48 articles Articles posted in All About ME!

Learning a New Hobby and Picking Up Some Old Ones

I think I can speak for a lot of parents when I say that we’ve all had a moment of feeling a little bit like we’ve lost ourselves. Our days are spent working, looking after the kids, keeping the house tidy, and maybe occasionally socialising in the little time we have left – having a hobby didn’t seem like something I had time for.

When I was a kid, I had all sorts of hobbies and some of them felt like they helped to define who I was. Just lately, I’ve been trying to do more things for myself, now that the girls are older and don’t need constant attention, and as well as picking up some old hobbies again, I’ve also been trying some new ones. Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to:

Cross Stitch

My Hobby - Baby Yoda Cross StitchCross stitch is probably my favourite hobby and this one of The Child from The Mandalorian is the one I’m most proud of!

If you follow me on social media, you might have got a peek of a few of the cross stitch projects I’ve completed lately. I’ve always enjoy sewing and crafts, but I’d never tried cross stitch before. Then Husband bought a kit for Sausage and I to try and I haven’t looked back! As well as being a great way to pass the time and stretch myself creatively, it’s SO gratifying to put that final stitch in a piece and enjoy the rewards of your hard work. I’ve even been making them for people’s birthdays! I think it’s probably my favourite hobby right now.

Online Casino

In our pre-kids days, Husband and I were members of a casino and used to love a night out amongst the slots and tables. We’d have a meal, play a few games of blackjack or roulette, enjoy some cocktails and wander round, soaking up the ambience. It’s been a fair while since we’ve been able to do that, but that hasn’t stopped me enjoying a little flutter online, especially when you can find some great deals like 25 free spins no deposit.

Gaming

When I was younger, I loved playing computer games. I had a ZX Spectrum in the late eighties, a Nintendo Gameboy which I was GLUED to in the early 90’s, an N64 (Goldeneye is still one of the best games of all time, DON’T @ ME), followed by a PS1, PS2 and so on and so forth, but my gaming time dwindled as I got older and busier. Husband has a PS4 now, and he’s managed to get me into playing Red Dead Redemption, and I also recently got SIMS 4 on my laptop. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the remaster of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1&2 for the PS4. Pure nostalgia for Husband and I!

Soap Making

Another hobby I’ve discovered is soap making. It’s surprisingly easy to do if you use pre-mixed soap base (yeah, so I’m not a purist, but the thought of trying to use chemicals like lye when I’m a clumsy calamity most of the time is scary!) and I love finding combinations of essential oils which are theraputic for the mind and body. I’ve given soaps as gifts over the last few months too, and it’s all been very well received. I love making personalised gifts like this, based on what I know about the person I’m giving it to.

Baking

Authentic German Plum CakeAuthentic German Plum Cake

I’ve loved baking for as long as I can remember. When I was in Primary School, we had dedicated kitchens for the kids to use to bake in and the heady smell of sugar and margarine being creamed together before being baked with flour and eggs still takes me back to those days. Husband recently bought me a stand mixer as part of my birthday present, because I wanted something with a dough hook to take some of the stress out of kneading bread, but I’ve actually used it to make SO many different things! I think my proudest bake so far was the German plum cake I attempted in homage to Husband’s late grandmother – he said it was just as good as hers, which is HIGH praise indeed!

My Nostalgic Music Playlist #MemoriesInMusic

My Nostalgic Music Playlist #MemoriesInMusicIf there’s one thing which is sure to evoke a lot of memories, it’s hearing a particular song which reminds me of a specific time in my life. Some of those memories are so strongly linked to the song that it can actually remind me of how I felt when I was hearing it, way back when. Chums, the online-fashion retailer have recently created a campaign to search for Memories in Music to help people bring the happier days back to life. With this in mind, I thought I’d share some of my most nostalgic songs for you:

Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac

When I was 6, my Mum and Dad split up, and my Mum and I moved in with her parents for a while. We shared a set of bunkbeds in their small second bedroom and although it was cramped, I was happy. Mum had job in a bar and I’d sit with her in the evening, watching her get ready, listening to her music – the smell of hairspray reminds me of this, too! Mum had her stereo and a load of vinyl in our room, and one of her favourite bands was Fleetwood Mac (she had a bit of a Stevie Nicks vibe going on in the late 80s!) and Rhiannon reminds me so much of this time.

