Food feeding Food

As a avid opponent to GM food and agribuisness and very much pro organic and natural this video hits home with me. I just want to share it with everyone so people can understand our food stystem. Michael Pollan (who wrote “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) is a great writer and in the video he sets the record straight in regards to many of the food myths.

Valentines treat

My husband is taking over kiddy duty and taking the boys for Saturday as a Valentines treat, so he says. It’s a wonderful gesture because it means I can get some time to myself. So what am I going to do with this free time? Easy relax! I’m going to take a long bath, pamper myself then curl up on the sofa nice and warm and watch a movie.

bubble bath]

For my bath I will use my favourite Lavender Meadow Foaming Bath from Organic Surge which smells just divine, creates plenty of bubbles and leaves my skin super soft. I will also be giving my face a bit of a boost with a Rose Formula Antioxidant Facial Mask from Neal’s Yard, keeping spots and wrinkles at bay. And I won’t be forgetting to light my Neom Tranquility Candle which smells delicious and really works to help relax me! All whilst enjoying a glass of crisp white wine, my favourite at the moment a good Riesling.

Afterwards I plan on watching my all-time favourite movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s whilst enjoying a treat of Joe & Sephs gourmet popcorn which I bought for the hubby and I. I got myself some of their valentine’s popcorn, caramel, macchiato with Scotch whisky. MMMMM…… yummy! Plus if its chilly, whilst I have the fire on it would be rude not to enjoy a rich and creamy Green & Blacks hot chocolate topped with marshmallows.

So if you want a lovely pampering day, just follow my lead above!

Image courtesy of Rebecca Barray

Time for Valentines

Since we had our children we decided we would no longer give Valentines presents, well not until the last one hits 18. Better to conserve the money and spend it on the family was the reasoning as well as not really having the time to put a lot of thought into Valentine’s Day anymore. So we share a simple card, with me normally making one with the boys and a nice family night in. It works for us and takes away much of the hassle and stress of finding the right gift. As well as stepping away from the commercialism which many of these ‘days’ seem to have fallen into.

It did shock me however when I read on the Independent that One in 12 married men will be giving gifts to women other than their wives. This I found quite shocking and if I found my husband gifting someone else, platonic or not I can’t say I would be happy. According to research, 1 in 12 men would be gifting another woman and 1 in 16 women would be gifting other men. However it must be stated these are not romantic inclined gifts and apparently only given in jest or friendship, but still a bit odd if you ask me.

I was never a fan of valentine’s day as a kid, my mates would send me joke cards from guess who or my crush, always disappointing. Then during my 20’s when I went through a stage of rubbish boyfriends, valentines was always disappointing then, think service station flowers and yucky chocolates bought last minute.

LoveImage courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt

The Food we feed our pets is killing them

When I started to look at the food I was eating a few years ago, I pulled all processed foods from our diet and swapped to organic products, however at the time I never thought about doing the same for our dog. I thought that food being sold to feed our pets quite naively was fit for their consumption and tested by vets. But how wrong I was. Just last month the Daily Mail had two news pieces on the dangers of pet food: Cancerous tissue, pus-filled sores, beak and eyeball: Is commercial pet food making your dog sick? And what SHOULD you feed him? And How pet food is killing your dog – and why you should be feeding it parsnips and yoghurt. Yes I know they are a bit sensationalist, but the information they were acting on was correct and should be taken notice of.

You may think it focuses on people neuroses about their pets and maybe some scaremongering however if you look at the way processed foods have affected our general health over the decades, there is no reason that the same can’t be said about the processed pet foods we feed our pets. The news stories were compounded by an interesting programme on Channel Five; The Truth About Your Dogs Food which I watched and it really hit home. I put in a lot of effort with my families diet ensuring it’s as healthy as possible as well as not being processed however I don’t do the same for the dog, even though he is an important member of the family.

Although dog food manufacturers state their food is safe, many other experts don’t think that they are. That being said processed food manufacturers state that their foods are safe, but we know they can’t be believed (horse meat scandal anyone). One thing I looked at when looking at our diets was who owned most food brands, and unsurprisingly only a few companies own a good chunk of the brands out there. And now, the same is happening with the pet food. What once were independent pet food businesses now are owned by a large few companies and corporations after being taken over.

Anyway I have now completely changed our dog’s diet, no more big branded pet food, ours now mainly gets leftovers and some raw foods and he seems a lot happier and all that he gets is organic like us. His poop hasn’t been as smelly nor his breath and he seems to be eating less. And I have found it is not more expensive, since abandoning processed pet food we have actually saved money.

Falling into a Cliché

I have a nice house, a husband who is on a good salary and I am a stay at home mother (although working freelance) I am living the middle class dream. More so when I found myself adding numerous items to my shopping basket on the Boden website. Only a few years ago I would be quietly mocking those that shopped in such middleclass mumsy shops as Boden, Still shopping in Topshop, H&M and Zara as well as vintage markets and charity shops. As I worked on an edgy yet individual fashion forward style. Now however I have become the opposite of my younger self.

