Monday, 31 March 2014

I was nominated for a Leibster Award!

I’ve been blogging for about 6 months now and am starting to feel really integrated into the blogging community. I’ve chatted to some lovely people from all over the world and it’s so great to feel part of something so big, yet so friendly. I started following Nikki, at Dollar Store Diva a little while ago, and this week she nominated me for a Leibster Award. You’re probably wondering what on earth this award is! Basically, it’s a chance for smaller bloggers to help each other out by tagging them on their blog, where hopefully their readers will see you and check you out. The ‘tag’ includes some questions to answer, and once I’ve answered them in this post, I will be tagging some fellow smaller bloggers with a new set of questions. So, here we go…

Questions I got from Nikki

1.    Do you use liquid or powder foundation?

I’ll be honest, I don’t often wear foundation (gasp!) but if I do, I’ll wear liquid usually. I tend to find foundation too heavy for my skin, which is why I tend to avoid it, but there are definitely times I wish I could wear it! If anyone has any suggestions of lightweight foundations, or perhaps BB/CC creams/Tinted moisturisers I’d love to hear them.

2.    What’s your dream job?

This is a difficult one, as I’ve had to adjust my thinking since becoming ill. When I was younger I wanted to be a ballerina, and I did dance right up until I got too ill. However, my more attainable dream was to be a doctor. I loved Biology at school and was really interested in reading about illnesses and the science behind them. I kept this dream for a while, but the longer I was unwell, the more I realised that it was a career that I’d never be able to manage. I thought about other medical careers – nursing, speech and language therapist, physio, dietetics, but none of them were right for me. Then I came across Occupational Therapy and it was like a light bulb switched on in my head. I realised I could use my illnesses to try and help others to manage their illness or disability. So, I’m now in the process of trying to train as an OT. It’s going to be difficult, I know, but we’re setting up lots of support systems to try and make it possible. I’ll keep you updated!

3.    Do you live in a land-locked or coastal state?

I live in England, so live in a county rather than a state. But the county I live in, Hampshire, is coastal, although sadly it would take me at least an hour to get down to the seaside. Hampshire is a lovely county though – where I live we are very close to the Berkshire and Surrey boarders, so are surrounded by plenty of lovely towns and villages, rolling countryside and only a 45 minute train journey into Central London.

4.    What’s your favourite app to use on your phone, and why?

Oo that’s a difficult one! I love my social media apps – Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp and Facebook, as they help me keep in touch with friends and family. Then there’s Picfx, a photo-editing app that I usually go to before uploading a photo to Instagram or Facebook. I quite like my Goodreads app, as it lets me keep track of my reading list, as well as seeing what friends are reading. And finally, for those times I need a little light entertainment, there’s Clumsy Ninja, which never fails to make me chuckle.

5.    What’s your favourite ‘cheat’/unhealthy food? The greasier the better!

I’ll have to disappoint you I’m afraid as I hate greasy food. Nothing to do with it being unhealthy, I’m just not a fan of grease and find it makes me feel quite sick, so I tend to steer clear of it. I’ve always been taught that there’s no such thing as a bad/unhealthy food, and that everything can be eaten in moderation. I mean, take lettuce for instance. It would probably be labelled as healthy, but if someone were to live on lettuce alone, that would be unhealthy, just as it would be unhealthy to live on chocolate and sweets. So I’m all about trying to keep my fat and sugar intake down as much as I can, but not denying myself the occasional treat if I fancy it.

6.    Do you use coupons/look for deals when you shop?

Absolutely! Bargain hunting and using money-saving vouchers used to be looked down upon a bit, but now I think it’s a central part of life. With the recession people had to become more frugal – shopping in charity shops, hunting out 2 for 1 deals and using vouchers to get money off your evening meal. I will always shop around for the best deal. I find it quite fulfilling when I manage to find a real bargain, and it makes me feel a little less guilty about spending money!

7.    What’s the most visited website on your browser?

I’ve probably got a few to be honest. Blogger and Bloglovin are pretty high up, which for a blogger I guess is understandable! Blogging aside, I’m always checking my e-mails, having a nosy on websites like ASOS, New Look and Topshop, and also keeping up to date on mental health news on websites like Mind and Beat.

