Loving Your Community & The Aviva Community Fund

community

Since becoming a mum, I’ve started to really value my local community. A few years ago, I’d leave my house at 8am to jump on a train to Central London where my office was, and I wouldn’t return home til 7.30pm – or later if I went out in Soho for a few cheeky tipples. And when I did come home, as obvious as it sounds, I’d be in my house, curtains closed and watching TV or eating dinner (probably both at the same time, knowing me). I didn’t actually mix with anyone in my community – I rarely even spoke to my neighbours except for popping around to their house, if they’d taken in a parcel that had been delivered while I was at work. Even at the weekends, I’d jump in the car to head off somewhere to meet friends or family and I’d rarely stay local.

But since having my daughter, all that has changed. Starting with making friends with my NCT class and socialising with them locally and my year of maternity leave where I was forced to discover where various church halls were so that we could attend baby classes, I started a journey of exploring my local area… and falling in love with it. As my daughter started nursery and I got to know other parents, and as I met local friends through blogging, I realised how fab it is to be walking down the high street and bump into people you know. How useful it is to know people who can give you tips, tell you about things happening locally, and (yep, call me shallow) fill you in on local gossip. I also started shopping more locally and popping into our nearby cafe for lunch more often and getting to know the lovely owner. I know this will only increase, as the four-year-old starts school in September and no doubt will join Rainbows or local dance classes.

There’s no denying – life is better when you take an active part in your local community. Which is why I’m really thrilled to be involved with the Aviva Community Fund as a member of the ACF Team – where anyone can have the chance to secure funding for a local community group or charity that’s important to them….

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Because I’m Happy #2

Deliciously Ella recipe book

This week, the sunshine is making everyone happy – it’s actually impossible to feel crappy when it’s gorgeous sunshine. In fact, those very first few days of proper sun seem to put a spell on us all. Today, as I was driving along, other drivers were stopping to let me through, waving and smiling as they went. That never happens on a normal here in London! So continuing my new regular series, here’s what else has been making me happy…

Going on a health kick. We did it. We became those people who make smoothies every morning. Thanks to our new purchase – a NutriBullet – we are now really into having a healthy start to the day. My favourite smoothie so far is: spinach, banana, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, almond butter, coconut water, oats and chia seeds. But we’re going to try doing a full on green smoothie soon. I also bought the Deliciously Ella book and plan to try a few new dinner recipes this week. Wish me luck!

Pineapple

Nights out with lovely people. Last week, I met up with some lovely blogger friends for dinner. Over pasta and pizza, we chatted and caught up with each other – it was such a nice evening. The following night, I was invited by River Island to a dinner at the Riding House Cafe – one of my top restaurants in London. And I was able to chat to some of my favourite bloggers and fashion editors over beef wellington and red velvet cake. Mmm!

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Getting wine delivered. I often wish that there was an actual wine (and chocolate) home delivery service – like a takeaway but just for wine and sweets. It would be so popular with parents, at home with sleeping kids in the house, who can’t leave to pop to a shop. Or y’know, people who are just a bit lazy. So I am fully on board with The Grape Club, who – once you sign up – deliver a ‘grape drop’ of four bottles of wine, each month. Each bottle comes with its own personalised tasting note tag allowing you to learn about the wines as you drink. The Grape Club’s founders Anthony and Louisa are trying to ‘desnobbify’ the wine industry and bring brilliant wine, in a hassle-free way, to its members. Costing £45 a month, with no membership fee and the ability to cancel at any time, The Grape Club seems awesome to me. They sent me a grape drop to try and all four bottles were – no word of a lie – fantastic. Special shout out to the Malbec.

the-grape-club

Getting my toes out. When is it that it really feels like summer is on its way? When it’s warm enough to wear sandals or flip flops. This week, thanks to http://notanothermummyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/our mini-heatwave, I’ve shoved my boots to the back of the closet and I’ve been wearing my new black Birkenstocks. I even painted my toenails (*pops party popper in the air*).

Black Birkenstocks

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The Real Relationship Milestones

breakfast-in-bed

Your first date, moving in together, THE PROPOSAL. All big milestones in any relationship. But I think it’s the smaller things that often have more meaning and give you that exciting fizzy feeling in your stomach. Things like…

Your first joint selfie – the first of eleventy billion…

Your first joint hangover – there’s something so bonding about cooking a fry up, drinking Diet Coke and watching box sets on the sofa as you recover from a big night out.

Meeting his best friends. What if they hate you? WHAT IF YOU HATE THEM?

The first time he looks after you when you’re ill. Blanket? Check. Endless cups of tea? Check. Brownie points? Check.

Leaving your toothbrush at his place. This means ‘I’m sticking around’ – if you get past this with neither of you freaking out, you’re onto a winner.

The first time he brings your breakfast in bed. Who cares if it’s just tea and toast? You didn’t have to leave your cosy bed to make it……

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Win Tootsa MacGinty SS15 Kidswear!

