Sunday 30 November 2014

Permission for leave granted

Hey blog,

It is Mich here, did I tell you I put in a request for a few weeks leave? I'm feeling a bit weathered and there is lots on my mind, so I'm going to take some time to set my priorities in order, to rest in God's loving care, be with my family, go to the gym and to have some fun.

I explained here that I need to remember who I am and to find out what it is I'm scared of.  Those chains I mentioned that needed breaking, Yep I'm gonna have a go at that as well.  It takes quite a lot of energy so I've given myself permission to be absent from the blog for a while, probably around the same time as Advent, which is perfect as it means I will focus on what should be the number one priority in my life and that is my relationship with God. I've been sad to realise this has been siding down my to-do list recently.

You know me, I find it hard to keep away, so the odd post might pop up as I'll of course fulfil all obligations that I had committed to, but in the main there will just be some silence over here or maybe some pretty pictures, we'll see how this pans out.

I'll miss you, but I know I'll get over it (in the nicest way), I always do when I have a bloggy break. Then I come back raring to go and full of beans ready to capture the world!

Love, Mich xx

You see this picture of the sea, I'm right at the foot of the picture at the moment, just pondering how I will navigate my way across that first stretch of water to reach the land you can see beyond. When I reach that land I'll be back and ready for the next chapter and diving into the big deep blue sea beyond. I'm not feeling scared, God is with me.

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

Saturday 29 November 2014

Jersey War Tunnels - Fabulous Family Fun #CountryKids

It's been way too long since I have joined up with Fiona over at Coombe Mill for her #CountryKids linky so today I am rectifying that.  At the end of October we took a family holiday to Jersey and it is a wonderful place. I'd be happy to recommend it as somewhere to take the kids and get outside and explore. The island is beautiful and the beaches just divine.

One day we took a short drive from our hotel in the capital St Helier and headed to the Jersey War Tunnels. You might not be aware that during WW11 Jersey was occupied by the Nazi's and the whole island had to bow down to their power. One of the things they did during their time on Jersey was to build a complex web of tunnels into the hillside. These tunnels were used as a hospital and were a safe haven from overhead attack.

Friday 28 November 2014

Win your own design Christmas wrapping paper - yes please!

I spent a really enjoyable hour tonight sitting with my 7 year old twin girls at the kitchen table. We were all sat there together creating designs for Christmas wrapping paper and it was so nice to share our ideas and encourage each other. Miss M would not call herself a natural artist and she never really sits down and applies herself so it was particularly fulfilling for me to be able to reassure her that she has talent too, it is not just her twin who is the arty one.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Buying Beautiful Ethical Gifts and a Super #Giveaway

When I was away in the states last month I got to meet some amazing people who are not content to just sit back and watch other people pull themselves out of poverty, they want to be part of that process and to use the knowledge they have to help these entrepreneurs in developing countries be able to access the consumers out there and bring their products to the market.

Talking of To The Market this is the name of a fairly new social venture founded by Jane Mosbacher Morris who has sourced some beautiful goods to sell to the US market via pop-up shops and her website. I love this site, not only is Jane and her small team interested in bringing us wonderful goods they are also interested in giving all their artisans a channel to share their stories and be heard, so powerful. Just take a look at a few of the products -

Unfortunately for my UK readers To the Market is set up to sell in the US and Canada. Jane has said if you see something you fancy email them and they will investigate postage but of course realistically that will make a cost difference.

I've been looking out for UK companies doing the same kind of job as To the Market and I came across SWAGs World (Simply Women and Girls Sustainable World),  who appear to be offering a smaller range but still with some beautiful items none the less. Their mission is to offer a global marketplace of affordable, accessible products for socially responsible consumers; an alternative to mass-produced, throwaway fashion, poor working conditions and undervalued labour. They take pride in the quality, craftsmanship and uniqueness of each product they sell, and believe it to be a reflection of the skill and passion that has created it.

