Sunday 30 December 2018

Marching into 2019 with Hope and Love

It's that time of year when so many people are thinking about what lies ahead for them in the next year. I really like this time, when it feels like you have a blank canvas ahead of you and whatever you do feels exciting and new. However for me, it is the keeping it going beyond the first couple of weeks, or even the whole of January (if I'm lucky) that is the tricky bit.

Years back I used to make resolutions, and then always felt bad when they went to pot, so I put that to bed and in December 2013 I published a list of expectations for the year ahead and looking back now, I like that. It was full of positivity and to be honest if I re-published the same list for 2019, I wouldn't go far wrong.

2014 expectations list
2014's list of expectations
2015 was supposed to be the year that I got #FitandFree, I used that hashtag for a while and the aim was to get fit and lose weight. Guess what?  It didn't happen.

At the beginning of 2016 I wrote about the goals I'd like to achieve that year, and with the exception of the big one that has been evading me forever (the weight loss) I did well.

It appears that I didn't write an end of year, or start of year post for 2017 but I remember this was the year I changed to having a guiding word. My choice of word was Trust and this was about trusting God and trusting myself. Then for 2018, I did the same and chose a word, this time it was Believe - I had to believe I could do it. What was the it?  Lose weight of course.

Believe christmas lights in brighton

As I read over these old posts, it is very sad to see that my main goal at the end of every year is to be healthier and fitter, by losing weight and exercising more. It would be so easy to throw the towel in and say that I'm never going to do this, that experience shows I give up easily.

But I refuse to give up. 

In last years post, I said by the end of the year I would be far more healthier and lighter than I was starting the year. If I just look at that, then it would be a fail, but I've always maintained that you don't fail, you win or you learn in life and if I look into that post further, I see that I published a list of what I would believe in. It is when you read these that I know I won last year, I made great progress, yes my outside body still looks fat and my physical health isn't great but my spiritual health is so much better. I do believe I am worth it, I believe I'm loved and that I make a difference and I end the year already a gym member who is actually using her membership each week and knowing that in 2019 I will lose weight. I start slimming world on New Years Day.

Here is the list I published this time last year -

  • I need to believe I am significant and worthy of good outcomes
  • I need to believe I can make the right choices with food
  • I need to believe that exercising is necessary and can be enjoyable
  • I need to believe I will lose weight
  • I need to believe I am loved
  • I need to believe my actions make a difference
  • I need to believe the best of others
  • I need to believe I have the time to spend with God each day

Today a spent a good couple of hours in the prayer centre as I was trying to focus on what my mantra should be for 2019. Now I know some Christians don't like the word mantra, but I'm not getting hung up on this. A lady I follow on Instagram - Ysette Guevara has been talking about mantras recently, and her first one was 'to rest in the palm of God' and this spoke so loudly to me. So I've been asking God where my focus should be and how do I tune into Him more and keep moving forward.

The first mantra, or phrase that came to me was
"rest in Me child"
and I was feeling very positive with that and ready to move forward with it, as it spoke to me about getting rest, having quiet time with God, sleeping well, giving God the control and acknowledging I am a child who needs to be guided and is loved.

Then tonight I went to a couple of short workshops and the one on being free from fear really grabbed me and I came away, after doing the session in the dark with just the odd candle, believing that I have to step into the light, or live in the light, and then the words of the well-known song came to me
"marching in the light of love"
and this feels right for me too, as marching is doing and I need to be actively putting in to my exercise and weight loss journey, the light is God and I must rely on Him and He is love, so feeling supported and appreciated as I take these steps that have proved so difficult for over three decades!

So here I am right now, with two mantras and I don't know if that will work or naturally over the next few days as I pray and wait on God if one will make itself clear as my guide for the next year ahead. Whichever, it doesn't matter as I'm feeling positive and I know there is hope....

Hope christmas lights in brighton

Why not pin this post for later?

Guiding mantra post

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Tips for Mums Going Back to School

Photo credit, thanks to Unsplash

Having babies is tough. Raising kids even harder. Looking after a house and organising everyone’s time is hectic and stressful. Most of us also look back on our school days as being difficult, tiring and often overwhelming. And yet more women than ever are now choosing to take on higher education while they are raising young children, and maybe even holding down a job.

On paper, this can sound crazy. Surely there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. But, it can be well worth it. Going back to school has many benefits, and the skills that you have picked up while looking after your family can be put to good use in your search for knowledge.

Going back to school can enrich your life. It can give you something away from the home and challenge your mind. It can help you to rediscover yourself away from your family and give you an enormous confidence boost. It can provide you with career options, both now and in the future, and perhaps most importantly, returning to education can set a fantastic example to your children.

