During pregnancy and the early days of motherhood, I found - and still find - nothing more reassuring than to hear from other mothers how they've experienced it all - especially if our experiences overlap. Many of the topics approached are, well let's say, not pretty, but millions of women still endure them and most likely feel insecure and unsure whether they're the only ones suffering (which, as I've learnt, you never are).
In terms of pregnancy and birth I have encountered mainly fear in women concerning giving birth - the pain is well-ingrained in our minds from numerous Hollywood movies and TV shows where women sit spread-eagled on a chair, screaming the shit out of themselves. First and foremost, no one would deliver in that position, it makes the least sense, but the screaming, for me at least, was very real.
So let's start with the birth. I did all the bullshit of Hypnobirthing and breathing techniques and reached a state in which books and these classes really made me think I could breathe out my baby calmly and in control. Well, I was wrong.
Labour hit me hard and fast. Me and Lily entirely skipped the easing in part where I'd take a lovely bath, watch Netflix movies in the hospital bed and benignly smile with my husband about the imminent birth. Labour was so intense from the very early hours on, and came in such short intervals, that I was just clinging on for dear life, unable to speak and paralysed by the pain. Thankfully, at least, it was a quick labour and I was barely in the hospital for two hours when she was already born.
I wouldn't say my birth experience was traumatic, but it certainly was far from romantic.
However, birth, at least, is over in a matter of hours, but the pains coming with postpartum, mentally and physically, can drag on over weeks and months. First of all, breastfeeding. Oh my, the pain! After about three days of nursing Lily, my nipples were reduced to bloody craters and every time Lily latched on it was pure agony. I am a defender of breastfeeding (without meaning to pass judgement) and even I considered bottle-feeding after a week because I couldn't imagine that it would never NOT hurt.
However, thanks to my wonderful midwife and a bucket of Lansinoh nipple butter, I managed to overcome the worst and now we have a wonderful breastfeeding relationship. It did take about a week to get better, mind you, and grim determination is what it took to get to the other side, and now I am very grateful I did.
With the birth over and my nipples adjusting, there was still a plethora of pain to choose from. With a massive tear of the perineum my doctors warned me that sitting might be a problem; however, in the end it wasn't my perineum that gave me plenty of pain - it was good ol' haemorrhoids. Apart from being extremely painful and unpleasant, they're also a deeply embarrassing thing to have and I didn't really have any problems with them until the third trimester. About three weeks after birth I would get such incredible pains I was wondering if I might give birth to Lily's twin through my rectum. Creams, suppositories, nothing helped until I finally made an appointment at the hospital to get my ass checked out (pregnancy and childbirth are related to a lot of bodily humiliation).
In the end it apparently wasn't even haemorrhoids but a small polyp which irritated the area and which I have to massage via my vagina twice a week to soften and promote healing. I didn't even know you could have polyps up your arse - I thought they were restricted to noses...
Now you mustn't forget that during all these ailments you also have a little baby to look after. And apart from physical issues, there are also an abundance of mental ones. Not equipped with the strongest mental capacities per se, I was positively surprised to not head-plunge deeply into postnatal depression, but I still had my fair share of tears.
I remember Lily was sleeping next to me and I browsed through TikTok and when swiping down I landed on a video of a small, smiling baby. Far too late I realised the hashtag that went with it #infantdeath. Someone had really put a video of their dead baby on TikTok, commemorating their death day, and I saw it and did what every reasonable person would do after being a parent for a short time.
I bawled my eyes out.
I ran to my man, heaving with crying, and just spluttered I didn't want Lily to die. I was so hyper-sensitive to the subject that I immediately deleted TikTok and haven't used it ever since (I still see the smiling baby in my nightmares).
The psychological impact of having a baby paired with lack of sleep, hormones and anxiety is not to be underestimated. Even now that she is four months old, I am in permanent terror she might die. When she sleeps, I regularly check whether she's still breathing and when she ran a fever the other day I was in high alarm. Such an intense mental state also costs a lot of nerve and energy, in addition to physical shortcomings.