Their harmony dolls are particularly gorgeous and of course super for allowing young children to think about the value of difference and the harmony we should all be living in. I've been lucky enough to be sent one to giveaway to one lucky reader. My 7 year old twins were looking at it this morning and they begged me to keep it, we won't be! lol

Not content with just giving you a Harmony doll, I thought I would also offer you a couple of brand new items that I have at home.  A stunning Genet scarf from FashionABLE who are another wonderful not-for-profit that I adore and also a Kate Spade on Purpose gold bracelet. In this last year Kate Spade have introduced a new program called On purpose and they have been working with 150 women in Rwanda on an initiative which seeks to transform their community of 20,000.

So here is what you will win in this giveaway -

and the scarf and bracelet close up -


Win 3 beautiful ethical gifts

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

Getting into my Winter Coat

I go against the grain, I'm that kind of girl. Whereas most people are desperate to lose weight for the summer I need to lose weight for the winter.  Well OK, I'll be honest I just need to lose weight full-stop and it does not matter when. It's only become a bit more urgent now as I have my new super warm and fully waterproof coat from Mountain Warehouse and it is snug, yep really snug. There won't be any jumper or cardigan wearing with it at the moment! Thankfully it feels warm enough that I can go out in just the coat and a short-sleeved top and it was only one degrees this morning but you know what it is like when the snow hits. Then I'll need to wrap up and I don't want to look as big as I do right now.

I'm about to take a blogging break for the next month and the purpose of that is to enjoy advent and focus on the real meaning of Christmas. I'm pretty sure God won't mind if I also use some of the time I free up by not blogging to take more exercise and plan better dinners and meal options. I suspect if I focus I can probably lose nearly a stone before Christmas, they do say the first bit to shift is the easiest and that might just be enough that I then feel comfortable in my coat and my chins look as if there are a couple less of them!

I got my son JJ to take some pictures of my in my new coat earlier and whilst the coat looks great, I'm not so impressed with me.  I am without make-up as I think it is important to let my skin breath at least one day a week and I'm not vain enough to worry about these photos going up on my blog, this is tales of the good, bad and ugly after all.

Let me tell you want I like about my new coat, the Canyon women's long waterproof coat -
  • It is available in both burgundy or khaki colours, I thought I'd go for the burgundy as red and pink are my favourite colours but actually I'm now wondering if I'd have looked more trendy and less mumsy in the khaki.
  • It is currently on sale for £59.99 and I think that is a very reasonable price for a quality coat like this. I can see it lasting for a very long time.
  • It is fully waterproof and will keep me dry in all this awful weather we have been having.
  • It is long enough to keep my bum warm as winter arrives.
  • There are loads of toggles to be able to adjust it to make it as warm as possible, inside the coat by the waste, at the bottom hem and around the hood can all be drawn in to keep the cold out.
  • There are elasticated cuffs and then also regular sleeve edges that cover them and can be drawn in with Velcro. So it has the benefit of being really warm without looking frumpy.
  • The hood has a great furry detail to the edge which I really like but it can be removed by poppers if you like and you can zip off the hood too if you want less bulk.
  • The front pockets are massive and you can put loads in them, this is useful for me when I am taking photographs and want to take additional lens and filters with me but without the faff of a bag.
  • The front pockets can be accessed from the top and from the sides and the inside when you access them from the side if lovely and fleecy and warm.
  • There are also loads of other pockets, both inside and out. The one up by the collar on the outside if my favourite as it is a perfect size for my mobile and keeps it really safe.
  • It is padded inside which makes it really warm.
  • it is available in sizes 8 - 22 so should suit most everyone.
  • As per my previous experiences the delivery from Mountain Warehouse was really quick and the packaging was good. I saw see it is free delivery to your home if you spend over £50 and there are free exchanges and returns if you need to
When you look on the Mountain Warehouse website there are lots of reviews for this coat and they are all excellent so it appears I'm in good company.