Despite all of these advantages, there can be no denying that it is going to be tough. You’re going to have trying times, it may wear you down and stress you out. You are going to have to work hard and battle for what you want, but, if further education is what you want then nothing can stop you. 

Monday 10 December 2018

Sharing your LIves with the Grandparents in Print, by Neveo

My three kids and my parents, they have such a wonderful relationship

My parents would love nothing better than to live on our doorstep. Well, OK, not actually that close but I know they'd love to have us in the same town, just a short walk or drive away and this has never been the case. It has meant that we have to be more intentional in our efforts to see each other regularly, which is a good thing but nothing beats just dropping in for a cuppa most days, without it having to be a big effort.

One of the reasons I started this blog a decade ago was so that my parents and other friends and family who lived away from us would be able to see and read about the kids regularly, so they didn't feel they were missing out, but over the years the kids have appeared less and less on here. Also, I find that people of my parents age tend to like a physical photo, rather than a digital one, so I have created some photo books over the years, but they do cost a bit and feel like a lot of effort if I'm honest.

Introducing Neveo
However, I want to share with you a better way and one that won't break the bank.  Even my husband's 94 year old Grandma can enjoy this way of sharing too, without a gadget in sight. Have you heard of the app Neveo? No, well I hadn't either until recently but we've been missing out.

Neveo is a brilliant app you can download (iOS or Android) for free or use directly on your laptop and it makes creating a monthly photo journal super easy. For £9.99 per month (including postage - anywhere in the world) you can upload 50 photos a month and caption them or even write a small essay with each and then on the first day of the next calendar month, your photos and personalised captions will be made into a beautiful photo journal for your loved ones, specifically in our case, the grandparents, to enjoy.

Right now, it sounds a lot like other photo book sites, doesn't it?  But it isn't. The beauty of Neveo is that you have the whole month to add your photos and it takes literally minutes. So each time you take a photo you like, you can instantly upload it direct from your phone to the app and it is super quick, I found no lag time at all and I live in an area with rubbish Internet speed, as I'm in the middle of nowhere.

Saturday 1 December 2018

Women Expecting Monochorionic Twins Need to be Aware of TTTS

I'm happy to share a guest post with you today, written by Kate Phillipa Clark, the founder of, a wonderful resource website for those expecting and parenting twins. In this artcile Kate talks about Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, which can be a serious complication of having twins, who share a placenta. Whilst it's really improtant to educate yourself about this, I want to make clear that it is only a concern to you if your twins share a placenta, and even then it only affects about 8-10% of monochorionic pregnacnies (source), so there is no need to get unduly scared, just speak to your sonographer and doctor at your next appointment. 

Women pregnant with twins need to know their twins chorionicity. It’s extremely important to know whether or not you expect twins who share a placenta to be on the lookout for conditions like Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).

It might not be the first thing you think about when you learn that you’re expecting twins. But knowing chorionicity in twins is extremely important. Chorionicity relates to whether or not your twins share a placenta. Twins who share a placenta are called monochorionic twins. A sonographer determines chorionicity by using ultrasound at the dating scan during your first trimester. If you learn that you are carrying monochorionic twins, you’ll need to be monitored more often than with dichorionic twins. Dichorionic twins have separate placentas and are not at risk of the same conditions as monochorionic twins.

Thursday 29 November 2018

A Week of Reasons to be Cheerful | #R2BC

Thursday has rolled around again, it really does astound me how quick time flies by an each week. As I sit down to write this post I am reminded that I must cherish every moment as they are gone in a flash.

I'm celebrating something from each day in the last week -

Thursday, JJ's Parent evening - We got told what we thought we'd hear, that he is super bright, destined for 8s and 9s across the board, but he rushes and needs to go into more depth in a couple of subjects.  He makes me so proud.

Friday, We went to see the local village panto - and it was good fun. It's fab to watch a production where you know many of the characters and can enjoy all the village jokes.

Saturday, We went to an enormous craft fayre - it was fabulous and we all really enjoyed th yummy street food. I went to Turkish chicken skewer, with handmade bread, Greek salad, humus and tatziki.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

My 5 Top Recommendations for Family Villas in Phuket

Photo by Karl S on Unsplash

Phuket, it's the island you dreamt of visiting as a little girl. Well it certainly was for me, the name sounds exotic, the beaches are abundant with white sand and crystal clear blue water and have names like Paradise Beach and freedom Beach, and surprisingly the prices are much more affordable than many other luxury islands in Asia.

I've been having a good look through the site and picking out my favourite Phuket villas for all types of family travellers. Why not have a look and see which one takes your fancy from my selection?

But first let me tell you a little more about, part of the Villa Finder family.