In short, birth isn't just the hours you spend in labour but the impact stretches for many more weeks. As I read some time, somewhere: For birth there are painkillers, but for motherhood there are not.
So, after I dropped the pregnancy announcement a few months back, I finally feel like writing more about it. I guess it lies in the nature of a person who's lost plenty of trust in herself and the world (way to sound pessimistic) to expect the worst to happen, but I want to be positive.
As you can clearly see I am very pregnant with only a few weeks to go until I can hold my precious baby in my arms. Pregnancy is a very strange and wonderful state to be in, and although I enjoy it thoroughly, it also terrifies me to think about all the things that could go wrong. Probably that's also because you have, like, a million of tests and appointments to get through, almost as if you were fatally ill and not just having a baby. I feel by turning such a truly natural event into something so medical, we women tend to lose touch with our intuition and basic instincts, but I don't want to sound too hippy-dippy - I am so truly grateful to live in times where the likelihood of me perishing in childbirth are marginally slim.
But let's not dwell on the medical stuff and focus on the beautiful things. Thankfully, I was lucky to have a quite easy pregnancy until now. No severe back pain, no swollen feet, no stretch marks (thank you, BiOil) and no nausea. As someone who got nauseous just looking at food even before I was pregnant, it came as somewhat of a surprise to see me struggle so little with nausea in the first trimester. I also didn't have any weird cravings, apart from a short-lived fancy for "spinach crisps", which, as far as my research goes, do not exist. The stereotypical craving for sauerkraut and pickles never emerged - thank heavens.
Emotionally, I can say it's been a bit more of a roller-coaster. As I suffer from endometriosis (and will write more about that story when I feel ready), there was a constant fear lurking in the corners of my mind that something may interfere with the pregnancy and make it more difficult, but I was blessed. Still, with a cocktail of hormones raging inside you, as well as all the new things happening with your body, it is unsurprising that your husband has to rock away your tears at night once or twice (a week ;-)).
Now, with the birth inching closer, I feel exhilarated but also notice I am thinking about motherhood and have thoughts about whether I will be able to do it the way I plan, but I guess there is no real "preparation" for being a parent beforehand and you just make it up as you go along.
I LOVED YOUR FATHER,
It's Halloween and time for some crazy pumpkin carving! This year, Jakob and I attempted a Harry Potter pumpkin, and even though it turned out to be more Harry Potter's retarded son (Albus? evil tongues may suggest), we are truly proud and enjoy our Harry Halloween. We got the template online and opted for two more traditional pumpkins (or could it be Ron and Hermione? Discuss. ;-))
Welcome your guests with a spooky pumpkin outside your door. I've always refrained from putting a pumpkin out because we don't have a house, but live in a flat. However, this year, I wanted to go ahead with it anyway. Because it is still indoors, I didn't want to use real candles and be blamed to burn down the house, so I went to Depot and bought LED candles that flicker. For only €1.60 per two candles, they look spookily real and save you from fearing to burn to death.
Pumpkins like the Potter pumpkin are inasmuch great because they do not only make for great Halloween decorations, but also for autumn vibes. Orange and red are a fantastic autumn combination that make a room infinitely cosier and prepare for the Christmas season - you just have to swap orange for green, actually.
If you don't want to leave it at carving, also check out my scrumptious Halloween recipes here.
Planning a wedding is said to be one of the most stressful experiences in life. Although I cannot vouch for that just yet, I have to say that my upcoming wedding has put me in front of numerous decisions, crises and sleepless nights. Long before even getting engaged, I vowed to myself I would not become a "Bridezilla" who would terrorise everyone and be stressed for the six months of planning.
And I am not (I think), yet the relentless thought of "this will only happen ONCE in my life" keeps sneaking up and occasionally brings my Bridezilla out nevertheless.
The most stressful aspect of planning a wedding I have encountered so far is bracing yourself about EVERYONE'S opinion on how a proper wedding should be. Cousins, aunts, uncles, mothers, sisters and brothers - they all think they can chip in and share their thoughts. To some extent, that's perfectly fine, as it is a family party, yet the whole "beshoulding" can really cost the last nerve of a bride.
