidence and strength in vulnerability. Imagine how light and free you would feel if all of your deepest, darkest secrets, thoughts and feelings were out there in the world. To me, that would be everything. To embrace that fear, to lay everything out there and to completely surrender to whatever comes next would just be so utterly liberating. Lily Allen admits to sleeping with female escorts, to cheating on her husband, to being the person someone cheated with, to the mistakes she has made as a mother – she has written about things that are so deeply intimate and personal and most of the time that are kept to oneself. What she has done though, is started a conversation. Through her vulnerability and her willingness to be judged and ridiculed and mocked, she has also allowed for her mistakes to be held by the masses – I am certain that she is not the only one who has made one or all of these mistakes.
Overall, My Thoughts Exactly utterly entranced me. I felt like I was listening to a friend tell me a story for the entire time I was reading it. Dealing with some pretty heavy issues including a traumatic miscarriage and stillbirth, Lily Allen has been able to bring these experiences to a whole new audience in a way that is accessible, sensitive and intelligent. I loved this book and would highly recommend. Highly.
I have never found gift-giving particularly difficult. Those that I buy for, I generally know pretty well whether it be a family member, a partner or a friend. I actually love the lead up to Christmas and writing a list of ideas for presents for each person. Usually it is mum, brothers, partner and a friend or two – I have never once had to think of what to buy a pregnant woman though. Sure, I have been to baby showers before but more often than not there is a gift registry that you can look at and choose from, as well as the fact that most of the presents that you receive at a baby shower are for your baby. Choosing a gift for a woman in your life that is pregnant can be a daunting task – do you get them something for the pregnancy, or something for after? Do you still get them something for the baby or will she be offended (because #hormones)?
Being a pregnant woman myself, I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to shed some light on gift ideas for expectant mothers. I am going off my own personal experience; I know what I would love to receive this Christmas (besides books and another one-eyed kitten), but maybe more importantly, I know what I would appreciate as a larger-than-life pregnant mama right now.
At work last week, my team and I somehow got onto the subject of robes. I told them that I have never owned a robe nor did I see the point in one, “Just wear your pyjamas?” This remark was met with each and every colleague and dear friend of mine absolutely chastising my opinion – the adjectives glorious and luxurious and comfortable and incredible were thrown around easily as they each told me where, when and why they wear robes. As I thought about it more I realised how desperately I needed a robe, but not for any of the reasons that they were so aggressively pointing out. I am at the point in this pregnancy where most things don’t fit me anymore, even my ‘comfy’ clothes for around the house. I have a pair of shorts that I live in at home, and they are getting far too tight to be considered comfortable anymore. At home, I am comfiest in a crop top and my underwear. I don’t feel comfortable cooking or preparing dinner in only that though and I have never been someone who is comfortable walking around the house naked (or pretty much naked).
A ROBE – THAT IS THE ANSWER. All of a sudden, a lifetime’s worth of not understanding robes faded away and I knew that it was going to be the key for a comfortable and heavily pregnant summer.
Another thing that people should know is that, just because a woman is pregnant, does not mean she wants to give up looking good or feeling desired – it’s true for me at least. Sure, there are comfortable things I could wear like a big baggy t-shirt with no bra, but all that does is make me feel fat, not pregnant, and then I get hormonal and wonder how anyone would ever find me attractive. A robe covers me enough that I feel comfortable cooking in it, or sitting on our deck drinking coffee, or lying on the lounge of a night whilst also making me feel feminine and soft and attractive and even a little bit sexy.
The mecca of all robes and dressing gowns are the impossibly soft and incredibly light kimono robes from Peter Alexander. My personal favourite is the Paisley Blossom Kimono that you can pick up for $109.
From Cotton On Body, I love their Kimono Gown (particularly in the misted bloom and hazel colour) which you can snatch up for a sneaky $10 at the moment or $24.95 normally.
As for Big W, their B Collection Printed Woven Kimonos are where it’s at. Especially this pretty little number, the Black Print. Swoon.
