Wednesday, 24 May 2017

UK Recipe - Fabulous Fun 2 Minute Make Kids Silly Putty/ Slime

Over the last couple of weeks I have been testing out loads of slime recipes and trying to find one that works every time with UK ingredients. I have at last been successful and here is the recipe -

Ingredients - 
  • PVA glue (clear is best but white works fine) 
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Food colouring (or you can use paint)
  • Contact lens solution (must have boric acid as an ingredient)
  • Optional - baby oil, to stop the slime being sticky
  • Optional - shaving foam to make fluffy slime

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Girls have gone Smiggle Mad!

If you have tween girls you must by now have heard of Smiggle. It is the Australian born stationary and gadget brand that is taking the UK by storm. It has only been in the UK since 2014 and already there are nearly 100 stores.

Go back a year ago and my girls had to wait until we went to a big town like London or Brighton to get their Smiggle fix but now even our local town, Eastbourne has one!

Smiggle isn't just aimed at girls though, it seems to be a hit with everyone. They have all sorts of colours, styles and images to suit girls and boys of all ages.

As a family we are loving Smiggle and here are 5 reasons why -

1. The styling of the products is super colourful and funky.
Just look at some of the latest products from the 'Smiggle Says' emoji range that my girls were recently sent to try out and enjoy. They seem to have received quite a blue selection and were totally thrilled with them but you can see from the picture below that there are lots of different colourways within this new range.

From top to bottom: Smiggle Says Double Hardtop Pencil Case £15.50, pack of erasers £4.50
and Scented Yay Pop-Our Pencil Case £15.50

Sunday, 21 May 2017

16,800 Average Steps a Day - Go Mich! #SlimmingSunday

A post shared by Michelle Pannell (@michelletwinmum) on

Morning friends, welcome to this weeks link-up for #SlimmingSunday.

I'm afraid it is a short and sweet one for me this week as time has just run away with me. My parents have come to stay for a week, which has been great but they have kept me so busy that I haven't had any time to devote to my blog.  I suppose you could say that is a good thing, I've just been out there enjoying life and not closeted away indoors. This post has literally been written in 10 snatched minutes between the recycling and the summer fete.

Exercise wise I'd say it has been a good week as I worked hard at my Monday night Fit Club and then I have really upped my steps again, finishing on just over 84,000 steps for Monday - Friday, so that's an average of 16,800 steps a day. I had said I would do two early morning DVD workouts but that didn't happen. I suppose because I hadn't thought about my parents being here and not actually having any free time.

I did teat myself to some new exercise gear this week though as I saw my jogging bottoms were getting some holes, I then realised they are 20 years old - that will be why! I'm hoping to put these though their paces Monday night but I'll have to see as I hurt my knee yesterday. I stepped down some stairs and felt the crushing pain as if too much impact had gone through my knee. It is no fun having arthritic knees at age 43.

I weighed in at Fit Club last Monday and as I mentioned a few weeks ago I have decided to do it blind for a while, so I have no idea what the scales said and truthfully I don't expect they said anything too different to the week before. I haven't been consciously dieting but I have been being mindful of my foot, trying not to just eat for the sake of it and I've been good with my water intake too.

Next weekend I head off to Spain on holiday and that means it will be Emma (Mrs Shilts) hosting #SlimmingSunday alone for Sunday 28th May and 4th June as I won't be here, so you'll need to make sure you link up over there.  I am enjoying keeping up with your journeys though so once I am back and the washing is done I'll be over to visit to see how you are getting on.

From Monday 5th June I am treating it as if I am back at Slimming World and following that diet plan to give myself a good kick up the bum and to get some weight loss going. I was going to say ready for the summer but actually it is just because it needs to happen.

Wishing you a fabulous week, Mich x

How to Join in

Slimming Sunday is a weekly linky hosted by Mich at Mummy from the Heart and Emma at Life According to Mrs Shilts. The posts go live at 7am every Sunday morning and you are most welcome to join in with any slimming/ weight loss/ exercise/ healthy recipe type post. Join as little or as often as you like. No pressure!

1)  Write or link up an existing post about diet/ slimming/ healthy eating/ exercise or anything related to these topics.

By linking up you'll receive a weekly email reminder about Slimming Sunday, of course there will be an unsubscribe button on every email so you can opt out any time but lots of people have been asking me for a reminder.

2)  Grab the badge or add a text link to either Emma or I (or both if you are feeling super generous)

3)  Go share the love. Please comment on both Emma and my posts and also at least one other but it would be great if you feel you could comment on a few more. I'm sure you'll feel the love back if you do.

Emma and I will come and visit you too and tweet out your links. Feel free to tag us with #SlimmingSunday, @michelletwinmum and @mrsshilts and we'll give you an RT.

I can't wait to read your post. Have a fabulous week, Mich x

Slimming Sunday at Mummy from the Heart

Subscribe to #SlimmingSunday

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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

Friday, 19 May 2017

Arlington Bluebell Walk, A Superb Afternoon Out

We have a mass of bluebells where we live and it would be so easy to go for a walk in the woods and capture some amazing pictures, we do have 220 acres at our disposal after all! However it isn't half as much fun to visit something beautiful in a setting that you know like the back of your hand, so we decided to travel about 30 minutes from our home and visit the Arlington Bluebell Walk.

The Arlington Bluebell Walks were established in 1972 and are open for a limited season each year, to tie in with the bluebells of course! This year the walks have been open from 8th April to the 14th May and most years have a similar time period with the opening hours of 10am - 5pm each day.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

There's Good in Every Day - #R2BC

Good morning friends. I hope you are well.

