Sunday, 29 March 2015

We're off!!

Today we're heading off on an adventure for a couple of weeks to visit family in South Africa. The children are very excited as this is the first time they are old enough to remember being on an air plane.

Their rather generous granny has also bought them carry on luggage each in really cute designs which they are quickly filling up with pens and activity books and snuggly toys, so hopefully we will be thoroughly entertained for the 12 hour flight and mummy might even get a little nap in... I can always hope...

Whilst we are there we are going to catch up with some of Matt's cousins who have had children that we've not met yet, and also my baby sister who is going to have a baby soon too. I haven't seen her in a really long time and she has a new puppy that I'm super excited about.

I'm warned that although there's no malaria about, and they are heading into winter, there are still mosquito's around, so I'm going to be packing some home made sunscreen with bug repelling oils.

My recipe this time is:
All of these essential oils are bug repellent and have a synergistic effect (meaning that the more varieties you use, the more effective each one is). To find out more about how to purchase these oils click here

They also have a soothing effect, so if anyone does get bitten, my sunscreen can double up as bite cream!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Let's Talk Money!

Christian Personal Finance
Our church is running a series on money right now.  You can listen to  it on the Kings Arms Church Podcasts. It's the ones with the "Treasure Principal" logo in the pictures.

It's been a great reminder to pray for our finances and new businesses...etc... with each other. We are 'blessed to be a blessing' and it's amazing to see how God gives to us so that we can live generous lives with others.

I love money. Not in a 'let me hold it all and stash it away to never see the light again' way, but I love talking about money. I love budgets. I love charts and graphs that show me in a tangible way where my money is going. If you haven't tried YNAB yet you should absolutely give it a try. (After your free trial make sure you click through here to buy so that you get your discount!) It's equal part convicting (that giving section of the pie chart looks a lot smaller when you place it next to groceries...) and exciting (Hey! It wasn't that hard to make the pie section a little bigger). It is the best feeling when you've been doing YNAB for a while and you can look at those reports and say 'I am genuinely happy that my finances reflect the priorities I want them to'.

And it creates freedom to spend! If there's money in the budget category, go wild! You already made a decision about how much you were going to allocate to that at the beginning of the month.

With all this in mind (you know, my love of money) I want to introduce you to a new blog I found this morning called Christian Personal Finance. I know there are loads of Dave Ramsey fans out there, and I think he's great too, but I just stumbled across this at 5 am and I love it.

First off, it has a "free four week email course containing 20 lessons that will give you actionable steps to help you save hundreds of pounds a year, get out of debt, better organize your finances and help you begin planning and preparing for the future"

Secondly, it has a blog which I've been reading for the last hour which is full of so much wisdom and practical help. I love that the comments section goes wild after each one with people honorably discussing and debating the issues, yet never in a nasty way. There's often as much wisdom in there as the article. It genuinely is a community of christians who want to live debt-free and give more.

Thirdly, although I love YNAB there are other budgeting softwares out there that are genuinely free. Ugly, but free, Christian Personal Finance has them all reviewed under the 'free stuff' tab of the website. If you haven't budgetted in the past, but you don't want to invest in YNAB, this is worth a shot first. If it doesn't work out, don't be put off budgeting, just try a new software. The honest answer is that the freeware doesn't have as much time put into building it, so it's never going to be as easy to use as a paid version.

Go forth and pursue financial freedom!

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Link up!

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Great Sleep Experiment COMPLETE!

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The Great Sleep Experiment is over! My 21 days are done, and the habit is formed. Apart from a couple of slip ups it's been easier than I imagined. 

I definitely feel more positive, even when tired, which I think can be put down to sleeping at the correct times for my body to produce serotonin. 

Will I continue?

Yes and no.

I am LOVING getting up at 5am and having the whole house to myself for a couple of hours before facing everyone else (I'm an introvert. I love my family, but I also need 'me' time), but... 10:30pm is leaving me feeling tired still. Dr Bergman does suggest in his video that women need more sleep than men, so I think I might move my bedtime back a bit earlier. 10:00pm is still plenty of time to get chores done and have a bit of journalling/sewing time in the evening after the children are in bed and I think the extra half hour is going to make a big difference to me. 

I also plan to be more flexible with regards to social events. Now that I've 'trained' myself to fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow, I feel like it would be alright to stay up a bit for big events, as long as I don't sleep in the next day and I possibly get a slightly earlier night. Waking up consistently at the same time seems to be more important for me than what time I went to bed.

I also think that this is going to get better for me seasonally. I always feel like it's easier to wake up early in the summer when it's light, so it will be interesting when autumn/winter come around again.

Would I recommend sleep training? YES.
It has been a great experience of learning to listen to my body and understanding it's needs for sleep a little better. My base metabolic rate has improved slightly, which it wouldn't have been able to do if I was stressed from lack of sleep. The experience was harder some days than others, but totally worth giving a go, especially if you suffer from disordered sleep like insomnia.

If you want to have a go, you can read more about it here, but here's the summary.

1. You must sleep between 11pm and 1am.
2. Restrict your sleep.
3. Routine
4. No sneaky naps
5. Use the bed for sleep only
6. You sleep in the dark
7. Limit "screen time" before bed
8. Journal or Brain Dump
9. No late night snacking
10. No drinking for 2 hours before bed
11. Exercise

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Great Sleep Experiment: Days 14-20

All was going well until day 18 when I got a migraine. It was a bit of a surprise as I haven't had one in a really long time, but there were some other stress factors so it shouldn't have been too shocking. I try not to use migraine medication anymore, as I'm fairly certain over use was one of the causes of the increasing frequency of my migraines in the first place.

Instead I chose to inhale some oils (Peppermint and Valor) for some instant relief and sleep it off. Unfortunately, with it only being 7.10pm this was far too early for my strict sleep training regime.

