Friday, 8 November 2019

What are you seeking?

As a woman in my twenties, it never occurred to me to analyse my life. To really look at aspects of it and see if I was happy with them, or if they were healthy. For me, becoming a Christian at 29 was what had set me on an introspective journey to find out who I am and what is right for me. I would say what makes me happy, but that doesn’t sit right with me, for I believe my life isn’t lived for my own gratification.

I have a purpose, a greater good that I’m supposed to achieve during my life. It may not be what the world deems as bold, exciting or successful. I don’t have to become famous, make a million, or be stunningly beautiful. Society’s expectations of success don’t really apply, and it is so good to remind myself of that fact. All that is expected of me, is that I try my hardest to follow Christ’s example, to be a good citizen, and to think about other people, as well as myself.

In fact, in the last few days I’ve been realising, yet again, (why do I forget these important messages and then have to learn them again?) that I need to prefer others to myself. That’s not about me having low self-esteem and believing other people are more important than me. Not at all. It is about me remembering that I’m here to serve, in so many ways.

I’ve truly found that when I take my focus off myself and put it onto others, I am a lot more fulfilled. When I keep analysing why I feel lonely, or why I’m so fat, or why my work doesn’t feel fulfilling, all I do is perpetuate those feelings. 

You know what they say, negative in, negative out!

It’s so important to think positive and to seek the good in people. Some may say I’m wearing rose tinted glasses, but that’s not true, as I still know the world is flawed and there are problems in both my life, and the wider world around me. I just need to make the purposeful choice (and no, it’s not always easy) to see the best. A lovely friend reminded me of this the other day, as my thinking the worst of a situation that involved her had resulted in me feeling hurt for the last year and because I hadn’t raised the subject with her, she had no idea, she just thought I was busy, rather than purposely staying away.

Communication really is key to everything in life. Being honest and open with God, those around you and importantly, yourself, makes a massive difference. It won’t always be easy, in fact sometimes it will feel like such hard work, but it will always pay off.

After my post the other day about loneliness and seeking a good local friend, I spent some more time in prayer and contemplation, trying to decide what would make the difference to me right now. What did I come up with? I realised I need to stop thinking about myself and to do more for others. Not silly things like the kids washing or dropping them places, but more purposeful things like spending time with them doing an activity they enjoy, leaving the best parking space for someone else, or volunteering to do the crappy job at work, the one no-one enjoys.

I have far less time now than I used to, as I’m working more, but there is always time to do the little things, and many little things add up to be a big thing. The thing that takes me out of myself and helps me to focus on others and hopefully gives me that sense of purpose and satisfaction that I’m ultimately seeking.

But what about you, what are you seeking?

I'm linking this post up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for Reasons to be Cheerful.

Thinking of Starting your own Blog? Check out my 4 Top Tips for Success

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

{Collaboratve post}

Have you ever thought about starting your very own blog? It’s hard work…but incredibly rewarding. You might not want your blog to be found and read by others, you might prefer it to be a private online diary, or maybe you have an opinion that you’re desperate to share, or you have some advice that you know others will find helpful. No matter what your motivation for starting a blog is, it’s a wonderful creative outlet that is ideal for personal growth and for building your confidence!

Starting a blog is a great idea, but have you wondered what you might need to make it a success? 

Check out my 4 top tips for blogging success below.

You need the right tools

Of course you’re going to need a laptop and access to the internet but having a good set of writing tools at your disposal will also help you through the blogging process. For example, if you’re referencing someone else’s work or maybe a newspaper article then help with citations and referencing will be a huge help. Scribbr provides apa citation guidelines and advice on their website. Investing in proofreading software, as well as a programme that will help you with spelling, grammar and clarity will also prove useful. It will also help you improve your work.

Find your niche

You don’t always have to have a niche to make your blog enjoyable, however having one will help you to gather a bit of a following and build on your blog subscribers. If you offer information on a range of different topics then some readers might dip in and out of your work rather than retuning week after week for a new insight on one specific topic that interests them. If you have a unique perspective of a particular topic or varying degrees of experiences and advice from it all, then by all means go for it! Parenting, minimal lifestyles, health and fitness, eco living, veganism, sport, travel – all are popular niches. Try to find yours!

HVAC Tips for Pet Owners

Puss Puss the cat adopted us last October
{Collaborative post}
Owning pets fills your home with so much joy. Unfortunately, it also can fill your house with lots of fur and dander. One aspect of pet ownership, which many owners don't consider, is the effect their pets have on their home's HVAC (Heating, ventiliation and air conditioning) system. If you are a pet owner, here's what you should be doing to take care of your HVAC system and keep it operating at its best.

