Katie

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Finally Going Vegetarian

When I was about 10 I read a magazine article about Dannii Minogue being vegetarian, and, being a fan girl (I was always team Dannii, she seemed so much cooler and edgier than Kylie) I decided, much to my Mums dismay, that I was going to be a vegetarian.

I think, even then, I was able to make a good play on words, because I took the term vegetarian and I made it my own. What it really meant was, I didn’t eat anything other than chicken and fish. Chicken because my Mum was worried I would fade away into nothing (that was never a possibility) and fish was just thrown in for good measure because I’m pretty sure nothing other than a fish finger would pass my lips when I was a kid.

Still. There were no cows, pigs or lambs making their way onto my plate for a good 7 years. Until I met TAG and he introduced me to the wonders of a Big Mac. Buy one get one free, Croydon town, probably hungover.

I can still hear my Mum now, shouting about all the years I passed up on her dinners only to be turned by a “bloody Big Mac!?!!”

Sorry Mum.

Finally Going Vegetarian

Slowly, over the years, I’ve found myself eating more and more meat. TAG himself admits that he gets very arsey if he doesn’t have meat in his meals. Something to do with being a (cave)man and needing to eat all the animals.

When I had kids and I explained that, yes, those chickens we saw at the farm are indeed the same animal as what we’re eating right now, it hit a nerve.

When I started to realise that rearing animals for food meant a massive amount of land, energy and water consumption, it hit a nerve.

When I learnt that animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouses gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined, it hit a nerve.

But, it wasn’t until I sat down to watch Game Changers that those nerves went from being gently tapped, to being smashed with a giant, meat eating hammer and I started to think about what I was consuming.

If you haven’t watched the Netflix documentary and you’re considering going vegan, or even veggie, then maybe give it a go. TAG decided to watch it one day and I told him I wasn’t interested, I knew what I was doing but I wasn’t prepared to change it thank you very much, but he has a good way of relaying things to me in a way that I want to listen to, so hearing him talk about the benefits of a plant based diet and dumping the meat (why does any sentence involving the word meat make me snigger like an embarrassed teenager?) made me take a couple of hours out of my busy Saturday afternoon and do me some learning.

Finally Going Vegetarian

I’m good at quitting stuff. I’ve given up smoking, I’ve given up dieting and I’ve finally given up giving a shit what other people think of me. But, despite being ‘veggie’ all those years ago, I didn’t want to give up my steak & dairy.

But. The more I watched, the more I knew. The more I realised that I needed to make a change. OK, two people giving up their cheese burgers isn’t going to make a dent in the global damage the meat industry has caused, but, imagine if two people in every single house cut out meat based produce, even for just half of the week.

The problem is it’s not that easy to become vegan. There is a level of organisation and sacrifice that I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to. Not just yet anyway. I’ve just got myself out of the dieting mindset of restriction, I’m not going to throw myself right into another shit-show of a food plan.

The funny thing is, I don’t even like dairy that much. Sure, give me all the chocolate on a Saturday night and as much cheese as possible at Christmas But find me a milk replacement for tea and I’ll bet you my M&M’s you can’t. It’s nigh on impossible! And I challenge anyone to tell me otherwise.

FYI, no, black tea does not cut it. It takes a special kind of person to drink their tea without milk and sugar, they’re rare and should be cherished!

I don’t want to be the woman who can’t have a cup of tea because oat milk tastes like shit and don’t even get me started on almonds. But I do want to be the woman who sets a good example to her kids, who eats mostly plant based ingredients because they’re better for her and better for the planet. I want to be the woman who actually does something rather than talks about doing it, because those people get right up my nose.

Those steaks might taste good, but not as good as being alive tastes. You know what I mean.

So, I’ve stopped eating meat. I’m going to try and stop eating chicken too. (For some reason this feels harder) and I’m going to stick to dairy free coffee from now on.

But I will still eat fish when I’m out. Wagamama for example, my delicious noodles that I could eat all day everyday are just not the same with tofu. No matter how it’s cooked. Give me a piece of responsibly sourced salmon over, I don’t actually know where tofu comes from, any day.

Until I find the holy grail of milk substitution for tea, I will keep having it as my morning brew but I’m going to cut it down to 1 a day and stick with hot honey and lemon the rest of the time. See, I’m practically there already.

I still suffer with IBS, and on bad days there are things I can’t even look at, never mind eat so I don’t want to back myself into a permanent corner, never to leave it again. I can only do my best right now.

And that’s not a bad way to start. Do your best, until you know better. Then do better. This is me starting to know better.

