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.

JD wiliams coat and boots

People will stare, make it worth their while – Harry Winston

Autumn time, it’s getting colder!

We haven’t turned our heating on yet but I know it’s only a question of days until we flick the switch and move into winter mode, the evenings are darker, the nights colder and it’s time to pack away the summer gear.

This is the time of year when I look forward to getting out my warmer gear, old coats I have grown fond of and can count how long they’ve been in my wardrobe on both hands. The problem lies when you have to come to terms with the fact that they have had their day and it’s time to give it to charity and treat yourself to a new coat.

I’m also in need of new winter boots this year as mine are looking incredibly tatty.

JD Williams have recently got in touch and asked me to choose a couple of items from their website and I struggled to come to a decision as there were so many gorgeous pieces. It’s a very easy website to navigate and the collections are fashionable and reasonably priced. I realised, as I was browsing that, I seem to always go for the same styles and colours. I find this comforting as I seem to have guessed what looks good on me and stay clear of items that just won’t look right. It’s also a great way of replacing a piece that you have loved so much but had to get rid of.

Winter coats

JD Williams winter coats

In my winter wardrobe I like to have a selection to choose from but my winter coat staples are

Anorak  – which is short and warm, this is perfect for walking the dog and ambling through parks, beaches and around town.

Long padded winter coat – Just the coat for the winter school run when I could get caught in rain, sleet or even snow. This is my favourite and warmest coat

Going out coat – This is my fancy pants coat, the one I wear when we go out, my smart coat if you like.

This year I have a new addition to add to my coat collection a work coat! I drive in the car to and from work so it needs to be comfortable, I walk at lunchtime with colleagues so it needs to be warm and of course it must also be fashionable, after all I am wearing it to work. PS It can also double up as a going out coat ;)

I found this beauty in the JD Williams Womens Winter Coats selection and I tested it out last weekend at Centre Parcs. Much to my delight it was perfect on all the above points

Winter boots

JD Williams boots

I love boots, they are like slippers to me and I spend the best part of winter in them. As I was browsing the JD Williams site I came across these beauties with Lorraine Kelly’s signature on them, a woman I admire greatly. I was so pleased when JD Williams said I could have them as they are breaking away from my normal flat boot and are perfect for work.

They have a tortoise coloured heel and are quite high for me so I shall use them for going out and special occasions as I’m not good in heels – my feet ache after a while in them.

My only concern is when I have to go and make the tea for the team … will I mange carrying a tray of 8 mugs in those heels?

Disclosure: I was sent the items mentioned for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own.

Weekes family timanfaya

The secret to a long life is an ongoing intriguing matter for me. I find the older I get, the more I consider my body and how I use it, after all I only have this one and ideally I’d like it to last me a very long time. I would love to discover the secret to a long life so I have been doing a bit of research and I thought I’d share my findings with you; then you can keep reading Mari’s World for years to come and I can keep writing. You’re happy – I’m happy.

The fact that my great grandmother died a month before her 103rd birthday has always filled me with optimism that I will naturally follow in her footsteps. Her daughter, my grandmother, will be celebrating 96 at the end of the month and her longevity has added to my faith. However, every now and then the fear of not being around for long grips me and I run a quick check over my lifestyle to see if I could be doing better.

The secret to a long life

Broken into six areas, I get the feeling that if you are doing well in each you can give yourself a slap on the back and a big round of applause. Let’s take a look.

Diet

Most of the food we eat is home cooked from scratch. Occasionally I will get something pre-prepared, like on my work days when I come home bushed but we very rarely have take aways and my cooking has been heavily influenced by my years in Italy, so I’m pretty sure we have a healthy diet.

I am a bit overweight and that needs addressing, middle age spread they call it. I think my metabolism has dropped and I’m not burning the calories like I used to. This is really annoying as I still have the appetite that I used to.

My struggle is cutting back and not cutting out all of my favourite indulgences. I am still searching for the perfect diet for me but cutting out a daily chocolate treat sadly, seems to be a great step forward.

My other vice is wine. Yeah I know, my favourite treat in the whole wide world and it would seem I’m drinking pure fat mixed with poison. So, I only drink at the weekends and then in moderation. No more propping up the bars or knocking back shots and cocktails to the early hours these days.

Healthy heart

I was asked to go for a health MOT a few months back which, of course, I sailed through but it did highlight the importance of a healthy heart and a healthy lifestyle.