Something that I have really come to appreciate as a result of this pregnancy is just how important it is to take care of my skin. In the first trimester and right through my second, the skin around my mouth and on my cheeks was dry, red and irritable. Then, of course, there is the most obvious factor when caring for pregnant skin which is your skin’s elasticity when it comes to your growing bump. Looking down at my belly I am in complete shock and awe that it has been able to stretch to the size that it currently is, and completely dumbfounded by the fact that according to my mother, I will still double in size in these last few months. Stretch marks are a real possibility, and though I don’t mind getting stretch marks whatsoever (I have had stretch marks for all of my adult life anyway), I do care about what my skin is going to do post-partum as well as wanting to keep my tattoos as fresh-looking and non-droopy as possible!
Also, if you (or the pregnant woman in your life) is anything like me and have never really been that big into pampering or skincare, what I have also discovered is how vital it is to take time out for yourself, to devote time to yourself and to look after yourself in any way you can. It is also a really beautiful way to remain connected and aware of your body and the beautiful changes that it is going through; there have been times where I have felt so out of my body that I didn’t recognise myself, but taking some time every morning and every night to moisturise has been so important when it comes to me appreciating and loving how I look and how I feel.
If you are after skincare that is specifically for pregnancy and stretch marks then I can wholeheartedly and confidently suggest anything Palmer’s. If you are looking for a simple gift, then the Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks at $15.99 is a sure thing.
Or, if you are feeling more generous of have a bit more cash to play with, may I suggest putting together a pack for the special mama-to-be with a few of the Palmer’s product range? Grab a gift box or a gift bag and fill it with Massage Cream for Stretch Marks ($15.99), Skin Perfecting Ultra Hydrating Serum ($24.99), Coconut Oil for Hair Repairing Shampoo and Conditioner ($14.99 each) and Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks ($15.99). I would be over the freaking moon if I got a goodie bag with all of that in it.
And now, you’re going to have to indulge me a little bit here. The (Oblivious) New Mama skincare range that I designed with Gina from Behind the Pages was created specifically for pregnant mamas-to-be. A beautifully wrapped gift pack is only $25 and includes the Goats Milk Soap Bar, Bath Milk and Body Lotion. The range is all natural and uses all organic products. Not only are they impossibly pretty and feminine, but they smell incredible whilst maintaining a very subtle aroma. I can send them anywhere, to anyone and promise that they will come STUNNINGLY wrapped. Promise.
I am also SO EXCITED to offer one lucky winner a T(O)NM Skincare Pack! Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on instagram at @theobliviousnewmama and tell me your ideal, most perfect, wonderful, AMAZING way to relax! Simple!
Pregnancy Massage Voucher
This gift will mean EVERYTHING to the pregnant woman in your life. EVERYTHING. I cannot tell you all the ways that my body aches. I ache and am exhausted in parts of my body that I didn’t know I had. During the first trimester, you are a kind of tired that cannot be expressed in words, you are exhausted on a cellular level and nothing seems real anymore. Then, in the third trimester, you start to feel the tiredness in a much more physical way. My muscles are always tight and cramp constantly, my shoulders are tired from carrying my enormous breasts around all day every day, and I feel exhausted in my bones. What no one told me was that when you get to the 25 week mark and beyond, when your bub is not so little anymore and getting stronger by the day, their constant movements and kicking completely drains you of ALL of your energy. All of it. Gone. Poof. Bye.
The Yummy Mummy Package from Yummy Mummy Day Spa located in Clovelly, Sydney is everything that I could ever hope, dream, wish, yearn and pine for right now. The Yummy Mummy Package is their most popular package and includes an hour long full body aroma massage followed by an organic spa facial. The package is priced at $300 but I cannot stress to you enough (CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH) at what gifting this would mean to your beautiful goddess of a partner/wife/sister/friend. I completely melt when Pete simply squeezes my feet or tickles my back, having someone dedicate a whole hour to rubbing out my kinks and aches and pains makes me weep in gratitude.