For now, I’m a pescatarian, with an aim to moving slowly to becoming a part time vegan. Maybe.

I know that news will evoke a whole load of eye rolling, tutting and laughter among some people. And that’s fine. I know I’m doing it for the right reasons and it will help, both my health (hello high blood pressure) and the future of the planet. Kind of a big thing that. What’s the point in banging on about recycling if you’re shoving your plastic wrapped meat in the bin at the same time?

I want to make a positive change, to make a difference, no matter how small. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. Being 90% veggie is better than being 90% not.

And I’m a whole load more vegan than I was last month, small steps or not. We all need to start somewhere.

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Winter Wonderland

I was going to call this feature ‘Monday Morning Meeting’ – like proper grown ups who have proper jobs do each Monday, but before I knew it, Monday morning became Monday afternoon and the whole alliteration thing was ruined so I had to start again.

Welcome to the Tuesday Tittle-Tattle. Where I will (in theory) do a little round-up of what kerrrazy shit I’ve been up to, in the vain hope that it will force me to make my life a little more interesting. I am well aware that there will be very little kerrrazy shit, but one can hope!

This week is all about Christmas!

Winter Wonderland

There are a few traditions in the AG household that we’ve accumulated over the years.

For example, we’re not allowed to put the tree up before the first week of December has passed. But we are allowed to badger Mr AG in the lead up to December about doing it early. Just in case he says yes. Although, even if he did, we wouldn’t do it because of that one year where we got our tree on our anniversary (1st December) and then had to drive around looking for a new one on Christmas Eve as ours had literally no needles left.

He really loved me that day.

What we can do however, is start the festivities outside the house. There is no time limit on those bad boys, and, to that I say, the earlier the better!

Winter Wonderland

I mean, we’re not talking October here. Once we’ve got rid of Bonfire Night and we’re into the 3rd week of November, it’s basically time to start singing the Christmas songs as far as I’m concerned. Any earlier than that though, just means you’ll be sick of it come December. And nobody wants to be the Grinch.

So, to kick off the Christmas vibe this weekend we hit up Winter Wonderland!

It’s been years since we’ve visited Hyde Park in December. We used to go along to the press launch evenings, where it was practically empty aside from celebs and we could jump on all the rides for free. But, after visiting one Saturday in December for our wedding anniversary, where TAG and I had to walk in single file and could barely hold a conversation, we decided to scrap it off our list.

We’re fickle like that.

Winter Wonderland
Zippos Circus

This year however, the gorgeous people at Zippos Circus invited us along to the Family Press Day and the love affair with Winter Wonderland has begun all over again!

We spent the entire day walking round London (we did 8.5 miles of trekking to be precise) and finished off with a veggie Wagamama (more on that in another post) before jumping on the train home to watch the Strictly eviction. I mean, if that’s not a Sunday of content I don’t know what is quite frankly.

I’m not going to lie, Winter Wonderland is still the busiest place on earth. We got there around 11ish and it was deceptively quiet. I wondered if it was because we were there before December (remember, ‘some’ people think November is too early to be Ho Ho Ho’ing) but in actual fact it was more like some people thought 11am was too early to do anything and they all rocked up at the same time, which was roughly 12.30, in case you’re wondering.

This time we took in some of the shows, namely Zippos Christmas Circus and the Magical Ice Kingdom as well as all the rides, food and booze. It had to be done!

I’m not sure what I was expecting from the circus, it’s been many, many years since I went to one, and I questioned whether it was something that would entertain my social media loving, YouTubing duo. But ya know what? Entertain it did! Be gone the scary faced clowns and the animal tricks which never sat right with me, even as a kid. Now there’s acrobats to make you hide behind your face (it was like a live showing of BGT) a clown that reminded me so much of Lee Evans I felt like we were watching him live, and record breaking jugglers.

It was bloody brilliant!

If you’re thinking of visiting Winter Wonderland, it’s open everyday 10am – 10pm and it’s free entry. It’s not cheap to eat (or drink) there but if you’re looking for something to kick start Christmas and you don’t mind a few (thousand) people, it’s got to be on your Christmas list!

Side note – we were gifted some vouchers for the rides and shows but not in return for a blog post, I just thought I’d share it with you. I’m good like that.

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For as long as I can remember, all the way back to the beginning of my memories, I’ve been called bossy.

It’s always been a negative word, something used to describe me in a dramatic and non complimentary way. I got so used to hearing it in my school reports, by family, that I took it on myself and started to actively tell people I was bossy before they could reach that conclusion themselves. In case they discovered this piece of information and wondered how on earth they could be friends with such a monster.