Groom Regularly

Keeping your dog or cat groomed isn't just a great way to keep them clean and looking their best. A well-groomed animal causes less mess around the home. Regular brushing is highly effective at keeping your house from being overrun by fur. It removes the fur into the brush, where it can be easily disposed. This way, it doesn't get in your heating and cooling ducts and clog up the system.

Vacuum and Sweep

No matter how diligent you are with grooming it's likely that your pets will still shed in your house. By maintaining a consistent vacuuming or sweeping plan you remove the loose fur before it has a chance to get sucked into a vent where it clogs up your HVAC system.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

What to Do with Your Family in Kefalonia

Photo by George Hiles on Unsplash

{Collaborative post}

If you’re looking to book a winter sun holiday with your family - or looking into options for the Easter break, or even next year’s summer holiday - then you might have thought about going to Greece. The gorgeous weather and fantastic food are just two reasons that may persuade you to pick this country, but it has so much more to offer.

Kefalonia is one of the many great places to go. It’s the largest of the Ionian Islands in the west of Greece, and offers couples and families many things to do together. Here are some suggestions you may want to think about when booking your Grecian escape -

What to see

If you’re looking for a beach holiday in Greece, then you’ve come to the right place. Not only are there many white sandy spots to sit on, but the beautiful blue sea is a gorgeous, inviting enigma with plenty of surprises within. Myrtos, on the north-west coast of the Kefalonia, is considered to be one of the top 30 beaches in the world.

You don’t have to just sit on the beach, though, because there are many things you can do in the sea, or explore on the coast. If you or your children are interested in animals, then you could go to Argostoli Bay to see the wild loggerhead turtles lay their eggs, or even take a cruise on a glass-bottomed boat. There are many caves, lakes and other water-based activities you can discover as well.

Monday, 4 November 2019

A Well-Needed Break - Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

I am so thankful that we got to have a few days away last week during half-term. We've been lucky this year with a couple of short breaks to Yorkshire and then Kent, where we stayed in AirBnB's and they were both lovely, but what I have realised is that when we holiday in the UK we don't rest properly. We do things, we go places, I tidy the house etc etc

Last week we headed to Spain for just 4 nights and I wondered what it would be like. Would it feel as if we've only just arrived and then had to leave again?  But no, it was excellent and we all felt thoroughly relaxed by the end of it.

We stayed at the airport the night before and had an early flight, so we were by the pool of our hotel by 10.30am and this gave us an extra full day. The hotel was fab and the rooms were ready by 1pm, so we could get unpacked and back down by the pool in no time at all!

I'd definitely recommend Salou for an October half term break as the temperature was between 21 and 25 degrees each day, and yes I picked up a bit of a tan and needed sun cream! The only downside is that the swimming pools in the hotels are not heated and as such are cold, no scrap that, they are truly freezing!

By the last day both my girls got brave and spent a few hours in the pool, it was lovely to see them having fun with some lovely girls they met.

It was a very low-key holiday, with a bus trip into the neighbouring resort, lots of long walks, coffees out, finding the local cats, games of cards, time spent chatting, reading and enjoying a cheeky Baileys each night.

It was also Salou Independence day whilst we were there and my hubby went to see the night parade with pyrotechnics and the girls and I joined him the next day to see the day parade, with bands, massive puppets, a giant eel and a very scary canon!

I'm thinking this October half-term holiday could become a thing! It was so much cheaper than other times of the year, but next time I would have to find a heated pool!

Top Tips for Regulating Home Humidity

Image Credit: Trent Szmolnik on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

Having high or low humidity levels in your home can cause significant trouble. Not only is living in a home with extreme humidity levels uncomfortable, but excessive moisture or dryness can also cause damage to your property. Here's what you need to know about regulating your home's humidity levels to keep them in a comfortable range.
Know Your Warning Signs
You can't adjust humidity levels in your home if you don't know if your humidity levels are off in the first place. The good news is you don't need any special tools to check for overly humid or dry air. You just need to know what to look for.
If static electricity levels are high or the paint on your walls is cracking, your home is likely too dry. If you're seeing condensation regularly on your windows or drinking glasses, or you're smelling musty odours, you likely have high humidity.
Handle Wet Clothing Well
One of the easiest ways to adjust humidity levels in a low-tech way is to adjust your treatment of wet clothes. Leaving wet or damp towels and clothing out causes natural moisture to enter the air. If your humidity is high and you've been leaving wet clothes in your hamper, simply doing laundry and putting them away clean and dry could solve a high humidity issue.
Perhaps you have the opposite problem: low humidity, or dry air. If that's the issue, after you take your clothes out of the washer, skip the dryer. You'll find you can raise your home's humidity using clean laundry. Lay laundry out on a line or rack to encourage evaporation of moisture into the air.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Looking After Me! #R2BC