Mmmbop – Hanson

Anyone who knows me well knows that I was a MASSIVE Hanson fan when I was younger. When Mmmbop came out, I immediately fell in love and even to this day, I feel transported back to a really happy time when I hear it. My whole bedroom was covered in Hanson posters, including the ceiling, and I used to spend Saturday mornings sitting by the TV with a blank tape in the VHS, waiting to hit record, just in case they came on the telly!

Rewind – Craig David

When I was about 15, my friends and I would spend every Friday night at “Intrigue”, an under 18’s Nappy Night, located in an old bingo hall. We’d get dressed up in what were, looking back, some rather over-the-top outfits (a powder blue lace dress, white Wonderbra and a white feather boa was a personal fave, and NO, my mother did NOT know I was going out dressed like that!) and feel like we were going to a proper nightclub. UK Garage was massive around this time, and this song was a particular fave…still is, if I’m totally honest! It’s like my guilty music pleasure.

Everlong – Foo Fighters

I’ve loved Foo Fighters since the first time my friend Steven played The Colour and The Shape to me, back in the late 90’s, but Everlong has always been my favourite. When Husband and I met, one of the things we immediately bonded over was music, especially Everlong. We’d been together just a few months when we saw Foo Fighters play in Hyde Park on the day after my 22nd birthday, and it’s been something that brings back amazing memories ever since.

God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

Another song that is special to Husband and I is “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. When I was around 9, my family and I lived in a house which was just down the road from a second-hand record shop and it became routine for me to go there on a Saturday morning and buy a record. I started collecting vinyl and Pet Sounds was a personal fave. In those early days of our relationship, when we’d sit and talk for hours, learning about each other, I found out that Husband was a huge Beach Boys fan when he was a kid too. Back in September 2016, we were lucky enough to get tickets to see Brian Wilson perform at a local venue, and it was one of the most amazing experiences that Husband and I have ever had – it’s something I’ll remember until I’m old and grey.

What are your #MemoriesInMusic? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

A Little Bit of Self Improvement

A Little Bit of Self ImprovementI don’t know about you, but September for me always feels like a time for new beginnings. I think it’s the start of the new school year that does it, but I always feel like I should be embarking on a new project or job at this time of year. With both girls now in full time education, I have time to do something just for me, so I thought I’d share a few self-improvement things that I’m thinking of embarking on in the coming weeks:

NLP Training

NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. ‘Neuro’ being your brain, ‘Linguistic’ the language we use with others and how that can influence their thinking and behaviour and our own self talk and how that impacts on our results. A good accredited NLP Training programme can help you to become more successful in many areas of your life.

Exercise

One of the single most important things that I need to do after the holidays is get back to the gym. As well as needing to lose a lot of weight and improve my physical health, exercising always seems to have a positive effect on my mental health, too, giving me an overall more positive outlook. This usually helps me to be more productive in other areas.

Learning

I really want to resume my OU studies and complete an Early Years Education degree. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid, and having spent more time in class with BB this year, I realise I’m never happier than when I’m in a school environment. I really want a job where I feel like I’m contributing to society.

Volunteering

Something that I’ve always enjoyed doing is volunteering my time to a good cause. Giving money to charities is essential, but giving time can sometimes be even more valuable. When I was younger, I spent my Saturdays volunteering in a Child Contact Centre, where parents with a court order in place could have visitation with their kids and although it was sometimes upsetting, it was also incredibly rewarding.

Find a Hobby

If I have any time left after all of my other attempts at self improvement, I’d really like to find a hobby. I spend SO much of my free time either surfing social media and the internet or watching TV and I think it might be making my brain turn to mush! I need to find something to do which actually helps me to engage my brain, or at the very least helps me to do something creative.

