More than a Mum

More than a mum is the place I save everything that doesn’t fall into the Travel, Food and Lifestyle buckets. It’s all those little things that go into my life and make me the person I am. Expect to find, fashion, beauty, photography, hobbies and anything else that is another part of me that I thought you might be interested in.

Creative writing online course

Business image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

It’s been a while now that I have wanted to do something to better myself. I like to have a project and I like to think that I am constantly working at improving my skills in one way or another, be it for work, home or just for fun. I just need more time in the day, that’s all. Small ask.

Anyhow, I have signed up for an NCC course in creative writing.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a book for years, I have started a few and slowly petered out, unsure of my words and unsure of the path to complete the story but every time I listen to people like JK Rowling, who celebrates 20 years today since Harry Potter first published, I am inspired and my desire to write kicks in again.

Who knows, maybe by the time I am 100 I’ll have something to show you.

In the meantime, I am working on improving my writing skills. I think I have come a long way since my first attempts at blogging. Grammar, spelling, attention to detail and constructing a simple sentence that is understandable have all played a role in this process and I am very aware that I have a long way to go before I will be satisfied with my work.

NCC is an online home learning website that has many different courses to complete; science, culture, health care and business are just some of the sectors where courses are offered. The forensic scientist course shouted out at me but that’s because I love Silent Witness and other similar dramas. I can’t really see myself taking up a career in this sector and I’m not sure I would sleep easy either.

So, I’ve gone for the creative writing course, I’ve completed the first module and started the second, so far so good. I don’t feel as if I have learnt anything new yet but I am looking forward to ploughing ahead and discovering lots of new styles of writing. I shall be looking at poetry, writing for radio, novel writing, life writing, writing for children, non-fiction, scriptwriting (looking forward to this module). I will even have to sit an exam at the end.

The good news is I shall have a certificate if I pass. But more than the certificate, I’ll have spent some quality time improving and expanding an area of my life that I love and am passionate about.

What about you? Would you like to take up a course and further your knowledge? If so, what would you like to study?

Disclosure: NCC has given me a Creative Writing course (without tutor feedback) in return for a review. I’ll be back soon (after 200 hours study) to let you know how I got on.

A few other friends have taken up the challenge and you can find out what they are studying and how they are getting on here.

Mummy Barrow is learning to be a Life Coach

bib2017-BADGE

 

I think it might be my best achievement to date, being a finalist in the Family & Lifestyle category of the BiBs 2017 awards! Holding down a full-time job, running a home and family and on top of that writing is not a task for the weak. Continuing to write is a passion, it has to be otherwise why else would I use my precious free time to keep on at it? But it has paid off and I am wearing my finalist badge with honour.

I am over the moon considering the exceptional quality of blogs out there. Loyal readers will know that I have been blogging for over 7 years now, I started in 2010 when there were a mere few hundred blogs and we spent our time writing, commenting and learning the skill that has since become so popular. It was a very different scene back then compared to the explosion of great blogs there are today.

The new bloggers are way more savvy than I was when I first started and it is evident from their presentation, their superb promotional skills and the way they write confidently. However, I have made it to the finals as I have many times in the past, even with my first nomination back in 2010, look I still have my badge!

BiB_2010_FreshVoice

I can’t tell you what it would mean to win this award, having reached the finalists on so many occasions and being pipped at the post I am kind of setting myself up for another disappointment, but like everything in life – if you don’t give it your best shot then you’ll never know. I am very British about asking for votes (which clearly doesn’t help my case) but PLEASE, would you vote for my little blog in the Family & Lifestyle category?

Votes close on 2nd July  – THIS SUNDAY – so please don’t wait, go straight in and plant your cross on my name. I will be forever grateful to you. Just click on the link below and thank you for taking the time.

BritMums

Vote for #BiBs2017 here!

best shoes for walking

I love my job and as trying as it can be to fit in a full-time working week, family needs, house needs, after school activities, shopping, ironing and all the rest that comes with a normal day to day life. I don’t want to stop working just yet.

