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.

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.

Aveda Bluewater

When I was asked to go along to see the new Aveda store at Bluewater and have a mini facial I was very excited, a facial is a treat for me as I normally do my own skincare at home. I had been sent a few of their products to try out beforehand but I had no idea what was waiting in store for me.

You see Aveda is more than skin and hair products, it’s a concept, it’s a life choice and there is a wonderful wholeness to any treatment or lotion you have from Aveda. In fact Aveda means All life knowledge

Aveda mission

Horst Rechelbacher is the brains behind the company and got the idea in 1978 when he was on a trip to India and came across the wonders of Ayurveda, the Hindu holistic system of medicine and surgery. He fell in love with the whole idea, returned home and formulated his first product, a clove shampoo in his kitchen sink.

You get more than the kitchen sink when you visit the Aveda store though and my trip started with a Chakra journey

Chakra journey

aveda chakra journey

Chakras quite simply are energy points in your body and there are seven of them in a line from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Each one is represented by a different colour and together they are Prana, the vital life force which keeps us vibrant, healthy and alive.

It is essential to our wellbeing that our chakras are open, aligned and fluid, if there is a blockage our energy cannot flow and we can become ill or feel down in certain areas of our life.

The Aveda chakra journey requires you to focus on the bottles and colours and see which one you are drawn to, in my case I chose yellow and Pami the assistant sat me down and sprayed the air above my head with the bottle allowing a wonderful smell to cascade around me. I filled my lungs and breathed out slowly savouring every moment. Pami expalined I had been drawn to the third chakra

The third chakra. The Manipura chakra means lustrous gem and it’s the area from the navel to the breastbone. The third chakra is our source of personal power. 

A cup of tea

aveda tea

My next treat was a cup of tea, a herbal infusion of licorice root and peppermint. It is said this combination calms your senses and promotes a sense of well-being. It was served warm and was delicious. I must admit I was starting to feel very relaxed and looked after by now.

Mini facial

aveda skincare products

Pami asked me a lot of skin questions filling in a purpose board as she went with my answers and with the results in front of her she decided on the Botanical Kinetics range for me. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the mini facial treatment which was a  pleasure. It took about 20 minutes and is a complimentary service offered by Aveda to anyone who wishes. Before you leave the store you are given a list of the products best suited to your skincare and there is no obligation to buy but I did, I treated myself to the Intense hydrating cream which doesn’t need taking off. I use it on the days I am at home and pottering about allowing the goodness to soak into my skin throughout the day.

Hand Massage

My treats weren’t over as before I left Pami gave me a hand massage using the Aveda Hand relief moisturising cream. I could live on the smell of this tube alone, it’s a real pick me up and whenever I use it I swear the smell is doing just as much work as the cream penetrating my poor dry hands.

Cost

All the treatments are free and they have some wonderful Christmas gift ideas for any family member who loves a special treat.

aveda gifts

Soaking salts – Stress Fix

I don’t often bath preferring to shower but the smell of these is divine bath a luxurious experience indeed. A fabulous gift for any bath lover indeed.

Botanical Kinetics Energising eye cream

Love, love, love this; not a strong smell but diminishes dark circles and puffiness.

Smooth Infusion – nourishing styling creme

For styling your hair, Aveda have a wonderful range of hair products.

Dry remedy – daily moisturising oil

This lotion promises to instantly moisturise your hair, the brittle hair and ends, place a couple of drops on your fingers and work through the ends. It’s wonderful. It’s one of those products you know are doing more than just treating your hair.

Disclosure: I was invited to the new Aveda salon at Bluewater and sent the above mentioned products for the purpose of this post, all words and opinions are my own.

 

 

berries on bushes

Did you know? According to ancient folklore if there are lots of berries on bushes in the autumn, it is likely to be a cold winter.

Have you seen how many berries are on the bushes this year? Hundreds of them, thousands even. Bushes are groaning under the weight of the super crop this year. We all need to wrap up warm this winter.

I walk the twins to school so, if it’s raining I want a coat that will keep me dry, if it’s cold I want a coat that will keep me warm and on top of that I want to look stylish too as now, three days a week, I hop into my car after dropping the kids off and go to work, so looks matter more these days.

Blacks, One of Britain’s best outdoor wear companies is collaborating with Sprayway, let me tell you a little bit about Sprayway because it’s really interesting and the kind of story that makes me proud to be British.

Sprayway history

sprayway postcards

Think 1974, think the Manchester area and think two competitive dinghy sailing enthusiasts. They quickly realise that the high quality performance clothing they want and need will have to be made by them as there is nothing on the market that is suitable.

In 1980 they supplied the kit for the pioneering expedition Everest attempt by Doug Scott, Pete Boardman and John Tasker

1982 saw the brand launch its first GORE-TEX jacket and a year later it became the first to machine tape non-GORE-TEX waterproof clothing, christened the Hydro-dry range.

1995 they supplied the kit to Alison Hargreaves who became the first woman to climb Everest along without oxygen tanks.

