|FAMILY|young driver driving lessons



A few weeks ago we took both boys along for an Admiral Young driver lesson, sessions are held throughout the country, although the 5-10 'lessons' are only held at selected locations. 

So that both boys could do their lessons on the same day we chose Bicester Heritage which was the clostest location to us running both sessions.

|BRAND NEW ME|10 ways alcohol has a negative effect on me

 

One of the lifestyle changes I'm trying to make is not to use alcohol has a form of stress relief, having had a responsible and stressful job for 20 years I've always looked for ways to deal with this stress. For a long time I used excercise (specifically kick boxing) to combat stress and it worked an absolute charm. The problem is training 6+ hours when you are young and single is great but trying to maintain that level of commitment is quite tricky with a family and so I stopped. 

I've never really managed to find an alternative that helps me manage stress and fits with my current lifestyle, sadly the only thing which did is alcohol, which didn't manage stress it just masked it. I'm more than happy to admit that I do like a drink and there's nothing better than that first glass of wine after a stressful day!  Am I going to become teetotal?  No.  But I have already cut down the amount I'm drinking and trying to keep it for some weekends and special occasions.  To say I'll never drink again is not going to happen and I'll just be setting myself up for failure. 

I'd love to be one of those people who can just make major lifestyle changes, like the click of a button but I don't think I can be that person, the only time I did was when I found out I was carrying T and I wanted to give him the best start in life, unfortunately doing it for myself isn't a big enough motivator for me. 

Since I stopped drinking nearly 3 weeks ago I've realised that there were side effects to drinking, not just the obvious health ones but simple ones which affected my productivity, which made me make decisions I wouldn't have otherwise and which did make me ill. I thought I'd list down my observances as a reminder why cutting down on drinking is necessary to my new lifestyle choices. 

1. Makes me lazy
Without doubt, I'm so less productive and more likely to sit and watch drivel on the TV if I have a glass in my hand. 

2. Empty calories
There are absolutely no health benefits from drinking alcohol, I know they say that red wine can help some people and Guinness can increase iron intake but they are not scientifically proven and personally I don't drink much of either!

3. Makes me make poor food choices
This is fundamental to my new lifestyle decision, I need to be in control when it comes to my eating habits and if I drink I lose that control. 

4. Poorly tummy
This is a relatively new symptom I've noticed, I'm absolutely sure that I have a slight intolerance to white wine, I'm fine with red wine or spirits but a good old glass of Pinot Grigio or Prosecco really makes my tummy feel bad and gives me griping pains the whole of the next day. 

6. Makes me lethargic
So similar to being lazy I guess although I find I want to fall asleep much earlier if I've been drinking which again makes me less productive in the day. 

7.  Even more disturbed sleep
Despite falling asleep earlier, I find myself unable to get back to sleep once I wake up in the night, this is definitely prolonged if I've been drinking. 

8. Don't do my routines
This is one of my stress triggers!! One thing I've realised since the beginning of the year is that if I live in chaos my mind is chaos, so if I live in a tidy home, my mind is calmer. If I've been drinking, I'm far less likely to clear up before bedtime or remember to put the dishwasher one, take my make-up off etc, which leads to feeling a lack of control and anxiety for me. 

9. Masks not deal with stress
I've really talked about this one above, whilst I've not yet found a way to deal with stress, I'm no longer kidding myself that I have it under control with a large glass in my hand!

10. Tired next day so no exercise
Although I don't suffer from hangovers, my body most definitely knows that I've been drinking, and like I explain above about my tummy problems, my energy levels are always seriously depletely if I drink which makes for not one but two unproductive days! 

I'm kidding myself that this will permanently lead to anything else, I'm just glad that I've recognised this and am making changes, for me it's all about moderation and choices and this is what's working for me right now.  I'm still on the lookout for that elusive way to deal with stress though!!!

Have you noticed how drinking affects you?  How do you manage stress?  Do you have a tried and tested way? Lx 

 

|REVIEW|stickbot zanimation studio


Never has a review stressed me out as much as this one!!! Ok so not a great way of starting a review but just setting the scene!  

