As written in a previous post, I use mostly natural products on my hair and skin. My beauty products are often homemade concoctions or natural skin products bought from health shops.  However, when it comes to moisturising my face, I always buy what I need from my local supermarket.  Here are 3 oils you can buy from your local supermarket in the food isle for your skin and gain amazing benefits.




Almond oil

This oil is very light and suitable for normal and combination skin.  If you are exploring the use of oil as a facial moisturiser, this is a good oil to start with.  
You can use almond oil as a cleanser or make-up remover too.  Simply add 3-4 drops of oil to a cotton pad, wipe your face and then rinse and towel blot-dry your skin.  After using your favourite moisturiser put a little oil on your fingertips and apply the oil on your cheek bones and eye lids.  At night you can apply a very small amount to eyelashes (use a cotton tip or your finger) and eyebrows to encourage strength and growth. 

Coconut oil

This multipurpose oil is heavier than almond oil and great for dry skin.  The fatty acids in coconut oil are not only great for moisturising but also repairing the collagen layer and heal microbial infections. Coconut oil can be used as a lip balm and help with the process of having a cold sore. The oil contains Vitamin-E which is essential for healthy skin growth. It prevents premature ageing and wrinkling of the skin due to antioxidant properties.  

Grapeseed oil

This is my favourite oil.  I started buying grapeseed oil because it was listed as ingredient in many products I had used on my skin.  Grapeseed oil can be used for multi purposes on the skin.  It can be used as an emollient and is fabulous for managing eczema prone skin due to having linoleic acid.  I use grapeseed oil whenever my children have a bout of eczema and the oil clears their skin within days.  Grapeseed oil also contains antioxidant properties and helps delay skin ageing by minimising damage caused by free radicals. It's also anti fungal and has helped me manage athletes foot naturally.




How I use oils these oils 

Create a natural glow

I dab almond oil with my fingers on my cheeks bones, the top of my eyelids and lips to create a healthy glow. 


Foot moisturiser

To combat dryness I apply coconut oil on my feet to keep them soft.  To do the same, apply coconut oil on your feet after a bath or shower when your feet are moist by the water.  Coconut oil is especially useful on heels and can help prevent cracking. 

For children (from birth)

I have washed both of my children in Dr Bronner's Castile soap which is completely natural and moisturise them afterwards using grapeseed oil. The picture shows the containers of soap and oil I put in my hospital bag when I was pregnant with my daughter.  You can buy these small containers in commercial chemists. 















As long as I can remember I have started each new year motivated and driven to achieve many goals. After the first few weeks of January I burn out, lack confidence and secretly dislike myself that I can't get my act together unlike so many others who go on to succeed.  Last year, I heard a talk about finding success in 2017 and the speaker posed a question; identify why you didn't achieve your goals and understand what you need to do differently to achieve them.  I did just that and I have taken it one step further, I looked at my attitude to everything in my life and have approached 2017 differently. It's February and for once, I feel relaxed and happy.  Below is a list of the things I have learned from last year that has helped me feel happy and hopeful.

The size of my waist doesn't equate to my value as a human or my happiness
This has been a tough one to believe but the statement is true.  I'm more than the size of my waistline.  Yes it's a little bigger than I want it to be right now and my clothes are quite tight at the moment. However, I'm an awesome person. I'm a devoted mummy, I grew humans inside me, I'm cultivating young minds and developing meaningful relationships. So what if my belly is a little big. It doesn't compromise who I am as a person. Late last year I went to an event and saw a lady in a hot leather dress.  She was a mum and her waistline was thick and she looked so gorgeous, stylish, and so confident.  To me, she was the hottest women in the room.

I'm going to work on 3 projects not 20 all at once

I'm someone who has great ideas but I try to do too much too soon and then burn out with nothing to show for it. So I'm only taking on 3 projects this year and will add more once they have been achieved.

