Self Care Sunday 18th February

Where did that last week go? Oh of course, it’s half term, I had most of the week off work, so true to form, the week disappeared in a flash. I really am not ready to go back to work tomorrow. I have been having far too much fun this week.

It has been a fabulous week, with plenty of self-care time and quality time with my husband.

I got off to a good start, Monday was one of my days off work so I made the most of being at home and the sunny weather. After my first kettlebell workout in months I took myself outside for a two mile walk around my Village. I am desperate to get back to the gym and circuit classes and weight training but my ankle is still not as strong as it should be. It has taken months for me to feel confident enough to start exercising. Ligament injuries do not heal quickly. I have been trying to follow the Bodycoach 90 Day Plan but illness has made it almost impossible to stick to any fitness routine. I have felt better this week so I am hoping that this virus that I picked up at the beginning of the year has finally moved on.

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in school working. And I am so glad I picked those two days as the weather was awful. Then hey presto the rest of the week was warm and sunny. It doesn’t normally work out that way does it? Someone must have been smiling down on me.

Wednesday was of course Valentines Day. We don’t celebrate it. If I am honest I don.t really agree with it. But that’s just my opinion and I don’t have a problem with other people celebrating. My husband and I work at making sure we do not take each other for granted. My husband is very good at making me feel loved all year round. It’s the everyday little things that matter to us. We don’t need the cards, flowers, presents or overpriced meal out. So as a way to participate in the day we decided to pop down to our local pub for a drink (the first of many this week). They were holding a anti-valentines night. I was expecting it to be quiet. But much to my surprise the pub was packed and full of middle-aged couples like us. We ended up having a great night chatting and drinking beer with friends. I did, however do a little nod to the day of romance, by adding a bit of pink to my outfit. The flowers in the photo below are very special to me. It is my bouquet, which I made myself, from my wedding 2 1/2 years ago. They take pride of place in my dressing room so I see them every morning when I get ready for the day.

On Thursday we decided to venture out for a spot of retail therapy for the house. I did want to go to Ikea but my husband broke his toe last week so cannot walk too much. So opted to stay local and ended up in The Range, one of my favourite stores for homeware. I picked up a few items for the bathroom, which is nearly finished. I can’t wait to get to the styling stage where I can faff with all the lovely accessories I have bought. We also bought new blinds for the whole house. A bargain though. Three 6 ft blinds and six 3 ft blinds for just over £100. Obviously no shopping trip is complete without a spot of lunch. So we popped into Chimichanga for Burger and Cheesecake. They do a really good lunch menu. Two courses for £10.50. You really can’t go wrong with that. And if you are in a Mexican restaurant it would be rude not to have beer with lime. It took me back to the late 1980’s when I worked in London and our favourite night out was beer and tequila in a fabulous restaurant just off Regent Street called “Break for the Border”. Many a hangover was caused by that place.

Friday night was Date Night. Once a month we try to have a proper night out. Not the local pub. Usually we go out for a nice meal or take a trip to London. This month we decided to use a Cineworld Gift we received for Christmas. A trip to the cinema is a rarity for us, much to my husbands disappointment as he is a big film fan. The reason we don’t go is because to the cinema is because I struggle to sit still in one place for too long. It is a real problem for me. About 45 mins into a film I start to get fidgety and then completely lose concentration, sometimes I even fall asleep (and I have been known to snore – very embarrassing). We tend to try and get to the cinema at least once a year though, but we have to pick the film carefully. To be honest musicals tend to feature very heavily. The last three cinema trips have been to see La La Land, Jersey Boys and Sweeny Todd. And this trip was no different. We went to see The Greatest Showman. Which I have to say was a fantastic film. I was transfixed. No fidgeting or heavy sighing. I stayed put until the very end. If you haven’t seen it I can totally recommend it.

After the film we popped over to one of the nearby restaurants for food and cocktails. How pleased was I to find out that they have a late Happy Hour. So of course I took full advantage. The food was amazing and a great night was made even better when the couple at the next table told us that if we downloaded the restaurants app you could get 50% off the food bill immediately. Bloody brilliant. A three course meal, cocktails and a beer for hubby came to less than £30.