The funny thing is, bossy is predominately a feminine adjective. Have you ever heard the male of the species being called bossy? I am going to bet my backside you have not, because this, dear readers, is how the Cambridge Dictionary defines the word:

She’s strong without being bossy.
Stop being so schoolmarmish and bossy!
My older sister was very bossy.
Girls of that age can get quite bossy.

What hope do we have when a simple word like bossy becomes purely about women? Boys are just confident, strong, they know their own minds. But us females, we’re just getting ideas above our station, bless us!

I don’t doubt for one second that I was a bossy child, in that I (assumed) I knew what was the best way to do some things, and I didn’t see a problem in sharing my views with others. Because, that’s what everyone else did so why wouldn’t I? I had a brain, a voice, I was quite happy to use them.

My bossiness was never about trying to exert my power over other people, I’m not even sure bossiness in a child can be about power at all, it’s more about finding your voice, standing up for what you believe in and being brave enough to stand by that. Something that is, sadly, all to often fleeting, and for me, was replaced by feelings of self-doubt and insecurity in my adult years.

I absolutely hated being called bossy when I was child. Every single time it was used to describe me, in person or in writing, it would kick start a bubble of rage deep inside. It didn’t help that I had bright red hair, because, of course, that made me even bossier. The MC1R gene giving me more than just pale skin, blue eyes and hair the colour of the sun, it was also giving me the inability to listen to other people and go, full steam ahead, into everything I did.

The people who decided I was bossy never used it to hurt me, it was more a “oh look at her, there she goes again” eye rolling kind of way. Always (from my parents anyway!) said in love.

But for me, the word bossy wasn’t something I wanted to be, I didn’t want to be that difficult child, the spoilt brat who wouldn’t listen to anyone else, I knew that wasn’t who I was. But, because I knew my own mind and wasn’t afraid to say it, I was given a label that didn’t feel like it belonged, I was never proud of it.

Looking back, I wish I could speak to that bossy little redhead and tell her to hold tight. That being ‘bossy’ wasn’t a bad thing, it just meant that I was passionate and assertive and those characteristics would serve me well growing up. And the word, with all it’s negative connotations, was just a word. It didn’t have the power to label me in any negative way, I could be proud of being bossy. I could have and should have rolled with it!

Now, when I see my kids standing up for what they believe in, arguing back, in a respectful and kind way, I am so bloody proud. I am all over that ‘bossy’ gene being passed down and getting a little face lift in the next generation. Just by changing the way we think of one tiny word, we’re giving a whole generation a chance to revel in their power and strength and use it for good. Greta Thunberg is out there fighting to change the future of our planet, and we still have people trying to shoot her down, calling her out for being a bossy little madam. If she’s the definition of bossy then I am perfectly OK with my kids seeing that and aspiring to be like her!

There is nothing wrong with being bossy. But there is a whole lot wrong with the way it’s being used, even now. It’s not purely for the girls, boys can be bossy too! Times are changing, and we have to make sure our vocabulary changes with it. Either call all sexes bossy, or none.

Newsflash! You don’t need a vagina to be in the bossy club.

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Redundancy & Getting Back to Work

How to get back on track after being made redundant

Redundancy is one of those things that make us all think “that won’t happen to me.”

The good news, for the most part, is that’s true – the majority of us will go through life without having to face turbulence in our jobs. There are, however, a significant number of people who will face potential redundancy through no fault of their own, meaning it’s something we should all be prepared for.

The most important thing during and after a redundancy process is to get back on track with normal life as soon as possible, but how do you go about doing that?

Don’t wait for the worst to happen

Getting caught completely off guard by redundancy is one of the worst scenarios you can face. Considering many young adults in particular don’t have any savings to speak of, an unexpected redundancy could leave many quite literally out in the cold.

This is where the importance of savings or an emergency fund comes in. It might not be the most fun thing in the world to put money to one side every month, but it could be the difference between being able to capably manage a redundancy period and facing real financial trouble.

Get frugal

You may think you are living in a cost-effective manner, but if you’ve never taken steps to address your spending habits, the chances are you’ll have at least some amount of frivolous spending in your life. Of course, while you’re earning a steady salary this isn’t too much of a concern, but if you’re going to face a month or two without pay, it becomes much more significant.

If you’re made redundant, look to review your spending immediately, focusing on all your unnecessary spending and tightening your monthly budget to only include essentials. If you’re still struggling for cash flow, you can look to get a little extra help to keep yourself ticking over, get a credit card to help spread out your costs or look to family for financial support. Just make sure you’re in a position to repay things in full once you’re back up and running.

