In the Wake of Terrorism: Do We “Let Them Win” By Changing Our Plans?

It feels wrong to be writing about this less than a day after the horrible events in Manchester yesterday but it also feels wrong to let it go without saying a word. Apologies if anyone feels like the subject matter is too raw, but timings can’t always be perfect.

Since the news broke about a suicide bomber at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, I’ve seen a lot of people reconsidering their own plans; one friend is due to go to a completely different gig in Manchester at the weekend, and Husband and I are even umming and ahhing about the Bad Religion gig we’re taking Sausage to later in the year. The main response I’ve seen to people questioning their worst fears is other people saying “You can’t change your plans, that way they’ve won” and while I agree with the sentiment to an extent, it’s an issue which is so much more complicated than this one glib statement.

Ideological warfare perpetuated by extremists is ALWAYS done to incite fear in people and in this case, it seems to be working. I won’t go into theories of why this has happened, not least of all because there were so many children involved, but between this and the attacks at the Bataclan in 2015, it seems that places where people are going to enjoy themselves in large crowds are being seen as an easy target (remember when the IRA bombed pubs in the 1980’s? Same concept, I guess).

I think it’s a uniquely British thing to say “Keep Calm and Carry On”, but by the same token, isn’t this level of stubbornness putting us a risk? We can’t change our lives and cancel all of our plans but at what point do we draw the line and decide that some things are too dangerous? I just don’t know. I don’t WANT them to win, but I also don’t want to do something I regret.

In the grand scheme of things, the odds of something like this happening to you are in the millions to one; obviously the odds get slightly higher with each attack but as it stands you’ve got more chance of being struck by lightening or run over by a bus. We don’t stay indoors for fear of lightening strike, so should we be equally ambivalent to the threat of terrorism? I wish I had an answer for you, because at the moment my main instinct is to collect Sausage from school early, come home, stay indoors and not leave again for a really long time.

My heart hurts for the families who’ve lost someone during what they thought would be a joyful night of pop music and fun and I’m struggling to come to terms with even more cruelty in the world. I know we can’t, as humans, enjoy peace and love all the time because it just doesn’t work like that, but I just wish that I could envisage a future where any of this gets better. If the men in spaceships turned up today and offered us a lift to another planet, I think I’d take it.

Stay safe, love each other, be kind. 

Manchester

If you’re in or near Manchester and want to donate blood, there’s a link here to tell you where and how.

Getting the Best Night’s Sleep #SleepExperts

SleepSleep is a massively varying issue in our house; Husband is an insomniac (as in a proper, can’t sleep for days at a time insomniac) whereas as it’s a running joke in our house about how easily I fall asleep. I once fell asleep STANDING UP and almost broke my neck by falling backwards like a felled tree and catching myself at the last second. The girls seem to fall somewhere in the middle; Sausage fights sleep every single night and stubbornly forces herself awake for as long as possible, whereas Burrito Baby is a dormouse like Mummy and falls asleep with ease most nights…unless she’s napped late and then she can sit awake, sometimes until 2am! Zzzzz…..

Getting a GOOD night’s sleep is actually really different to be able to FALL asleep though and many mornings I’ll wake up not feeling very rested at all. I think I have mild sleep apnoea (based on how loudly I snore most nights and the fact that my friends used to be terrified at sleepovers because I’d take one big breath and then not breathe again for about a minute, I’d say it’s pretty certain) which obviously interrupts the actual quality of my sleep. I’ve also noticed that since I upped my exercise schedule, I’m far more tired every day just because I’m physically doing so much more.

The guys at Adjustamatic have been doing a load of research into getting a good night’s sleep and their #SleepExperts have put together some advice for everyone to follow. Watch the video to find out more:

I actually LOVE the idea of an adjustable bed; Husband and I often say that we should get two single beds and push them together because he prefers a hard mattress and I like something with a little bit of cushion. He’s a light sleeper and I turn over with a LOT of gusto, which often wakes him up. He likes a bit of hip support whereas I need my neck and shoulders a bit more propped up. We’re compatible in marriage a lot more than we are in sleep, it seems!