8.    Who’s your icon in the blogging/youtube sphere?

One of the first blogs I came across was Sailboat and I’m still following Jennie’s posts today. The thing that really drew me in to this particular blog was the fact that you can really tell that Jennie loves her blog and most importantly stays true to herself. I enjoy the fact that she posts about a variety of things, from more light-hearted topics like fashion and beauty, to more serious topics about her personal life. She takes beautiful photos and if I still haven’t sold Sailboat to you, you should check it out even if it’s just to catch a glimpse of her gorgeous bunny, Ralphie!

9.    What’s your dream concert lineup?

I haven’t been to many concerts actually, which is a shame, as I’d love to see more live music. I find them quite difficult with not being well, plus they tend to be pretty expensive and a lot of the time I don’t have the money to spend. However, if I were to organise my own concert, I would firstly make sure it was a seated concert, with plenty of space for wheelchairs, and perhaps lots of beanbags and cushions covering the floor! As far as the actual line-up goes, I’d be calling Ellie Goulding, Michael Buble, Pink and Beyonce. Can you imagine the price of tickets to an event like that?!

10.What’s the favourite piece of clothing you own?

Although I love to dress up in pretty dresses, accessories and shoes, I’m much more at home in a comfy jumper and jeans. I’ve got a couple of Jack Wills hoodies, which I always go to when I’m chilling out or in need of a bit of comfort. And more recently, I picked up an awesome Minnie Mouse sweater from New Look, which I can see becoming a firm favourite. Of course we can’t forget pyjamas and slippers, can we?! I could quite happily live in pyjamas – I have a cupboard full of them!

Thanks Nikki for tagging me! The people I am tagging are:

Claudia –
Meg –

My questions for them:
1.    What made you get into blogging?
2.    What is your favourite high-end beauty brand, and why?
3.    What is your favourite bargain beauty brand, and why?
4.    When you’re not blogging, where could we find you?
5.    Where do you get your ideas for blog posts?
6.    I love being organised – how do you organise your life?
7.    Who would you say is your biggest inspiration in life?
8.    What’s the last good deed you did for someone else?
9.    If you could change one thing about the blogging world, what would it be?
10. What’s your favourite quote and why?

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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Sunday Spotlight - 30th March 2014

This week, I’ve been loving…

Personalised gifts

I love giving people gifts. I just find it so much fun trying to choose something that they’ll really like and that has a lot of thought behind it. This week has been particularly busy for gift giving, with my brother’s 21st, my friend’s wedding and Mother’s Day. My brother didn’t get anything particularly exciting (from my point of view) as I gave him a big present, a watch, for his 18th. For my friend, I wanted to get something really special, as she’s supported me a lot over the past few years. I did have a look through her wish list, but nothing jumped out at me, so I had a little think and came across Stacey on Instagram and Facebook. I loved her personalised products, but she didn’t have any wedding designs, so I dropped her a message and she was happy to do a new design. I ended up with these beautiful his and hers personalised mugs, which I was so happy with, and hope the happy couple will love too. For Mother’s Day I was really stuck with what to get. I always seem to go for flowers (nothing wrong with flowers – we got some too!) but I wanted something a bit more permanent. This is when good old Instagram came into it’s own again, and I came across Ashleigh Roy and her personalised word art. After contacting her and coming up with a design, I received this beautiful piece of art within a few days.


I’m getting really stuck into social media these days. Since starting this blog I’ve come to realise how powerful social media can be, so I’ve been investigating things other than Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I’ve particularly fallen in love with Pinterest. It’s definitely right up my street with all the gorgeous photos, inspiration and craft ideas. This week I’ve been going a little crazy with pinning anything and everything, so I apologise to anyone who has been getting hundreds of notifications about my pinning! If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, you can find me here.


I love nothing more than a good wedding, and this week saw a very close friend of mine making her vows to her childhood sweetheart. Unfortunately I’ve been feeling really quite poorly this week and was so worried I’d miss the ceremony. But with the energy I had left, I dolled myself up as best I could and my Mum took me down to our local Church. I made it to the vows and then had to leave, which I was so gutted about, but at least I saw the marriage, which was the most important thing. It was a beautiful, very emotional service and I’d like to wish the lovely couple all the luck and love in the world for a happy and healthy future together.