With some of my birthday money I invested in a Fitbit; a lot of my colleagues have one and the part I love is the community aspect. I can now take part in challenges with friends all over the country. It has inspired me to get up and get walking as I hate days when I have a low step count.

Purpose in life

static caravan

Apparently, having a purpose in life is paramount to living longer. Well I have loads of purposes at the moment, 4 kids and 3 grandkids to start with! A husband I love and we’ve just invested in a static caravan in Birchington.

I also have my job which is no longer shiny and new as I’ll be clocking up a year in October. I love my work and the company I work for, they have given me an extra purpose in life.

I’m not short of purpose for the moment.

Reduce stress levels

I’m not a neurotic, stressed out working mother but I will admit stress can get to me. I notice it most when I have a song on ear worm and on waking during the night I can hear the song over and over again in my head. That’s an annoying indication that I need to step back and relax.

I am very, very good at stepping back and indulging in a lazy day. Only this has been known to bring on indulging in treats which goes against the food point made earlier! Vicious circle, right there.

Be social

That is me! I have a wonderful family who I love to catch up with, I have friends I like to meet up with and of course my immediate family which I love spending time with. When I’m not with them I am online, although I have managed to reduce the amount of time I spend online since starting work which I am very pleased about.

Smoking

Not a problem, I gave up smoking in 2013 and haven’t looked back since. One of the best decisions I ever made. However, I do still worry about any leftover damage I may have caused in my crazier years as I did smoke a lot.

sunlife death clock

For a bit of fun I had a go at the SunLife Death Clock – sounds ominous doesn’t it, but it works out I still have another 48 years to enjoy! I think that’s a great excuse to have a glass of wine don’t you? Oh I can’t it’s a Wednesday!

Disclosure: A collaboration with SunLife

I left BritMums back in October last year when I took up a part time job with James Villas working on the marketing team, specifically the social media team. It was a wise move as I would never have been able to run the two jobs together, there just isn’t enough time in the day plus we have some work days that are completely draining and I need to switch off of an evening. However, I had every intention of going to BritMums Live again. It’s the one blogging event that I know I will enjoy and get to catch up with some good friends too.

It’s a date I pencil in from one year to the next and as the date loomed up I started to think about childcare and organisation. That was when Coca Cola invited me to their symposium on the Friday afternoon. They had a brand new product they wanted to share with me.

Luck would have it that Friday is my day off so off I went for an afternoon tea get together in the Montcalm Hotel.

I learnt that Coca Cola has been going since the 1900’s in the UK and that Selfridges was their first point of sale. I learnt that Lilt, Schweppes, Kia Ora, Dr Pepper and Smart Water are all under the same umbrella and that they have 6 factories dotted around the United Kingdom to make their products, cutting their carbon footprint.

I remembered when in 1983 they launched Diet Coke which has no sugar in it. I have to say this is my favourite of all their Colas and I learnt that since then 27 of their drinks have since been launched with no sugar.

A total of at least 30% of their drinks are mid – low calorie.

We talked a bit about Coca Cola Life, the one in the green packaging, have you tried it? That drink has 45% less sugar in it.

Then we touched upon Coca Cola Zero, launched in 2006 and proven to be very popular only some fans complained the taste wasn’t right. So the scientists and the production team re visited the recipe, and they adopted Stevia to add a sweet taste.

Coca Cola Tasting

Coca cola tasting

Then came the fun part of our symposium; four glasses were placed in front of us each cup holding a different Coca Cola and assigned a letter. We were asked to taste and guess which one was Coca Cola, Diet Coke, Coca Cola Life and Coca Cola Zero. You’d think that was pretty easy right? Wrong. I got two out of four and some of the tasters didn’t get any right.

You see by altering the recipe and including Stevia they have brought the Coca Cola Zero taste incredibly close to the red tin Coca Cola. Go try it and see for yourself. They have a brand new packaging which is very swish and eye catching. you’ll also be seeing TV ads, billboards and lots of online marketing too so if you feel tempted, I dare you to try it and let me know what you think.

BritMums Live 16

I’m so glad I went, I caught up with Jen and Susanna, spoke with Nadine who took over my editor role, and bumped into some of my very special online friends, too many to mention here. But my highlight of 2016 must be a one to one with Amanda Jennings where we sat and spoke about writing, the tricks and tools of the trade but that will have to be another post… she’s working on her fourth book you know.

