Wednesday 27 December 2017

Bells Palsy: The Day I Lost My Smile!

Saturday 29 July 2006.  The day I lost my smile.

The first day of me learning a big lesson in humility.
The first day of a few months of pain.
The first day of realising just how vain I was.
The first day of realising how strong my faith in Christ had become.
The first day of the rest of my life... my life with a wonky smile!

30 year old woman with bells palsy for 5 days

The above photo was taken 4 Aug 2006. I can literally only move one side of my face, look at my forehead and the lack of wrinkles on that side. I also have a droop to my mouth still at this point.

30 year old woman with bells palsy for 3 months

The above photo was taken 14 October 2006. Still no wrinkles by the side of my eye on one side and my smile won't lift properly.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Wishing you an Amazing Christmas and a Healthy 2018!

That's me done for a while now. It might be until the New Year or I might be back earlier, it all depends how I feel and what opportunities drop into my in-box. It's nice to have the freedom to choose.

Thanks so much to all my supportive readers this year. I love being able to share our lives, the things on my heart, reviews and any random rants that come along!

I wish you a peaceful Christmas, full of fun and joy and a blessed New Year. I pray 2018 will be a fabulous one for you with good health and blessings in abundance, whatever that might mean for you!

Mich xx

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Thursday 21 December 2017

London: Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland - Is It Worth a Visit?


Last weekend my family headed in to London with the intention to have a few hours fun at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and then to go to the theatre.  Well, the theatre was amazing and I'd recommend La Petite Soiree to anyone who'd listen but Winter Wonderland was a bit of a let-down to be honest.

Would we got again?  No, probably not but you might enjoy it. Every family is different, so I'll give you my very honest low-down and share with you some links to review posts from other bloggers, then you can make your own decision.

Travelling to Winter Wonderland
Of course you'd expect the weekends to be the busiest times and also after school and into the evening I believe, so be ready to battle the crowds in the tube stations. We came out of Hyde Park Corner station at about 11.30am on Saturday 9th December and it was heaving, we had to hold our kids hands and they are nearly 5ft tall. I'd have worried if I had to battle those crowds with a toddler or buggy.

Later in the day we tried to get on the tube at Marble Arch at about 5.45pm and it was so busy they were turning people away to use different entrances. We headed over and caught the bus on Park Lane, which was definitely less packed and more desirable.

Top Tip - Plan your journey in advance and leave plenty of time. Check out the TFL journey planner to help you.

Entry to Winter Wonderland
There are a few entrances (which I don't think most people realise) so don't make the mistake of just queueing at the one closest to Hyde Park Corner tube station. When we arrived at about 11.45am to the entrances the first one we came across had mega queues and really didn't seem to be moving very fast. We walked a bit down and yes we joined a queue but it was about 4 times smaller than the first one and we were in within 10 minutes, so I was pleased with that and there is a fast-track lane if you've booked to see any shows or join in with an attraction.

I was a bit miffed that they took my water away though as it was in a plastic bottle and apparently a safety risk.

Big plus point, there is no entrance cost to Winter Wonderland, so you can just go in and soak up the atmosphere, without spending a penny - if your kids will allow you to of course!

Monday 18 December 2017

You Can Be Who You Want to Be! Stay #PrettyCurious

It was open afternoon at my girls school last week and they were keen to show me all their hard work

I think it is a very sad world to live in where any child has their dreams and horizons clipped and is expected to develop in a certain way and do certain things when they grow older. When my Mum was young (she is now in her late 60's) it was very much expected that once she married and had children she would give up her work and stay home to care for her family.

Perhaps because of this my Mum was determined that I should undertake any career I chose and as such I was the first in my family to go to University, where I studied Hotel Management. My parents have always been very proud of my career and supported my choice to keep working once I had my own children. I did change fields at that time and moved to work in a large entrepreneurial University near my home as a HR Manager. During my ten years at the University of Hertfordshire (UH) I undertook my Masters and worked in HR and training, supporting our staff to deliverer the best education to our students.

Working at UH was very inspiring and an eye-opening experience as the disciplines taught were vast and it was the first time I was seeing women in high level positions in the fields of engineering, medicine, technology and science. I can clearly recall the first time I went along to see Prof. Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn (professor of Artificial Intelligence) KASPAR showcase and felt so proud that a women was leading in a field that is traditionally dominated by men.

Thank goodness the UK seems to be moving in the right direction and thanks to forward-thinking schools, colleges, universities and employers we are seeing some positive trends for girls going into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers. However it is still not enough, only 1 in 4 people working in core STEM roles are women and this means we are underrepresented (source).

Friday 15 December 2017

Helping your Little One Overcome their Fear of Water

Tips to help your child overcome their fear of water
Water image, thanks to Shutterstock

Does your child have an unprecedented and completely unexplained fear of water? Whether it’s bath time that puts fear into your child or the very idea of swimming, when your child has developed a phobia it can be debilitating for the both of you.

But don’t despair, there are ways that you can help your child face their fear – without them even realising it! Here you’ll find a few tips of what might help.

Bathroom tips
Think about what is the cause of the fear. Is the bath too large and empty? Is the bath too crowded and full of toys? Is the bath uncomfortable and slippery so your child is worried about hurting themselves? Check out this website if you’re looking for a new bathroom suite that’s kid friendly.