However, certain areas of my life are slipping and one of those is fitness. I don’t go to the gym anymore, I don’t like running, I rarely go swimming these days and if I do it’s just a dip in the sea. What I do like to do and it fits in around the madness of my life is walk.

I treated myself to a Fitbit last year with my birthday money and have worn it more or less every day since. I love how it tells me how many steps I have done, it prompts me to get up and move if I’ve been sitting too long and it can show me how I have slept which I find oddly fascinating to check.

Now the days are longer and brighter, I can walk the girls to the local clubs and at the same time stretch my legs, get a breath of fresh air and add some steps to my Fitbit count.

Millet Sports got in touch recently and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a pair of their walking shoes. I didn’t even know there were such things as walking shoes! I clicked on their link and came across a lovely selection of what I would call trainers but trainers have come a long way since back in the day.

I am now the very proud owner of these beauties, the best shoes for walking!

best shoes for walking

First of all, they look the part and I am sure you will agree on that note. Nice colours, nice style and look sturdy but comfortable at the same time.

Secondly, they are comfortable and supportive too.

I have worn them to walk Baxter with a couple of school mums whilst the girls were at Brownies one evening but I had to stop and take Baxter home because he couldn’t keep up the fast pace. It was also a very hot evening, poor boy.

I have used them to walk up to the shops and back. To accompany the girls to clubs but I am really looking forward to do some proper walking and I have in mind to complete the Viking Trail in Thanet, have you done it yet?

So if you are looking for the best shoes for walking, then take a look at the Millet’s range as I think you’ll really like them.

Disclosure: I was sent a pair of the best shoes for walking for the purpose of this review.

Forever Living C9

Forever Living – C9 programme

Forever Living Products was founded in 1978 in Scottsdale, Arizona and today is the largest grower, manufacturer and distributor of Aloe Vera products in the world. Out of the 400 different species of Aloe plants, Forever Living produce Aloe Barbadensis Miller which is known for its magically soothing abilities. It is known for soothing minor burns, comforting and moisturising stressed skin, and helping to aid your skin’s natural ability to regenerate itself. Records of Aloe exist on Sumerian clay tablets from as early as 2200 BC. Aloe is often referred to as nature’s best gift due to the proven health benefits derived from the gel found inside the leaf of the plant.

What attracted me to try C9

I first heard and used the Forever Living Aloe Vera Gel when I lived in Italy where it was very popular, I remember being very impressed with the results and when we visited an Aloe Vera farm in Lanzarote last year, I was very happy to buy some of their products to bring back home. I used the face cream for months and am convinced it was one of the best I have ever used.

aloe vera farm lanzarote

When I saw the BritMums Pro newsletter asking for bloggers to try the F.I.T. programme C9, I applied straight away, not only do I know of the Aloe Vera properties but I have spent the past couple of months not feeling right. I have struggled with my weight, tending to gain slowly but never able to lose it. I have suffered all kinds of minor ailments that weren’t illnesses as such but one after another these minor bugs and feelings start to drag you down into a place where it’s difficult to pick yourself up.

If anything could pick me up and get me back on track it was Aloe Vera, so I applied.

CAN YOU LOOK BETTER AND FEEL BETTER IN JUST 9 DAYS? YES.

Look better and feel great in just nine days with this expertly-devised cleansing plan. Designed to kick-start the F.I.T. programme, cleanse your body and adjust your mindset, C9 provides the perfect starting point for transforming your diet and fitness habits. Based around Forever’s bestselling Aloe Vera Gel drink, this nutritionally-balanced programme will allow you to see real results in just nine days.

I really liked the idea of cleansing and kick starting a new lifestyle, so when my box arrived I dived in like an excited child.

F.I.T. – Foundation, Inspiration, Transformation

Properties of aloe vera

What’s included in the C9 pack

Forever Aloe Vera Gel® x2
Forever Lite Ultra® with Aminotein®
Forever Therm®
Forever Fiber™
Information Booklet

I read through my booklets, got to recognise each product and got myself ready to start, in fact by the time Day 1 arrived, which together with Day 2 is the hardest, I was raring to go. I kept a short diary of my experience.