One of my favourite kidswear brands in Tootsa MacGinty. Gender neutral, fun designs and great quality, we’ve bought quite a few things over the years – from a fox knit to harem pants and a dress – and they’ve all lasted well. Some of my favourite things from their Spring Summer 2015 range are…

Tootsa Macginty dress

This fab blue smock dress, £28
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This animal print tee, £23 and these yellow shorts, £25
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These espadrilles, £15
Isn’t it all gorgeous? And dress aside, you could put them on a girl or boy. If you love these items as much as me, then listen up. Tootsa Macginty have given me one of each to give away. One winner will win the dress, t-shirt, shorts and espadrilles in the size of their choice (subject to availability – see T&Cs for full details).

How to enter

To enter, comment on this blog post saying which is your favourite current Tootsa MacGinty SS15 piece (take a look on their site to choose your favourite) and follow this blog on Twitter. For extra entries, tweet about the giveaway, follow me on Instagram and visit the blog’s Facebook page. Easy peasy! Don’t forget to fill in the Rafflecopter box below for your entry to count. Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 Things I’ve Learned In My 30s

22 things I've learned in my 30s

I’m *whispers it* 36. Which, to me, sounds ancient. How on earth I got to 36 when I feel like I only just left uni and started my career, I’ll never know. But as much as I sob a little at the thought of getting old, I am so much happier aged 36 than I was aged 22, when I had just graduated and was working in my first job. I was a ‘proper’ grown up and loved life, but now I look back, I can see there was so much I didn’t know. Here are some of them…

1. You really will feel better if you eat well and exercise – people who say this are right… who knew!

2. But being skinny won’t make you happy. Kate Moss says nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but she clearly hasn’t ever eaten an oozy fried egg sandwich with ketchup.

3. Be kind to your friends – life’s too short to play mind games. Meet up, drink wine, gossip. It’s one of the finest things in life.

4. But lose the ones that aren’t real friends. Anyone who is a bit toxic or even just doesn’t have your best interests at heart? Bin them. Life is definitely too short to spend time with those bozos.

5. It’s OK to enjoy staying in, rather than going out. Ahh cosy blanket, Netflix and glass of wine, how I love thee.

6. And when you do go out, it’s OK to suggest going somewhere ‘nice’ that isn’t rammed full of people, only leaving you enough space to hover by the bar.

7. Family is the most important thing – full stop. Call your mum, hang out with your in-laws, remember to send birthday cards, send small random gifts that show them you’re thinking of them.

8. But chances are, you only learn No.7 when you have your own child. It magnifies your need for that unconditional support and watching your own bond with your child grow makes you realise how important your bond is with your own family.

9. Having a child is utterly life-changing. Not just in a ‘dammit, I can’t go out as much anymore’ way, but in a re-evaluating your whole life and what actually matters way.

10. A cup of tea makes pretty much everything feel a lot better.

11. It’s totally worth spending a bit extra on a ‘nice’ wine. And you might even get less of a hangover from drinking it.

12. But hangovers get worse as you get older, and there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do to stop this from happening. Just accept it and drink a bit less.

13. If someone is doing better than you, be happy for them. Jealousy and bitterness will just eat away at you, which is bad for you, but not that person who is doing really well.

14. Cleanse your skin properly before bed. I spent years not doing this, and my skin didn’t thank me for it. Liz Earle’s Cleanse and Polish is (as a lovely blogger I know put it) a total game changer.

15. Be kind to yourself.  It’s easy to listen to those negative thoughts about your thighs or your ability to do your job well, but counteract them with thoughts about how kick-ass you are.

16. Stay on top of life admin. Paying bills, sorting your taxes, booking your car MOT – all boring but essential. Even if you give yourself one task a week and achieve it, you’ll feel better. And like you’re WINNING at being a grown up.

17. Tell ‘mum guilt’ to do one. As long as your child is loved, fed, clean, happy, you’re doing a good job.

18. But leave your phone at home from time to time. A day out with your family, where you actually can’t pull your phone out when a notification buzzes in your pocket, is a bloody lovely thing.

19. Getting properly measured for a bra is everything. Go to a shop that specialises in this, like Bravissimo, and it will transform your life. (Bet you go down in back-size and up in cup-size).

20. Work out what you want in life, what you need to do to make it happen, and go for it. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Just focus on your own goals and plan.

21. Find your perfect lipstick. It’s the quickest way to make you look and feel a gazillion times better. I spent years convinced I couldn’t wear lippy, but I was WRONG. Now, it’s all about Mac Lady Danger, for me.

22. Don’t be a dick. I saved the most important thing for last. It’s something Caitlin Moran spoke about last year, when talking about feminism, but it applies in every area of life. Just don’t be a dick. Tell yourself this, if you are ever tempted to do or say something dickish. I promise, it will help you massively.

What have you learned in life so far?