High Standards
They have 250 selected villas in Phuket, all of these were inspected before being added to their site and they continue to inspect them on a regular basis to ensure that standards are kept. Most of their villas are privately owned and this means you get a variety of styles to suit all tastes. Of course the big bonus of a villa holiday over staying in a hotel is the space, privacy, and peace and quiet of being able to suit yourselves, and not worrying about neighbours in the next room.

Travel Consultants
I was very impressed to see that once I see a villa I like, I can send an online enquiry (or call them if I so wish) and one of their professional travel consultants will call me back to understand my needs fully. Do I need a highchair, pool safety fence, car seats etc? There is nothing like personal service and whilst browsing the Internet can be fun, it can also be exhausting and confusing, so to have a travel professional available to me who knows the island and the area I want to stay in, is invaluable.

Thursday 22 November 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful - Chilling, Painting and Praying

Happy Thursday friends, how are you doing?  I'm well here, feeling better and just left with a chesty cough now from my cold, but I'm praying that is on its way out too.

I've had a chilled week and it's been very good. I've enjoyed being creative, making some birthday cards and also painting a picture as part of our Be Still... week or prayer we are having here. I've managed to get over to the prayer centre each day for some quality time with God and that's given me loads of food for thought.

I headed back to the gym and did a workout and swim, which is good as I was feeling a bit guilty having had the week off, but realistically I couldn't do it with a cold and chesty cough.

My husband and I had fun with some friends at a quiz night last Friday and we headed to the cinema to see the Grinch on Sunday, which I'm embarrassed to say I slept throughout quite a bit of it, but woke for the happy ending!

Wednesday 21 November 2018

18 Great Ideas for your Teen Girl this Christmas | Gift Guide

On the one hand teen girls are so easy to buy for, there is so much she wants, but then on the other, boy are they fussy! Depending on your girl, and maybe her age, will dictate whether you can pick up bargain items from Poundland as stocking fillers or whether she'd just rather one great gift, like some tech, a pair of Adidas trainers or an Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie. 

I've put together some gift ideas for teen girls (probably the younger end of teen) with a range of price points from £1 to over £50.

Gifts for under £5

False Nails - £1
Poundland do a great line in false nails, all sorts of styles, colours and both glue and adhesive sticker application. These are a real quick win and an easy way for your teen to be able to change her look, even when she had a fatal nail break!

false nails

5 Pack of Lip Glosses - £2
This pack was such a bargain, again from Poundland. There are five great colours, so something to suit all skin tones and cheap enough that it doesn't matter if she loses it the first time she takes it out with her.

lip balms set

Monday 19 November 2018

Miss E Loves her Retro Roller Skates!

Look at those beauties!  I must admit that when my daughter chose these roller boots from I was quite surprised. This is the girl who has been an inline skater for the last few years and all of a sudden she fancies quad wheels.

She tells me she used them at skate club a bit and became familiar with them there, and seeing as we have the same size feet, I'm quite happy for her to get them as it means I'll be able to have a go as I used to skate with similar boots when I was (much) younger!

What she chose are the Rookie Classic II White quad wheel skates, which are also available in black. They retail for £79.95 (UK sizes 3 -5) or if you have big feet like us the cost rises to £89.95 (UK sizes 6 - 7).

Saturday 17 November 2018

Stocking Fillers & Gift Ideas for Tween Girls this Christmas | Gift Guide

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

There's only 37 days left before Christmas day arrives, so actually now really is the time to start seeking out what Christmas gifts you wish to purchase for those you love. 

If you have a tween girl (aged around 8 - 12 years) in your life, I've put together some ideas for gifts that I think she'll really like. These go from stocking fillers for just £1 through to £59.99. I tend to pick bits up for Christmas throughout the year so I can spread the cost and it means you can cash in on the sales and discounts when they happen.

Stocking Fillers and Gifts for under £5

Bananas - from £3.99
These new scented collectables are sure to be a massive hit. You unpeel the banana and straight away are get hit with the sweet smell of bananas and then inside you have a number of small blind bags to open and you can enjoy stickers, gems, a Crushie character and two mini squeezable friends, as well as a hanging vine to display your Crushie. They are £3.99 for a single banana or £9.99 for a bunch of three. 

Thursday 15 November 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful | Looking for the Silver Lining | #R2BC

Hey friends, how are you doing? I hope you’re feeling more cheery than me. It’s one of those weeks when I really need the R2BC linky as I’m feeling a tad sorry for myself. I started to feel unwell, just a cold, nothing major, last week and then it got worse and worse and I ended up feeling properly poorly at the start of this week. I’m on the upward hill but now I’ve got a 24 hour blood pressure monitor on and it hurts, ever half hour it squeezes the life out of my arm, it’s no fun, especially not when I’m still full of a chesty cough.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

15 Great Gifts to buy a Teen Boy for Christmas - Gift Guide

Christmas is fast approaching and I do love to get ready nice and early so that I can spend most of December spending time with my family and enjoying Advent. I have to admit that I far prefer buying for women than men, probably because I'm a woman but it just seems so much easier.  I'm determined that my teenage son won't miss out on the fun though and I thought I'd share with you some suggestions of items to buy for a teenage boy this year.

