Sunday, 12 May 2013


The next topic is Collecting and we are supposed to talk about the things we collect. Well sad to say, I am a total hoarder and always have been. When I was a child I always had at least 4 or 5 different collections on the go, Dolphins, My Little Ponies, books, Tigers, little horse ornaments and god knows what else and my room was pretty hard to move around in or find anything because of all the stuff I used to collect and keep. Now I'm older I have had to try and keep my hoarding instincts under control so that my house won't be completely swamped with things!! I still permit myself a few things though, because at the end of the day they make me happy and it would be a sad world if I deprived myself completely! One thing I have collected for years is paper weights. I have about 30 of them dotted around the house and they are beautiful. But my main thing is...
Make up and nail polish!
I'm sure it is no surprise to anybody who knows me or who has been reading this blog for any length of time, that my main collection is nail polish. I also collect lipsticks and eyeshadows (the picture above is my eyeshadow collection). It may, however, be a surprise to some of you that there is a really good reason WHY I collect these things. When my son was born, for the first three years of his life I suffered from severe post natal depression and post natal psychosis. Life was very dark and hopeless back then, since I hid my condition and it went undiagnosed and untreated for a very long time and I didn't get any help until the child was three years old. Nail polish, and then make up, was actually what saved me in the end, or at least it was the first step in my recovery. My sister in law was staying with us, and one day she painted her nails, then offered me the bottle to do mine too. I had not worn even a scrap of make up for longer than I could remember - but out of politeness I took the bottle and painted my toenails. It felt so weird having something about me feel pretty for once. But it also felt good. So the next day I did my fingernails too. And then I tried a little make up, and then I did something with my hair for a change, and then I bought some new clothes and suddenly I felt like a human being again for the first time in three long years. I have collected nail polish, and to a lesser extent make up, ever since then - and I always will, because it reminds me that I am important too and deserve to look nice and have nice things. Nearly all of my stash is drugstore or mid range; I have very little high end stuff because as nice as it is to have a drawer full of Chanel or Dior, I find it hard to justify the amount they cost when finances are tight.
 I have two Helmers, one for polish, the other for make up, and I spend soooo much time just rearranging the things in them, taking them out, looking at them, having a little play with this colour and that, it's so therapeutic and it makes me really happy.

What about you - what do you collect and why?

Book Love

Today's next topic is Book Love.

Now I have to say that nowadays as a full time employee, mum, wife and blogger, I don't get much time for reading any more, and when I do it has to be on a Kindle because allergies have made it hard for me to keep paper books in the house any more -sob-. But as a child and in my teens and early twenties I was a total book addict. I never had a book out of my hand and if I had nothing to read I felt physically deprived. I remember once when I was a child and sitting on the loo, I couldn't even last the few minutes until I got out of the bathroom so I sat there reading the back of the toilet roll packet just for something to read!! I didn't know back then but this was actually a side effect of having Dyscalculia which I have had all my life... dyscalculics tend to compensate for having learning difficulties with numbers, by being really good with reading and words instead, and boy did I over compensate!! I especially loved fantasy books, sci fi, and also the classics which I found in a local book shop for cheap and had a whole collection of them. I had hundreds of books and loved them all. It's hard to pick out favourites from all the books I love or have loved but here are two of special significance to me: the first 'proper' book I ever read, and my favourite book as a child.
The first 'grown up' book I remember reading is Watership Down. I could read by the time I was 4 years old. Partly because of my dyscalculia, partly because I was rather precocious back then anyway, and partly because my mother disapproved of the new system of Phonics they were teaching at the time and therefore she made darn sure I could already read before I started school. At the age of 4 I was reading more fluently than most people twice my age and once I started school they just didn't know what to do with me. At 5, given the 'Roger Red Hat' book learn-to-read series everyone else in my class at school was reading, I finished them all in less than a week. After a bit of consternation and trying to make me read other books for kids my age (which all lasted me about 5 minutes before I was back asking for something else to do), the teachers just gave up and let me pick whatever I wanted from the top class' book shelf. I chose Watership Down, which everybody thought was waaaaaay too hard even for me. I finished it in three weeks flat and all the teachers pretty much fainted lol. They let me keep the book and I still have it today and love it even now.
The Swiss Family Robinson was my favourite book for years as a child. Dad picked it up in a charity shop and gave it to me as it was one he'd been fond of as a boy. I absolutely loved it and pretty much read the ink off the pages. I loved the stories of desert island life, the way they survived in the wilderness and made themselves such a lovely home from sheer resourcefulness that in the end when rescuers arrived, they decided to stay there rather than leave. When I was older I saw the movie and I HATED it. Hollywood-ised to death, it was nothing like the book... gone were the fascinating tales of survival and the intricate details of how they'd designed this that or the other gadget to make butter or string, made their own fishing nets, or how they protected their little farm area from wild animals. Instead they'd been replaced by cheesy shmaltz and stupid scenes of brothers (who in the book had been decent and sensible) suddenly turned into hormone crazed idiots, fighting over who gets to dance with the girl (why do they have to bring sex into everything??). Even now the movie gives me rage just to think about it. I consider it pretty much the worst movie I have ever seen, just because of how far removed it was from my childhood memories of this lovely story and part of the reason why I rarely watch a movie that's based on a book unless I have already read the book first and seen what it was really supposed to be like!

