A Tasteful Halloween

I know it’s all for the kids, but if you are as horrendously particular about your house as me, you’ll get that shudder at the thought of covering it it with vulgar bright orange decorations, plastic spiders and replacing your beautiful cast iron door knocker with a battery operated skull that roars….you get the gist.

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Easter is pretty and pale with yellows and blues and fluffy chicks (that I can do) Christmas is understandably a complete delight (bar tinsel, tinsel makes me cringe) but Halloween is just such an ugly holiday. Whether my mums hatred for the holiday has rubbed off on me i’m not sure but I will rarely venture further than a carved pumpkin when it comes to October 31st.

stylish halloween

It crossed my mind that Pintrest is where all the inspiration is at, so I searched for ‘Classy Halloween’ and was pleasantly surprised that one I am clearly not the only mother with house OCD trying to keep everyone happy, and two there are some great ideas for non offensive (and actually quite nice) decorations to inspire your Halloween decor.

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There is hope for us yet!

Thanks for reading and I hope some of this inspires you if you are also not a fan or bright orange and plastic!

Georgie xx

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Top Tips for Throwing a Kids Party

Tips for throwing a Kids party

My daughter Arabella turned six last week and I threw a rather large party for her this weekend. Having never done a party this big before (30 kids and all the parents and our family) I thought it would be good to run through my tips (well basically the mistakes I either made this time or have made in the past) an why it is key to avoid them.

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Organising your own kids party is stressful (I’m not going to lie about that) BUT if you do it yourself you will end up with much more for your money, and a much more ‘special’ occasion for your little one.

So here are my top tips:

  1. Organise it early

Send those invites out early and make sure you give a way for parents to RSVP. You need to make it clear on the invite that if they don’t RSVP there won’t be a place at the party for their child. This avoids the numbers being completely out on the day. I sent Arabella’s invites out two months before the party, firstly to make sure that the most important friends were able to be there and secondly to kick start me in to starting to organise things avoiding the panic of last minute ordering and hanging out of the front door waiting for the postman on the morning of the party because he’s bringing the party bags!

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  1. Sandwiches

This year is the first year I actually considered using a caterer to provide the sandwiches, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret here. DO NOT GO NEAR CATERERS.  I was quoted £45 + Delivery for 30 sandwiches (and that’s not fancy fillings, that’s ham, cheese and jam) To make 8 loaves worth of sandwiches it took me two hours on the morning of the party, I bought fresh bread from Aldi that morning that cost me 55p per loaf. Turn up the radio, get your little production line going and do it yourself. Caterers will absolutely rip you off for something that is really quite inexpensive and lets face it easy to do.

My other sandwich tip is making sure you always butter both sides of the bread. I have no idea why I don’t do this naturally anyway (perhaps I’m just lazy) but by habit I only butter the side that the filling is going on. When you are making sandwiches that need to not fall apart on a tray it is key to butter that second side. They will stick together nicely and the bread won’t dry out half as quickly.

  1. Entertainment

You may think some cake and party hats would be enough but from experience I can tell you it’s not. Kids need entertaining (always) so make sure you have some entertainment, i have never used ‘paid’ entertainment in the form of a person but there is always some kind of attraction. We have done, various pets, racing pigs (battery operated don’t worry) disco with a mic so we can play various games with them, a bouncy castle twice and various planned party games at festive parties. The one party there was no entertainment and we had riled parents and bored children so that’s not something I would do again!

  1. Don’t open the presents on the day

You can imagine it now, thirty children all running round, screaming, eating sugar and loud music. That is not a place you want presents to be opened, they won’t be appreciated, cards get lost, nothing gets written down and it’s a free for all with all the other children. I was really strict (much to Arabella’s frustration) that we weren’t going to be opening any of the presents at the party and we would open then a few days later (or consecutive days later as there were so many) with a pad ready for the thank you cards in a calm environment where she actually has half a chance to take in what she had received.

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  1. Attach the cards to the presents if they aren’t already

As a parent that attends a lot of parties this is my pet hate, lots of people don’t attach their card to the present which basically means you have a lot of nameless presents and a lot of separate cards. I stood with a roll or cellotape and every time I spotted a present with a precariously balancing card I taped it down. This means that every present has a person attached to it. I would personally hate someone to think I had forgotten the gift!