Working on Myself

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

I’ve not talked about it on here very much, but last year, I did a round of high-intensity therapy to try to help me with some issues that I’ve been dealing with for many years. My sessions finished just before Christmas, but I’ve been trying to do some work on my own before going back to see my therapist again, mostly around ways to improve my feelings of confidence and self worth. It’s really hard, trying to change a lifetime of negative feelings, but I’ve come up with a little list of things that I’m planning to try, in order to help. Here they are, in no particular order:

Treating Myself to New Things

I have a real problem with buying myself clothes or anything that’s solely for me, but it’s something that I need to change. Wearing nice things gives you a mental boost and makes you feel happier, and I’m planning to treat myself to a new summer wardrobe over the next few months so that I go into the nice weather feeling confident.

Dancing Queen

I’ve never been an amazing dancer, but dancing is always something I’ve loved to do. I used to go to a belly dancing class and absolutely loved it (not to mention hours spent on the dance floor every Friday and Saturday night!). It’s a place where I can do an activity which is just for me, and maybe make a few friends along the way, too.

Maintain Friendships

I’m a bit of a weird creature – I’m very sociable and can chat the hind legs off of a donkey, but actually making myself leave the house and have a social life has become increasingly difficult over the last decade. I’ve promised myself that 2019 is the year that I try to connect with people more and actually make an effort to make plans.

Ignore the Haters

When you’ve spent your whole childhood being mocked and criticised, it’s really hard to eject all those bad words from your brain. I’ve still got a whole section of my brain dedicated to remembering it all and I’m making an effort to let it go. It’s probably the hardest part of all this as most of it is deeply ingrained, but I’m doing my best to remember that people who truly love me would never want to tear me down, only build me up.

Do you have any amazing tips for improving self-confidence and self-worth? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Summer Weddings: Finding the Perfect Dress

Husband and I have been invited to a wedding in August, and I am SO excited about it – not only do we get to dress up and have a fun evening with our best friends, we also get to STAY AT A HOTEL for the night, which is something we haven’t done in literally years! Of course, going to a wedding means finding the perfect outfit, so when Fashion World got in touch to ask if I’d like to take a look at their range of women’s dresses, I jumped at the chance!

I knew that I wanted something in either blue or grey, as they’re the colours which suit me best, and if it was blue, ideally it would be navy. I’ve had an obsession with peacock feathers for ages, and wanted to be able style whatever I wore with a peacock-feather fascinator, so it meant that I could narrow down my search on the site by not only size, but also colour and occasion. Here’s what I chose:

BEADED PROM DRESS

To be totally honest, the picture doesn’t do it justice – the beading on the front is not only very intricate, but the peacock-inspired colours really pop, shimmering with blues, turquoises and purples in the light. It’s going to be absolutely perfect with my dream head-wear and I can’t wait to see what the whole outfit looks like together.

My mission now is to find the perfect shoes and bag to go with the outfit. As we’re staying, the bag only needs to be big enough to fit my phone and bank card, so something clutch-sized. The shoes would ideally be a mid-sized heel (I don’t want flats but I walk like a baby giraffe in skyscraper heels!), and would compliment the colour of the dress. I saw an incredible pair or purple platforms in a Kurt Geiger sale, but I wasn’t brave enough to buy them and now they’re sold out! Any suggestions of accessories to complete the outfit would be much appreciated!

What do you think of my choice?

Who Am I?

Who am I? Good question! It’s such a long time since I took part in a good old fashioned bloggers Q&A so when the lovely Emma at Emma & 3 asked if anyone wanted to be tagged, I stuck my virtual hand in the air pretty sharpish! I find myself bogged down with work and commercial posts sometimes, so having the opportunity to actually write something personal seemed too good to pass up. So, here are my answers:

Jayne and Maureen

When was the last time you cried?

Sunday evening. I got a really nice, thoughtful text from my Dad and at the end of what is usually quite a tough day for me, I sobbed. Although, to be fair, it never usually takes much to make me cry, my emotions bubble pretty close to the surface and since we lost Chuck in December, I’ve shed more than my fair share of tears.

If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?

