Look Younger in Lockdown.


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I don’t know about anyone else, but lockdown has had both positives and negatives for me. Positive? Getting to spend more time with my children, reading more and being out in the fresh air more than I ever have. Negatives? Plenty, of course. Not being able to visit or hug my extended family, not getting to do my job (which, before you say it – I genuinely love) and having to manage homeschooling. As teacher, it is nigh on impossible to teach your own kids.

Dermo Renew RangeBut one of the other positives has been my beauty routine – or should I say lack thereof. Because I’m hardly wearing makeup at all anymore. Except for those days when I have Zoom meetings and have to make some sort of effort! But even though I’ve not been wearing much makeup, I’ve had a little extra time to properly pay attention to my skin care routine. One brand I really genuinely love because of its ethos, great products and natural ingredients is Elave and I’ve really pleased that I can easily get it delivered to my door from gardinerfamilyapothecary.com. Because I’m out in the fresh air more often, it is so important that I safeguard my skin and there are several products from Elave that help with that. If you are looking for skin friendly moisturizer and other products, then have a look at this…

  • Daily Lip Defence SPF20 (£7.99) – you can moisturize and protect your lips with this multi-action formula with Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, naturally-derived collagen and vitamin E.


  • Daily Skin Defence SPF45 (£20.75)– protect your face and repair environmental damage with this anti-oxidant oil-free formula with invisible zinc and vitamins B5 and E. Offers high UVA and UVB protection. It is so smooth and soft, really lovely to use.


  • Rejuvenating Cleansing Treatment (£24.30) – a 12% glycolic acid arginine complex gently which exfoliates and rejuvenates the skin to promote cellular regeneration and stimulate collagen synthesis, revealing younger, brighter skin.


  • Skin Balancing Moisturiser (£18) – naturally derived prebiotics regulate the skin’s balance, while antimicrobial Manuka honey, vitamins B5 and E, natural glycerin and hyaluronic acid boost hydration and minimise the appearance of fine lines and blemishes – a must as I ap


  • Hand Treatment (£7.99) – hands can be a dead giveaway of age! This unique combination of shea butter, coconut oil and emollients will repair and hydrate damaged dermis.

Skin Balancing Kit


Elave Skin Defence Competition

My good friends over at Elave Skincare are always doing their best to make sure that they offer a completely allergen free skincare range for sensitive skin. Both my husband and I tend to have issues with sensitive skin, and I’m noticing increasingly that my daughter does, too.

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So this summer, I’ve been really pleased to be able to try out the Elave Daily Skin Defence SPF45 for all of us. Up to 90% of skin ageing is caused by ultraviolet rays. But at least the good news is that nowadays you can prevent early skin ageing by protecting yourself from the sun’s rays with a good quality SPF.

Elave Daily Skin Defence SPF45 offers a unique combination of oil-free emollients
suitable for all skin types to hydrate the skin, together with high UVA and UVB
protection to guard against dark spots, roughness and loss of elasticity. The invisible zinc in their special formula is absorbed quickly into the skin and antioxidant vitamins B5 and E help to protect against and repair environmental skin damage.

I am becoming increasingly aware of harmful ingredients in products, both for myself and my children. What I like about Elave products is that they are dermatologically approved free from harsh ingredients like parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, alcohol, lanolin, soap, dyes, perfumes and much more.

I can even recommend to vegan or pregnant friends as they are suitable for use in pregnancy and Peta vegan and cruelty certified. What I also really like about it is that it isn’t greasy and feels very nourishing on my skin.

If you’re keen to get more information or shop online you can visit elaveskincare.com. You can also get it on Amazon or at local pharmacies.

Just answer the following question and email your answer with your name, address and phone number to ameliasmum18@gmail.com to be in with a chance of winning one of five Elave Daily Skin Defence products worth £20.75 each. Over £100 worth of prizes are waiting to be awarded.

Question: Where can you find out more about Elave Skincare?

Oh Halloween, how you’ve changed…


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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Halloween. I love the autumnal feeling, leaves on the ground, the crack and fizz of fireworks, houses decorated with pumpkins and mechanised skeletons that shriek like a banshee when you innocently set them off. I love the costumes, the makeup, the special effects, the nostalgic movies, the food, and overall, the idea that you can do pretty much anything you want and be totally and completely silly and everyone allows it – because its Halloween!

