12 years, though. 12 whole years! I can’t actually believe it’s been that long since I sat at my enormous, clunky computer in that little house down a long drive in County Dublin and listened to it making that weird, warbly dial-up sound connecting to our bloody awful internet connection. They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and for me, my journey really began when I started writing down my thoughts about moving our young family to Ireland. This led on to being a part of the very early blogging community in Ireland, and from there – well, you know the rest! And what better way to celebrate with you than with cake and sprinkles, and to give you, dearest reader, the most precious of gifts: the best vanilla cupcake recipe I own!
You don’t have to be ‘scared of flying’ to be a nervous traveller. There are all sorts of different reasons why you might not particularly like flying: it might be a dislike of large crowds or being squished into places with lots of strangers (this is mine), meeting new people, the feeling of being trapped in an enclosed space, food allergies or preferences that can be difficult to manage when you’re away from home… it all adds up to feeling like you’re not in control of your own destiny, and that can feel unpleasant and make anyone feel anxious. I don’t actually mind flying at all – for me, it’s an opportunity to sit back, chill out, watch a film or two, read a big pile of magazines and not look at my phone for a few hours, but I do know that travelling can be a whole lot easier if you have a few simple techniques up your sleeve. Here are my top tips for nervous flyers:
Just four short weeks ago, I told you about my plans for 2018, and more specifically my plans for January. Over this month, using the super useful Drinkaware app, I’ve set goals, logged every glass of wine (and every gin), noted every unit and every calorie, every drink-free day and lot of other associated stuff. And now, as we’re finally saying goodbye to January (or should I say good riddance?), there’s time to reflect upon how it’s gone, the lessons I’ve learned, the bits I’ll take with me into the rest of the year, and the bits I’ll leave behind. And so, in no particular order, here are my thoughts:
How’s your January going? If you read my healthy plan for 2018, you’ll know that I’m determined to be more healthy this month (and hopefully carrying on for the entire year), to foster a healthier respect for alcohol, break the habit of my after dinner glass or two of wine and eat a much healthier diet, with a lot less meat and sweet treats. How am I getting on? Well, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, but I think I’m on the right track. Read on for my thoughts so far on my Drinkaware month – an update on my mission to break bad habits and foster new, healthy ones.
Grief is a funny thing. Initially after losing my Dad (what a silly term – we didn’t mislay him, like a missing phone or a set of keys), we were all in shock. I’m a terrible cryer at the best of times (RSPCA adverts, Cinderella Castle, fireworks, Disney songs, people singing in choirs, people singing Disney songs in choirs, puppies, sad films, stubbed toes…) so the first few days were just basically spent surrounded by a sea of soggy tissues. We would all be okay then one of us would start and set all the others off again. After a while, though, I kind of felt like I was all cried out, and we could think and talk and reminisce about him without as many tears. And then the weirdness set in. I’ve found myself obsessing about teeny, tiny details: exactly what flowers and foliage are going to be in our wreath (pale yellow roses – he loved a bit of yellow – lots of eucalyptus, please, and absolutely none of that frondy asparagus stuff) and – here’s the big one: what do you wear to a funeral? If you follow my Facebook page, you’ll know that we’ve been having chats about it online, and people have been so kind and helpful, giving me all sorts of suggestions (which of course set me off crying again), but I still can’t make my mind up.
Yes, I know I usually do a weekend wishlist, but I’ve got a lovely bit of baking for you this weekend, so I thought I’d mix things up a bit and bring you a weekday wishlist instead. If you’ve read my last couple of posts about my plans for 2018, you’ll know that I’m trying hard to look after and nourish my body, cut down on alcohol, eat healthily and get back into my running. On Monday, I deleted my Couch to 5k app details and then started it again from the beginning. I quickly realised, though, that I had actually made some progress and didn’t need to stop and walk. I ended up running the whole week 1 run 1 and although I ached the next day, I felt a huge sense of achievement. I’m going to carry it on, but one thing I really need is some decent new running gear. Happily, there’s a great selection of gorgeous M&S activewear, so I’m going to treat myself to some lovely new stuff. Here are a few bits that caught my eye:
So you’ll probably have seen that Erica and I have updated the positive life plan for 2018. I do hope you’ve decided to join in, whether throwing yourself in wholeheartedly, or just jotting down a few things that you want to change this year or some goals that you might have. It did make me smile that after promising myself a healthy, alcohol free New Year, my Dad went and tested me by popping his clogs on New Year’s Day. Many of you knew what he was like and will know that he’d have laughed heartily to himself about that. So, on to my plans for 2018, then.