Get all the support you can

Redundancy is a difficult time that comes with more than just financial strain. Many can find it as much of an emotionally distressing period as a financially troubled one – in fact the two tend to go hand in hand.

The best thing you can do is use what support network you have around you. Your family and friends will be supportive to your cause and be willing to offer you help to get back on your feet. Whether that’s a loan from the bank of mum and dad, valuable advice from someone who’s been in the same situation as you previously or just a good time hanging out with your friends to take your mind off things, make sure to use the emotional resources you have around you.

Enjoy your “time off”

Yes, redundancy is a stressful time, so this one might be easier said than done. But, if you can, try and use your time away from work to enjoy yourself. After all, we spend most of our working days wishing we had more time off to do what we want to do, so if the time is there – why not use it.

You might not have a lot of money to do things, but you can enjoy activities on your own terms through the day, even if it’s just an extra hour in bed on the morning or a nice walk in between your job search efforts. Making the most of your time will help keep you in a good headspace going forward, which is probably the most important factor on the road to recovery.

Redundancy is never a good thing, but it can be very manageable if you’re prepared for it. If you’re already living to a tight budget and have curbed your spending habits, you will be in a stronger position should you ever get some unexpected news at work.

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Ready to move house while on holiday?

Here’s why so many Londoners are moving house whilst on holiday – no joke. 

You’re thinking of moving house in a few months and the feeling of stress is already starting to fill all of your pores. Take a deep breath and remember that it’s a pretty normal feeling to have, you’re not alone.

According to an article on the Telegraph, moving house is one of life’s most stressful experiences, with people mentioning that moving house gives them more anxiety than starting a new job, relationship breakdowns, and even divorce.

However, what if I told you that there are ways to reduce the stress of moving to a new house and that you could enjoy a cold Pina Colada in a sunny destination whilst all of your belongings are being moved to your new place? Sounds too good to be true, right? Let me explain. 

So, you’ve found your dream house and paid the deposit. It’s now time to make your moving house checklist with plenty of time in advance. Really Moving have a highly comprehensive and helpful moving house checklist which will help you keep track of everything you need to do before moving.

Moving house

Now would be a good time to do some de-cluttering and get rid of anything that’s unnecessary, unwanted or just old. Then, it’s time to start putting everything away in labelled boxes (and don’t forget to label them by the room you intend them to go to or you’ll be looking for your cutlery in your office supplies boxes). 

If you are worried about forgetting to change all of your post to your new address, it might be a good option to set up the Royal Mail’s redirection service. This service will make sure that all your post will be forwarded from your previous address to your new one.

When you have everything ready, it’s time to call the Squad. Then, pack your bags, get on your plane and enjoy a relaxing holiday while the Handy Squad takes care of everything else for you. No need for a moving day survival kit! 

Moving house

The Handy Squad, a London handyman service, has helped many Londoners have stress-free moves by taking care of their home requirements whilst they are away on holiday. This means tackling any jobs you need, from moving furniture from your old place to your new house and other tasks, including replacing lightbulbs and repairing holes in plaster walls. All of this, so you can have a restful holiday thinking of how when you get back from holiday everything will be done.

Feeling a bit uneasy about having strangers in your house without you being there? There are various ways around your worries. First and most importantly, all tradesmen at the Handy Squad are fully-insured, CRB checked employees with photographic ID – so you can rest assured that your home will be in safe hands. If you are still not sure, why not ask a trusted neighbour or a close friend to check up on the tradesmen from time to time?

A discussion post on Mumsnet focuses on the members’ experiences of having work done around the house while they are away on vacation, highlighting all the advantages and disadvantages of doing this, so if you need some personal opinions – we’d recommend you read this post. 

Ready to move house while sipping on your favourite drink? Easy, give the Squad a call today on 0800-0-12-12-12 or visit the website https://www.handysquad.com/ for more information.

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A Brush Revolution // Silk'n ToothWave

I talk about beauty products and wellbeing a lot on Life Daily but I don’t think I’ve spoken about the importance of looking after your teeth and gums before now. I think brushing your teeth is probably a whole lot more important than using an exfoliator or finding the perfect nail colour, so why not delve into the wonderful world of dental care! 

Obviously, we’ve all been using toothbrushes for years, and if you haven’t erm, gross? But just recently I was sent a Silk’n ToothWave brush to review as part of a paid partnership with Join Platform, and I have to admit, I was quite interested to see if it did what it said on the tin so to speak, and to find out what was so different about this to the normal electric toothbrush we’re all so used to. 