I'm setting myself a little challenge, to come back after December and to show you a picture of me in my coat so you can see how much weight I have lost. Wish me luck.....

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

Monday 24 November 2014

Healthier frying with my Breville Halo+ Health Fryer

For the last couple of years now I've heard friends talking about the new breed of low-fat fryers and how amazing they are. Whilst I love a good portion of chips as much as the next person I just closed off really and didn't listen too much as who need another large kitchen appliance that just does one job?

Well it was only when I was visiting my friend Carey that I spotted her Breville Halo+ health fryer and asked her if it was any good, that I discovered just how versatile it is. This appliance that I thought would just deep fat fry actually does all sorts - bake muffins, grill salmon to perfection, cook a curry and even make me the most divine Creme Brulee. To say I was surprised is an understatement!

It was then even more of a surprise to find BritMums putting a call out to see if any of their bloggers would like to trial and review a Breville Halo+ health fryer. Of course I applied for that opportunity and fortunately for me and my family, I was successful.

My fryer arrived with me just over a week ago and I haven't cooked as much in it yet as I would like as I already had my menu planned and bought for before I even knew the fryer was on its way to me. Over the next few months I intend to really put this appliance though its paces and see if it is a good as my friend Carey says.

Of course the first thing I set out to cook was chips. It is a classic and in honestly the main reason I wanted one of these.  I never use the traditional deep fry method so if we have chips at home they tend to be oven chips and they are OK but not the same level of deliciousness as those that come from the chippie or my Mum's homemade ones.

I'll be honest frying your own chips is more time consuming and effort than getting a bag of ready made ones out of the freezer but the chips done in the Halo+ do taste at least ten times better than oven ones! Not quite as good as chip shop deep fried chips but then you have to make some allowance for the fact these have 95% less fat, that is a massive difference and a very important one when you are considering weight and a healthy heart.

You can see in the picture grid below how I did with my first batch of chips. As a family of 5 with big appetites we don't go in for small portions so I went for the full 1.25kg of raw potatoes, which is the capacity of this Halo+ health fryer.

I cut the chips to 1 -2cm slices, patted them dry to remove excess moisture, laid them in the pan, poured over the tiny spoon of oil, put down the lid, set the time and pressed dual cooking mode (so simple!). After the 35 minutes as suggested by the instructions the chips were not done enough to my liking so I went for another 10 minutes and then they were great. The non-stick bowl that rotates and the tilt function on the fryer means that the chips cook evenly and without sticking. They were super chips but at 45 minutes to cook and a good 10-15 to prepare they are not a quick dinner.

OK, so you can see my finished dinner and it was not the most healthy dinner in the world but every do often you have to have a treat, don't you? And, just think by using the Halo+ fryer for the chips I cut the calories in that meal radically and lunch had been a whole ton of veggies, so it all comes out in the wash.

Healthier Cooking
That is one of the really great things about the Halo+, I can still eat the meals I want to eat but because of the cooking method the result will be far more healthy than if I had traditionally cooked it and as I am embarking on a month of healthy eating, exercise and family fun in December this is the perfect appliance to have available to me.

One of my favourite simple meals is steamed veg with grilled salmon and lemon juice over it, it is perfect that I have been able to use my (too small) oven to cook for my family as they do not eat fish and then use my Halo+ to cook my salmon fillet to have with the same veg the family are having with their meat and potatoes (very traditional British family here!).

The only other thing I have used my Halo+ fryer for so far was to cook some frozen burgers for when the kids had some friends come round for tea. I was interested to see how the Halo+ coped with frozen food and it appears to do a fine job. This time I used it on grill mode rather than dual cooking and it was great to see all the fat come out the burgers and run to the bottom, this meant the meat I was serving was healthier and I was able to pour off the fat for it to solidify and be disposed of.

