My Slimming World Journey

It was with reticence that I started Slimming World last May, would I manage a new way of life? How would I cope with sleepless nights with Joss followed by staying on plan the next day, and juggle a new way of shopping with going back to work?

Everyone’s journey starts and ends differently, and my journey is really just beginning although I reached my target weight recently, and I have been slowly feeling more confident about where I’ve gotten to. I finally feel I have reached my happy healthy weight and more importantly my diet is much healthier, with a stone and a bit off I’ve started to add some good fats in to maintain my weight but the biscuits have stayed on the supermarket shelf and cake is an occasional treat rather than a staple part of my diet.

Eating well as a family has helped us all see results, I’ve always been educated about food, my own mother is very clued up on nutrition, but I needed some help to make the right choices. I’ve found that having a well stocked fruit bowl feels like a real treat again rather than an optional extra, so when we have clementines we all pile in as they’re a family fave, nothing is wasted and I know and love that my super speedy foods will cut a way through the junk and speed up my metabolism too, my plate is heavier on the veg and good carbs and lighter on bread, which everyone says makes you feel great, and it does, bread is a real treat and I seek out the good stuff or make my own when we want that treat, beating the bloat – I guess we’ve just tipped the balance to 80% healthy 20% treat and hubby and I are encouraging each other to stay on track too.

I’m sharing this photo because I feel proud to have come this far, finally a night out where I felt really good about myself!

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This post isn’t endorsing SW or any other way of eating, but is just about me recognizing where I’ve gotten to after a tough journey!

The magic of the Portable North Pole

The magical Portable North Pole (PNP) is a personalised online greeting from Santa for your little one, a delightful treat in the run up to Christmas, I loved setting this up for Joss.

With a wide range of options to choose from you choose the name of your child and help Santa get the pronunciation right, choose whether they have been naughty or nice and upload a photo of them into Santa’s Good Book! Santa was jolly and genuine and the elves were a bit of welcome humour too!

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We accessed the premium upgrade which allows more personal details to be added, and I thought this was lovely, seamless and really well done.

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If you’re looking to give the run up to Christmas that magical feel visit the Portable North Pole, you won’t be disappointed!

I was given a free premium upgrade in order to write this post, all views are my own

Shuffling about

So you wait for them to start walking, and they love it, and they’re running about the place and loving their shoes….

And then they revert to shuffling about?

This week’s Amazing Achievement is brought to you by the letter S… for shoes

This week started with Joss developing an obsession for removing the insoles from any pair of shoes lying around the place, and ended with her shuffling about gleefully scooting one foot in front of the other in Mammy’s size 9 ballet pumps!

The idea that she will one day most likely take after me and be similarly big-footed is a crazy thought right now, they look huge!

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What fun!

The true meaning of Christmas

Do you have any traditions that help you to see the true meaning of Christmas?

I’m a Catholic and enjoy our advent Church services as a way of taking stock of the year, reflecting on what Christmas means to me and escaping the buying and excess. I also like a non-religious Carol ceremony and try to get to a local service that offers a Choir and 1000 Candles sometime in December as I love the warm glow of joining in, sharing a mulled wine and wishing a Merry Christmas.

There are lots of ways to do something for others too, something to jump start your own Christmas spirit and perhaps try something new that you might take forward into the new year. We do a Shoebox Campaign at work, often for looked after Children or care leavers, and there are lots of donation points locally, or opportunities to give your time at this time of year and beyond. This year I decided to give my time, learning a new skill and sharing my skills running a card making session for adults with learning disabilities at a local drop in. I was really unsure of what to expect but they were so welcoming and we really enjoyed each others company that I think it’s something I’ll do again.

Clearly doing something for others is not just for Christmas, but it could just be the time of year that you could use to jump start your giving.

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What’s the story?

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“All these animals are dead y’know”

As a child I found Newcastle’s Hancock museum dark and scary, it was the place of dino bones and taxidermy, it had a distinctive smell and wasn’t the most exciting of attractions.

Fast-forward 20 years and a facelift and it’s now Jossy’s and my favourite place to visit, I do a spot of shopping, then we head off to explore for an hour. She has a predictable attention span, 20 minutes of interested looking followed by 40 minutes of running and laughing hysterically, it’s the wooden floors you see, big spaces to run and jump!

She knows most of the animal names now, seal, elephant, shark and giraffes are the big faves, but the raptor is by far the best!

I just love that new life has been breathed into my childhood memories and we’re making new ones twenty years on!

Quick get your entry into Babi Pur’s advent giveaway!

Perfect for your little adventurers Babi Pur are giving away a gorgeous wooden castle and knights and there’s just over a day left to enter!

The Lanka Kade Natural Wood Collection presents a large solid wood castle complete with 12 knights ready to do battle in this medieval setting. Made from solid wood throughout this is a chunky and sturdy toy, built to last for many years. Set the knights in their place, close the portcullis, raise the drawbridge and ready them for battle!

Follow this link for the Rafflecopter Widget!

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Christmas Gift Guide: Slow Toys from Babi Pur and Discount Code

Given this blog’s focus on eco-parenting I was delighted to strike up a relationship with Babi Pur who bring together the best ethical and organic brands under one roof, with second to none customer service. Babi Pur have always been our go-to website for cloth nappies offering choice at a great price, and brilliantly speedy delivery.

Babi Pur are stockists of HAPE Toys, a great toy company offering high quality environmentally friendly wooden toys. I would call these toys ‘slow toys’ giving the freedom for creative play without the ubiquitous plastic!

For our first Babi Pur Boaster testing assignment they kindly sent us the HAPE Toys Musical Band Set complete with xylophone, drum, cymbal, guiro and clacker. This makes its way onto our Christmas Gift Guide because it offers great opportunities for independent play, development, and music making, which Joss absolutely loves! Photos are very much shot ‘in action’ for this post as musical toys are played with really vigorously in this house!