In 2001, they supplied the kit to Keiron Machenzie who climbed Everest via the North Ridge

Not just Everest

I told you it was a cool story didn’t I? Well now Sprayway have partnered with Blacks to create an exclusive range for this season, They asked me to review one from the range and give my honest opinion, I took a look at the Blacks Sprayway range online and decided on the navy blue parka to see me through the winter.

In fact I was able to wear it recently when the family came over from Italy and I nipped into the garden to pick the apples off the tree with Evan my grandson. Sadly the apples were very small this year and not the best crop but we had fun picking them and they tasted sweet too.

sprayway parka picking apples

Since they returned to Italy the weather has turned colder and I am now wearing my parka daily on the school run which then turns into walking the dog once the girls are through the gate. I can report that it is very comfortable and has lots of pockets, which is great as I no longer need to take a bag with me, I have phone and keys in one pocket, ‘pooh bags’ and ‘good Boy treats in another pocket.

So far it has kept me warm and dry and I’m looking forward to putting the Sprayway coat through it’s paces as the weather gets harsher.

Although a smart casual coat, I find it’s totally acceptable to wear into the office too.

This parka costs £130 and if you take a look at it online you might think, like I did before a closer look, that it’s Nicole Scherzinger modelling it. Mind you there’s something about the model that reminds me of her, what do you think?

Husband: Whilst you’re on Blacks, take a look at walking boots for me, I need a new pair.

sprayway parka hood

Disclosure: I was sent the Sprayway parka shown above for the purpose of this reveiw, all opinions are my own.

london street art tour

A couple of weeks ago I went for an interview.

If I had £1 for every time I have refreshed my inbox since I’d be rich.

“We’ll get back to you at the end of next week.’

‘A whole week?’ I thought to myself. ‘Wonderful.’ I replied to my interviewer as I smiled at her, embracing myself for a very long wait.

I’m going to have to keep myself very busy next week. I told myself, happy I had a plan of attack to break up the waiting game.

 

It is the classical dream job, the one I could throw myself at 100%. The job I am ready for.

It hadn’t been a decision taken lightly to put myself forward. I last worked, like ‘proper’ work, in 2007 and was made redundant when I was only 10 weeks pregnant with the twins. To go back to work full time or part time would mean I’d have to organise childcare, dogcare, housework, shopping and all manner of daily routines I take for granted. Right now I can nip in and out of the house as and when I please. I can move work commitments around to fit in with our life.

Do I really want to go back to work and give up this freedom?

Yes.

 

There was the CV issue. I haven’t written a CV in 8 years, have they changed? I liaised with some friends, I wrote one up and sent it off.

A reply.

They were interested and asked me to complete some tasks for them.

My first reaction was horror! Tasks? Where do I start? Can I even do this?

I put the tasks to one side ignoring them as hard as I could and made up my mind it would be the end of the road for me but then one late afternoon, I picked up the printed document, read it properly and started to think. I got swept away, the more I thought the more ideas kept coming. I had pieces of paper all over the place, I had notes in three different books, bookmarked pages on the internet and I was a whirl of information, a smiling whirl of information.

I liked this.

One week later, I sent off my completed tasks, happy with my work. Well sort of, there were areas that could have done with extra input but time didn’t allow me. I should have started earlier rather than panicking!

 

An email.

The offer of an interview.

‘Yes, yes, I would love to, thank you.’

Oh my, was I too gushing? Should I have gone back with a curt, thank you? Would that have been more professional?

Just be yourself. A friend kindly advised.

An interview. What shall I wear? Of course my wardrobe was offering up NOTHING suitable. I would have to shop.

Online searching, skirt – not too short, not too frumpy. Blue? Nice, I like blue. I ordered it in my size, knee length.

It arrived along with the blouse, shoes and tights to go with it but horror of horrors, it’s a MINI skirt. It didn’t look like that in the catalogue NEXT!

I took it all back and rummaged around in the wardrobe. I found something suitable. I relaxed.

Actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t relax. I started to fret. I didn’t sleep well on the run up, dreaming all sorts of tragedies. I spent an entire night in and out of a dream where I had lost my new phone! It was exhausting.

 

I arrived early and spent an hour with my interviewer. That’s got to be good right?

I had researched top questions asked in interviews and husband would test me whilst we did the dishes, ‘So why do you want this job?’ ‘Where do you see yourself in 3/5 years time Marianne?’

‘We have another couple of people to interview.’ 

“We’ll get back to you at the end of next week.’ 

I didn’t want to go. I wanted to find my place at a desk and start to work but I couldn’t.

I left the building praying that I would soon be back.

I sent a thank you note; short, sweet and thanking. I could have written tons more but I held myself back.

Was that a good decision? Maybe they think I’m begging? Maybe I look a bit needy now. Is that professional?

 

It’s the end of the week, Friday afternoon. Will I hear today?

It’s after office hours, no email.

I’m going to clear out the small bedroom upstairs, Tommy is coming over next week with the family. If I don’t get the job at least I can enjoy the family being here.

If I don’t get the job, I could start writing that book.

If I don’t get the job I could decorate our bedroom, clear out the cupboard under the stairs….

 

It’s midweek of the following week.

An email.

‘Sorry this is taking so long, we have more interviews this week, we’ll be in touch soon.’

