Sunday, 29 September 2013

What does my blog say about me?


I made a bit of a decision a week or so ago that I would not be taking many sponsored posts on Mummy from the Heart any more. It is a strange time on the face of it to make that decision - I have finished my paid job, registered self-employed so I could do more blogging work and dh is earning less than he did fifteen years ago! It's a bit comical really but it feels right, I got the feeling that God did not want me constantly selling my blog to the highest bidder.

My blog started out as a way to record the great things my kids and our family are getting up to, it then progressed into a peek into the life of an average imperfect Christian. I knew that my blog was supposed to show people that we are not all freaks and that life is very normal as a Christian, we just know that God is on our side and this helps us to get through some immense times and to remember to live with intention and compassion.

Somewhere along this five year journey I feel like things got a bit lost and my blog became a money making machine instead of a beloved friend. I am of course very tempted when I get offered £80 or £100 to write a post but it just does not feel right any more, I don't really need that money. Yes I might want it but that is quite different and no one died happy because they were rich.

I found when I was taking sponsored posts that I would feel pressured and that might make me short with my kids or less inclined to sit down and have a game of monopoly or to read a book with them. I also know I lost readers because of this and I'm sad about that but you never know they might come back now things will be a bit more me and a lot less brand around here.

I took a look through my blog today and wondered if a stranger arrived here today what would they learn about me? What am I telling/ showing them are my values and the most important things in my life? Back in July they might have learnt that I was avidly trying to earn money as we had a mortgage and no wages to pay it!


Right now I believe they will look at my blog and learn that I live in a beautiful place in the countryside and that I'm really appreciating the land and space here. They will see me spending lots of time with my kids out and about and doing cooking and baking. It will be evident that I'm a Christian and live for Jesus and as a result of this I find joy in most things and choose to be grateful every day. They will also see that our family is very lucky and we get to review some great holidays, days out and products.

I'm pleased to say that they will see Mich. They will see what I'd like people to see, the real me. I sure hope it stays that way.

Have you ever viewed your last 20 or so posts and seen what a stranger would view if they landed on your blog? What impression would they get of you? and is it the one you want to be presenting?
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Saturday, 28 September 2013

#Countrykids - tree climbing, hulahoops and bonfires

On Monday it was community day here and when I picked the kids up from school they were so excited to come back and join in with the fun. Apparently we have about four of these days each year and I already cannot wait for the next week. It is basically a day where everyone who lives and works here spends the day together and each person does about an hours work to ensure the day runs well and everyone gets fed.

Here are the highlights from when the kids came back -






Probably not your classic #Countrykids post but for us if we had not moved to the countryside we would not have experienced this and it was a blast. JJ and Daddy stayed at the bonfire later than us girls and they said it was fun to sit around and share stories, sing all the national anthems of the nations represented there (probably about 30) and generally have a laugh.

I'm linking up this post to Fiona's Country Kids - click on the badge to head over and see what others have got up to in their Country Kids exploits.

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Living in community #R2BC (week 39, year 3)


Whenever I mention to people that I live in community now I find I get at least a raised eyebrow or even a fully wide open mouth, as they start to conjure up a picture of a commune and me sharing my living space with dozens of others and never having a moment alone.

I'm glad to say it is not like that. We are a community of people who live here on the same estate and we all share our Christian faith, that is what drew us here but there are a variety of living arrangements. The young volunteers (aged between about 18 - 25) come from all countries across the world and spend between 3-12 months here, they live in shared houses and really embrace the word community. There are also full-time permanent staff who live here in single rooms and then there are some more senior staff and directors who have houses on the grounds with their families.

We are one of those families, we have a beautiful 18th century house and importantly we have a front door that I can close when dh comes home after a busy days work but it is also fabulous to have it open during the day and to say hi to those who pass by. We can go up to the main house and eat with all the volunteers if we want to and we do this at least once a week to make sure we spend time with everyone. There are regular opportunities to pray and worship with others and coffee breaks that we can join in with if we so wish. The kids particularly love the staff room and garden where they can play pool and basketball and chat with whoever happens to be there.