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Nail Wraps - Step by Step

If you read my last post you’ll see that I’ve just discovered the joys of nail wraps! I’ve had a request to do a step by step tutorial of how to apply them, and I always try to listen to my readers, so thought I’d give it a go! I’m in no way an expert at applying nail wraps, but I’ll share with you the process I went through when applying mine.

I ordered these funky pink leopard print nail wraps from Avon, as we get a catalogue delivered every month by our local Avon rep. I love browsing through it looking for new beauty finds, and came across a page full of nail wraps with different patterns on them, all at half price. I couldn’t resist, so treated myself to three different patterns. They came presented in this simple black and clear sleeve.

Once you’ve removed the wraps from the sleeve, you will find them stuck to a clear piece of plastic, with another piece of plastic covering the top of them to protect them from damage. You will also need a nail file, so I dug out my leopard print file to match the nail wraps!

Once you have your nail file and wraps ready, you need to choose which wrap you want to put on each nail. I did this by putting different sized wraps over the nail I was doing, while they were still on the plastic. I found it was best to choose a wrap that was slightly narrower than the nail, as I tried one that looked just right and it ended up overhanging on the sides. Once you’ve chosen your wrap, stick it on, starting at the bottom of the nail and smoothing it out working towards the top of the nail. You should be left with the nail wrap smooth on your nail, with the length overhanging at the top, as in the photo.

When you are happy with the positioning of the nail wrap, use your nail file to get rid of the excess that is overhanging at the top of the nail. The easiest way I found to do this was to bend the wrap over the top of my nail and then file it, as it seemed to break away fairly easily and cleanly this way. Once you’re happy with the shape of the nail, move on to the next and go through the same process again, until all your nails are covered. You should be left with funky looking nails with nice smooth edges. You will find you have some nail wraps left over, so I’ve decided to hang on to them so I can do statement nails at another time (i.e. just having a wrap on one nail, with the rest of them painted in a block colour).

Overall I was really happy with the finished product and am excited to try some other designs.

Have you ever used nail wraps before, or are you hoping to give them a try after reading this? Do you have a favourite place to buy your nail products?

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sunday Spotlight - 23rd March 2014

This week, I’ve been loving…

Nail wraps

I’ve been aware of nail wraps for quite a while, but up until recently I’d never been that fussed about giving them a try. To be honest, I thought they might just be some sort of phase that sounded better than it really was. Plus, all the ones I’d seen weren’t that cheap and I didn’t want to splash out on something that I thought wouldn’t really work. However, a couple of months ago I was flicking through our latest Avon catalogue and came across a page of nail wraps, all at half price. There were so many pretty designs that I couldn’t resist treating myself to a few, especially with them being half price! This week I decided to give them a try and was actually pleasantly surprised. They were relatively easy to apply (although my shaky hands didn’t really help!) and have so far lasted very well. The only place I’ve been out to this week is my doctor’s surgery, but I got some great comments about them from the nurse and the receptionist! I think I may have been converted!

The finished product! Would you be interested in a step-by-step post for how to apply nail wraps?

The power of social media

I’ve been using social media for as long as I can remember. It started with Yahoo Messenger, then Bebo, MySpace and MSN, followed by Facebook and now Twitter and Instagram. There have always been various campaigns on social media sites, from petitions to sign to coded messages that were supposed to raise awareness of a particular cause. This week brought with it the no-make-up selfie, with people trying to raise awareness and money for cancer charities. From what I have heard, it didn’t actually come from a cancer charity and has had criticism from some people, saying it has nothing to do with cancer and is simply about vanity. I admit, to begin with I was a little sceptical as I wasn’t sure how a selfie was going to help do much at all, apart from generating comments from friends about how lovely and beautiful the person looks. But, yet again, I’ve been proved wrong! The campaign has spread like wildfire and an amazing £2m has been raised so far for cancer charities. I know some people are still unsure of this crusade but surely anything that helps to raise that much awareness and money is positive? I thought I’d share my no-make-up selfie with you and encourage you to donate to a cancer charity of your choice.