Recipe ideas
There are some excellent recipe ideas on the Breville website so you don't have to feel alone and like you have no idea what to cook, just head over there and make something delicious. I'll share a few that look simple and are on my hit list and don't forget how wise it is to do batch cooking -

Vegetable Chilli
Hunters style stew
Swedish style meatballs in tomato sauce

Cleaning the Halo+
You get a snap on very robust handle for moving the inside dish and this is good as it gets extremely hot, it is easy to use and I just pop it in the dishwasher. Generally I found cleaning the product really easy.  The grill rack and inside dish can be put in the dishwasher and come up well and the outside can be wiped with a damp cloth. The plastic hood also comes off for washing. The hardest part was the metal grill at the front of the grill fan, this does not remove and after cooking the chips the photo below shows how it came up looking after a wipe and then a scrub with wire wool. So it looks as though that top part will look stained, as I'd be loath to put cleaning product up there as the grill is behind it but as it is inside I'm not too worried.

In general I think the Halo+ looks like a little alien and it makes me smile each time I see it, it is rather bright and garish and luckily my kitchen is green. If it wasn't I might not like the bright colour so much. The Breville Halo+ Health Fryer has an RRP of £169.99 which is my opinion is pretty steep. From shopping around I see you can buy it as low as £99.99 at Argos but it is still a big investment and I think you would really need to want to cook deep fried items like chips and battered fish as otherwise you could just invest in a very good slow cooker to do many of the other jobs.

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

Thursday 20 November 2014

Beautiful Christmas Jewellery gifts from Merci Maman

I've seen that quite a few of my blogger friends have written about Merci Maman over the last 2 or 3 years so when they contacted me and asked if I'd like to review a necklace for them I was very excited. Sadly the email had gone into spam and been unnoticed for a while so when I went back to them to ask if they were still seeking people I wasn't sure if they would be but it was obviously meant to be as they sent me a link for a new necklace that as yet had not been reviewed by anyone else. Coincidentally this was the necklace that I had chosen the night before when I looked through the site.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

My top 10 #AYASummit Moments

I've got so much going round my head at the moment and it is just becoming a big jumble. I sit down at the computer to put my thoughts into words and nothing comes and then I get cross with myself and try to focus, realistically it is a bit of a vicious cycle.  I know myself well enough to know it is time for a bloggy break and that's coming but I've just got a few things to sort out first.

One of the things I really did want to capture before taking a break is all the amazing moments I experienced when I was in Washington DC with ONE for the #AYASummit. As I've said before this really was the most inspiring and all-consuming conference that I have ever had the privileged to attend. I just need to get my head in order so I can use all the information and experiences I gained.

Here is my top 10, I thought about doing a count-down but it would seem wrong to place the events in any kind of order of importance or relevance as they were all so impacting -

1.  Listening to Marquesha Babers read her poem she had written as an entry to the Girl Rising competition to attend the Women in the World summit. What was remarkable is that 19 year old Marquesha has spent most of her life homeless and yet her spirit and morals are fabulous, she talked after about protecting her cousins for poor TV choices and getting an education.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Let's find mushrooms mummy (A year in photos)

After Church today I asked Miss E if she fanced a walk around the grounds where we live. JJ wanted a chilled afternoon before a game of football with the volunteers, Miss M was to make Anzac biscuits with Daddy for home learning and that left me and the little cutie,

'Let's find mushrooms mummy' she said excitedly, 'we can take our cameras'.

So that is what we did, a nice walk for a couple of hours enjoying the fact it was not raining but enjoying finding the fruit of all that rain as there was some fabulous fungi to be found! We then finished off the afternoon by inviting the rest of the family to join us for a cup of hot chocolate at the Orangery.