Not only is the Yummy Mummy Day Spa Sydney’s most exclusive days spa for mums and mums to be, but there are also a wide range of products that they have available as well. If the pampering packages are a bit out of your price range there are a number of beautifully packaged, all natural gift packs that you can purchase as well as natural wraps for newborns, skin products and journals.
If you are set on gifting a massage voucher but are looking for a cheaper alternative, Sydney Mobile Therapies offer a wide range of treatments for pregnant women that range from $95 through to $139. This is also a brilliant option as the massage therapists come to you which is ideal if you are already a mum with young children and can’t get out of the house, or if you are at the stage of your pregnancy where the idea of driving somewhere (anywhere) is too much to even consider. Sydney Mobile Therapies service most of the Sydney region.
Personally, I would go for the Beauty and the Bump 90 minute treatment. It is a specialised pregnancy pamper package that focuses on every part of the body and face to ensure total body wellness that will leave you looking and feeling fantastic. Mamas to be will receive a stimulating and soothing full-body exfoliation, followed by a gentle and relaxing pregnancy massage and then a mini Fresh Start facial to end the treatment. Sign me up, immediately.
If you are looking for a gift for a friend or simply need to budget just that little bit further, the Happy Feet 30 minute treatment will be the best $45 you have ever spent on a grateful expectant mother. Carrying extra weight that you aren’t used to takes its toll on your feet, and you only realise just how much of a toll when someone touches them. Seriously, most days I think I am fine and then Pete will squeeze my foot and I am almost immediately in a coma. The treatment focuses on pain relief and involves a foot bath, a gentle exfoliation and a massage. Yep. I’ll take one of these as well thanks.
Ahead of our baby shower last Saturday, I took myself for a pedicure which is something that I haven’t done in years. I never have my finger nails painted and am rarely able to justify spending money on something like my feet.. I have never been comfortable with treating myself or doing nice, selfish things for myself but I thought, well it is a special occasion after all, so why not?! My god. I forgot how much I love pedicures.
More often than not, the chairs at nail salons will be massage chairs which is already a big tick for me. What follows – if you aren’t aware – is forty minutes of bliss. First, your feet soak in hot water. Then, your feet and toenails are cleaned and trimmed and exfoliated. Then your legs are massaged (and then where I go, they get these hot stones out from some kind of oven and wet them and rub them all over your legs and feet and it is heaven) and moisturised. And then finally, your toe nails are painted (all the while you are in this huge chair that is massaging you). When I got home and told Pete how relaxed I was he told me that I should take time out to do that for myself more often. I started to come up with excuses as to why not when he interrupted me, “Leah, how much does it cost?”. When I told him that it cost $30, he shook his head, laughed at me and informed me that I am to go and get a pedicure every week. He said, “if something that inexpensive can make you feel this good, then why wouldn’t you do it?” And by god, the man is right.
Even if you or the woman you are buying this for isn’t really into beauty stuff (like me), I promise you that she will appreciate this even if she doesn’t know it at the time. I have no specific suggestions as to where you should buy a gift voucher from, however I suggest that if this is a gift you are interested in, research local nail salons, read reviews and compare prices – the treatments are all very similar so find somewhere that you think will suit you, or whoever you are buying this for!
If you have a work colleague or a cousin or a friend, or if the woman you are buying for has a good sense of humour, then a novelty mug is something that I would highly recommend. My ritual of making coffee on a weekend morning and hopping back into bed for an hour or two of reading has quickly become one of my favourite things during pregnancy. You will find that a lot of herbal tea will be consumed during pregnancy to counter nausea, morning sickness and to substitute coffee, and everyone needs a mug (and a laugh).
Ranging from $12 to $25, these handmade mugs from various Etsy creatives are the perfect stocking fillers, secret Santa gifts or last-minute presents for any expectant mother who is a little bit crass. Click on each image for further information and purchase!