Disclosure: Coca Cola kindly paid for my attendance at BritMums Live this year, they invited me to their symposium but all of the above is what I learnt from that meeting and my own opinion on the products.

women turning 50

Not that I’m counting of course but as we entered 2016 I have been on my final countdown to 50 *gulp* and right now I’m on the very last stretch of being 49. As of the 29th April, I will be turning 50, a half a century and I find that thought quite daunting!

50 seems to have come around incredibly fast. Where have all those years gone? I swear it was only yesterday that we were celebrating my 40th. I have always associated 50 with being old and now I’m about to step into my very own version of 50 I don’t want to be ‘old’. Having always been a bit rebellious, I’m not going to do 50 as I ought to either.

Famous women turning 50

I decided way back to not be frightened by the number 50, to hit it straight on the head and to rock it but if the truth be known I am trembling in my boots a bit. Looking at others always calms my nerves a bit, if they can do it and look fabulous then there is hope for me. Sarah Jessica Parker, she has turned 50 and is looking very good. J.K Rowling born July 1965, wouldn’t I love to write a book half as good as hers? Brooke Shields – I still remember her for the Blue Lagoon film in the 80’s.

I turn 50 the same year as Halle Berry, Cindy Crawford, Helena Bonham Carter (who I LOVED in the recent Cinderella film) and Cynthia Nixon from Sex and the City. Guys include Gordon Ramsay and Mike Tyson – who I named our Rottweiler after.

eleanor roosevelt quote

Life at 30

I wasn’t at all afraid of 30, I embraced that stage with open arms. I had a fantastic party in Italy with my friends, I was living a happy life and had nothing to be afraid of. I felt ‘grown up’. My son Tommy was 8 and my daughter Megan was 6, they were out of the baby stage and we were able to go on nice holidays. We would ski together, go on day trips and have fun as a family. My 30’s were an era where I felt confident and secure in my decisions. I loved my children, I loved my life and even if I was aware that my marriage wasn’t the strongest around I was happy most of the time.

turning 50 buddah time quote

Life at 40

40 was also a number I embraced with open arms, having gone through a sad and bitter divorce in my late 30’s (proof you never know what is around the corner) I had met a new man and was the happiest I had ever been.

Again, we threw a party and invited friends and family, some of my closest friends travelled over from Italy. Some of my old school friends, who I hadn’t seen since I left St Johns, came along. It was a wonderful night and one I remember very clearly (I was pregnant!) My dad was there too. I really miss him, that was April 2006, he passed away in October 2007.

My 40’s represent a whole new chapter in my life. One where I tried once again for children. We weren’t successful at first and suffered a huge blow but we carried on and had the twins who are the light of our lives.

Weekes family

I have enjoyed being a mother again so much. I feel it is a very different experience having a man who loves me by my side and as interested in the parenting lark as much as me. This support has given me an incredible confidence and serenity to my life that wasn’t there in my first marriage. The twins have been an utter joy to bring up, they are gentle natured and very good girls. They make parenting so easy, it’s a joy to have them around.

I, myself, have taken a back seat during this decade dedicating my time and effort to the twins. I think it would be fair to say I’ve spent ten years with my hair piled on top of my head and held there with a clip. Make up has been used very occasionally for ‘going out’ and new clothes have consisted of jeans and boots (which are still my every day favourites).

turning 50 coco chanel quote

Talking of clothes I do feel as if I failed on what to wear and what suits me a lot of times this past decade. I feel I have made more buying mistakes than ever. I have come home with clothes I love the look of but don’t feel right on me, so my 40’s have been a learning curve in this respect, only I’m not ready to dress like an old woman just yet. There’s still a huge part of me that wants to look nice, feel nice.

I lost my dad in my 40’s and I nearly lost my mum too as she battled cancer three times over the past five years. I am so grateful to medicine and doctors and brain surgeons for curing her and allowing her to stay with us. My 40’s have shown me how fragile life is and they have taught me to enjoy every moment, walk away from the bad stuff and focus your energy on the good.

I spent the majority of my 40’s at home looking after the girls and my biggest achievement has been building my blog and social channels. A project that started as a hobby and grew to become a ‘job’ of sorts. I am not the greatest blogger out there but I have enjoyed this learning process and have taken so much on board that I still remain surprised at the journey I have travelled, the wonderful bloggers and social media experts I have met and chatted to. The people I am still in contact with on a daily basis, those I meet at blogging events that are always a pleasure to embrace again. I count myself very lucky for having these people in my life. They have opened my eyes to an entire new world out there and in turn helped me reach the place I am at today, social media exec for James Villa Holidays. I LOVE this job. It is so perfect for me and I cannot express how much I am enjoying it. It doesn’t feel like work at all but a place where I can go and get creative and put my ideas to good use.

laugh at the sky

Turning 50

We’re not throwing a big party this time around. At the beginning of the year we decided to spend any ‘party’ money on a family holiday, somewhere we hadn’t been before. So we’re off to Lanzarote for May half term and I am very excited about it.