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HAPPINESS IS... // A morning at the spa on your own, totally chilling. ✨🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️ . A week ago I cricked my neck and it's been so tight and painful. Then last night I was full of stress as I backed out of an unproductive situation. 🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️✨ . Today, I've had a fabulous massage, the most divine Elemis facial and now I'm chilling on the hot stone relaxation beds. ✨🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️ . Whenever I feel ready it will be a swim, steam and jacuzzi, followed by lunch. Then it's back to normality as I have work to do, ready to go to Spain at the weekend. 🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️✨ . I'm feeling quite anxious about our trip though, for many reasons. So I'm trying to replace negative and anxious thoughts with positive ones. ✨🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️✨🏡️ . Anyway I just thought I'd share this pic as I don't think this 46 year old looks too bad without any filters!
A post shared by Michelle Pannell (@michelletwinmum) on

I’ve been looking after myself recently and that why there’s not been many blog posts, or not ones that take emotional energy anyway. I haven’t felt like I’ve had much to say and now the kids are 12, 12 and 16 it’s so hard to share my parenting tales, as they (quite rightly) don't want their lives broadcast for all to read. Peer pressure and casual bullying are too rife sadly!

I made a choice a long time ago that I’d share the good, bad and ugly of my life as a way of connecting, helping others and showing that Christians are regular, flawed people too. Even this, now, has become more difficult as so much of my life involves my husband and I’ve never shared on his behalf. He’s a very private man and wouldn’t want his life ‘out’ there.

So blogging really does seem to be changing for me, it’s becoming less personal and more a way I earn money. Now, I’m trying to decide if I’m OK with that. Of course the money in the bank is very helpful, and not too difficult to earn, but do I want Mummy from the Heart to be a commercial entity?

I think, to be honest, it is the reality of where I am right now. I’ll still do personal posts when the moment takes me and I have something to say but I’m not going to beat myself up for earning a living and being able to pay for a holiday for our family.

As I sat in the day spa yesterday I was feeling proud of myself. Proud that I seem to have found that elusive balance that everyone seeks - I’m employed, I’m self-employed, I’m mum, I’m wife and I’m Michelle too. I’m getting time for things I enjoy and I’m not feeling run ragged.

Some of it is down to the kids being older, but much of it is down to my head being in the right place and being able to accept who people are and what their limitations are. As well as being able to reconcile that I cannot do everything. I just have to choose what is most important and focus on those things.

This update post will serve as my regular reasons to be cheerful post, where I share what is making me feel happy and grateful right now.

·         Time at the spa alone, I had a massage, facial, time on the hot stone relaxation beds, swim, steam and Jacuzzi. Pure bliss!
·         I’m loving being part of the village panto. I have just volunteered for the chorus this year and I’ve even backed out of one dance as my hurting foot won’t tolerate the moves, but I am loving the singing.
·         I’ve been spending time in the prayer centre to just be and wait on God, which is never time wasted.
·         We’ve joined a new church and I wake up each Sunday wanting to go and I come away inspired and wanting to do better. I haven’t had that for a while now, so it is so welcome.
·         I made a choice this week to walk away from a work situation that was upsetting me and I have cut all ties with the source of anxiety.
·         I’m not entirely satisfied with the job I started back in June, but it was good last week to be really honest with my manager and to make her aware that I wasn’t sure if it was the right job for me.  We’re working together to see where it goes.
·         I’ve been doing some boring but necessary jobs, like sorting out the thousands of photos I take. Many are of Ashburnham Place where I live and I use them for their social and promotional work. They are now all sorted into files of image type.
·         This week has been busy, every moment has been planned for, but even in that I am managing to swim twice this week and I’m not beating myself up for lack of gym visits. They’ll get back on track once I return from holiday.
·         And there is the last reason, we go off on holiday Saturday for a few days to Spain. I’m hoping for lots of relaxation, walks, swims, good food and book reading. JJ isn’t coming with us, he has the grandparents coming to stay and is looking after the cat, but he’ll enjoy that just as much. It will be strange without my boy though.