That’s a really hard one to answer. On the surface, I can seem really flaky and unreliable when it comes to making and keeping arrangements, but this is due in no small part to social anxiety and awkwardness that makes me shy away from socialising much. I think I’d probably find me pretty funny (because I am one of those wankers who laughs at their own jokes) but it would probably be one of those “I haven’t seen you for six months, lets talk for 3 hours solidly and then not see each other again for six months”-type friendships.

Do you use sarcasm a lot?

Yes. Yes I do.

What’s the first thing you notice about people?

Hmm, that’s another toughie – as someone who is pretty over-sensitive, I think I probably pick up on my perception of the person’s body language before I notice anything material, and that can really colour my impression of a person. I tend to gravitate towards people who I perceive as being emotionally open, I don’t really gel with people who are naturally closed or stand-offish.

Scary movie or happy endings?

I’m woefully uneducated with scary films, although Husband has been doing his best to get me to watch more of them, but I think I’ll always love a happy ending.

Favourite smells?

Creosote, tomato plant leaves, Imperial leather soap, roast dinners, new carpet, puppy breath, newborn baby skin, BB and Sausage’s hair when it’s just been washed, Chanel Egoist, and most importantly, the smell of Chuck’s feet. I miss that smell so much.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

Maldives – our island was precisely 5261 miles away from home!

Do you have any special talents?

I’m okay at baking and cooking, I guess, and I have a fairly impressive capacity to eat junk food, but I don’t think I have anything that could be described as a talent. I’m pretty devoid of exceptional qualities. Oh wait, I do have a huge talent for putting myself down – there you go!

Where were you born?

Orsett, in Essex. The hospital wasn’t supposed to be open for births on the day I was born, but apparently it was too late to get me to the sister unit a few miles away, so I had to be born there.

What are your hobbies?

What hobbies does any working Mum have?! Does doing the school run and indulging in the occasional Netflix binge count?! I enjoy sewing and reading but never seem to find the time for either lately.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an astronaut and had it all planned out – I was going to get a Royal Air Force scholarship to go to University and then become a pilot, which I hoped would give me the opportunity to advance from there, but I was told during a school careers day by an Air Force rep that I’d never be a pilot because I didn’t have perfect eyesight, so I had to give up on that dream. Then, I wanted to be a drama teacher, but that didn’t pan out either! Being a freelance writer and social media bod suits be down to the ground, to be honest, as I can work the hours I want and not have to deal with the public!

How many countries have you been to?

France, Belgium, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Maldives – 6.

What was your favourite/worst subject in school?

I adored Drama, English and Biology. Least favourite subjects were R.E. and French.

What is your favourite drink?

Non-alcoholic, anything cherry flavoured – I love a Cherry Pepsi Max! Alcoholic, I like lots of things, but my favourite of all time is probably sake, Stones ginger wine or Taboo (do you remember that?!).

What would you (or have you) named your children?

Sausage and Burrito Baby 😉 – I don’t have my kids names on my blog, but they both have what people call “old lady” names, with a flower middle name.

How many boyfriends have you had?

Proper actual boyfriends/girlfriends, 4, not including the ones at school where someone asks you out on the bus and you spend the next two weeks avoiding them.

Favourite memory from childhood?

Probably the weeks that my cousin and I would go and stay with my Nan and Grandad in Lowestoft for a week. We had so much fun and got to do so many lovely things with them, and the memories are even more precious now that they’re no longer with us.

How would you describe your fashion sense?

Professional scruff. I usually look like I’ve been covered in superglue and thrown onto a table at a jumble sale.

Tell us one of your bad habits!

Swearing too much.

I tag:

Emma at The Syders, March at Mrs Teepot and Jen at Smiles and Trials

 

My 33rd Birthday

This Sunday is my 33rd birthday. Woohoo, right? Except, not really – who actually celebrates being 33?! I’ve actually been spoilt rotten already by Husband – my laptop died a few weeks ago, so he bought me a brand-spanking new one as an early present, AND surprised me with a grey leather Pandora bracelet and moonstone birth charm that I’ve been coveted for ages last week! However, I usually get money as a gift from other family members, so I’ve been trying to think about what to spend it on (rather than doing what I do every other year and keeping the cash in my purse until it ends up being spent on takeaway or petrol!). Here’s a few things I came up with:

Garden Furniture

We’ve got an amazing garden where we live now, but it’s basically just a massive plain lawned area with a little bit of patio. I’ve been planning to get some garden furniture for ages so that we can make the most of our outside space but nothing struck my fancy until I looked at Nest. Their ranges are so much more contemporary than average garden furniture and it would look absolutely fabulous in our back garden!