That's it for Book Love for me. How about you? Which books did you love as a child?

Travel Dreams

Morning, sweeties!

So having caught right up with the blog every day in May challenge, I wound up with a killer headache that lasted two days and BINGO, I'm behind again. It was so annoying, but my head hurt too much to even look at a computer screen.

Never mind though because both of the topics I've missed are fairly short ones, so rather than ignore them I'm going to catch up all over again. First up is Travel Dreams : if you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? This is quite a hard one since there's a lot of places I would love to visit, however if I had to pick just one it would be the place I love so much, I even have it as my blogger user picture:
The Caribbean! I have always wanted to go there, ever since I was a child. I've always been kind of cold blooded - I'm cold pretty much all the time, and the UK leaves quite a lot to be desired when it comes to hot and sunny weather for most of the year - so anywhere that's tropical and warm sounds like my idea of heaven.
One day when I was about 10 my mum and I were talking about what it would be like to live somewhere warmer than the UK, and if so which sort of place would we prefer. She said that there were dry heat places like deserts, and tropical places where it was more humid, and so on. We looked at pictures of different hot places and when I saw photographs of the Caribbean islands I thought they were the most beautiful places I'd ever seen. Ever since then I've been entranced by all things Caribbean! The landscape... the food... the people... the music... even now a Caribbean accent leaves me weak at the knees. Though I have never actually been there I have promised myself I will go one day, though I'll probably have to win the lottery first to afford the plane fare!

How about you - where would you love to go?

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Favourite Social Media Channel

Day 9 of the BEDM challenge and this time we have to talk about our favourite social media channel!

While I wouldn't say I'm completely obsessed with social media, it definitely plays a big part in my life. There are so many channels now and so many people use at least one of them - friends, family, colleagues and so on - that it's hard not to be influenced by social media in some way these days. Probably my most used of the social media channels is Facebook. Once upon a time I actually used MySpace instead, but over time it became more populated by young teenagers, bands etc and it wasn't the same any more. Not that there's anything wrong with teens or bands, but I am neither of those things and whilst I do like music, that's not all I'm into. So I went and checked out Facebook and the rest is history.
Facebook has a special place in my life because through it I have got back in touch with a lot of old friends, family members, people I used to go to school with, people who live too far away from me to visit, and so on - since I have a bit of a phobia of talking on the telephone, and have never been too good at writing letters, there are many people who I probably wouldn't have had anywhere near as good a relationship with if I hadn't been able to do it this way. I even met one of my closest friends through Facebook; she was a friend of a friend and we added each other because of that and the rest was history. Facebook has also been a lifeline for me during those times when I've had little or no social life otherwise; when I've had no money, or was too busy taking care of a newborn to leave the house, or for some other reason that got in the way of me having a life beyond just work and home. These were times when I could have been incredibly lonely, but because of Facebook I was able to stay in touch with people and feel reassured that someone still cared about my existence (and likewise I've been able to do the same for other people too). I like how you can put as much or as little effort in as you want, be that long messages on each other's statuses or walls, or just a simple 'like' of a picture or something that somebody's shared, letting them know that you've seen it and you think it's cool (man do I wish they would have a dislike button too though). I value likes as much as actual messages, it only takes a second to click 'like' but it still lets the person know you're there and you're thinking of them in some way. I use Facebook as my ranting post, soap box, a platform for sharing triumphs and successes, and a way of recording important moments in my life. I put loads of photographs on there, which means not only do my friends and family get to see them, but also I can look back through them and through old statuses and what not and feel nostalgic/proud/sentimental/amused etc over each of the things I've done and seen. It's a bit like an electronic scrapbook of my life... I have always been AWFUL at keeping diaries and journals, and organising photographs, but now that Facebook exists, it does all of that for me. If I could only pick one type of social media, it would probably be Facebook.
Lucky for me I don't have to stick to just the one though! Next up in my list of favourites is Twitter. I have to say that for the longest time I didn't really get on with Twitter. Unlike Facebook, hardly any of my 'real life' friends are on there, so when I first started I didn't really have anyone to talk to and there isn't exactly a 'find me some random people to make friends with' button either lol.  But I persevered, starting off by following celebrities and then finding people who also liked those celebrities, and then on to bloggers and other interests of mine. Once you've got a few friends you add more from amongst their friends too and it soon grows. Twitter is, for me, primarily a place I interact with the blogging community (both directly and also by clicking on bloggers' links to their latest posts), find out what's new and exciting in the world of nail polish, cosmetics and fashion, and to a lesser extent, keep tabs on what my favourite celebrities are doing. Unlike Facebook, most of my friends on Twitter are people I have never met in 'real life', but I have been able to get to know some really great people, with similar interests to me, who I probably would never have come into contact with otherwise.
A more recent addition to my list has been Instagram. I used to hear about this photographic social media thing that people had on iPhones and wonder what all the fuss was about; when they brought it out on Android phones I had to give it a try just out of interest and nosiness lol. Initially I thought it was a bit of a boring gimmick but again that was because I didn't have many people to follow at first. Once I'd followed a few people I quickly became hooked; I just love seeing those little snapshots of people's lives and sharing a few of my own too :)