Also – something a bit exciting.. I am so happy to offer the following two mugs as a giveaway to one lucky reader! From Amanda at SheThatLaughs, these mugs are crafted from high-quality ceramic and microwave/dishwasher safe. They are also incredibly, incredibly true. For your chance to win a set of these mugs simply email me at email@example.com or message me on instagram at @theobliviousnewmama and tell me who you are buying these for and why! And feel free to enter if YOU are the pregnant one. Do it, do it now!
Lil Soph + Co. Products
Some of you may remember me mentioning Lil Soph + Co. in my post about the One Fine Baby Expo where Pete and I bought one of their beautiful burping cloths. Well, little did I know but this Australian company offers absolutely STUNNING gift packs. Now, I know that this present focuses on bub and not the mama herself but let me tell you, the products that Lil Soph + Co. offer are of the highest quality, are unique in their design and are quite simply the most beautiful baby products I have come across yet..
With products ranging from $13 through to $90, I am sure that you will find something for ANY mama to be. Offering bandana bibs, cotton blankets, burp cloths, teething rings, nappy clutches, play mats, cushions, organic gauze wraps and gift packs there really is something for everyone and every bub. Whether you know if you or a friend is having a boy or a girl, or whether you are wanting to gift something neutral, there is something from Lil Soph + Co. for you!
The range of bandana bibs are an absolute must for all new mums and newborn bubs, and these are in a league of their own. At $13, these handmade, cotton bandana bibs make for a stunning, thoughtful and affordable gift. And, not only that, but you can be assured that they will be used (and needed) again and again and again.
If you are looking for something a little bit more substantial to gift, the range of printed cotton blankets are a great option. Ranging from $45 to $65, the cotton blankets are made from 100% organic cotton knit backed with a high-grade smooth polyester Minky fabric. As all of the Lil Soph + Co. products are handmade, there is also the option to customise your blanket to fit a cot or a single bed!
The gift packs available take out any guess work you may have on which products to buy! There is a newborn essentials pack that include a bandana bib and burp cloth, or a teething ring and bandana bib! The packs range from $24 to $50 and again, trust me, once you see and feel the quality of these products you will never buy outside of this brand again.
I know that many of you probably don’t buy magazines anymore and instead read their online counterparts. I get it, I do. But all I can think about are those early mornings or warm afternoons where I will be on maternity leave, sitting on my deck nursing an iced tea or a coffee and flicking through a book or a stack of my favourite magazines. I keep getting told that taking time out for myself is something that I need to be really mindful of, and for me there really is nothing more alluring than a quiet pocket of time to flick through a magazine. My favourites are Frankie, Smith Journal, Delicious and the Donna Hay magazine.
Magshop Australia offers subscriptions to all magazines available on the Australian market, offering free delivery as well as the option of gift vouchers if you aren’t sure what title to get! Each magazine subscription comes in at a different price and for some, there is the option to choose how long the subscription is for (a certain amount of issues, six months, one year, etc.). For example, six issues of Frankie (which equates to a one year subscription) comes in at $60.71, while six issues plus one bonus issue of Delicious comes in at $39.95.
What I love about this gift is that it isn’t something you would automatically think to get someone who is pregnant. More often than not, the gifts will revolve around being a new mum or around the baby itself. What this gift does is provide a quiet outlet for the mama to be, it will serve as a reminder to press pause, put her feet up and lose herself in the pages of whatever magazine she delights in. Also, it means she will get a package that she looks forward to every week/month/two months and who doesn’t love that?!
It’s December! It’s Summer! It’s the festive season! Our Christmas tree is up! Our cat has discovered a love of tearing baubles off the tree and waking us up at 5am by chasing them down the hallway! Seriously though, I am so freaking excited that […]
Swedish authors are incredible. If you haven’t read a book by a Swedish author, do yourself a favour – buy one and read it immediately. I was first introduced to Swedish authors when I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It took me three attempts before I managed to get through (and past) the first chapter. The names were unfamiliar and hard to pronounce and even though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, there was just something different about the way that he wrote as opposed to an American, English or Australian writer. It was as if he was saying things without writing the words.. as if I was reading between the lines without even meaning to. Once I got through the first book of that trilogy, I devoured the other two. And then more recently, I read The Girl in the Spider’s Web and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz who continued the Millennium series after Larsson’s death.