This week I got to experience my first community day.  There is where the conference centre is closed to external guests and we all spend the day together, having fun, worshipping the Lord and getting to know each other better. It was an awesome day starting with a cooked breakfast, some free time for coffee and chat, worship and word session, picnic lunch, board & lounge games, coffee and cake, team games, BBQ dinner with fireworks and then a bonfire and marshmallows and hot chocolate. The day was full-on and I was knackered but the end of it but it was truly fabulous.

Then yesterday dh and I hosted our first pastoral group, where we meet with five of the young volunteers who have been assigned to us. It was lovely to be able to share dinner with them and open our house. I'm looking forward to our bi-weekly meetings and getting to know our group better, in our small group we have volunteers from a variety of countries - Brazil, Indian, Czech, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan so I expect to extend my geography and cultural knowledge.

Then lastly for this weeks reasons - I'm going to start doing some volunteering this Friday and helping out in the bookings office. I'm looking forward to being of service to them and yes it may well be filing and archiving in the first instance but whatever helps them is fine with me.

It certainly is a different way of life being here but I have to say I'm very happy with it, and of course grateful too. Thank you Lord for bringing my family here and into this new way of life.

Over to you....
Why don't you have a think and remind yourself of all the things you have to be grateful for and write a post to link up. Add in the blog hop code (if you fancy) and link up here and then leave a comment or two on other linked up posts please. I'll definitely come and visit everyone this weekend as I'm pleased to be home all weekend.

I'll catch you soon, be blessed, Mich x
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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Children Need Support in the Wake of Natural Disasters

Our two sponsored children

When a natural disaster hits a community it is devastating for everyone involved, but especially for the children. When a wildfire, earthquake, storm or violent flood hits a community, children are very vulnerable and can be significantly impacted. Their families might need to relocate, they may have lost vital loved ones and the adults that they usually rely on to support them will be also struggling themselves.

 How can we support children during these difficult times? During times of tragedy, children need stability and comfort and they also need older role models who can guide them on how to manage the emotions that they are feeling. When they have the support of caring adults, children will eventually be able to return to school and their normal routines. They will be able to understand their reactions to the trauma and move on from the experience. 

Strong Reactions are Normal 
Following a highly traumatic event such as a natural disaster, it is completely normal for teenagers and children (as well as adults) to have strong reactions and changes in behaviour. Feelings of confusion, insomnia, depression, anger, social withdrawal, panic and fear are common and very natural. It is important that these reactions are not ignored, but rather treated in the appropriate way so that they can be dealt with.

After a traumatic event, a child will likely be worried that their surroundings are no longer safe or that danger could strike at any minute. They might have reoccurring nightmares about the trauma or fears that they or their family are in danger. Children in this situation are often tense, nervous, on-edge and might have difficulty paying attention or concentrating. They will become overly dependent on others and clingy, or sometimes even distressed and fearful if they are separated from loved ones. These are all natural responses to the trauma that the child has witnessed and in order to move on from this distressed psychological state, we need to give children the support they need.

How Can We Help Children in This Situation? 
What does a child need to recover from this type of emotional trauma? First of all, they need adults in their life who are calm and reassuring and will provide them with support. They need their feelings to be listened to and discussed, rather than hidden.

Also, a great way to support children in this situation is to offer them positive coping and problem solving skills. This will help them to develop their own ways of dealing with the situation, so that they can manage their anxiety. It can also be very helpful for children dealing with trauma to have strong emotional support from their peers and friendship groups. Time spent with friends is important and should be encouraged.

These are just a few of the important ways that we can help children recover from natural disasters. To find out more about Plan UK and how the charity helps children in need, visit their child sponsorship page here http://www.plan-uk.org/sponsor-a-child/

This is a guest post which I was happy to accept without charge as my family sponsor two children, one in Haiti and one in India, so I know first-hand the value that child sponsorship has.
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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Review: Covent Garden Travelodge

Let me start by saying that my family use Travelodges fairly regularly, I am on their email list and this means I get to hear about their sales before they start. So when the special offer rooms are released and they are only £19 or £29 I book up the rooms I need for the year ahead, all across the country. The value is good and I realise that the room will be pretty basic, that is what I expect.