A Latte Maker

Even though I’m on a strict low-carb diet, one indulgence that I haven’t given up is a daily latte. I have a loyalty card for the supermarket opposite Sausage’s school which entitles me to a free coffee and I do tend to go in most days, but I would absolutely love a proper coffee machine to enable me to make myself a decent drink at home.

Books

This one might seem really dull, but I used to spend a fair amount on books and I’ve basically stopped since the girls came along, I’ve got a list as long as my arms of things I want to read and since BB is starting school in September, I’ll have more time to read. I’ve been adding the things I want to read to a wishlist so perhaps I’ll start at the beginning and work my way through!

Perfume

The last time I bought myself a bottle of perfume was back in 2012, when I started a new job. The job didn’t last and the perfume is all gone, and although I’ve been bought perfume as a gift by Husband since then, I haven’t treated myself, so I might spend a morning at the perfume counter sniffing new scents and seeing what I like.

Afternoon Tea

This may sound bonkers seeing as EVERYONE seems to go for afternoon tea these days, but I’ve never actually been for afternoon tea before. Part of managing to be succesful on my diet has been allowing myself the odd cheat day here and there, and I think treating myself to an afternoon tea for my birthday would be the perfect cheat meal and celebration!

A Healthy Mum Means A Happy Family

When you’re a full-time working mum, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. Usually, most of your attention is focused on your kids, and perhaps, that’s the way it should be. The problem is that by always putting your kids first, you can forget to look after yourself. Working full time is stressful when you’re a mum, and you don’t want to lose your quality of life because you haven’t been looking after your own health. Here are some of the things that you need to think about to stay healthy when you’re working.

Cut Out The Stress

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By far one of the greatest dangers to your health is stress. Stress can have a number of different effects on the body. It has even been connected to the development of certain types of cancer. As such, you need to do everything you can to reduce stress in your working life. Breathing exercises are a simple way to do this. If you feel yourself getting stressed, just count to ten while breathing in deeply. As you let it out, you should find your stress levels are quickly diminished.

Sleep is important for regulating stress and tension too. Make sure you’re doing everything possible to get those eight hours that you need. To do this, you can think about writing before bed. This will help you deal with some of the thoughts swirling around your mind that could ultimately keep you up until the late hours.

Don’t Put Yourself In Harm’s Way

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There will be situations where you could put your health at risk simply by completing your job, and a simple example would be RSI. It’s estimated that twenty percent of the UK workforce deal with some form of RSI or repetitive strain injury. It is typically caused by typing for long periods without breaks. If you suffer from this, you may eligible for an injury claim. You might want to look into PISD claims for injury because your employer is accountable for any injury you suffer from while at work. Don’t forget, even the smallest injury can impact your mental and physical health.

Eat Well

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By eating a healthy diet, you can look after your mood, your mind and your body. You’ll keep your body strong, and it will be able to deal with the pressures of the day. Eating a good, wholesome diet filled with fruit and vegetables has also been shown to elevate mood and allow people to tackle problems more effectively. You don’t have to be a fitness nut to accomplish this either. Balancing your diet with the five recommend a day is enough. Another way you can really change the way you live to be more healthier, is to go to the gym atleast a few times a week, when doing this you may need some sport supplements. Take a look at some of the best on the market at Supplements Direct.

Take A Little Time

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Last but not least, every once in awhile you should make sure  you are taking some time for yourself. This could be anything from one day a week to twenty minutes every day. During this time forget the difficult situations around you and relax. Read a book, take a nap or just have a lovely soak in the bath. This will give your body and your mind the time it needs to recharge and keep you healthy.