Once you have figured out what his/her fear or fears are, find creative ways to help them overcome their fear(s). One way to help your child overcome their fears is to make the water more enticing -

  1. Try purchasing special toys that are just for use in the bath. 
  2. Fill the bath with bubbles or change the colour of the water with special water colour tablets.  
  3. If your child is afraid of getting into a full tub, try putting your child into the bathtub and then filling the tub with water. Let him/her turn on the water faucet so that they feel like they can control the situation.
  4. Have you heard of Bath jelly? It's so much fun and sure to help your little one want to bathe.
  5. Or why not get in with them!
If your child is afraid of the drain – and worried they might get sucked away like the water, then remove them from the bath before you pull the plug. You can also then show them that the plug is much too small to drain them away, and demonstrate this with some of their toys or your hands.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Maru Swimwear - Perfect any Time of the Year!

beautiful sporty and colourful Maru swimsuits for all seasons

I have to admit that I get so frustrated when I head to the high street shops in Winter to buy one of the girls a new swimsuit and find there is nothing available. Maybe a plain 'school' navy swimsuit that is so dowdy it should be for the over 70's if we are lucky but certainly nothing my trendy 10 year old's would like to wear.

Girl's Swimwear
Neither of my girls like to wear bikinis, they both like a full suit but they are interested in them being comfortable, colourful and stylish. Thankfully online retailer Maru is able to help any time of the year. They have swimwear for men, women, girls and boys and offer both practical plain coloured swimwear suitable for school or lessons and also gorgeous brightly coloured suits to make swimming fun but not frivolous. Oh no, their swimwear is created for the serious swimmer who needs their suit to stay in place and not distract from the speed or stroke of their swimming.

beautiful sporty and colourful Maru swimsuits for all seasons

Monday 11 December 2017

La Petite Soirée - The Most Amazing Family Show

La Petite Soirée was everything I hoped it would be and more. This extraordinary cabaret show deserves every award and glowing review it has ever received.

Upon arriving at the beautifully refurbished Aldwych theatre in central London my family's expectations were a mixed bag. I'd done some research so I sort of knew what we were heading in to see but my family had no real idea apart from the little I'd told them and you really can't do it justice until you've seen the spectacular for yourself. The girls were up for the ‘posh circus’ as they'd named it and I could see that my husband and 14 year old son were reserving judgement.

We headed in to collect our tickets, not knowing what the PR agency had booked for us and were pleased to find we had ringside seats. These are general admission seats so we were given a wristband and able to take a seat wherever we fancied within the ringside area. Our arrival at 2.40pm (20 minutes before the show started) gave us a good pick of the seats but the closest we could get was 4 rows from the front. I'd imagine you’d need to be at the theatre about another 20 minutes earlier to get front row seats but of course you also need to be prepared to join in and be a good sport if you sit in the front row!

Thursday 7 December 2017

Completing the One4all Challenge - What will we Do?

Recently I wrote about how the people at One4all Gift Card had challenged me to treat one of my kids to a truly memorable Christmas activity.

After checking out the One4all website I discovered that we had hundreds upon hundreds of options open to us for great things to buy or do. I didn't want to use the money on the card to just buy things that might be used once and then forgotten so I decided that the bulk of the money would be spent on a night away for the two of us. When I had asked Miss E what she wanted for Christmas this year she had said 'time with you mummy' and this seems the perfect way to fulfil that wish.

Hotel Stay over
I discovered that I could book hotels via the Superbreak site using my One4all card, so after a good look round the site, I decided to book the Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel and Spa in Surrey. My husband and I have stayed at this 4* hotel before and had a wonderful time and it is only about 30 minutes drive from my parents. This is perfect as Miss E had said she'd love her Nanny to be involved in her treat too, so this will be an extra nice surprise for her. The one night stay for the both of us booked via Superbreak is £110.

Images thanks to Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel

Monday 4 December 2017

12 Ways to get your Teen off their Tech this Christmas Break

Teen with Mobile Image courtesy of Shutterstock

In 2017 I think most parents of teenagers are suffering from the same thing. Deaf ears. My son doesn't hear a word I say when he has his headphones on and is in the virtual world of game play with his mates online. Manage to get him offline and he'll wander downstairs grunt a hello and grab his phone from his pocket and be at it again. Sound familiar? Yes, I thought so but fear not as I have some great ideas for you to help get your teen off their devices for at least part of the Christmas holiday.

I wouldn't recommend a full tech-free fortnight though as I think we need to be realistic as parents and nowadays our teens very much live in the digital world. Some online time is fine, that's how many of them stay connected to their friends when there isn't any school but we know that a full-day online is too much and they will just end up withdrawing even more than usual. A good balance is what we're after.

You might find it a little hard to implement changes if you've never restricted your teens tech access before but perseverance and open conversations go a very long way. Make sure you share your concerns about excess screen time with your child so they know why you are doing this and be willing to limit your own time online too, so you are setting a good example.

Try to give your teen the choice of what tasks they want to do instead of dictating to them as they will buy in to it more if they feel they have choices. I always find that once my son gets in to other tasks and puts his tech down he actually ends up enjoying them and starts self-regulating himself on his tech anyway.

