Margate street art

I love Hello Canvas and when I saw the effects of their latest ideas for displaying family photos, I had to purposely go out and take a great image, the perfect image for an HD Metal frame.

Luckily for me our time spent in Thanet allows for the discovery of a lot of artwork, the Turner Contemporary is a huge favourite of mine – I popped into the latest exhibition this weekend – Every day is a new day and was wowed by the sculptures and paintings. I also love to stroll the streets of Margate, I always find some street art or quirky detail that surprises and delights me. It was in fact, on parking the car that I spotted the mural above and asked dad and the kids to stand in front for a photo opportunity.

I also took a photo of the mural with nobody in it and that is the one I decided on to place on HD metal.

When the artwork came through I was so excited to see how well it turned out. I knew it would work wonderfully in the girl’s bedroom in our new holiday home and couldn’t wait to put it up.

What is HD metal?

HD metal wall art

HD metal is a thin aluminium plate with a coating on top. Your image is applied onto it and the results are sharp, strong, eye-catching quality that really gives images a wow factor that I have not seen before. HD metal is scratch resistant and waterproof – they say it can be used outside but I’m keeping mine inside.

I went for the high gloss version but there is a matt version available too.

The finished product is incredibly light – I hung mine with Command velcro stickers. It is strong and the colours are intense. It comes with a frame on the back which keeps it off the wall giving the impression of depth.

 

The only problem I had with my new wall art was taking a photo of it, you see the high gloss finish reflects the light, so with the window behind me, I kept seeing my silouhette reflected in the picture. Not good when you want to take a serious photo!

I went for something bright and quirky but I imagine black and white would work extremely well too.

I’m really pleased our little holiday home is starting to look more and more like a home these days and a place where we all like to go to and spend some quality time together. Watch out for our Thanet Uncovered posts to find out where we go and what we get up to.

Disclosure: Hello Canvas gifted me this artwork in return for this blog post. All opinions are my own.

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.

Leetchi online money pots

Leetchi is the new buzz word for collecting money from groups of people, Leetchi.com is in fact, online money pots.

There is always a collection doing the rounds at work, we have three January birthdays in our department alone, a colleague leaving for her maternity leave and another leaving to go to another company. Then I am part of various groups online and sometimes we have collections for Secret Santa, for friends in need and for birthday gifts too.

If I am honest I have never put myself forward very often to organise these money collections as it’s always a bit of a headache, using my personal PayPal to collect the funds and purchase any gifts out of it. It would be so much easier if there was a specific place to collect the money so it kept it separate from my own funds.

Leetchi.com is the answer. It allows you a fast, easy and secure way to pooling money together into one online money pot. You can then use it for anything and everything. You can support local charities or individuals in need.

leetchi online money pots

 

The fact that 6 million people are already using the platform speaks volumes.

How does it work?

leetchi online money pots

In just a few clicks a user can create a personalised money pot online and invite their friends, family and other groups of people to contribute. Each person can chip in to a money pot simply using their bank card. Once the needed money has been raised, Leetchi.com users can spend their money pot as they please: online on partner sites (100% free), ask for a bank transfer (2.9% fee for transfers above £2000 and 4% below) or offer the electronic money pot directly to the beneficiary.

save money pots

Public online money pots

Are you fundraising, or do you just want to see who is fundraising for whom and donate as and when you please? Leetchi.com have an excellent, safe way to raise funds online that cover all manner of topics, take the King family, their house burnt down and neighbours, family and friends created a pot to help them get back on their feet. If you take a look at the public money pots you’ll find pots for people facing unfair trials with 12 years imprisonment, people fighting cancer, Soul food kitchen for the hungry and homeless. There are pots upon pots of collections to choose from.

I think this is an excellent idea and especially useful for friends and families placed in different countries or even counties. It makes the joining in that much easier.

Find Leetchi online on Facebook and Twitter if you want to find out more @LeetchiUK

Disclosure: this post is in collaboration with leetchi.com all opinions are my own.

 

UncommonGoods

If you are like me when you choose to give a gift you like to give something a little bit different to the normal products that can be found everywhere. A gift that someone will notice because it is unusual and of course they will enjoy for that simple reason. I have been on the hunt for a website full of great gift ideas.

Great gift ideas

It’s not an easy job finding something a little different from usual, it can take long searches on internet, word of mouth or pot luck so when UncommonGoods got in touch and asked me to take a look at their site I was very pleased to discover a whole new world of excellent gift ideas. And a whole lot of products that I would love for my home too.

We know that there’s a story behind every product. It’s that of an emerging designer just introducing her work to the world; artisans working collaboratively in a low income country; or a seasoned artist crafting each of his pieces by hand. With your help, we’re building a community of passionate people who love our products and connect with the stories behind them. We’re growing not only our artist family, but also a strong following of customers who celebrate artists and delight in surrounding themselves with creative design.

Anniversary gifts

Our 4th anniversary is coming up in March and my husband is really good (surprisingly) at making the most wonderful presents. I took a look at the products UncommonGoods list to give as anniversary presents and I was pleasantly surprised at the vast selection from a wide price range to suit all pockets.

UncommonGoodsI love this print by Rachel Kroh, I love that there is also a bio to read up about Rachel and discover her background. This makes the product that little bit more special for me. It would be perfect for our caravan in Thanet

great gift ideas

Another idea that would be perfect for Paul and I as he drinks beer and I like a glass of wine . I love how they have been personalised.

Birthday gifts

great gift ideas

Then I had a peek at the fabulous birthday gifts and the first one I fell in love with was the Birthstone Wishing Ball, a crystal ball that looks beautiful on the desktop and is filled with wishes inserted into it via a tiny hole in the base…Each shimmering ball of hand-blown glass comes with 52 tiny slips of paper for you to pause once a week throughout the year and record a message of hope or gratitude. Coil them up and tuck them in the tiny hole near the base and they become a permanent part of the display.

great gift ideasThis Beer Cap display would make an excellent present for my husband and one I’m keeping bookmarked.

Home Decor

Lastly I took a look at the home decor section – always a favourite of mine. I was thrilled to see lots of items for the home like candles, key holders and doormats, each item with something a little bit different, a little bit more personal and hopefully more exciting to receive.

UncommonGoodsOne product that really made me smile was this cloud toilet paper holder, a real cool addition to a bathroom.

Take a look for yourself, but be warned you may lose hours on there.

Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with UncommonGoods all opinions are my own.