Things to Do Before I’m 40

A few years ago, I wrote a list of things I wanted to do before I hit 30. Aside from the fact that I wrote it with not really enough time to achieve any of the things on the list, life changes and it became rather obsolete, but I was thinking recently that I should make another list of things to do before I’m 40 (especially because I’ve got about 2 and a half years to achieve it all in!) so here’s a few things that I know I’m going to include:

Go on a Hen Do

Amazingly enough, I’ve managed to reach the grand old age of 32 without ever having been on a hen do, and I didn’t have one of my own when I got married, either (nor did Husband have a Stag Do…aren’t we boring?!). Having said that, I’d love to go on a Hen Do and enjoy a proper girlie evening out with my chums, I just need some of them to hurry up and get married!

Be a Bridesmaid

Maybe I’m just a person who’s not conducive to weddings, but I’ve never been a bridesmaid either! I didn’t have any bridesmaids when I got married, purely because we got married on a desert island in the middle of nowhere and didn’t have anyone with us, so I can understand why I’ve not been top of anyone’s list for being their bridesmaid…although Sausage always insists that she’s going to have me as her Maid of Honour, so maybe I’ll get a shot one day after all!

Get a Degree

I’ve been so wishy-washy with getting my education but I’ve FINALLY decided what I want to do and have changed my subject from Psychology to English Literature and Language. Once I’ve completed my degree, I intend to get a teaching qualification and become a teacher. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for such a long time and it’s a profession which will fit in with our family. Hopefully I’ll have achieved it all before I’m 40!

Travel More

I’m lucky enough to have been to a few really amazing places, not least of all being the Maldives, but I really would love to travel more and take the girls to a few places too. We’re lucky enough to live close to a medium-sized airport which flies to a few different European destinations, so once we’ve all got our passports sorted we’ll be up, up and away!

Write a Book

I’ve had the beginnings of a novel floating around in my head for the longest time, Ive just never managed to get it down on a page. I’ve got no illusions of being the next J.K. ROwling or anything but it would be so cool to write a book and maybe even self publish a few copies, so that I can see my own name in print.

 

Taking Care of Yourself this Spring

I don’t know about you but I’m SO ready for some warmer weather. The winter has really taken it out of all of us and I’m definitely looking forward to longer days and some sunshine on my face. I’ve been doing a lot more to take care of myself lately, eating properly and going to the gym, and I’ve been thinking about ways that I can expand on that in the coming days, so I thought I’d share with you my top five ways to take care of yourself this spring:

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is good for so many things and I’ve been looking at all of the different uses for the different oils, including anti-ageing properties and ways to soothe aching muscles. Neal’s Yard Remedies have an amazing range which are completely organic and have an oil for every ailment imaginable – I’m planning to mix a few of my own scents to use in the bath on gym days.

Massage

A few years back, I went for a massage at a local day spa and I enjoyed it SO much but it’s something I’ve never found the time or money to do again. Now that I’m running and weight lifting, I feel like I’d really benefit from a massage (or even regular massages) so I’m planning to make Spring the season in which I do it!

SLEEP!

Sleep is SO important to healing and mental health and as most parent knows it can also be an elusive thing! It becomes even more important when you’re exercising because the body needs time to heal and repair itself, so I’m planning on revamping the whole look of our bedroom and treating us to some new bed linen, to make our bedroom a palace of relaxation so that sinking in to bed at night feels like a proper treat! Many people struggle with nasal issues which interrupt sleep, so consulting a nose surgeon might really help.

Yoga

As well as the exercise that I’m already doing, I’m planning to throw in a weekly yoga class as well. Running and weight-lifting are both great ways to lose weight, increase strength and tone up but I’m hoping that yoga will help with my flexibility and also help to improve any muscle aches that I get after working out. Invest in a decent yoga mat if you plan to go to a class as the gym’s own ones usually smell of feet!

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a word that I’ve heard a lot of people use in the last couple of years and after looking into it, I think it’s something I could really stand to learn more about. The definition of mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” and it sounds like exactly what I need for my Springtime self-care.

What are you doing to take care of yourself this Spring?