Saturday 2 December 2017

Making Simple but Beautiful Christmas Tree Mini Wreaths

Tutorial for making Christmas wreath decorations that are a fantastic gift, they are simple enough for a child to make but are cheap and look really effective.

Miss E and I have been making some Christmas wreath decorations to gift to her teachers and Godparents this year. I'm really pleased with how they have come out and think they are a fab gift. The best thing is that these were made by a 10 year old and are really simple and cheap to make.

Here's what you need -
  • Curtain rings (wood ones as they ave the metal hoop at the top) We used ones compatible with a 28mm pole and picked these up in Homebase for £1.29 for 6
  • Wool in any colour you fancy, green if you want them to look like traditional wreaths (£1 in Poundland)
  • Multi-size gems - I bought 2 packs of different size ones for 99p each from Hobbycraft
  • 3mm ribbon in a colour of you choice (40p per metre)
  • Hot glue gun (or another firm glue)
  • A pair of scissors
Tutorial for making Christmas wreath decorations that are a fantastic gift, they are simple enough for a child to make but are cheap and look really effective.

How to make the Christmas Wreath Decorations

1.  Cut a long length of wool. Tie it on to the curtain hoop close to the metal ring. Take care to wrap the wool around the hoop, pushing it close to itself every so often and ensuring you keep a tight hold. If you run out of string, you can tie another piece on and the knot will sit at the back so it won't show, Once you have finished the full hoop tie off the string around the metal hoop and make sure it is secure.

Thursday 30 November 2017

Staying Focused on Gratitude #R2BC

It's not a good start when you try to write a gratitude post and hit a blank, is it? I think it might just be because I'm feeling tried and wiped out. It's that time of the month again and I feel as if all the energy has left my body. Last night I literally got about 3 hours sleep broken into about 45 minute chunks and my operation in January can't come soon enough. I pray this will sort out my issues.

I've just had a look through my diary and that's all it takes to remember how much I have to be thankful about -

  • Good session at the gym last week
  • I had an enjoyable evening with JJ at the church quiz last Friday
  • The girls and I went to see the local village panto and it was good fun (if a little long)
  • Sunday the kids and I visited my parents and it was ace to see them and go out for a yummy lunch
  • I started a new voluntary role on Monday and enjoyed getting to know the trustees of the charity
  • We had a good meeting to pray for the children that we coach for the charity TLG
  • I've bought my last Christmas present, so now onto the wrapping
  • The girls and I have made some fab Christmas decorations for their teachers and God parents
  • I got some long-due cleaning obs done - the windows, frames and banisters are all now gleaming!
  • A spot of colouring and bible reading over a good cuppa whilst I waited to pick the kids up from school

Life is good and I just have to remember to keep looking for the blessings when I feel tired and poorly.

Wishing you a good week, Mich xx

Come and Join In!

I'd love to read your Reasons to be Cheerful and it is as easy as 1, 2, 3 to join in -

1. Link up a post about something that is making you super happy/ grateful. It can be in this style or it can be anything you like - a recipe, a tutorial, a from the heart, a list - it's your blog, you choose

2. Add the #R2BC badge onto your post or blog so that people can easily find the linky and join in too if they fancy

3.  Share the love. This is the really important bit. Please don't just link and run, comment on at least a couple of posts and why not share with #R2BC too?

I'll stop by all linked up posts to comment and I'll share on twitter too

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

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Tuesday 28 November 2017

Christmas is Coming - Lets Get Crafting! 40 Fab Ideas

There's not too long now, I am officially OK with the Christmas music being on the radio and walking in to shops and seeing the decorations everywhere. In fact, come next weekend and our house might even be decorated too and I've just started the wrapping. Yay!

Don't fear though there is still long enough if you want to get your craft on and here I share 40 wonderful craft ideas to give you loads of crafting inspiration.

First up - how about 7 craft ideas for older children over on Cats Yellow Days? Which is a guest post from the fab Maggy of Red Ted Art. Maggy is Miss E's favourite YouTuber so I know she will love these star origami bowls.

40 ideas of great Christmas craft activities that you can do with your kids. Great variety and no massive skills required
Image thanks to Red Ted Art

Becky at Baby Budgeting shares the simple formula for making magic reindeer dust/ food, which seems to be a new idea over the last decade but I think it adds a lovely bit of magic to Christmas Eve.

I'm never very good at biscuit baking but the kids and I are definitely going to have a try at these hand-made and decorated Christmas Tree biscuits. They make super gifts for teachers or Guide group leaders, it is nice to give something handmade.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Looking forward to La Petite Soiree at Aldwych Theatre, London

Our family love going to the theatre, especially when it is a show in the West End but to be honest it doesn't happen all that often nowadays as we live a couple of hours outside London and I can't deny it, London theatre can be expensive for a family of five.

But La Petite Soiree has tickets starting from as little as £15 and that is really affordable. Its not even just the Grand Circle that has seats at this great value price either, there is a child price (for age 15 and under) on the higher price seats too and that remains at £15 throughout (excepting what they call the posh seats), which I am very impressed with.