If you ask my son what he'd like for Christmas or a birthday his stock answer is money, that's because he is always saving up for the next laptop, gaming headset, phone or other such gadget. I'm sure we will give him some money but he needs some gifts to open too and I've found in the past when I give him items that he doesn't even know he wants, he ends up having fun and it keeps him off his tech for an hour or two and that's a win in my book!

Gifts for under £5.00

Haribo Festive Treats - from £1
Who doesn't love Haribo (#ad) sweets? I don't think there is any age cap on them and I know all my kids will be pleased to receive a selection box, cracker or tree hanging gift this year. With prices starting from just £1 they are a delicious bargain and can be picked up at any supermarket.

Haribo sweets

Sudoku Cube Puzzle - £2.99
I love this 6cm x 6cm x 6cm cube, it is an amazing price and looks great quality too. Even better it will fit in JJ's stocking. Here is what they say on the Find Me A Gift site - "through the ungodly union of Sudoku and Rubik's cube, we bring you the Sudoku Cube! This fiendishly difficult little puzzle might look unassuming, but it's here to make you grit your teeth and swear under your breath in frustration." Just perfect for my smarty pants to keep him occupied for a few hours over Christmas, or in the car on a long journey.

Suduko game cube

Sunday 11 November 2018

Posterhaste Family Portrait Review - A Perfect Gift

I love personalised gifts and I think this quirky family portrait from Posterhaste is a perfect Christmas gift for my husband. It was super easy to create, I could customise it to get it just how I wanted and there are a range of options to make it affordable for all pockets. An 8" x 10" print is just £20 and the largest size 20" x 32" print, in a 24" x 36" 100% wooden sealed frame is £115.00.

We went for a 12" x 16" print in a 16" x 20" black frame, as chosen by Miss E. I did fancy the light natural wood, but she (quite rightly, I expect) pointed out that my husband would probably prefer the black. This retails for £70.00.

I found the customisation tool on the Posterhaste site to be very easy to use. On the right hand side of the screen you choose whether you want a print, poster, framed print or box canvas and then you have the options for orientation. We went for landscape as there are five members of our family and also our new cat, so this seemed the most spacious way to display everyone.

You then choose the size, colour background for the picture and a title name. Next you add each of your family members and customise them to get a fun but recognisable likeness. I liked the fact you can choose some quirky items like headphones and a crown. It was an obvious choice for us to put a crown on Miss M's head and I'm sure it will make my husband smile when he sees it.

Thursday 8 November 2018

36 Hours in London with my Hubby - A Big Reason to be Cheerful

How are you today friends? I hope the week has been treating you kindly. It’s been quite a good one here and I’m looking forward to a chilled and uneventful weekend.

The basis of this weeks Reasons to be Cheerful post was my overnight stay in London with my hubby last weekend. We only had 36 hours up there but it was enough to tire me out, as well as provide a fabulous time.

We headed up on the Friday morning once the kids were off to school and started the day with a wander of Borough Market, with coffee and cake at Southwark cathedral. It’s so nice to be able to chat without interruptions, and I really needed a break from hearing ‘Mum’!

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Lunch at London Steakhouse Co.and Visit the Shard, Buyagift Experience Days Review

With Christmas just around the corner it can be so hard to know what to buy for friends and family, especially as you get older as people have all the 'things' they want or need. In recent years I've been giving the gift of time to those I love. I have taken my Mum and daughters away to hotels, for gorgeous food or for thrills like Go Ape but it really can take so much time finding the best deals and planning it all.

What I've discovered this year is that there are companies who can do all the hard work for you, and brilliantly you can still secure a great price. I've been working with to review their "The View from The Shard with Three Courses and Cocktails at London Steakhouse Co." experience. The current price is £95, against an RRP of £160, so that's a brilliant saving of 41%.

The cost to book direct with The View from the Shard for two adult tickets is £49 and if you booked a three course set meal direct with the London Steakhouse Co. it would be £59, then £21 for the two cocktails, so that makes a total of £129 when booked direct. This means the £95 really is a very good saving and considering you know the experience is tried and tested, and you can read lots of independent reviews on the site, I think that's great.