C9 free foods

Day 1

Surprise! I wasn’t at all hungry today. I have followed day 1 exactly as planned in the booklet and I am full of enthusiasm, I have taken all of my measurements and I recorded my weight this morning too, I am really interested to see the results, if any. Today was a Monday and I was at home from work so able to follow the plan perfectly. If anything I have found it really weird taking all the capsules throughout the day. I thought I would be a lot more hungry than I was and although I prepared a lunch salad from the free foods list I probably could have gone without it.

Steps: 11,383

C9 day 1

Day 2

Once again, I haven’t felt hungry today, so much so I have started to worry that I am not doing the course right but checking and double checking I have followed it perfectly. I have also drink lots of water and visited the bathroom lots too! These were the ‘worst’ days so I’m looking forward to trying days 3 – 9 to see the difference. Today was a work day and with careful preparation I took everything into the office and it was very easy to continue my C9 without any disruption to my working day. In fact I was able to drink my Forever Lite Ultra at my desk and use my lunch hour for a nice long walk.

A few eyebrows were raised in the office and there was a spark of interest from some colleagues as to what the plan was about and wheat I wanted to gain from it. By Speaking to them I was able to understand what exactly it was that I wanted too. To feel energised.

Steps: 11,788

FIT Forever Lite Ultra Chocolate

Day 3

Today is a great day as I can start to eat food again, real food. not that I missed it much the past couple of days. I have organised smoked haddock for tea with vegetables.

It was a work day and once again I found it easy to complete the daily course. I must admit I find all the capsules and fiber sachets a bit out of my comfort zone. I’m not used to taking capsules daily and on C9 there are some to take at every meal time. Personally, once the course is completed I don’t think I’d be continuing with them whereas I would continue to take the Aloe Vera Gel in the morning.

Steps: 10,837

Day 4

I’m really getting into the swing of this and finding the Forever Lite ultra shake to be sufficient for both breakfast (when it’s even a bit too much) and lunch when it is perfect. The only thing disturbing me and reminding me of food is smells. Around lunchtime in the open plan office where I work, people start opening sandwiches, salads and hot soups. It would seem my sense of smell is very acute and although my tummy isn’t rumbling because it’s full of water or other liquids, you can’t deny a good smell. Another successful day and for tea we had chicken breasts with vegetables. I had a glass of wine. It Was Delicious! I figured it would be part of my 100 calories ;)

Steps: 6,439

Under the skin of the aloe vera plant

Once the green skin is cut away, inside you are left with a strip of transparent gel that can be used for creams, drinks and many other products.

Day 5

Friyay! I wasn’t at work today, it’s my day off and it was a very busy one too. I followed the plan very well and for dinner we had steaks and vegetables. I had a couple of chips much to my husband’s disapproval (If you’re going to do a plan Marianne, do it properly or don’t do it at all) I prefer to think of tailoring the C9 to meet my needs and lifestyle.

Steps: 9,460

Day 6

I cannot tell you how cold it was today! The twins were invited to a cinema party and lunch so Paul and I nipped down to the coast. We were curious to see the work going on at Birchington Vale and we wanted to let Baxter run on the beach and try to catch a seagull. I found the C9 plan easy to follow today although I did have a glass of wine with my meal in the evening.

Steps: 7,423

aloe vera lanzarote

Day 7

Sunday. A miserable Sunday too where I did very few steps. I didn’t leave the house but I did stay true to my plan making a couple of swaps. I swapped the lunchtime Forever Lite Ultra shake for a roast dinner and had the shake in the evening instead. Once again I had a glass of wine with my meal but counted it into my 600 calories.

Steps: 2,449

Day 8

Monday. I’m bored now and can’t wait for it to be over. i have no struggle at all with the C( plan but I am looking forward to getting back to a ‘normal’ diet even if I will be making a few adjustments and continuing to take the Aloe Vera Gel as I have some left in the first container plus an unopened container too. We had my beef stew which has lots of  pulses in it tonight for dinner, I took a smaller portion than I would normally serve myself and was pleased to find it was sufficient.