The first problem already starts with the guest list when you have to invite that racist uncle, the cousin you hate or a friend's stupid boyfriend - out of manners. Am I impolite that I don't want to share my big day with someone I can't stand...weird.
But I am digressing. Weddings are first and foremost about compromise - unless you are ruthless and have plenty of money. OK, so the cousin 12 times removed shall be invited then and my cake shall not have marzipan, as apparently no one likes that (these are not necessarily real-life examples). Some compromises bear great fruits, others I have decided to simply put my foot down on and decide they are stupid and I won't do them - and here they are.
1) Freshly cut flowers
I have my wedding reception at a 4-star hotel and as much as I like the benefits of a hotel doing most of the work, they do have some weird idea of wedding planning. My hotel wedding manager constantly keeps sending me emails about details for "my decorator" or "florist". I don't have a decorator or florist. Who, in the times of Pinterest, needs to pump money into someone deciding what you like best?
Also, my hotel wedding planner proposed his house-in florist could make the bouquets for the tables - for fucking €400! Why would you spend such a massive sum of money on flowers that perish after a week? I politely declined, thinking he was a little bonkers and decided to have flower pots with alive flowers instead.
a) they can be given to guests as a present
b) you can keep them as a memory
c) a smaller flower costs about €2-5 and a simple pot about €1-2. In total, my flowers now cost less than €100 instead of 400 - and I get to keep the flowers - so do away with freshly cut flowers and save some money for dead flowers.
2) A DJ
If bands are your thing, sure go for it. I personally decided against one for my wedding, as I like the original voices to sing the songs. Perusing DJs, I found two things:
a) they are completely overpriced
b) their playlists are shit
Unless you don't have any music taste of your own and need someone else to compile a list, why pay someone for a job you could do better? In times of Spotify and Amazon Prime Music, there is easy access to massive music databases and even ready-made playlists you can adjust to your personal taste. I quickly decided against a DJ, but I have appointed someone to watch the music, so I don't have to bother with it during the night of my wedding party. Oh and by the way, that's entirely for free if you find someone to lend you their control desk.
3) The "Aperitif"
Handing people a welcome drink is a great way to say hello and start the wedding mood. However, this trend of "aperitifs" where they ask you to pay €17 per person for a lousy Prosecco is simply outrageous. The notion that people always have to eat or drink in every second of your wedding is idiotic and costs you even more money. I don't want to sound avaricious, but spending a fortune on your wedding so people can eat and drink all night and then adding another aperitif is too much to be asked, if you ask me.
4) A wedding photographer
True, weddings occur (ideally) only once in life and you want wonderful photos of the day - I do too. However, as soon as you mention "wedding" somewhere, the price gets automatically doubled and tripled. A wedding package for 3 hours for a whopping €1500 is insane, if you ask me. I asked my friends and colleagues whether they knew anyone in the photo business and soon found someone who would do it for a decent price and would personalise them to my taste, not the photographer's. It is shameful what kind of business is done with us brides, especially if you then end up with stuck-up, posed photos that look inauthentic and boring.
5) Wedding gifts
Obviously it's nice when people think of you and buy you something for your wedding. However, with couples increasingly living together well before their wedding days, gifting a mixer or salad bowl becomes increasingly obsolete.
Additionally, with more financial freedom and choices, most couples rather want to choose their own house items than simply be stuck with the ones your grandmother 4 times removed chose. A wedding gift registry is obviously also an option, but for me it feels even more brazen than asking for money.
Living in money-saving Tyrol, a money wedding is thankfully not a big deal, so we're only asking for a contribution for our honeymoon (Sweden, by the way, I will write the travelog on my travel blog floatingmylife.weebly.com/). Personally, with young couples still moving around, a bulky crystal set would also only be another box to carry...
Any thoughts you'd like to share on unnecessary items on weddings? I am always happy to hear from you.