After the excesses of the previous few days we decided to spend a day at home on Friday. Hubby busied himself putting up the new blinds while I spent a few hours trying to clear my ironing pile and writing a couple of blog posts. I also made the most of the sunshine on both Friday and Saturday by getting out for a four mile walk/gentle run. I extended my route to include the local Marina. And made the most of just sitting for ten minutes watching the little sailing boats. I love being near the water. It always makes me feel so calm. Maybe it has something to do with being a water sign.

Saturday Night was another night out at our local pub. We were showing our support for their first ever Quiz Night. And we also love a good general knowledge quiz. I wasn’t holding out much hope of doing particularly well. We went along with three other couples, who like us enjoy a drink. So imagine my surprise when our team or four won. I think it was only down to the fact that they didn’t ask any sports questions or anything about modern music. We won a cash prize too which was enough for a couple of rounds of drinks. We left before things got too messy though. I really didn’t want to be nursing a hangover on my last day off work.

This morning I had a little lie in and enjoyed a cup of tea in bed. I feel completely shattered. We have had such a busy week. It’s rare that I get more than a day or two off work during half terms and when I do I usually just want to curl up in front of the TV. Especially at this time of year, as I am normally feeling low and suffering from quite bad Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms. This Winter has been one of my better years. We went away to sunnier climes at Christmas and this always helps alleviate my symptoms. Despite having an ongoing illness, I haven’t felt depressed or lethargic or wanted to hide away from the world. I have also been taking better care of my mental health, spending more time practising self-care. This may be helping me in some way. I think it has definitely made me more conscious about the need to be kind to myself and take time to enjoy the little things that make me happy. To help me with my quest for a calmer, healthier life, I started reading this book at the beginning of the week. I am really enjoying it. I’m not going to give away too much now as I will write a review when I have finished it and post it on the blog.

Anyway, back to today. When I eventually got out of bed I spent the rest of the morning busying myself with household chores, food prep and getting everything ready for work tomorrow. And after a little pamper session where I had both a face mask and hair mask I am now sitting down for the rest of the afternoon. I am planning on writing a couple of blog posts, doing a little reading and then one of my favourite tasks….meal planning. Later we will have a roast dinner and find a movie on Netflix that we can watch together, although to be honest this normally results in him watching the movie and me half watching the movie while flicking through a book or social media… I do know better though, not to ask what is happening in the film.

I hope you all have had a fabulous week and are enjoying a restful Sunday. I’m trying not to think of my week ahead. The first week of any term is always a little stressful. And its nearly the end of the financial year so I have a mountain of work approaching plus the next module in my School Business Manager course starts tomorrow with a web tutorial at 6pm. This time I will not procrastinate and leave all the studying until the last minute…. Who am I kidding !!

Thank you for reading.

Love

Melanie xxxx

Colourful La Redoute Sale Picks

The onset of Spring ignites our desire to add some new season clothes to our wardrobes and embrace some colour. I don’t know about you but I don’t have a bottomless bank account. So I always look for ways to add key trends while saving money. Spring & Summer 2018 seems to be all about colour. So with this in mind I have picked out a few ideas from the sale section at La Redoute. They have 70% off most items with a further 10% if you use the code EXTRA10. I have ordered a couple of the items below and I have noticed that there are limited sizes on some items, so if anything takes you fancy then pop over to the La Redoute website. Link Here.

RED

Red Leather Biker Jacket £99.50 (was £199.00)
Backless Jumpsuit £41.40 (was £69.00)
Kimono Dress £23.60 (was £59.00)
Satin Feel Blouse £10.00 (was £25.00)
Red Wide Leg Trousers £14.50 (was £29.00)

 

Red Floral Wrap Dress £24.50 (was £49.00)

 

BLUE

Navy version of the Red Floral Wrap Dress (Above)
Turquoise Addidas Gazelle Trainers £60.00 (was £75.00)
Blue Vero Moda Polka Dot Blouse £21.00 (was £35.00)
img_7127
Blue Star Print Blouse £9.50 (was £19.00)

 

GREEN

Green Tropical Print Shift Dress £21.00 (was £35.00)
Green Floral Kimono Dress £29.50 (was £59.00)
Khaki Jumpsuit £34.50 (was £69.00)

 

CITRUS

img_7135
Multi-Coloured Court Shoes £14.00 (was £35.00)
Across Body Clutch Bag £15.00 (was £26.00)
Yellow Graphic Print Wedges £19.50 (was £39.00)

 

PINK

Magenta Ruffle Jumper £11.70 (was £39.00)
Pink Converse High Top Trainers £45.50 (was £65.00)

 

img_7123
Pink Print Blouse with puff sleeves £10.00 (was £25.00)

 

There is plenty more on offer on the website but the extra 10% offer ends on Monday.