Still, I slept correctly the next night and I feel great today. I've also been able to join back in with my Hello Mornings girls on twitter who I had missed interacting with.

Tomorrow is the big day, the end of my sleep training. Will I be continuing...?
I'll let you know tomorrow!

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Great Sleep Experiment Day 13: Not going so well....

The Daily Bump and Grind » Are You Kidding Me?
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The Great Sleep Experiment seems to have hit a stumbling block last night - I literally could not keep my eyes open after 8pm. I tried to read a book in a bright room, but... I guess I fell asleep because I woke up with a crick in my neck at 9:45pm.

I'm putting it down to the fact that it's exeat and with all the boys gone home the house was super quiet. Also it's been an emotionally draining week with some other stuff going on which I hope to be able to write about in the future, but now is not the time.

Still, I woke up at 5am feeling fresher than I ever, and I guess the whole 'curing insomnia' thing has worked as I certainly don't have any problem dropping off the minute my head touches the pillow now.

So, I'm still only just over halfway through, but I do feel good - despite falling asleep early. I'm hoping it was a one off. This morning I've opted for Lemon and Frankincense Oil in my diffuser whilst I work on my book report for TSM. It's a lovely refreshing way to start the day and is definitely helping me feel more focussed - except for this tiny little break I'm taking to update here!

The book we're studying is called 'The Supernatural Ways of Royalty' By Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotten. I'll be honest, I didn't like the forward or the beginning of the first chapter. If it wasn't a course requirement I probably wouldn't have finished reading it. That said, I've pushed through and it does get better. A LOT better. In fact, I really like it now. The writing style is quite confrontational and not my favourite, but there's a lot of truth in this book.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Spring is in the Air!!

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It's spring time! How could anyone not be excited about that? I love winter, up until Christmas and New year, but after that there's a slump where it seems to just drag on until it's finally warm enough to start planting!!

We were fortunate enough to be given a large greenhouse this year. It's got a few broken panels which I'm hoping to replace shortly and then I can get started with growing. I love how much time we can spend in the garden in the warmer weather.

Some people think I'm all about diet and food (I am a little bit), or health (yeah, I guess I'm a bit obsessed with that too) but I also have a passion for creation. Yes, gardening is sort of an extension both of those other things (because if you grow your own food you will have an improved diet and be healthier) but it's about so much more than that. It's about respecting and caring for the earth. It's about giving something back so that in years to come, when we don't live here, someone else moves in and is blessed by it.

I know a family with a secret gardeners club (I can't tell you who because then it wouldn't be a secret!). They buy wild flower seeds and daffodil bulbs. When they see an area of ugly waste land that isn't being used they go plant them. That's beautiful.

Not only does it improve the look of the area, but it provides a food source for pollinators and helps to sustain a little ecosystem.

If you are new to gardening, or even just new to growing food, I highly recommend the 'Grow Your Own Food' Summit. I watched it last year (when it first aired it was free for one week) and it was absolutely brilliant. You can sign up and watch some of it for free now, but they are running a special promotion at the moment where you can receive all the presentations and tonnes of books and advice worth over $500 for $20-30. That's about £13-20,

If you want to get excited about the growing season, it's definitely worth a look. Joel Salatin and Marjory Wildcraft are just two of the amazing speakers who you will learn heaps from, and like I said, just sign up for the free part first. It only costs your email address and you can always block them if you think they are too spammy (they aren't. I signed up a year ago and I rarely hear from them).

This week we have propagated some lemongrass, planted a few more fruit trees, some rhubarb crowns, eucalyptus and lavender. I also started some tomato seeds in our smaller greenhouse. I know it might be too early, but I have loads of them so I'll just plant more if they fail.

I also bought some woad to plant. Most people only know woad as a blue dye, or something to do with braveheart, but it's actually a pretty valuable addition to your medicine cabinet and it's super easy to grow. The Herbal Academy of New England says it's "Antiviral (broad spectrum), Antibacterial, Antimicrobial, Astringent, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-fungal, Anti-parasitic, Anti-histamine, Anti-leukemic, Anti-tumour, Anti-oxidant, Detoxifier, Antipyretic, Cyto-inhibitory, Regenerates mucus membranes and heals ulcerations of the mucosa, Anti-proliferative and cytotoxic to cancer cells" Wow!

Anecdotally I know it's used as a flu remedy and is great for reducing a fever, so it's always handy to have some in your garden. Woad seeds are really cheap on amazon but they also have little plants available if you are not too sure about growing from scratch. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Great Sleep experiment: Day Eleven

This is day eleven of the great sleep experiment. I'm over halfway!!

Honestly, I'm getting a little bored of writing these posts. Not because it isn't going well, it really is, just that how many times can you say 'yep, I feel good'? so... I'm going to stop now. I'll update maybe every few days instead of daily.
Last night I broke my habit a little and watched 20 minutes of TV with Matt right before bed. I felt like it was only a little bit and it couldn't do much harm. It did though, and it took me ages to fall asleep. Won't be making that mistake again.

Lots of people have been asking about my daughters hair and how I got the colours in it. It's super easy.

I split the hair into four layers working upward from the the base/neck. Clip up the top three sections. I then used blue on the bottom third, violet in the middle and pink to the top (staying an inch or two away from her scalp. I don't want chemicals on her skin). Release the next layer and do the same. by working in layers like this, there is no obvious join where the colour changes and you get a lovely fade at the end.

Hair before

hair after
hair in sunlight
We also rinsed her hair over the bath, rather than having a full on shower/bath as I prefer the dye not to touch her skin. She is loving the comments she is getting about it and I love that she is getting to express her personality a bit through it. The joy of homeschool!

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