Now, over to you. How are you doing? I’d love to know, Mich xx

Friday, 18 October 2019

Choosing the Perfect Flowers for every Occasion

Photo by Leonardo Wong on Unsplash
{This is a collabroative post}

I think you're either a cut flower person or you're not. I'm not massively nowadays, I can totally appreciate their beauty and I love to take photographs of flowers growing, especially when visiting National Trust properties but it is rare for me to have cut flowers in the house.

If I do, it will normally mean spring has arrived and I picked up some cheerful daffs cheap at the supermarket, someone has sent me a thank you bouquet that I have spread between a few vases across the house, or that it is my anniversary and my hubby remembers how much I love our wedding flowers, stargazer lillies.

Choosing Flowers as a Gift
I do enjoy sending flowers though, as so many of my friends and family really appreciate flowers. I think as you get older and have everything you need, flowers can be a lovely decadent gift that you may not give yourself and are therefore appreciated at special times.

Some of the fun for me in sending flowers is trying to match up the perfect ones for the recipient, and not being too distracted by what I like or don't like. For example my Nan loved big chrysanthemums as they are bold and bright and reminded her of my Grandad as he grew them, but I detest the smell. Even so, they would still always be my go to flower for her as it is about making her happy.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Speaking the Language of Love

love heart drawn on steamy window
Photo by Michael Fenton on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Is there such a thing as the language of love? I suspect many people would assume it is all about perfect chemistry and romance - roses, the colour red, candle-lit dinners and hot bubble baths run for you by your beloved, but I believe it is different for every person.

A few years back I read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and in more recent years, I've read some of his spin-off books as well and they're excellent. I definitely buy into his thinking that there are five different ways of receiving and giving love. This applies to any kind of love too, romantic, friendly, parental, platonic.

Even the best of matchmakers probably couldn't tell at first glance if you're love language compatible with your partner, but dig a bit further and the good news is that we can all give and receive in all the love languages.

Chapman suggestions that the five love languages are -

  1. Physical Touch - this is probably the easiest to understand. It is about all expressions of physical touch, both sexual and non-sexual. So an encouraging shoulder squeeze could be enough to motivate a teenage lad who has this as his primary love language.
  2. Acts of service - this is my number one. I really feel loved when people do things for me, especially when it is unexpected and I haven't had to ask them. So my husband stacking and emptying the dishwasher so I come down to a tidy kitchen in the morning is a big turn-on for me.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

But don't you get lonely Mum?

Woman with take away coffee, out walking
Heading out on my own for a walk and pray around the grounds of my home

Earlier this week I was booked in for a spa day at our local Bannatynes. You can get really good deals on Wowcher and I decided at the beginning of this year that at least a couple of times a year I would treat myself to a day spa. A few treatments, time in the gym, steam room, swim, massive jacuzzi and a nice lunch with a good book. Oh and not forgetting some down time on the hot stone relaxation beds.

I'd been really looking forward to my day spa and I hadn't let any appointments or tasks get in the way. As I was getting ready in the morning Miss E asked me who I was going with. I told her I was going alone and she looked so concerned and said 'but won't you get lonely mum?' This got me pondering and thinking about my friendships and yes there are definitely times when I get lonely, but to be honest at the day spa isn't one of them.

Call me selfish but I love to be able to suit myself. I did the activities in the order I wanted, I ate when I was hungry, if I was later than planned in the morning it didn't matter and when I had lunch I could absorb myself in my book. I had moments of longing as I saw so many friends and couples, there for the day together, looking comfortable in each others company and chatting away, but ultimately I decided I really was OK there on my own.

Since we moved to East Sussex over six years ago I haven't had the easiest time making friends. There are lots of people I know and would happily chat to, there are even a couple I've had really deep conversations with and enjoyed special times with but I haven't made that best friend. The one who knows me so well and we just hang out and do life together. I do get sad about that sometimes.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

How to Prepare Your Teenager for College/ University

Image Credit: Pixabay
 {This is a collaborative post}

We all know teenagers have their moments, they can be a delight one minute and difficult to talk to the next. Being aware of your own style of communication is key, if you’re too forceful then you may be ignored or pushed back, and if you are too soft then you might not give them the motivation they need.

When broaching the subject of college or university however, there are a few things that you can do to keep the lines of communication open, and the parental relationship on sound terrain!

1.      Start the Conversation Early
Of course you want to help your teen consider which college or university might be right for them, and it is best to start this conversation earlier than you might think. The sooner you start the conversation, the less time pressure there is and the easier it is for them to adjust to the idea of potentially leaving home and becoming more independent.