SILK’N TOOTHWAVE BRUSH

The ToothWave Brush isn’t just your every day, regular toothbrush. It states that results achieved with this brush differ significantly from any other electric toothbrush. The secret behind ToothWave is the clinically proven, patented and safe DentalRF™ technology. The results it gives are on par to those you’d get seeing a dental hygienist, and we all know how expensive that can be! 

Daily use of the Silk’n ToothWave improves oral hygiene by removing plaque, but, unlike other brushes it also removes tooth discolouration, stains and even tartar. By reducing gum inflammation it also ensures healthier gums, all thanks to this revolutionary DentalRF™ technology. 

DentalRF™ technology works by sending radiofrequency waves to the surface layer of each tooth, even reaching under the gumline. This destabilises the bonds that hold the plaque, stains and tartar to the tooth until they’re detached and washed away. This is then replaced by fresh, clean water and toothpaste molecules to create a new, strong protective layer which helps teeth stay smooth and clean for a longer period of time. 

As well as the DentalRF™ technology, the ToothWave brush also has innovative brush heads. Containing two electrodes which radiofrequency waves move between and a silicone strip that forces the waves to reach the tooth’s surface. While the DentalRF™ technology is doing the manual labour, removing all the impurities from the surface of the tooth, the bristles on the brush heads sweep away those impurities without damaging the tooth enamel, preventing sensitivity and pain. 

A Brush Revolution // Silk'n ToothWave

Two brush heads are included in the box, one large and one small, both are extra soft. You can also buy replacements separately. 

There are three vibration speeds to choose from, high, medium or low, and you can also choose to use the brush without any of the vibrations, but with the DentalRF™ technology still being active.

The suggested speed to use is high, giving up to 48000 vibrating brush strokes per minute. It’s a completely different vibration to the ‘old’ style of electric brushes. This is less nose tickle, more sonic wave. You know it’s doing its thing, but you can barely feel or hear it! 

Silk’n ToothWave comes with a built-in timer. It will buzz after 30 seconds to remind you to move onto the next section of your mouth and, after 2 minutes it will switch off automatically, letting you know you’ve brushed your teeth for the recommended time. It’s waterproof, meaning you could brush your teeth in the shower if you’re running that low on time and it’s also safe to use on braces and dental implants. Although there are some health restrictions that mean you can’t use it.

I’ve never really been a fan of electric toothbrushes. I know they’re recommended by dentists and I appreciate they do a much better job than a manual brush, but they irritate my gums and my nose alike! When your toothbrush makes you sneeze and makes your eyes water, you know it’s not the one for you! 

When I first switched this on, I thought it was too low in charge to be working properly, because it was so quiet and lacking in the typical vibration our old Oral B brush had. So, I left it to charge fully, only to find it was working perfectly, it’s just quiet and extra gentle. Think of a low-level hum, just enough to let you know it’s doing its thing. It gets slightly louder with each level up, but even on high it’s barely noticeable. 

RESULTS

The all-important question, does it actually work? I’ve got to say, yes! I know this is a paid for review, but I would be paid for it regardless of my thoughts, so there’s no reason for me to not be completely honest. Plus, I’m a rubbish liar. 

The first week or so, I noticed my teeth felt cleaner. You know when you run your tongue over your teeth you can feel if they need a brush or not? For pretty much the whole day my teeth felt smooth and clean, not just for the first few hours. 

A Brush Revolution // Silk'n ToothWave

While my teeth aren’t hugely discoloured, they could certainly be whiter, even just from a vanity point of view, but my bottom teeth did have some plaque/tartar build up, which could have been removed by a trip to the hygienist but I wasn’t open to spending £100 on that! 

After 3 weeks of using this brush, twice a day, I can see a huge difference in my teeth. So much so, I spent a good few days baring my gnashers at my husband and kids asking if they could see as much of a difference that I could! Thankfully, they could. 

My gums never bleed using this brush, which shows just how gentle it is, and how well it works under the gumline. Even with a manual brush they would bleed, you just can’t brush too hard with the ToothWave, it won’t let you. I’ve used the highest vibration level from the get go and I’ve had no discomfort at all. My youngest has also been using it, the timer and the 30 second ‘move’ reminder is perfect for kids. You’d be amazed at how fast they think 2 minutes should go when they’re brushing their teeth. 

PRICE

So, it’s not the cheapest of brushes, £262 on the Silk’n website but when you consider that’s not even three trips to the hygienist, it definitely earns it’s price tag! Plus, cost per use and all that, if you only used it once a day for a whole year, it’s 71p per day, practically a bargain! 

You can buy the Silk’n ToothWave brush directly here.