I'm not going sugar, meat or dairy free
I've tried to be a vegan and sugar free but I simply love all food too much.  I will however, cut down on refined sugar consumption because I feel so much better when I'm having less. However, gone are the month long sugar fasts that keep me thinking constantly about sugar and then I crumble and eat a month worth of sugar in one day when I indulge. Plus I'm happy to not be tied to a 'label' I enjoy discovering and cooking vegan recipes and eating raw but I'm not going to beat myself up that I ate a steak and a cheesecake too.

I'm going to sort myself out before I focus on saving all my friends and the rest of the world
I'm a massive encourager and find it easy to be in the company of others as their counsellor.  I give but rarely  take my advice for myself. I'm focusing on what I need to do in my life rather than focusing on what is happening to others.

I no longer compare myself to other people
Comparing yourself to others is self destructive.  I have been committing this act far too long and this year I'm fighting hard against this negative thought process. I will not compare myself to what other people my age or younger are achieving, the number of followers others have on Instagram, houses, marriages, waistlines and friendships.  I am who I am on my journey.


I'm grateful for my family
I think I took what I had for granted but recently I'm appreciating my entire family. Even though things get difficult, family however big or small is a blessing and more important than most things in life.

The problem is not with my husband, it's with me
As a stay at home mama with limitations I used to focus on what my husband should be to make me happy. However it was brought to my attention that instead of trying to change my husband into this adventurous go getter who fulfils my every need, I need to focus on my own personal ambitions to find fulfilment.  No one is perfect but my husband is right where he needs to be. I'm adventurous and crazy and he is steady and practical. It took me a while to realise that our differences complement each other. I need to fly and he can carry on building the runway for me to take off and land on.

I've created a coffee shop in my living room and will learn to make restaurant favourites at home
Eating out is great but costs too much. Last year I found £40-£50 restaurant bills too painful when that money could have contributed to a supermarket shop for the week. These days it feels so wonderful to learn and cook my restaurant favourites while the kids can roll around or sleep in the comfort of their home, all for a fraction of the restaurant price.  Also I recently bought a Dualit Milk Frother , some beautiful mugs from Emma Bridgewater and Habitat and I simply make my own lattes and cappuccinos'. Nowadays Im struggling to part with my £3.60 to buy a drink In a coffees shop when I know I can make it at home.

I'm listening to what I really need
Instead of being focused on what's cool and exciting. I've sat down and listened to my body and mind and realised that what I need is water, sleep, nourishing food and love.

I'm switching off my phone and sleeping during the night rather than looking at meaningless websites and Instagram stalking at 3am.

I'm accepting that for now, my primary role and duty is to be a mother
In 2016, I felt like I was just a 'mum' I felt angry that I was so limited and so exhausted to add extra commitments. But that is just where I'm at right now.

I'm learning to be powerful in relationships rather than passive.
I'm going to do a blog post about this one but last year I realised I need to love others as a gift rather than love others in order to get something in return.

I no longer care what people think of me
As long as I'm not hurting others, people need to take me as I am or not at all. I'm done with moulding myself to the taste of someone's pallet so they can digest me well.  Take me on or don't.  It's ok to not be everybody's cup of tea.

My life is a journey and I am learning all the time.
It's ok to try out and see what works and what doesn't. As long as I'm alive I'm on a journey of potential.

Can you identify with any of these too? Have you learned lessons from last year that you have brought into 2017?









I never ate these little cabbages growing up and most of my adult life until someone I knew requested them on the menu when they came over to my house for dinner. I also got interested in them when I found out that they contain vitamin K, and so I added them to my smoothies for a while.  Anyway, I find the texture of boiled Brussels sprout quite strange and boring to taste.  For me, roasting them and allowing them to caramelise is quite delicious. A dash of balsamic vinegar with some oil and salt in the oven gives a sprout a little spruce.  They are in season in the UK till March.

Ingredients
 A bag of fresh Brussels sprouts
A dash of salt to taste
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoons of olive oil (or oil of your choice)
1 teaspoon of honey or agave nectar

Method
  • Set the oven at 350/180/Gas mark 4 
  • Trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts and remove any loose layers
  • Cut Brussels in half
  • Wash Brussels lightly in a colander and shake off excess water
  • Place Brussels on a tray and add all the remaining ingredients 
  • Using your hands mix well so all sprouts are covered in oil, salt and balsamic vinegar
  • Roast for 25 minutes and serve hot or cold.  








