These fiery little shots are strategically placed in stores around this time of year to help boost immunity and give people the zingy satisfaction of keeping those dreaded winter colds at bay. But for up to sometimes £5 a shot, I thought why not try and make my own!
Let’s just say, it sure is satisfyingly hot, and my trusty taste-tester husband said he can still feel it burning his insides, at least we know it will kill any bugs lurking!
I made enough for both of us to have a shot each day for the next 7 days! Remember prepping is key 🔑
• Large bunch of organic ginger
🌞 2 tablespoons organic and fair-trade turmeric powder
🍊 2 organic oranges
🍎 2 organic pink lady apples (more if you prefer sweetness)
🍋 3 organic lemons
🥝 4 kiwi fruit
• Peel ginger with the side of a teaspoon
• Slice and peel all fruit with a knife
• Place into a blender with enough filtered water to give a liquid consistency
• Place a sieve onto a storage jug and pour blended ingredients into a sieve, stirring with a spoon to encourage liquid into the container.
• Store liquid in the refrigerator ready for the week ahead
I don’t have a juicer, I use a nutri-bullet and sieve – probably more of a faff, but is just as effective (and fewer appliances for me to clean!). If you have a juicer, use this, and add the turmeric at the end.
If you would like more heat (and to make your eyes water) add some cayenne pepper, it’s full of Vitamin C & A, high in antioxidants, and helps to promote better functioning of the immune system.
🙋🏻♀️Why these ingredients?
Turmeric is full of healing properties and antioxidants. It’s anti-inflammatory and has high levels of active curcumin, which is great for the immune system.
Ginger, ancient medicine that is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory – it has been known to also protect our respiratory system.
Lemons, oranges, kiwi fruits – all packed with Vitamin C which is a key nutrient for our overall health including the maintenance of healthy bones, blood vessels, and tissue growth. It boosts our immune system and helps to remove toxins from our bodies.
Autumn is undoubtedly one of the prettiest seasons of the year, and the perfect reminder to increase our vitamin D intake in preparation for winter. Naturally, vitamin D is produced in our skin (in its response to the sun) and is stored in our bodies for up to 2 months.
We all love a healthy balance of the warm sun on our faces and bodies, but as the daylight hours shorten and we head into winter, we need to increase our vitamin D levels through foods and natural supplements to maintain optimum levels.
Here are the top benefits of Vitamin D:
Increases immunity Research proves that a lack of vitamin D can increase our chance of infections. It plays a key role in strengthening the immune system and helps to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses.
Strengthening powers Vitamin D is known for building strong bones, teeth, and muscles by increasing the body’s absorption of phosphorus and calcium. Deficiency in this vitamin, particularly in children, is linked to bone deformities such as rickets, and osteomalacia (softening of bones) in adults.
Mood booster They call it the sunshine vitamin for a reason. Research has proven that Vitamin D plays an important role in our brain function, as well as regulating and improving our moods.
Unfortunately, 1 in 5 people in the UK is deficient in this vitamin without even knowing it. To test your Vitamin D levels, the best approach is to have your blood tested with your Doctor. They can also advise on your recommended daily intake.
Foods high in vitamin D include:
Oily fish – salmon, canned tuna, swordfish, herring, sardines
Mushrooms (grown in UV light)
There is a range of fortified foods to choose from too. For example, some cereals, yoghurts, orange juice, and milks (including plant-based milk) have added vitamin D. Check the labels for more information.
There is a variety of Vitamin D supplements in the market for both kids and adults. Pop to your nearest health store and have a chat with a customer service representative for advice on the best supplement for you and your family. Or take a look online and do some research before choosing the right one. Children’s supplements usually come in drops or in chewable form.
There are many other foods to help boost your immune system as you enter into the cooler months. If you would like to know more about these, view this blog post here.
I love the sunshine, and the cosy winter days too. Knowing my body has sufficient levels of vitamin D certainly helps me get through the days without sunshine, and I hope this can help give you the boost you may need too.
Taking a break from our usual career or being on maternity leave and having a baby can often inspire women to follow their dreams and start their own business. Perhaps it is a passion you have always had, a vision you have wanted to follow, or you have found a gap in the market and just decided to go for it.
Martina and I met 6 years ago in child birthing class in London. Since then, she has become a mother of two and has founded and created her own business NINE+QUARTER Maternity and breastfeeding wear.
Sharing similar experiences of starting our own businesses whilst becoming new Mums, we are excited to share with you some real experiences on how to get started, including the highs and the lows. Here I asked Martina a few questions on how she designed and created her own maternity wear line, and brought it to life.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what your inspiration was for starting NINE+QUARTER Maternity?