This week I am going to share #1GoodThing in every day of the last week. During Advent I did this purposefully on Instagram and it is fab for helping you to see that every day has joy in it somewhere. Now I am posting more sporadically but I'm super pleased to see lots of people have kept on using the hashtag on Instagram and there are now a whole ton of positive and gorgeous pictures under the hashtag of #1GoodThing.

Here are mine from the last week -

Thursday - I had dinner out at a local pub with my lovely friend Izzy and it was so good to be able to talk uninterrupted without the kids. We talked about everything and anything and she is a real tonic to me, helping me to see things more clearly. 

Friday - Lunch with my hubby. Whilst the kids were at school he took a couple of hours off work and we headed to a local Italian that does a really good 2 course lunch menu. The food was exquisite and we didn't stop chatting the whole time and really deep and meaningful chatting. 

Saturday - We took our Pastoral Group over to visit Knole, a National Trust site with a 1000 acre deer park. The weather wasn't brilliant but it was good enough to have a picnic outside and we looked round the house and had a wonder, feeding the deer. It was a great day out. 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Why I’m Starting to Prepare my Daughters for the 2018 Year 6 SAT Tests Now

Image Source: Mum in the Mad House

My twin 9 year old daughters will sit their SAT tests next May and I felt it was important to start the preparation now.


Well, I want them both to do well of course. It is important to me that they are fulfilled; attaining everything in life that they seek to achieve and that they do the best they can.

Does this mean I am employing a tutor to help them along? Or maybe sending them to weekend prep classes as I’ve heard a few schools run or maybe I’ll just be getting their (very clever) big brother to coach them into how to become a set one student?

No, my preparation doesn’t take any of those forms. The preparation I am doing is gentle and low-key. One of them asked me the other night if you can have a reader to help you do a SAT test if you have dyslexia, I told her I didn’t know but that we would find out if it would make her feel better.

I then got both my girls together and asked them what they knew about SAT testing and they told me how they had done some tests in year 2 and one of them had achieved the national standard and the other hadn’t.  The one that hadn’t spoke of having been upset at the time, as she felt stupid. I asked them how these tests they took three years ago have effected their lives. Was the one who had met national standard doing any better than the other? Was she happier than the other? Was she more fulfilled? Had she achieved more?

I loved watching the light bulb switch on when they both realised that the year 2 SAT tests had been really inconsequential in their lives. Nothing had changed as an outcome of them. We then talked about the year 6 SAT tests being much the same. Whatever result they get will be OK. Their test results do not define who they are or what they will achieve.  They will just be used along with the CAT tests they will take in the summer of 2018 to help their secondary school know which set to put them in and isn’t it better that they are in the right level for their academic ability?

One of them then asked me why they had seen year 6 students crying and getting stressed and why they had to be quiet around the school hall for the SAT week if it wasn’t important? I made sure they understood that to the school the tests are quite important, they are a measure of their teaching. Both girls then said how wonderful their school is and that they have fabulous teachers and I advised yes, they do and that is why they will do wonderfully in their SAT tests and how important it is not to worry.

So this year’s preparation will be about open conversations, reassurances that they are both accepted and doing well whatever the outcome of the tests are and that it will always be far more important to me that they are kind and loving above anything else. Over Easter one of the girls took it on herself to raise money for two charities and the other (I’m sure) was sent to sooth my soul when I'm having a tough time. Those things make me far prouder of my girls than their ability to pass a test with top marks.

My girls have all the wonderful life skills in them that they need to do well and whether their SAT scores say they have met the national standard or not does not matter to me.

You'll notice at the top of the page I share a screen print of a FB post from Jen at Mum in the Mad House. One of her sons took his SATs this year and she has made sure he understands that he is judged on the way he treats others and not defined by a test he takes at the age of 10.

I'm completely with Jen and I'll be reinforcing this message to my girls this year as well.

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

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Facing My Fears - #SlimmingSunday

Morning friends, How are you doing on this fine Sunday?

I'm doing well, it has been a good week. Again I couldn't tell you I have been massively focused on my food, so it hasn't been a dieting week as such but overall it has been a really good week and I am pleased with my progress.

I've shared a little about how my eating and food issues are tied up with so many other things and one of the things that keeps me fat is fear. I have a fear of being hungry, a fear of losing weight and having loads of saggy skin, a fear of being too confident in myself and a fear of facing some things that have gone on in my past that have led to me wearing this fat suit as protection. I don't expect you to understand but it has been my reality.

This week I have done a session from the marriage course with my husband and we had a really deep and open conversation, been out with a friend where we also shared deeply and then had lunch out with my husband and continued the conversation. All this honesty and talking has been good and as my husband said, 'you can't not lose weight just because you are fearful Michelle'.

I realised I have been living under a sprint of fear and that I don't want it to continue as God wants me to be free and not fearful. So I took a symbolic step and I drove down a one-car wide country lane. I've lived in the countryside for four years now and I never drive down them as I get scared but I approached the lane and knew I had to drive through it and show myself there is no need to fear any longer.

I also went to my Fit Club on Monday night and I loved it. It really tested me and boy did I ache for a couple of days after but I am even looking forward to my session again tomorrow. Then I also need to start exercising more often, once a week is a start but it is not enough. I've been great at upping my steps and moving more but again it is not enough as it doesn't raise my heart rate.

So this week I am going to get back to a habit I had some years back. I woke early and came downstairs and did about 20 or 30 minutes of a fabulous workout series I have, called Walk at Home by Leslie Sansone. I just love them as they are walk aerobics and can be as low or high impact as you like but they are simple and get your heart pumping.