One on one time with my chidren is so special, that it can't be taken for granted, so as we walk I always take time to chat. We talk about the week gone, the week ahead, school, activities, friends, who we can pray for and what is on our hearts. It is very special to have that time to enjoy being together.
 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Thursday 13 November 2014

Rampant commercialism or a great reminder of past times? #ChristmasIsForSharing

I watched the Sainsbury's Christmas advert for the first time today and I balled my eyes out. For me it is the best advert I have seen in a very long time, in fact it is one of the only Christmas adverts that I do not mind seeing this early into the festive season. Actually scrap that, the festive season hasn't even started yet, has it?

Over the last couple of weeks talk on Twitter, Facebook and blogs has all been 'ahh isn't Monty the Penguin cute? Haven't John Lewis done a great job again with their Christmas advert?' and yes it is nice, it's sweet, it's endearing and as a mother it makes you think about your own child and their relationship to their special toy and if you are a romantic sort like me it makes you smile seeing all those couples in love but it is just to sell products from John Lewis. And I like John Lewis, I really do, I'm a happy customer of theirs and I'll keep buying from them but my eyes are fully open, they just want to sell to me and to make maximum profit, OK they provide great service, I'll acknowledge that but still it is Christmas commercialism gone mad.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Winter snuggle sessions with Netflix #StreamTeam

We have been away on holiday just recently and when we go away we always allow some of the young adults who live in our community to come and stay at our house. On the one hand this is great for us as we have peace of mind and on the other it is nice for the girls as they normally share a bedroom with two other people and rarely have the chance to just kick back and enjoy home comforts.

I know they love our Netflix so one of the first things I do when I return home is tune into my account and look at the 'recently watched' to see what the girls have been watching (not because I'm checking up on them, they are adults after all but) because it gives me some new ideas of films and series that I might like.

In the short time we were gone on our last break they seem to have had some mammoth viewing sessions in between their working hours.  I'll share with you some of the ones I like the look of -

GREEK - After finishing all the episodes of Gossip Girl I really need a new series that is lighthearted watching for me to dip in and out of while I'm doing the housework and cooking and this college based one looks just right.

Friday 7 November 2014

What can I do, I'm just one Christian?

The first Liberian Ebola survivor with Dr Lance Plyler of Samaritans Purse
(Who I had the pleasure of listening to on the #EndEbola panel at the recent #AYASummit I attended)

I'm sat on a comfy leather sofa in my warm and dry house in a beautiful rural setting in East Sussex and there are tears rolling down my cheeks. I find myself in this position very often now and I can't seem to stop it. I am affected by what I see on my TV and read on my computer.

The reason for the tears tonight is that I'm watching the BBC news and seeing how Sierra Leone is coping with the Ebola crisis over there. When you hear the President say he is hopeful for containment of the spread of the disease rather than confident and you watch as a group of 30 or so school children are asked to raise their hand if they have been orphaned and practically all of them raise their hand. You pray that they misunderstood and really that tragedy has not happened but deep-down you know this is what is happening. The outbreak in Kigbal is severe and about 10% of this villages population has died already in the last few days.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Why Paris is guaranteed to keep you busy in November

Image Credit

I love Paris, I've not been there that many times but for me, it is the city of love. I know that is cliche but I don't mind, the last time I stayed in Paris was December 1998 and my (now) husband had secretly booked a romantic break for us. At the time we were both managers in a hotel and one of the staff who worked for me in reception had come over to the UK from the French arm of the company.

Jerome helped my husband secure a really exclusive hotel for us and with his French-speaking skills and contacts at the hotel we got five star luxury for staff rates, it was a serious bargain. Nowadays if we were to visit Paris we would definitely head to the Hotel Direct site and have a look through what they could offer as then no French language skills would be necessary and I could rest easy.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Sailing to Jersey with Condor Ferries

Last week my family we're lucky enough to take a fun family break to Jersey and what a great time we had. It was the first time the children had ever travelled on a ferry and the first time my husband and I had as adults. My last ferry ride was when I was about 19 years old and in fact I went to Jersey but it was on one of those overnight booze cruises that were popular with students about 20 years ago. The idea of lots of cheap alcohol was very enticing, I'm glad to say that phase has long passed!

