I’ve signed up to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon

Soo….I may have signed up to run my first half marathon. The London Landmarks Half to be exact. Last year I made a decent go at running my first 10k, but this is twice that distance.

I still haven’t decided whether I’m excited or pooping my pants. 13.1 miles is quite the distance for a girl that hated P.E.

I suppose it could be worse, I could have been daft enough to sign up to do a full marathon? Noooo…. I’ll leave that one to my big sister, husband and little brother. (They are doing the Brighton Marathon this year)

On the 24th March I shall be running as part of the Breast Cancer Now team. This is a charity that is significant to me as two years ago my Mum lost her fight against Breast Cancer.

I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to experience this. Sadly though so many families are going through exactly the same thing right now. Life can be very sucky at times can’t it!

Image : breastcancernow.org

Breast Cancer Now‘s aim is to ensure that by 2050 no one will die from breast cancer. How? By carrying out that all important research into the causes, genetic risk factors and targeted drug discovery. It was such research that gave my family an extra 8 years with our Mum.

Training is going to be tough, I’m going to need all the support I can get. Even if its just encouragement to get out and train on a day that a) I’m feeling Meh! Or b) the weather is grim. I’m definitely more of a fair weather runner.

If you would like to make a monetary donation to the cause you can do so through my Just Giving page.

Wish me luck, I shall keep you updated on how the training goes.

Route map source: llhm.co.uk

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The unplanned blog break

Hey!

You haven’t heard from me in a while. It’s been roughly 2 1/2 months to be exact. I 100% hadn’t planned to be away from the blogging world for such a long period. My extended break happened by accident.

I had a bout of writers block, and to be quite frank was feeling very uninspired. A couple of times I sat down to try to write but was having to force it. For me that’s not good, it just didn’t feel natural. I wasn’t enjoying it and didn’t feel I was producing anything I felt worthy of publishing. It was definitely time to take a break.

I would be lying if I said that taking a break was a conscious decision. It wasn’t and just seemed to happen naturally. This included me virtually abandoning Twitter as well. I’ve never been great with twitter anyway, so my lack of presence there probably went unnoticed. This isn’t me being ‘oh poor me’, I’m just telling you how it is.

Life has definitely been super busy (I work in retail management) and before I knew it Christmas came and went and we are in 2019. I think my poor brain was clogged up with floor planning, stock management issues and a whole lot of extra random trouble shooting that goes on between Black Friday and the the End of Season sales. It’s not been all work though there has been a good amount of socialising too.

I’ve also been studying towards an NVQ in Managing People, that is specific to the retail sector. I have my final exams very soon so have been preparing for that. Those kick off on the 9th January so hopefully after then I will have some more free time. Saying that I have just signed up to run my first half marathon in March. Plus I’ve joined a Kick Boxing class so I’m not quite sure how much free time I will actually have whilst training??

I blame my over achieving big sister, she has definitely inspired me to push myself more. Ive always been a classic 2nd child who is more than happy to coast it.

Anyway this is me officially breaking radio silence. I don’t plan on making any rigid blog schedules or promises about how often I’m going to produce content. I want to keep it natural and write when I’m feeling fully inspired. That may mean some weeks you get a few blog posts and others just one. Basically if it stops being fun then I’m not going to force myself. Especially as this isn’t my job, it’s a hobby.

This seems a very natural place to stop so that’s all from me for today.

The Sunshine Blogger award

A couple of weeks ago I was tagged by Em, author of Em’s World to take part in the Sunshine Blogger Award. If you don’t know what this is it is a fun Q and A type post, with all the questions being set by the blogger who tagged you.

What is your favourite social media platform for promoting your Blog?

Pinterest is a really useful tool for generating blog traffic. However my favourite is still Instagram. I know it has had a lot of bad press recently, what with all the algorithm changes, but I haven’t fallen out of love with it. 

If you forget about numbers, ignore all the bots and follow unfollow nonsense,  it is a great way of making genuine connections with people of similar interest. Just keep liking and commenting on the type of content that you want to fill your feed! 

Do you prefer TV or films?

Can I cheat and say Netflix? I tend to watch TV programs more than films I just rarely do it in the traditional way anymore. 

What was your proudest accomplishment of 2017?