Last weeks Targets -
I did OK. I got my sleep, which is important. I don't think I had as much water as 2 litres each day and I forgot to write a full meal plan! No wonder I didn't achieve that one, if I didn't do the meal plan. I'm not writing a meal plan this week as my parents are visiting and that will mean lots of unpredictability and meals out.

I think I hit my step target except one day and I say think as I had let my Fitbit run out of charge without realising and missed a day and a half of steps logging. It's amazing how much this annoyed me as my track record now doesn't look so good!

Targets this week -
  • 7 hours sleep every night
  • 2 litres of water per day
  • No chocolate all week
  • 2 sessions of working out to my DVD as well as Fit Club
I'm looking forward to another good week ahead and I hope you are too. Wishing you all the best, Mich x

How to Join in

Slimming Sunday is a weekly linky hosted by Mich at Mummy from the Heart and Emma at Life According to Mrs Shilts. The posts go live at 7am every Sunday morning and you are most welcome to join in with any slimming/ weight loss/ exercise/ healthy recipe type post. Join as little or as often as you like. No pressure!

1)  Write or link up an existing post about diet/ slimming/ healthy eating/ exercise or anything related to these topics.

By linking up you'll receive a weekly email reminder about Slimming Sunday, of course there will be an unsubscribe button on every email so you can opt out any time but lots of people have been asking me for a reminder.

2)  Grab the badge or add a text link to either Emma or I (or both if you are feeling super generous)

3)  Go share the love. Please comment on both Emma and my posts and also at least one other but it would be great if you feel you could comment on a few more. I'm sure you'll feel the love back if you do.

Emma and I will come and visit you too and tweet out your links. Feel free to tag us with #SlimmingSunday, @michelletwinmum and @mrsshilts and we'll give you an RT.

I can't wait to read your post. Have a fabulous week, Mich x

Slimming Sunday at Mummy from the Heart

Subscribe to #SlimmingSunday

* indicates required

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

Friday, 12 May 2017

Review: Middle Farm, Near Lewes, East Sussex

The other Saturday as we awoke the sun was shining and we decided it would be a shame to waste it so we headed over to Middle Farm, near Lewes. We've popped in the tea room before (and not been impressed if I am honest) but at just £5 each entry (for children over 3 years and adults) to the actual farm we didn't think there was too much to lose and friends had said they'd enjoyed time there before.
Middle Farm is a 625 acre working farm. It has been in the Pile family for 50 years and they are proud of their high quality produce. It is really heart warming to read the history and learn that the family have innovated and pulled together in all sorts of ways to make Middle Farm what it is today.

Plenty of room for everyone 
As we arrived, we were surprised to see just how busy the overflow car park was and we started to worry that we had made a mistake and the place would be rammed. We needn't have worried though as there is loads of space within the farm and we got to see everything we wanted to and there wasn't long waits for the animal petting or play park equipment.

Explore at your leisure 
You don't get a map on entry to the farm but it is small enough that you can just explore and see where your feet take you. There was a big sign up as we entered advising us when the day's events were - lamb feeding, pig feeding, animal petting, cue milking etc. These were well spread within the day and whatever time you arrive I'm sure you'd get to see or take part in something.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful: Stepping It Up, Bluebells and Cleaning #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends,

I hope you're having a fab week. I am and next week my parents come to visit for a week so it will get even better. I'm hosting Reasons to be Cheerful for all the month of May so I'll be digging deep for my thankful moments.

Thankfully the weather has cheered up a little and we've been able to get out and about more. This has helped my steps no end and I was super pleased to finish last week on just over 103,000 steps taken. I also started back up at the Fit Club that runs in the grounds of my home and it was so good to do some exercise, even though I didn't really want to go before hand! I did show myself just how unfit I have become as this one hour session was very hard going but it felt good to be doing something positive towards better health.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

I asked him to marry me with a sweetie!

I have been with my husband for a long time, we got together on 28th December 1994, he rescued me from a wet and windy pier and a horrid creepy guy.  He was my hero! OK scrub that, he still is my hero.

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic recently and was thinking back over our eventful relationship together. In 1999 my husband asked me to marry him when we were on holiday in Tenerife, I said yes,  I had been waiting quite a while for that proposal.  It was very romantic - late at night and we were sat at the waters edge looking at a beautiful electric storm out at sea.  He asked me if I could see where the sea met the sky and I replied no. He told me he loved me that much, further than we could ever see. It may sound corny to you but that was possibly one of the most lovely, unprompted things he has ever said to me.  He is not much of a talker you see.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Wasting Time or Enjoying Life? #SlimmingSunday

I've been musing this question this last week - 'By being fat am I wasting my life or am I just choosing to enjoy life by eating the foods I fancy?'

If you've read my blog before you'll know that I have spent the majority of my life for the last 30 years as an overweight women, probably around 20 of those as a very overweight woman and much of that time I have been exceedingly unhappy about my size and weight. In recent months I've been doing a lot of what I call 'head work' in relation to some of the issues I have that send me to the food as my drug of choice.

Friday, 5 May 2017

A Whole Year of Fun at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

On the Sunday/ Monday of the early May bank holiday weekend we headed two hours down the coast to Portsmouth to visit the Historic Dockyard. For a few years now I've been seeing posts from other bloggers and FB posts from friends sharing their great day at this huge attraction. It is somewhere I'd been meaning to take the family to explore for a long time but you know what it is like, life is busy!