This holiday was about forming memories to last a lifetime and having fun and relaxation together as a family and Jersey was the perfect place to do that. Small enough to travel its length and breadth in one day but built up enough that there is loads to keep you entertained.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Let me introduce you to Saa #AYASummit #WhereAreOurGirls

Saa with Emmanuel and our summit host Patricia Amira
A couple of weeks ago I was in Washington DC with ONE at the first Girls and Women's #AYAsummit. The purpose of the summit was to bring leading digital and media influencers together so that we could be inspired and learn more about all facets of international development, of course with the hope that we would then go out and spread the word.

In West African Adrinka symbols the word AYA is the name for a fern. A fern is a hardy plant that grows in difficult places and people who choose to wear the AYA symbol may be symbolising their own strength, resilience, resourcefulness and endurance. This of course makes it a perfect symbol for this conference of mostly women exploring issues that affect women and girls in the main.

Start-rite Shoes - Field Test Update

You may have read my earlier post where I mentioned that Start-rite had sent all three of my children new school shoes for a field test this term.

I thought I'd show you a visual update on how the shoes are doing. I've photographed the shoes most weeks during this 7 week half-term and I took the pictures of the shoes as they came home from school on the Friday. So they have not been cleaned or polished.

First up JJ, he was sent a pair of Warrior shoes from the rhino range, these retail at £55 for his big size 7 feet.

July 2015 Update - JJ has worn these shoes the whole year and they have been fabulous. The best school shoes he has ever had!

Week 1

Monday 3 November 2014

10 things you might not know about Jersey

1. The beaches are beautiful. There is such variety – some really long and wide white sand beaches, others with rocks that are great for rock pooling and awesome waves for surfing too.

2. The Island is only 5 miles long by 9 miles wide and thus you can easily travel around and see all of it. Even a short stay of 3 days like ours is enough to feel you have had a good look around.

3. Then because it is so small it means you don’t really need to bring your car. Hire cars are plentiful here and there are loads of coach tours to take you to see various parts of the Island. These all stop at the major hotels in St Helier too for easy pick-up and drop-off.

4. Jersey was occupied by the Nazis during WWII and there is so much history here to explore. The war tunnels are brilliant; a real eye opener to what life was like for those living in occupied Jersey.

5. Petrol is much cheaper here. Our VAT is 20% whilst Jersey’s tax is just 5%, so if you bring your car, make sure you fill up before you go home.

6. Generally it is cheaper to buy things here, you can get perfume and alcohol at duty-free prices and some shops will offer a discount for buying in Jersey. For example we shopped at the Entertainer toy store and they offer 10% discount on everything sold. Food however, seems to be more expensive and is sold at 5% more than it is in the UK.

Liberation Square in St Helier

7. Jersey celebrates its Liberation Day on 9th May and there are island wide celebrations on this public holiday. I’m told this is a really nice time to visit as you can join in the festivities and have a lot of fun. Being as it is May the weather is generally warm and beautiful too.

8. As it is a British Isle, much is the same as home. You drive on the left side of the road, the currency is Stirling but also there is the Jersey pound that cannot be spent back home. Everyone we met spoke English and most speak French too. The shopping centre is very British and you will find brands like Next, M&S, Goldsmiths and WH Smiths.

9. Despite it being a British Isle some things are different - the healthcare system is a private one, so take out insurance. Your British phone plan for data will not work here, you will need to purchase data roaming and calls and texts back home are more expensive and won't form part of your inclusive plan. The postal service is also independent and you need to purchase Jersey stamps if you want to write home.

10. St Helier (the capital) appears to take a lot of pride in the way it looks and you can spend a nice day there without really spending that much money. There are loads of statues and monuments to look at, there is an interesting historic walking trail around Fort Regent, the views are also pretty spectacular from there too and the harbour is beautiful and recently redeveloped.