I’m certainly trying hard to pass on my love of this unusual holiday to my kids. I encourage dressing up and pretending, expression and creativity and good old fashioned, simple fun. Recently, as my daughter and son have been telling me what they want to dress up as, and I’ve been looking ideas up on Google, Pinterest and Amazon it occurred to me just how different Halloween is to the celebration when I was young.

Ah, the 80s. A simpler time. Northern Ireland in the 80s was, let’s face it – rather grim. I’m not even going to go in to the generally horrendous political situation, but for the normal kid living in Belfast, there was very little in the way of resources for costumes or parties. Parents had to improvise. I’m sure everyone reading this who grew up during that time is remembering the completely embarrassing home made costumes that they had to suffer through. Not only was there no online ordering, but you couldn’t even get your hands on a pumpkin, oh no, that was FAR too exotic back then. Not a chance. Some of my favourite memories of Halloween include;

  • Those rubbery witches fingernails that were like little tubes that you put on your fingers. Yes, you thought you were awesome.
  • Going to fresh garbage to buy the only pot of black nail varnish that existed in the entire province.
  • Your Mum buying a turnip. YES A FECKING TURNIP to hollow out and ‘pretend’ it was a pumpkin.
  • Your Mum cutting her hand while carving the damn thing.
  • Holding said turnip out in the street with your friends and burning your fingers on the metal coat hanger handle because the candle inside over heated the metal. No Health and Safety rules here, folks!
  • Your friend having a plastic Dracula cape and being SO jealous of them.
  • Plastic bendy vampire ‘teeth’ – for some reason, no one has improved this – you can still buy them and they’re still crap. And slightly dangerous.
  • There was no such thing as actual ‘trick or treating’ – you knocked on random doors and sang the ‘Halloween is coming’ song and you were lucky if you got 20 pence.
  • Actually being a bit scared about dunking for apples. Only me? Okay then.
  • Having your costume made out of any of the following; a black bin liner, a white bin liner, an old sheet, your Dad’s clothes. Scundered.
  • Did anyone else’s Mum make apple tarts and put dirty, old ten pence coins ‘for luck’ inside? Not even wrapped in foil or anything? Were my parents trying to kill us?
  • Going to your friends for an illegal fireworks display – they weren’t allowed in NI back then unless you had a licence. Felt kind of exciting, though!
  • Getting your tongue stuck in the little slit of your £1 mask bought from the spar up the street.
  • Really not knowing why monkey nuts were in the house. Actually I still think that. Does anyone actually eat them? Ugh.

But at least the mercy of all those embarrassing and slightly strange days was that at least it wasn’t all documented in all its cringe-worthy glory on instagram!!! Phew!

Happy Halloween, folks!


Elave Skincare and TinyLife Join Forces to Boost #Premvember Funding for Premature Baby Charity’s 30th Anniversary


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I will always remember going to visit my niece in hospital when she was born very premature. The staff at the hospital were unbelievable and the knowledge, understanding, technology and medicine that they were able to use quite literally saved her life and she is now a thriving 13 year old, full of opinions and intelligence. It’s quite simply amazing. I have a wonderful friend who has gorgeous twins that came too early, and thanks to the treatment they received at birth, they are now advancing, growing and my friend’s pride and joy is unending.

So, when I heard that Elave Skincare and TinyLife had joined forces to launch the annual #Premvember campaign as part of the premature baby charity’s 30th Anniversary celebrations, I really wanted to make sure I shared it on my blog because just like mine, so many families are affected by premature birth.

Every day in Northern Ireland six babies come into the world too soon, some arriving as early as 24 weeks and weighing as little as 1lb. That is 1,800 premature babies born every year!

TinyLife CEO Alison McNulty says: Thirty years ago, 70% of premature babies didn’t make it – today around 88% survive and TinyLife funds vital research to give these babies the best start in life.

“We also provide a range of family support services, including breast pump loan, hospital to home volunteer programme, family activity groups, support for dads, baby massage and baby sensory.    

“This year, we are partnering with specialist skincare range Elave Baby in a joint effort to encourage the public to get behind TinyLife’s #Premvember campaign & 30th Anniversary celebrations to raise awareness and funding for premature babies.

We are delighted to confer Approved By status on Elave Baby and to recommend the product range, which banishes harsh ingredients that trigger sensitivity such as soap, sulfates, MI, parabens, alcohol, perfumes and colours, for use on baby skin.