I'm so pleased we made time to visit, even though the weather was miserable and rainy and I can tell you from the start, we will definitely be going back. We didn't even manage to get half of the attractions done in the five hours we spent there. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard really is a great day out for all the family - old and young. It offers a unique experience which spans 800 years of British Naval history and as it is situated within a working Naval Base, the dockyard is the only place in the world to see the Royal Navy past, present and future

So what attractions are there?
First off there are two main parts of the Historic Dockyard, there is the main site which houses the Mary Rose, HMS Victor, HMS M.33, HMS Warrior 1860, the Action Stations interactive kids area, Boathouse 4, harbour tours and The National Museum of the Royal Navy. Also at the moment there are a couple of special exhibitions in the museum - 36 hours: Jutland 1916 and Women and the Royal Navy. Looking at the map I wondered if we would have to do a lot of walking during the day but actually the site is really compact and whilst we did lots of walking, as we toured the boats etc, there wasn't actually far to go.

Then there is the Gosport site, which you can access by waterbus from the main dockyard site. Here there is the Royal Navy Submarine museum and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower. There is also the Royal Marines Museum a Eastney too.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Farms, Mast Climbing and Muffins! #R2BC

Good morning friends. How are you this week?

It is time for our Thursday dose of cheer. I'm looking forward to reading your posts and finding out what is making you full of joy this week. It's been a while since I've done an #R2BC post - March in fact. First we headed off on holiday, then the Easter holidays and to be honest this is the first week I feel like I have caught up since the kids were off. Sorry for my absence. Let's dive straight in with a few reasons from the last week -

We had a fun weekend over the May bank holiday. On the Saturday, my husband, myself and the girls headed over to a local farm. It wasn't particularly big but it was nice to see the animals and the girls had a great play together. Miss E was enjoying using her camera and we are going to make a photo book as a memory of her weekend (as she won a free one in the McDonalds monopoly game).

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Doing It Blind #SlimmingSunday

Morning friends, how are you today? I hope you have fab plans for this bank holiday weekend.

As you read this I'm away in Portsmouth with my family. We have taken a trip to see the Historic Dockyard as I've heard so many good reports about the attractions there and I'm so happy to be spending some time with them.

Last week in my Slimming Sunday post I said how I had finally realised things need to change. I can't go on as I am, getting more and more unhealthy and suffering from numerous health ailments because of this. Because I have such a large amount of weight to loss I don't want to do a crash diet meal replacements or such as I know this isn't a healthy and sustainable way to live.

So this week has been about making a start and cutting down. I set myself four small steps to follow last week and they were to -
  • Sleep for 7 hours each night - as I write this post I have achieved this each night and I don't think it will be a problem for this to continue as I know how much being well rested helps me to resist all the foods I shouldn't be eating
  • Glass of water before each meal - I've been very aware of keeping my water consumption up and need to keep with this
  • 3 meals and 3 snacks to ensure I do not get too hungry and reach for the wrong things. I've been really good with my meals, and haven't had as many snacks as I thought I might need
  • No cake. I forgot that on a Wednesday evening my husband and I are doing a Marriage course at the moment and at this they give us tea and cake. So I have had one piece but for me that is amazing, as I had turned into a cake most days kind of girl!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Learning is Fun with Education Quizzes

Life is funny sometimes as a Mum, never would I have pictured myself and my near 14 year old son JJ sat at my laptop the other night at just gone 11pm (yes, yes, I know, it is too late for a school night but thankfully he got up OK) doing algebra together.

Now, let me be clear. I don't really have any idea about algebra, at the ripe old age of 43 I have managed to gain an OND, HND, Ba (Hons) and Masters without ever improving on my D grade GCSE Maths.

Maths isn't my subject. I can do business finance, give me a P&L to analyse and I'm your girl, I'll highlight all the areas of concern and provide a plan for improvement. But clever maths type stuff - algebra, Pythagoras and calculus, I haven't got a clue.

So you'd be forgiven for wondering what we were up to. Well, I'd been asked to take a look at the website Education Quizzes to see how useful I felt it might be for my children and more generally for my kids school. In fact, all schools.

What is Education Quizzes?
Education Quizzes is a site with over 4000 quizzes (all written by qualified teachers) covering most subjects/curriculum's for ages 5 to 16. There are quizzes for KS1, KS2, KS3 and GCSE. Oh and even for parents too, to help us refresh our knowledge so we can ensure we are available to help our children as they need us. Take a quick peek at this video for an introduction to Education Quizzes -

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Family Fun at Petworth House, National Trust #CountryKids

A few weeks back on a Sunday our family headed over to West Sussex to Petworth House. I've been wanting to visit this National Trust site for well over a year but as it's about a 90 minute journey we needed to have enough time available to us to make it worthwhile. Petworth houses the finest collection of art in the care of the National Trust and I thought my arty daughter and I would particularly enjoy seeing this.

The Mansion
I wasn't wrong, there are some really magnificent pieces on display and my favourite by far was the walls and ceiling of the Grand Staircase painted by Louis Laguerre (1663 - 1721). I stood there and gazed in wonder for such a long time. There are many other internationally important paintings on display too with works by Turner, Van Dyck and Reynolds to name just a few. There are also dozens and dozens of interesting classical and new-classical sculptures too and my girls were chuckling away at all the body parts on display!

Of course what the National Trust always does well is engage the kids and they had a trail around the house to look for stuffed dogs around the house and then if they spotted them all they got an exclusive badge.

Most every day there is some kind of talk or tour within the mansion and the volunteers at entry will let you know what is going on or you can check the webpages before travelling. If you are thinking of taking your family in the next couple of weeks then I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear there is a Cadbury Easter egg hunt from 8th - 23rd April 2017 with a cost of £3 per child.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Holidaying at Eurocamp - Playa Montroig, Costa Dorada, Spain

Last August we took our first holiday abroad as a family and we had an amazing time. So amazing in fact that we are again this year heading back to the Catalonia region of Spain and will be enjoying a holiday with Eurocamp at the Playa Montroig Camping Resort in Miami Platja, Costa Dorada and I was very impressed to see that it has made it onto the Guardians list of the top 20 family friendly campsites in Europe. We are all getting excited!