Last weekend my husband and I headed up to London to attend a conference and stay overnight and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to go and try out the London Steakhouse Co. and we were not disappointed. There is the choice of the City or Chelsea restaurant and we opted for the City as this was most convenient for us and it is a great location, easily accessible to all the major train stations and just a few minutes walk from Liverpool Street tube station.

Sunday 4 November 2018

Catching Contentment by Liz Carter, A Really Great Read!

Liz Carter
Fifteen years ago when I was pregnant with JJ, I didn't have any friends who were pregnant, so I found myself on a site called BabyCentre virtually meeting lots of other women who were also expecting a child at the same time as me. We were the October 2003 birth club and now in 2018, I still regularly chat to around ten of those women, having met some of them a few times over the years.

One of them is an amazing and inspiring Christian woman called Liz Carter who writes a blog called A Great Adventure, which is a really great read. Liz has a wonderful way with words and I've enjoyed reading her musings over the years, so I was thrilled last year to discover she was writing a book. It's evident from Liz's writing that she has a deep and profound relationship with God and it has been amazing and uplifting to see over the years just how she has dug into this relationship and remained strong in her faith despite having a chronic lifelong illness.

I don't know if it is is because of, or in spite of, Liz's battles with lung disease and all the medical complications that accompany it, that Liz has a quiet confidence in our Lord, but her writing on contentment and why we can all capture it, whatever our situation is inspiring and accessible to all.

Catching Contentment is such an interesting book that really opened my eyes and introduced me to so many new ideas and concepts that I’ve truly never thought through before. I loved the practical reflections which really drew you into the topic and helped you reflect on your identity and contentment in a personal way.

Wednesday 31 October 2018

Happy Thursday Friends! What's making you Cheerful?

It's time for Reasons to be Cheerful and I really wasn't feeling it as I wrote this on Wednesday night. I'm tired (the cat has taken to waking me at 4.15am!), I don't feel as if I've been productive today and I suspect I'm hormonal but sadly I never really know as my cycle isn't reliable.

However, as always just the act of writing out a gratitude post has put a smile on my face and reminded me that generally its been a good week and I have a fab weekend to look forward to as well.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so here we go....

I get to live here and I just love the views as the sun sets. At this time I was happily working along chatting to my boy, with a cappuccino in hand.

Miss E made banana and chocolate chip bread all by herself. I can't wait to try it tomorrow.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Seeing the Seals at Blakeney Point with Beans Boat Trips

seal pup

At the end of the summer, we had a lovely stay in Fakenham, North Norfolk. We stayed at the White House cottage, which is an Air BnB property and we love it there. This is our second year staying and I’m sure we’ll go back as it suits all the family, with animals to keep the girls entertained, good Wi-fi for JJ and a lovely lounge and garden for my husband and I to fully relax in.

About a twenty-minute drive away is the NationalTrust maintained nature reserve of Morston Quay and Blakeney Point. This is a great place to go for a family walk and just have a look around at the boats mooring up or travelling down the river.

We went there specifically to go out on a boat trip to see the seals which head there to relax and carry their babies. There are several companies offering boat trips out to see the seals, the two most popular ones seem to be Beans and Temples and from I understand from friends who have used both, they are are both reliable, quality and pretty much of a likeness.

Mum & daughters on a boat

For no particular reason, we used Beans boat trips and all the information about sailing times and prices is on their website. You do need to call to make your booking but there is no payment in advance, you pay on the day when you arrive. For this reason, there did appear to be some non-arrivals and there were plenty of people who’d arrived without reservations and were waiting in reserve.

Thursday 25 October 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful - Italian, Community Day and Bathtime Bliss

I've loved it being half-term this week but I can't believe how quick it came about, and how quick it is whizzing by!

It's been a fab week, we took it pretty easy over the weekend as my husband was with his cub pack at camp but the girls and I enjoyed lunch at Prezzo.

Monday was community day here where we live, so everyone joined in with fun and games together. Loads of laughs were had and Miss E enjoyed making loads of cakes with my husband ready for the Autumn feast, we enjoyed in the evening.

Monday 22 October 2018

A Simple Autumnal Walk Around Our Home

When we first moved to East Sussex over five years ago I used to share lots of pictures taken around the grounds of our home but I realise I haven't for quite some time now, So I need to rectify this.

You may know that I'm lucky enough to live within the 220 acre grounds of the Christian Conference Centre that my husband works at. This means we have access to large lawned areas, three lakes, loads of forest, a stream, lake swimming, a low ropes course and so much more. And all of this 365 days a year.

The other weekend Miss E and I took a Sunday afternoon walk together as she wanted to find some conkers. It turned out we were a bit late in the season as there weren't that many about but we did well for sweet chestnuts.