The skin of prem babies is extremely sensitive, making it prone to dryness and itchy skin conditions like rashes and eczema, so knowing a clinically proven, completely ‘free from’ product is available can alleviate worry about what to use.”

The Gardiner family’s apothecary skincare creams were created in Newry over 80 years ago. Elave Baby, now produced in Co Louth, is available from local pharmacies, online at www.elaveskincare.com or via Amazon. A donation of £1 from every Baby Essentials Pack sold goes to support the work of TinyLife.

Joanna Gardiner, CEO of Elave Skincare, said: “We are very impressed with TinyLife and what the organisation has achieved, so we are delighted to be able to support their work in the run-up to Premvember and over the 30th Anniversary year.

“Parents of premature babies are already experiencing a lot of stress, anxiety and trauma, so the last thing they need to worry about on top of that is what they are putting on their child’s skin.

Baby’s skin barrier is not fully formed until they are three years old so how we treat skin, especially skin which may already be dry and sensitive, can have health implications for the rest of our lives.

“The incidence of baby eczema in Northern Ireland and across the island has risen from 3% to 25% inside two generations, a statistic which medical experts put down to harm caused by environmental pollutants and harsh chemicals.

“It is clear, in the run-up to National Eczema Week, that we need to be more mindful about how we prevent and manage sensitive skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis. Using the purest products, from top to toe, is where you start.”

#Premvember invites people to arrange a Tea Party at their home or workplace, or an event or their choice, anytime during the month of November.

Fundraisers can register and request a fundraising pack with downloadable invites, bunting, posters etc at www.buytickets.at/tinylife.

Events to celebrate #Premvember include a Family Fun Day at Mossley Mill on World Prematurity Day (17th Nov) and an 80s Tribute Band in David Lloyd Clubs, Belfast (30th Nov).

The TinyLife 30th celebrations will conclude next Spring with an Anniversary Pearl Ball sponsored by Kennys, Elave Baby and Malone Lodge Hotel, Belfast.

30th anniversary (002)

The sun always shines at Westport House


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20180718_1547212156909244880771769.jpgWe are just back from our favourite place in Ireland…Westport. It is such a great stay-cation destination, especially for families. There is just so much to do – beaches? Check. Cinema? Check. Selection of interesting shops and restaurants? Check. Swimming pool? It’s there. Playgrounds, indoor soft play, scenic drives, cycle routes, yoga classes, magic shows, toy shops…sorry I could go on and on about the wonders of this small but perfectly formed tow

But the cherry on this cake? Its our home from home, Westport House.

You might remember from some earlier posts that we have been lucky enough to visit this gorgeous historic home several times. We’ve enjoyed summer outings in the grounds and even got to visit Santa at Christmas! But this year, with our little man not so little any longer, and raring to go on the Pirate Adventure Park rides, it was time to visit again and enjoy even more of the delights on offer.

At the moment, Westport House are offering a second day free with a family ticket, and


the kids were beyond excited when they realised we had two days of fun ahead of us. Our visit began with a casual tour around the beautiful interior of the house. We grabbed a coffee (for the grown ups, of course) in the cellar cafe and ambled around the various exhibits and room displays. The kids particularly enjoyed Grace O’Malley’s spooky dungeon and the nostalgic child’s nursery, while my husband and I marvelled at the amazing marble staircase and elegant, original furnishings of this stunning historic home.

We were absolutely blessed with good weather, which made our time even more enjoyable – so we headed off to the Westport House Express train for a jaunt around the grounds. The driver even allowed our little man to sound the horn and bell – this was probably the most exciting moment of his life! This delightful little train incorporates sneaky glimpses of the Pirate Adventure Park as it traces its track alongside the beautiful lake, with an absolutely majestic view of Croagh Patrick in the distance.

Then of course we raced (well the kids did) round to the Adventure Park, where there was fun to be had for all ages, from those who prefer the gentle bounce of the bouncy castle, to the thrilling fun of the Log Flume and the Pirate Queen Swinging Ship. We never had to queue for long and the staff were so helpful, so the kids had several visits to each ride and spent almost 45 minutes on the Inflatable Obstacle Course. After that it was some exercise for Mum and Dad, while we ventured out on the Swan Pedalos, enjoying the lake and the views of the house – cue a minor but rather hilarious tantrum when my son realised his legs weren’t long enough to reach the pedals!

