February’s Reading List 

At the start of the year I set myself a few personal goals. One of those goals is to get back into reading by finishing up 26 books throughout 2018. 

So far I’ve finished two books;

Helen Forrester Lime Street at Two 

Paige Toon All about the hype 

Both of these books are part of mini series’ that I have now finished. They are very different but both equally great reads. Let me know if you would be interested in a book review on either of these. 

In order to stay on track and keep myself accountable I have decided to share my monthly reading list here on the blog. 

These are the books I plan to read in February; 

Paige ToonThe one we fell in love with 

Paige Toon is my favourite author. I received this book from my husband for Christmas… I just haven’t got round to reading it yet 

Jo-Jo MoyesAfter You 

I read Me Before You last year and really enjoyed it. It’s about time I read the sequel then. I also have the book on loan from my little sister so need to hurry up and give it back to her. 

I’m open to pushing my reading comfort zone so if you have any suggestions for books that you think I should be adding to my reading list please leave them in the comment section.

5 things that happened when I stopped eating refined sugar 

For the past 30 days I have been taking part in a challenge to remove junk from my diet including things like crisps, cakes and anything that contains added or refined sugar. 

People that know me well will appreciate how much of a challenge this has been for me. The first few days of this were tough. I had a withdrawal headache and was cranky because I couldn’t eat what I wanted. 

Fortunately I am part of a 30 day challenge group on Facebook, and my husband has also been on this challenge so there has been plenty of support. 

Now  at the end of this challenge I thought I would share the five things that I have discovered since giving up the sugar. 

  1. At the beginning of my sugar detox I felt really hungry. I started having to look at food in a different way. I am now looking at food for its nutritional benefits and its ability to keep me full.    For example at breakfast I am now eating overnight oats made with natural greek yogurt and berries rather than a cereal bar. My sugar levels are no longer spiking and then slumping. I have so much more energy and no longer have a dreadful late afternoon slump. 
  2. My skin is looking clearer. I can’t give you a scientific reason for this, it just does. I am definitely a vain person so this is enough for me to make a go of sticking to a sugar free diet. 
  3. Now that the natural flavours of food are no longer masked with sugar it tastes so much better. I’m really beginning to appreciate food again. Fruit like grapes and strawberries taste amazing and are enough to satisfy my usual post meal need for a sweet fix. Home made sweet potato crisps are heaven! 
  4. I have got used to the taste of food without added sugar. I can really taste hidden sugars in food. Simple things like a tin of baked beans taste really sweet. Too sweet In fact. I’ve now switched to Heinz No added sugar beans, which I hated before. 
  5. In a bid to avoid those hidden sugars I have made an effort to take a packed lunch to work. This has saved me money. Win Win! 

I know I will struggle to stick to a completely sugar free diet on long a term basis. There will always be the temptation to indulge In the odd bit of chocolate, particularly around my time of the month. Going forward though it is about making sensible choices. 

2017 – It’s been Bittersweet 

This time last year I felt a total sense of impending doom. I wasn’t really in the mood for Christmas and New Year festivities. I was coasting, just about getting through all the challenges I had in my day to day life, not really feeling that I had anything to look forward too. 

I knew 2017 was going to be a difficult one, you see my Mum was very very sick…..She was in fact dying. At this point though we still had hope. The Doctors hadn’t yet completely pulled the plug on her chemo. 

As far as we knew 2017 was going to be about looking after mum and making her comfortable for as long as she was with us. Little did we know at the time though mum would pass away just 3 weeks into the year. Mum was just 58 years old. She never got the chance to retire and do all those things she talked about doing in the future. 

Death is very final, that is the hardest thing to get used to. It’s knowing that you will never see or speak to that person again, regardless of how much you want to. I still have this dream where my Mum is not in fact dead, but just in hiding. What from I haven’t got a clue but that is my current recurring dream. 

So much has changed and happened in my life this year. I’m constantly wishing I could tell Mum just how well I’m doing. Alas I can’t. 

The irony is though had my Mum not passed away when she did, I probably would never have taken those chances that helped me to succeed. Mums death taught me that life is short, you only live once, you have to take risks to get what you want. What’s the worst that can happen? You fail and have to try again? Perhaps that is Mums lasting legacy? She left me with the confidence to go out and grab hold of what I’m wanting from life.

This new mentality has seen me promoted at work and opened exciting new doors. I’ve been challenged into facing my fears. Hello Motorway driving! I’m working more hours and harder than ever, but I’m happy. 