So when Travelodge contacted me and said that they had overhauled a number of their hotels and they have a fresh new look, would I like to come and try out one of their exclusive new Sleepeezee beds I thought why not. Conveniently a room was found for me at the Covent Garden Travelodge for the night of the MAD blog awards. This hotel is a really large one and even though I did not arrive there until 2.30am to check in there were still people around and the local streets outside were well lit and felt safe.

Our check in was easy and I had worried that 2.30am was not the best time to check in but the night receptionist was friendly and efficient. We headed down to our ground floor room and I was pleasantly surprised when we opened the door that the room did indeed look very fresh and welcoming. The first thing I noticed was the bed and how luxurious it looked, the pillows were plump and stood tall and there were four of them. In my experience this has been practically unheard of in the Travelodges I have stayed in in the past. I have had to ask at reception for extras and not always got them.

Let me show you how their new decor looks -


I think the impression on walking in the room is good, the rooms are far more spacious than many 4* star rooms I've stayed in in London. The decor is pleasant and the rooms very clean.

The great points -
  • I think that you get everything you need in a Travelodge room, there are plenty of lighting alternatives, by the beds, overhead, on the headboard and desk lamp and there must be something to suit everyone.
  • Tea and coffee making facilities in the room if you want them and I've always found if you ask for more milk jiggers, teabags etc they are very accommodating
  • Thick curtains which blackout all the light, just what you need when you go to bed at silly o'clock after a fabulous night with friends
  • Divine bed, honestly it is really lovely and I wanted to sneak one of the pillows home with me. I shared with Charly Dove and we both commented on how good the bed is and lucky it is a kingsize as Charly and I have only met once before!
  • The shower room is a really good size and you get full size bath towels
  • Kids under 16 stay free in the room with adults, this is the feature we use all the time when we stay over generally
  • Check out at 12 noon as standard - fantastic. Much later than I expected and actually we lingered in the room until nearer 1pm and no-one even knocked
The not so great -
  • The noise level, I suppose it is to be expected in central London and of course we were ground floor, but after falling off to sleep about 4am I did not need the bin men waking me at 7am. There are two sets of double glazing so they have tried to block it out
  • We did not have any foot mat for the shower and this would have been helpful when you have multiple people to shower 
  • We arrived to breakfast dead on 11am (the time it finishes) and we were left with the drag ends of the buffet. Actually the food we had tasted good and I enjoyed my breakfast, which would normally cost £7.65 but the buffet was not very visually appealing as many things appeared to had finished. 
As you can see the restaurant looks very pleasant

Overall

I'm not going to kid you, a Travelodge is an economy hotel but it has done well with its rooms refit and I think this now puts the bedrooms on a par with Premier Inns bedrooms, which in the past most people would agree have been better.

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary room and breakfast for two for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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Monday, 23 September 2013

My MAD Blog Awards

Selfie with Hayley

Friday morning my husband loaded the kids and I into the car and we set off to drop them at school, then next stop the train station where he gave me a pass out until Saturday evening. I was just a little excited to know I had 24 hours to myself and that during that time I'd be doing some lovely things and meeting up with great people.

You might have watched the live feed and you are sure to have seen many pictures on twitter, instagram, FB etc so instead of rehashing the whole night I give you my own alternative MAD blog awards -

Best dressed on the night
There is a tie in this category as the judge (me) can't decide if light or dark is the way to go. Both Helen (Actually Mummy) and Emma (Crazy with twins) looked stunning in their strapless floor length dresses and I was not even a tiny bit jealous (no, not me - not even a little bit) of the way they looked.

Proudest moment
Was of course watching the short film to introduce the outstanding contribution category with the seven other ladies that were at the awards, in my heart I held Ruth (Dorky Mum) and Kylie (Not even a bag of sugar) close and cried with the others as we realised what the power of Mum/women bloggers can do. Such diversity and passion. It is a privilege to take my award home and I will treasure it forever.


I do have to say this was a toss up though, as about 3.30pm I got a text to say that Miss E had got a headteachers award for trying really hard this week with her times tables. That makes me so happy as she is the one finding it hardest to settle into her new school. She thinks she is stupid as she has difficulty reading, it breaks my heart. I hope this boasts her confidence a bit.