Competition wins

I’ve always enjoyed entering competitions. The thought of winning something exciting always draws me in, even though at the back of my mind I know that the likelihood of me winning is pretty slim. Since I’ve been ill and have had a bit more time on my hands, I’ve been entering a few more competitions, usually on Facebook and Twitter, or through e-mails I’ve received. I never really expected to win anything – I just thought I might as well give it a go to pass some time. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised, as over the last couple of weeks I seem to have been pretty lucky! My winning list so far consists of some Imperial Leather Foam Burst, a necklace from Claire’s Accessories, 2 tickets for the Ideal Homes Show, a mug from Clipper (yet to arrive) and a treat for a friend from Marks and Spencer. I think, for now, I’ll keep on entering competitions and see how long my winning streak will last!

Competition wins so far

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

P.S – Just to let you know, Ramblings of a Jaffa Cat now has its very own Facebook page! Please check it out here, like the group and share with everyone you know. Also, if you don’t already, please do follow me on Bloglovin’

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Spring Wish List

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve said goodbye to winter and hello to spring. Longer, warmer, sunnier days and beautiful flowers creating splashes of colour wherever you look have got me dreaming of a new wardrobe to match the new season. I love putting wish lists together – spending imaginary money in my head without the worry of getting into debt, although it can be fatal discovering all these new products you want in your life! I thought I’d share my spring wish list with you in the hope of finding out that it’s not just me who can’t stop adding things to their basket ‘for later’!

As you can see, I’m really loving pastels and girly colours (especially pink!) There are also a few non-clothes items, and one that I’m particularly excited about is the Cloud Nine The O Gift Set. Etail Blogger Network are running a competition in collaboration with Hairtrade, to win a £300 Topshop voucher and some GHD Goodies. They’ve asked bloggers to simply feature a product from Hairtrade in a wish list post, so I decided to rise to the challenge (not that it was very difficult; there are so many lovely products on the website that I would happily add to my basket!) This Cloud Nine Gift Set is something I’ve actually used before, on one of my many visits to my local hair salon. It produced such fantastic results that I’ve been lusting after it ever since! 

What’s on your spring wish list? Are you enjoying the pastels trend, or do you prefer brighter colours?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

National Bed Month - Getting a good night's sleep

Recently, an e-mail appeared in my inbox informing me that March is National Bed Month. It got me thinking about sleep – when I was younger I never really thought about sleep that much. It was just something that happened every night when I went to bed. But as I’ve got older, and especially since I developed M.E. I’ve thought about sleep a lot more. I guess it’s one of those things that if it’s going well, there’s nothing to think about, but when it starts going wrong you start evaluating what you can do to make it better. I’ve suffered from periods of terrible insomnia, which has got to be one of the most frustrating complaints I’ve ever come across. Lying there in a dark room wide-awake, knowing everyone else in the house is slumbering peacefully. You feel exhausted and are desperate for sleep, but no matter how you lie or what you try to think about, nothing seems to work. So, I thought I’d do a post about sleep and the best ways to help you get the perfect amount.

How much of our lives do you think we spend sleeping? 1/8th? 1/5th? We actually spend 1/3rd of our life in the land of nod – that’s quite a few years just spent with your eyes closed! So it’s obviously a pretty important part of life. But why do we need to sleep so much? I did a bit of reading around and found that while we are asleep, the body repairs, renews and restores energy. Apparently skin renewal and repair happen during your deepest sleep, where cell division rises by up to 300%. So that’s why they call it beauty sleep! A good night’s sleep is also important for your immune system, concentration, brain function and general wellbeing. We all know what it’s like when you’ve not slept properly – you can’t focus on anything, you get grouchy and snap at people, and if you’ve had a few nights of very little sleep you begin to feel run down and are more likely to pick up coughs and colds.