It's been a week since we started trying out the Sunday Meal Prep book (in German) by Riva, so we've done a full week and are not commencing the second one. Who doesn't know how Sunday Meal Prep works, it's essentially pre-cooking everything on Sunday, so that during the week, lunch or dinner are on the table in a matter of mere minutes.
So why is this perfect for me. First of all, I don't enjoy cooking very much. However, I enjoy perusing cook books for a good recipe, then going shopping and then cooking the dish even less. This way, I can eat nutritious and home-made meals all week long without having to put major effort in during the week.
This book has 13 weeks worth of ideas and recipes and what I like about it that the recipes are quite different from our usual dishes without being very complicated. Our favourite so far was an Asia noodles wok pan and a sort of flan with onions and cheese, but all dishes were pretty tasty and super-quick to be prepared.
The book works in very simple ways. First, there is a list of ingredients to obtain, then the instructions what to pre-cook on Sunday, and finally a day-to-day instruction what is left to do during the week.
If you remember, in my 19 Goals for 2019 (which are not 19, I know, but some goals are too personal to share here), I stated I wanted to lose weight and eat better. Buying this book played a major role in this endeavour and by having home-made meals every day and cutting down my daily calorie intake 200 to 500 from my ideal calorie intake has contributed majorly to me already losing weight (1 kg in one week, in case you're interested). I will write a blog post about my weight loss endeavours in due time, but I want to focus on the book and meals in this one.
I feel the major issue with weight loss and cooking good food (at least for me) is a lack of proper preparation. So, after we'd purchased the book, we marched straight to Ikea to get about 15 preserving jars. We also stocked up our Tupperware to be ready for the masses of food we would store in our fridge, worth a whole week.
I must say, there is a major satisfaction in looking into the fridge on Monday morning and seeing all these jars crammed with food piled up. It is a blessing to know, I don't have to use energy to figure out a recipe and cook, but simply prepare what's already waiting to be cooked.
Another great feature about the book is that it is not only categorised into weeks, but also seasons. Therefore, the recipes contain seasonal fruits and vegetables and the amount of food thrown out also dropped drastically this week. Until our wedding, we definitely want to keep up using the book, and I am sure we will also continue using the system thereafter, at least sometimes.
It is the perfect book for lazy cooks and can help to reduce waste and increase the quality of food, so why not give it a shot. Here is the link for the book on Amazon. It's in German, but there should be many similar books, as Sunday Meal Prep seems to be one of the big trends in food at the moment (and who can blame anybody?)
It's hard to believe that it has already been a year since we moved to Vienna; however, it is even harder to believe that I needed almost a year to redecorate the bedroom and finally make it cosy and comfortable.
Well, now I have finally come round to doing it and I am always amazed by how much can be achieved from little effort (which makes the delay even less excusable). We didn't buy any new furniture, simply shuffled around what we had, and the difference is incredible. I want to use this post to not only show you the redecoration, but also a little about my bed routine in the go - so let's do this!
Let's talk about some structural, architectural things first. Our bedroom is a rectangular room and when the furniture was assembled like in the right picture (the old setting), the room becomes even longer. The bed is aligned with the longer side and lots of space is created in the middle, which makes the room seem more spacious - a feature not necessary wanted in a bedroom.
Additionally, in the old setting, it seemed more like a hotchpotch of furniture with various wardrobes and chests left, right and centre. Bedroom and my working sphere mingled joyfully and there didn't seem to be a cohesive theme to the bedroom at all. My desk was facing the window, which in theory sounds nice, but I live in the city, facing a grim and grey house, and also, the sun really blinds me in the mornings.
Now to the new setting. First of all, the bed facing the door makes the rectangular room more square-ish and also provides a much more enticing welcome than the look at the overflowing chair and white wardrobe. Also, we now have put all clothes-related furniture to the right side of the room, making morning dressing less of a sprint through the room. The mirror has found its place between one of the wardrobes and the chest of drawers, so outfits can be quickly checked and approved of in the morning.