  1. Provide something for the parents

In all honesty how much fun are kids parties for parents? Exactly. So they need something to get them through. I wouldn’t recommend gin and tonic, unless you have a huge budget, but making enough food for the parents to be able to eat and providing them with caffeine (either in the form of tea or coffee) makes a huge difference to how bearable a loud kids party is. I know if I’m sat down with a cuppa I can dull out the noise and catch up on social media for a couple of hours.

  1. Make more party bags than you need

We had a little hiccup this year. It’s easy to forget that with the invite for a child it does mean their siblings could also end up coming along. I hadn’t allowed for siblings when I made the party bags so we were two short at the end of the day which brought tears and all sorts of upset. Always make about five extra and you won’t be let down, you can always give any leftovers out at school the next week or save them for friends that weren’t able to come. Believe me it’s a much better alternative to feeling like the worst person in the world when they realise you haven’t got them a party bag.

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  1. Check for allergies

Always worth a check, one of Arabellas school friends has a severe egg allergy. Luckily her parents emailed me and let me know the things she did eat. I made sure all the food was labelled so her parents knew what she was safe to eat. I made her a special egg free sponge cake and labelled it for her. They actually ended up taking the rest of the cake home with them which was so nice. Allergies or not no one wants to be left out at a party.

  1. Shop around for party ware

Being a complete Amazon prime addict my searched naturally started there, once I started to shop around online and in shops I started to realise there were cheaper options I ended up looking all over for the best price. I put a lot in my basket on Ebay, working through a list I had made of what I needed. I then went to the Poundshop and looked at what  could get from there saving on the postage then the rest ordered from various shops on Ebay, the only tip I would give for doing it this way is make sure you allow time for things to arrive, the dates they give you for delivery aren’t always what you get!

  1. Take lots of pictures or get someone else to do it

I had my big photography camera at the party for taking pictures of the kids on the princess castle backdrop but when it came to actual pictures of the party, the parents and the set up, I failed miserably. I got caught chatting to a lot of people and topping up various sandwich plates and to be completely honest didn’t have time to even think about picking up my camera. If I could do it again I would definitely ask a friend or family member to take some photos for me as I have barely any memories to save from this party.

So there you have it, my top ten kids party tips. If you have any others please feel free to leave them below.

Thanks as always for reading!

Georgie x

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Bye Bye Baby

Last Friday I said goodbye to my little girl for the next two weeks. Some parents in need of  break will probably be wondering why I have any complaints about this. Don’t get me wrong if it was a week I wouldn’t, but two weeks is just such a long amount of time to not see her little face, hear that dirty giggle and join in with random and baffling conversations.

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There is truth in the fact that I probably do need a break from the responsibility of parenting to be able to fully rest and recoup but unfortunately when you are in this position it never feels like that and actually the apprehension and worry has been a stress in itself. Over the last week I have been adding to a general ‘life’ to do list all the jobs that need doing around the house, the DIY, the trips that need to to be made and basically any job I can turn to in order to stay busy (which defeats the whole object of the break).

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My nature isn’t to relax it’s to ‘do’ so given this opportunity to slow down it’s unlikely to actually happen. I want to do silly mundane things like read a whole book, get up to date on social media, walk the dogs more (not things I can’t do with Arabella home) but more just enjoyable things for me to do. Being the absolute fashion addict one big task that needs doing in the next two weeks is going through all my clothes, so that can be a draw/wardrobe a night easily for a week of evenings.

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My prediction is that I will be absolutely fine for the fist 4/5 days and then it is going to start getting really hard. Being divorced I am very used to spending time without Arabella but when I say time, we are talking 2/3 days, hence my prediction of the 4/5 day wobble.

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Funny isn’t it, we always want what we can’t have. As parents we crave time to ourselves (well me and the friends I have asked do) But as soon as shes gone all I will want to do is eat popcorn and watch movies with her. within a week of Arabella getting back she starts her new school so I think getting on top of life/the house and possibly even starting the attic renovation will be a good thing in the long run. (I just need to keep reminding myself as I walk past her empty bedroom.