Image from Weheartit

That’s all well and good knowing why we need to sleep. But how do we actually get a decent night’s sleep, especially when we’re finding it very difficult? One of the most important things that I’ve discovered is to create a bedtime routine, which you repeat night after night. This includes sticking to a regular bedtime, which helps to prepare your body for the idea of going to sleep, and the more you do it, the more your body will associate it with going to sleep. There’s no right or wrong way to plan your routine – it should be whatever works for you. But I’ve picked up some sleep hygiene tips over the years, which are known to help induce sleep. I’m not able to do any vigorous exercise with my M.E, but even a small amount of exercise regularly can help improve your sleep. If you’re a keen runner, then by all means go for a 10K run every day, but if, like me, you’re not that sporty, even a short walk every day can be beneficial. The exercise isn’t the only thing that helps – if you’re exercising outside, it also means you’re getting enough daylight, which is really important for regulating your sleep cycle as your body responds to changes in light. If you have difficulties getting outside, for whatever reason, it can help to get a light box so you don’t miss out on your daylight. Recently I discovered these Lumie Bodyclocks, which recreate a gradual sunrise in your bedroom. They’re not cheap, but they have been shown to improve energy in the morning and even boost mood and productivity levels.

 For a decent night’s sleep, relaxation is vital. You’re never going to sleep properly if you’re feeling tense, angry or have hundreds of worrying thoughts running through your mind. Everyone has their own way to relax, although some people find relaxation incredibly difficult. I’m not brilliant at relaxing, but some of the following things can help. Before bed I like to have a warm, bubbly bath with essential oils like lavender, which is known to promote relaxation. The warmth of the water can also help your whole body to unwind. If you’re not one to take baths, trying something like meditation or yoga is another way to relax your mind and body. If it’s not something you’ve ever done before, have a search on YouTube, as there are plenty of videos demonstrating meditation methods and yoga positions. This is particularly helpful if you struggle to slow down your thoughts. As part of your bedtime routine, you might like to buy a pillow mist to spray every night. Again, use something like lavender or another scent that makes you feel relaxed, and gradually your brain will begin to associate that smell with going to sleep. Something that has really helped me to relax a bit more is keeping a notebook and pen by my bed. Then, if I have any thoughts going through my mind, I’ll jot them down and tell myself I can pick them up again in the morning. This really does seem to help me empty my head a bit; as I’m no longer worrying that I’ll forget about what I was thinking about, so I can shut off for a while!

Body Shop Pillow Mist - £10

The environment where you go to sleep is also really key to the quality of sleep you have. Have you ever heard the saying ‘A tidy house means a tidy mind?’ You need to make sure you’re bedroom promotes rest and relaxation, so start by tidying up! Clothes all over the floor will just make you feel stressed, so you’ll never get a good night’s sleep. When you go to your bedroom you want to feel calm and tranquil, so if you can, redecorate your room using soothing colours like blues and lilacs. You also need to keep the temperature just right – not too hot and not too cold. Invest in a fan and an electric blanket so that you’re ready for all eventualities! When my doctor discussed sleep hygiene with me, she said the bedroom should be used for two things, and two things only – sleeping and sex! Taking technology out of the bedroom is another positive move to create a more relaxing environment. Obviously sometimes this isn’t possible – for example, I’m still living at home so my room is also my study/lounge/place to hide, so I need things like my computer and television. But if that’s the case, you can still make sure technology is turned off at bedtime. That means no phones/iPads/backlit e-readers and so on when you get into bed. A good old book is much more preferable. So, that’s your bedroom environment sorted, but what about your actual bed? How long have you had your mattress? Too long to remember?! They say you should change your mattress every eight years, so if you’re constantly tossing and turning and waking up with back pain, it might be time to invest in a new mattress. It’s so important to try mattresses out before you buy them. Pop your shoes off and have a good lie down, and if you share a bed you need to try the mattress together (for sleeping, obviously!) Also, there’s nothing better than fresh bed linen, so change yours regularly to keep your bed feeling comfortable and clean.

Bedroom inspiration from Weheartit

Often, people assume that a glass or two of wine will help them off to sleep. And to some extent they’re right – it probably will make you fall asleep. However, it won’t help you stay asleep and once it’s worn off you may find yourself waking up feeling worse than before. Alcohol also affects the quality of your sleep, so if you’re already having trouble sleeping it’s best to steer clear of it. Instead, reach for a milky drink before you head off to bed. I always favour a hot chocolate, as I love the warmth of it, but you could also go for a milkshake or just a plain glass of milk. Milk contains something called tryptophan, which aids sleep and calms your brain, especially if it’s paired with carbohydrates like cereal or a small turkey sandwich. Feeling hungry can also keep you awake, so grabbing a banana (which also contains tryptophan) can also help. It is also recommended that we shouldn’t drink caffeine after lunch, as it can take a while to leave your body. And large meals right before bed are also a no no, as your body starts using its energy to digest the food, keeping you awake for longer.