Hi! I’m Martina, a Mum of two and the founder of NINE+QUARTER maternity and breastfeeding wear. I’m from Sweden, married to an Englishman and 12 years living in the U.K., and presently living in Bermuda thanks to my husband’s job. I am so fortunate to be running NINE+QUARTER from home whilst also enjoying some sunny weather and beautiful beaches after work and on the weekend!
The idea came to me when I was pregnant with my first baby, Emilie, when I was in search for easy-to-rock, organic and on-trend maternity and nursing wear. After my second, Max, was born, having found that maternity wear was still largely plain, dotted, stripy or frumpy, I decided to brave it and do something about the lack of exciting clothing options for pregnant and breastfeeding women. That is when NINE+QUARTER was born!
Is this different to the job you had prior to having kids?
It certainly is. I used to work in food manufacturing, analysing customer purchasing preferences. I have worked for some exciting businesses like Yoplait, General Mills (Haagen-Dazs ice cream amongst other brands), and Burtons Biscuits; a world away from maternity fashion…
You had a wonderful idea to design maternity wear for women who do not want to compromise on their style during pregnancy and after. It was a strong vision of yours, what were the first few steps you took to get it started?
I don’t think you should have to wave good-bye to your style because you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Whilst I have never been one to spend ages choosing an outfit, I want to feel excited about what I’m wearing because my outfit gives me confidence.
My go to style is jeans, trainers and an effortlessly cool t-shirt or sweatshirt. If I want to dress up, I add some jewellery, swap the trainer for black Chelsea or stomper boots, and throw on a leather jacket. In summer I swap the jeans for denim shorts or a skirt and the trainers for Birkenstocks.
When I was pregnant, a lot of the maternity tops on offer left me feeling uninspired and far less excited on the outside than I felt on the inside. That’s where I saw a gap in the market.
The first thing I did when dreaming up NINE+QUARTER was to look at my favourite brands and designs I wished were available in maternity clothes. The next step was to research what designs are suitable for maternity and breastfeeding wear. Some designs don’t look good when stretched across a growing bump and some shapes don’t combine well with breastfeeding zips.
Being a Mum is a full-time job as it is. Some days, we can feel like we have no steam left! How did you juggle starting NINE+QUARTER Maternity and being a new Mum at the same time?
This is a great question! And such a tricky one to answer as Motherhood is a full-time job! Being a working Mum is an insane balancing act. As a mum boss, I have the freedom of flexibility, which is so precious when you have young children. I can plan my work around naps, nursery & school runs. When I was launching NINE+QUARTER and Max was still a baby, most of the work happened during nap times and in the evenings. In fact, a lot of my work still happens in the evenings. During lockdown I hardly got any work done pre kids’ bedtime and at that point, I just wanted to flop onto the sofa and watch Bridgerton!
So, the honest answer is: I’m juggling as best as I can and I haven’t yet found a happy medium. I often feel like I am either not getting enough work done or I’m not giving the kids enough attention. I’m sure many mums feel the same, but I also feel privileged to be doing something I enjoy, and I’m committed to having NINE+QUARTER in my life because it’s important to me.
I recently saw this Instagram illustration by @motherher_ which really struck a chord…
As a role model to my kids I like to think that I am inspiring them to focus on what makes them happy and dare to follow their dreams. Self-care should be a priority, for boys and girls alike, but I especially wish for my daughter to grow into a mother who understands the importance of self-care because it isn’t something I grew up with; it’s something I’m having to teach myself.
Businesses often take twists and turns in different climates, especially in the last year. Have there been any roadblocks for you along the way? How did you get around them and keep going?
I feel like I face roadblocks all the time…some are larger, scarier and take longer to work through and some are smaller and quicker to work around. I think that’s part of building a business. To date my biggest roadblocks have been finding a factory and a designer that I am happy with, but I’m finally there and super excited to be working with our freelance designer Miriam and our factory in Portugal who are so professional and make the best quality clothes for us.
Working remotely is an ongoing challenge. Being in Bermuda means that I cannot access certain Instagram and facebook functionalities, like tagging products or uploading reels, which the algorithm favours now, and the lack of that is putting me at a disadvantage.
Covid has obviously been hugely challenging for everyone. Real job uncertainty combined with the fact that many are likely to spend less on maternity and breastfeeding wear if they are at home is probably one of the reasons why sales have been slow this year.
The other major roadblock which comes with being a small independent and self-funded start-up is brand awareness. As a small brand with a limited marketing budget, it takes time to make some noise. Turning that around is my key challenge for the next 12-24months.