I suspect you might be wondering what La Petite Soiree is though, I certainly was when the press release first arrived in my in-box. This is what they publicise about the show -
"We love the fact that the powers that be have, for some unknown reason, allowed us into London’s Aldwych Theatre to cause some trouble and bring our own brand of mischief to the West End over the festive season. LA SOIRÉE is a show that has created a shorthand with worldwide audiences in understanding what makes a wild and unforgettable night out at the theatre… joyous, celebratory, hilarious, cheeky, irreverent and at times quite saucy. With LA PETITE SOIRÉE we will deliver all of the above, minus the sauce. The spirit of LA SOIRÉE will run deep through the veins of its afternoon offspring but we look forward to welcoming a new audience with a brand new show." Creative Producer, La Soirée

Saturday 25 November 2017

The Bettybox Monthly Subscription for Tweens/ Teens

My twin girls are now ten, ten going on 15 that is. They really do seem to be growing up very fast and earlier in the year we had the big growing up talk. Miss M has the body of a 13 or 14-year-old so it can't be long before she hits puberty and gets her periods. 

I, of course, want my girls to feel ready when their first period hits, so we've already chatted, read some literature together and they even tested out some sanitary products with water so they felt reassured by the absorbency of them. I'm sure that when the time comes they'll be able to come to me and let me know what has happened for them but I love the thought of them already having some sanitary products that they can easily reach for if they need to and it was just my husband here with them.

Those products arrived this week in the form of the Bettybox, this is a subscription box, especially packed with young ladies in mind. You can pick the delivery date that your box will arrive each month and you have the freedom to choose a box with just towels (like we received), just tampons or a mix of them both. The sanitary products that come as part of the delivery are quality brands that we know like Tampax, Lil-Lets, Bodyform and Always and you have the freedom to choose the absorbency or your products too. I love that these boxes are not one size fits all, they really are personalised to what your child needs. 

Friday 24 November 2017

Stepping up to the Challenge with One4all Gift Card

Red Wine Image, thanks to Shutterstock

I do love a good challenge. You know how it is, someone starts off a sentence with 'I bet you can't...' and that's it the competitive spirit in you rises above the parapet and snaps 'challenge accepted, of course I can!'

So here I am with a loaded One4all gift card and the challenge to do something really special for one of my children for Christmas. Now of course that doesn't sound too difficult, does it? We can all make our children smile but my challenge is to sort out the whole gift experience by just spending money off the One4all gift card and that means I can only shop with retailers and outlets signed up to their scheme.

I must admit I was a little worried, how many retailers could they have where I am able to use the One4all gift card without any issue? Surely not that many I'm thinking, maybe about 50 but the little voice in me is wondering if they will be big retailers that I know and what to shop with.

You Can Spend it Everywhere (well nearly!)
Well let me tell you, worry not! The One4all gift card is accepted by over 120 different High Street brands and you can spend it directly in more than 50,000 branches or use it online with many of them too. And these are not just random shops these are massive names like M&S, Argos, Clarks, Carphone Warehouse, Pizza Express, TK Maxx, The Body Shop, Red Letter Days, ToysRus, Halfords and I could go on and on, as there are so many reputable and fantastic brands.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Loving my New Image and Precious Moments #R2BC

In all this Wintery weather I really love how it makes my home look

So what do you think? Do you like my new blog look? I really like it. Whilst the pink and purple really felt like me for a long time, recently I've felt our family had outgrown it and I wanted something a bit more grown-up and really personal. My girls are now 10 and JJ is 14 and taller than me and those little black silhouettes look very young.

So now we have a photo taken by me, at my home and some grown up colours - blue and gold to set it all off.  Do feel free to leave me some constructive comments if you think there is something that needs changing.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

How often are you praising your teenager?

Parenting advice on the topic of encouraging your teenager. Are you praising them enough?
Fab backpack from Millets, as shown in my Hard to Buy for Mans Christmas gift guide but modelled by JJ

A couple of weeks ago on my parenting teens course we were exploring the topic of getting your teenager to cooperate and there were some interesting stories of teens being sullen and not wanting to participate in family life. I think those of us with a teenage child have experienced this desire by the teen to just be let alone in their own little world, whatever that may be - gaming, reading, shopping or relaxing with friends.

The course leaders encouraged us to think about praise and instead of keep pulling our teens up for the things they weren't doing or the negative behaviours they were showing, to actually turn things on their head and to start encouraging them more. I think many of us worked to a system of motivation by praise when our kids were toddlers or preschoolers. I recall early parenting courses telling me to encourage the behaviour I did want to see, instead of picking up on the poor behaviour that I wanted to discourage.

It makes sense really as teenagers are very much like their toddler counterparts. Their brains are developing at an amazing rate but things are changing for them and they don't retain all the information they have learnt over the first 13-17 years of their life. The new neuro pathways are all being laid down ready for their adult life and their brain is being pruned, to just retain the information they use regularly. This is why we go back to seeing outbursts or tantrums when they are stressed or can't process the situation.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Review: Catan Board Game

Review of the strategy board game Catan, great family fun for 8+ years

{As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, any affiliate links will be marked with #ad}

Catan used to be marketed as the Settlers of Catan and it is a well-established strategy game where you are seeking to be the first settler to conquer the island and make it yours! I have to admit that I had never heard of it, despite all the awards it has won and many of my friends who love board games told me it was a firm favourite from their games cupboard.