You can ask around your friends for good experiences their older children have had, and collect some prospectuses for them. if your child has one of those kind of email address then it is probably a good idea, to help them to set up a new more professional email address. Then encourage them to independently email colleges for the information they require.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Thank you Lord for this new Day #R2BC

I've been reflecting this weekend on how lucky we are to every new day in front of us. Each is a privilege that we need to make the most of. That doesn't mean we have to be super busy or doing loads, it just means we should be fulfilling our calling, whatever it is we believe we are on this earth to do.

I have to be honest I am still not clear on what my ultimate calling is, I know this season right now is about parenting my three children, supporting my husband and serving the community I live within. I also still wonder if there is something bigger than this that I should be doing, but that could just be me and my pride, assuming there was due to be more to my life that being a helper.

Sadly, I'm very task driven, I love to tick things off the to-do list and I get such a sense of satisfaction when things are running smoothly and everything is on track. I know that I am far more concerned with things and tasks, than I am with people and relationships. I also know that people are far more important, so my priorities are out of balance, but all I can do is try to change things, to shift the balance a little.

God made me with the skills and talents I have, so I am obviously supposed to be an organised, efficient kind of woman who gets things done, but it is my job to maintain balance and to focus on His desires for all His children. That they are loving and full of grace for all people.

I've had a fabulous weekend and I am very thankful for it. There hasn't been anything big and glamorous going on, but it has been great.


  • I started the day with a cooked breakfast and a couple of episodes of Chicago Med
  • I had a great hour in the Prayer Centre soaking and reading
  • Lunch with some lovely ladies and a very good chat
  • I got a couple of (long-overdue) cupboards sorted out
  • A few hours of work and many things ticked off
  • Yummy homemade chilli nachos for tea with all the family
  • Casualty on TV

  • A great service at church, with a pertinent message about belonging
  • Roast beef cooked for me
  • I got the weeks ironing out of the way
  • Fun rehearsal for the panto I am taking part in, in November
  • Off to see Jo Brand at the theatre in a few minutes and then a chicken kebab on the way home
Simple stuff, but it all makes for a happy and content Mich!

I hope you've had a great weekend too. Mich x

I'm linking this post up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for Reasons to be Cheerful

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

7 Amazing Places to Visit to Discover the Diversity of Canada

Image Credit: Lake Moraine by Garrett Parker on Unsplash
{Collaborative post}

I often think that people miss a trick when they pass Canada over in favour of a visit to the United States. This massive country has so much going for it, like 79 million hectares of protected wilderness, long summer days, winters that don’t stop day-to-day life and the eTA Canada is incredibly easy to gain too.

Of course, when you start planning your trip to a foreign country you want to check out the costs, safety, climate, health and travel requirements, and Canada is a hit on all fronts. Once you have booked your trip and made sure that you have your travel insurance in place, you want to get your electronic travel authorization (or eTA) in process by filling out the Canada eta application, then you can sit back and start to plan all the truly exciting places that you will visit whilst in the country.

As Canada is so big, you’re either going to need to be there for some weeks to travel all round or you’ll need a few trips to the different areas. Let’s take a look at some of the amazing places you can visit to discover just how diverse Canada is.

1. Lake Moraine, Banff National Park, Alberta 
Lake Moraine is only half the size of its sister, Lake Louise but many say it is even more beautiful. Well known for its clear turquoise colour, this glacier fed lake is best viewed from late June through to August. In fact, you’ll only be able to visit from late May until early October as then the weather may become too harsh and unpredictable for the access road to be open. You can take one of the many trails along stone steps to see the magnificent mountain and lake views, including the iconic ten peaks.

Friday, 20 September 2019

It's Time for Reasons to be Cheerful...

I'm a little early but that's OK, as it's my blog and I can choose what I want to do. To be honest I've not been feeling the blogging mojo just recently. I think as I've started a new job and it's been the summer holiday I've just been really short of time.

I'm off to the Blog On conference tomorrow (my first one) and I am really hoping to re-find my love of blogging, and to want to get back in to writing. It should be a lot of fun, but I haven't been to a blogging conference for a couple of years now and I'm going on my own, so I am a tad nervous and want to make sure I find my confidence so I can chat to people.

To gte me in the right spirit for tomorrow I want to share my reasons to be cheerful for this week. These are all the simple moments that I am super grateful for.