Our next destination was lunch and the Go Karts. The picnic area makes use of the old stable buildings, we enjoyed our picnic lunch (egg and onion ‘sarnies’ courtesy of Nana) and the kids squealed with delight while they raced around in their little Go Karts (thankfully the pedals were close enough for my son this time!) Then it was time for the Cannonball Run. OMG. I think I might save up and install one of these in my back garden. It kept them entertained for AGES and we had lots of promises to come back tomorrow  – sometimes old fashioned fun really is the best.

From 4pm Westport House offers Pony Rides (for an extra fee) and of course we had to give it a try. I have to say, it was one of the highlights of the day for all of us. The sunshine, the laughter and the excitement at meeting the two ponies, Dori and Molly, all combined to make it a perfect end to the day – topped off by ANOTHER pony ride, on the Vintage Carousel this time. Finally, we spent some time playing footdarts and enjoying the outdoor play area. Safe to say we were all gloriously exhausted.

Day two of course, offered just as many treats. Again, we enjoyed the Pirate Adventure Park, the Westport Express and the Pedalos, with the addition of some fun in the sand pit and also revisiting the Bouncy Castle Assault Course, Cannonball Run and the Go Karts. One part that I really enjoyed was the Fairy Walk, just around past the house along the river. The glorious weather really added to the experience, but what I liked about it was that it was pram friendly and not too long, so the kids enjoyed spotting the little fairy doors but didn’t get too tired before the end. Daddy even managed to sneak ahead and hide some ‘Leprechaun Gold’ at the fairy doors for our two to find.

Our two days at Westport House were absolutely magical as always and the kids are still raving about it – I’m sure that we will be back again to visit this unique and unforgettable place.20180718_1655361603462917992357306.jpg


Complimentary Tickets were provided by Westport House for our visit. All opinions are my own.



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Yes, I’m one of them.

I’ve been converted. No, I’m not becoming a nun. *snorts*

Once (or unbelievably, sometimes twice) a week, I leave my house and go to a……*chokes a bit*… gym. Yes, you heard me right. ME. AT. A. GYM.

But I don’t use the gym equipment, oh no. Or go to spin class. Or lift weights. Nope. Actually, I wish I could have recorded the look in the fresh, 12 year old staff members eyes when he offered to induct me on the gym equipment and I proudly said; “No thanks, you’ll not be seeing me on those desperate monsters. Ever.” I think he genuinely thought I was nuts. Anactivity-beautiful-blur-834893d I am.

I’m yoga nuts. Or more specifically, I’m on my journey to becoming a ‘Yoga Nut’ – I believe that’s an actual term? Since losing the weight, I’ve reached a point when I realised I had to start doing some form of exercise – and chasing the kids round the playground holding a caramel latte just wasn’t going to cut the mustard. So I tentatively looked around for a solution and remembered that I had attended a lovely baby yoga class when my son was little and it hadn’t been that scary. So off I went in my new Matalan yoga pants – oh, yes – only the best for me. And you know what? It was great. (And yes, that IS a photo of my new physique…)

I remember all too well those scary times in school PE when I was actually RELIEVED to have an ingrowing toenail because I was too scared/freaked out/embarrassed/worried/ anxious/paranoid/self-conscious (just pick any of the above) to jump on the trampoline/go swimming/do gymnastics/netball/running (again, pick any of the above). God, I WISH yoga had been available at my school when I went – I think I would be a different person now and might possibly have begun to have a love for exercise. Well, all I can say is thank God at least I’ve discovered it now.

What’s lovely about yoga is there is no competition – not even with yourself. I think that’s the thing that put me off sport and exercise all these years – because I wasn’t naturally sporty, the competition element always intimidated me because as my family and friends know, I don’t like to fail at things – if I’m going to do something I want to be the best at it – I just can’t help it. But in yoga, they talk about the journey and that’s what takes all the pressure off. It doesn’t matter if the woman next to you is so flexible she appears to be made of plastic and can practically put her head up her bum. (Actually happened). It doesn’t matter that the 80 year old man behind you is calmly sitting in the crow pose for what seems like an hour and you’re wobbling like crazy, and worrying about your boob popping out – NO ONE CARES. Not even me. I just want to feel calm, relaxed and loose – (not in the slutty sense, you understand). As the pace of my life has changed, so has my outlook and yoga has arrived in my life at exactly the right time for me.