Have you seen Trainwreck? There’s a scene in the film where Amy Schumer’s character is giving a eulogy to her father at his funeral. I watched it on a plane and laughed so hard when she said ‘raise your hand if our Dad ever offended you’ and everyone put their hand up. This would literally be me at my Dad’s funeral, I thought. Haha. You never imagine it actually happening though, do you? But then yesterday, at 10.30 am on New Year’s Day 2018, he died, peacefully, with his wife Allison holding his hand. This huge, larger than life character, such a force in my life, is no more. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone…
I adore Christmas. I’m a planner and a note-maker, and always need to have something to look forward to, so for me, the build up is one of my favourite parts: choosing and wrapping special gifts, planning and buying all the food, decorating the house with scented candles and twinkling lights… it all makes me really happy . We had a gorgeous Christmas this year, and rounded off the season with a small New Year’s Eve gathering with some of our favourite people. Now, though, I’m already wanting the decorations down, the house clean and tidy again, and I’ll be raring to dive headfirst into this squeaky clean, fresh and sparkly New Year. One of the first things I’ll be doing is opening a lovely new notebook and creating my positive life plan for 2018.
Last week, I was invited to travel up to the Phi Clinic in London’s Harley Street (I know!) to try out a brilliant new skin treatment that promises a healthy glow for tired, winter skin. If, like me, you’re just starting to think about diving in to the world of aesthetic treatments (see my post on Botox here), this one could definitely be for you. Here’s everything you need to know about new Juvéderm Volite, the latest in innovative injectable skin treatments.
You know that friend: she always looks amazing, even just in jeans, and of course she has a lovely, welcoming home, a gorgeous wardrobe and impeccable taste, and that all just makes festive pressie buying a bit – well – difficult! I came across this very dilemma recently when the lovely chaps at John Lewis asked if I’d like to do a pressie swap with the effortlessly stylish Sara, who writes the beautiful lifestyle blog, Notes from a Stylist. I mean, ARGH! Luckily, not only is Sara very lovely and friendly, but it turns out we also have lots in common: teenage kids, yummy food (bring on the roast dinners), a love of interiors, stationery, twinkly things, beautiful flowers and lovely smells. Of course, there are also things we don’t have in common: mostly the fact that I have no style whatsoever, which is why I was reading her blog and following her in the first place – to pick up some tips. So how on earth do you choose festive gifts for a stylish friend? Well…
So that’s it, Alcohol Awareness week is over, and I promised to tell you about how I got on with my challenge to stick to the recommended weekly guidelines: that’s 14 units a week, spread across the week, evenly over three or more days with a couple of alcohol free days. I continued to keep a track of my units with the help of the Drinkaware app, and alongside it, kept a diary of what I had to drink and the circumstances in which I was drinking. Here are a few things I learned:
So last week I told you a little about my relationship with alcohol, and my Drinkaware challenge during Alcohol Awareness Week to stick to the recommended weekly guidelines: that’s 14 units a week, spread across the week, evenly over three or more days with a couple of alcohol free days. Last week, I also kept an alcohol diary, with the help of the Drinkaware app (and the notes on my phone to record the actual circumstances). Here’s how I got on:
It’s that time of year when we all seem to be more susceptible to colds and sniffles. Of course, there are obvious things we should do to avoid catching other people’s colds, like washing our hands, keeping surfaces clean (especially if you have kids who seem bring everything back from school (remember those door handles!) and avoiding touching our faces. If the worst comes to the worst, though, and you find yourself battling the common cold, what should you do? Here are my top tips, shared in partnership with family favourite decongestant oil brand, Olbas:
How’s your relationship with alcohol? I’d say that mine’s… complicated. When we were younger, I was always the one who would volunteer to drive. I’m naturally quite chatty and happy, and it didn’t occur to me that I needed to drink alcohol to have a good time, therefore I was generally the designated driver, and happy enough with it. Now, we don’t tend to go out much, so our drinking is done at home, and this has increased steadily over time. Add to this the fact that we really love our wine, to the point that I write about it and we even invest in it, and you’ll see why our alcohol consumption has steadily grown. Next week, 13th to 19th November is Alcohol Awareness Week, and I’ve been thinking a little bit about how (and why) I drink. It’s been an interesting time…
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and just to make it extra special, this year is the 25th anniversary of the pink ribbon. Breast cancer will affect one in eight women in their lifetimes, and at the moment, one person is being diagnosed every 10 minutes, so it’s really important that we all come together and raise as much money as we can. Loads of brilliant brands have teamed up with breast cancer charities to provide opportunities for you to donate while you shop, and with Christmas coming up (67 days, folks!), it’s a really good time to get a start on your Christmas shopping, and do something brilliant for a great cause. Here’s my Breast Cancer Awareness Month roundup. Read more
- Weekend wishlist: new season trends are landing! August 11, 2018
- Houses and scare zones at Halloween Horror Nights 2018 August 10, 2018
- Our tips for making the leap to university August 9, 2018
- Cruising with friends: our P&O Cruises Oceana adventure August 7, 2018
- Weekend wishlist: REN skincare deals and discount codes August 4, 2018