That's about it for me; I know there's tons more (Google+, Foursquare, Flickr, Tumblr, YouTube and all the rest) but really I try and limit it to just these three as I don't have time to spend on keeping that many things going. I can easily lose whole evenings just on Facebook alone and I try not to let social media swallow up my entire life, which could happen quite easily if I tried to do everything! Also I try to remember that social media has a dark side. As well as the fact it can easily steal all of your spare time if you let it (time I should be spending with my family!) the internet is full of creeps and weirdos.  Sad but true, bad people have access to social media too!  Because of this I have my own personal set of social media rules that I follow at all times - most of it is common sense but I will list them here anyway as it is so important to protect yourself when online these days.

1. Use privacy settings correctly. Most of them are set by default to 'open', that is every man and his dog can see what you're doing and saying and uploading. This is fine if all you're doing is talking about how great your latest lipstick purchase is, but not so much if it's something more personal. If you're not OK with random and possibly dodgy strangers seeing that picture of you in your bikini, those settings are going to have to change.

2. Limit the amount of personal information you share, especially if you have chosen to have slightly more relaxed privacy settings that allow strangers to see your activities, or if some of your friends are actually people you don't really know. People have been burgled because they told the world exactly where they lived, then put up statuses letting the world know they were off to work and wouldn't be back for x number of hours.

3. DAMAGE LIMITATION. Watch what you say, do and upload - some things just have no place in social media, and for good reason. Even once you have your privacy settings right, you can still come unstuck and once it's out there, you can't always get it back. Sometimes people get hacked. Sometimes sites change the privacy settings without warning. Sometimes one of your so called friends turns out to be a troll or a gossip monger and before you know it you're in trouble because you said something and it was taken the wrong way, or passed on to someone you didn't want to share it with. I try always to look at what I'm doing and saying and imagine what might happen if that picture got into the wrong hands or if the wrong pair of eyes saw what I'd written. I don't like the answer, then I just don't put it on the internet!

My First Job

Morning, lovelies!

Just a quickie to try and catch up with the Blog Every Day in May challenge, as I'm running a day behind! I posted about pets yesterday but I also need to post about my first job!

OK so I already mentioned that I grew up in a pet shop, so obviously I worked in there at weekends once I was old enough to help out, but that wasn't paid. I also did a paper round for a while, but my first PROPER job was working in Boots the Chemist! I started as a Saturday girl, working on the make up and perfume counters. Looking back, this is probably where my addiction to make up started! We got ~20% discount on everything and also we were allowed to buy any spare/discontinued/damaged testers we wanted for cheap. My first make up stash consisted of lots of high end testers, wish I still had them all!
I worked with the make up for several years, selling both drugstore/cheapy make up and also some higher end products. There was Elizabeth Arden, Revlon, Ultima II, Estee Lauder, No 7, Dior and Clarins.
Not the store I worked in, but it looked a lot like this (just a bit smaller)
Being just a Saturday girl meant they wouldn't let me have proper make up training and there was always this 'them and us' thing going on between the cosmetics consultants and we lowly Saturday staff. We weren't considered good enough to actually do makeovers or help people choose make up. However it often got so busy that we ended up doing it anyway - and I had quite a few customers (especially the older ladies who tended to also be the ones buying the more expensive items) decide that they much preferred me to the consultants and there was even one lady who spent at least £50 a week on high end products, who wouldn't buy anything at all if I wasn't there! So the consultants caved in and let me do pretty much the same job as them. 