When Stikbot studio arrived I thought it would be a great little activity to do with T (aged 5). We were sent 2 kits, the Stickbot zanimation studio and Stickbot weapon pack featuring weapons that can be used for your animation. 
  

We started by downloading the stikbot studio app and watching the app video. All seemed really easy and straight forward, the only thing I didn't take into account was my 5 year old, his 'perfectionist' streak and the fact that we are like two peas in a pod! 

Anyhow, we unpacked the main box, which included 2 figures, a green or blue 'stage' some boxes and a mini tripod. 

 

We first attempted a video without any background, just to give it a try, it was relatively easy, however T did struggle tiny bit with small movements and found it difficult to bend the characters into positions just a tiny bit at a time. 



 

Eventually he did get the hang of it but the background was really unstable so he kept inadvertently moving it, which frustrated us both!!  



For our second video, we added a suitable background, from the app, music and sound effects, T pretty much did the whole video on his own, but it did cause a little bit of frustration for the reasons I stated above! 


The mini tripod was functional, it did the job well although it was a little unsteady when T tried to use it on his own.  I wanted to use the 'proper' tripod but of course T wanted to use the one included in the set πŸ˜‚.

 

All in all now we've 'got the hang' of it I'm sure we will do it again and will get better at it and work with its little quirks.  However, I don't think the 4+ age range is very realistic for a younger child to use on their own, from our experience additional help was needed. 

That being said this will really will last him a few years and give him endless possibilities to develop his videoing skills (and patience!) 

This is a great little toy, certainly not for T at 5 to do on his own, but certainly for older children and I'm sure you'll get better results. 


Disclaimer: we were sent this item in exchange for honest review 
 


|BRAND NEW ME|getting back on track with your healthy lifestyle

 

I'm well and truly off the healthy lifestyle wagon at the moment, I can't quite pin-point when it happened but I think it was when The Hubs and T were poorly with norovirus, I was so obsessed with cleaning all I was doing was cleaning then crashing, no energy meant that I just headed for the ready meals and processed food. Completely the wrong thing to do, but I now realise I was in survival mode and paranoid I was going to get ill.

This has lead to massive anxiety attacks and feeling really low again as well as being bloated, putting on weight, having bad headaches and feeling irritable and emotional. It's also making me have insomnia really badly (hence I'm awake at 01:20 writing this!) 

 

We are still trying to get over the Easter holidays, we had a lovely couple of weeks off and have got lots done, however, we've both eaten and drank far too much and all the wrong things. Just this week I've thrown out a bag full of waste vegetables that hadn't been used and for dinner had a Chinese. We've spent a fortune on food too this week, simply ridiculous. The only saving grace is that T has eaten really well, not too much snacking and making sure he's getting his 5 a day. 

Anyway, today has definitely taught me that I need to get back on it and seriously, I keep saying that a little blip is good because it reminds you how good you actually felt when things were coming together, even if at the time it didn't feel like it!!! 

 

I drank the last of the open wine this evening and really want to stay off that and processed food and find the motivation and energy to get myself back to feeling healthy. 

It's a vicious circle that needs to be broken, eat processed foods and alcohol feel lethargic, anxious and  unmotivated, need to rest, do less and keep eating quick and unhealthy food.   So I need to break the habit (again) and find a way to stop it forming or at least spotting the early signs before it's too difficult to start again. 

I really never thought I was addicted to processed food but the truth is I really am, as a family we are!  It does make it harder that I have to also cater for T and The Hubs but I am determined to do this, we are lucky that T does have relatively healthy eating habits, except for his snacking but The Hubs eats very few vegetables, he has though decided that he too wants to become healthier, he wants to lose weight and so at least we are both in this together now. 

So where do I go from here? How do I get back to where I was?  This is my plan:

1. Cut out caffeine and alcohol 
2. Drink 2l filtered water a day
3. Eat at least 5 fruit and vegetables a day
4. Avoid process food and snacks 
5. Get back to loving cooking healthily
6. Stop thinking of food as 'treats'
7. Hit my exercise goals
8. Meal plan and prep

 

So, tomorrow is another day and all that!  I know what we're all having and we're off to forest school tomorrow morning so that's a ruddy good way to start. 