  • It's been a productive week, workwise
  • Having fajitas and enjoying the company of my kids as we ate
  • I've joined the chorus of the village panto and we had our first practise. I think I'll have a lot of fun getting involved with this
  • I had a new fridge and freezer delivered and installed. This will make such a difference, as we were super tight for space
  • Clearing all the summer stuff out the dining room and taking it back up to the shed
  • Getting JJ's massive amount of Lego sold and out the house
  • Bleeding the radiators and the house toastie again
  • I've had some great walks around the grounds of my home
  • I had the most divine hot chocolate whilst soaking my feet (I really am an 80 year old in a 46 year olds body!)
  • Having a super chilled Friday with my parents, including liver and bacon for lunch, yummy!
  • I'm at Blog On today and keen to learn something new and to have my blogging fire reignited
  • Choosing not to stay overnight tonight and drink too much alcohol. This means I can get home and go to church with my family Sunday morning
See, it really is the simple things that can make me smile. I tend to find that when I remember to be grateful for the simple stuff, the big stuff takes care of itself. 

Wishing you a great week ahead. Do share what has made you cheerful this week and feel free to link a post up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for Reasons to be Cheerful. 

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Making Progress...

Myself and my friend Rachel (Mid Life Single Mum) agreed we'd post every couple of weeks to stay accountable for how we are doing in relation to the changes we want to make to our lives. She suggested we do a Slimming Sunday post, as that was something we both used to do and I thought, yes great idea but then I've been thinking about posting yesterday and today and not feeling at all motivated.

As I mused why, I realised that my focus isn't on slimming. Yes, of course I need to lose a serious amount of weight, but that isn't so I'll be slim. Being slim and being able to dress in whichever clothes I fancy will be a nice bonus, but the main thing is to lose weight to improve my health and get rid of the many ailments I currently have.

On Friday 6th September I started to make choices that would lead to better health for me and I want to celebrate those good choices. There have been times, even days in the last week or so when I haven't been great, when my choice has perhaps been a poor one, but I don't want to linger on those times and beat myself up, I want to focus on the good and as such I'll link this post up with Reasons to be Cheerful as I am seriously grateful for the good choices I have been making, some of which will seem so silly to many but for me they are steps in the right direction - progress.

  • I faced the music and went to see my doctor to get weighed and to have my blood pressure checked. I was super pleased to find I was only 0.5kg more than when I last saw her about six months ago and my BP was fine.
  • I've had some great days food wise, making good choices and not feeling deprived because of them
  • I've been eating fruit. This might not sound much to many, but fruit I've always regarded as a waste of calories and I've chosen an apple, bananas and plums this week
  • I even muttered the words 'no, I'm not hungry' when offered something by JJ
  • I restarted at the gym and had a gym and a swimming session last week, at two different places. My membership gives me access to about six clubs and I intend to explore them all
  • I've been choosing to drink tea over coffee as this saves me milk and sugar in every cup
  • My water intake has been good and I've been remembering to hydrate
  • I haven't been allowing other peoples negative moods impact on me
  • I contacted my coach and we set up a meeting to talk and this always helps me to clear my thoughts and to be sure of where I am heading
  • I've been making more time to read and pray each each
It's been an acceptable start to making better choices and improving my life for the better. There is four years until I hit 50 and that feels like a great milestone to head towards.

Onwards and upwards!

Linking up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum

Monday, 9 September 2019

8 Ways to Spend more Time Together as a Family

Photo by Kevin Delvecchio on Unsplash
{Collaborative Post}

In this day and age it is far to easy to allow time to whizz by and for all the family to do totally different activities. Of course it is healthy to spend time apart and they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I find it is also good to plan intentional time for all the family to be together.

We may not all love the same activity, but as long as we are doing things at some point that each family member enjoys then it is good to grow in tolerance and to partake in each others preferred activities.

Here are a few examples of the ways we like to spend time together as a family, I hope they'll encourage you to do the same. Of course it isn't every day but at least once a week we have a good couple of hours where we all put down the phones and engage with each other.

1.  Cycle, skate or scoot together
My family all love to cycle and the kids enjoy scooting as well. The girls then go one step further and are great roller skaters too. As for me, well I am not great with anything on just a couple of wheels, so if I am going to join the family for a fun family cycle I'd need to invest in a Jorvik adult tricycle, as three wheels will suit me much better I am sure!

2.  Play Board Games
We all enjoy playing a good board game together, I think this is because I started to play with the kids from a young age. What started as snakes and ladders, progressed to Monopoly and now we love to play Risk or Catan.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Tips for Helping with the Back to School Sleep Routine

Sleeping cat
Photo by Alexandru ZdrobΔƒu on Unsplash
{Collaborative Post}

My kids went back to school yesterday and I know I was supposed to have got them back in a routine of going to bed earlier and being ready to wake for the early mornings and I had good intentions, honestly I did! But it just didn't seem to fall into place this year. I blame where we live, there is just too many fun things going on and the girls in particular want to be involved in everything.