Situated right on the Beach and there are 4 Swimming Pools
I think this year we will probably spend most of our time on the parc, at the local beach or maybe just travelling into the nearest port town of Cambrils, which is about 15 minutes away. Of course it is the pools that the kids are most looking forward to enjoying and there are four of them so they won't be short of water-filled fun. This was in fact one of the main reasons we choose this particular site as the kids had such a ball in the water last year that I knew this would be what they would want to do at least 80% of the time. We just need to pray for some good weather now!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Facing Reality and Planning for My Future #SlimmingSunday

I love this picture. This was taken at BritMums in 2015 and I'm around the same size then as I am now
but we are lying down and it seems to be pretty flattering. This is how I'd like to see myself every day!

Morning friends, how are you this week?

I'm really loving reading the posts that you are linking up each week. It isn't easy starting a new linky to be honest and in this day and age everything seems to be judged on numbers and popularity and by traditional standards 2 - 6 people linking up to #SlimmingSunday in a week wouldn't necessarily be considered a linky success but I think it is a success.

You know why? Because you are helping me to stay focused on the goal. I seriously need to lose weight, not just for my vanity or my mental health but for my physical health too. I have so many aliments that are exasperated by my size and they will only get worse as I age but I don't seem to be taking them anywhere near as seriously as I should.  By being accountable and having to report in here each week I have to stay focused and whilst I have not been perfect with my eating, I have been so much better than if I wasn't being accountable with anyone. The good news is that I am continuing to take tons of steps and having a good nights sleep.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Having fun with the National Trusts 50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4

Originally launched in 2012 the National Trust's bucket list of 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4 is an amazing and successful attempt to get the nations tech-centric kids off the sofa and out into the great outdoors to experience nature as I did as a child 30-40 years ago.

The shocking findings of the National Trusts Natural Childhood Report in 2012 were the catalyst for the National Trust to take a pioneering role in helping families to get back to enjoying the great outdoors together. Over the last few decades children's relationships with the natural world has been declining to the point that by the time the National Trusts report was published a third of children had never climbed a tree and one in ten cannot ride a bike.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Creating Great Relationships with your Kids

I've was away at Spring Harvest a couple of weeks ago, it's a large Christian festival that our family have been going to each Easter-time since our kids were born. It's a time I absolutely love as the kids get to go to groups each morning and evening (now they are older) and spend time with other kids that share our faith. Then my husband and I get time to be together - to have a coffee, attend a teaching session or maybe just take a walk. This isn't a holiday based on spending lots of money or doing amazing activities, it is all about each of our relationship with God and with each other.

The format for the teaching has been a bit different this year and the majority has been all together within a large venue seating around 3000. I can't say this is my preferred style of worship and receiving teaching and in previous years I've been able to go to smaller break-out sessions which are much more my style. I can however, totally understand why they have chosen to have the adult teaching all together as the theme this year is unity within the church and us all being 'one for all' but as I said I don't find it the easiest way to digest information.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Taking care of my feet with Hotter Shoes

Increasingly over the last few years my feet have been playing up. For a couple of years I just ignored the niggling pain that prevented me from running and enjoying exercise because I thought it was the result of a longstanding verruca and if I'm honest I was embarrassed. I'd tried to treat it myself for months (years even) and it wouldn't shift so I finally met with a Podiatrist at a large cost in the hope he could help and he did, finally my feet were verruca free but sadly I still had the pain and it was getting worse.

Around six months later I decided I needed to go back and see if the pain was anything the Podiatrist could help with and it turns out that the verruca was never really the cause of my pain. I have short calves and this means my legs rotate out (hence having waked like a policeman forever) and this means I am misaligned. I finally have an answer to why I have early onset arthritis in my knees and pain in the pad of my foot. Just by walking I am putting pressure on the wrong parts of my foot as my feet tilt outwards and this explains why I have such trouble finding shoes that I can wear without pain.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

#SlimmingSunday - Moving More...

Hello friends, welcome to #SlimmingSunday, the new Sunday linky hosted by me and Emma from Life According to Mrs Shilts. We'd love for you to link up any post that is diet/ healthy eating/ exercise related.

I've had a week off since I last posted as our family went away to Butlins in Minehead for a big Christian festival called Spring Harvest and we had the best time. I wasn't consciously dieting but I did make some really good food choices whilst we were there and enjoying the eat-all-you-can buffet breakfast and dinner. Thankfully I've got past the point where you have to stuff your face if you have paid for a buffet and I just go for one straight meal now. There was always jacket potatoes, salad and yummy roast meats available.

In the last week since we have been back home I wouldn't say I have been dieting but I also haven't been blowing out. I went and weighed in last Monday night at the fit club that I'm starting to attend and sadly it won't be on this Monday as it is a bank holiday. This does mean the kids can go back to school on Tuesday and I've got the week to get back to normal and focus on healthy eating before my next weigh in on 24th April. I'll let you know how I do.

The one thing I have been doing really well with over the last couple of weeks is my step count. Whilst we were on holiday I managed to clock up 123,314 steps, that was an increase of more than 30K steps from the week before and I am determined to keep it at this level as there is a lot of work to be done on my fitness level. Once the kids are back at school and normality resumes I've committed to a daily walk round the lake with the children after dinner most days and I'm even thinking of checking out the local gym again.

Oh and the other good thing has been my sleep. Of course I've been able to have a few lie-ins but I've consistently been getting over seven hours good sleep each night and I'm going to make sure this continues as I know I cope so much better with eating challenges when I am well rested.