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Creating a stylish home with kids in mind

5 Ways of Creating a Stylish Yet Child-Friendly Home

When you have little ones you must always consider ways in which you can make your home safer as there are many hazards for small children. This needs to be a priority, but it does not necessarily have to mean that you have to sacrifice style like you might think. You can have a home which is both child-friendly and highly stylish if you know how – read on to find out more.

1. Materials

Many people like glass tables but these are a no-go when you have kids for obvious reasons. In addition to the safety precautions, this is actually a smart move because glass tables will show handprints and smudge if you have kids. Instead, you should look to safe and stylish materials like wood and plastic which are ideal for families.

2. Rounded Corners

It is also important that you go in each room of the house and look for any sharp corners as these are a serious safety hazard for kids. Soft, rounded edges are not only safe but they can look fantastic and help to create a much softer, more welcoming feel to a room.

3. Display Children’s Art Properly

Every parent is proud of their child’s artwork, but it can look messy and unorganised when you have sketches and drawings blue tacked randomly or stuck on the fridge. Instead, it is worth going the extra step and having artwork framed and arranged in a floor-to-ceiling grid. In addition to looking much nicer and better organised, this will also help you to preserve their masterpieces.

4. Open Plan

Having an open plan home is beneficial for a few reasons. It can make the home look and feel much bigger, brighter and airier which brings many aesthetic advantages, but it is also intelligent from a parenting point of view because it means that you can easily always keep an eye on your kids no matter what you are doing. 

5. Child Safety Blinds

Another safety aspect that needs to be considered is the blinds in each room of the house. Cords and chains which are used to operate blinds can be dangerous because young children will often want to play with these, but with child safety blinds from places like Swift Direct Blinds you can promote safety with blinds which are safe for children – this includes options such as cordless blinds, wand controlled blinds and roller blinds. 

Safety in the home is paramount when you are a parent, but this does not necessarily mean that you have to sacrifice style. The above are all ways in which you can make your home a safe environment for youngsters while still making it an attractive space and somewhere in which you take great pride.

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I Shoes You...

Shoes: can you really have too many?

According to research, the cost of the average woman’s shoe collection sits at just over £600 – with around four fifths of us owning at least one pair that we’ve never even worn. Put like this, it might seem like a bit of an embarrassing waste of money (not to mention space). After all, you can only wear one pair of shoes at the same time!

But there’s a reason that so many of us elect to invest in vast collection. Different shoes suit different purposes. You wouldn’t wear the same footwear to the beach that you would on a night out in November. What’s more, a change of footwear can have a considerable impact on the way that your overall outfit looks, and thus they’re a great way to mix things up. Shoes come in an enormous variety of shapes, colours and materials, and thus a large enough collection will offer something to match just about every mood.

Unlike the other items of clothing hanging in our wardrobes, shoes won’t stop fitting if we gain or lose weight. If a shoe fits and is comfortable when you first put it on, then the chances are that it’ll remain loyal throughout their lifespan.

And, of course, most shoes are inherently pretty – every time you buy a pair you’ll get a little dopamine rush that’ll keep you coming back to spend a portion of your paycheck on an item of clothing that you might never wear. Online shopping makes things even easier; you don’t need to spend hours fighting through the shopping-centre crowds on a Saturday afternoon, when instead you can just click on a few icons and have them arrive on your doorstep a few days later?

So, just as some people collect books, and some people collect coins, and others collect stamps, some people (mostly women) collect shoes. There are worse things to hoard!

How to get your shoe collection organised

One of the major downsides of a huge shoe collection is the space they’ll take up in the hallway, and at the bottom of your wardrobe. Unfortunately, most women don’t make the best use of the available space. To do this, you’ll need to get creative with shoe racks and built-in wardrobes. The right rack will allow you to conveniently stack shoes right next to each other, which means less empty space, and more efficient storage.

Probably the most space-efficient and convenient storage solution comes in the form of a sliding shoe rack. These are mounted on castors, and work in the same way as drawers, usually sitting at the bottom of your wardrobe. A bespoke solution from a fitted furniture company like Hammonds will help you get your shoe collection into browsable order.

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London Calling

First time in London – Must-see tourist destinations

London remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with almost 38 million inbound visits in 2018 alone making up 50% of all UK visits. It is a city of great culture, history and atmosphere and it has so much to offer that it’s unlikely you’ll get everything in during just one visit. However, if you are visiting for the first time and want to get a handle on the ‘must visit’ locations then look no further.

Harrods – No trip to London can be complete without a couple of hours spent in the world’s most famous luxury department store. Even if you don’t want to buy anything (and with the prices, we certainly wouldn’t blame you) it’s worth a visit just to marvel at the decor, the decadence and the iconic Egyptian escalator. Not to mention the food court!