Image from Weheartit

Finally, probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given about sleep is not to lie in bed awake for hours on end. If you’re still awake after 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing like reading a book (with dim lights), drinking herbal tea or meditating. When you start feeling sleepy, head back to bed. By lying in bed wide awake for hours, you’re actually training your brain to associate bedtime with lying awake not being able to sleep. So you need to retrain your brain’s association with your bed. Lastly, I need to add that it’s important to know when to see your GP. If insomnia is taking over your life, affecting your daily life or if it’s a new thing for you, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor. There may be an underlying problem causing you to not sleep and there are medications to help, so don’t suffer in silence. Happy sleeping!

What’s your sleep like? Do you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, or do you lie awake for hour? Do you have anything that helps you get to sleep?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sunday Spotlight - 16th March 2014

This week, I’ve been loving…

Random Acts of Kindness

When I was diagnosed with M.E, I joined a charity called AYME and their message boards were an absolute lifesaver at a time when I was isolated and lonely. After a few years using the board, I decided to set up a Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) scheme, where people nominated someone who was having a difficult time and I would organise something nice for them – cards, letters or a gift. I don’t use the boards any more, but recently I was reminded of my RAOK scheme. It’s something I really enjoyed doing, so I thought, why not recreate it, but on Facebook? So, that’s what I did this week! It’s still in the early stages, but we already have a couple of nominees that we are putting things together for. It would be great to have more members, so please take a look at the RAOK Group and request to join!

Image found on Google Images


This past week, there has been a strange looking yellow circle in the rather blue sky! Finally, after months and months of rain, cold and grey skies, the sun has made an appearance. I’ve not been able to get out that much, but even just looking out of the window at the sun shining down on the beautiful Spring flowers in our garden has made me smile. And when I have been able to get outside, you can’t beat the feeling of warmth on your face, with a slight breeze in the air. Long may it continue!

Blossom tree in our garden last year

Awesome post

I’ve always loved post. Ever since I started getting pen pals I’ve always been excited to see the postman walking up our road. It’s not just receiving post that I like; I love sending it too. Picking some nice writing paper, rambling on about everything in my head and decorating my letter with funky stickers. But this week I was really spoilt with exciting post. Firstly, I got a lovely letter from a friend I’ve made in Winchester. Instead of just writing one letter, I opened the larger envelope and was presented with 3 separate envelopes, with the instruction to open them over three days – such a good idea! Then, the day after, I got a parcel from Gibraltar full of snack foods and a lovely letter. I’m already looking forward to sending some post back!

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

P.S – Just to let you know, Ramblings of a Jaffa Cat now has its very own Facebook page! Please check it out here, like the group and share with everyone you know :) 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Mother's Day Gift Guide

I can’t quite believe we’re already half-way through March – where is the year going?! In a couple of weeks it will be Mother’s Day and I always like to make sure I spoil my Mum, as she does so much for me throughout the year. Obviously it’s nice to pamper the special ladies in your life throughout the year, but I think it’s also nice to have a special day, dedicated just to them, so I intend to make sure my Mum feels really special on 30th March. I’ve put together a round up of a range of gifts suitable for Mum’s, Aunties, Grannies and any other lady you decide to treat.

It’s always nice to treat yourself to some pampering, but it can be difficult to know what people do and don’t like. Some ladies enjoy a massage and facial, whereas others would prefer a cupcake decorating master class. That’s what makes Red Letter Days Perfect for Her a good choice. At £55, it’s not the cheapest option, but for spa day you probably wouldn’t find something much cheaper than this, and you’re giving her the chance to choose for what she’d like to do. If you’re looking for something a bit more unique, this Mother's Day Print for £35 would make a lovely gift. I’m really taken with this Message in a Bottle for only £3.50, which I think would make such a cute little gift, perhaps from children who can write their own little message to put in the bottle. Ladies always need a bit of pampering, so why not treat her to a few goodies to keep her body and mind calm. This Lip Butter Lollipop, £15 from The Body Shop, contains 5 different beautifully scented lip butters. Or, if you want to spend a little more, this Molton Brown Hand Cream Trio for £25 is a lovely feminine choice. You can’t have a pampering session without lighting a few candles, and I particularly like this Crushed Almonds Candle from Lilyflame, as my Mum loves the smell of almonds. There are plenty of other scents to choose from, so there should be something to suit every taste (and I might even have to treat myself to one at the same time!)