I couldn’t touch my toes when I started. Last week I wanted to stop the class so we could celebrate as a group when I realised I was grasping them easily – it just makes you feel better. Even if you never manage to touch your toes or do a head stand – you will always feel better when you practice yoga. It’s for everyone. I even brought the kids to a family yoga class this week (which was actually wonderful) and they both loved it and I could almost literally see how, if I encourage them to follow this practice throughout their childhood then they will be able to feel more centred, relaxed and calm within themselves and they will develop a love for exercise early on. And that’s something I never thought I would be able to share with my children. I’m on a mission now to convert everyone to practice yoga. So, have a think about it – you might enjoy it more than you think.


PS: There is farting.

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Make Up Tips for Mums


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Makeup is one of my passions. I’m kind of obsessed with it. Since I’ve had kids, my makeup routine has definitely gone through some changes – I no longer have 30 minutes to myself in the morning to perfect my eyeliner or try out a new look; hate it, scrap it, and start all over again. I went through a bit of a makeup rut until recently. I mean, if we had a night out (rare) I still knew how to whack the slap on, but on a daily basis I was sticking to the same old tried and trusted foundation, eyeliner, mascara and blush.

Literally nothing else.

I don’t mean to upset die-hards out there but I didn’t even own a tube of primer.

Even with all my so-called artistic makeup savvy, I didn’t even know what primer really was.


I know. First world problems or what?

But in the beauty and self-expression category, I’m one of those girls that really appreciates how you can enhance yourself with makeup and really, simply, just have some creative fun.

But how to do it when you have kiddies hanging on the hems of your (only) good work skirt, fighting with each other and whinging at you? Here are some things I’ve done which enable me to still be able to enjoy my makeup routine in the mornings.

Invest in a good primer. Not necessarily an expensive primer, but one that agrees with your skin and that you like using. I thought they were a total gimmick but they really do make your makeup look better and last longer.

Get a setting spray. I use a cheap, chemist bought version and it makes my eye makeup in particular last longer and not run down my face when it is warm or sunny. It certainly completes the look.

Watch some YouTube tutorials. There are some FAB makeup artists and beauty vloggers online. I’ve picked up some fantastic tips and its great because, as a Mum, I never get to wander idly around the cosmetics counters alone any longer, so the best I can manage is to pick up my tips and ideas online.

Buy some acrylic makeup organisers. I used to have my makeup all packed away in a storage box, which is great if you’re a travelling makeup artist, but if it is sitting in the house you can’t actually see what makeup you have to be able to use it – if you have items laid out on your dressing table in mini-storage containers then you’re more likely to experiment more.

Eyebrow kits. Normally I would retch if anyone mentioned drawing in eyebrows to me, but I would imagine those scary, overly black, HD brows that so many women like the look of. Crazy ladies. But in reality, you can use a simple brow kit to add shape and structure to your already existing brow so that it frames your face better – it’s barely noticeable but just enough to look good.

I’ve found since making an effort to introduce these aspects into my makeup routine that I’m happier with my look and also it definitely lasts throughout the day. 🙂

And if anyone from, ahem, Make Up Forever or MAC is reading this and you need an everyday Mum to trial some new products…well, I won’t be saying no!

Self Care – why it is so important to me.


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Recently I’ve gotten massively into the idea of self care. I don’t know when this label for basically ‘looking after yourself’ was created, but I love it. I don’t know about other people, but until I knew the phrase existed, I felt it was harder to officially treat yourself or give yourself actual time out when you felt you needed it.

The focus on mental health in our society lately has become more open and accepting. I feel the increased dialogue and commentary from celebrities, high profile individuals and even us ‘ordinary’ people on social media has ensured that more people who struggle with their mental health feel like they can talk and ask for help. I’ve recently suffered with anxiety and panic attacks and now have a more personal awareness and understanding of the nature of mental health problems and how easily they can sneak up on you and scare the complete and total shit out of you.