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Here is our latest you tube video:

The Country Life

Though I spend a huge chunk of my week in front of a computer linked to corporate entities and dealing with high flying clients, at heart I am a complete and utter country bumpkin.

We live in a breezy, character filled old cottage outside of Bristol in the UK and have enough animals to almost qualify as a farm (I’m not sure what the actual definition of a farm is but it can’t be far off our set up).

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What I love the most is the divide, and it’s quite possibly the only way I cope with such a busy life. During the day i’m dressed on trend (well ish, I like to create my own trends) clean shoes, made up face and technology at my fingertips (Two phones, laptop, Ipad, Desktop, Alexa in every room of the house) then by night i’m hand rearing weak chicks,  cleaning out chicken coops, collecting eggs, training the dogs, riding the horse or generally covered in mud somewhere doing something outdoorsy.

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I was lucky enough to grow up in various beautiful old houses, always rural and always waking to the sounds of cows mooing, horses whinnying or sheep bleating so living in a city is not something I think I could ever cope with. Don’t get me wrong i’m in no way remote to local towns but just having that little bit of space and daily interaction with a variety of animals is almost a coping mechanism.

I rode throughout my whole childhood, spending most weekends at shows, peeing in a buckets and always with the faint aroma of ‘horse’ lingering round me. naturally as I matured this lessened and I learnt about deodorant and started to venture in to the world of fashion (as a youngster on ‘dress down days’ at school I would literally turn up on my jodhpurs) that’s how bad I was.

So the natural progression saw me start to find other things in life that drew me away from the stables, work, socialising, boys (I was never that keen on them) but there were always animals involved. When I became a single mum in 2012 all of a sudden I didn’t have anyone to answer to or opinions to consider and ‘Life in the Cottage’ began. We currently have the following pets:

  • 6 Purebred Chihuahuas
  • Archibald the rescued cat
  • Fox the Gelding
  • Daisy the miniature Shetland
  • Pete the 100 year old tortoise (that we sort of inherited)
  • Olive the Syrian Hamster
  • 28 Chickens (12 newly hatched chicks)
  • And for the next three weeks until they go back we have Haggis the school bunny in the field too.

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as you can see it’s a full house (though there’s always room or an animal in need) Admittedly it’s very stressful at times, especially when there is illness or the Fox decides he wants one of my hens but i wouldn’t change it for the world. Every morning before work I potter out to the field in my dressing gown feed and water the chickens and just take a big deep breath of the countryside and it honestly sets me for the day (some of which can be incredibly stressful) At the other end of the day it’s the horses and again there’s peace and space. I struggle with Anxiety for various reasons but if I feel an attack coming you will find me sat in the field watching Chihuahuas trot about and chickens clucking away while they peck on their corn.

If any of you want to see our lives first hand and very raw, we share a weekly video on YouTube that covers the good, the bad and the ugly:

Thanks for always for coming to my little ivy filled corner of the internet

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A Month of Amazon

Ok so i’m going to be completely honest here. About six months ago I somehow landed myself a months free subscription to Amazon prime. This was the bet and worst month of my life (dramatic I know) Having always been a keen ‘Ebayer’ I was a dab at online shopping, don’t get me wrong I haven’t got the patience to bid for things but the whole click buy wait, receive.

Well with Amazon Prime the gap between the click buy and receive is between 6 and 24 hours, which for someone with the patience of a newborn demanding a feed is a godsend. I have had one instance in goodness knows how many when it didn’t come in that time slot, so I rang them on their easy customer service number (no actually you request a call and they call you instantly) and I was given a refund another months free membership. Not too shabby.

I have had a fair few bad experiences ordering from Ebay with the predicted delivery and then 9 days later you realise they’ve lie, are blatantly based in china and it’s not going to be coming anytime soon. As a consumer this REALLY annoys me.