Thankfully they all got up fine for their first morning back and I am determined to help them get back on track over the weekend. I assume there are other parents like me who didn't manage to get their kids back on track this last week so I thought it might be useful to share my tips for helping your child have a good nights sleep -

1.  Check out your child's bed and mattress. I spent a night on Miss M's bed recently as she was poorly and had fallen asleep in my bed. I thought I'd be kind and leave her there for the night but boy did I regret it as her mattress is horrible, even though it is fairly new. You really are worth investing in a good mattress, so why not take a look at the beds from Bed Guru.

2.  Keep sleep and wake times constant, even on the weekend. I've had to lay down the law with my 12 year olds and tell them there is no more sitting quietly on the sofa and hoping to be forgotten, they need to be in bed by 9.30pm at the latest.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Port Lympne Animal Reserve, Kent - Kids Go Free in September 2019

Port Lympne header image

We've been to Port Lympne animal reserve a few times now and each visit has been so much fun. We've been in the summer when it was super busy and during a week day when the kids are at school and it feels like we're the only ones there (we're not!), and both occasions have been great fun. Earlier this week when most of the East Sussex and Kent schools had gone back we headed to Port Lympne with my mum and brother to visit for the first time. They'd heard so many great things from me that they didn't want to stay away.

Port Lympne is set is picturesque countryside, but it is quite a steep hill, so I was interested to see how we'd all cope as mum has COPD, I've got calf issues currently and my brother had a knee op earlier this year. I was so impressed that when I mentioned mum's condition to any of the staff they told me I could approach any member of staff with a radio, if we needed to, and they would get a minibus to take mum back to the top. It turned out we didn't need to, as we took it easy on the hills, made use of all the appropriately positioned benches and stopped to look at the animals as we went.

4 animals at port Lympne
On the day we visited it was raining terribly when we awoke and we weren't too keen to wander around in the rain, so we left it a while for the weather to clear and thankfully by the time we got there at 1pm the skies were blue and the sun had come out. Mum was a little worried that we wouldn't get long at the park as we had only arrived at lunchtime but thankfully it doesn't close until 6.30pm, so we had plenty of time.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Changes are Coming....

It's been a lovely summer and it feels like a very long one. We've had a short break in Kent and a couple of days in London and now my parents and brother are here staying for the week. I've been at work one day a week, and that's been a nice escape and the kids have all had time away at camp and grandparents.

But now I am ready for school to resume and normality to come back. I like a break and a rest, but then I love routine too and I really am craving some quite times to myself without any shouts of mum or moans as they wind each other up and bicker.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I have realised (again) that I must lose weight and this isn't just something I fancy, it really is something I MUST do. I have developed carpel tunnel syndrome in one hand, I still have pains in my left foot that never go away, my calves ache after too vigorous exercise, I have arthritis in my knee joints and my right thigh goes numb/ has pins and needles if I stand for too long. Add that to asthma and high blood pressure and you can see that I need to do what I can to try and give my body a fair chance at being healthy.

I've been burying my head in the sand for too long and I need to put as much effort into my own health as I do to anything else in my life. Nothing else will give me the quality of life that a healthier body would, so it completely makes sense to invest in that area. It really does seem crazy that I choose to eat too much and the wrong foods, rather than sacrificing a few calories.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

National Trust - Sheffield Park - Summer in Pictures

We've visited the National Trust site Sheffield Park a couple of times before and both times had a lovely visit, but recently with the kids away my husband and I decided to visit again and see what the colours and plant life were like in the summer months (we visited at the beginning of August). 

Sheffield Park is acres of landscaped gardens, surrounded by parkland and woodland. There is a gorgeous looking stately home there too, but that is a private residence and you can only see if from afar.

So far my favourite time to visit has been Autumn as there is an abundance of colour across the gardens and we could see this developing in August. The colours at this time of year mostly seem to come from the trees and foliage. There isn't really many floral plants there.

Sheffield park trees in glorious colour

I do love the four lakes, they are probably my favourite feature and there is a nice variety of styles and bridges that you can cross and get great pictures on. You can really see the influence of Capability Brown.

lake view at Sheffield park

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Double Reasons to be Cheerful - Moments of Joy #R2BC

Happy Saturday friends!  I hope you've been well and enjoying Summer. I have a double whammy edition of Reasons to be Cheerful today as last weekend we'd been away for my birthday and then I was doing a car boot sale so I didn't have time to get one organised.