I love receiving perfume, but it can be quite a tricky gift to buy someone unless you really know what scents they like to wear. But I think this new Marc Jacobs Daisy Sunshine should be a safe bet, as I’ve loved all the other perfumes they’ve brought out over the years. It’s always lovely to give someone a gift that they can actually go and enjoy with someone else, and what could be better than treating your Mum to Afternoon Tea for 2 for a very reasonable £39. There are a whole range of locations to choose from, and if you’re lucky she might choose you to be her companion! Last but not least, you can’t beat the traditional flowers and chocolates. These beautiful tulips are £24.50, but if you have a local florist it can be nicer to pay them a visit and choose the particular flowers to go in an arrangement. And who can resist this tasty looking chocolate selection box for £24, created especially for Mother’s Day.

Whatever you decide to do to treat the ladies in your life this March, remember that it’s not about how much money you spend on them, it’s the thought that counts and even if you aren’t able to see them on the day, a simple phone call can make all the difference.

Have you made any plans for Mother’s Day yet? What will you be doing to treat the special ladies in your life?

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Sunday Spotlight - 9th March 2014

This week, I’ve been loving…

Smile for M.E.

A couple of weeks ago I got a parcel in the post (nothing strange there, that’s what usually happens when the postman comes!) However, I hadn’t ordered anything and I didn’t recognise the writing as one of my friends. When I opened it I found a goody box from Lush, with a little note saying I had been nominated by a friend to receive a gift to make me smile. It was from a charity called Smile for ME, which is run by two ladies (Alice and Gracey) who both have M.E. themselves. They’re doing an amazing thing, using their illnesses in a positive way, as they know how much a parcel can brighten someone’s day when they’re unwell. On their website you can nominate someone you think could do with an extra smile, and despite not being well, the girls will consider all nominations. The charity is obviously dependent on having enough money, so if you’re looking for a good cause to donate to or fundraise for, take a look at Smile for M.E. and make your friends and family aware of it.

Cute pictures (Weheartit)

Ages ago, I discovered an app called Weheartit but it’s taken me a while to actually look at it properly. If, like me, you like searching for cute and funny pictures, then this is the app for you! I actually find it quite addictive and my phone memory is filling up fast with pictures I’ve found there. My friends are probably getting fed up with me, as I keep sending them pictures I like, in the hope it will make them smile as much as it made me smile! If you don’t have a Smartphone you can also just look on the website for the same pictures. I particularly like this photo, as it reminded me of when we put glasses on our dog!

Image from Weheartit

Spring Flowers

Finally, after what seems like months on end of rain and grey skies, it’s actually beginning to feel a bit like Spring! For a start, we’ve had two days of uninterrupted sunshine and blue skies, with not a rain cloud in sight. All of a sudden, our back garden is awash with colour again, which is so lovely when you look out of the window. We’ve got daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses and some other flowers that I don’t know the names of; I just know they’re pretty and make me smile! I’m hoping this isn’t too good to be true and that we’re finally saying goodbye to Winter and hello to warmer, sunnier days.

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

What's in my Hospital Bag?

Since I’ve been reading blogs I’ve seen quite a few bloggers talking about what they carry around in their handbag, which I always enjoy reading – it must be the nosey parker in me! As I’ve had a fair few hospital admissions, I thought I’d mix things up a bit and show you my hospital essentials. It’s taken me a while to learn what I need while in hospital, but after a couple of admissions you soon start to realise what you need to keep you sane! Hopefully you won’t be needing to use this advice too much, but if you are ever admitted I’d definitely recommend packing some of the products I’m about to talk about!

The first vital task for deciding what to take with you is to choose an appropriate bag. You need something that will accommodate everything you need to take, but that’s not too large, as storage is generally very limited (i.e. one small bedside cabinet) and ward staff aren’t keen on you leaving things on the floor around your bed! The bag I normally take is this weekend bag from Primark, as it’s big enough to fit what I need in it and fits nicely in the bedside storage area. I’ve had this particular bag for years, but if you head to Primark I’m sure you’ll find something similar as I often see this style of bag when I’m in there.