When I was at Uni my job changed and I worked in the pharmacy instead. It came in very useful for familiarising myself with pharmacology (which was relevant to my degree, Biochemistry) but I did miss the make up! Luckily I also stacked shelves in the evenings and got lots of time to play with the drugstore make up at that point, so I wasn't completely cut off even if I wasn't actually applying it to anyone's face :-p

So there you are.... the reason for my make up addiction! The one thing I don't miss is the perfume counter. It was nice smelling all the perfumes, but lots of customers insisted we spray our own wrists for them to smell (instead of their own, or those little card tester things) and by the end of the day after 9344573984573948 sprays of different perfumes I used to stink to high heaven and it wouldn't even wash off in the shower when I got home. Old ladies on the bus would say 'excuse me dear but you're wearing far too much perfume'!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


I was meant to put this post up yesterday but when I got home from work I was just so tired that all I could do was ignore the laptop and go straight to bed! Do you ever get days like that, random days of extreme sleepiness? I have no idea where it came from but I feel better now I've had some sleep!

Anyway the post from yesterday is about Pets, and even though it's a day late now I'm still going to write about it because it's a topic I was looking forward to. I grew up in a pet shop and we've always had a lot of animals around, honestly it doesn't feel right to not have at least one furry face about the place! We have five cats (because I'm a cat person), two dogs (because my husband is a dog person), two corn snakes (my husband's) and a load of tropical and cold water fish (jointly owned by the man and the boy). Our friends call our house 'the zoo', because as well as having plenty of our own, we have a habit of rescuing animals that are in a bad way, nursing them back to health and then passing them on to someone else who will love and care for them the way they deserve. If I talked about ALL my pets this would be the longest post ever so I'm just going to stick to the cats and dogs for now. Warning... it's going to be picture heavy...
This is Rosie. She used to live wild on a farm, having litter after litter of kittens and she'd never had any love or affection from anyone in her entire life (about 6 years). She was full of worms, covered in fleas, and she'd been sunburned so badly that her ears and nose were a mass of scabs (the edges of her ears had completely dropped off!). We took her into our house about a year and a half ago with the intention of finding her a new home elsewhere once we'd cleaned her up and got her spayed, but she was so lovely we had to keep her! Being a wild cat we thought she'd be scratchy and feral but I have never met a more affectionate and grateful cat in my life! She gets on your lap the instant you sit down and cuddles you to death, puts her paws around you like a real human hug, and just sits and LOOKS at you like she can't believe she's actually getting some love. She refuses point blank to go more than 3 feet outside the back door and most of the time won't even leave the house, it's like she's saying 'been there, don't like it much, I'll just stay here on the nice soft sofa, thanks'.
This is Poppy. Poppy is such a lovely cat, she loves cuddles and ambushing the dogs, plus she is a talking cat - you can literally have a conversation with her. You speak, then she will miaow, then you speak some more, then she miaows her answer, and so on. It's so cute! We got her as a kitten, again from a farm where she and lots of others just lived rough and fended for themselves. She was so dirty that we actually thought she was brown, until we washed her (twice!) and black fur gradually emerged from beneath all the dirt. She had also never been treated for fleas or worms and was so covered in fleas that she now has a severe flea allergy :( We keep it under control as much as possible with flea treatments and steroid injections to stop the itching but even with that, all it takes is for one flea to bite her and she's an itchy mess for ages, licking and scratching until she loses half her fur and makes herself sore all over. Despite everything she still manages to be so adorable and loving, and she rules the roost putting the dogs and the other cats in their place. She has 'small dog' syndrome... she's the smallest cat in the place but she acts like she's ten feet tall and she is definitely the boss!
Next up is Merlin. He has been here the longest and is my gorgeous Fur Baby! Merlin was found emaciated and roaming the streets of Southampton, nobody knows why or what happened to him before that but he's been nothing but pampered and spoiled ever since :-) The day I saw him for the first time, he was in a cage in the shelter; all of the other cats in the place were busy hiding and avoiding contact with everybody that visited, but Merlin came right up to the bars, put both his paws through, and did everything in his power to touch me and get me to give him a cuddle <3 that did it for me and he came home with us the very next week. I've always said that he chose me, not the other way round! The vet thinks he is part Maine Coon as he is over 7kg in weight and almost the size of a Jack Russel dog; I have always had a soft spot for really big cats <3 We had to install a dog flap for him as he can't fit through the regular cat sized flaps at all! Even though he is huge he is so placid and gentle, he just lets the other cats steal his food without so much as a grumble. I have had to start feeding him in the bathroom because the others haven't worked out how to open the door and he actually gets to eat in there instead of watching everyone else clean out his bowl :-p
Oh, and he always lays like this:
Elegant, eh? Ps. I'm the only person allowed to tickle that tummy. Everyone else gets bitten, but not me, because he's Mummy's Boy :-p
The last two cats are Phoenix (in the window) and Morpheus (in the foreground). These are the only animals we have that aren't 'second hand' - they've never known any hardship and have been here almost since they were born. Morpheus is a talking cat - he says Meh-woh instead of Miaow and it sounds just like he's saying Hello. He is such a cuddle monster and loves his long snuggles in bed - sometimes he gets carried away and wants a fuss when I'm sleeping, so he'll bat me round the face demanding tickles at 2am -_-. He's the first cat I have met who really, REALLY loves his tummy tickled, I mean rough like you're tickling a dog. He just loves it and won't bite when he's had enough like most cats do! He also wanders around the house shouting at the top of his lungs if he can't find anyone to fuss over him and he feels lonely! Phoenix his sister is the trouble maker and all round scatty cat of the household. If there is a bang or a crash anywhere in the house you know it is her knocking stuff over, hunting invisible mice, getting into mischief etc. She is obsessed with the feel of smooth surfaces under her feet, especially shiny cardboard boxes (like shoe boxes) and mirrors, and spends ages just running her paws over them like she's trying to dig a hole (but without her claws). Every window, patio door, TV and low down mirror in the house has paw prints and streaks on it because of Phoenix!
Who put those paw prints there?? It wasn't me, honest!
We had to put Oscar in a bigger tank just to save him from being catted to death!
I couldn't list all the cats without showing you the dogs, too...
This is Jasper. He was locked in a shed without any bedding or food and covered with creosote because they'd painted the shed with him inside it. His entire nose and ears were covered with blisters and you could see every one of his ribs. Now he's a pain in everybody's butt but very loyal and funny, loves to dig holes in my lawn and sit on my sofa when I'm not looking. He makes everybody laugh and he's clever too. He knows 'sit', 'stay', 'down', 'off', 'in your bed' and 'go wee wees'. Oh and if you say the word Chewy to him he goes bonkers with excitement knowing he's about to get a chewy treat bone :-p
Last but not least is Alfie. He's a miniature Yorkie who came to live with us because his owner had cancer and couldn't take care of him any more. Alfie is a proper handbag dog who likes to be carried around like an accessory as much as possible (he doesn't like walking very far, the lazy so and so!) and I swear he secretly wishes we'd tie ribbons in his hair and paint his nails. Like Poppy he has no idea he's tiny and would happily try and tear a bear apart if he got the chance, although he's deadly afraid of the dishwasher and shakes like a leaf whenever it's running. He's very proud of himself in this picture because he and my son had just won the school dog show :-D