One of the greatest things I love do is wear a statement shoe and for me, metallic shoes are the new black. My love started when I saw a gold pair of brogues with fuchsia velvet ribbons for laces online. They were sold out but I started my hunt in finding a pair. On the hunt I found gold desert boots by Bronx and then I couldn't help myself with the silver ballet pumps from Boden.  Then eventually I found a gold brogue I loved at ASOS.

Metallic shoes go with just about anything and enhance the dullest outfit. When I started wearing metallics I was scared of the attention they would attract.  People would stare at them and I assumed they thought that I was over the top for wearing a gold pair of shoes to the supermarket.  But now I don't care as metallics glam up my mundane days.




Tips on wearing metallics

  • Love the idea but lack confidence? Perhaps start off with silver or a dull gold tone.  These metallic tones go with just about everything. 
  • If you are still nervous wearing metallics start off with a sandal which shows lots of your skin.
  • Don't be afraid to wear metallics during the day.
  • Dress down metallic shoes with a pair of jeans.  
  • If carrying an unusual bag with your metallic shoes, consider keeping your clothes neutral.

All my shoes are from an older season.  Here is a list of metallic footwear like mine in the current season.

Lace up flats

Boden
Kurt Geiger
Very

Brogues

Zara
Marks & Spencer
Steve Madden

Ankle Boots

Dune
Anthropologie
Joules




This time last year my boy was 3 years old and was about to start primary school in September 2015. I remember a month before school and still 3 years old we took him to Marks and Spencer's to get his uniform. His dad waited outside the ladies changing room and I got him dressed in his school shirt and trousers. When he marched out to show his dad, his trousers were falling down due to his baby waist and his little body looked too fragile for a proper stiff school shirt. I burst into tears saying to my husband "This is not right. He's too young for this".
I remember the first day of school, still looking like a baby we took pictures of him outside our house, we went to school and every parent was inside the classroom taking 10 minutes to leave their child. Some kids were crying hysterically, some kids looked so frightened and fragile as if they would fall to the ground if you blew on them. Others looked confident that they were reunited with their nursery friends they had made the year before.

It's been an interesting and wonderful journey.  My son has developed so much during this academic year. I have developed in getting used to the fact that my baby is in the school 'system' - which is actually ok.


Having nearly completed our first year of school, here is a list of practical tasks you can help your child learn so they survive and thrive in their first year of big school.  

  • Help your child learn to dress themselves.  Teach them to undo and do up their buttons, pick up their clothes and put them on and also learn to put them down in a safe place. This is needed for PE. I struggled with this because it was easier and quicker to get my son dressed in the mornings than teach him these useful skills.
  • Teach your child to wipe their bottom.  Also, how to wipe their bottom with dry toilet tissue because there is no moist toilet wipes in big school.
  • Help your child hold a pencil correctly, also help them use sharp ish scissors and handle it safely.
  • Start to work on phonics. Alpha blocks on CBeebies is good, also Jolly phonics on YouTube.
  • Help your child to sit down and engage in an activity for 10-15 minutes
  • Interact with your kids, talk to them loads, read lots of books
  • Get them to respond to orders such as sitting quietly to engage, washing hands, hanging their coat up, taking their shoes off and tidying up.
  • Teach your child to be aware of cars on the road, learn to walk close to you and stop at the road crossing.
  • If you plan on walking to school, walk locally to the shops, the park or visiting friends etc rather than using the car.  This is to simply get their leg muscles used to walking longer than 5 minutes on the road.
  • Get your child in some type of activity class where they will interact with other children and learn to take direction from another adult and be a member of a large group of children. This will help them understand that they are not the most important child there.  Every child is important. In group activities your child will need to share. They will also learn that other children may have a successful moment which may be celebrated by all.
  • Put your child in situations that will allow them to play with other children rather than mostly adults such as parents, grandparents and other family members who simply adore them.
  • When playing a game with your child, don't let them always win. This will help them understand that they will not always get their own way.
  • Get your child to try a wide variety of foods so they are open to eating school dinners.
  • Talk to your child and build a relationship with them where they can tell you how they feel about things and situations that may occur with others.
  • Teach your child to share their toys or allow other children to take part in an activity they are involved in.
I state these tasks not because my child has achieved them but to help you be aware of what your child will encounter in their first year and what you can do NOW to help them overcome their challenges.