I must admit, I also quite often end up in bed with Burrito Baby – we’ve co-slept pretty regulalry since she was born and she’ll still call out for me most nights and it’s easier for me to just go and slip in with her. She’s sleeps in the bottom bunk and she’s still absolutely tiny for a three year old so I get plenty of space, lots of snuggles and she never complains about my snoring 😉

Do you share your bed with a Husband, Wife, partner or co-sleeping child? Have you ever considered single beds, pushed together as one big bed?! Would you benefit from an adjustable bed? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please do leave me a comment below!

 

What’s Your Excuse?

I’ve been thinking long and hard about writing this post because I don’t want it to seem like I’m attacking anyone. My friend Kate bestowed a mantra upon me a while back – “You Do You” – and I really strongly believe that everyone is free to do whatever the hell they want when it comes to their own body, but I’m not addressing people who CAN’T exercise here, or even those who don’t want to. If you’re happy the way you are or have physical difficulties, this post is not for you.

Now I’ve cleared that up, I want to talk about EXCUSES.

Last week, I saw an article about how “fat shamers” were on the wrong side of science and cited 7 different studies which apparently proved that some people were fat for reasons completely beyond their control and how people who “shame” others into exercising are bad. It gave reasons such as an “obesity gene”, poor sleep and how being overweight can make it harder to lose weight. In fairness to the people who wrote the article, each point was based on an academic study which proved the points they were making in a roundabout way. But here’s the thing:

They aren’t REASONS. THEY ARE EXCUSES.

I feel really well qualified to talk about these things because up until January of this year, I made a lot of excuses, including but not limited to:

  1. I have a range of conditions which make it hard to lose weight
  2. I don’t have time to go to the gym
  3. I can’t justify the money I spend on a gym membership
  4. I don’t want to be left with a lot of loose skin
  5. I can’t ask someone to look after the kids every time I go to the gym

There are SO many more that I could list, but we’d be here all day. Back in January, I decided to get real with myself and start being brutally fucking honest. I’d spent the majority of my twenties being overweight and I was damned if I was going to be unhappy with my body for the whole of my thirties too, so I decided to do something about it. And when your state of mind shifts, it’s amazing how those EXCUSES that you’ve made in the past become irrelevant.

Yes, I have diabetes and an under-active thyroid and endometriosis, but those things don’t stop me from exercising or moderating what I eat. Yes, I have a busy life, but so does everyone and if I can make time to binge-watch whole series of shows in a week, then I can definitely find time to exercise. My current gym membership costs £9.99 a month – I used to spend more than that in a week just on sushi! Loose skin wont kill me. High body fat will. I’m lucky that my MIL is an absolute gem and looks after BB when Husband and I work out, but even if she didn’t there are PLENTY of forms of exercise which can be done for free and with a toddler in toe.

As I said above, if you’re happy with yourself and don’t WANT to diet or exercise, then all power to you. But, if you fall into the HUGE percentage of people I see who give excuse after excuse for why you can’t eat better or move more, can I suggest taking a really long, hard look at those reasons? If you look and come up with solutions, that’s awesome. If you look and realise that it’s actually more to do with the fact that you don’t WANT to exercise, go from there.

I usually hate motivational bullshit which assumes that a one-size-fits all approach works for everyone, but there’s a poster up in my gym which really speaks to me;

If you want to make a change…I mean REALLY WANT IT, you’ll do it. Start small, install MyFitnessPal and track your food. Walk a little bit further than you normally would. Join a gym and try ONE class. You have nothing to lose except the weight and it will happen if you make the effort. Don’t allow the part of your brain which wants to sit at home eating ice cream and watching Netflix to overpower the part of your brain which wants to be healthier. Articles like the one which prompted this post are really not helpful because they just nurture unhealthy excuses for you to remain overweight or unfit. I’m all for love and support and being happy with yourself, but kidding people into thinking that their weight is completely out of their control is damaging and dangerous.