I used to bear a grudge towards my Husband because he was doing what he wanted with life. I think I saw myself as a bit of a maitre always putting the family first before my own happiness. In being brave enough to be a bit selfish towards my family we are all actually happier. Family time is less, it is however considered more valued. This year we have made the conscious effort to do more together. Even if it is just sitting down with the youngest and playing a board game. I’m focused on creating good memories with my family because that is what you have to cling onto when you lose a loved one. 

This importance of family has extended beyond my immediate household and we are now doing more things with our cousins, aunts and uncles. This years has seen a hilarious weekend trip to Ireland, Christmas dinner in a power cut and plans made for a girly weekend abroad. I’m currently looking forward to our annual New Years meal out, minus my little brother, who is seizing life by the balls,  and has just left to work in America for a month. 

Who knows what 2018 will bring? Life can be very unpredictable. It can be that little bit better if you can accept life for what it is, embrace challenge, and realise that just because one day is a little bit sucky the next isn’t necessarily going to be. 

My Sunday Photo

This was my Friday evening… It was a very abnormal evening for me… I sat on the living room floor and played Lego with my 10 year old. 

Here’s the thing, I can’t remember the last time I sat and played with one of my children. It probably would have been a game of Monopoly though? 

Usually when asked my response can vary from, ‘Im too tired’ or ‘I have jobs to do’. Worst of all I can find myself panicking at my complete lack of imagination. I sometimes feel Ive actually forgotten how to play. What was different this time though? 

We had just sat and watched Channel 5’s Rich House, Poor House and It really struck a cord with me. 

In this particular episode the Rich family had a huge disposable income. They worked crazy hours to achieve that. This meant they could provide their Kids with a Big house, expensive golf lessons, money to spend on whatever material possessions they wanted. Guess what though? They rarely spent any time together. Sitting down for a meal at the same time was unheard of. 

Swapping their lives with the ‘poor’ family forced them to live in closer proximity to one another and actually spend time together. The kids described the experience as having ‘had fun’ that week. 

Our family live a fairly average but comfortable life. My Husband and I work full time. Any free time we get is precious. We do try to take them for days out as often as possible. 

The kids don’t get everything they want but money isn’t a worry. They have a warm roof over their heads, clean clothes on their backs and don’t go hungry. They don’t have to miss out on school trips because we can’t afford it. That is unless it’s the annual letter home  about the bloody £900 ski trip. Yeah…not happening! 

My point though is that kids aren’t any happier for all the material stuff. It’s the quality time spent with them that makes them happy. Watching rich house, poor house reminded me of this. 

So when Jed asked me to play Lego with him on Friday evening, I squashed the initial ‘ughhh I’m too tied’ reaction. Jed was thrilled. Two hours of Lego building fun later I realised that I had also actually had fun. I will definitely be saying ‘Yes’ to play more often. 

Bringing Back The Photo Album 

When the first digital camera was invented back in 1975 it was heavy, slow and could only record black and white images. It was never intended for commercial use. In fact It took until 1990 for the first digital camera to be commercially available.

Originally it was  slow to catch on but the digital camera was to revolutionise how we took and viewed our photographs. No longer did we have to wait for our films to be developed and printed by a professional. Our photos could be instantly viewed, the unflattering ones deleted. All that excitement and urgency to get our hands on our photos was no longer. 

Today most of us have a smartphone that can instantly capture and share moments to social media. The need to print our images seems even less. 

I don’t know about you but I have years worth of digital images stored in virtual space not being appreciated. The missed opportunities of this was only reinforced by the death of my mother this year. I had a realisation that all I had left of my Mum were memories. I wanted something tangible to help hold onto them. 

It may sound overly dramatic but this was a bit of a wake up call for me. 

I am currently working on a little project to get all my favourite pictures printed and into albums. I am very aware that this is going to end up being a costly and time consuming project. It will be worth it though.

Currently I am using the FreePrints app available for iPhone to print those images from my phone, social media and Dropbox accounts. What’s helpful is that you get 45 free prints a month, only having to pay for postage. 

The quality of the prints are great and delivery is fast. I would love to leave a link but is it is app that isn’t possible. The icon though is a white butterfly on a blue background (see screenshot below).

For photo albums I like to use ring bound scrapbooks as I can really personalise the layout of each page. I can also add newspaper cuttings and tickets from events. I feel like I am creating something special for me to look back in years from now. 