We will be #fitfam we're just going to need a bit more focus and jumping back on that wagon to get there 😊

Thanks for listening to my ramblings, have a lovely week, especially if you're children are back at school this week Lx 


|FAMILY|Brand new episodes of Kazoops

 

Do your children like Kazoops?  Thomas has watched it before, but it wasn't high up on his list of things to watch. 

However, after watching the first episode of the brand new series, he's hooked. T really enjoyed watching 'Daydreamer Monty' which premiered this afternoon. 

 

T really enjoyed this episode, particularly Monty's suggestion of using a Yeti to move the piano!! 

I love how Kazoops really sparks T's imagination and encourages him to daydream and play make believe. T loves how Monty has a pet pig and would like his own Jimmy Jones, although he might just have to make do with the cat πŸ˜‰
 
 

The latest series is being shown on CBeebies at 4.20pm, we've got record set to make sure we don't miss an episode. 

 

|BRAND NEW ME|Moringa Oil from Wikaniko

 

As I've been trying to improve my health I've also been trying to bring more natural products into routines, and none needed an overhaul more than my facial skincare. 

I used to be a religious user of natural, cruelty free products. 

I'm ashamed to say that a good few years back I stopped this and opted instead for high end, ridiculously expensive brands. I have no idea why I switched, looking back I honestly don't know when it happened, it just sort of did. 

Anyway, during my quest to become more natural (still a long way to go on hair and nails!!!) I made a decision to use natural products again, I've also realised that I need separate products for my aging skin (πŸ˜₯).

Literally within a week of doing this I was offered the opportunity to review some Moringa oil, so it seemed as though it was meant to be. I wanted to give it a good couple of months to make sure that it did indeed work on my skin, I didn't have a breakout and I was happy with the product. 

Wikaniko claim:

' Moringa - reputed to be the best natural nutritional supplement in the world, bar none!

Also known as the best anti-ageing oil in the world, bar none!'

 

I was sent some Moringa oil to try out as a moisturiser, after a bit of research on aging skin (πŸ˜₯) I found that it was nighttime when I needed that extra moisture and goodness that an oil would provide so have been using my Moringa oil as part of my evening routine. Never would I have bought an oil moisturiser for my 'Normal' combination skin. I'd have instantly thought it would make my skin too greasy, but my skin soaked it up! 

As you can see packaging is simple, which I must admit I liked, to me this added more emphasis to the product and allowed the product to do the taking for itself without being swayed by pretty packaging and a product with no substance. 

 

Sorry, this is brutally close, but this is my skin seconds after applying the oil liberally, as you can see not greasy at all and it could easily be used for a day moisturiser too. 

 

The oil comes in pump form and a couple of pumps easliy does my face, neck and dΓ©colletage. 

I apply after I've removed my make-up and cleansed with a muslin cloth. 

The oil has no additives, so there's no fancy smell which I admit, does take a little getting used to. I love my essential oils so would have preferred a little something to make it smell nicer. 

Moringa oil is produced by a Norfolk company πŸ‘πŸΌ to a 'local' and U.K. company, and grown in Spain and is £16.95 for 100ml. 

The oil is 100% organic and cruelty free which again is a big plus point in my book.  There are loads more health benefits of Moringa taken in other forms too, check out this video made by Wikaniko. 

 

I shall most definitely continue using this product. I can see my skin looks more nourished, I've had no spots since using it and I love how natural it is. 

Disclaimer: I was sent the product in return for my honest review. 


|ORGANISING|how your zodiac organises you



Have you seen this fun info graphic from Furniture at Work? If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you'll know I LOVE organising! I love seeing everything in its place, near, tidy and easy to find. 

Don't get me wrong, sadly not everywhere in my house is immaculately ordered... yet but I'm working on it. Sadly, work and blogging get in the way πŸ˜‰

At the moment I'm working on T's toys, it's easy to tidy them all away but I'm finding the key to permanent order is to make sure that he can put them back himself just as tidily and get things out by himself without making a huge mess. It really is challenge! 