My hubby says, as soon as I popped out my first born, something clicked and I became one of those women I used to joke about. Right up until giving birth I always maintained Id keep my individuality and wouldn’t be seen dead in places such as Boden, or worse Kath Kidston. Yet not long after I started going to mother and baby clubs, my style evolved. I blame it on the other mothers, around them a lot more than some of my more fashionistas friends, so my style ended up mimicking them.

Its not all bad though, Boden are stocking to fabulous items this Spring/Summer and they don’t feel as mumsy as I thought they did. Mixing and matching with some of my pre-kids clothing I don’t look too much like the women I used to mock. I do think though as parents, the whirlwind of motherhood, kind of wraps you up and you don’t always make the same conscious decisions you used to. As your friendship circle evolves, so do you to a certain extent.

The kids wear is very nice and looks good quality, unfortunately with two you ng children, I really don’t want to be spending those prices on my kids. They’re boys, they are instinctively messy and they are growing quickly. I just find that as nice as these clothes are they are not all that practical. Also the boys wouldn’t stay looking smart and tidy as I envisioned for long!

Anyway these are some that I quite like and which I dont feel are mumsy.

Boden 1 Boden 2 Boden 3

Open Schools for Two Year Olds?

Toddler and Bricks

With two young children, I like to keep up on educational news. Although not school age yet, I have already secured a nursery place for my eldest and put his name down for a place at our local primary. It feels pretty early as the eldest is only 2 and a half and I am not quite ready to let him out of my sight full time. So when I read today on the Guardian that minister Liz Truss thinks that Schools should open doors to two-year-olds, I was pretty shocked. Mainly because, there already is a shortage of school places for those entering at 4, where will they get space for extra kids? But also how can they afford to do this as well as extending their nurseries’ opening hours?

I know for families struggling to bring up two children on two salaries is difficult, childcare costs pretty much wipe out one personas salary. Extending nursery opening hours won’t mean that those going back to work can earn more, because they will still have to pay for extra time in nursery. Plus the government doesn’t have money to subsidise this, so I don’t really know why there is to gain from these proposals. I feel it will just guilt parents into going back to work. Stay at home mothers always seem to be demonised in the press as feckless or scroungers, despite many having partners who work. Plus they don’t know official figure of how many stay at home mothers are self-employed like me and do some freelance work to get by.

The Government seems to think that moves like this will help to prevent the children of poorer families from falling behind their peers. However is it just poorer families that fall behind? And if so why? Because of no state interference so they must be pushed into early education. How about help and support for the parents to make sure their children develop better. This was available in the form of Sure Start, however funding cuts stopped this valuable service in its track. So why spend all this money now after cutting it prior? All it means is that parents aren’t learning vital skills to bring up children, which could perpetuate the problem.

I visit mother and child clubs, I have done since I had my first child. As a new mother I was overwhelmed and without much health support struggled at first. However these kind of clubs allows parents to get together and help each other out, sharing experiences which I think is far better for development, than farming it out to an overstretched and underpaid nursery nurse. All so parents can re-join the workforce. That’s not really parenting in my opinion.

Issues like this always get me riled up however when like me many parents their children’s futures hang with decisions by these Ministers who don’t have a clue. Their children will probably have nannies that is if their partners work. Plus their children are normally shipped off to private education, where they don’t have to fight for places. It really is easy for them, which is why decisions such as this really shouldn’t be made by them.

Image courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt

How to Beat a Cold

One of my friends, who came round for a cuppa the other day was bemoaning that she had, had this cold since Christmas and couldn’t shift it. She does normally get quite a lot of colds and finds it frustrating.

This Christmas seemed quite bad for a number of our friends. Whilst family was around over the festive period my husband and I took the chance of free babysitting to go out with friends. However at least half of them didn’t make it to the pub, due to being ill. There was just a small group of us that hadn’t caught anything.

I can attest that my diet plays a fair part in me not catching colds or other viruses and exercising regularly. But that doesn’t mean I’m not prone, there is normally a day or so I where I feel like I am possible coming down with something. But I take evasive action as it were to avoid a full blown cold:

  • Take an ‘extra-large dose’ of Vitamin C this will shorten the length of your cold
  • Keep hydrated as this will help your body keep fighting and help if you have a cough or sore throat
  • Get a good night’s sleep so you can let your body rest and rebuild and fight the cold

If I have what feels like a phlegmy cold coming on:

  • Take a long hot bath or shower the steam will help decongest and allow you to breathe better
  • Keep my head elevated in bed to help your nasal passages stay open and make breathing easier
  • Use Vapour rub the good old fashioned aid, helps keep your nose decongested

When there are a number of colds doing the rounds, I tend to stick to eating immunity boosting foods which normally stop colds before they start. Try these out in meals for added health benefits:

  • Garlic is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant vegetable
  • Ginger has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Dark leafy vegetables such as; Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and spinach
  • Carrots and sweet potatoes are beta carotene-rich
  • Mushrooms promote white blood cell production
  • Tomatoes are full of antioxidants
  • Dark chocolate is a great source of zinc
  • Strawberries are packed with vitamin C
  • Lemon is packed full of vitamin C
  • Honey has anti-bacterial properties and full of antioxidants

The kids pick up colds quite often, I would be worried if they didn’t at this age and don’t worry too much when they get them. It’s best to let your kids colds take its course as it helps build up immunity. I just try and make their suffering a bit easier, following the steps above. I never use Calpol or the like for colds, only use pain killers if there is no alternative to my kids ailments, you don’t want to be building up resistance to drugs at a young age!