I know it is useless and invites to clutter, but I simply need a chair next to my bed to dump my stuff on, and I am a huge follower of the well-known phrase "too dirty for the wardrobe, too clean for the laundry basket, welcome to the chair!".
At the moment, an old rocking chair that does not really serve it's purpose anymore has been redesigned as my daily clothes bearer, and now resting next to my bed, it's even better at doing the job. My beloved chest I got from the farm we lived on obviously also found its place, now looking even better between the two windows and below the big picture of my beloved dog Lilly. There will be even more pictures adorning the walls, but with our flat having such incredibly high ceilings, it can be tough to find the right size, as normal-sized pictures tend to be drowned by the sheer size of the room.
Yet there is already one more picture I got next to my bed, and it is a wonderful picture of Alice sitting next to a raven that has a tag on which says "writing desk" (the Alice in Wonderland fans will get it). The raven also fulfils his duties in guarding my night products, to which I will change now and venture into my bed routine before turning to my work sphere.
I keep a hand and foot cream on my nightstand to moisturise every night before I go to sleep, and both products were Christmas gifts (watch my Christmas gift video here). The hand cream I am currently using is from Rituals (the Ritual of Ayurveda) and does not only moisturise the hands wonderfully, but has a divine smell that is perfect for a smooth and positive get-into-bed ritual. The foot cream is a Steinöl-Produkt (rock oil) from the Tyrolean region and can be purchased here. It has a very refreshing scent, reminiscent of mint (basically it smells like an Airwave chewing gum tastes).
Sometimes I also put on my Separatoes on for ten minutes - and if you're wondering what those are, check them out here, but basically they stretch the toes to strengthen the foot. I will do a blog post about them in the near future, promise.
But back to the bed routine. Ever since I changed the bedroom, I feel so much more relaxed and much more inclined to read in the evenings and relax in the bedroom before falling asleep. On my nightstand, I currently have Robert Galbraith's Lethal White (read the review of it here), Sol Stein's On Writing and my Kindle. Additionally, there is my phone which I need to charge overnight, and also because my sound soother is on it (I use the Sleep Sounds App, Rain Forest with piano).
My lullaby sheep also finds its place next to the raven, and if the neighbours get kinky, I also have earplugs - just in case. A bright lamp with a white lampshade is also crucial for me in the bedroom, I could never read with a coloured lamp.
As we currently reside in a two-room flat, my working sphere is in the bedroom, as there is no space left in the living room. True, I sometimes also work at the living room table to mix it up, but I love to leave my stuff lying around when I take a break, and in the living room that is not so easy.
Especially with the old bedroom setting, I didn't feel comfortable working there anymore, as it felt almost like a storeroom with no concept or red thread. Now, I have the window to my right instead of in front of me, which is less distracting. As the bedroom is also much tidier now due to the reshuffle, it is a much calmer room in which I find the mood to get to work - and I can leave everything set up and ready to go.
On my desk, I have my laptop, notebooks and stationery, as well as my old stereo when I am in the mood to listening to a CD - yes, you've read correctly, I am one of those freaks who still listens to CDs! Which ones you may ask? Well, at the moment I have Music for Book Lovers, Celtic Airs from Ireland and Les Cornemusses d'Ecosse on my desk, but it might change any day...
For me it was interesting to observe that it took me almost a year to take the step and create the storage room of a bedroom into a cosy room that invites to linger, cuddle and even work. I guess it can take time to adjust to a place, learn its flaws, peaks and secrets. Now, I finally feel it's become a wholesome room - just in time for us to move to the countryside in summer...
Christmas is just around the corner and I feel somewhat overwhelmed this year. Last weekend, we finally came round to buying a tree and now, as it sits enthroned in our living room, I am slowly starting to feel the vibe - but it's almost mid-December! What is wrong with me this year?
Anyway, I wanted to share some pics of my decorations, as I went out to get some more things for our apartment, as it is much bigger than our previous one and I realised I didn't have enough stuff for it, so here are my favourite items for the season.