I would love to hear if you manage to bag yourself a bargain.

Thanks for reading.

Love

Melanie xxxx

 

Self Care Sunday 11th February

This week was one of those weeks. I woke up on Monday morning with yet another sinus infection, this time accompanied by a sore throat. I felt so rotten that by lunchtime I had come home from work and was curled up on the sofa eating comfort food. I always crave baked beans and cheese when I am not well. Usually I would have it with mash but as I have been back on the Bodycoach plan there wasn’t a potato to be found in the house, so I had to make do with toast instead. It’s funny how our body craves certain foods when we are ill isn’t it? My husband is a little healthier than me and will normally tuck into bananas when he is not well. What about you? What is your comfort food of choice?

I have been suffering for about six weeks with ongoing sinus infections and headaches. I think it is a virus I picked up on the plane home from Portugal. As I first got ill two days after flying home from our Christmas holiday. The diffuser and eucalyptus oil I bought in early January has been a godsend and has been working overtime.

Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser and Mystic Eucalyptus Essential Oil both from Amazon

I spent the next two days at home curled up on the sofa. Working, writing up my assignments and watching box sets. My favourite at the moment is Life in Pieces which can be found on Amazon Prime. Each episode consists of four short stories based on different members of one extended family. It is very lighthearted and funny. I can highly recommend it. I can also recommend the remake of Dynasty on Netflix. It is a little trashy but very addictive and it definitely something you can totally switch off to.

On Wednesday I was cheered up when February’s Birchbox arrived. I have only been receiving these beauty boxes since November, when my husband bought me an annual subscription for my Birthday. I have been pretty impressed with the products I have received so far and they have helped me in my quest for self-care. I have only tried one of the products in this month’s 1970’s themed box. The Laqa and Co Blush & Highlighter. I wore it to work on Thursday, not that I needed any additional colour on my cheeks as the sinus infections have played havoc with my skin. But it gave a lovely dewy peach shimmer to my skin.

Birchbox UK Beauty Box subscription £10.00 per month plus delivery charge.

I went back to work for the last two days of the week, even though I still wasn’t 100% as I had a lot of work to do before the end of term. I did manage to escape early Friday though which meant I had time for a mini facial at home using some of my favourite Liz Earle products. I try to have at home facial every week but I have neglected this the last couple of weeks due to spending all my time studying and finishing the assignments for my Diploma of School Business Management. My quick facial routine consists of cleansing with Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish before applying one of the face masks. This week I opted for the Brightening Treatment Mask but I also like the Nourishing Mask too. After removing the mask with hot water and a muslin cloth I wipe my skin with the Instant Boost Skin Tonic before applying the Superskin Concentrate for Night. If you want to try any of these products pop over to Liz Earle. There are always special offers on the website. 

I felt a little better on Saturday morning, in time for a trip to London in the wind and rain to meet up with two of my Instagram friends, Liz & Alex. We spent a few hours at The Ivy City Garden where we enjoyed afternoon tea and champagne. It was lovely and such good value for money. The place is amazing. Definitely worth a visit. We are planning a return trip in the Summer so we can sit out in the garden area.

I made the most of being out out and arranged to meet my husband back in Kent for drinks. It was the first time we had been out of our Village for a night out since the beginning of January,. We enjoyed a couple of drinks and a little boogie and got home just after midnight.

The ruffle jumper I am wearing here is a recent purchase from very.co.uk and cost £14 in the sale. It also comes in red, which I am very tempted to buy.

I woke this morning feeling a little dehydrated but fortunately not hungover. We popped into town early to pick up some shopping and grab a full english breakfast at what I call the “proper” cafe. After a few chores at home I found the time for a little more pampering. My skin has been neglected recently and I am looking about 100 at the moment. I used both of these products, which are total opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of cost. The Elemis Frangipani Body Oil is a luxurious treat for the body. And it smells divine. It costs £37 and can be purchased here. The Lacura Soy Restorative Serum costs only £2.79 in Aldi and is just as good. I first used this serum last Summer when my skin was dry from the effects of the warm weather. When I finished the bottle I didn’t bother repurchasing as my skin was in good condition. But today I grabbed another bottle while I was picking up my weekly fruit and veg shop. I am hoping that it will help restore my skin condition and give me back a little radiance. It just goes to show though that the cheaper beauty products are just as good and you don’t need to spend a fortune.