So that's the tribe. As you can imagine it's kind of busy around here but it's worth it! There's always someone to cuddle, someone to laugh at, and someone to keep your feet warm in bed. I love watching them all and seeing their different characters, it can be hard work looking after so many at times but it's rewarding too. I wouldn't change them for the world! (Well, apart from that time Jasper chewed my new lino in the kitchen............)

Monday, 6 May 2013

Bank Holiday!

So today's post for Blog Every Day in May is about the Bank Holiday we just had here in the UK and what a lovely day it has been! 21 degrees nearly all day long, it felt just like Summer and boy did I ever need the sunshine :) I wore flipflops today for the first time this year!
Originally I had planned to get the family out and do something for the day but nobody could decide what to do, since we are currently on an even tighter budget than usual this month it had to be something that didn't cost money or need a long drive. The man had a lie in and the kid and I got up and ummed and aahed over what to do for ages. We thought we might make our own bread,  then go and have a picnic, and then watch some movies at home. However the kid's cousin randomly turned up just as we were about to get off the sofa and then a friend of theirs appeared too, and all the plans kind of fell by the wayside.

The kids played Minecraft for a while and I finished all the laundry. It's been so nice having the sunshine this weekend as I've managed to finish ALL the washing and also get it completely dry, on the line, for free and without cluttering the house up with clothes airers drying indoors, yippee! 
Having a long weekend has been great too because I'd already done pretty much all the housework and anything else I needed to get done by the end of Sunday - so I ended up spending almost the whole of today sitting out in the sunshine and sunbathing, reading my kindle (I read a whole book today, from start to finish, yay), and socialising with my husband and my sister in law. It was so lovely and relaxing! The kids got ice cream from the ice cream van and they also went up to the village shop for sweets, then they played outside until they got too hot and had to go back indoors. We did try to fill the paddling pool but it's sprung a leak :( I also had a lovely soak in the bath, completely undisturbed which is a rare occurrence around her!
The evening was great too, once it was just the three of us again we made home made popcorn (which we have never done before, so that was exciting enough by itself lol) and all sat watching a movie together like our very own cinema at home. 
So all in all we had a mishmash of a day doing whatever we felt like, rather than 'proper' activities like we'd originally intended to do, but the kid told me as he went to bed that 'today was awesome' so I must have done something right!!
I wish every weekend was 3 days. And that they were always that sunny. Just a shame I have to go back to work!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Fit and Healthy

It's day 5 of the Blog Every Day in May challenge and today's subject is Fit and Healthy - What do you do to stay fit or be a healthy individual?