The Museums – London perhaps rivals even New York as the city with the most to offer in terms of astonishing museums. Within walking distance of one another you’ll find the National History Museum, the V&A, the TATE Modern and the British Museum. That’s before we even begin to mention the more esoteric selections such as the Sherlock Holmes Museum. You could spend a week in London just doing a museum tour, but if you’re only planning a flying visit then you might want to consider your interests and research beforehand, planning your available time accordingly.

Camden Market – Very much the yin to the yang of Harrods and Oxford Street, Camden Market is a hive of activity and is home to some of the best bargains in the city. It’s also a hipster’s paradise surrounded by bars and restaurants offering everything from artisanal street food to gourmet cuisine. The area is also legendary for its live music scene. Placed alongside the lock, it’s the market that remains the real draw, however. For those of you with a little more cash to flash, meanwhile, Notting Hill Market offers a similar atmosphere only with a far more exclusive price tag.

Kings Cross – If you’re travelling to London by rail, then chances are you’re catching a train to King’s Cross station. The station is a legitimate tourist attraction in and of itself, particularly if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter books and movies. Indeed, ‘platform 9 and 3/4’ has become one of the most iconic photo opportunities in the city in recent years.

Tower of London – A London day out like no other, this is the big one. Experience the 900-year-old former old royal palace, prison and zoo (really) and sink into the history of the place, which also happens to contain the world’s most famous jewellery – the crown jewels. Not only one of the most famous building’s in the world but one of the most well-kept historical relics in Europe, if you only have time to do one thing in London, this should probably be up there.

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PAYOT ROSELIFT COLLAGÈNE

PAYOT’s new firming Roselift Collagéne collection adopts a beautifully refreshing attitude; focusing on ‘Slow Ageing’ rather than Anti-Aging – supporting, slowing & enhancing the natural ageing process rather than fighting it.

The Roselift range nourishes skin, using the latest advances in skincare science working in unison with PAYOT’s patented ROSActive extract to nourish mature skin, leaving it feeling plump and radiant.

Two of the products in the new range were sent to me to try, I’ve been focussing on eye care recently as I’m great at remembering my face but not so good when it comes to the skin around my eyes, so I was interested to see how they worked and I love PAYOT as a brand, being the complete Francophile that I am!

PAYOT ROSELIFT COLLAGÈNE

Roselift Collagéne Regard Lifting Care Eye Cream

The delicate skin under the eyes is one of the first places to show visible signs of ageing. PAYOT‘s ultra-lightweight lifting eye cream works to gently lift the eye contour and open up the eyes; thanks to the mechanic tightening effect of Oat extract. Silk tree extract – also included in this product’s rich formula, reduces puffiness and dark circles.

I’ve been using this twice a day, gently patting it into the skin around my eye socket. I have very pale skin, which highlights dark circles, so anything that can reduce those (alongside more sleep please & thank you) is a winner for me. £38 for 15ml

Roselift Collagéne Patch Regard Under-Eye Patches

Beautifully refreshing, these fast-working, anti-fatigue eye patches revive tired under-eyes for a radiant, luminous effect. Hydrogel texture provides an amazing sensation when placed on the skin.

The patches are easy to apply, you just leave them on for 10-15 minutes to let the ingredients do their thing, remove and pat in any extra product into the skin.

For a 3-week intensive treatment apply the patches every other day, while using the cream twice a day each day. You can put them in the fridge before you use them, for a more intense ‘wake-me-up’ result. £40 for 10 individual sachets.

All items are available to buy from here.

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AGE DEFY+ BY GREEN PEOPLE FOUNDER CHA VØHTZ

Green People founder Charlotte Vøhtz has proudly put her name to what is now her signature range, Age Defy+ by Cha Vøhtz. The range is the result of Charlotte spending years exploring key actives, oil blends and luxurious scent profiles. And this month sees two new products being introduced. I have long loved Green People, so I was excited to see these new products in action!

PURE LUXE BODY OIL

For me, a body oil *is* pure luxury. It’s not something I tend to use all the time, despite knowing I probably should, but something that seems to be complete decadence.

This Pure Luxe Body Oil by Cha Vøhtz is made with 84% certified organic ingredients and is a blend of essential oils and plant botanicals, creating liquid nourishment for the skin.

It’s been developed to lock in intense hydration and is rich in phospholipids which deliver benefits direct to cells for superior radiance and unrivalled skin glow.

Nourishing and skin softening, with super absorbency levels it ensures antioxidants, nutrients and vitamin E are delivered direct to the skin, leaving a beautiful satin-soft finish.