So enough rattling about how great it is, I thought it would be fun to go through what I bought in July (with explanation as somethings will leave you wondering) so here we go!

mason jar

Smith’s Mason Jars Rust Proof Lotion & Soap Dispenser 

£9.99

A pretty straight forward purchase. Arabella slammed her hand as hard as she could on the soap in a strop knocking it to the floor and shattering it in to a million pieces (we had the same one before!

 

 

 

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UBaymax A4 Document File Folder, 12 Pockets Folder A4 

£12.99

A dull work item, basically being based away from home 99% of the week means I need everything with me. So this means i can do that and it’s all separated. Really useful if you have a lot of life stuff to keep on top of!

 

 

 

camera

Underwater Camera for Snorkelling 24.0 MP Waterproof Digital Camera 

£78.99

At the start of July i dropped my vlogging camera and in a blind panic had to order something to replace it while the company repairing it worked out if they could fix it. Not the best camera in the world but now it’s been used and my Sony is back working it’s keeping Arabella happy as she can now do ‘her own’ videos!

 

 

table legs

OAKOME 4 X Hairpin Table Leg Double Steel Construction Welding Superior Legs (16.14 Inches, Black)

£23.99

You may well remember seeing a cable reel table I upcycled on Instagram/Facebook, well this is the legs I used (naturally I sprayed them copper) but here is the listing. Great value and they come in a variety of colours, just not copper.

 

 

downloadPHARMAQ Ivermectin Drops 1% 5ml – Mite Treatment

£18.99

Very dull but very necessary. we had an outbreak of redmite among the flock and having los

t a handful because of it this treatment was my last hope (and it did help) not sure it was worth the £18.99 i paid for it (5ml is a very very small bottle). But needless to say i had to try!

 

 

travel mug

Thermos ThermoCafé 2010 Travel Mug, 400 ml

£5.97

Cheap and very un-exiting but I needed a way to try and stop getting Starbucks drive through on the way to the office. I won’t lie i’m still going but less. With a Tassimo at home there shouldn’t be any excuse. But the mug (which I thought was great value) is getting used.

 

creosote

Bartoline Creocote Light Brown 4 Litre

£9.98

Bear with me this was a very ‘chicken’ orientationed month with the red mite. This creosote (which i’m sure is illegal) was to spray the coops with as it deters the mites, well ish.

 

 

 

pressure sprayer

5L Pump Action Pressure Sprayer – use with water, fertilizer or pesticides

£10.52

And this is what i used to spray the creosote. This is clearly a bad month to share what I bought because it’s all really dull.

 

 

notepad

Silvine Executive Soft Feel Notebook Ruled with Marker Ribbon 160pp 90gsm A4 Tan 

£6.00

ANothr work number, i get through about one of these A4 notepads per month so this will come up (in tan ofcourse) every month. Worst part about this is i keep all the finished ones too. Talk about being a hoarder.

 

 

Well though a totally random haul I guess it does show you what variety of things you can actually buy on Amazon. Let me know if you want me to keep this up for August too. I promise it will be less Chicken stuff!

Thanks for Reading

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Riding the Lows

Ok so I posted on Instagram last week sharing my frustrations with the lack of time in my life, the amount of pressure and the never ending stream of guilt I live with.

I know that on the whole Instagram is a place for over edited, happy, carefree and unrealistic images (which most of the time I keep up with) but I also believe that when a ‘down day’ comes along why can’t that be shared too (we are all human after all).

Riding the lows 😌 My personality is such that though I reach ridiculous motivational highs I also hit some serious lows. Poor little A had quite a high temperature last night which really worried me, I managed to reduce it with some trusty calpol but I ended up laying in bed having one of those ‘woe is me sessions’ afterwards with the usual culprits rearing their ugly heads ‘I’m a terrible mum for working so much’ ‘the house isn’t clean enough’ ‘I don’t post enough on my story’ ‘there are so many messages I haven’t responded to’ and honestly feeling jealous of all the accounts I follow that can put all of their time in to creativity and social media. It’s not like me to be jealous I love to celebrate my insta friends but last night I found myself staring at the ceiling feeling jealous and frustrated. Being a working mum is such a hard juggling act and keeping the cogs of daily life well oiled is key, one thing fails and bam the whole ship is sinking. I’m going to spend a bit of time this weekend really prioritising everything (getting the house really straight) and try to stop keeping up with the Joneses as actually what everyone else is doing doesn’t matter it’s what we are doing that does. Feeling much better after a good night sleep and looking forwards to a day at home tomorrow to get my ‘sh1t’ together xxx

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After sharing this post (above) my inbox went crazy and there were so many women thanking me for finally sharing something that they could directly relate to and asking for advice. With little enough time in my possession I thought I would share this further by writing a blog post. Ironically i’ve done this in the midst of one of my down days.