As I said, I’m not attacking anyone, just hoping to make you think a little differently about things in the hope that it might help you a little bit. What excuses are you making to yourself? Leave me a comment below.

My Dream Hobby Room

My Dream Hobby RoomI have to admit, I spend more time looking at Rightmove than is really necesary for someone who has no intention of moving. I’ve always loved looking at other people’s houses and can often be found binge-watching episodes of Grand Designs or Location, Location, Location just to get my interiors fix! I love dreaming about what I’d do if space and money were no object and at the moment, a hobby room is at the top of my list. Read on for an insight into what I’d have in my ultimate hobby room:

A Sewing Station

I absolutely love to sew and make clothes but I often lack the space to do it, so a dedicated space with a dressmakers dummy and lots of fabric storage would be a great way to enable me to get sewing. Valentino’s Displays has an amazing range of clothes rails, mannequins, hangers and storage bins and I reckon I could get everything I needed for my sewing area on their site.

A Reading Nook

I’ve always been able to read just about anywhere, probably from years of reading on buses and trains, but these days I do require a little bit of quiet to enable me to get lost in a book. A comfy armchair in the corner of the room with a little table for a lamp and my latte is definitely a bit part of my fantasy room.

A Writing Area

Writing is both a hobby and my profession and although I tend to work on a laptop literally on my lap, Burrito Baby is off to nursery in September which means I don’t have to only work in the room she’s in! A proper working area where my laptop could sit and I could use a decent ergonomic chair would not only be a novelty, but it would probably also be a lot better for my back!

A Proper Coffee Machine

These days, my vices are well and truly confined to the virtuous, never more so than now, given the fact that I even eat clean and don’t drink alcohol (well…hardly ever!). However, one thing that I absolutely refuse to give up is decent coffee! I tend to use my Waitrose card to get a free cup every day and I think I’d be considerably poorer if I didn’t get my coffee fix from there! Having a coffee machine in my hobby room with a proper milk steamer would be the ultimate indulgence for me.

A Yoga Corner

Since I started going to yoga classes at my gym a few months ago, I’ve found a really deep love of it. It’s one of my favourite hours of my whole week and I look forward to it every Saturday. I’d love to be able to do it more often but we really don’t have much space at home for yoga because our house is pretty cluttered. A dedicated space to find my zen and get my stretch on would be a dream!

What would you have in your dream hobby room?

The Cost of Being a Motorist

Living in the middle of nowhere means that we have no choice but to drive everywhere. The school run alone is 7.6 miles each way, and although I’m working on my fitness I don’t think more than 30 miles of walking a day is hugely realistic for me! Having said that, our current car is getting really old and I’m not hugely confident about the MOT, which means needing to save for something new and that’s not all that easy when you factor in what we’re paying in every month to keep THIS car on the road!

New research by affordable car hire company autoeurope.co.uk reveals British motorists will drive over half a million miles in a lifetime – the equivalent to 22 times around the earth. They
will also fork out £168,880, on running costs of vehicle ownership, have 1,935 rows – and 2,709 episodes of road rage in a lifetime. Scary stats! Here’s a few more for you to get your head around:

When you look at the cumulative cost of having a car, it’s quite shocking to think that we’re all spending that much on it! Having said that, I’ve often said that learning to drive is one of the best things I ever did because of the amount of freedom it’s given me over the years. I’ve had my licence for 14 years and I still love driving, to this day. Aside from the obvious issue of being stranded where we live now, I think I’d be totally lost without a car to use on a daily basis. It’s my little space (and is usually full of empty coffee cups and biltong wrappers, if I’m being totally honest!) and I love it.

Are you a driver? Would you ever consider giving up your car? Do you find the cost of owning a car is just to high these days or are you happy to pay for the privilege of being able to get around independently? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think.