Best acceptance speech
These awards were great as most people were shocked to find themselves on stage accepting an awards and all the mumbled 'thanks' and quick dashes off made me smile. One person stood out though for her very eloquent speech. Fiona (Coombe Mill) thanked Kerry for paving the way in her category of family fun and it was good to pay tribute to the awesome Multiple Mummy, no longer with us but with her Lord.

Best dinner companion
At pre-dinner drinks I said to Hayley 'Oh I hope I get to sit with you at dinner, you are such fun' and low and behold I did and how fabulous it was. You'll all know that Hayley is a diamond and such a genuinely lovely lady, we had a blub together, a hug together and I was proud to hold her hand as we went on stage for the outstanding contribution award.

Get to know you award
I have a few contenders on this one - I've known Becky (Baby Budgeting) online for a number of years now but you find that until you spend real time with someone you don't really get to know them. I loved having a 1/2 hour walk with Becky and some time at the awards to really chat. I hope to get to know you better again soon Becky.



Then we have Charly from PODcast who I shared a room with and she was my London guide helping me find my way around, we enjoyed a lazy Saturday morning putting the blogging world to rights over breakfast.

I also met Tom from The Future's Rosie and he won the best new bog award. I'd not heard of his blog before but meeting him and hearing Hayley talk about what a fabulous Dad he is, I'm now going to look him up and have a read.

Funniest drunk
I'm not going to share the conversation with you as I think she might be slightly mortified but let me just say that Fi (Childcare is fun) is the best drunk ever. Such fun and I bet she won't even remember she was chatting to me before she crashed on the floor for a sit down! I think Emma of Emma and 3 gives her a run for her money though as that lady likes a tipple but it is probably needed after the stresses of dealing with her youngst daughter having hip dysplasia.

Champion surfer
To add to the fun of the night we had a 'bucking bronco' style surfboard to ride and Filipa (Gourmet Mum) was the business. She rode that baby like a pro and even jumped from side to side as the waves got too much.

Amazing organisers
That Sally throws a bloody good party and this was probably the tops of all the events I have been to. The food was divine, the venue just perfect, Dr Ranj was a marvellous and funny host and even the strange Just Eat chef had me chuckling away.  Big, big thanks to Sally and Tots/ MADs team as well as Parentdish of course.

Best pillows ever
At nearly 4am I crashed into my bed at the Covent Garden Travelodge and I can tell you they shocked the hell out of me, as instead of flat pancake pillows which I have come to expect, I had 4 plump and divine pillows on the new Sleepeaze kingsize bed. Yes the room was a review and I'll write about it but there is no need for me to say anything in this post unless it is true.

So there you have them the alternative MADS, my night would have been perfect if my bloggy mate Seasider Clare had been there but I managed to rock it anyway!
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Sunday, 22 September 2013

Not So #SilentSunday - The beauty of the trees

Just look at those shadows

As I sat alone on a bench in the grounds of my home the other morning, I started to pray. It was one of those days when I was not sure what I would say so I just started to thank the Lord for all I could see, hear and smell. It went something like this -
Thank you for bringing me here to this amazing place Lord, thanks for the birds singing, the mist on the grass, the magnificent swan in the front water, the noisy geese flying overhead and the moos from the cows in the next field. Thanks also for the lilies in the water, the scent of the firs and in fact all the beautiful trees, oh yes the trees Lord, nothing in your creation is boring.
It was that last thought that really struck me, nothing in God's creation, in nature, in the flora and the fauna is boring. Every item is unique and interesting. I started to look at the panorama I could see in front of me, at the strong vertical lines of the cedar tree, at the triangular angles of the firs, at the 400 year old mighty oaks standing tall, at the drooping branches of the weeping willow hanging over the water.  Each one different and each beautiful in its own right.

After a while I got up to walk back home and I headed through Target woods, I stood under an oak tree and admired the shiny and smooth acorns, so green and growing larger by the day. I saw then a small sapling next to it, a few years back an acorn must have taken root and now it sits in the shadow of its parent tree, two trees the same but so different.

I started to think about how interesting trees become as they get older, they lose branches, gain bulbous growths and become twisted and out of shape. Most of the trees we have in the 220 acres here could not be described as perfect specimens of their species but all of them could be described as glorious works of art.