I am finally starting to see a pattern to when these days happen now which is good and bad because I now almost preempt them. Imagine someone saying that you would get to a Thursday every week and you would have a panic attack, you would spend from Sunday to Tuesday worrying (well I would anyway).

Sunday: We organise, we do things that make us happy and we have time away from the routine of the week.

Monday: Beginning of the week, an easy day to keep productivity high feeling fresh after the weekend.

Tuesday: Tuesday is that day that isn’t really anything, normally still quite productive.

Wednesday: Starting to feel a bit tired? but upbeat because it’s #humpday and all that jazz.

Thursday: Exhaustion kicks in and though normally a pretty laid back person I could literally scream at someone for standing too close to me in a queue

Friday: Somehow though physically and mentally exhausted we always manage to get through a Friday, perhaps much like the carrot on a string incentive, Saturday is dangled with it’s promises of a later start, less demands and time to just potter.

I’m now starting to realise that Thursday is pretty much always my trigger day, Thursday is the day I start to nit pick every single thing that isn’t perfect, anxiety and self doubt start to creep in and i’m rolling that ever growing snowball of negativity in to Friday when honestly most weeks I feel like I can’t get up in the morning to face the day.

The big question that i still haven’t answered is how do you move through it:

Ok so as today has progressed (It’s Thursday) my temper has gotten shorter and my mood has got lower. I sat on the sofa while Arabella was eating her supper and beat myself up about how much cleaner the house could be, how much i need to finish painting Arabells’s bedroom door, how the bins are overflowing and need emptying.

I stop myself in my tracks and take five really deep breaths, slow and calm and always breathing out for longer than in. Then I focused on what small things I could do to make me feel more in control of my life. For me cleanliness and tidiness are huge things. So i got off my bum, emptied the hoover and blitzed the house (nothing too crazy) but just a hoover, clean worktops and straighten sofas and beds.

The next thing is to plan something that I can do that I really enjoy. Don’t judge me on this one but I LOVE watching Suits (the TV show on Netflix) so I schedule that in to my evening and make sure it happens, even if it’s just 30 minutes.

Do I feel clean and together? if I don’t i’ll take a shower and refresh my body (somehow a shower or bath makes you feel like a whole new person, perhaps like a mini christening).

Think ahead to tomorrow, more often than not I feel quite overwhelmed about what is happening the next day so by facing that and looking t what can be done in advance to make the day easier, whether it’s making packed lunches, laying out an outfit ready or packing everything you will need ready and leaving it by the door. This on really helps me feel like i can cope with whats to come.

The last thing that is really important to do is actually sit down and appreciate how much i have actually achieved this week. This doesn’t have to be huge things and will obviously be different for everyone.

If this helps just one person I’ve done my job so hopefully it does. To recap:

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I hope this helps in some small way, I would love to know you you all get through your low days too!

Love as Always

Georgie x

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

It’s almost that time of year again where we get to celebrate our mothers (I still personally think this should be monthly, but hey i’m a mum so i’m biased).

Every year I try and do something different, more meaningful, more sentimental, but after the 20 odd years I have been doing it for that’s getting quite hard. I decided in a very organised manner to start early this year (I have been known to regularly be one of those lastminute.com people). I have had a good old browse and come up with some of the things I think would be lovely to receive as a mum or give to my own (but realistically Arabella is 5, So I won’t be getting anything!!)

Here is my Mother’s Day gift guide

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Personalised cushion

How gorgeous is this, especially if you have siblings, you could all chip in and get this together. I like the idea of something you can keep to be reminded.