So according to this info graphic I'm a 'show off' yes this is probably true!  I'm not one for hiding everything away, if it's to be used it should be out in my opinion and as for having lots of gadgets, yep that's me!!!! If there's a gadget to make life easier, I'm there at the front of the queue. Anything to cut down on time and make things easier is my motto πŸ˜‚

So do you live in organised mess or constructive chaos?  Do you like your house to be neat and ordered or do you have better things on your agenda? Me?  I'm somewhere in the middle, if I had the time yes, I'd be living in extreme organised bliss but I just don't value it quite enough to make it my number 1 priority so do what I can in the time I have.  

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post.  

|FAMILY|jumping in the car and finding 'hidden drives'

 

Do you ever just get in the car and go for a drive?  When we were kids we used to do this all the time (well most Sundays!) it's not something we do at all though, only really using the car to get somewhere.   I'm sure I know all the words to practically every Motown song from listening to them on our weekend 'drives' in our old Range Rover. I'm sure with 5 children it was a cheap activity for my parents and my Dad doing what he loves best - driving!   

 

Jumping in the car and heading off to destinations unknown really appeals to me, and if there's a scenic route along the way, then all the better!  I really don't know why we've never done it. 

I must admit we live in a beautiful part of the country completely surrounded by countryside and with the Cotswolds, Chilterns and Peak District all within a relitively short distance away, however, looking at the eBook Irelands great hidden drives from Chill Insurance does make me long to go to Ireland, driving to the Cliffs of Moher is now firmly on my bucket list!!  It looks absolutely stunning, I'd love to pack up the car with a picnic and head out for an adventure, listening to Ed Sheeran with the windows down in the beautiful sunshine! 

 

It looks as though this weekend is going to be lovely so maybe we should head out for a drive, for no reason, just 'because'.

Where are your 'hidden drives'?

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post. 


|FAMILY|our family wild list



For the last couple of years we've had family seasonal bucket lists, these worked really well and made us 'focus' on seasonal things to do. We really liked this format at usually managed to achieve them, now T is getting older, I want him to be more involved in choosing our family activities.

|BRAND NEW ME|perfect self care, looking after your nails

 

I love having my nails done, it's 2 hours of relaxation, chatting and doing nothing, perfect for a couple of hours self care every few weeks. 

I've spent a lot of time trying to extend my manicure and make sure that my nails are on tip-top condition, I've realised that with having acrylic nails there are a few things you can do to really help your nails look their best in between appointments. 

 

1. Always use hand cream, making sure your hands are not dry will always make your mani look better. 

2. Use a cutical oil before bed and when you wake up, I've now made this part of my morning and evening beauty regime. I'm a real picker so if I start to pick around my nails, I damage them and my nails no longer look perfect. 

3. Always use a high quality nail varnish like those from professional nail polish from Ellisons cheap, low quality nail varnishes need more coats and chip easily (in general!) using nail varnish remover too often also drys your nails and can lead to you picking and damaging nails. A 'professional' varnish will not only look shinier and clearer, it will last a lot longer.  I go for shellac as it lasts longer. 

4. Don't chew or pick!!!! I am the worlds worst at this and I really struggle not to do it but if my nails are looking perfect, then I'm more likely to remember all the other care tips πŸ˜‰

5. Wear gloves when washing up and cleaning!! I really learned a lesson on this one recently, I've developed a bit of a cleaning habit and so I've had to have my nails a lot shorter than I usually would. Now, I'm protecting them when cleaning by wearing rubber gloves so no additional chemicals or water go onto them for a prelonged period of time. 

 

This time I've gone for super short apricot coloured nails, very different from my usual long and dark style.  I've been reading this Nail eBook which has some fab advice for 2017 style and colour trends, I think I'm going to be wearing more pastels this year and I love the idea of going 'au natural' with my colour. 

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post.

|BRAND NEW ME|March favourites

 


This post is a couple of days later than I had planned, I hope you still enjoy it. 


In my bid to find happiness and positivity  in everyday things I thought I'd start thinking about my favourite things, this could contain any favourites, home, beauty, blogging, clothes etc 


 

Watching

The Blacklist, still loving it! Raymond Reddington  is one of the best characters ever created in my opinion. 