Getting #ASoundSleep with MattressNextDay

Ever since I was little, I’ve always preferred falling asleep with noise in the background, be it the telly playing or music, and Husband is the same. Over the years I’ve developed a preference for certain TV shows to watch in bed and fall asleep to and some of them have such a soporific effect on me now that I think watching them at ANY time of day would help me to drift off! MattressNextDay is currently running their #ASoundSleep campaign, asking people to share their aural bedtime preferences and I thought I’d give you a little run-down of my favourite shows to watch (or, mostly listen to!) in bed:

The Golden Girls

My current favourite bedtime viewing is the complete boxset of The Golden Girls. I absolutely ADORE this show and never fail to be impressed by the topics they tackled way back in the Eighties. There’s something about the incidental music that I find really comforting, which makes it the perfect show to drift off to.

The Good Life

This is probably one of my favourite TV shows of all time and even though there were only 30 episodes made between 1975 and 1978, I could probably watch them all on an endless loop! There’s something about the gentle humour and banter between Margot, Jerry, Tom and Barbara that makes me drift off to a restful slumber.

Red Dwarf

This one comes from when I was a kid – I was allowed to watch TV in bed on a Friday night, on an old black and white TV which used a dial to find the channel, and Red Dwarf was always on at 9pm, right after Gardeners World. I’d sit through the end of Alan Titchmarsh warbling on about hardy shrubs so that I could watch Red Dwarf straight after and would inevitably fall asleep within about 2 minutes of the show starting, but I still adore it to this day and get super-cosy vibes from the theme tune.

The Mighty Boosh

I’d never seen The Mighty Boosh until I met Husband but it soon became a huge favourite and I still watch it in bed fairly often. I absolutely adore the humour in the show and there are a couple of episodes that I can’t have on while I’m trying to doze off as I’d spend more time laughing than drifting off!

Alan Partridge

I’ve come to the conclusion that Alan Partridge is the televisual equivalent of Marmite – people seem to either love it or hate it, or at the very least can’t handle the sometimes ENORMOUS cringe-factor that Steve Coogan injects into his most famous character. However, it’s an all-time favourite of mine and I know the episodes so well that I could recite them in my sleep. It’s perfect for watching in bed and always sends me off with a little chuckle!

Are you a bedtime TV watcher? What graces your screens while you’re trying to doze off? I’d love to hear all about it so do leave me a comment below.

Personalising Your Stationery with Basic Invite

Anyone who knows me knows that there are a few things about which I’m passionate. Eating a keto diet, lifting weights, spending time on my blog and social media are a few (aside from Husband and the kids, obvs!) but the other thing I love is stationery. When I was a kid, I’d get my pocket money each week and the first place I’d want to go would be WH Smiths to buy pens, pencils, notepads and anything I could use to write and draw with.

As an adult, I love stationery that I’m able to have a hand in designing (I made some beautiful thank you cards for Sausage to send to people a few years back and I’ve been hooked ever since) and Basic Invite is one of my favourite sites. It has so many unique features that make making our own, personalised stationery an absolute delight.

As well as offering almost unlimited colour options on the actual design of your invites, grad announcements, thank you cards or whatever else you’re making, there’s a choice of over 40 colours for your envelopes too, allowing you to really dial-in the colour scheme you’re aiming for. Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place their final order.

Grad Announcements Basic Invite

However, I think my absolute favourite feature of the site is the free address collection service. In just three easy steps, you can share a link with the intended recipients of what you’re planning to send asking them to give you their full address, making the whole process of collecting everyone’s details a doddle. Anything that can make my life exponentially simpler is a complete win, in my opinion!

We’ve got a lot of important stuff coming up in the next few months; Sausage is having a surprise party for her birthday (she knows she’s having it, she just doesn’t know what the party will be!) and we’ll be needing some special custom invites, plus a few family members are graduating this year too, AND one of my best friends is having a baby so there will be a bunch of reasons for using Basic Invite and I couldn’t be happier about it. There are also a load of really gorgeous free printables on the site, perfect for a birthday party or baby shower.