May you and your baby/babies have a wonderful school year ahead.



I'm not a sandwich type of girl when it comes to lunches.  I often cook a pot of rice and a curry and then eat it all week for lunch.  This is convenient for me as holding a baby most of the day, I need to dish out a meal that requires one hand to spoon it out on my plate and shove in the microwave. However, this doesn't have to be a lunch time meal. I was inspired to make this after going to Wagamama and eating a dombri.  It's a great comfort meal and goes down well with all the fibre from the vegetables and brown rice.  For me adding coconut milk to the curry makes eating vegetables even more pleasurable.

Recipe serves 2 generously
  • 1 Aubergine
  • 200 grams/ 1 cup kale
  • 1 block of plain tofu chopped into cubes and seasoned with salt and tsp of curry powder
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tin of light coconut milk
  • 1 heaped tsp of vegetable bouillon
  • Cooked brown rice  (white rice if you prefer)
  1. Heat the oven at 160 C fan assisted 180C/350F for the tofu
  2. Slice the onion into tiny cubes and fry in a tsp of oil of your choice and allow to brown slightly.
  3. Slice the aubergine length ways and then cut in half so the pieces look like rectangles. Then add aubergine to the onions in the pan along with the curry powder and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes
  4. Add washed kale, and stir ingredients together with a spoon on a low heat. All the vegetables should steam rather than fry.
  5. Place the chopped seasoned tofu on a lightly oil sprayed oven tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes while the kale, onions and aubergine are cooking.
  6. Take out tofu from the oven and place to one side.
  7. Add bouillon to the curried kale and aubergine mixture and stir.
  8. Add coconut milk and tofu and stir the curry to blend ingredients.
  9. Cook the curry for a further 10 minutes on a low heat so the coconut milk doesn't boil.
  10. Serve with brown rice (white if you prefer).




Before I start, I just want to let you know that I'm afraid of pain, I hate needles, blood tests and I am even scared to use a tampon. However, let me tell you that I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and thought the whole experience was wonderful. 
Everything that I was afraid of didn't happen.  I gave birth naturally and in water.  It wasn't a walk in the park but it was one beautiful and amazing episodes of my life.
I want to share my birthing experience because pregnant women tend to hear negative stories causing fear and anxiety and, I believe,  this can effect a woman's confidence and expectations as they approach the birth of their child. However,  I hope that my positive birthing experience can encourage someone that giving birth doesn't have to be that bad.

I was 11 days late and had mixed emotions. I couldn't wait to have my baby in my arms but I was very nervous of the process. I was waiting for an event and I didn't know what that event would do to my body. However, I chose to steer my thoughts away from the negative stories and hope for the best.

At 4am Sunday morning I started to feel mild contractions like Braxton hicks. I was hoping this was the start of labour but I had had these feelings for weeks so didn't want to get my hopes up. Normally when I stood up they would go, but this time they didn't. At 8.30am I decided to get ready to go to church and so every 15 minutes at church I would experience a mild contraction. After church I went to the supermarket and still experienced these mild contractions but by the end of the shopping trip on my way out the door, I had to pause and wait until the contraction ended. They were still mild in the grand scheme of it all though.

My parents came over to visit and the contractions started to get stronger. By 6pm they were frequent and really strong. For me contractions feel like really strong period pains. I called the hospital to ask when I could come over and I was told that I needed to have 3 contractions in ten minutes for 2 hours.  By 7.15pm I couldn't take it anymore.  Even though my contractions were every 7-12 minutes and not frequent enough to go to hospital I had had enough and told my husband to take me there.