The Premise
After a long voyage, you reach the uncharted island of Catan and you need to collect resources like wool, ore, brick, grain and lumber, which you can then use to build roads, new settlements, or even cities. But you are not the only new settler, you are racing against the other players, who have also just landed on the island. You are then encouraged to trade and bargain for resources and the savviest player will prevail. As you build you will gain victory points and the winner is the first to reach 10 victory points.

Learning the Game
There is a large and very clear rule book with the game. It has full pictures of the board set up, very detailed descriptions on turn order, and an almanack for more advanced rules and clarifications. I have to admit that I did feel a bit overwhelmed at first as there is a lot of writing to read but the Catan website is fab and it has a Prof Easy tutorial that takes you right through gameplay in a very easy to understand fashion. It certainly helped my 10-year-old's to understand.

Review of the strategy board game Catan, great family fun for 8+ years

Friday 17 November 2017

Visiting Ightham Mote, Kent in the Autumn - National trust

Ightham Mote header

During October school half-term we headed off to Kent to visit a new National Trust site. I've heard of Ightham Mote before but in the NT handbook, it didn't look as if it would be very big so I had avoided it in favour or larger properties. It was only when I saw some pictures on a friends Instagram that my interest was peaked again and she confirmed that it is a joy to visit.

Ightham Mote house

The Moated House
Ightham Mote is one of those properties that is great for families and also for just adults. It is a truly stunning 14th-century moated manor house and over the last 700 years, it has changed a lot and been lived in by Medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and high society Victorians. The house has many rooms open for display and you can see lots of interesting sights, such as the Grade 1 listed dog kennel, the crypt, the Great Hall and private residences of Charles Henry Robinson, who gave the house to the National trust in 1985. My favourite area was definitely the private church inside and I enjoyed seeing how the delicate wood ceiling had been conserved and restored.

Thursday 16 November 2017

#R2BC - Crazy Golf, Desserts and an Injection!

From our fab day Saturday, you only get to see my girls though as I can't show the little boy I coach

Happy Thursday friends! I'm feeling sure today will be a good day for us all so join me with that wishful thinking!

I'm using the same formula as last week and looking for one reason from each day of the last week highlight why I am feeling grateful. Here goes -

Thursday - Quite a child day, I coached my little boy, like I do each Thursday (we're making an Angry Birds pinata at the moment) and headed to the gym, so the day felt productive

Friday - I had my first injections as part of the preparation for my operation in January. I doubt many people would have an injection as a #R2BC but it cheered me as the end of in sight!

Saturday - I took my girls and the boy I coach out to celebrate this birthday. We played Crazy golf and had some yummy desserts at Kaspas and they were so good!

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas for Older Family Members

Full Afternoon Tea Image, thanks to Shutterstock

Sometimes buying gifts for the older members of your family is a bit tricky. Often, the person you are buying for already has most of the things they want or need. Plus, they tend to have very different tastes from you or the younger generation. This can make it a bit trickier to choose something suitable.

However, there are in fact a lot of great gifts out there that are perfect for even the oldest members of your family. Here are a few of my favourites. Hopefully, they will inspire you.

Photo Related Gifts
Most people like to have photos up around the home. As a result, photo related gifts can make great presents. There are many different types available and amongst the best are canvas prints. As you can see here they are not particularly expensive and are really easy to order. You can use any image for this, so it is a very flexible present idea. It can be pictures of the family, a nice landscape or even an image that you have bought on the internet.

Photos can also be used to create other unique gifts. One of the most popular is phone cases as most people own a smart phone. To order a photo customised phone case you just need to be sure of the make and model of the phone and it is also worth checking that the person you are buying for is not planning to update their handset any time soon. 

There are lots of other customised items you can potentially order online, so this genre of presents is a good starting point if you are trying to find a gift for someone who is hard to buy for. Over the last few years my Grandparents and the children's Godparents have received photo gifts, such as mouse mats, personalised Christmas tree decorations, calendars, mugs, bags and even a cosy fleece throw and they always seem very happy with them.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Christmas Gift Guide for Tween Girls - From 50p to £50

{As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, any affiliate links will be marked with #ad}

Can you believe there are only 42 sleeps until Christmas?  It's not long is it? Just over a month in fact. 

Are you sorted yet or are you like most of the population and you are only just starting to think about what you might buy your tween girl? You'll probably know I have twin tween girls so I have been buying a lot of different items ready for Christmas as they are true to form and asking for completely different gifts!

Read on to see some of the gifts my girls are getting and I hope they'll provide you with a few good ideas. There is the whole price spectrum covered here from a couple of quid stocking filler up to a £50 main gift. Let's start big!

Gifts for Under £50

Unisex Kids Lacoste Watch from - £49.00

I'm really envious of Miss E getting this watch for Christmas but alas it is too small for me. The colour is stunning and I love its simplicity. As Miss E has dyslexia it was important to have a clear watch face with numbers rather than roman numerals, so this watch from Lacoste (#ad) really fits the bill. It's available in quite a few colours as well to suit your child's tastes. 

The watch comes with a Lacoste 2 year guarantee but it feels sturdy and as the strap/ face casing is plastic, resin and rubber it will be durable for a youngster to wear. It is also water resistant to 50 metres so I don't have to worry if she gets in the bath with it on.