So that's me right now. Not really dieting but being mindful of my food and making some good choices, whilst moving and sleeping more. I'll call it a win! But how about you, how are things going?

How to Join in

Slimming Sunday is a weekly linky hosted by Mich at Mummy from the Heart and Emma at Life According to Mrs Shilts. The posts go live at 7am every Sunday morning and you are most welcome to join in with any slimming/ weight loss/ exercise/ healthy recipe type post. Join as little or as often as you like. No pressure!

1)  Write or link up an existing post about diet/ slimming/ healthy eating/ exercise or anything related to these topics.

By linking up you'll receive a weekly email reminder about Slimming Sunday, of course there will be an unsubscribe button on every email so you can opt out any time but lots of people have been asking me for a reminder.

2)  Grab the badge or add a text link to either Emma or I (or both if you are feeling super generous)

3)  Go share the love. Please comment on both Emma and my posts and also at least one other but it would be great if you feel you could comment on a few more. I'm sure you'll feel the love back if you do.

Emma and I will come and visit you too and tweet out your links. Feel free to tag us with #SlimmingSunday, @michelletwinmum and @mrsshilts and we'll give you an RT.

I can't wait to read your post. Have a fabulous week, Mich x

Slimming Sunday at Mummy from the Heart

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Friday, 14 April 2017

Tree Top Junior Adventure with Go Ape - Fabulous Summer Fun!

Wednesday I took the kids and the little boy I coach over to Bedgebury for the day. This is a Forestry Commission site of around 2200 acres and it is pretty amazing, we will definitely be visiting again.

Our purpose for going there yesterday was for the kids to try out the Go Ape Tree Top Junior Adventure which is sited within the forest. I've heard of Go Ape before but being a totally non-sporty type I've ever investigated as the idea of being up in the air with a harness as a very large lady is not appealing. I'm sure I've asked my children before as well and they have all been very non-committal.

I think a couple of years of Cub Scouting must have made my (near 10 year old) girls more adventurous as this time when I asked they jumped at the challenge and I knew that the little boy I coach would love it as he is like a monkey, climbing every tree he sees. I then asked my 13 year old if he wanted to go with the smaller kids and I fully expected him to laugh at me as he never really wants to spend time with his sisters but he too jumped at the chance, telling me that Go Ape is ace (despite him never having tried it before).

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Family Fun at Wookey Hole - The Variety Attraction (Somerset)

We are down in Somerset currently; it isn't an area we have really explored before but we always pass through on our annual visit to our favourite Christian festival at Butlins, Minehead. This year I tried to book our normal pit-stop hotel in Bristol and it was so expensive so we looked elsewhere and settled on Weston-Super-Mare and as it isn't an area we know we took the opportunity to have a couple of days here and extend our break away.

What a fab area this is, we made a good choice and I'd happily return another time to explore further. There is a very grand looking pier that we didn't get to go on as we arrived too late and the beach is sandy and massive but the kids favourite part was the 2p arcades and they came away with a ton of keyrings, noisy putty, sweets and other assorted novelties that they won.

Before we came away I was having a browse of what was in the local area and I spotted we were only about 30 minutes away from Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole. I knew I'd been to the area as a Girl Guide many, many years ago and recall I really loved visiting the caves. I have this memory of being told the water in the caves had healing power and I can remember rubbing it on cut I had. Funny, how the oddest memories stay with you.

So when we headed to Wookey Hole today I expected to get a bout of nostalgia and silly me, it must of been Cheddar Gorge I visited when young as Wookey Hole was a whole new experience for me, a good one!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Making Good Choices for Me! #SlimmingSunday

I'm finding this verse very reassuring. Others may look at me and just see fat, God sees so much more!

Happy Sunday friends, how are you doing?

I do hope your slimming efforts are going well.  Well, better than mine anyway. You may have read last week that I was in a quandary as to what to do - do I still stay with Slimming World and attend class each week or would something else work better for me? I wasn't sure but I knew I definitely need to stay focused on being more healthy and losing some weight.

So I've spent the week in thought and prayer, coming to the conclusion that I am going to step away from attending my Slimming World class at the moment as the timings don't really work for me but what I'll do instead is attend a weekly exercise class where I can also weigh-in.

I used to go to this class and I know the instructor and many of the people who attend and also (wonderfully) it is run in the grounds of my home, so you can't get much more convenient than that. I only stopped going as it is on the same night as the course I've been doing at church but that is now coming to an end and I pray the content of it and the personal exploration and reflection that I have been doing as a result of it will result in me being able to really get my teeth into this healthy eating lark and make some changes for life.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

A Fabulous Week - London, Haircuts and Feeding the Lambs #R2BC

My lovely Mum at the weekend

Morning friends, I hope the day is going well for you.

All is good here in East Sussex, it's been a busy week getting everything done so I can go away at the weekend to Spring Harvest at Butlins in Minehead for a fab week with my family and God will be at the centre.

To link up next week and for all of April you'll need to head over to see Becky at Lakes Single Mum as she is the April host and I'll be back again in May. Well I'm sure I'll be around before then, you can't keep me away from sharing my cheer!