It was a lovely 90 minutes spent with Miss E, isn't it fab to spend one on one time with your kids?

Loving the cloud reflections in the next picture.

Friday 19 October 2018

Preparing your Home for a New Baby

Congratulations, you have a new baby on the way and isn’t it exciting? There is so much to plan, what will you do about work? Will you baby wear? How will you feed your babe? What kind of pushchair do you want? The decisions go on and on but one thing I think some parents overlook in the pre-birth stage is getting the house ready for your baby.

There are several things you can do to make your life easier and your home more hygienic without breaking the bank – read on:

Carpets may be warm underfoot, but they really aren’t practical once you have children. I recall the amount of times we needed to bring the buggy in with sleeping babies, or once the kids got bigger and the muddy footprints they trailed in. A much better option is laminate flooring and there is a grade to suit every budget and a design for every style lover. The click-lock mechanism makes it very easy to fit, it withstands knocks well and can be easily swept and mopped clean for a hygienic floor you’re happy to let your baby eat from!

laminate flooring

Thursday 18 October 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful: Teddies, Family Time and Pusspuss

Happy Thursday friends. I'm very happy to be joining in with Reasons to be Cheerful this week, I almost didn't but then remembered that it is so important to recognise all the good things that go on in our lives.

The best news for our family is that it is almost certain we have a gorgeous little black and white cat coming to live with us. He left his home over the summer and spent quite a few weeks in the grounds of the conference centre where we live. Once we'd made friends with him, I was able to read his chip and we found his owner, who took him home. They kept him in for around three weeks to help him acclimatise and as soon as he was let out again, he made his way straight back to us and meowed at our door to be let in. I contacted the owner again and they have said they think it is best if he comes to live with us, as he obviously enjoys it here. So a few things to iron out but I'm feeling positive.

I joined a local health club last Friday and then on Tuesday I had my first workout and swim, followed by a coffee and a quick read of my book. I can't wait to keep this going twice a week. I have my proper induction tomorrow.

We went to visit the Darvell community on Saturday afternoon. This is a local Christian community who all share resources, live simply and aim to demonstrate God's love to all. They are always a pleasure to spend time with and they treated us to burgers, fresh apple juice, tea and warm cookies from the oven, as well as cart rides, tractor rides, a petting zoo and nature crafts. The girls loved it!

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Warm Up Your Home for Cosy Family Nights

Image thanks to Pixabay

When it starts to get colder, it can make for some fun autumn and winter family outings. You don't want to be outdoors all the time, though, especially when it's raining and dark. Getting cosy at home can be just as fun, and there are plenty of family activities you can do to keep your spirits up during the dark and cold winter. Creating a cosy home for the winter isn't difficult, and you could do it in just a few easy changes. All you need are the right items to add a bit more comfort to different rooms in your home.

Get Some Ambient Lighting

The dark mornings and nights in the winter can get you down but having the right light and warmth at home goes a long way. A roaring fire is one of the best ways to have both but, in the absence of that, there are lots of other ways to get it right. Warm and ambient lighting can make a big difference, giving your home a cosy and welcoming glow. Rather than have bright ceiling lights, making use of lots of lamps with warm lighting is a great way to achieve the right effect. Floor lamps, table lamps and wall lights are all good choices, and candles can be a nice addition too (if you use them safely).

Snuggle into Pillows and Throws

Your living room (or whatever you call it) is a family space, where it's fun to spend a winter evening. If you want to make this space more warm and cosy, adding lots of pillows and throws is a fantastic way to do it. You can create a layered and textured look for your family room that will always look warm and inviting at the end of a long day. Try warm fabrics like wool and faux fur that you can really snuggle into.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Trying out the ZeroWater Filter #Review

Since we moved into our house five years ago we haven't enjoyed the taste of the tap water. I don't know if it is our pipes or something else because we happily drink water at our neighbours houses, but it has always had a funny taste here. As such, each week I order bottled water and of course I know this isn't a great thing to do as it creates too much plastic waste and costs us £4.50 a week for 12 x 2 litre bottles.

That means we are paying out £234 a year (at least, we order more in the summer) on water and of course that money could be better spent elsewhere. With that in mind I was very happy to hear about the ZeroWater filter that has a unique 5-stage filter which removes virtually all total dissolved solids (TDS), a claim which no other filter jug or dispenser can make. We did have a water filter jug before (the well known one) and we didn't find that this improved the taste of our water enough to sustain using it.

We've been using the ZeroWater filter for a couple of weeks now and I can confirm the taste of our water is much better and I'd be happy ongoing to use this rather than buying in water, from a taste point of view. The jug we received retails for £39.99 and it is a 2.8 litre (12 cup) model. I have to admit that when full I found it heavy to lift and my 11 year old girls couldn't lift it at all. This isn't such a problem as it has a one-handed 'push to dispense' button under the handle and this would be perfect, except ours is pretty stiff to press. So it is hit or miss if you can do it with one hand.