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I love the idea of having a single board hosting a range of instruments, and this is really tactile and toddler friendly. Joss picked up the drumsticks straight away and bashed out a merry tune on the xylophone!

This photo captures the moment she discovered the cymbal, what fun!

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The xylophone is really lovely and has a brilliant sound quality to it and the colours and quality of the materials really shine through.

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The clacker is currently being used as a ‘hairbrush’ demonstrating the depth of creativity that slow toys bring, and she doesn’t quite get what the guiro is about yet, so there’s plenty to explore and discover as she grows. I like that there is space built in to store the accessories as it’s really hard to keep toys together when you have an inquisitive toddler.

With an rrp of £34.99 these are toys to keep and treasure, which is what the slow toy movement is all about, the quality of the product is really high.

In our role as the first Babi Pur Boaster we have a special code for our lovely blog readers, if you have not ordered with Babi Pur in the past you can claim 15% off your first order with the code NELLY – this works on all non-sale items for the first order only.

Disclaimer: I received this HAPE toy for review purposes, all views are my own

Christmas Gift Guide Part 3 – IKEA’s cuddly toys that keep giving

It’s no secret that Miss Jossy is a big fan of cuddly toys, she’s a really affectionate, caring girl and takes a lot of time to feed, cuddle and pat her toy animals and bears.

We’ve always loved IKEA’s range of stuffed toys, they’re really innovative in design, affordable and just promote role play and storytelling so well. The TORVA range is a big favourite at babygroup stuffed vegetables, great fun and lots of new words to be learned too!

IKEA’s soft toys don’t just make a brilliant and cuddly gift, for every soft toy and children’s book sold between 20th October 2013 and 4th January 2014 IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to children’s education through UNICEF and Save the Children. Since 2003, the campaign has reached more than 10 million children through 90 projects in 46 different countries, so the impact of this project is brilliant, and there are some great festive toys available too.

We were lucky to be offered a product to review for our gift guide, and Joss chose SOTNOS, a beautiful soft deer suitable for children 12 months and up.

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I know he’s going to be another friend for life, and she’s been chattering away about the reindeer (except it sound more like RayMears!) his ears, spotty back and his little top, so once again fun, learning and creative play really come through!

As you can see SOTNOS has made a place in her heart, and found a place on her chair!

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Why not spread some Christmas cheer and get behind a great campaign at the same time?

Disclaimer: we received this cuddly toy as a review item, all views are my own

Christmas Gift Guide: ActionAid

It’s time to turn Christmas shopping on its head and anti-poverty charity ActionAid wants to save people from the endless hours of trawling for presents they’re not certain their loved ones actually want, while saving the world at the same time! Their Gifts in Action are completely unique and totally unexpected. They’ll make friends, families, colleagues and neighbours smile and feel great, and shouldn’t that be what it’s all about, rather than another ubiquitous bottle of wine or box of smellies? ActionAid have come up with a great gift idea that’s perfect for crafty types like me, something I’d love to receive and my friends would too – a sewing machine!

See Christmas differently

Gifts in Action give people the chance to surprise their sister with a sewing machine, give their best friend a goat or watch as their mum un-wraps a brand new classroom. Of course, the gift itself goes to someone who desperately needs it. What friends and family will receive in their hands is a beautiful card, telling them all about the amazing gift they’ve given to a child or a family living in one of the poorest parts of the world.

Make do and mend

This year’s brand new gift of a sewing machine which costs just £12 will help young girls like Nandar, 16, to join an ActionAid training project in Burma (Myanmar) to teach women and girls learn the arts of weaving, making handicrafts, bags and knitted items to sell. This crafty gift could help Nandar learn the skills she needs to work her way out of poverty – and get closer to her ambition of becoming a designer one day.

Buying an inspiring life-changing gift is simple. To follow the easy steps to give the present that costs a little but gives such a lot just go to Gifts in Action.

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Disclaimer: This is a cause I care about, I received no compensation for my post.

Sintaklaas

Spiced biscuits and treats for us tomorrow, I’m half Dutch and like to celebrate Sintaklaas in a small way on 5th December.

Sintaklaas is the festival of St Nicholas, celebrated annually on Saint Nicholas’ eve (5 December), it’s the gift giving day in the festive period, gifts are small but very personalised, I think it’s more about the fun of the occasion, and family time, some of the gifts given to adults might be a ‘surprise’ so it could be a handmade gift or a bit of a joke, my Mam told us that she once made a computer from cardboard boxes as a gift for her brother.

I’m not sure of the roots of this one but on Sintaklaas evening Dutch children put their shoe in front of the fireplace to find it may be filled with sweets the next day, so I do this for my husband as he loves the novelty of it, and am doing this for Joss this year too!

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A few years ago I was lucky to be in Holland staying with my family over Sintaklaas, in Holland the presents aren’t under a tree but they ‘arrive’ in all manner of means, and this particular year my Aunt’s neighbour delivered them dressed as Zwartepiet, or Black Peter, Sintaklaas’ helper. It would be remiss of me not to say that there are some issues around stereotyping, that Peter in his Moorish representation, where people paint their faces black, perpetuates a racist stereotype, that Peter was a servant or slave of Sintaklaas, I can understand this and found myself a little shocked to see the tradition continue.

The gifts were presented and there was a lot of fun, my grandfather received a white chocolate carrot as he loved rabbits, I had just moved into my first house and received pretty accessories that I treasure today, there were joke gifts and lots of spiced biscuits and special food, my favourite was presented by my parents on their return from visiting family this year, an Amandelstaf, a pastry staff representing the bishop’s staff carried by Sintaklaas filled with sweet almond paste, divine!

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