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Mother mug

Probably the truest quote going, everyone loves a mug and drinks either tea or coffee.

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Hand painted artwork

This gift idea I absolutely love. You have to send the artist some pictures of you and your mum and she will create a portrait of you with whatever quote you like. How personal!

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Mother cushion

As you can tell I am a little bit obsessed with the personalized cushion idea, another great one to pop on an armchair or decorate a bed.

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‘With my Mummy’ Book

This is actually a book we have and it is so nice to read with Arabella (sometimes she needs reminding of how special us mums are) Perfect for mums with youngsters.

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Mummy Desk Tidy

Something for a working (or very organsied mum) I love the idea of this on my desk, lets face it being a mum is something to shout from the rooftops about.

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Emma Bridgewater ‘Mummy Mug’

I own a lot of Emma Bridgewater but not one of these, though it is something I’ve always wanted (might have to wait a few years, not sure they let 5 year olds do online shopping)

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Personalised ‘Yummy Mummy’ hanger

I might actually go ahead and order myself one of these, I (mostly) hang tomorrows outfit out before I go to bed so this could be for that. What a cute idea!

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Mummy Mug

Any mum with small children will laugh at this, because it’s true. I microwave every single cup of tea I make at home because I get called away for one reason or another and it goes cold #everytime.

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There it is, a few things that caught my eye on the lead up to the Big Day. another factor to consider is the card (speaking from experience a homemade one is best) and the more hearts the better.

I hope all you mums get spoiled rotten on Mothers Day, and for those of you with children under 7, I feel your pain getting zero appreciation 365 days a year!

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How to Embrace the Hate

Ok so this is not a post I really wanted to ever have to write but inevitably here we are.

The internet is a very big and un-policed place, a platform for people to share nice things and horrible things wherever they want and however they want and whenever they want. It’s pretty scary when you realise this.

I shared a video about single parenting (this was requested) with one of the big family companies in the UK. Having just sent them the raw footage weeks ago last night I made the terrible mistake of looking for it on social media after a friend had seen it. With their 304k following on social media the video has been viewed more than 100,000 times and apparently most of those people have an opinion about my views on being a single parent (and not a nice one).

So I read some (not all) of the comments last night and led in bed in a state of complete shock and upset, all the usual questions running through my mind ‘who do I try and help’ ‘why do i put myself in the firing line for this’ ‘why can’t I just be understood’ anyway after a phone call with my sister (at midnight) that brought me back to reality it made me realise that actually there are just some people that are really negative and miserable.

Every single one of us will have something going on in our lives that is worthy of being miserable about, whether it’s money, relationships, work or family there will be something for everyone. The big factor is how you react to this:

  1. You can be angry and bitter
  2. You can be sad and miserable
  3. You can be jealous and resentful
  4. Or…you can just accept it, make a plan to change it and try to focus on the positives (there are always some)

Sadly it seems that the great majority of people in the world opt for 1,2 and 3. This is a sad but a fact of life. How we react to a given situation can be down to how we were raised, how we’ve been taught to cope with things, the people around us influencing us and our own personality and outlook on life.

I am forever a ‘glass half full’ kind of person (not always the best mentality especially when running a business) but still I wouldn’t change it. having been through a fair few awful things in life I have learnt to take the positive out of every situation and focus on that. It’s just who I am and what I’ve learnt to do!

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What I have tried to focus on after reading all of these negative and nasty comments is that there is a reason that people react the way they do, and that not everyone is a ‘glass half full’ person like me. Being positive and upbeat is hard, being miserable and living in a pity party is easy, blaming someone else is easy and making yourself feeling better by attacking other people is self gratifying if you are that kind of person.

To just talk about the post itself: I highlighted how long I had been a single parent for (5 years) explained that I had been very embarrassed at the start not wearing my ring and being labeled as ‘divorced’. I focused on the positives that I had time to focus on things I wanted for myself while Arabella was with her dad. I then talked about why I thought it was something to be really proud of if you were managing as a single parent and that even though it’s hard there are positives to focus on.