I found this lovely white wooden wreath in Butlers for €5 instead of €7 and knew it would be perfect for the entrance room, as I like to be welcomed by the Christmassy atmosphere already. I added my red berry heart which I bought a few years ago at Nanu Nana and which fits perfectly into the round wreath. Additionally, I got fairy lights from Hema which run on batteries and put them around the wreath to give it a nice glow, before giving it the finishing touch with a few little decorations I stole from my tree (they're from IKEA). The perfect hello whenever I come home from foggy and windy Vienna to my cosy and snug place.
Holly and pine garlands are the ultimate Christmas decoration, if you ask me, and this year I finally ordered two from Amazon. This one is definitely by favourite, as it can be twisted in any direction and looks astonishingly real. It was delivered very quickly and I decorated it with red and gold baubles, fairy lights and a gold tinsel garland on top. The stockings were a present from my mother, so I don't know where they are from, but the "fire" in the TV certainly adds to a cosy atmosphere, so why not try it. I ordered this garland via Amazon.de, but here still the link.
The other garland I ordered from Amazon.de was a bit of a disappointment. There were no branches going of, it was simply a straight garland that looked remotely like pine tree. However, I decided to keep it (because sending it back is not worth the hassle) and framed the entrance to our kitchen and living room area with it (our flat used to be two flats). Having decorated it with star fairy lights and some baubles, it makes for a decent piece of decoration which turns the entrance room into a welcoming Christmas room, so no complains from my side. The fairy lights are from Hema and the baubles from IKEA.
I've also written about fairy lights in lanterns in my post 7 Tips to Make A Home Cosier, and I finally got round to trying it out myself. Yay! The lantern is from IKEA, as are the fairy lights, and although I think they are a little to bright and white to achieve what I was going for, I still like the overall effect. The lantern is positioned on my entrance room commode and welcomes me whenever I come home. I had some stray decoration left which was broken and could not go on the tree, so I put them inside and before the lantern respectively. Re-purposing is what my interior idea is all about, so that works out splendidly.
And, finally, obviously the gorgeous Christmas tree decorating our living room this year. It is much bigger than our previous ones, as we live in an Altbauwohnung (an old flat) where the ceiling is very high. As usual, I opted for my colourful fairy lights and red garlands from Nanu Nana, even though I will opt for thicker ones next year if the tree will be as tall as this one again. Most of my decoration comes from IKEA, but every year I buy one or two special pieces I add to my collection, usually from the many Christmas markets available in Vienna. We always have fir trees, and this beauty was grown in Austria before making us very happy. The tree looked amazing even before putting one bauble on it and the scent is simply unbelievably fantastic! One reason why I could never opt for a fake tree - this scent cannot be faked and it is one of the most important aspects of Christmas for me! If you live in Vienna and are in dire need for a tree, we bought this one for about €50 (plus stand) in front of InterSpar on Maroltingerstrasse.
And if you need something Christmassy for your taste buds, why not check out this cinnamon star cookie cake I made for my fiance's birthday.
With snowflakes softly swirling against the window and the cold season definitely having gained footing, making the home comfy and cosy is more dear to most than ever. Christmas time is family time, and it is also a time where we stay in and adore the winter weather from the warmth of our living rooms.
But what makes a home cosy? Many would say, it's the company inside and family coming together while food is cooking slowly on the stove, and while all of the above is true, a lot of cosiness comes to the right interior. Believe me, these cosy rooms you see in magazines are down to perfect lighting, well-positioned items and the right angle of camera. Surely, the latter is not really applicable in making a home cosy, but the first two can definitely be used to increase homeyness in your house or flat as well, so find out 7 Tips To Make A Home Cosy, concentrating mainly on the living room for this feature. More to come soon.
People who know me, know that I get deliriously happy once autumn comes around and overtakes tedious, hot summer. I cannot wait to snuggle up on my sofa with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate and read or watch a Christmas movie while rain is pouring down the window and I think it is by far the best season of all, and this are my favourite things to do in the cold season.