You’ll also definitely want to take your own wash bag with you – it’s amazing what a difference it makes to have your own toiletries. Hospitals do tend to hand out toiletries if you don’t have your own, but obviously they’re fairly basic and may not suit your individual needs. You’re not going to want to fill it with masses of make-up or anything, but just pop in the essentials like a toothbrush and toothpaste and any other products you use as part of your daily routine. I’d also recommend packing some mouthwash, as if you’re nil-by-mouth or taking some types of medication your mouth can feel very dry and not taste particularly nice. My wash bag was a gift from some friends and similar designs can be found at Cath Kidston for around £28.

The next few toiletries I couldn’t be without on a hospital admission – they’re real lifesavers! If you’re feeling pretty unwell, it’s not always possible to just jump in the shower and have a wash, so I always make sure I have a packet of baby wipes/make-up wipes with me. Obviously it’s not the same as having a proper wash, but sometimes it can be enough to freshen yourself up a bit. At the moment I’m using these wipes from the Simple range, as they’re very gentle on your skin, which might be more sensitive if you’re unwell. Hospital environments are well known for being hot and stuffy, drying your skin out something rotten. I always make sure I’m well stocked up on various moisturisers to try and stave off dry, itchy skin. I’ll take my Johnsons facial moisturiser, a nice rich hand cream like this one from The Body Shop and a lip balm – either from Nivea or Carmex.

For when you’re feeling well enough, make sure you’ve got your own shampoo and conditioner, as from experience, hospital hair products don’t do your hair any favours! It might be worth investing in some dry shampoo, that you can use from the comfort of your own bed. Also pop your hairbrush in – I’ve found that even if I’m not feeling up to brushing my hair, it can be nice to have someone else do it for you. A few times now I’ve forgotten my hairbrush and quickly end up looking like a mad scientist!

I would definitely recommend bringing your own clothes and nightclothes with you – hospital gowns are pretty depressing and generally don’t protect your modesty, having a massive opening at the back, so every time you get up for the loo you end up mooning the whole ward! If you have a nightie you might prefer that to pyjamas as it’s looser, but if you go for PJ’s I’d go for fairly loose fitting ones, as it tends to get pretty hot and if you’ve got any stitches or anything you don’t want tight clothes rubbing them. You can also take your own day clothes to wear if you’d like to. I must admit I tend to stay in my pyjamas, but depending what you’re in for you might prefer to get changed in the morning and sit out in normal clothes (again, I tend to favour loose fitting clothes). 

Hospitals have a pretty fair reputation of being a place where you don’t often get a good night’s sleep – with other patients and staff making noise, lights being turned on and off and various machines making random noises. You’re probably never going to get a great night’s sleep there, but there are some things you can take to improve it. Earplugs are a definite must – I’ve spoken to so many people who have been in hospital and earplugs are one of the first things they recommend! I also like to take and eye mask with me, which helps if lights keep being turned on throughout the night, or if you want to sleep during the day.

You want to feel as comfortable as possible during your stay, so make sure you have your own bits and bobs around you. I always make sure I take a pair of slippers with me – if only to avoid the ‘fashionable’ slipper socks the hospital makes you wear! It can also be nice to have a blanket from home, but you’d need to check with the ward staff about this, as I know some places won’t let you bring things like that for infection control reasons.

Lastly, hospitals are pretty boring places. You spend most of your time waiting for things to happen – the doctors to come and see you, a scanner to be ready or test results to come back. You need to take things with you to keep you occupied while you’re waiting! Books and magazines are always a good option, depending on what your concentration is like (I tend to favour magazines as they’re easier to dip in and out of). I was always under the impression that phones were not allowed in hospitals, but rules seem to have changed and now in most wards they have no problems with you using your phone, as long as it’s not disturbing other patients. This means you could also take your tablet in – my local hospital has free Wi-Fi, so it’s worth looking into. And don’t do what I always do and forget your chargers!

Have you ever had a hospital stay? Is there anything you’d add to this list of hospital bag essentials?