I spent the rest of the day camped out on the sofa. Although I have struggled to find any me time this week. My husband and I have made sure that we are continuing with our couples self-care. This weeks selection from our Self Care jar was to cook a nice meal together. We cheated a little and bought the M&S Valentines Meal for Two for £20. It didn’t actually cost us anything as we had a M&S Voucher. We have bought this meal deal for the last two years. We never have it on Valentines Day as we don’t celebrate it. We both feel that we dont need one day of the year to appreciate each other as we do it all year round.

The meal we chose was amazing, Restaurant quality. We picked the runny scotch egg for starter and the rump steak with peppercorn sauce and potato rosti’s for main and side. I cooked some spinach and mushrooms which I had in the fridge.

The dessert was out of this world, a raspberry and prosecco bomb. I can’t event describe how tasty this was. One really wasn’t enough. We did leave the little box of chocolates for another day but obviously we managed to polish off the bottle of Rose Cava that came with the deal.

So the end of the week was much better than the beginning. It’s half term this week and I only have to work two days so I am planning on making the most of having some time at home to relax and recharge my batteries. I am planning lots of self-care. A few beauty treats, writing blog posts and reading some of the books I received for Christmas. We have no plans to go out but next week’s couples time is Board Game Night. So we will probably get a takeaway and a bottle of wine for our Saturday night at home. All we have to do now is decide which board game to play…. Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Othello or Monopoly.

I hope you all have a great week and manage to find some time to yourself. If you are celebrating Valentines Day I hope you are spoilt rotten. And for those of you at home with the kids, I hope it is not too stressful.

Thank you for reading.

Love

Melanie xxxx

 

Self Care Sunday 4th February

Procrastination is one of my worst faults. Which surprises many people. Particularly those I work with. I spend a huge chunk of my day at work and I am very proactive . I am always busy, I plan for future events but also have to be very reactive. I am good at thinking on my feet and solving a problem. I am classed as one of those people who get things done.

But when it comes to things that I have to do…. I procrastinate. Which means I am always sailing a little close to the wind when it comes to deadlines (I also do this at work but not intentionally, it is usually because a million and one things have cropped up that are more urgent). This week I have had to work flat out on my studies. I am basically playing catch up and trying to fit several weeks work into 8 or 9 days. Even now I am delaying getting up and starting my next assignment in favour of writing this blog post.

Fortunately, once I do get my head in the zone I have a natural gift of being able to speed read and process information quickly. It used to drive my poor friend at school mad when she spent weeks revising for a test and I scanned over the text the night before and ended up with a higher test score. Anyway I digress.

So because I now have to spend every non-working hour on my studies I haven’t really left myself much time for self care. Although I did manage to sneak out twice this week to the pub.

My procrastination skills are also worse this time of year than any other. The first two months of the year are historically the worst for my Seasonal Affective symptoms. It is during this time I usually hide away from the world and don’t want to do anything or go out anywhere. I turn into a bit of a hermit. This year, so far, has not been as bad as last year. Probably because of my little jaunt to Portugal for Christmas. Long walks in the sunshine will have topped up my Vitamin D levels and every time we have been away to sunnier climes in the Winter my SAD has not been as severe.

However, I don’t take any risks at home and still religiously take my Vitamin D and B12 supplements, I also use a SAD lamp from October right the way through to March. It sits on my dressing table which is where I spend about 45 mins every morning eating breakfast and getting ready for work. I have been using my lamp for about seven years now. I don’t know if it does work, but I am sure as hell not going to risk not using it. The years when my symptoms have been particularly bad are not ones I wish to repeat. So I prefer to err on the side of caution. This lamp was purchased from Argos and it is still available now on Amazon but twice the price I paid. You should expect to pay a minimum of around £30 – £40 for a lamp. I did a lot of research when I bought mine and I would question the effectiveness of one that is too cheap.

This model is no longer available at Argos and the price of SAD lamps seems to have increased dramatically. However you can purchase one from Amazon for around £40.00 here.

An alternative to an expensive lamp is to buy light bulbs.