Steps: 10,238

Forever Living C9

 

Day 9 – Tuesday

Back to work today, so I prepared my Forever Lite Ultra shake for lunch and I have my fibre and lunch time tablets to take too.

I am so pleased it is the last day. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the C9 plan and will admit to stepping on the scales midweek and this morning. I was very pleased with the number shining back at me and consider the plan to be a huge success. Now my goal will be maintaining that weight and lifestyle. Choosing low calorie but filling lunches and not snacking on crisps and chocolate. We had fish for dinner, baked with vegetables and no potatoes. No wine.

Steps: 8,067

Day 10

First day back to normal. I took my Aloe Vera Gel at breakfast, I skipped any food as I wasn’t hungry and took a packed lunch into work consisting of a salad from the free food list plus 150g smoked salmon. It was a birthday in the office and I did enjoy some biscuits and chocolate and if anything this will be my area of downfall. I work with a bunch of chocoholics, there are ALWAYS snacks on the bookshelf. Dinner

C9 review conclusion

I enjoyed the C9 programme and although I was glad to get to the end I was very pleased with the results. If anything I wish I had chosen the vanilla Forever Lite Ultra rather than the chocolate as there were some recipes to try in the booklet which could have made that moment of the day more varied, having chosen the chocolate – which was delicious – I didn’t find any recipes to try out.

I would do the programme again, after a holiday, after Christmas or when I am feeling particularly sluggish.

I Feel that during the programme and after I felt more energised and I certainly got rid of that ‘permanently shattered feeling’ that I have been dragging around with me for months.

Here are some other reviews to read up

Helpful Mum

Chelsea Mamma

Lilinha Angel’s World

Disclosure: I’m working with Forever Living and BritMums in a paid relationship, showcasing the C9 Programme, kick-starting my eating and fitness goals. find out more here

westgate on sea thanet

When I started at James Villa Holidays over a year ago now, I was a little disappointed to only have a part time role. I was full of enthusiasm and raring to go. I wanted to get my teeth into real life work after so many years at home blogging and all that goes with it. However it was the best decision ever. It has allowed me an entire year to get used to working, to find a happy family/work balance and come to grips what a working mum actually goes through in order to tick all of the boxes and stay sane at the end of the week.

This new life hasn’t been problem free, I have found myself walking up to the local supermarket at 6.30pm for milk that I had forgotten to get. I’ve organised quick meals that just need shoving in the oven for 20 minutes and I’ve watched my ironing pile take on mammoth proportions. I have also screeched into the girl’s dance class on Wednesday afternoons at 4.30pm, buns skewiff and uniform not quite perfect every week. It has been an enormous learning curve and it looks like going forward I shall be learning even more as I have been offered a full time role which is due to start tomorrow!

I think the leap to full time, from 22.5 hours to 37.5 is going to be a tough call but one I am ready to put my hand to. It will take a while to get organised and find a rhythm that suits us all. I need to get my girls booked into Breakfast club at school, I need to get into the habit of food shopping online once a week and I need to organise everything for my family so that whilst I am working life can run smoothly – no mean feat!

Fortunately I have an enormous help in Oana.

 

sea waves

In fact she has been here for 3 months now which have whizzed by, Evan has settled into reception class at school and is starting to read (yes Biff and Chip!) Sophie started nursery school at the beginning of January and after a rocky start is actually really enjoying her time with the other children.

Living in 8 in our house is also going smoothly too. The girls are loving having Oana and Tommy around and they are getting used to the little ones plus trying to remember to put anything precious out of reach! Sophie has a passion for scissors and sellotape that is unprecedented in our family, put something down it will be cut up and sellotaped in minutes.

The proudest moment has to be when Tommy and Oana bought their first car a couple of weeks ago. Only an old banger but it is their old banger with a full year’s MOT and it’s in good health too. This will allow them some freedom and movement.

Next step is the big one, finding a place to call their own.

That’s all for now folks. I enjoy writing this kind of catch up so finger’s crossed I’ll find more time going forwards to keep you all up to date.

Wish me luck!

Mari x

sky shot

Images taken on a weekend jaunt to Westgate a couple of weekends ago.