My Sunday Photo | #2

My daughter will probably hate me for sharing this photo. To me though it shows her happy and relaxed, laughing with her Dad. He was teasing her about how much rent she will have to pay now she has joined the world of work. (None yet she is going to be on a very modest apprentices wage FYI) 

This photo was taken whilst out for dinner celebrating that fact. We had all just raised our glasses in a toast to her. 

Molly started her placement for her Hairdressing apprenticeship just this week. We also collected her GCSE results meaning that those final ties with school and childhood have begun to be cut. 

My baby is all grown up and that terrifies me. Last week saw the book shutting on one chapter of her life and another one opening. This will bring with it the independence that carving out her career and earning her own money is going to bring. 

It signifies that she is no longer a little girl who is going to be reliant on her parents for everything. I say that Laughing, because guess who does all her ironing and makes sure she comes home to a hot meal? Mummy and Daddy! 

Whilst I still can though I will. I can remember what a shock to the system working full time was.

Molly wasn’t the most academic of kids. She is very creative and ambitious though. After taking part in her Schools work experience scheme she found something she  knew she would enjoy, becoming a hairdresser. I’m proud that she has gone out and found herself the opportunity to fulfill this ambition. 

She had a few knock backs finding the right training route. The local College turned her down originally because her predictive grades weren’t strong enough. Unfazed Molly decided that an apprenticeship within a salon would be better for her. I’m 100% supportive of her decision. In the long run I think it will work out for the better. 

Ironically she did actually achieve the grades to get onto the College course she had applied for. She is no A* student but I’m proud of her achievements so far. 

Molly is at a very exciting and scary point in her life. Once she has finished her training there will be so many opportunities available to her. I hope she seizes everyone of them. 

My Sunday Photo 

I’ve seen quite a few other bloggers share a Sunday photo each week. This is usually accompanied by a little explanation of what is happening in that photo and what it means to them. I loved this idea so have decided to introduce this as a regular feature on Schoolrunbeauty.com.

Now my first photo is not a deep and meaningful family shot. Nope it basically demonstrates what a Plank I am. 

Yes Katy managed to set fire to the dinner this week! The downstairs of the house stank of smoke for about three days! 

In my defence I was knackered after a very busy day at work. I didn’t want to cook! I wanted a takeaway! Listening to the Husbands reasoning on why we really should be well behaved and cook, I got on with it. This is where it went very wrong!

Cooking pasta is piss easy. My ten year old can do it! Apparently my tired brain can’t though. I had put water on to boil, managed to switch on the wrong hob, of which I’d left a packet of pasta on. Queue the flames! Bang went my quiet five minutes to indulge in a cuppa. 

Did I get that much wanted takeaway? Nope. We now had a mess to clean up alongside trying to get something edible on the table. I’ve spent several days since trying to scrape melted plastic of the ceramic hob. Alas I think it’s probably ruined. Bugger! 

So moral of the story….I should shave got the Takeaway!!! 

2017 Bucket List Update

At the start of 2017 I created a list of the  17 things I wanted to do this year. I have actually managed to do a few things on that list. 

It’s is crazy to me that it is the end of July and we are officially over halfway through the 2017. Where has the year gone? 

So much has happened in such a relatively short space of time. My life now  is very different to what it was like at the start of the year. 

Some of those things have been amazing opportunities such as going full time and being promoted at work. Other things have been very sad such as loosing my mum back in January. It has been bittersweet.

I decided it was about time that I revisited the Bucket List and gave you a little up date on my progress. 
London Zoo 

Way back in April we visited London Zoo. I enjoyed seeing all the animals but also loved all the old architecture, many of which are listed buildings. The Giraffe house with its huge split doors was built in 1836. 

Catch a Wave 

I said I was going to embrace the sea this summer and catch a wave. Well yay for it being so warm in the run up to summer as it actually wasn’t that cold when we finally headed down to North Devon for our summer holiday. 
I tried out both bodyboarding and Surfing. The later is much harder and I still haven’t got up off my stomach. I have the bruised and scratched knees to prove though that I did  indeed catch and ride a wave. 

Not quite sure if I’m pulling of the surfer girl look? 

Try Avocado on Toast 

I’m counting this Smashed Avocado and Bacon on Sour dough toast, from Jamaica Blue in Chelmsford, as ticking something off my list. It’s not quite the super healthy blogger cliche version but this appealed to me much more. In fact I enjoyed it so much I’ve been back a couple of times. 