The watch comes in a super cute box too and what girl will be able to resist those eyes peeking at her in her stocking? 

Num Noms Nail Polish Maker - £39.98 

I'm sure if you have a tween girl you've heard of Num Noms (#ad). What started out as small scented collectables have now branched out into all sorts of things, but one thing remains all their products are super cute, pastel coloured and sure to be a big hit with a tween girl.

The RRP for the Num Noms Nail Polish Maker set is £49.99 but I see it is on special at many stores and the best price I saw was £39.98 at ToysRus. I just know that Miss M is going to be over the moon to be able to make her own scented (think strawberry, blueberry and banana) nail polish colours on Christmas day. The styling is perfect and the cuteness goes right down to the three nail polish containers, there is nothing ordinary or boring about this set and of course it all smells fabulous too.

This playset comes with a gorgeous scented Num - Heavenly Froyo and of course this cafe playset can also be used with your collection of Nums for imaginative play either as you make polish or once it has all gone and you just add it to your other playsets to make a Num Noms town.

Available from Smyths Toys and other large retailers.

Friday 10 November 2017

The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide Linky - All the Best in One Place!

Christmas Decoration image from Shutterstock

Have you written a fabulous gift guide this year?  Of course you have, so many bloggers do, so lets put all that amazing knowledge and inspiration in one place so that we can all be inspired by each other.

No need for any of us to be scratching our heads wondering what to buy for our friends or a family member! I bet I can guarantee they'll be a guide for every eventuality!


*  Link up your gift guide and I'll be over to visit and comment

*  Tweet me a link on @michelletwinmum and I'll be happy to share and give you an RT

*  I'll pin your post to the Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide Board board

*  Leave me a comment with your Pinterest name and I'll add you as a collaborator on the Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide Board if you fancy.

The linky will be open right up until Christmas Day for any late shoppers!

Simples, right?

If you want to add my badge to your gift guide, that's cool as it means your readers will be able to find all the fab guides but no pressure, it's up to you!

The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide Linky at Mummy from the Heart

Have a very Happy Christmas, Mich x

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 9 November 2017

#R2BC - Getting Fitter, My Op's Booked & Feeling Motivated

The Homeless Bard's Poem

God is good! I've had a very lovely week and I'm happy to share it with you all. I do hope your weeks have been just as fun.

Last weekend my husband and I headed up to London for a night away and to attend the Premier Digital Conference (think BritMums Live for Christians). We had a super time and there was so much I could share about it but I have decided to post one good reason to be cheerful for each day. Last year for Advent I did #1GoodThing a day on Instagram and I think I'll do it again this year, it is a lovely way too stay focused on the good in life and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, corny but super worthwhile!

Thursday - I had a fitness test at the gym and in the last 6 weeks my fitness level has really improved, my heart rate had dropped by about 12 beats per min at the same activity levels compared to when I started to exercise

Friday - We met The Homeless Bard in Trafalgar Square and I couldn't help but write about him, he is such an inspirational man

Saturday - We attended the conference and I came away fired up with so many ideas for blog posts

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Top Foods for Keeping Winter Coughs and Colds at Bay

We're at that rotten time of year again when the weather can't seem to make its mind up and we hover between warm and freezing days. And whilst it's lovely to cling on to the warmer weather the constant swapping between hot and cold always seems to play havoc with peoples health and even the chief executive of NHS England is warning that Britain could be facing a possible flu epidemic this year.

It's really important therefore that we are taking simple measures to stay well. It can be a costly business to have to turn to cold and flu remedies from the pharmacy but with a few preventative measures you hopefully won't need to, and even if a cough or cold does rear its ugly head then there are some very effective natural remedies available from health food stores too.

Eat a Wide Variety of Foods

One of the easiest ways to stay well is to ensure you are eating a wide variety of foods to give you enough vitamins and other key nutrients, this helps to ensure that your immune system stays fighting fit. Some of the key vitamins and nutrients your want to ensure your body is getting are -

Vitamin C - If you drink a 150ml glass of orange juice per day (can be fresh or from concentrate, nutritionally they are exactly the same), this can be counted as one of your five-a-day and it gives the full daily quota of vitamin C that your body needs. Sian Porter, Registered Dietitian says “Conveniently, pure orange juice is also a source of the B-vitamin folate, needed for white blood cells (that protect the body against infectious disease) to rapidly reproduce.” So this small, easy to drink and delicious glass of orange juice is a real winner.

Iron - If you start to feel tired and worn out then your iron levels might be low and you should be eating more leafy green vegetables like spinach, red meat, liver, beans and pulses, fortified breakfast cereals and sardine. Oh and I bet you didn't know that raisins and pistachios are also a great source of iron, so it doesn't have to be unpleasant to get your recommended quota.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Creating an Inspiration Wall with Desenio Prints

I'd never consider myself to have a good design eye. I look at other peoples homes and blog posts about interior design and I wish that even a corner of my house could look as stylish and gorgeous as theirs do. But alas magnolia seems to be my colour and homely and lived in seems to be the main design theme of my home. 