Since my little visit to Anxiety-ville (I don’t go there often, but when I do, it’s horrible) I have started several routines/traditions/practices that have enabled me to engage in self care and to do so with the knowledge that I really am helping myself to have a healthier mind, spirit and soul – now none of that can be bad, can it? I always had certain hobbies and enjoyable pursuits that helped me to express emotions, escape or self soothe, but some had fallen by the wayside with the mania of every day life, while others I simply didn’t have the time for due to my responsibilities as a Mum – there really literally isn’t enough time in the day and I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment by promising myself that I will take part in a task (such as rejoining a choir, for example) that I know I simply will have to opt out of because I can’t attend rehearsals. Other self-care activities I’m doing are brand new, like the new bullet journal I began during the summer – and I absolutely love it.

Screenshot 2018-02-17 at 17.25.03But what is self care? For me, its ensuring that I am truly at my best with regard to my general well being – making sure I do whatever I need to do to ensure I feel whole, well and able for the demands of life. And for each and every single one of us, that looks different because it is so personal. I hope that by sharing my self-care practices (some of which are very straightforward and typical) that maybe I can inspire others and remind everyone that it is so SO important to look after yourself. If you want to be the best of yourself, then its vital that you take some time and space for you. If you do so, then when you are truly present for others, you will really be able to be there for them and with them; because you will feel rested, capable, and whole.

So what does self-care look like for me…?

  • Taking some time for my bullet journal – especially writing down one positive thought per day. Using pretty pens and watercolours helps, too.
  • Attending yoga class every Saturday morning – I am the LEAST sporty/fitness type person, yet I love yoga – it is for everyone and the little nap you’re allowed to have at the end is probably the best part of my week!
  • Bubble baths – with a proper music playlist. At the moment I really like Michael Kiwanuka, Walk off the Earth, and the The Greatest Showman soundtrack. My tastes don’t conform – and for God’s sake you don’t have to listen to calming or classical – if you love Black Sabbath (like my husband), whack it on the player and enjoy.
  • Watch comedies – belly laughs are the best. My favourites are Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development, Will & Grace and Modern Family.
  • Walking in the park with my kids – preferably stopping off first for a skinny chai latte. There’s nothing like a fancy coffee to make you feel like you’re having a treat while watching their happy faces as they run around.
  • Planning – separate from the artistic side of keeping my journal, I’m obsessive about writing lists and planning ahead for things like birthdays and family events – it makes me feel more in control and less stressed as the date approaches. Also helps with budget planning so I’m not panicking about that aspect.
  • Crochet and cross stitch – there is something so relaxing about it – I don’t know if its the creativity or the colour but its a great escape for me.
  • Actually, shopping (or even just browsing) for yarn – when I find a new shop that sells yarn I just like to go and look about, its just so pretty and gorgeous.
  • Bookshops too – they hold the same quiet loveliness about them. If I ever have an hour to kill in the city centre, one of my first ports of call is Waterstones and I will happily sit in the chair area and flick through some pretty books.
  • Lunch with my Mum. Food, gossip and fun.
  • Beauty/pampering – face masks, getting my nails done or going for a facial or a massage (definitely more costly, but a real benefit) and soooo worth it.
  • Watching a favourite movie; my personal faves are Gone With The Wind, The Goonies, Back to the Future, Cluedo, Lord of the Rings, and Pretty in Pink. Make no apology about what you like to watch – its your perogative. Some of them really remind me of my childhood so there is a certain escapism there.
  • Reading. What an escape. The Outlander Series got me through a tough year, they were a complete indulgence for my imagination.
  • Lighting candles – there is something so calming and serene about a candle flame. It transforms my room into a sanctuary.
  • I have also recently re-ignited my interest in crystals. I’ve bought a few new ones, as well as a reference book for their uses and benefits. I take some time to read up on ones that will help me with certain problems and I also like buying them for others as gifts.
  • Retail therapy – not to get extreme or to transfer my anxieties into too much spending, but even nipping to the chemists and buying a nice nail polish can make you feel better.
  • Cleaning. I might be in the minority here, and I know it is physically tiring but it is quite therapeutic to gut out a room and give it a good scrub!

I know I have more self-care strategies and I will add to them as I think of them, but I  would love it if anyone reading this wanted to comment below and share some ideas about how they self-care/self preserve – we all need it and it is so important.

Have a lovely day,


Halloween Fun


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Light Box

It’s been a while since I did a proper catch up on this blog about things we’ve been up to. Life just gets so crazy, doesn’t it? The first half of the year was dominated by some pretty serious family stuff, thankfully that’s come to an end with a good resolution and we are settling down to normality with a newfound appreciation of each other and life in general. So after the madness that the summer was (I literally blinked and missed it) I was very much looking forward to another favourite time of the year – Halloween break.