Amazon sell them for around £5.00 each. I have used these in the past in my bedroom and lounge. I think they are great if you are in the house a lot and you can be exposed to the light for a prolonged period of time. If like me you are at work all day the. The intensity from a desk lamp would be more effective. Another item I have also purchased to help me I. My fight against Wjnter is a luminair wake-up alarm clock. I bought this last year to try and help me get up on the dark cold the mornings. Because, lets face it it, none of us really want to get up in during the Winter months. The alarm clock can be set to gradually wake you up by replicating the sun rising. It is meant to help stimulate the natural chemicals in your body and wake you up more naturally. It does seem to help but it’s a shame it doesn’t warm the bed as to be honest it is generally the cold that delays my movement in the morning.

Amazon £39.99

I only use this in the Winter months and if like me, you have have to get upin the dark in the mornings then this helps that process of getting out of bed by waking the brain up gradulally before the sun comes up. I have a love hate relationship with this alarm clock. Not because it isnt any good. In fact quite the opposite. I hate the fact that it wakes me up when in all honestly I really dont want to get up. It’s just doing its job 🙄

Tuesday was a busy day for me. I was up bright and early and in work by half past seven to set up an event. I have taken the big step to set up a forum for School Business Manager’s in my area of Kent. At present we don’t have anything that enables us to network, share ideas and gain CPD together. It was inspired by events I had attended in London and my background in Course and Conference Organising with King’s University in London. I was very nervous and really needed it to be successful. My professional reputation was on the line. I did find time for a quick HIIT workout first thing in the morning. I think it helped calm me down a little and even though I did not feel like eating I knew that skipping breakfast would be a big mistake so I opted for a healthy protein smoothie.

I combined 100ml or skimmed milk, 100ml water, 75g of 0% Fat Free Greek Yoghurt, a handful of strawberries, one apple and half a 30g scoop of Latte flavoured Protein Powder from MyProteinUK and gave it a good blitz with my blender. We have had the Breville Blend Active for a couple of years now and really can’t fault it. We only really use it for making smoothies but it is a great budget alternative to the NutriBullet.

My event was a great success and the feedback was amazing. Lots of lovely comments thanking me for coming up with the idea and confirmation that people want more. So I am now already planning the next one at the end of April. Running and hosting these events will also enable me to maintain my membership of the Institute of School Business Management which is the new professional organisation for School Business Managers which now and recognises us as a profession on par with lawyers, solicitors, accountants, etc.

The other aspect I am currently working on to qualify me as a member is completion of the Level 5 Diploma of School Business Management. I am halfway through the course and it have found it a struggle to commit the time, thanks to my procrastination issues and long working hours. I took another study day Wednesday and sat at my laptop for 10 hours with only short comfort breaks. I had originally planned on working all evening too until a friend messaged me to ask if I fancied going to a Spiratulist night at our local pub. To be fair I saw the word pub and I was in. Anything to give me a break from studying. It was an interesting night. I did have a reading but to be honest it didn’t really highlight anything I didn’t know. But that doesn’t matter. It was a night out of the house with a group of girls and a couple of drinks. Just what I needed to clear my head.

Thursday I was back down the pub in the evening, I wouldn’t usually go two days in a row but one of the barmaids, who is more mature in years, was leaving. Her and her husband have become good friends of ours since moving to the village so we popped along to support her on her last night, not to say goodbye because we are seeing them on Sunday, when they countersign our applications to join the Village Institute (CUI) club.

This week has not been the healthiest of weeks. I have drunk a little more than usual and we have had three takeaways this week, due to fact that I have been exhausted from work and spending as much spare time as possible studying.

My skin is looking pretty tired and I am still battling a cold, my cold sore from last weekend has finally cleared up but lack of sleep (my mind has not been switching off) and a poor diet have caught up with me. It doesn’t take much neglect to have an impact on the way I look and the way I feel about myself.

My assignment has to be submitted by midnight on Wednesday this week, so I have a few more days of hard graft. Once that is done I am going to make sure I put aside some time to give myself a little bit of self care and beauty treats before I tackle the final unit of my course. You never know I might be more organised this time and start my course work earlier. Who am I kidding, pigs might fly before that happens.

Anyway thank you for reading my rambling post and I hope you have a great week. Normal self care posts will be resumed next Sunday.

Love

Melanie xxxx