Free Baby Shower printables

You can check out Basic Invite on all of their social media channels (FacebookPinterestInstagram and Twitter) and you can also follow the link above to head over to the site and see all of the wonderful design options for yourself. he whole process is really simple and fun to do, and it’s a HUGE amount cheaper than commissioning someone to design something for you. We’ll definitely be using the service a lot more in 2017 and beyond! 

Off to Uni with Free the Fresher

Free the Fresher2017 is quite a landmark year for our family because not one but FOUR of us are starting University! I’ll be working on my English Lit and Language degree from home with Open University but Husband, my sister-in-law and our cousin are all doing the proper Uni thing and going to school to get their degrees. My little (or, not so little because he’s actually A GIANT) brother will be going in 2018 too,  so it’s fabulous that we’re all doing it at the same time and knowing that in a few years there will be several people with degrees in our family.

Just recently, I heard about a service called Free the Fresher and it struck me as something which would be amazingly useful for people who are striking out and leaving home for the first time. It was created by former Uni students as a way to help first year students to make their lives a little easier while they’re getting used to a completely new way of life.

You pay a one-off fee to Free the Freshers and they send you everything you’ll need for living in halls, including bedding towels, kitchen stuff, loo roll and even stuff like pens and planners for, you know, the actual studying part! You receive three packages throughout the year and at the moment, membership is reduced to just £50 for the year. It takes a massive load of stress out of the pre-Uni period where you’re worrying about buying everything you need and enables you to just settle into your new digs, get on with your studies and meet a load of new people.

Another awesome feature is the Christmas and Summer upgrades – for an extra £5 per pack you can include Christmas cards, ornaments and January exam prep material, plus in Summer you’ll get moving boxes to help you pack up after your first year of study. It’s a really innovative and unique service which I can imagine would be a huge help to anyone starting Uni.

From the point of view of a parent, even though my girls are still WAY off the Uni stage, it would be really good knowing that there’s a service like this out there, where people have been able to apply their real-life experience to knowing exactly what a Fresher needs. Delivery is free, and Free the Fresher have also teamed up with a whole bunch of brands, such as Nandos and Poundland to give you discounts which last your entire first year.

The testimonials on the site are really impressive, too:

“Finding FTF was a God sent, my freshers pack was waiting for me the day I moved in, saved so much time, money and effort” – Abbey Miller- Bristol UWE

“I knew coming to University would be expensive , and surprise, surprise my student finance was late, I honestly don’t know what I would have done had I not signed up for Free The Freshers in the summer, I had everything I needed for class and accommodation , had I not done so the notes from my first 3 weeks in lectures would have been on my hand” – JJ Smith – KINGS COLLEGE

“If you want to get the most out of Freshers week , sign up and save some money , that’s what I did- and had more money for snakebites (beer, cider , blackcurrent) lol” – Justin Green -Cardiff

” Was very impressed by this service  I thought there would be some hidden cost when I signed up, but I honestly only paid £50,  the quality  of my stuff was good and came on time” – Ian Stammers – UCL

Do you have a child going off to Uni (or are YOU going to Uni for the first time this year, like us?!) and would you find this service useful? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Making Our Own Raw Chocolate with Indigo Herbs

Indigo Herbs Raw ChocolateSince I’ve been on a ketogenic diet, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about nutrition and what we should be putting in our bodies, which in turn has made me hyper-conscious about what is in the food we eat. Even on a rare “cheat” day, I’m checking labels and have still been known to shun food which are pure sugar or artificial ingredients, which is why I was really intrigued when Indigo Herbs offered to send me one of their raw chocolate kits, containing everything we need to make our own raw chocolates.

So what, I hear you ask, is raw chocolate? Well, the guys at Indigo Herbs say it a lot better than I can:

“Much of the Cacao bean’s natural goodness gets destroyed in the heating process of conventional chocolate making. Consequently the feel good factor often experienced when eating chocolate is significantly more noticeable with raw chocolate because much more of the feel good chemical compounds remain intact. The Cacao bean is naturally so rich in nutrients that when the ingredients are handled and processed at low temperatures, these micro-nutrients remain available.”