Pure Luxe Body Oil’s aroma is a beautiful balance of essential oils including Mandarin and Neroli, which smells exactly like a spa treatment, absolutely heavenly. The best way to use this is straight after a bath or shower, onto damp skin so it can be absorbed fully.

AGE DEFY+ BY GREEN PEOPLE FOUNDER CHA VØHTZ

HYDRA-GLOW SLEEP MASK

Two of my favourite words right there. Sleep & Mask.

An intensely hydrating leave-on sleep mask to quench thirsty skin, drawing on a unique blend of antioxidant-rich plant actives, vitamins and omega oils to stimulate collagen production, regenerate, balance and purify skin.

The Hydra-Glow Sleep Mask contains Green Macro Algae and plant Squalane to help stimulate collagen production and lock in moisture where your skin needs it most. It also has vitamins and Omega-3&6-rich oils to soothe and soften the skin.

I’ve been using this for a few weeks now as I was sent it before it launched, and it’s just amazing. Used 2-3 times a week, you apply a generous layer to freshly cleansed skin, leaving on overnight – I tend to put mine on after I’ve had my bath or shower so it gets just that little bit extra time to work it’s magic – when you remove it in the morning your skin feels so soft, but not in a greasy, product way. In a deep down, nourished from the inside way and make up just sits better, even on the dehydrated parts of my skin. Winner!

Both products are available from Green People, the Pure Luxe Body Oil costs £25.00 for 50ml and the Sleep Mask is £32.00 f0r 50ml.

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Forever Ago Seems Like Yesterday

Despite it being 17 years ago, I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday.

Silly moments stick in my head the most, like the midwives asking me, on a scale of 1 – 10 how bad the pain was, and me replying that I had no idea as I’d never done it before! In my head, it was clearly a 10 but my rational side told me it was going to get a lot worse!

The pethidine making me feel like I was in the room but not quite there, telling the anaesthetist that I loved them for giving me an epidural, regardless of the fact that I was adamant I didn’t want one.

T disappearing below my knees when the epidural was being put in because he can’t stand needles but still wanted to support me, from the floor.

Then, 16 hours later there you were. Placed on my chest, your tiny, tiny bottom fitting in one of my palms.

Jet black hair, bright blue eyes that were wide open and staring at everyone in the room, but mostly at me. You didn’t make a single sound when you were born, I had to ask if you were ok, expecting a screaming baby, but nothing. Just you, completely calm, alert and absolutely beautiful.

Weighed at 6lb 13oz (so much for the “she’ll be a big baby” comments) and checked, then it was time to remove all the tubes, wires & plasters from me, having a wash and being wheeled to the ward. I still remember the amazement that they let me hold you the whole way there! What if I dropped you, or didn’t know what I was doing & they realised. But, luckily, I didn’t and they didn’t…..

The next few days were a whir of visitors, people popping in to meet you and give you cuddles. Looking back now, I wish I’d kept it just the two of us for a while longer. Our own private baby bubble.

When we finally made it home it felt real. You were so brand new but it felt like I’d known you forever.

Those days were so long ago, but they feel like they’re in touching distance, that they were moments that just happened.

I don’t think I realised until I had you, how fast time goes. Even then, as a new mum, when days felt never-ending and I was exhausted beyond recognition, I didn’t appreciate how quickly it would be gone.

What I wouldn’t give to have those moments all over again, you falling asleep on my chest every evening, eating dinner with one hand because you needed to be cuddled, snuggling up on the sofa watching Dora the Explorer over and over and over again, your tiny little hand always in mine, always making sure I was there, just in case.

Sometimes, I lay in bed at night, listening to you laughing at something on your phone and wonder how we’ve got to seventeen. How we have blinked, and the years have gone.

I think about all the things I did wrong as a parent, the times I shouted at you or punished you when I should have listened and cuddled you instead. When I didn’t really know what I was doing and we learnt together, all the times I sent you to bed and then felt guilty for something and would wake you up to give you one last kiss.

I remember so much about you but feel like I’ve forgotten it all at the same time. I’m scared and excited by your future all at the same time. If I could replay the last 17 years all over again, knowing what I know now, I would, in a heartbeat.

I am so proud of the woman you’ve become. The kindest, most gentle soul I will ever know. You make me laugh more than anyone, and I know, without a shadow of a doubt I can trust you. I also know you can’t lie to save your life, and I’m proud of that too!

I’m so glad I got you, seventeen years and two days ago. That is most definitely one thing I wouldn’t ever change.

Happy Birthday H-Bo xxx

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