We’ve invested in a static caravan in Thanet where I imagine we’ll be spending many happy times. This does mean we’ll be saying goodbye to our caravan in the summer, one last holiday first though in Woolacombe where I’d like to have a go at Stand Up Paddle.

Work has been the largest recent change and I cannot wait to see where this journey takes me.

Oh and my Instagram feed which I love playing at and trying to get better at, here’s a selection of my March favourites.

IG 9x9

Birthday wishes

If there is a fairy out there somewhere listening in on this conversation then the first thing I would wish for is good health. The second thing I would wish for is happiness and I’m pretty sure that will continue as it is something I actively seek out. I’ll save the third wish for later as who knows when I might need it?

january sunset Sky blanket

Happy New Year everyone! I know I’ve been really quiet and there has been no news from me for ages but all is good in the hood, I’m just adjusting to being a working mum and having less free time on my hands to do everything I used to do before as a SAHM.

It’s tough but I am getting there, a few tweaks to the daily routine and with Christmas out of the way I should have some free time now.

January will see my 3 months probation as Social Media Executive at James Villa Holidays complete and fingers crossed I have performed well enough so they keep me on. I must say I love the job and I’m working with a fantastic team, everyone is so inspiring. I’m really enjoying going to the office three times a week and getting creative on so many different levels, I really think it’s had a great influence on my personal life too.

My chosen word for 2016 is Embrace

‘Take it all in your stride girl.’

2016 will see me hit 50 years and I’m trembling A LOT about it. Funnily enough age has never bothered me until now. I guess that had to change at some point, whilst I turned my nose up at friends panicking at 30 and again at 40 now it’s their turn to point at me quivering in my slippers about approaching 50. How did that happen so quick? I worry about my health, I worry about not being here tomorrow, I worry about not having a job as I am too old! I really must stop worrying and just embrace the whole frigging lot.

sky blanket - wool

My project for the year will be a Sky Blanket. I love this idea, basically you look at the sky every day and interpret it by knitting or crocheting a square, I have a bag full of different colours, although this year has had very poor grey sunsets till now. For more information please visit the Sky Blanket Facebook page and of course watch out for my updates.

sky blanket Jan 1st

January 1st I have interpreted like this (above), it was a very grey day and it rained a lot, the only thing missing is some gold sequins which I need to sew on as my family came to visit and we opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the new year.

sky blanket 2016 jan 2nd

Jan 2nd it rained even more, the sky was darker and so I pimped my patch with drops of water, I am showcasing my days as seen above on Instagram as it shows both a strip of sky and my completed interpretation.

sky blanket 2016 jan 3rd

January 3rd, it also rained all day but as the sun started to set a tiny slither of yellow sky appeared so that gave me something new to work with. The black wool with silver running through it is to represent the lights seen in the distance over the valley.

Find out more about Sky Blanket 2016 here 

What else?

I’m continuing with photography, which I love and my Instagram feed which is my favourite social channel right now.

So this age 50 business, I’ve decided to face head on and I’ve been drumming up a list of all the things I would love to do so I can tick them off as I go,

  1. Go on a cruise
  2. Visit the Caribbean
  3. Eat at the Tramshed in London
  4. Have a posh Afternoon Tea in London like the Sanderson’s Mad Hatter Tea Party
  5. Spend a weekend, no kids in a beautiful spa just relaxing and indulging.
  6. LOSE weight. 1 stone to be precise, I can’t bear my body as it is right now and it’s making me miserable.
  7. Book up another huge cottage for a fun family weekend like our recent Isle of Wight trip
  8. Treat myself to a designer handbag only I’m not sure which one just yet.
  9. Start tap classes! My Thursday evenings are about to become tip tap ones, I’m hoping this will keep me fit and be a lot of fun. You could be looking at the new Ginger Rogers…
  10. Find the work/family balance and enjoy my family as much as I can.

There will be more things I shall add to the list as they come to mind, but that’s plenty to be going on with for now.