As I walked back home I mused the point that all trees are  glorious works of art and that it is right and perfect they are all different. This got me thinking about why so many people want to be the same, what is it that makes slim the right way to be? Who says my hair should not be grey? The older the tree in the forest the more interest it holds for me as I imagine its history, surely that is the same for older people? The wisdom and experience they hold makes them beautiful and interesting and unique.

I need to remember the lesson of the trees and know that I am beautiful because I am God's glorious work of art.
Psalm 139: 13-14
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Looking out across the lake


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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Trying out Diet Chef

At the beginning of August just as I moved house I was sent a month’s supply of Diet Chef products to try out and report on. In late August once I had settled in our new home I tried out a full week of using the products and I’m super pleased to report that in a week I lost 4lb. However, I am now sad to say that I then went on holiday to Dorset and those Dorset cream teas got the better of me and the weight went back on (it's the story of my life). I'm just about to embark on the other three weeks of using the products but I thought I'd let you know a bit about the diet plan and how it went during that first week.  I’ll report back in October about the rest of my time on the diet.

So what is Diet Chef?
It is a diet plan consisting of three calorie controlled meals and one snack each day. Your products are delivered to your door every four weeks and you can choose the meals that suit you and your tastes. The plan can be followed by both meat eaters and vegetarians as there is good variety.

The daily meals provide about 1200 calories a day, and Diet Chef estimate this is about 700 calories less than most people need in a day to sustain heir weight. You should see a loss of about 1-2 lbs per week depending on your weight when you start, this gradual loss gives you a better chance at keeping the weight off.

The plan is suitable for those with a BMI above 24.9 and you use the free online tool to work yours out.

An average days food on the plan

Is it easy to order?
You choose online which meal options you would like (and there are lots) and place your order, this was really simple to do and not very time consuming. If you are not sure what you want you can just go with the pre-selected options so you can try out many of the meals and find out which ones suit you.

I was placing my order via the PR agency and the wrong meal options went through so I had to speak to customer service and I can tell you hand on heart they were excellent, really knowledgeable and very interested in my issue. I was told I’d be called back and I was and the correct foods arrived with me.

As well as telephone customer service/ support there is also email support and an online live chat option, so you can get things sorted out quickly and with minimal fuss.

What are the meals like?
All lunch and dinner meals are developed by their chef to be balanced and tasty but importantly low-calorie. They are prepared and sealed in a pouch or tray and then pressure cooked to give them a long shelf life. They do not need to be refrigerated and this makes storage very easy. I have to say that I did not find them very visually appealing in their packaging but maybe this is a good thing as personally I have far too much focus on food and my enjoyment of it and what I really need is to be able to see it is fuel for my body.

The breakfasts were probably my favourite meal of the day, I tried different granolas, mueslis and porridges and cannot complain about any one of them. The muesli and granola were smaller than the portion I would normally have but when you add fruit and/or yoghurt then you have a good start to the day. These individual packs were very good at helping me to recognise what a portion should look like, portion control is definitely an issue I have currently.

For lunch mostly I choose soups but also some milkshakes, this is because these are my preference, there is also a variety of salads but I did not fancy them. The soups are very good and the chicken mulligatawny stood out for me.



Snack wise I love the popcorn and there are various flavours so no need to be bored. The 2 pack biscuits were also good, especially the fruit ones and for me I was not so keen on the cereal bars, just a bit dry and bland in my opinion.

There is a massive variety of dinner options and generally I think they are very good but I was surprised to find I needed to add pasta, rice, potatoes and vegetables if I wanted them, most of the main dishes are just the meat aspect of a meal. I love the chicken curry and it is filling but my problem comes in that I want naan bread with it! Diet Chef suggest you look at the serving suggestion photos on the website to see what might be a good idea to add to your meals, this was useful to me as I would probably have given myself far more than 20g of dry pasta otherwise. I am learning to bulk up with salad and vegetables and not carbohydrates.

Making spaghetti bolognaise for the family and my Diet Chef equivalent. 