However positive you are people will try and bring you down, knock you off your cloud of happiness so you can fall back in to the pity pit with them but like I mentioned earlier in any given situation it’s how you react to it. I have decided to take a step back (not to ever look again) and accept that some people are just not capable of seeing the positives, this doesn’t mean they are bad people they are just mis-educated people that either don’t want to see the positive, don’t want to accept where they are in life or just find it easier attacking other people and taking no responsibility for anything that has happened to them. With this in mind I feel sad for them, living an angry life is not enjoyable and will also influence the things that continue to happen.

To End…. Be kind, be positive and always remember that everyone has a reason to behave the way they do (whether it be good or bad) so just smile and scroll on.

Enjoy and thanks for reading.

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Just a little trip to London

As much as I use my blog to share my views and all array of recipes and crafting ideas, I also use it as a place to save memories. If we do anything meaningful or exciting it normally makes it’s way in to a blog post and this does fit in with the whole ‘mummy’ and ‘lifestyle’ blogger theme.

So yesterday Arabella and I made the 280 mile round trip up to London to visit one of my oldest and dearest friends @justalittlebuild or SJ as I know her.

We spoke on the phone a few weeks ago and given our diary’s and the diary’s of our four children the 21st December was the only date we could do. We decided that our ‘fun Christmas Holiday activity’ would be to make a completely homemade ‘from scratch’ gingerbread house with the kids, and then just generally have a really good catch up. In the last year following the massive build on her house SJ has become quite the instagrammer and blogger so it was a great opportunity for us to come together share tips, advice and generally have a good catch up.

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So we set off at 8.15am (after waiting for the sun to rise enough to get the chickens out) and headed straight for starbucks. Purchased a latte, portion of fruit toast and a croissant (which never even got eaten) and joined the M5. Within 20 minutes the entire contents of the honey had been poured all over the passenger seat of my car which was interesting to clean up, but with a handy pack of wet wipes the situation was resolved (I honestly think all people should carry wet wipes not just mums with babies, they literally clean ANYTHING, not just bottoms)

After at least 45 repeats of ‘are we nearly there yet’ we were there, and we got cracking. Both very much doers in life there was no tea drinking until the recipe was started and the kids hands were suitably covered in dough.

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for anyone interested below is the recipe we used:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/mary_berrys_gingerbread_91126

In hindsight though we managed to pull this off it was hit or miss at a few stages. We should have left the gingerbread in for longer, it was just too soft and as soon as we added the smarties on the roof it started to bow under the pressure. We got round this by filling the whole house with giant marshmallows (which luckily no one would ever know as it’s windowless). The Mummies completely took over and the kids seemed happy enough just decorating the shapes we made with the left over dough so we basically did the whole gingerbread house without any help from the kids (which I think secretly we were both pretty happy about) the likelihood of the children creating something instagram worth is small.

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The one thing I want to mention as someone who does a lot of baking is the genius idea from that recipe of using egg whites with icing rather than water. It made the consistency so much stickier to hold everything together, in all my years of baking I have never heard of this but will be something I definitely continue to do. Pure genius!

The rest of the day was just catching up, everyone having their photo taken in the F&M basket, sharing ideas about each of our channels and drinking tea. Arabella managed to completely cover one of her bunchies in icing so she had to have a bath before we left (SJ’s bath is deep and huge) so this was very exciting and of course warranted a photo. We tided up the remains of the icing, chocolates and gingerbread dough and SJ fed the kids and then we just had time for one last little cuppa before we left and hit the motorway for the trek home.

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The drive home was the fun bit! Arabella if you watch any of my channels you will know is rather a dramatic character. Within 10 minutes of leaving she had convinced herself she was sick/ill/poorly. We ended up pulling over so I could try talk some sense in to her as it was clearly just being tired (given that five minutes previous she had said how hungry she was) I managed to resolve the situation (i’m not entirely sure how) and we got on our way. I used Christmas songs as a distraction which worked for about an hour (with one still to go) then she went in to complete meltdown about a rub she had on her foot adamant she needed to go to the doctors as soon as we got home (oh the joys of kids). We got home I transferred her from the car to bed and sat down with a cup of tea to start writing this. what a perfect day with perfect company.

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Enjoy and thanks for reading.

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