However, Desenio have made it easy for me to create a trendy inspiration wall in my dining room with their prints. This is a room that we spend a lot of  time in as a family and I wanted really positive messages to be impacting the children and our pastoral group as we eat and enjoy spending time together. It's a functional room where we eat, the children craft and I dry the washing and do the ironing - it really is multi-purpose and as such style is not normally key in this room. But I like what I've done on one of the walls with the Desenio framed prints (above) and as Miss M said 'they make it look much more modern Mummy'.

Sunday 5 November 2017

The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for Teenage Boys - 12 Great Ideas

Personally I always find girls so much easier to buy for than boys and if you were to ask my 14 year old son what he'd like for Christmas, do you know the answer you'd get? Money. That's all. Everything he wants costs hundreds and hundreds so what he wants is money to put towards his next big purchase and for him right now, that's a gaming PC. He already has a laptop, iPad and phone but apparently none of those are quite up to the job and he needs more ram and a better CPU!

Whilst he will get some money from us for Christmas, I do feel he also needs a few different things to encourage him off of his tech! I like him to have at least a couple of presents to open and then he won't feel totally left out.

So here are 12 ideas of what to buy a teenage boy this Christmas -

Young driver course
I'm keen on giving anything that gets my son away from his tech, so this young driver course is just perfect. There is the option of a 30 minute or 60 minute taster lesson and you can attend at one of 60 centres across the UK. If you live close by and your child enjoys it they can then book more lessons and build on their skills ready for when they are 17 and can get their provisional license and do it for real. It is £34.95 for 30 minutes or £64.95 for a full hour but I've seen cut price deals on Groupon a few times. So have a google and see what you can find.

Derwent Pencil Wrap Set
My son is keen to colour, he finds it therapeutic and it really satisfies his need for things to look perfect. He is happy to sit there and intricately colour an adult colouring book with the most minute details. However he has been moaning recently that he doesn't have any nice colouring pencils. Well I think he'll be super happy to see this gorgeous 24 pencil wrap from the world leading British artists' brand Derwent.

The canvas and leather wrap is very stylish and a great colour for a young guy to feel happy to carry with him. The wrap is available with 24 pencils from any one of the four Derwent pencil ranges - Procolour, Watercolour, Inktense or Coloursoft and there are an additional 6 slots for your drawing pencils or fineliners. This quality wrap retails for £44.99.

Saturday 4 November 2017

Listening to the Little Voice and Meeting The Homeless Bard

The Homeless Bard Image - Ms Jane Campbell /

It's a rare weekend away for my husband and I, we up in London and quite honestly having a wonderful time. The guise for coming up here was to attend the Premier Digital conference but to be frank after meeting Lee, or #thehomelessbard as he's better known, nothing was going to have the same lasting impact.

After arriving to Victoria and taking a bus ride towards Leicester Square to go and book some theatre tickets we decide to get off at Trafalgar Square and walk the last short while. I'm not sure what made me suggest walking - that the bus driver was a bit laissez faire in his approach to road safety or whether it was a prompt from God, but off we got.

Within a few minutes I'm drawn to the well-presented (well, he's wearing a holey jumper, buts it's clean and he smells good) and well-spoken man writing masses on the pavement. Nothing too showy about it, he's just using white chalk and there are no pictures but there's something aesthetically captivating and beautiful about his writing. Within a few moments of reading and if I'm honest, earwigging his conversation I know why I'm drawn to it. Lee is homeless but he's also a man of God. He is living for Jesus and he wants the world to know the good news. And in case you don't already know what that is, it's that Jesus died for us all. He loves me, he loves you and there's no judgement or condemnation.

It doesn't take long for me to throw my pound in the bucket and grab an image of one of his poems, titled ‘Little Voice’. My husband asks if I've seen something I like and I point that first poem out and we agree that if you swap the word angel for Holy Spirit then it's theologically sound and reflects our beliefs.

Then the poem ‘Be the truth’ catches my eye next and my husbands throwing his money in the bucket too and I head over to ask Lee (I'm not sure if that's his real name and to be frank it doesn't matter, as the man going by the name #thehomelessbard is only interested in glorifying Gods name, not his own) if he writes the same poems each day or if he is given new material each day.

He's quick to tell me that his day starts in prayer and that God normally gives him one word and from there the poem flows. Some he copies out multiple days as they are the foundation of what he wishes to share and others are fresh that day. On the day we chat there are two new poems and I ask him if this is his ministry, I think at that point he realises I'm a fellow believer and he starts to share a little of his personal story.

About being homeless, although nowadays rarely having to actually sleep on the street as he gets offered places to stay and about his heart for helping those people who are homeless. This is a man with a God given passion, he wants to see an end to shelters and a rise to homes for the homeless to share. Homes where the obligations put upon the people living in them are not too scary. They don't have to sign on, they don't have to get a job, they don't have to be clean. But they do have to respect the home, it's a place of God, a safe haven where the only obligations placed upon them are that they must build community together and that if they have an addiction like drink or drugs, they must do it away from the house. It's a place where they can heal from the inside out I comment and Lee nods enthusiastically and says exactly.

He gets excited as he tells me about a dog walker he sees early most mornings and how this man is helping him to get a house to be able to start making his vision a reality and I'm touched, really touched. In fact by this point I'm feeling very tearful and thinking I really must return the call to the trustee of a local charity that I've offered to give some admin help to. Not just any charity though, a local one in Hastings that have just set up a home for homeless people to share. It amazes me every time how God works; the clarity I get to my pondering of if this volunteering opportunity was where I was supposed to be giving my time next.