What does it cost?
If you wish to try out Diet Chef the minimum term is 28 days. A four week plan will set you back £245 for the four weeks, this works out to £8.75 per day. When you add to this that you need to also cost in milk, bread, fruit, vegetables etc then I suspect you are spending about £10 per day for one person, which is quite steep. However if you need a short term fix and only have a small amount of weight to lose then this might be a good option for you as it will kick start your diet and help shrink your stomach and get you aware of portion sizes.

It can work out cheaper if you are happy to commit to 12 weeks, this will cost you £180 per month, working out at £6.43 per day.

It is important to say that you need to be aware of automatic renewal. Diet Chef change you to a four week rolling plan at the end of your original order term and whilst I think it is good that they are open about it being an automatic renewal, the last part about the rolling four week plan is in lighter text and is easy to miss on the webpage, this feels a bit underhand if I'm honest.

How long should you follow the plan for?
Diet Chef recommend signing up to the following plans depending on the amount of weight you wish to lose -

4 weeks – less than ½ stone
8 weeks – 1 - 2 stone
12 weeks – more than 2 stone

For someone like me who realistically has about 6 or 7 stone to lose I would be on the programme for a very long time and this could end up costing me a small fortune but if it had the desired effect and got me to the right weight it might be worth it. Then of course comes the battle of eating healthy for the rest of my life to sustain that loss. I do think Diet Chef is much better than many of the diets available nowadays, especially the very low calories ones with meal replacements as at least I am getting used to eating smaller portions of real food.

Some benefits they state -
  • Calorie counting and portion control all done for you – making life simpler, giving you the headspace to be able to diet
  • No cooking, measuring, counting or weighing
  • Easy to prepare, heat and serve in 2-3 minutes – great the ready meals are so quick but you still have to cook the accompaniments like vegetables, rice etc
  • No banned foods – things like chilli and curries are still allowed which is obviously a plus point, as often when you deny yourself something you just crave it more
  • Encourages frequent eating to prevent cravings – great for establishing an eating pattern for those prone to skipping meals and then gorging at other times

Overall, would I buy Diet Chef?
To be honest I don’t think Diet Chef is the right plan for me but this is because I am currently not working and thus have time on my hands to plan and prepare healthy meals for myself and my family. With four other people to feed in the house, I still have to cook and therefore why would I single myself out and make it obvious to my impressionable children that I need to diet.

Before I undertook this plan I spoke to a friend who I knew had done Diet Chef for four weeks. She is far, far slimmer than me and in her four weeks she lost 10lbs and was pleased with that. I asked her if she would do Diet Chef again and on the one hand she said yes as she enjoyed the meals and it was simple and convenient for her as a single woman but on the other the cost made it less attractive as she is a competent cook and can make her own meals for far less.

Diet Chef have had over 40,000 customers so far, so there are a lot of people who are very happy with the plan and the success stories are very inspiring.

If you want to find out more about Diet Chef, you can –
Check out their webpages

Follow them on Twitter

Like them on Facebook


Disclosure: I was provided with 4 weeks of food for the purpose of this review. They have not instructed me what to write and I remain honest.
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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Meeting Mums, Family Walks & the MADS (#R2BC - week 38, year 3)


Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

As I sat in my children's new school PTFA annual general meeting yesterday I started to think about my reasons to be cheerful, not because I was so bored that I was driven to it but because I am feeling grateful for the PTA. Bet not many can say that!

The kids have now been at school for two weeks and I have only managed to speak to about four parents, one of which I knew already. I don't seem to be a natural at mixing on the school playground and it can be a lonely place. You know how it is, everyone seems to have their own friendship groups established already and I'm the norman no mates. But today I spoke to about another eight women and volunteered to be a committee member and it makes me feel happy to know I will be useful and that I can get to know these women better.

My next reason is that I had my Mum up to stay last week and it really helped me to feel at home here, I loved showing my new area to her and enjoying some time together. Then my Dad and brother came up on Sunday and put up all our mirrors and pictures and the house is really starting to look super, it most definitely is home, I feel very relaxed and content here.

We are definitely a bit more spontaneous here and when dh and I finished dinner at about 7pm and Miss E announced she'd like a walk out we said why not, we could do with some more blackberries for a pudding tomorrow night. It was lovely to spend 45 minutes out in the fresh air chatting about our day and bumping into some of the other people who live here. The volunteers were all getting ready for a bonfire but sadly it was after the kids bedtime.