I find that the best way to work through challenges is to have a plan of action. Write down WHAT it would look like if you had resolved the issue, then capture multiple ideas for HOW you are going to get there. If you can, prioritise and give each action a timeline. Having little bite-sized actions that you can tick off your to-do list gives you a sense of progress, which in turn helps with motivation. If possible, work simultaneously on a few smaller/easier wins to keep you motivated as well as the real ground-breaking stuff. Don’t forget to think about who you might be able to reach out to for help.
It must feel pretty satisfying being your own boss. What do you enjoy most about having your own business?
1. The flexibility to manage your time around you and your family.
2. The variety of tasks. From design to production, packaging, hang tags, website, photoshoots, operations, content, marketing, social media, customer service and more, you are involved in everything.
3. That notification that tells me someone has placed an order or sent a positive product review, knowing it is your efforts that are being rewarded. Makes me leap for joy every time!
It is so important to surround ourselves with inspiring and motivating people who can teach us a thing or two. Did you seek any support when starting your own business, any mentorship, or advice from other business owners, family, or friends?
Absolutely! It can be quite lonely running a small business and some decisions benefit from being discussed. Luckily, there is so much support out there, whether it’s in your personal group of friends and family, online (professional networks as well as social media support groups), other small business owners (many of whom are happy to support another small businesses) or experts who offer paid services in pretty much every area you might be struggling with. I have recently started having calls with a coach to help me focus on long-term progress and perspective. I’ll let you know how that goes. Just know that you don’t have to stand alone though. In fact, I think it’s better if you try not to.
We love women who empower women. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business, whether it be on the side, or a full career change?
You absolutely can! Here is the best advice I had, from a double business owner and mum of two, when it comes to starting your own business (or just investigating your idea):
1. Take your time and be thorough with your business plan. It is a lot easier to start over on paper than once production is underway.
2. Write down a set of questions: What’s your idea? If it is a product, what do you need to make it? Where can you sell it? What is already out there? How would this be different? etc. As you go along and work on answering your questions, new questions will arise e.g. Where do you find a manufacturer? What are the benefits of building a website from scratch versus subscribing to a platform such as Shopify? This process can take a few months or even a year but if you break down each question into bite-sized tasks, you can slowly work your way forward around baby’s nap times or your daytime job. Once you have exhausted your questions you will know a lot more about your business idea and will be able to make a more informed and confident decision about whether to push on or not.
3. Be brave, stick with your gut and your vision. I’ve made a few mistakes because it was “easier” to proceed (i.e. less uncomfortable, less likely to upset or because changing something would incur additional costs) than to say stop and change. To sell you products or services you must back yourself and in order to do that you have to back your products, so take your time with samples and product development and make sure you’re happy with the products you’re going to be selling.
What is next to come for NINE+QUARTER Maternity, what are you excited about?
I have so many ideas and new designs that I would like to develop! For the time being my focus is on driving brand awareness. NINE+QUARTER is a small brand and not many expecting and breastfeeding mums know that we exist and offer something more exciting to wear during pregnancy and beyond.
In the future, I hope we can expand our range of multi-purpose maternity and breastfeeding wear. Those are tops or dresses that have been designed with both pregnancy, postpartum, and breastfeeding in mind. I would also love to collaborate with various independent artists and charities to create unique designs that benefit a good cause! On the manufacturing side, I will continue to look for ways to reduce waste in our manufacturing process and minimise plastic packaging. I hope one day to be a fully certified GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) brand.
If you are thinking of starting your own business, then we would love to hear from you. We hope you found this inspiring and useful. With a vision, hard work, and believing in what you do, anything is possible.
Taking care of Mum and her well-being is essential, before, during, and after birth.
Recently I collaborated with Martina from NINE+QUARTER and put together nutrition tips for expectant Mums here. As part of this, our well-being is important, and whilst we cannot tick every box, it is a good time to make sure you take care of your well-being in preparation for your baby’s arrival.
Some of these tips are relevant for every woman, you don’t have to be pregnant. Our ever-changing hormonal needs are more than enough, so I hope you find this useful no matter what stage of life you are in.
Having my two boys 19 months apart, I knew my well-being had to be one of my top priorities. In no way did I strive at everything every day. Some days were purely muddling through, but if I were to look back on what resonated with me, and what I learned from the wise Mums I know in my life, then these are my top tips:
Putting yourself first may seem to some people a little hard to do, but with practice, you will soon discover that focusing on your self-care is so important and it will filter through into other areas of your life. It helps you to build a positive relationship with yourself and you can improve on this at any point, it is never too late. I love the saying “you cannot pour from an empty cup”. I have always lived by this, especially since becoming a Mother. It is the core message of my business, put yourself first, and you will have more energy to give to your life around you.