A sigh of relief – it’s not a NO.

A panic – it’s not a yes.

I write a reply, I rewrite a reply. I cross bits out and add bits in. Will they like it? Will I look needy, desperate? I am desperate! I desperately want this job, it’s mine. I reread my email, reword some bits and click send holding my breath.

Then I panic about it. Shouldn’t have sent it. Should have sent it.

Oh well, too late to change now.

More people to interview. Younger people, knowledgeable, savvy people.

Oh this waiting game is stretching my nerves to breaking point.

Tommy and his family arrive, I am distracted. We are busy catching up, going out and eating together, there is lots of eating. I start to cook with an intense passion. My son and his girlfriend will think I am am a supercook!

 

It’s Monday.

A phone call … it’s them!!!

They are offering me a job. I accept.

I’m going back to work.

I have nothing to wear. I must go and shop.

 

Note to the reader: The above is all true and soon I will be able to say much more; who I am working for and what it all entails but for now I am bound to keep quiet. One way I kept myself busy on a particularly LONG Friday was composing this post. I am very excited about the next chapter in my life and what it will bring. Life in Mari’s World will take on a new shape, I hope you’ll join me on the next chapter too and I hope you enjoyed this creative writing which I have been missing for so long.

Philippe Streicher - Hello Sunshine

 

In the early days of blogging there were quite a few memes going around and it was fun to join in, link up to your friends and share bits about yourself that you normally wouldn’t write about. It’s been a LONG time coming but Sally at Life Loving Blog tagged me in her Sunshine Award and I’ve really enjoyed taking part.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

For those who don’t know, here are the rules –

You acknowledge and thank the nominating blogger with a link to their website and then answer the questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

You then must list 11 bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love! (You can’t nominate the blogger who nominated you.) Let the 11 bloggers know that you have nominated them. (I’m going to go for five bloggers)

sunshine blogger award

Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer.

Here are Sally’s questions –

What would be your dream job?

After years of learning my trade I am ready to put all the skills I’ve picked up along the way to a bigger and better use. I think I would thrive in an office as part of a team working to specific goals, I’m good at working to deadlines and miss the company that an office can provide.

Tea or coffee?

I’m a huge fan of tea. I like a builders brew and no sugar. I cannot believe that my oldest daughter puts three teaspoons in hers, I picked up her mug by mistake once and it was disgusting.

What’s your favourite song?

I used to say Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins and it still remains one of my favourites but I do love Uptown Funk at the moment, it really makes me smile.

Who inspires you?

So many people. Bloggers I read, my mother, friends of mine for all sorts of different reasons. Strangers walking down the street. I seem to get inspiration from everywhere and if I start on Pinterest that’s it. I’m gone.

What’s your favourite ever board game?

As a kid I wrote down the game Mousetrap on my christmas list every single year and never got it once so I’m still hankering after that but I loved playing Cluedo with my brothers as I was growing up and enjoy playing it now with the twins. Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick!

Where in the world would you most like to travel to?

Mexico. I’ve been saying it for years, I really want to see the ruins and learn more about the country. I will get there one day, I’m just having to wait a LONG time.

What’s the dish you are best at cooking at?

Tricky one. Difficult to answer because I love cooking and am always trying something new. I guess my slow cooker is my favourite ‘gadget’ as it is so versatile and cooks up an amazing stew. I love roast dinners and pasta is a family favourite too. Ohh and pies, I love my Beef in Guinness recipe Sorry no specific answer to that!

Theatre or cinema?

Both. I love both but a theatre experience is so all encompassing, we really enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory recently. I can get just as lost in a good film though. Maleficent has been one of my most recent favourites

Do you prefer spring or autumn?

I can answer this one – Spring! Definitely spring. I love that the days start to get longer, the temperatures start to warm up, the clothes I wear become lighter and there is more sunshine in my day. This makes me happy and start dreaming of the summertime.

What is your favourite ever book?

Oh blimey! How can I narrow that one down? I loved Nancy Drew as a kid. I adored The House of the Spirits by Isabell Allende, I adore anything by Paolo Coelho and recently I have read some great books on my Kindle including a few by Liane Moriarty. I have a huge list!

Describe your dream date night/day.

I have a meal and night at Malmaison on my list at the moment, just the hubster and me and I’ve just had note that the girls may be going on a Brownie weekender in the new year so this may come true after all! If we’re talking, like BIG dreams here, then why not make a full weekend of it, I’d like to walk through Oxford and take in the local sites. Explore the town and get a feel for it.

My turn to tag and I’m going for

Not Supermum

Older Single Mum

Seasider in the City

Romanian Mum

Juggle Mum

Mummy Matters

My questions

  1. What was your dream job growing up?
  2. What is your favourite food?
  3. If you could keep only five possessions what would they be?
  4. What are your top three favourite books and why?
  5. What are you most afraid of?
  6. What is a skill you’d like to learn and why?
  7. If you could get away with a crime, would you? And what would it be?
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  9. If you could live forever, how would you spend eternity?
  10. In what ways do you hold yourself back?
  11. What’s your greatest achievement and how has it shaped you?