Sunday, 21 June 2015

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day...

Levi and Lia tell the story of their journey from fatherless to fatherfull. Their parents are in the process of adopting a third child. He is from Eastern Europe, and his name will be Luca. If you would like to find out more about Luca's adoption or donate to Luca’s adoption fund, visit: youcaring.com/andlucamakes5

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Vanilla Grinding

This is my absolute favourite new thing:

Yep, it's a vanilla grinder, and you can buy it in a supermarket near you for under £2.50 - or online for the bargain price of £10.00!! Yes, you read that correctly. 

It's not organic, but it is refillable, so feel free to throw out the vanilla and sub in your own.

Goodbye dodgy looks from the cashier for buying vast quantities of potato vodka to make DIY Vanilla essence that takes weeks to mature; hello fresh ground vanilla flavour. 

I have tonnes of vanilla because I bulk bought with some friends at the Bedford real food co-op. It's easy to dry, then just snap a couple sticks up and pop them in your grinder and you are good to go. 

Thanks to this little discovery, we are having vanilla on everything right now, and we are loving it. Vanilla is rich in two powerful antioxidants called vanillic acid and vanillin. They are both great at dealing with free radicals and oxidative stress. Research in animals has also shown that vanilla has great potential in reducing systemic inflammation, although no research for human studies has been funded to date.

Vanilla also contains B-complex vitamins (niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and thiamine which help enzyme synthesis, the nervous system and regulation of metabolism) as well as trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, manganese, potassium, iron and zinc.

So nip down to your local store, locate the baking section and grab yourself a grinder!

Live It Up at the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party Blog Hop #67

Sunday, 19 April 2015

South Africa!

We've been on holiday in South Africa and had a wonderful time visiting family. It was an incredibly generous birthday gift for Matt's 30th from his mother.

You can catch up with it all in more detail on our travel blog, but here's a quick video that will fill you in if you want the brief version:

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!

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