Exercising during pregnancy is safe and healthy for you and your baby. It will help to reduce stress, improve your circulation, boost your mood, and help you to sleep better. This isn’t a time to take up any new strenuous exercises, however, taking a pregnancy class or walking for 20-30 minutes every day will do wonders for your well-being. Pilates, yoga, and swimming are excellent for pregnancy too. Strength exercises also provide many health benefits, it will assist in the birth and give you the extra strength you will need for when your baby arrives. Practice your Kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles which support your bladder, bowels, and uterus. If you have any underlying health or physical issues, seek advice from your GP before undertaking any new exercises.
Connecting with other parents-to-be in your area will give you (and your partner) the chance to build friendships and meet for those much-needed coffees and chats about anything and everything when your baby arrives. Explore your local area’s community groups for things like child birthing classes, prenatal yoga/pilates, postnatal exercise classes, book clubs, and walking groups (just to name a few). Having local friends nearby is also very handy if you ever need any help or just a last-minute excuse to get out of the house.
Pregnancy (and anytime in fact) is the perfect time for pampering, and you deserve it. Book yourself into a pregnancy-friendly spa, treat yourself to a massage, facial, or mani & pedi. Enjoy that time and let someone else dote on you for a change. Run yourself a bath, light some candles, read a book, or listen to your favourite music. Schedule date nights with your partner or friends, get dressed up, and still enjoy yourself. Keep your mood boosters going, and treat yourself to quality “me time”, things that will lift your mood and make you feel rewarded and relaxed.
Journaling is a wonderful way to keep a record of the experiences you go through during your pregnancy. You are sure to go through some highs and lows and writing things down can often be a form of release. It is a lovely keepsake to look back on and remind you of those special and perhaps challenging times. When your baby is born, our time can be somewhat more limited. I set up email addresses for my boys and continue to send them photos and videos so that one day they can login to and have a look at their life so far. There are some great apps available too where you can print photos at the click of a button and have them delivered to your door to start those special family albums.
Nesting is real and when you get the urge, make the most of this impulse before your baby arrives. Start to prepare the essentials your baby needs, such as sorting out your home and kitchen cupboards, stocking up on things you need, batch cooking healthy meals and freezing them, eliminating things you no longer need, and preparing the nursery. Try not to do it all at once though, a to-do list will be your lifesaver, and aim to tick one or two things off every week. Remember small baby steps!
It is the one thing pretty much everybody says when women fall pregnant “sleep whilst you can”. Our sleep is so important, and it often has a domino effect on everything else if we are not getting the quality of sleep we need. Some nights it might be impossible to get a good night’s sleep but if you are doing everything that you can, then you have a better chance of quality rest. I have a separate blog post on how to improve sleep here and natural ways to increase melatonin here. You may also like some props to help you sleep, for example, an extra pillow between your legs to help support your hips is simple, yet effective.
Ask for help
Women are a million wonderful things rolled into one: powerful, inspiring, busy, loving, caring, and strong (just to name a few). Sometimes, we also need to ask for help too. As your body changes and you go through the highs and lows of adjusting to your new life with your baby, stay in tune with yourself and know when to seek any help if you need it. Remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it is showing your strength. Speak to friends and family, take them up on their offers to babysit or help with chores and cooking. Baby blues are common in most new Mums, speak to your GP if you find that these are persistent. With the right help and speaking to a professional, you will discover the tools to get you through any challenging times.
Advice – trust your instincts
Being pregnant and becoming a new Mum often comes with loads of advice, from other Mums, family, friends, professionals, books, and online. Some advice can be useful, whereas other times it may not be suitable for you and your baby. As always, trust your instincts, and if you aren’t sure, a second opinion can be helpful if that’s what you feel you need. I asked a group of Mum friends recently what the most valuable piece of advice they received was, and here is a list of their answers:
Do what is best for you and your baby
Seek advice from trained professionals rather than general mum groups
Throw the so-called “rule book” out
Button onesies will end marriages at 3am!
It is ok if you don’t breastfeed, sometimes it doesn’t work – a fed baby is a happy baby
As long as your child is fed, clean, clothed, and loved, you’re doing a wonderful job
A shower before the baby wakes in the morning will make you feel much better for the day
The nights can seem long, but the years are short
Always ask for help if you need it
Remember your “me” time to recharge
Life doesn’t stop, put dates with loved ones in the diary
These are all so relevant, and I particularly like the one about seeking advice only from trained professionals. There are some incredible books on the market and podcasts which are easy to listen to when on the go. I personally like “Raising Good Humans” by Dr. Aliza Pressman. She is a wealth of knowledge and has wonderful advice for raising children of all ages, and personal advice for Mums too. Do you have any favourite books or podcasts?
I hope you found these well-being tips useful, and I would love to hear any of your favourite tips too. Enjoy this wondrous time and remember, you are doing an incredible job.