Our conversation doesn't last long and I can see Lee is keen to get back to his writing, so I thank him for his time and take details of the two self-published books he sells on Amazon. I might just have to treat myself to those and in the process add a little money to his fund for the homeless.

As my husband and I walk away, he talks about how he feels a bit funny after our conversation with Lee. He's not generally an emotional man but he's been impacted by the conversation and whilst Lee had sounded a little like a conspiracy theorist towards the end of our conversation, my husband compares him to John the Baptist, as people thought he was off the wall too. And in comparing him to John the Baptist I think he captures the essence of who Lee is, a simple man, who wants nothing for himself but dignity for everyone else.

Thank you Lee for your amazing ministry and your God focused heart. I'll be praying for you and the realisation of your passion.

If you happen to be walking through Trafalgar Square, look out for Lee and whether you're a Christian or not, have a read of some of his poems as he has a wonderful talent. You'll know it's him, as each poem will be signed THB, for #thehomelessbard 

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 2 November 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Time Away, Work and Family Time

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed if I'm honest. You know when you have too much on and don't feel as if there is enough time to complete it all?

Away in London with my Hubby
I'm trying to ignore that feeling and push it away as tomorrow I'm off up to London with my hubby for 36 hours while a lovely friend of ours looks after the kids. We're due to go to the Premier Digital Conference at the Brewery but if I'm honest I'm not feeling that inspired to go, so we will play it by ear and see how it all pans out. Whatever happens we'll have some fun and I'll forget about blogging and work obligations for all of Friday and Saturday.

Loads of Work and Goodies
Talking of blogging an being overwhelmed it is a good problem to have really. I just need to manage my expectations of myself and not expect everything to be done super quick. I need to get used to having a busy to-do list every day. All the paid work coming in is allowing me to plan holiday for next year and all the goodies arriving will make the children very happy when Christmas day arrives.

Chilled Half Term
I've not written an R2BC post for a couple of weeks as time run away from me over half-term but we had a good chill out, staying mainly close to home. The kids went swimming and to one of those huge trampoline parks, we had a couple of meals out and did some shopping and that was about it really (I was a good girl and made it to the gym twice). JJ worked a couple of days and I'm just getting used to the idea that my 14 year old is now big enough to have a real job.

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Christmas Gift Guide - 9 Ideas for the Hard to Buy for Man!

 {Many of the items in this post have been gifted to me in exchange for inclusion in my gift guide. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, any affiliate links will be marked with #ad}

If you have a man in your life who is hard to buy for I've put this gift guide together with you in mind. Both my husband and dad are hard to buy for, the main reason being that neither is really interested in presents. They are both quite content in life with what they have and of course, that's wonderful but it's a bit tricky for me, as I'm someone who likes to give gifts. So I hope you find these nine ideas useful -

A Trip to Hogwarts in the Snow

If you've never been to the Making of Harry Potter, Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford, Herts then I'd definitely recommend it. We've had a couple of wonderful visits in the last few years and you're normally there for around four hours, although you're free to stay longer if you wish. Over the Christmas period (from 18th November 2017 - 28th January 2018) the whole experience is dressed up for the winter season and it really is a beautiful sight to see. If the man you're buying for has enjoyed the Harry Potter films then he is sure to love this gift. Or look on Amazon for Harry Potter gifts (*ad). 

For more photos check out my review from last year and you can book over here.

Armani Slippers

I think everyone enjoys a bit of comfort and what better than some cosy slippers for a cold day. Slippers of course are a bit of a cliche though and are something you might buy for your Granddad but instead of shopping at Clarks or M&S why not have a look at a more exclusive online shop like Mainline Menswear and shop for some really special slippers, like these gorgeous ones from Armani that I'll be giving to my husband. They are super soft to the touch, come in a drawstring bag and retail for £55 with free delivery. Armani slippers (*ad) are sure to be a hit!

Saturday 28 October 2017

6 Things Every Woman in Her 40's Should Do

40 year old woman image from Shutterstock
{This is a collaborative post}

We’ve all heard that 40 is the new 30 and I think it is true that as a nation we are staying younger for longer. People are working for more years, having babies later in life and today's woman is expected to have it all but truly, we can only function well if we are looking after ourselves.

As a woman who really enjoyed her twenties and thirties but didn’t make enough time to look after herself, now is the last-ditch attempt to ensure that I go into middle-aged feeling well. I want to share with you five things that every 40-year-old woman should be doing (me included!).

1.   Get enough sleep
This one seems so simple and of course, we all know that we function and look our best when we have had enough sleep but did you know that getting enough sleep will also boost your memory, reduce inflammation and avoid accidents?

Amazing isn’t it? Sleep can make such a difference, it can even increase our performance, as shown by a 2011 study from the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study discovered that elite athletes were able to improve their best times when they had more sleep each night over a lengthened period.

Not only is it important to get enough sleep though, more recent studies show that you should adopt a regular pattern of sleep. Your bed and wake times need to be pretty consistent to ensure that your circadian rhythm operates at its peak. The circadian clock ensures that hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released about an hour before you need to wake up and your body will have moved into the less deep REM sleep so that when you make you feel good and ready to go.