Time is flying by. Biggest cliché of a statement in pregnancy, I know, but it really really is. I will be 37 weeks pregnant on Friday and I currently have five days left in work. Eh, when did that happen? I am currently a fairly complex mixture of extremely excited and anxious at the moment. Nervous about all the labour stuff, and possible complications with the baby etc, but mostly just so unbelievably excited and ready to meet our baby. We both are.
I've been really fortunate to have had a great pregnancy so far. All along I have felt great and have had no complications or anything like that (other than suspected Placenta Previa which turned out to be nothing) and even now in the final three weeks I'm still feeling pretty damn good. I feel really grateful for that. The only big changes I have felt in the last week or so is that I seem to be quite breathless but the consultant in The Coombe today reassured me that this is very normal for this stage of pregnancy because your lungs are basically squished and the baby is taking up more and more room. I'm also pretty tired but that is to be expected with long work days and carrying around a little person all day. I love my evening relaxing time and it usually consists of me watching episode after episode of One Born Every Minute on the 4od app and totally freaking myself out. Another thing I have learned is that I am seriously no good at relaxing. My boyfriend keeps giving out to me for constantly being on my feet doing things. He keeps swooping in saying 'I'll do it' (and he really does, he is great) but I just find more things to do. I'm hoping that once my Maternity Leave starts I will get in to a nice little rhythm for a week or two where I will spend a good chunk of the day relaxing (and freaking myself out watching more One Born Every Minute. I'm normal I swear!).
So as maternity leave is just around the corner, and I am no longer on a salary (but thankfully will be getting state-paid maternity benefit weekly) I really have to get in to the right frame of mind about not wasting money, learning to live frugally, and learning to not waste things or over-spend. This means - eating out less, staying home more, being creative with money in terms of enjoying a social life and nice food etc, and sticking to a strict budget to ensure all bills etc are paid. I am used to being on a monthly salary payment so €230 maternity benefit weekly will take me a while to get used to as it involves me putting away money each week for bills, rent, food shopping etc and it will involve me being much more disciplined.
That being said - it was a lovely Sunday afternoon during the May bank holiday and I was looking at some sad looking vegetables in the fridge, some depressed bananas in the fruit bowl, and a few odds and ends that would later become two scruptious dishes. I decided to type up the recipes for anyone who might be interested as this is an example of a scenario where a whole heap of vegetables and fruit may have ended up in the bin and instead I made a beautiful home-made healthy vegetable soup and a delicious less-healthy banana bread. Ready, Steady, Cook!
In the fridge I found some carrots, parsnips, baby potatoes, the ends of three peppers, and garlic. To this I only needed to add stock, seasoning (salt, pepper and mixed herbs) and boiling water and I eventually had a large bowl of absolutely delicious vegetable soup.
I just love all the colours. I chopped up all the vegetables (only a couple of the potatoes, the rest were used later in the week in a Thai Massaman Curry) and added to it some chicken stock. I don't measure the quantity but I usually cover the vegetables and then add in about half that amount of stock again. Remember you can always add liquid but you can't remove it once it's blended so use less rather than more. To this I added some salt, pepper and mixed herbs and I let it boil away for about 40 minutes.
After about 40 minutes I tasted the broth to see did it need any more seasoning, added a bit more salt and pepper in and liquidised it all. This was the result and it was so gorgeous! No oil or fat added whatsoever, so completely free on Slimming World and Weight Watchers etc. We got two days out of this.
The Banana Bread
A friend of mine gave me this recipe (thanks Melissa) and I believe it is a slightly different version of the Avoca Banana Bread Recipe. This is my second time to make it and it's absolutely yummy. I love anything that has the flavour of cinnamon so this is a real treat for me. Perfect with a cup of tea. Don't those bananas look a bit sad? They are literally at the perfect stage for banana bread. I'm so glad I didn't waste them.
You will need...
225g Plain Flour
110 Caster Sugar
1 Egg Beaten
75 Butter (Melted)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder
65g Pecan Nuts Chopped
Few drops of Vanilla Essence
4 very ripe bananas
Sift flour, salt, cinnamon and baking power in to a bowl, and stir in the sugar. Mix in the egg, melted butter and vanilla essence but do not beat.
Fold in the pecans (or I used Walnuts which work very well also) and mashed bananas and again do not beat, just mix through with a fork or spoon.
Spoon in to a lined loaf tin (I just lined it with butter) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180'C (gas mark4) for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and it springs back when prodded gently with your fingers.
When you take it out of the oven leave it to rest for 10 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack. Enjoy! It is so incredibly delicious and moist.
Now, mine is looking a little dark there isn't it? That's because it is! This is the truth but I had everything perfectly timed and during the cooking time of the banana bread I was liquidizing the soup on the stove above the oven and my bloody BUMP was hitting off the oven dial and put the temperature up to 250'C. Thankfully my boyfriend noticed and I managed to save it, but by that stage it was a bit over-done around the edges. I'll be honest though it still tasted so incredibly good and it was a bit more chewy but still savage.
Oh and on the note of saving money, we're lucky enough to be having a summer baby so we plan to have lots of nice BBQ's and to eat Al Fresco. Last week we picked up this lovely garden furniture in Aldi for €69.99 and my boyfriend spent the weekend doing up the garden and planting flowers so that we now have a lovely space outside to enjoy when the weather is nice. He did a great job and I still feel so excited about even having a garden having lived in an apartment for a year with not even a balcony. Serious cabin-fever. I love me some fresh air and natural light!
And sure while we're here, and talking about wasting things, I couldn't waste the opportunity to take a mirror pregnancy selfie this morning, so here I am in all my almost 37 weeks of pregnancy glory. There is a baby in there!!