This is a good topic for me as being fit and healthy is never very far from my mind. I have a few health issues including Asthma and Psoriasis, which tend to get worse if I don't eat a healthy diet, and I'm Hypermotile, which amongst other things, means my joints become very painful if I allow my weight to creep up too high. I'm not a fitness freak or a health nut by any means but I do try and look after myself wherever I can. I do this in three main ways:

1. I'm vegetarian. Actually I'm very close to vegan, as dairy products trigger my asthma and I have to limit my consumption of milk based foods. It just so happens that I'm vegetarian primarily because I don't like the taste of meat, but to be honest I am glad I turned out this way. Vegetarians, on average, have a lower rate of heart disease, fewer cholesterol problems and lower blood pressure than people who eat meat. They also have a much lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and various different types of cancer, and they're much less likely to be obese. Of course it is possible (and easy) to be vegetarian or vegan and still have a terrible diet - just like it's absolutely possible to eat meat and have a very healthy diet indeed. The two things are not mutually exclusive. However I have made a point of educating myself about proper nutrition and how to achieve it, and I try to keep an eye on what I'm eating and make sure it's high in the good stuff, with the right proportions - and low in junk food. I eat a lot of vegetables, fruit, pasta, potatoes, rice, lentils, beans and so on. My meals are usually low fat and I try to cook from scratch rather than living off processed food. Yes, I still eat cake, cookies, chocolate, veggie burgers and the like. I just eat them in moderation and if the scales are creeping up a bit higher than I'd like, I put the doughnut down and walk away!

2. I keep active wherever possible. I do find it hard sometimes, especially on weekdays when I've been at work all day and I'm tired. But at least a couple of times a week I will try and get on the treadmill and walk for a while. I also try to find ways of adding 'hidden' exercise to my daily routine. I deliberately park ten minutes' walk away from work, so that's 20 minutes of walking a day just going to and from my car. When I'm in the lab, I try to work standing up as much as possible. When I'm home, I get involved with my son's activities. It's amazing how much it adds up when you join in with kicking a ball, walking around the park, flying a kite, building a snowman, playing a bit of tennis etc. Kids have so much energy that just keeping up with them is exercise in its' own right. They are nature's way of keeping us mums fit and healthy!
3. I rarely drink alcohol. No, I'm not a righteous teetotaller, frowning in disapproval at anyone who likes the occasional glass of wine... if you like to drink, then more power to you. It just isn't for me. Once upon a time, I had the worst immune system ever. I kid you not, I used to catch a cold literally every two weeks, all year long. Most of the time, the colds would last a minimum of a week, if not longer, and as soon as I got over it, I'd catch another one within days. I'd have THE WORST symptoms, too. I've never been one to just curl up and die the instant I get sick, but honest to goodness I have lost count of the times I've had to phone in sick at work because my cold was just that bad that I couldn't even drive (or see, or talk). It got to the point when my doctor  began getting worried, and decided maybe he needed to send me for tests to see what could be wrong. At the time, I used to drink - not super heavy, but I'd have a glass of wine with dinner most evenings, occasionally a little more. But one day I read an article that said one unit of alcohol reduces your immune system by HALF, for a minimum of 8 hours. Plus, my dad had just been diagnosed with cancer of the rectum and the doctor had point blank told him, this type of cancer is almost always caused by consumption of too much alcohol over a long period of time. I was so desperate to stop being sick all the time, and so horrified by what happened to Dad, that I decided to quit, for six months, to see if it made a difference. By the end of the 6 months I couldn't believe the difference. I had almost completely stopped catching colds. The ones I did catch, were only mild, and only lasted a maximum of two days before disappearing as if by magic! Nowadays I only drink once in a blue moon, for special occasions. And I still hardly ever catch colds. I even managed to avoid catching the flu when everyone else in my house had it over Christmas last year. I have to say that giving up alcohol is probably the best thing I ever did for my health and I'm so glad I decided to give it a try!