Here is Miss M using the 'push to dispense' button to fill her glass.

I have to say I was over the moon when I first realised that the ZeroWater filter would produce water that was good enough in taste that we could use it and not have to buy bottled water. At first I thought this was going to end up saving me about £200 a year and that would be excellent but you have to take the cost of the water filters into consideration.

Have a look at the TDS readings here, the first is tap water, with a high 333 reading, the next is the normal bottled water I buy (reading of 93) and the last, at just 004 is the ZeroWater filtered water.

Now because my tap water reading is so high (we have a local bore hole here that our water comes from) it means that my filter will only last for a reduced amount of water filtration, see the chart below -

This suggests that the level in my area is exceptionally high and even at the best case scenario, the filter would only last for 55 litres. I've seen that if you buy a single filter the cost is £19.99 per filter and if you buy 8 at a time, they work out to £11.24 per filter, but of course you've then just forked out £89.99 in one go instead of my usual £4.50 per week.

If each filter will only last me 55 litres (best case scenario), it means that the cost of the 8 filters will give me 440 litres of filtered water for £89.99. Whereas I could get 479 litres of bottled water for the same price, so unfortunately the ZeroWater actually works out more expensive. Of course it does save on all the plastic recycling, which is a great thing and I could choose to use my filter for far longer than the recommendation to change it when the TDS rating gets to 006 or higher. When you think that my bottled water has a reading of 93 and we've been happy with that for over 5 years, I think it means we can leave it for longer and make the filter more cost effective.

It is good to know that the water we are drinking from the ZeroWater filter is better for us as well. I'm not going to try and convince you though as truthfully, this isn't an area that I have any knowledge of. So take a look at the comparison chart and see how the ZeroWater filter compares to its competitor.

The headlines that stood out for me are that it is 3rd party tested to remove 99% of Chlorine, Fluoride, Radium and Asbestos and that it is certified to remove lead and other heavy metals.

In all we really like our ZeroWater filter, it works super well and produces a much better tasting water that is safer for us to drink. I'd just like the filters to be a better price, hopefully they will come down with time.

Disclosure: We were sent the water filter for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
Thanks for reading, if you have enjoyed this post and want to stay up to date then 
 Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or Follow on Bloglovin

Thursday 11 October 2018

International Day of the Girl - Advice to my Teenage Self #AdviceforGirls

Sorry for the image quality but when you are dealing with pictures taken in 1990 before the digital camera was even around, you tend to find they aren't the best quality. The above is me aged 17 years; I'm on holiday in Corfu with my (then) boyfriend. 

Today, on International Day of the Girl Compassion UK asked me to share a picture of myself aged 15 years old and I didn't have one to hand, this is as long ago as I can access, so it will have to do. The idea is to share the advice I would give to my teenage self, so here goes....

Hey Mich, You're just a teenager still and already you have been on a number of diets and berated yourself for the way you look, but come on... just take a good look at that image above, you are gorgeous, you are brilliant and you are filled with potential. 

What I want you to know is that you are so much more than a body and a face. Please don't take any notice of what you see in the magazines, what you overhear the popular girls say about you, what the boys at the youth club or at school whisper about you, or even what you hear well-meaning relatives say when they think you're not listening. You are amazing!

In Psalm 139 God tells you that He knows you, inside and out, that He sees you, that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and that most importantly, you can never escape Him or His love for you. You don't need to meet societies expectations for beauty, because you already meet Gods. 

Mich, you are enough. God knows it, you need to believe it and live it. Please don't waste your time striving to be thinner, to be browner, to fit in or to be liked. Be uniquely you Mich, that is how God made you and He doesn't make mistakes. 

Have you got any idea how well this body will serve you in life? It will carry you to Ethiopia, Belarus and Washington as an advocate and activist working to help put an end to extreme poverty. It will birth three amazing and unique little beings. It will be a friend to many and help dozens of people, as a friend, volunteer and co-worker. 

Please don't waste another minute worrying Mich. God tells you not to be anxious  but to present your requests to Him in prayer and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7). So the best thing you could do, right now, aged 17 years old is turn your life over to Christ and come to know His never-ending love for you.

He's got your back Mich! Just believe it.......

Of course today, many girls the world over, are worrying about their body and their beauty, just like I did and have done for many, many years. But as well as these kinds of worries like |I had, there are also girls in so many countries who are worrying about much bigger issues, like where to get clean water or their next meal from, or perhaps who their husband will be when they marry at age 15 or 16.