I think its the drama-queen in me, but I love any excuse to dress up and be silly – and having kids gives you a licence to join in and do this with them – which of course they really love also. So we had lots of fun activities planned for the break – and now that work looms ahead next Monday, I decided to think back over the last few days and share a little of it on here too – I also like to look back through these posts and use them as a sort of online journal – so even if no-one is particularly interested in this (quite likely) then at least it will record some fond memories for me.

Last weekend we took ourselves off for the day to the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh – I hadn’t been since I was really young and had honestly forgotten how good a day out it is. The rain stayed off – amazing – and they had several Halloween themed aspects incorporated into the visit; ghost story telling in the Old Schoolhouse, fortune telling in the cottage and tasting autumnal food in various places – there were lots of spooky decorations around too. We had a fantastic day.



The next night we took ourselves out for dinner with our extended family and then had a visit to the Halloween Monster Mash in Belfast city centre, and enjoyed the fireworks – the kids squealed with excitement.



Monday saw us prepping for Halloween – we had a friend round for a play date and we made toffee apples, apple tarts and Halloween themed shortbread – messy but lots of fun.


Fancy Dress

On Halloween night we went out trick or treating in the local area – I used to get so jealous of seeing American films when I was young -seeing all the kids who lived in these amazing neighbourhoods where everyone had eye-wateringly scary decorations and went trick or treating for hours. In my day, all you had was a hollowed out turnip (pumpkins were literally exotic) and your Mum made you a ‘vampire’ cape out of a bin liner. Ah, the good old days.

My kids? Well they came home with FOUR containers worth of sweets, several bags of crisps, Halloween toys AND nearly thirty quid in small change! They have it sorted!

The rest of the week was filled with some nice lunches, visits to soft play and the cinema and some gorgeous lie-ins with the kiddies and me all cuddled up listening to the rain outside while poor Daddy had to get up at 6am for work…

…I laugh but, I only have two more days before I will be doing the same.

Happy Halloween-Break everyone.

(How many weeks until Christmas break?)

Mum & Daughter Date Night Ideas


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I remember when I was little I always felt so special when I spent individual time with my parents. My Mum would take me shopping, or to visit my Godmother’s house and I would just love to be ‘just she and I’ for a little while, enjoying each other’s company. I also have really fond memories of helping my Dad build furniture (he was once a technology/woodworking teacher) and for a while was always called upon to help friends and family put flat pack furniture together. I learned lots from him about it and it definitely taught me to be a hands-on, capable sort, and I also really loved that we always got some fish and chips while we were ‘working’.

But enough rambling. Well it’s sort of near-to-the-point rambling I suppose. Anyone still here? What I’m getting at is that I’m learning now from the parenting side of the fence, how important it is to spend quality time with your children. This isn’t preachy, not at all – I just thought I would share a little wishlist of things I’m hoping to do with my daughter (and with my son when he is a little older – at the moment he’s just happy sitting on my knee and reading a book and playing with my hair) as I think it not only allows for the creation of special memories, but for the opportunity to really get to know each other not just as relatives but as individuals. Some of these we’ve already done, but I certainly would like to repeat them again sometime. So what ideas are out there? Here are just a few I’ve thought of and also seen around:

  • Weekly movie night
  • Visit the library regularly
  • Go for a starbucks
  • Go shopping
  • Spend a day at the seaside
  • Take the train somewhere random for lunch
  • Go to a concert
  • Take an art/painting/sculpture class
  • Sing together in a choir
  • Do a fashion show at home for the family
  • Take a museum tour
  • Go geocaching
  • See a musical
  • Have a dinner date
  • Have a game night/board games
  • Go on a picnic
  • Camp out in the back garden
  • Spend a day doing something for charity
  • Do a family yoga session
  • Bake buns together
  • Watch the stars
  • Make a scrapbook
  • Go for afternoon tea somewhere fancy
  • Dress up as a family EVERY Halloween
  • Do a colour run
  • Go for sushi
  • Watch Lord of the Rings/Dr Who/Gone with the Wind/Star Wars/Harry Potter etc…
  • Have a spa/pampering night
  • Go horseriding
  • Go for a bike ride

I can’t wait to keep working through the list. If anyone reading has some new ideas that I can add to the list, please do make some suggestions.