The plan was to exaggerate the amount of contractions I was having so they could admit me. However they slowed down when I was in the 20 minute ride in the car.  The hospital had a consultant led unit but I was scheduled for the midwife led unit.  Shortly after I entered the hospital and told them I was having frequent contractions I was given a room.  I felt a little nervous wondering how this night was going to pan out. I was asked what my birth plan was and I had planned a water birth and thankfully a birthing pool was available and the midwife began to run the water which took 45 minutes,  I was given gas and air and it reduced the intensity and made the pain more manageable.

Having contractions in the water and consuming gas and air helped me a lot. Contractions last for about 60 seconds. A single contraction starts mild, gradually intensifies and peaks, then returns to a mild state before leaving the body.  Knowing this I was able to accept the pain, I kept calm and allowed my body to do what it needed to do to get my baby girl out. I didn't enjoy it but I knew this was the only way I was going get through this. After 2 hours in the pool I gave birth.  Around 15 minutes before I gave birth I felt like I wanted to poo.  The midwife kept saying " You're not going to poo. You're going to have a baby. " At one point, I could feel my baby's head in my birth canal but there was not enough time in the contraction to push her out.  The midwife said I needed to push only when I had a contraction to minimise tearing.  So I used my pelvic floor muscles and held her and waited for a contraction to arrive which didn't take long.  During the contraction or straight after, the midwife said  "The head is out " which I swear, I didn't even feel (no epidural, just gas and air).  Because I didn't feel her head come out I wasn't sure what she meant until I heard the midwife say "Time of birth: 10.46pm".  She then stated that in the next contraction my baby's body will come out and then it dawned on me that I had done the hardest part. The next contraction she was out, it happened so quickly that when she appeared in the water I was quite shocked,  I opted out for an injection to release the placenta and 10 minutes after I left the Pool I pushed it out,  When I pushed out the placenta, I sat down on the loo seat (with a bed pan under the seat) I pretended I was constipated and relaxed to allow the placenta to descend and pushed it out (sorry if being graphic offends you). Once everything was out I felt great to have my body back.

Giving birth was wonderful and I look at the event fondly and wish I could do it again. I am amazed what my body did, I truly believe the female body is a beautiful and mighty machine.



Things that helped me have a positive birth

  • Think about birth as a positive experience.  Consider staying away horror stories.  Bad birth experiences happen and women who have experienced them need to be respected.  However I believe being told a horrific birth story before you are about to give birth is not a good idea.  Some mums like to tell you the bad experience they had in detail,  Stay away. How do you stay away? Tell them you don't want to hear it,  stop them mid sentence.  If a group of mums start a mini group therapy session walk away from the group.  
  • Research how contractions work.  They last for a minute max, start mild, increase in intensity, peak for like 10-20 seconds and then the pain reduces until it's gone.  When you know that the pain will end its much easier to accept as the pain intensifies the closer you are to  giving birth.  It's good to know what is happening so you don't get overwhelmed. 
  • Breathe through the pain, I took slow deep breaths to keep me calm.  Being calm helps with the pain and the whole labour experience.
  • Try not to freak out, you have muscles in your uterus pushing the baby down and around.  Allow the uterus to do its job, rather than tensing your muscles by freaking out about the pain.  Your body can get through labour. 
  • Create Oxytocin. It helps you cope with the pain, breastfeed after labour and bond with your baby. During my contractions my husband hugged me and rubbed my back. Surprisingly it was a natural drug that helped me cope.
  • Get to know your vagina before you give birth. Have a feel how it works and what is going on down there.
  • If you can, exercise to increase your fitness as you will need stamina during labour.  During pregnancy my four year old son made me pull him up a hill on his scooter everyday and I'm so glad I developed the strength as it came in handy during the birth of my daughter.
  • Watch videos on birth and what is happening to your body and baby during labour, I'm not talking about watching women freak out while giving birth. Go on YouTube and watch animated videos which will show how your body works when you give  birth.
  • Recognise the only way is out,  this is such a small portion of your life in the grand scheme. It's not a walk in the park, it's work! But it can be a positive experience.

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