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.

pure-cashmere-poncho

This 50 lark is making me look at myself in a new light. There are certain looks I don’t want to be associated with and I am constantly exploring the new me, the me that is 50, confident, energetic and still has a passion for fashion and looking good. My search so far has thrown up ponchos, a pure cashmere poncho and I am delighted with it.

I will admit I struggle to leave the comfort of my jeans and t shirt combo as they are so comfortable, plus they are accepted anywhere these days. Dress them up, dress them down, they work for so many different occasions. I find I have even slipped into jeans on work days in the office because most of the other colleagues wear them too.

Now I have found a new way to wear my favourite combo and that is with a cashmere poncho.

pure-cashmere-poncho

The thought of a poncho may make you shudder and think ‘old lady’ but I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you see this one from Woolovers, it’s a beautifully crafted garment that adds an extra layer that is not too heavy and allows you freedom of movement at the same time.

This pure cashmere poncho comes in 6 lovely shades. I went for the Dove Grey and I like to wear it over a white or black top with jeans.

The beauty of cashmere is it has a timeless elegance to it and will never go out of fashion. It can be folded neatly like a scarf and tucked away easily in a handbag. In fact this would be the perfect piece for travelling, on an aeroplane or coach where the air conditioning is a bit too cold for example.

It will be perfect for those summer evenings when there is a slight chill in the air and it is perfect for these winter evenings indoors where you just need that extra light layer to start you off.

pure-cashmere-poncho

The poncho is a long rectangle sewn together with just an opening large enough for your head to pop through, by laying it gently around your shoulders you can gain a layered effect and a pair of earrings or a beautiful necklace will set it off perfectly.

Take a look for yourselves and if you don’t fancy cashmere take a look at the cashmere and merino blend or the lambswool version, all are beautiful

Disclosure: I was sent a beautiful pure cashmere poncho for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own.

Photo credit: Alice Weekes (apart from the selfie)

JD Williams winter coat

Now there’s a title I never thought I’d write but the time has come and boy is it getting hot in here! The menopause symptoms are here and it’s time to share the knowledge.

This year I turned 50. That’s no secret, I have tried to embrace this number as much as I can but I won’t lie, it still scares me and I still think of it as old. Said that, I am still battling on and trying my best to live life to its fullest. In actual fact my life has never been busier and more fulfilling.

One thing I have kept secret though, is the menopause as the very word seems to have an air of ‘disapproval’ about it. No one talks about it. It’s like a dirty word and something to be swept under the carpet.

I find this a bit weird if I am honest. I have had regular periods every month of my life since I was 11 and I haven’t enjoyed one of them, oh apart from those times I thought I may be pregnant when I seriously didn’t want to be pregnant. I have always looked on this part of being a woman as a pain, something to endure and I’ve been waiting since I had the twins for it all to finish.

I am fully appreciative of the fact that I was ‘lucky’. I had regular cycles, regular ovulation and therefore was able to get pregnant and today, I have four beautiful children as a result. But there were painful months, frightening months, heavy months and months when my period would last way longer than the normal 4/5 days.

However, I am pleased to announce my last period was in August, let’s have a fanfare, balloons and party!

Four months with no cycle, can you imagine how wonderful that is? No more sore boobs, no erratic mood swings (well maybe a few, ahem). No pains in my back or in my tummy, no headaches and of course no blood, that has to be the very best part. I am still prepared and carry around the necessary in my handbag just in case, but I’ve not had to buy any sanitary items for four months now.

However, on the down side of this magnificent milestone comes a lot of brand new symptoms that my body is having to get to grips with.

Menopause symptoms

Hot Flushes

menopause symptoms

Credit: Women over 50/Facebook

These are pure fire. There is no mistaking a hot flush and I have got so good at recognising when one is on its way that I can start to strip and prepare before the onslaught. To have an idea of what a hot flush is like, this is how I experience one. I start to feel hot, I wriggle a bit in my clothing and take off a layer if I can, luckily it’s winter and I am normally wearing a cardigan. I then feel the flush travel, my entire back heats up as if I am resting against an oven door, my neck is hot and starts to sweat, my face starts to sweat, I start to rub the sweat most likely removing any make up I happen to be wearing and I start to pin my hair up so cool air can reach the back of my neck. My chest is hot, my thighs are hot, my feet are hot. Then as quickly as it started, it disappears. I replace my socks and my cardigan, lower my hair and thank my body that it has passed. That is a hot flush and they can be quite frequent on certain days.

Night Sweats

menopause symptoms

Credit: Women over 50/Facebook

As autumn approached this year and the temperatures dropped I changed our lovely light 4.5 tog duvet for the winter one envisioning long winter nights snuggled up underneath, nice and cosy. Last month I gave up and reverted back to the summer duvet! A night sweat is like a hot flush but happens when you are sleeping and blissfully unaware so you are woken in a pool of your own sweat, throwing back the covers, opening the windows and stripping out of your pyjamas. It’s like someone turned the thermostat up to 100C.

Shivering

Another symptom of the menopause is shivering and usually alternates with hot flushes. Picture a woman sitting down for a nice evening on the sofa, she starts to shiver and drags a throw over her to warm up, she grabs a nice hot cup of tea and settles only to be disturbed by an oncoming hot flush. Put down the tea, take off the throw, strip socks, cardigans and anything else that can be easily removed. The shivering is just as irritating as a hot flush as it seems you are cold through to the core.

Loss of libido

Hot Flash

Credit: women over 50/Facebook

I was hoping they were lying when I first read this symptom but they are not. However, do not despair, it’s not like it’s over for good, it’s just not top of your priority list any more. I find a hard week at work, challenging children, extra homework and the normal run to run of the family home is sometimes enough to make me just want to fall into the deepest sleep once I hit the mattress so it’s very hard to pinpoint a loss of libido amongst all of that.

Mood Swings

Another one difficult to pinpoint and blame on the menopause, after all I have been having mood swings since my periods started. Having said that, I did have enormous rage yesterday for the most trivial of reasons (we argued about putting the rubbish out and I sent a text in capital letters later on to state my case – unnecessary but hey ho). My problem with rage is I don’t recognise it until it has passed and then I nod and say, ‘Ah, rage again!’ I just wish I could spot this before and therefore eliminate it.

menopause

Credit: women after 50/Facebook

 

I think the most important thing to keep in mind whilst journeying through the menopause is to be aware and embrace the moment; it’s going to come so learn how to manage it to the best of your abilities.

Products to help

promensil

I was sent a couple of products by Promensil about a month ago, a spray that is used during a hot flush as it pulls the heat to the surface of the skin which I have found to be very helpful indeed. It smells nice too. The second product is a box of tablets with isoflavones from red clover, one of the world’s richest sources of isoflavoes. These tablets, taken once a day help maintain a good general health as well as bone and cholesterol health. I love the spray and have been taking the tablets although I am very forgetful. I think it’s something I shall continue with for the health benefits.

promensil

Disclosure: Promensil sent me the products mentioned, all opinions are my own.