I thought I'd share some simple moments of joy with you from the last couple of weeks.

Strawberry picking with my girls, we managed to get the very last of this years crop.

Playing with our cat. He really does love the laser light and a ribbon on a stick, we had him running everywhere!

Simple moments in London. On the way home from the theatre, after a bus ride through London the girls were thrilled to find this very cool wall near our hotel. Totally perfect for Instagram!

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Our Stay at Ro's Place, Near Whitstable through AirBnB

Lounge/ dining room

I love to get away with the family but with three adult sized kids, it is becoming harder and harder to find an affordable option that has enough flexibility to allow us all to be happy and relaxed. Air BnB seems to have become our accommodation of choice. I can opt for a whole house, with enough bedrooms and also choose the other factors that are important to our family like good WiFi, easy parking and a garden.

We first stayed in one back in 2017, when we stayed at the White House in Fakenham, then again earlier this year at Squirrel Court in Bradford and recently we spent a few very pleasant days at Ro’s Place close to Whitstable in Kent. This Air BnB only opened up in April this year, so it’s new to the market and as such I thought I’d share about our stay there.

Beach front near Whitstable
Just a few minutes walk from the house is the seafront

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Family Visit to London Zoo in the Rain with BuyAGift

It was my birthday earlier this week and our family had decided to have a night staying up in London, along with a theatre show. We were pondering what we might do on our second day when BuyAGift offered me the chance for us all to visit London Zoo, on one of their experience day vouchers.

I was very happy to take them up on this and I was thrilled to see that if we had bought one of their family London Zoo entry vouchers for £76 (based on 2 adults and 2 kids), we would have been making a great saving against the advance ticket price for the same, direct with the zoo. A saving of just over £14 on an off-peak day and nearly £20 for a peak weekend date. No worrying about peak and off-peak with the BuyAGift voucher though, that can be used any time for 10 months from purchase.

I've worked with and bought BuyAGift vouchers before, as you can often find really good deals. I've made sure I am signed up for their newsletters and then I get to know when there are deals like 10 or 15% off. One of my favourite deals to buy when there are special discounts on, is the Prezzo 3 course meal and a glass of wine for 2 people.

Tween taking a photo of a bird

I was pleased to find that using our BuyAGift voucher was super easy too. Sometimes you have to convert your voucher online and book in advance, but not so with the London Zoo one, we literally had to turn up to the gate and exchange it for entry. It was really easy.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

What does the Future Hold? Going back to my Catering Roots?

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

As I turn 46, I find myself thinking about my life and what has passed. What I'm doing now and what the future might hold. I've recently taken on a new part-time job and I'm very much enjoying doing that for two days a week, along with my freelance work, for another two days a week. These commitments still give me time to volunteer, shop, exercise and be available for the kids too.

I've definitely got a good balance right now and being in a Christian environment is the right thing for me at the moment, but I do have those times when I pass the seafront hotels in Eastbourne and I wonder if the future might take me back to my hotel and catering roots. At age 14 I decided that I wanted to be a hotel manager, I'd been inspired by my Grandad who was a chef in the navy and then worked as a chef and catering manager in many local places. 

From the minute I left school I was training for my future, I went to college and trained to be a hotel manager, and I took my chefing qualifications as well. I then went to Uni and did a Hospitality degree, knowing I'd be a hotel manager when I left, and I was. I had a couple of years with Friendly Hotels as a Trainee Manager, learning the trade from the bottom up, adding to my work experience that started when I was 13 years old.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Ways to use your Smartphone to create a better Financial Future for Yourself

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Most of us spend hours on our smartphones. We have become very reliant on them. So much so that smartphone separation anxiety has become an actual condition. We love these little devices and would find it hard to live without them.

Yet, most of us are only scratching the surface when it comes to what our phones can do for us. As you will see below, with the help of the right apps you can start to build a more financially secure future for yourself and your family. Sounds good, right?

Invest on the fly
Using this investment app, you can keep track of the investments you already have. But, perhaps more importantly, it also enables you to invest on the fly. So, for example, if you get a bonus from work, you can immediately identify a way to invest that cash. This will stop you from frittering that bonus away over the weekend.

Track what you are spending
Managing your day to day spending is critical if you want to stay out of debt. Knowing how much the essentials of life cost and budgeting accordingly can easily be done using a money management app. One of the best ones on the market is Mint.

As well as letting you set and stick to a budget, the Money Dashboard app has several additional features built-in. For example, alerts that tell you when your bills are due.