Research from NGO Save the Children showed that Brazil is the worst country in South America in terms of girls development opportunities. It scores 102 out of 144 countries and the data is based on teenage marriage, teenage pregnancy and those girls completing secondary education.

Given these facts, Compassion UK chooses Brazil as the focus for their Handbook for Girls campaign, which is hoping to educate teenage girls there and change the amount of them dropping out of education early.

Image thanks to Compassion UK

Launched this summer, the campaign aims to raise £20,000 so that all 10,000 girls in Compassion's church-based projects in Brazil receive a Handbook with vital information on health, education, relationships and employment. The Handbooks are being developed by Compassion Brazil’s programme staff in partnership with child development experts, including psychologists and education professionals, and are aimed at girls aged 12-20 years.

What’s more, church partners will receive training in how best to support girls in the topics covered in the Handbook and boys will participate in workshops on the value of women. Each book costs just £2 to produce and distribute, which I think is a great use of such little money.

If you think what Compassion are doing in Brazil is important then I'd urge you to text EMPOWER to 70140 to give £4 and change the life of two girls in Brazil and visit Compassion UK for more information and the text-to-donate terms and conditions. 

Thanks for getting involved friends. It might not seem a lot we can do from the comfort of our warm homes here in the UK, but as I always maintain, every small action adds up and creates a ripple of change that one day will be so big it makes a monumental difference.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Ways to Improve your Parenting Tool-Kit

Photo by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash

We all want to be the best parent we can be to our little ones, to maximise the amount of family time we have with them and to improve our skills that will help them navigate their way through life. But how do we become better parents? Of course, time helps, and you learn on the job, so to speak. Your confidence grows as your child does, or as you have more children. However, some parents like to bolster their parenting skill set with more tools and to be proactive, rather than just organic in how they grow their parenting tool-kit.

Here are a few ideas for gaining new skills which will help you on your parenting journey -

Nursing Skills 
Every parent has that inner panic when their little one injures themselves; you want to do the best for your child and make sure you don’t make the problem even worse. So why not develop your caring skills, with a first aid course or you could consider online nurse midwifery courses, where you can earn a reputable degree and a real sense of achievement. Not only will you learn how to take care of babies professionally, but you might just find a career path that you truly adore.

Calming Skills
When your life gets hectic it can be very difficult to keep your cool at times. Of course, you want to stay calm for your children, but it can be difficult seeing it through, especially in times of high stress. You could become a better parent by practising calming methods in the comfort of your own home, even for just a few minutes a day. Meditation, mindful or centering prayer are great ways to tune out of your problems and to just focus on the here and now. These methods can then be employed next time your child is acting in a stressful manner.

Monday 8 October 2018

Staying in Paris at the Adagio Paris Bercy Village

bercy village header

Back in July it was my Mums 70th birthday and as a treat, my brother and I (funded by our lovely Dad) took her away to Paris. I'd spent ages looking for accommodation that was reasonably priced but could sleep two women and a man without us all being in one room. Hotels were coming up really expensive for two rooms and I didn't fancy three single beds in one room and no room to move about. 

I ended up booking the Aparthotel Adagio access Paris Philippe Auguste, which is situated in the 20th arrondissment, next to the Père Lachaise Cemetery an close to metro links into the centre. The price was 463.93 Euros for three of us for three nights and I thought this was reasonable for Paris.
Imagine my surprise when the day before I received an email telling me there was a technical error and we couldn't stay at this aparthotel, but they had booked us out to Adagio Paris Bercy Village and that it was a higher specification aparthotel. On the one hand the accommodation did look better and had the benefit of air-conditioning, but on the other it was quite a bit further away from Gare du Nord where we were arriving in to.

Inside the Adagio Paris Bercy Village
Public areas at Adagio Paris Bercy Village

Friday 5 October 2018

Family Visit to the British Wildlife Centre, Surrey

British wildlife centre header

My husband loves both photography and animals/ birds, so for his birthday we decided to combine those two things and headed over to the British Wildlife Centre, in Lingfield, Surrey. We didn’t really know what to expect as it didn’t look the biggest place but the reviews on Trip Advisor were very good and that’s always encouraging.

The cost for two adults and two children (a family ticket) was £37.00 and we just hoped that our time there would be worth this cost as well as the two hours round journey. Thankfully we had the most wonderful visit, staying for four hours and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

We arrived just before 1pm and headed straight down to the Dell for the hedgehog talk. I wondered how much interest one tiny animal could hold but it was great, the keeper was really informative, he was easy to hear and understand, and I learnt something too. All whilst watching the little hedgehog scampering all over the place. Who knew they were so fast? Then when we got to see the hedgehog up close he was cute beyond words.