So what has made me cheerful this week? Loads, here are a few snippets -
  • Last weekend I had a fab time with my Mum staying at the Mercure Hotel in Kensington, London, we were only together 27 hours but it really was that cliche of 'quality' time.
  • We saw the musical Beautiful, the Carole King story and it was awesome, definitely one to be recommended.
  • We had a great shop and Mum treated me to some new clothes, tops, a cardie and a dress ready for my summer holiday in May. It is such a long time since I've been properly shopping and things fitted, it felt great.
  • I visited the Nourish Foodbank in Tunbridge Wells last Friday to see how some funding from Comic Relief had made a difference to them. It was such an inspiring visit and you can read about it over here if you fancy.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Great Personal Service at the Mercure, London Kensington

Last weekend to celebrate Mothers Day, my lovely Mum and I headed up to London for 24 hours together, just us, no kids and no real agenda. We've done it before and had an amazing time and we vowed this year that it will become an annual thing.

24 hours (or 27 to be precise) doesn't sound much but it is amazing what you can fit in. I met Mum at Waterloo and we headed straight over to Leicester Square to the official half-price theatre ticket booth to see if we could bag some good ticket for an evening performance. After success booking for Beautiful. the Carole King musical we enjoyed a toastie and coffee together watching the world go by in this busy part of London.

The rest of our Saturday was filled with checking into our hotel and having a relax there, some serious shopping on Kensington High Street, a fabulous dinner at Prezzo over on New Oxford Street and of course seeing the amazing West-end production of Beautiful. It really is an amazing show and both Mum and I highly recommend it.

Sunday was a much more chilled day where we got up late, enjoyed a full English breakfast at the hotel and then had a walk around Kensington with a little shopping and of course coffee before I dropped Mum back at Waterloo and headed back to my family.

Mercure, London Kensington
But enough about our time together this post is actually about our stay at the small and intimate Mercure Hotel in Kensington. This 82 bedroom hotel is situated on the Cromwell Road and that makes it super easy to access. It you are travelling by tube it is between Gloucester Road and Earls Court and then around a 7 minute walk from either but because you are in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea it is a really pleasant stroll as the buildings and area are so beautiful.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Miss E's love of Juice Glorious Juice! #FruitJuiceBoost

I can't recall a time when Miss E hasn't been pestering me for a glass of juice. Even at nearly 10 years of age it is her drink of choice. No fizzy pop for her, she just isn't interested but 100% pure unsweetened juice or maybe a homemade smoothie and she is as happy as Larry (whoever he is!).

She affectionately calls OJ her 'brain juice' and insists on having a glass of it at breakfast as one of her recommended 5-a-day. I've always been happy with this as combined with a bowl of porridge or weetabix and milk it is a healthy breakfast that helps her stay full and focused on learning until her break time at school.

Research (1) shows that only 8% of 11-18 year olds achieve their minimum 5-a-day consumption of fruit and vegetables, so a small glass (150ml) of pure juice is a nice easy way to fill one of those five slots and perfectly I've found that 150ml fits in the empty Nutella glass nicely and makes it easy for Miss E to be able to measure out her own drink in the morning.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Nourish Community Foodbank, Where Every Tin is a Hug

L-R Lesley Darcy, Assistant Operations Manager. Dawn Stanford, Operations Manager
and Marianne MacDonald, Trustee

I've just spent the last few hours in a Big Yellow Self Storage unit and do you know what? I had the best time, I haven't laughed like I did in ages. This is no average storage unit, let me tell you. This is the home of the Nourish Community Foodbank where I've spent the morning in the company of three super passionate women who are each making a difference in their community.

'Every tin is a hug' is the wisdom imparted in me today from Marianne MacDonald, Trustee of the Nourish Community Foodbank. She told me this is how she explains her voluntary work to her daughter and she went on to say 'Nourish is so much more than just food, it is a helping hand, a squeeze, a hug and a feeling there are complete strangers who care'. Marianne talked with passion about how making donations to a food bank such as Nourish is conscious giving, people have made a choice to add extra shopping to their basket or to open their cupboard and see what they can donate, it is so much more involved than just putting loose change in a tin.

She is of course right and I see this first-hand as I also volunteer in my local foodbank in Hastings. Nourish is like no other food bank I've ever seen though, they operate from the Big Yellow Self Storage building and are gifted a 200 sq ft unit by them and have been for the last few years. Their team of volunteers meet there each week to weigh, sort and pack the food and the food parcels are then delivered straight to the door of the person in need, removing any obstacles such as transport or ill health from stopping them getting their much needed food, toiletries and personal items.

Making my Mind Up & Working on Forgiveness #SlimmingSunday

Clocking up some steps last weekend with all my family at National Trust, Petworth House

Morning friends,

How are you today? Well I hope. If you are a Mum I wish you a very happy Mothers Day but remember it is just another day and if it doesn't turn out as you hoped it doesn't mean that your kids love you any less. There can be far too much pressure for perfection on days like this.

So on with the matter in hand - slimming! Or perhaps in my case a lack of slimming, I'm really not sure, as for my sanity it feels as if I'm better not stepping on the scales right now. As you know I didn't make it to my Slimming World group last week and yesterday I was away in London with my Mum (I still am) so I should have gone to the Tuesday afternoon group but that would of meant running in getting weighed and running out before the kids got home from their after school club and I found myself umming and aching about whether I really need/want to go to a slimming group at the moment. I'd have had to pay £10 for that quick weight in (two weeks fees) and I felt as if I'd get nothing for it.

For sure, I know that I want and need to lose weight but I think being accountable by this linky and through a Facebook group I have with some slimming friends I actually get the support I need. I really love the consultant at the Slimming World group I've been attending but all her classes are so busy that you don't really get to have a conversation with her and Saturday mornings just seem to fill up with kids activities and holidays. I do really like the short talk that she does each week but it always seems to start late as so many people arrive late to weigh in and then the image therapy (or people sharing their tips / successes) doesn't really inspire me too much. Maybe I've been around the Slimming circuit for too long and actually know most of the tips, I just need to put them into action?