A couple of years ago I read I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist and absolutely loved it. It confused me and challenged everything I thought I knew about story-telling in the most brilliant way. Once again, it were as if Lindqvist was saying far more than the words he provided on the page. I really want to read his 2015 release I Always Find You and only JUST realised that the horror movie Let the Right One In is based on one of his novels with the same name. I had no idea but want to read immediately.
Anyway, I went into one of my favourite bookshops on my lunch break, Better Read Than Dead, and came across The Cult on Fog Island. A few things drew me to this book:
- The cover? LOVE.
- The size of the book? Huge and perfect.
- Swedish author? Check!
- Did the title remind you of Shutter Island? Yep.
- Do I find cults incredibly eerie and creepy? You ‘betcha.
As soon as I started reading The Cult on Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein, I was hooked. It was the kind of book that I found myself thinking about while I was working, while I was cooking or while I was watching a movie with Pete. All I wanted was to be reading. The book’s protagonist, Sofia, attends a seminar hosted by the infamous ‘wellness’ and life coach Franz Oswald who then invites her to visit the island and see what his program and course is all about. Once there, Franz offers Sofia an incredible job and in that moment she can’t think of any reason why she shouldn’t take him up on the offer. Once she is there though, and after signing on for a two year contract, things aren’t what they seem on the island. And Franz? Well, he is not at all what he seemed.
What follows is a truly addictive and thrilling read. I loved how gradually the circumstances on the island got worse and worse, and how closely we were able to follow alongside Sofia. Sofia, as a character, I found really easy to be interested in. She was really well written even though we aren’t given a whole lot of background information about her or where she came from before the island. I actually didn’t mind not knowing much about her as it meant I went into the story with her completely unbiased and unaware of what state of mind she was in when she decided to go to the island (besides the crazy ex). I did have moments where I thought to myself, “SURELY you aren’t going to go along with this, SURELY?!” but then, when we were let in on her inner monologue and her thought processes, everything made sense and had reason.
I do love a good, atmospheric read and Lindstein absolutely nails that in The Cult on Fog Island. To go with the ominous nature of the cult and the mental decline of their leader, the description of the weather and the surrounding conditions sets the scene perfectly. As I was reading it, I could envisage the cliff face that was so often referred to and the sound of the violent swells of the sea. I could feel the change of the seasons as they came and went in the book, the chill in the air as Christmas approached the island. I have to admit that I do rate a book based on the way it handles the sensory elements of the story and this one scored big time. BIG time.
I also learned that the author, Mariette Lindstein, is a former Scientologist! I only found that out after I read the book and it made me think back to all the details and experiences that our protagonist Sofia lived through on the island, and how removed the the cult’s leader Franz was from reality – what real life events took place to inspire these fictional ones? The knowledge that Lindstein was a part of what has come to be known as a modern day cult made me reassess the book as a whole – was it more of an exposé than a work of fiction?! That thought alone excites the hell out of me!!
When I found out that this book was the first in a trilogy (again, I found this out after I finished the book), it made me SO KEEN to read the next one and left me even more excited to find out where the second book would go. The Cult on Fog Island could very easily be a stand alone novel, though you are left with questions at the end it still feels like the story was wrapped up nicely. Props to Lindstein for the ending as it is one that does leave you wondering where what how but in a way that doesn’t take away from the conclusion. I am so intrigued to see what she does with the second instalment of this trilogy and it just can’t be published soon enough!
(I also passed this one onto my boss after I finished and she loved it as well. Rave reviews all round!)
Whether you are going all out and hiring a venue and catering and the whole shebang, or if you are doing something at home with a budget, your baby shower can still ooze fabulousness, instgrammableness and loveliness! I have always loved hand-making as much as […]