The hubby like most men, when sick, only get ‘man flu’ he normally gets sick when he has been working too much and not looking after himself properly.

Home Tips

New Year, new you. It’s easy to say on 1st January that you will become more organised and keep on top of housework. However it can be hard to keep on top of resolutions like this, let alone get started on them. I have a few tips below which should get you started and help you along. Just make sure you’re not the only one following them, teamwork really helps!

Cleaning Tips

  1. Ostrich feather duster. The feathers collect dust rather than moving it around.
  2. Running short of window cleaner, use vinegar and water.
  3. Soak stubborn stains or stuck on dirt and grease before you try and clean.
  4. Use baby oil on a cloth to give steel surfaces a shiny finish.
  5. Baking soda and white cream toothpaste works to remove watermarks on wood. Buff away circles with this mixture.

Organising Yourself

  1. Spend a few minutes cleaning bits of your home. E.g. spend 15 minutes one night dusting, and other 15 vacuuming so over a week you work to get all rooms cleaned with spare time at a weekend.
  2. Tidy as you go, its one thing to nag the kids to clean up after themselves, but you should practise what you preach.
  3. Create meal plans at the beginning of the week, before you go shopping. Buy only what you need.
  4. Bulk make meals at a weekend, portion off and freeze. You can enjoy homemade ready meals hand have more time to spend with the family.
  5. Sort bills and file paperwork as soon as you receive it, don’t let it build up.

Clutter Organising Tips

  1. Use shelf dividers and over-door organisers to give yourself more room in cupboards and wardrobes.
  2. Utilise all spaces, don’t forget under your bed and on top of cupboards and wardrobes.
  3. Keep items where you use them, easier to put away after.
  4. Keep paperwork organised in folders and boxes. Use adhesive labels for organising each each i.e. bills, accounts, insurance, family.
  5. Make the most of organisation aids, such as files, folders boxes, and clothing, shoes and accessories sorters especially if you’re short of space.

 

My Top Ten Organic Beauty Products

Many people think buying organic is expensive, whether its food or other every day products. I have been buying organic beauty products for the past few years and I don’t spend any more than I used to. There are a number of affordable options out there, as well as some pricy ones!

I have to keep some products affordable when the whole family use them, but I also do like to treat myself. So why not check out my products below.

Cleanser & Toner

Heaven – Cleanse & Tone Facial Wash. All in one which saves me precious time!

Face Masks

Heaven – Bee Venom Mask. Contains Manuka Honey and magic Bee Venom keeps fine lines at bay.

Moisturiser Day & Night

Neal’s Yard – Power Berry Daily Moisture. Nice and light and smells perfect for all day use.

Essential Care – Organic Avocado Replenishing Cream. Nice and rich perfect moisturising for overnight.

Eye Cream

Green People – Firming Eye Gel (day). Nice and light for the day and a great price gives tired eyes a lift.

Lip Balm

Dr Organic – Manuka Honey Lip Balm. Affordable, keeps my lips hydrated and tastes really nice plus it has a SPF 15

Body Wash

Organic Surge – Lavender Meadow Shower Gel. This smells so nice, it’s lovely and foamy, plus keeps your skin soft with essential oils.

Body Scrub

Neal’s Yard – Geranium & Orange Body Scrub. Such a divine smell and leaves my body super soft, such a treat.

Moisturiser

Organic Surge – Lavender Meadow Body Lotion. I like to match my shower gel!

Foundation

Origins – Brighter By Nature™ SPF 30. Skin Tone Correcting Makeup which you put on underneath your foundation

Origins – Plantscription™. Anti-aging foundation. Blends really well and is not too heavy on my skin.

Eye Makeup

Neals Yard – Slate Mineral Eye Liner, Mineral Eye Shadow and Lengthening Mascara Black.

Working out Keeping it Mixed and Balanced

I tend to mix up my work out routines, for cardio vascular I opt for running or time on my exercise bike. However it’s important to exercise and move all of your body. Something I started last year was yoga. There are some courses near me, however with children, fitting them in was a problem. I learnt a few basics, however I started to use online video tutorials to keep up doing them from home.

This one is pretty helpful.

You do need space and no distractions, I normally enjoy yoga when the hubby takes the kids out on a weekend. This one is good for loosening up your muscles it helps flexibility and range of motion. However there are plenty available, oh and they are free!