Read the Harry Potter Series 

My son and I are making good progress reading through the Harry Potter series. We  have got as far as Goblet of Fire. 

I love this one to one time I have with my youngest. We don’t get to do it every day due to work constraints, which is why it has taken us so long. I’m sure we will have finished the series by the end of the year.

Visit Ireland 

Lastly I have booked my flights to visit family in Ireland this coming September. It will be a whirlwind weekend trip but I can’t wait. We are have a big girly weekend at my Aunts in a part of Ireland I have never visited before. 

We are a little over halfway through the year. So far I have ticked off or planned for 5 items on my list. With 12 still left I’m going have to pull my finger out if I want to tick them off before the end of 2017. 

Of course I will keep you updated when that happens.

Enjoying Living in the Moment 

So I’ve been a bit MIA. The last time I managed to publish anything blog related was actually the 4th June. WTF!! 

I could come out with a whole list of half baked excuses but to be honest with you I have just been focused on living more in the moment and ultimately having fun. 

I work damn hard at work, since my promotion it has become borderline all consuming. In a good way though, I’m not complaining, I love everything about my job. I finally feel like I know who I am, and what I want to be doing with my life. Time off though is more precious than ever. Hence my blog has taken a bit of a back seat. 

In an effort to try and pick up on the blog again I thought I would share a bit of what I’ve been up to over the past month. It really has been busy, but fortunately really fun. 

Hen Party no 1 

My sister in law is getting married in August. We had the first of the Hen parties at Bar Salsa in Charring Cross. 

Getting in the salsa spirit we all dressed up in red outfits, apart from the bide who was in white of course! We had a salsa class, ate some really tasty South American food and drank too many cocktails. 

Bar Salsa does some great party packages, I highly recommend it as a venue for when you want a great all inclusive experience. 

Prom Time! 

My baby girl is no longer such a baby. I still can’t get my head around the fact she has left school and had her Prom. 

I know I’m biased because I’m her mother but my daughter truly looked beautiful. 

The dress was from Lipsy VIP. It fit her beautifully other than the fact we did have to have the length taken up. (She is so tiny!)

I did her hair and makeup for her. I’m actually really proud of this creation. A hairdresser I am not! 

Hen Party No 2

It was time for round two of my Sister in Laws Hen Party. This time we headed to Cambridge for a spa stay and a go on the punts. 

We stayed at the Hallmark Hotel. As hotels go it was comfortable and clean. I can’t say I was that sold on the food. Well that’s a lie, it was my pudding that had let it down. Who puts red cress on an Icecream sundae? 

The Thalgo facial I had though was without a doubt the best facial I have experienced. I would visit again just for that! Maybe choose a different dessert? 

Punting on the river Cam was great fun. I wish we had more time to explore Cambridge as the College Buildings are amazing. Everywhere you turn there is another little passage that needs discovering. 

Pop Choirs ‘Magnificent’ at Electric Brixton 

My big sister is part of Pop Choir. I’m not really sure where to begin explaining what this is. If you enjoy singing, just for the sheer joy of it then Pop Choir could be for you. I’ve left a link to the website so you can check it out of your interested. 

Last week we went to watch Pop Choirs ‘Magnificent’ evening. It was such a fun evening and truly inspiring to see such a large group of people come together and ‘sing their hearts out’ to raise funds for some really great charities. 

I’d love to join myself, sadly there isn’t a group in my local area yet. 

Beer Festivals, Hawaiian themed birthday bashes and more!

So all this has been dotted amongst cinema trips, the Cammra Beer Festival, Christenings and not forgetting my Cousin 30th birthday. That one got a bit messy…

I don’t actually have any pictures to share of these as true to living in the moment I forgot to take any. Whoops! 

A Thought for Today

I’d be lying if I said this spate of terrorist attacks didn’t scare me. Then I get angry! Why should we be cowed by these nutters? I’m scared of spiders and that doesn’t stop me getting something out of my shed! 

Carry on enjoy the amazing city that is London. After all life is too short! 

We must honour the victims by not letting fear win. 

We must be thankful to those that risk their lives to protect us. 

I will still go on my planned evening out London in a couple of weeks time. If something happens then it’s my time, I will have no regrets. 

Meanwhile I’m sharing some of my favourite photos from enjoyable visits to London. 

Covent Garden

London Zoo
Tower of London

Keep safe people and show kindness to your neighbour. Manchester proved to us recently that there was is still much kindness in this world.