We had a really nice break in Jersey earlier this week and I would happily return there another time. I think it would be great to visit in summer as although it might be busier, the weather and the deep green/blue seas will be enough to make up for the people.

If you want to find out more about Jersey and what is there then visit the tourist board site - and for super transport from the UK it is worth looking at Condor Ferries. I can also recommend the Mayfair Hotel where we stayed too.

We had a great holiday in Jersey but it never seems to stop, now the kids are talking about how wonderful it would be to go to Lapland for Christmas, so I headed over to Kates to check out her Lapland holiday review.

Disclosure: We were provided with ferry crossings and 3 nights B&B for our family. A massive big thank you to Condor Ferries, and the Mayfair Hotel for ensuring we had a lovely time. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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 2 November 2014

A year in photos (Washington DC with ONE #AYASummit)

Stunning colours in DC

My life has been a whirlwind the last couple of weeks but in the best way. The first week I was away in the USA at the #AYASumit with ONE Girls and Women and I heard and learnt so much that I want to share it all with you but I need some quite time to process. The kids go back to school on Tuesday and from then I can imagine is when I will be able to start writing some posts about all the different panels that we listened to and engaged with.

For now I’ll share some photos from my time in America.

 I arrived into DC early evening and was collected by my friend and ONE Strategic Relationships Manager Jeannine. We had travelled together to Ethiopia in 2012 and she had kindly agreed to put me up for a couple of nights before we checked into the hotel for the formal start of the conference. I was blown away by her hospitality, she was so busy preparing for what would be an amazing conference but still she found time to make a divine veggie lasagne, enjoy a glass of wine with me and we got to spend some time catching up and enjoying each other’s company.

As Jeannine headed off to work the next day I went into central DC for to explore and found it a really nice city. The streets are wide and clean and the buildings reminded me of being in Europe, as they were very elegant, square and symmetrical. I particularly enjoyed the Museum of American History and of course got the obligatory White House selfie. I didn’t actually see quite as much as I hoped as it started to pour with rain in the afternoon but I figured my hubby and I would come back here someday.

Wednesday was a chilled morning catching up with work and then the afternoon was a decadent one as I checked into the hotel and had a luxurious bath, read a good book and explored the local area enjoying a traditional Afghan kabob for lunch.

The evening was the start of our conference and all the delegates met at the Mansion on O Street, the agenda was jam packed drinks and nibbles. This is the most unusual and interesting venue, it is open for private events but is also a hotel and literally everything in the place is for sale (at a price). You are encouraged to walk around and explore the four floors and look for the secret doors. It was fascinating to see what treasures there were across the property. You can stay in the bedrooms and the bathrooms are boast things like a telephone box shower, a glass chess set in the middle of the room and a wooden bath. You can buy a second hand novel for about a dollar right through to guitars played by and signed by music stars that cost thousands of dollars.

One of the hats you could buy at the O Street Mansion

I didn’t know many people at this reception and felt a little like an outsider but it only takes a few really friendly people to pull you in and make you welcome.  On this occasion those people were Jen Burden of World Moms Blog, Cindy Levin from Results and Aliza Sherman, entrepreneur and freelance writer/ speaker. We enjoyed a few drinks and a great chat all around the topic of international development and what we could do to make a difference.

The conference really got into full swing on Thursday and the agenda was jam packed, on the one hand I would say too much so but on the other it was all so brilliant I just can’t fault it.

Chelsea of Do a Little Good. I certainly want to get to know this passionate lady better

Amazing women doing amazing things - more to be shared....

The awesome Ginny Wolfe, Director at ONE, who invited me to America and to an amazing steak dinner!

After Friday lunch the summit finished and I had a wonderful time in Georgetown with Kristie which I have shared already.

Goodbye America, the view as I flew off

I’m liking this post up with The Boy and Me for the 365 project. Why don’t you go and visit some of the other linkers and see what they have been up to?

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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