Last year I was promoted at work to Supervisor. I genuinely didn’t think I’d get the position. However I applyed with a  ‘Whats the worst that can happen? They say No’ mentality. 

Having got the job and proved myself this has now led me to now stepping up to Assistant Manager on Maternity cover basis.  It’s going to be hard to step down again but is proving great experience for the future. 

What is you favourite song right now?

I don’t know? Sorry a a massive cop out but I can’t pick just one. 

The last song I downloaded though was fire in me by John Newman.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would love to visit Iceland. It would be amazing to see the northern lights, geezers and volcanoes. 

Do you have any pets? If so, what?

We have a King Charles Spaniel named Izzie, who we adopted from my cousin. She is getting rather old now bless her, she spends most of her time seeking out cosy corners around the house to have a snooze in.


What is your favourite quote?

This isn’t really a quote but an acronym of the word FAIL – First Attempt In Learning.

What do you do to motivate yourself?

I respond best to a list. It sounds boring but i am a very visual person. Physically seeing items ticked off my list never fails to push me to achieve more.

What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?

Agghh! It is really hard to narrow down just one thing. My answer is going to sound extremely mushy but I’m going with…meeting my Husband. This is because I consider it to be a defining moment in relation to the direction my life has taken. We met at work 17 years ago when we were just 17 years old. He has officially been in my life longer than he hasn’t. It wasn’t planned but I fell pregnant nine months into our relationship. We were very young and had a crazy amount of growing up to do. At times it has been hard but I wouldn’t change it. We now have three children, live a comfortable life and both have careers that are moving in the right direction.

Do you have a bucket list? If so, have you ticked anything off yet?

It’s not really a bucket list, more of a list of goals for 2018. I recently went to see the west end show, Wicked, which was on that list. You can see my full list of goals in this blog post. 

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

I don’t have time in my day to join in with many blogger chats. I definitely think this has limited the speed at which I grow my readership. 

As the rules state is is now my turn to tag 11 other bloggers to pick up the baton and answer somw questions from me.

 

My Questions

  1. Who is your favourite fellow Blogger?
  2. How would you describe your personal style?
  3. Would you ever consider plastic surgey? If yes what would you have done?
  4. Where is the favourite place you have visited?
  5. What one piece of advice would you give your teenage self?
  6. What is your earliest childhood memory?
  7. Can you remember what your last dream was about?
  8. Do you have a shopping wishlist? If yes what is currently at the top of it?
  9. Have you had more than one career?
  10. What meal would you choose for your last supper?
  11. What advice would you give to anyone considering starting a blog?

I’m tagging 

Ashleigh from ashleighsteaparty.com
Megan from Beauty-ful World

and anyone else who things this is a fun tag and wants to answer my list of random questions. 

      2018 Personal Goals – 1st quarter update. 

      At the start of 2018 I set myself a moderate list of things I wanted to achieve this year. You can see the full list here. Now that we are three months into 2018 I decided to revisit the list and share with you some items I have ticked off.

      Last Thursday I finally went to see the musical Wicked. My sisters surprised me with tickets for my birthday (much better than a physical present). 

      Having wanted to see the show for such a  long time I am pleased to report that it didn’t disappoint. The alternative look at the world of Oz is clever, thought provoking and very funny. 

      On this occasion Elphaba was actually played by the understudy Laura Pick. She was brilliant, and to be honest, If my sister hadn’t told me she was actually the understudy I never would have known. 

      If you love musicals but haven’t seen Wicked yet book it up, you won’t be disappointed. 

      I can now officially say that I can cable knit. Surprisingly It is actually pretty simple once you know how. That is provided you stick to the pattern you are following. I rely heavily on a stitch counter and may have had to un pick my mistakes a few times. 

      I’m currently working on a cardigan for my Manager’s new baby. I really need to pull my needles out and finish that one whilst on annual leave this week otherwise he will be too big for it. Did I ever tell you that I deserve an award for advanced procrastination? 

      That will be why I have unfortunately fallen behind with my reading schedule. I love reading however I just seem to have got out of the habit. My goal of reading 24 books in 18 is going to be tough to achieve. I’m currently on my 4th book at the moment, whereas I should be starting my 7th by now. Oops! 

      Note to self…Step away from Twitter! 

      So that’s my quarterly update. I don’t think I’m doing too badly but there is definitely room to pull my proverbial socks up.

      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.