The kit was really beautifully packaged and would make an excellent gift for an health-conscious foodie, and it was so simple to make that I let Sausage and Burrito Baby help too. The instructions on the kit are really clear and concise and I think Sausage could actually have managed all by herself if it wasn’t for needing me to sort out the bain marie. We made them at the dining room table and the whole room smelled AMAZING by the time we’d finished.

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In terms of taste, the chocolates were genuinely some of the best I’ve ever tried. The brazil nuts and goji berries, combined with the slightly bitter raw chocolate flavour made them feel decadent and satisfying – there’s no way you could over-indulge on these because one or two is enough to well and truly satiate your sweet tooth. Before I cut carbs out of my diet, I had a monster sweet tooth and could eat chocolate almost endlessly, but eating a diet which consists mostly of savoury food has sort of reset my taste buds, making even the smallest morsel of sweet food enough.

Making our own raw chocolate from @indigo_herbs! One hundred stirs to mix in the agave nectar.

A post shared by Mum's the Word (@mumstheword84) on

Obviously, the beauty of these chocolates is the ingredients. There’s literally nothing in them which isn’t totally natural and the sugar comes from agave nectar which is a low-GI sweetener and doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar. Nutrition-wise, the chocolates have 72 calories per portion, which is made up of 4.9g carbs, 3.1g fat and 1.2g protein – perfect for someone like me who is on under 20g of carbs per day – keeping these in the fridge to have with a cup of coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up would not only be a welcome addition to a largely savoury menu but is also a real morale booster. There’s huge mental value to being able to treat yourself to something which is basically guilt-free when you’re on a restricted diet.

I’m genuinely really impressed by the kit on so many levels – it looks good, it contains everything you need, its easy to use and the results are fantastic. I’d be thrilled to receive one of these kits as a gift and also love the fact that I feel confident in giving them to my children because the ingredients are all natural. Thanks to Indigo Herbs for introducing us to raw chocolate – we’re definite converts! (Get Your Raw Chocolate Kit here)

Family Friendly Flooring – Wood you  look?

It’s no secret that as a nation us Brits love our pets, sometimes more than our own kids! However, when it comes to kitting out your home, both can pose as a bit of a problem. This is no exception with flooring and it can leave you feeling pretty limited when it comes to choice. Now, many experts would probably advise that you stay away from real wood flooring and play it safe with laminate or vinyl. However, if you’re someone who is looking to achieve that ever-increasing popular ‘rustic’ look and are able to deal with the odd dent or scratch then real wood might be the one for you!

Personally, we would recommend either Oak or Walnut flooring, purely because these materials are the most durable and cost-effective in the long run.

Oak is an incredibly popular choice when it comes to family-life. We all know how much mess children and pets can make, if you’re sick of plugging in the vacuum cleaner then why not consider Oak? It only requires a simple sweep and a once over with a mop (at a push), making it one of the easier to clean flooring options. Oak can withstand a lot of wear but if it does start to look dilapidated over the years then it can be re-sanded to bring back to life! Furthermore, Oak flooring does not collect dust or mould as easily as other floors, which makes it ideal if anyone in your household suffers from allergies.

Another thing to consider is what type of finish you want your floor to have. There are two prominent choices; Lacquered and Oiled, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Lacquered flooring will definitely get scratched more often, however it is a lot more durable, easier to clean and will brave the challenge of a pet extremely well.

On the other hand, oiled floor is harder to scratch, but the floor will need re-coating more frequently. The decision really depends on how committed you want to be when it comes to maintaining the quality of your floor.

There are a few things that you personally can do to ensure scratches are reduced; maintaining the length of your pet’s claws is one of the obvious ones. Also, add extra protection by laying rugs/runners down in areas that see heavier traffic from both humans and pets. As with all flooring, if you do have any mishaps or spillages then try to clean them up as soon as possible to avoid stains and marks from occurring.

So there you have it, just a few reasons why Luxury Flooring think that the real thing is the best for your family home!