My last reason this week is that it is the MAD blog awards this Friday and I'm getting a couple of days away in London. I'm really looking forward to sharing a room with Charly from PODcast, having lunch with Sally and a group of other bloggers who are arriving early including the very lovely Geek Mummy and Gournet Mum and of course attending the awards themselves, they are sure to be a glamorous and fun event if the last one I attended was anything to go by. I am a finalist in the outstanding contribution category but I hide no hopes that I will win, it is just super to be there and I appreciate every reader of this blog and how successful you have all made it.

Don't forget to check out the MADs website on the day so you can watch the live stream from the awards

And that's me for this week, it's been a good one. God is good!

How are things with you?
Why don't you have a think and remind yourself of all the things you have to be grateful for and write a post to link up. Add in the blog hop code (if you fancy) and link up here and then leave a comment or two on other linked up posts please.

I'll catch you soon, be blessed, Mich x
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The beauty of the Kitchen Garden

I often see the posts linked up with Mammasaurus linky 'how does your garden grow?' and normally I'm left in awe of the great things that people are doing with their outdoor space. Since moving we have spent an immense amount of time outside but we no longer have a garden we have to tend. We now have 220 acres that someone else tends and within that we have a hedged private garden we can use but again it is lawn mown for us. It is a bit of a dream come true to be honest, after all who likes to mow the lawn?

I have found I've missed growing my veggies though and tending my flowers. I think next year I'll be taking a patch in the staff garden and doing some growing, for now I have been enjoying looking at the fruits of other peoples labour.

The pictures below show the kitchen gardens that are tended by the grounds team here. The vegetables get used in the main conference centre and the apples are juiced to make apple juice which is sold here. Can you spot what is being grown at the moment?






and we have the dahlias and sweet peas in the summer too to allow for the insects and cross pollination to occur.





and here are a couple of the plots ready for the next batch of planting and you can see my house in the background.

I bet you can see why I like it here so much!

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Monday, 16 September 2013

Autumn Bucket LIst

I was over at Claire's earlier today and I felt inspired by her Autumn bucket list. I've never done a bucket list before (that's pretty shocking to have reached 40 and not done one isn't it?). So it was time to rectify that and here is what I plan to get up to over the next three months -


Bring it on - I'm looking forward to all these things and I actually (for once) have the time to do them. Thank you Lord.

What are you planning for this Autumn, anything fun?

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Saturday, 14 September 2013

#CountryKids - Blackberry Picking with the kids

As a child I often went blackberry picking. I remember there being berries in the woods behind our house and also up the hill, so it was easy to get some yummy berries. Of course we always had to be careful of pricks, stained clothes and stinging nettles.

I found out this week that those things are no different 30 years later, you still end up with purple stained nails! Since we moved to the countryside seven weeks ago I have been eyeing up the blackberry bushes and keeping an eye on them. Before we went away to the New Forest the berries were all still green and red and I was super surprised to come back and find many of them ripe and ready for the picking. We have now been able to pick the blackberries for about three weeks now and they show no sign of drying up, there is such an abundance here which is just fabulous for us as at our old home there was one area near by and hundreds of people trying to pick them!

I promised the girls we would get out and do some picking once I had sorted a few things in the house and off they went to play in our courtyard.  Miss E came back excitedly to tell me there were blackberries in our garden and could she go over there and pick them without me. Yes no problem I said and I expected to see her a few minutes later with a few berries. My, my did she surprise me when Miss M walked back in with half a large bucket full!


We then headed out together again later and got some more, but what to do with all these blackberries?

Well apple and blackberry bakewell pudding came first -

Then blackberry and strawberry milkshake -
and of course blackberry muffins -


Of course quite a few where just eaten as they were and we have a ton in the freezer now too.

I've really enjoyed picking our own, it is so satisfying to know that we are eating food grown wild in our home grounds. We have been out three times for blackberries this week alone and there are still millions to ripen yet - literally, I kid you not. Fancy coming over to pick some?

I'm linking up this post to Fiona's Country Kids - click on the badge to head over and see what others have got up to in their Country Kids exploits.

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin
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