Cleaning videos on you tube πŸ˜‚ yes really I'm obsessed with cleaning at the moment so I'm watching videos for shortcuts and tips. My favourites have been from:

Vasseur Beauty

Emily Norris


 

Listening

There's only one thing I've been listening to this month and that's Ed Sheerans Divide album, it's absolutely amazing so I guess it's no wonder he is taking over the charts! I'm also really pleased to have discovered Amazon music  so we're both busy transferring our music onto there and creating playlists to free up space on our devices! 


Eating

Too much rubbish!   In January and February I was really disciplined with my eating but when I decided to go vegan for March I think mentally I rebelled and everything went off the rails again!   The good thing about this is that I feel absolutely awful so it has helped to prove that what I was doing before really works!


Smelling

Zoflora!!! As I said I'm obsessed with cleaning right now and I've discovered zoflora, oh my goodness it smells so good. And it's so nice to have a beautiful smell hit you when you come home or wake up!  


 


Unwinding

I'm still using my Calm app daily and find it really helps me switch off to go to sleep now. If I was up in the night I listen to a guided meditation and that really does help. 


Reading

Ive gone back to actually reading some blogs again!!! And it feels good to get back so seeing things on my feed that I really want to see and not because I feel obliged because they are friends or because I've joined a linky etc. I've created separate feeds in my bloglovin account so I can follow a feed for a particular subject I'm interested in. I like a lot of things, but I don't like seeing all those things jumbled up in amongst those things that I feel I should be reading rather than those which I want to read! This has helped me remain focused whilst reading and not just scroll mindlessly which I had a BAD habit of doing before. 


Recommending

  1. Flavoured oils, omg they transform everything! Salads, quinoa, pasta, cous cous etc I'm using ones from Aldi, they are usually £1.49 but are on offer at £1 at the moment (so I stocked up!)
  2. Zoflora, if you want your house to smell amazing, use this!!  I leave some in the sink whilst I'm at work and over night so when you walk in, it's lovely and fresh. 
  3. Moringa oil, I'm using this as a moisturiser before bed, it's completely natural and has anti-ageing properties it's made my skin feel amazing and is helping keep those wrinkles at bay!  Look out for a full review next week. 
  4. The Calm app, I really can't recommend this enough, if you're someone with a lot of plates spinning and feeling overwhelmed this is the app for you, it helps you to focus and relax and generally helps your anxiety and wellbeing, it's not cheap but for me it's so worth it. 
  5. Making your bed when you get up, we always do this and it honestly does make a difference! For me it mentally puts an end to sleep and bedtime and helps me to start my day with a more relaxed mind. 
  6. Using essential oils in my diffuser, I love how changing your senses can affect your mood, I find diffusing rose oil before bed so relaxing. 

 

'Gramming 

This month my absolute favourite Instagrammers are people I follow from my Home account :

@west_barn

@perfectlylovleyjen

@mrs_rackley.home


I've been on my @onehillcrestroad account most this month and am loving my feed so much, separating out my interests by using different accounts really was the best thing I've done for my personal Instagram use, it's lovely not thinking about followers or engagement, just being me!  Not so great blogging wise but hey-ho! 


 

Liking

At the moment I'm really enjoying just doing my own thing again, not following 'blogging or strategic' advice, just using social media for me, or god forbid not on social media at all, I was really enjoying cooking new healthier family meals (but I stopped last week and need to get back on it πŸ˜‰) I have been meal prepping our lunches and that has been a godsend!  We've managed to eat quite well at lunchtime because of doing that one thing!  I'm also loving having a clean and tidy home and everything in its place before bed, it's so great for the mind not be in chaos and disorder. 


We have also decided to change our home to how we want it rather than how it was when we moved in. This is going to take a bit of work and effort but we'll get there this year for sure. 


Feeling

I've not felt my best this month, Thomas has been ill, too many birthday meals out and falling off healthy eating have taken its toll. I've also been drinking too much this month. Because of this my anxiety levels have been really high, I've struggled with sleep and restless legs, which I've never really had a problem with in the past. I have exercised more though so that's been great, in April I'd like to aim for 3 times a week. I need to get back to eating well and generally improving my wellbeing. 


This was supposed to be a short post just detailing some of my favourite things this month but it's turned out rather long!  I hope you've liked it, if you'd like this to be a regular feature, let me know xx


What were your favourite things in March?