So what else could I be doing to stay fit and healthy? Well, I could be sleeping more. I used to stay up until the early hours most nights... I lost count of the number of times I'd wake up on the couch having fallen asleep at my laptop at 3am. It just isn't good to do that sort of thing all the time, you know? In more recent times I have cut back on the late nights, but I still rarely crash before midnight, and since my husband gets up at 5.30am, in reality I get less than 6 hours sleep most nights. Not enough. I would like to start going to bed earlier on weekdays at least, so that's my next target. And although I am fairly active, I would like to build on that too. I have noticed that the more I exercise, the more energy I have - so that, combined with more sleep, can only be a good thing.

How about you? How do you stay fit and healthy? What sort of things do you do, or what are you planning to do in the future?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Five Fave Blogs!

Morning everyone! It's Saturday, day 4 of Blog Every Day in May! Today's topic is Five Fave Blogs and we are meant to talk about 5 blogs we love, and why.

I thought this topic was going to be easy but I was so wrong! I read so many blogs and they are all awesome in their own way. It was SO hard to narrow them down to five! To make it easier, I decided just to pick beauty blogs as that's what I read most of, and because Glitter Mountain is primarily a beauty blog too ^_^

So here they are, in no particular order:
First up is Tartofraises. This blog is actually the main reason I got interested in nail polish in the first place, and also inspired me to try and grow my nails long for the first time. Ophelie, who has the kind of nails I'd kill for, reviews polish, but also does the most stunning nail art I have ever seen, bar none. There are beautiful, clear photos and also video tutorials if you would like to reproduce the nail art on your own nails! Tartofraises is written in French, but don't let that stop you visiting if you don't speak French already - most browsers have an option to translate into other languages, or else you can use Google Translate :)

Next is Scrangie. This lovely lady has a bajillion followers, and for good reason. She has just about every swatch of every polish you're ever going to need, and tons of reviews of other make up products too. Her pictures are clear, accurate and awesome, and she pulls no punches: if she doesn't like something, she isn't afraid to say so. This is the first blog I go to when I want to find a swatch of any colour and I only look elsewhere if she doesn't have it!
The next blog on my list is Do My Hands Look Fat in This?, a blog owned by a very good friend of mine, fellow polish addict, Dutch ex-pat and all round sweetheart Hilde. I have passed many hours discussing polish with her when I should have been working (oops) and I have lost count of the number of times I've been feeling down about something, only for the postie to turn up with a care package of nail polish from Hilde - just to make me smile. She doesn't have many followers yet but she deserves more!
Fourth is Nina's Bargain Beauty. Nina is a mum of 5 who lives in Ireland and blogs about all sorts of beauty products in her spare time. I absolutely love this blog and check it every single day. I love her writing style, she is so open, honest and enthusiastic about everything (how she has that much energy with 5 kids underfoot I will never know!) and reading her posts makes me feel more like I'm having a chat over a nice cup of tea with a good friend than just reading someone's blog. I also love that the products she talks about are affordable - luxury items are lovely, but there's only so much time I want to spend reading about things I can probably never have!
Last but not least is Indian Vanity Case. I have very hooded eyelids which make it very difficult to wear eyeshadow and still look good - as soon as I open my eyes, my lids pretty much disappear and you can't tell I'm wearing anything! Cynthia has similar eyelids to mine and quite frankly amazing skillz when it comes to eyeshadow, so all of her tutorials are perfect as far as I'm concerned. She also has a similar skintone to me so I love to read her make up reviews - mostly because if it looks good on her, it'll look good on me too!

How about you? What are your favourite blogs?

A Day in the Life of Opalline

So it's day two of the Blog Every Day in May challenge and the topic is 'A Day in the Life'.

I have to say I was a bit dubious about this one as my daily routine isn't exactly exciting, especially on a Friday when I'm always so tired from working all week! But never mind, let's see how it goes.

6.30 - 8.00 Get up, shower, get dressed, put on make up, have coffee. Feel smug that it's fish and chip day at school, so the kid won't want packed lunch today and I only have to make stuff for myself. Realise that, because it's the end of the week, we've actually run out of most things that could be vaguely considered 'lunch'. Consider boiling up some rice or pasta for a quickie salad. Cheat by packing a dried Batchelors Savoury Rice mixture and some carrot sticks instead. Feed the cats and dogs. Chivvy child into getting dressed and out the door. Spend a moment looking at the grotty mess that is my living room and wonder how it could have got that bad in the space of an hour and a half.

8.00 - 14.00 Drive to work, leaving child at his Nan's house to have his breakfast and watch TV until school. Spend several hours at work finishing off the things I've done all week, filing, typing up experiments and data and making sure the analysers are topped up with enough reagents for the weekend. I like Fridays - I work flexi time, so during the week I try and work enough extra hours here and there that I can take a half day off on Fridays and be around for when the kid gets home from school. Of course because this weekend is a 3 day weekend, the time reallllly dragged (why does it always do that before a holiday?)