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Review: iFit Vue Activity Tracker

With Mothers day just a couple of days away wouldn't it be great to be able to give your Mum a really different present. Something she can enjoy for a very long time and not just a day like chocolates or a week like some flowers?

Well you can. The iFit Vue activity tracker would make an excellent gift and just think you'd be encouraging your Mum to move more and become healthier and ultimately that could mean she lives a longer and fuller life. Result, right?

But I'm not just recommending something that I haven't tried out as I don't believe in that. I like to be honest and tell it as it is when I'm writing about a product. So I have had my 13 year old son JJ on the case this week, setting up the iFit Vue and fully testing it out.

What do you get in the box?
JJ took everything out the box and there is a tracker pod and charger, which you'll need to plug into a USB port to use. You also get two wristbands as standard. a S/M which fits from pretty small wrists (it s OK for my 9 year old girls) to an average woman's and a M/L which fits even my large husband, so there is a good variety of sizes. The clasp on the band is very simple to use and it can be put on and off easily.

Reasons to be Cheerful - Happy Mothering Sunday #R2BC

Lucky me, the girls made me breakfast in bed

Happy Thursday friends,

How are you doing? I'm having a funny old week. there is nothing particularity wrong but I've had that horrible feeling that sometimes crops up. Do you know what I mean? Where you just feel something isn't right and is a bit off kilter but you've no real idea what is causing the way you feel. No matter, I'm going to press through it and not give in to the doldrums.

This coming Sunday
This week's #R2BC post is all about celebrating Mothering Sunday. Firstly I am really looking forward to this weekend when I'm away in London with my Mum. Just the two of us for around 36 hours doing whatever we feel like doing. We are staying at the 4 star Mercure Kensington hotel and planning to hit the theatre, shops and at least a couple of good restaurants. To be truthful whatever we do will be fine by me as we always have a lovely time in each others company and this break away is long overdue.

The last time we had a weekend in London together was in 2014 as we planned one in 2015 but my Dad got taken into hospital and we had to cancel. Then in 2016 we had a weekend away with my girls to a Haven caravan park, which was nice but nothing beats time just the two of us in 'the big smoke' as my Mum would say!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Creating a Memorable Mothers Day with Tesco

Mum and I in 2014 when we had a Mothers Day away together in London

My readers will know that I pride myself on being organised and ahead of the game but it appears that when it comes to gifts for special days like Mothers Day I am in the minority. Tesco revealed that more than half a million (1) time-strapped Brits will buy their Mother’s Day gift on the day itself, rushing to shopping aisles just over an hour before midday, at 10.53am on Mothering Sunday.

It saddens me a little to think of all those people probably heading to their mothers house for a nice Sunday roast (that Mum has cooked) and this is when they stop to think about getting her some flowers or chocolates to say thanks for all she has done for them. Of course those thanks shouldn't just be on Mothers Day and it is only right to show your mum that you appreciate her any time of the year but it is great to have a special day dedicated to mothers everywhere.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

What does a 13 Year Old do with his Inset Day from School?

On Friday it was an inset day at JJ's secondary school. I'm not sure what most of his friends do when it's an inset day but I suspect there are very few of them that do what JJ does and say "Yes Mum! Can I come to food bank with you?".

This is probably the fourth or fifth time that JJ has chosen to spend his day off school with me serving at the Hastings food bank and what does he get out of it you might wonder? Well firstly, he gets to spend the day with his mum of course. Then I sometimes take him to the local Premier Inn for a buffet breakfast before we start work and he also gets the satisfaction of a good days work and having helped some people.

I wouldn't say that at 13 years JJ is particularly altruistic so I don't think his main reason for doing it is because he loves to help others but to be frank it doesn't really matter to me. The fact that he comes along willingly, spends around four hours there and mucks in and helps the whole time are enough. He'll be learning so much from these experiences and they are not skills he'd pick up in the classroom so I'm happy.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

8 Low Syn Slimming World Snack ideas to keep You on Track #SlimmingSunday

If you are on the Slimming World plan you'll know that it is all about the free food and syns. The average person can have between 5 - 15 syns a day but someone larger like me gets 20, although of course it is better to not have so many and then you can see great weight loss results.

I find that my real struggle time is the evening and as such I always try to plan in a yummy treat for the evening and use my syns for it. I often don't want to use that many though as I need them throughout the day for things like my milk in tea, butter on my toast or ryvita, sauces, gravy or a little treat.

So here are 10 low syn treats that keep me motivated and wanting to lose weight but without feeling like I am missing out -

1.  Quark and highlight with mini marshmallows (4 syns)
This is probably my favourite evening treat as it is sweet, creamy and filling. I use half a tub of fat-free quark and mix it with a highlight or Options chocolate powder sachet (1.5-2 syns it varies for which one you use, so check), it mixes really well and is like a chocolate cheesecake.

I also like to add 10g of mini marshmallows on the top for extra sweetness and indulgence. You can see you get around 30 mini marshmallows for the 10g (you get 25g for 4 syns, so I class these as 2 syns).

I also have a friend who likes to turn this into a cheesecake and she has a crushed light digestive biscuit (3 syns) at the bottom and instead of the marshmallows she has raspberries ad a drizzle of choc shot (1/2 for a level tsp). Add on the chocolate powder and that makes a 5.5 syn dessert.

2.  Raspberry Jelly/ mouse (1/2 syn per dish)
With this one you make up some sugar free jelly (I used raspberry - 2 syns for whole packet, so all 4 desserts shown here), add in a pot of mullerlight (I used vanilla) and some fruit for speed and allow it to set. Bets eaten on the day it is made I find but it does take about 4 or 5 hours to set properly.