14.40 - Get home. Get mobbed by hungry dogs and cats who seem to think that just because I got home 3 hours earlier than normal, they should get dinner 3 hours early too. Attempt to convert the living room and kitchen into something that doesn't resemble a bomb-site for the weekend. Child appears, then goes to the park to play with his friends. Sister in law appears, so stop doing housework and make coffee instead. Husband gets home shortly after, so make coffee for him too.

15.30 - Water the veggies (can I call them veggies yet when they're only about 1cm tall?). Have heart failure when a giant spider runs over my foot. Try to work out what to do about the ants that seem to be setting up a next in my courgette tub.

16.00 - 17.00 Realise the house still looks like a dumping ground and do some more tidying. Reboot the dishwasher and the laundry. Asda van arrives with the weekly shop (FOOD!!). Unpack shopping, cook dinner for child and husband, call child home from park to eat it. Realise that kid can't find his phone. Spend fifteen minutes searching the park, then have bright idea to call the phone. Husband answers it because it's at home on the couch where we already looked three times and didn't see it. D'oh.

18.00 - child goes to friend's house for a bit. Realise that I forgot to cook myself any dinner. Despite arrival of new exciting veggies and other food, having spent all this time tidying and cooking for other people and putting new groceries away, now I don't feel like cooking anything 'proper'. Too tired. Eat sandwich instead. Tell self that this is okay because I had a cooked lunch (savoury rice totally counts as cooked, I mean I had to microwave it for 15 minutes and everything, right?).

19.30 - Finish tidying up and spend a few minutes serving up cakes, macaroni cheese, stew and jasmine tea on my phone. Marvel at the irony that I'm too tired to cook myself any actual dinner, but I'll happily spend hours on Bakery Story and Restaurant Story cooking imaginary food instead.

19.45 - Cakes served, spend some time with the kid (who's reappeared from his friend's house) watching Hey Arnold. He's obsessed with this show at the moment (a bit like I'm obsessed with cute cooking game apps, maybe?)

20.30 - 22.30 Kid's bedtime. Make the mistake of giving him a cuddle on his bed before sleep time. Wake up almost two hours later having accidentally fallen asleep - whoopsie, well I did say I'm always tired on Friday!

22.30 Time to relax. Would have had somewhat more of this relaxation time if I'd not fallen asleep, but never mind. I guess sleeping counts as relaxing too. Ignore the fact the downstairs seems to have reverted back to rubbish dump status since I went upstairs (how does that happen??? Are there special mess gremlins that emerge and rumple the place up while your back is turned?). Spend the rest of the evening on the sofa writing blog posts, reading blogs, writing role playing posts, checking Facebook, Twitter etc.

And that's it! Not the most exciting of days but the weekend ought to be better! What did you do today? Any plans for the bank holiday weekend?

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Spring is Here

Hey, happy Thursday! Or as my son puts it, Happy Slope Day. He heard me saying that Wednesday is Hump Day, and immediately christened Thursday, Slope Day. He says it's because after the hump comes the downhill slope towards the weekend... I think it's cute :-D

Anyway I've signed up for the Blog Every Day in May challenge over at, so hopefully you will be hearing a lot more from me than usual for at least the next 31 days! Of course I didn't see the challenge until the 2nd, one day after it started, so technically I already failed!! But I've decided to do it anyway - I probably won't make the entire month anyway but it'll be nice to see how many I can get through!

Today's topic is 'Spring is Here' and right on cue, our new tulips have started flowering. There have been daffodils around in the hedgerows too for a while now, though none in our garden apart from one tiny narcissus by my front door, which the cat managed to stomp on before I could get a picture.
We planted the tulip bulbs a while ago, and a load of leaves came up - but then March turned back into Winter and we had frosts and horrible cold weather galore. I was really worried that the tulips would be too frosted to flower but I needn't have been concerned! There are also some pansies in this picture which Mr Opalline planted last weekend, and near the back is one of our Mint plants, miraculously coming back to life (like a leafy Lazarus!) after a long cold winter of pretending to be dead twigs.
It's Spring in the greenhouse too! Suddenly we have tomatoes, herbs, and all sorts of other things emerging from the compost.
Radishes and peas too!

I can't wait to see what else comes up. Really hoping the vegetables do well this year, what with all my attempts to be frugal with the groceries I could really do with some free vegetables!! Last summer was so dismal that nothing really grew at all. Let's hope that the glorious sunshine we've been having recently is a sign of more to come!