Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to Help My Daughters Feel Beautiful?

Having self-confidence and feeling beautiful are things I feel I've struggled with my entire life. Now I have two daughters and like most parents I have the feeling of wanting better for my children. I want them to feel beautiful. I want them to look in the mirror every day and feel happy with what they see there.

I read an article yesterday saying that 4% of women think they are beautiful. 4%!!

It's difficult to feel beautiful when we're surrounded by such a high ideal of how we should look. We're taught from an early age that we should spend time, effort and money to look externally attractive. Often made to feel guilty or unworthy if we don't.

 Except you can't help but fail. The high standard of beauty is unattainable. Models are digitally altered to look slimmer, lines are removed and any blemishes are smoothed out. No one can look the way magazines would have us believe a beautiful woman should look. Not even the model posing for the picture looks like that. It's impossible to.

Adverts do more than sell a product, they sell an idea of how you should look, how you can be happy, how you can be sexy and what your life could be like if you buy their product.

Leigh and Erin are aware of this since JD and I have talked to them about it. It's hard to know how much they believe it though or if they really take it in. Erin is confident about herself and her body in a way that amazes me every day and I hope she continues to feel that way. Leigh is shy and always seems nervous about how she looks. I wish she could see how beautiful she is. They both are. So beautiful. ^_^

So, what can I do to help them feel beautiful? For a start I've decided to stop shying away from the camera. I'm usually the one taking pictures so I'm less often in the picture. When pictures are taken of me I'm quick to delete unsuitable ones that don't show me to my standard of acceptableness. Which seems ridiculous the more I think about it. I look the way I look. Taking a picture doesn't change how I look, anyone spending time with me will see me in various ways and expressions.

I'm going to stop censoring my pictures or saying out loud that I look bad in photos. It's a negative reinforcement that underlines the need to look attractive all the time. I'm not going to say negative things about my body but instead say out loud things I like about my body. I'm going to use the word beautiful to mean kind or thoughtful or use it when the kids show empathy. All those things make for a beautiful person. I'm going to show Leigh and Erin that I'm happy with my body/face AS IT IS RIGHT NOW and not be constantly striving to change myself into someone else's ideal of beauty.

Here is a picture of me I've always thought is awful but it's really just a picture of me, a Mum with her two daughters having fun taking a selfie (before that word existed)and feeling happy.

I want to be as beautiful as I can be to MYSELF first. THEN to whomever has the SENSE to see me. -Maya Angelou

Do you feel beautiful?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My No-Shampoo Experiment

I've always been one of those lazy/natural females who doesn't like to spend much time on a beauty routine or doing my hair. Mostly I just shampoo my hair when I have a shower and leave it to dry naturally before giving it a comb through.

I've never felt my hair looks it's best though and often feels dry and frizzy. I've tried various shampoos and conditioners but because I have quite fine hair most conditioners tend to make my hair look lank and weighed down somehow.

The sheer volume of different shampoos, conditioners and other hair products in most shops puts me off. I'm not sure I even know what most of them do. I looked around online and found a simple recipe for making your own 'shampoo' and compiled what I needed.

Shampoo seems to be a man-made product that works against your body. Your hair produces oil and shampoo washes it away. Your body produces more oil because of this and then you have greasy hair. More shampooing and often other products ensue but then you have to wash your hair more often to combat your body over-producing this oil for your hair.

I don't like spending money (and time) on products for my hair so after reading about people who have tried switching to alternative ways to wash their hair I decided to give it a try.


Bicarbonate of Soda
Cider Vinegar
Essential oil (whichever you like the smell of, I picked Tangerine)

 I got the squeezy bottles from Lakeland (2 for £4), the essential oil from Holland and Barrett (£4) and I already had the other stuffs.

 Mix together the vinegar and soda in a vessel bigger than I used (I forgot that it'll froth up and escape if you let it) and then add a few drops of oil to make it smell less vinegary.

Put it inside your squeezy bottle and you're good to go. The mixture needs shaking before you use it because the oil and vinegar settle.

I really didn't know what to expect when I first washed my hair with my new concoction. There was no lather like shampoo and my hair didn't have that nice silky feeling you get from shampoo either. Those are the things I missed.

Other than that my hair smelled great as I was washing it. It also dried quicker for some reason. Best of all my hair felt incredibly soft and looked thicker just after the first wash.

There's an alternate recipe (I begrudge using the word recipe if it doesn't make something I can eat) that uses lemon juice instead of vinegar that I'm going to try when this runs out.

Interesting Fact - Seems like folks in America like to call this experiment a No-Poo experiment...

I've been washing my hair this way for 10 days so far and I have to say I like my hair this way. I'm going to carry on with this experiment for a month and then try a week of shampoo again to compare. I'll post again with hair pictures to see if there's any visible differences.

Could you go without shampoo?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Woman Who Won Things

I was looking around a charity shop a few weeks ago and I saw this book. It could have been written about me! :D

I enter lots of competitions every day. Around 50-100 most days. It doesn't take as long as you'd think with the help of notepad files and auto-fill. It's a nice hobby to have since I find it a relaxing thing to do and I get the occasional win too.

I've been doing it for over 2 years now and I've had at least 1 win a month since I started. Sometimes small things like DVDs, books or toiletries but I've also had plenty big wins like a new kitchen, an Ipad mini, flights to Munich and a new TV.

I enjoy the wins because mostly I enter for things that would be good to give as gifts to family or be a treat for us. We've had days out, cinema trips and vouchers to spend.

It's not all fun times though. Once I received a Greek foods hamper that had smashed in the post and it turned up all wet, everything inside stinking of olives. Ugh :(

My best win was the new kitchen worth about £7,000 from B&Q. They did a great job fitting it and fixing our floor too. Sadly we had to leave it behind when we moved house but it likely added value to the property for selling it.

My favourite wins are the ones that give us an experience. We all enjoyed the Lemur feeding experience I won. It was a great day out.

Also, JD and I have had trips to London, Munich and a Spa day in Wetherby. 

Entering competitions isn't for everyone. To some it seems boring or a waste of time. Leigh (my own daughter) thinks it's a cheat to enter so many a day. But to me it's just a hobby and a chance to win a treat. My next prize could be a family cruise or a big cash win. Who knows? It could also be another broken Greek hamper. I enjoy the mystery of it. :D

P.S. I may post a regular update to what I win each month but likely only if I win something good enough to show off, haha x

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 26: Croque Monsieur

Last Saturday Sandwich for a while because we're going on holiday to the US on Monday and JD will be staying on for a month after me and the kids get back to spend time with his family over there. We'll be back to eating sandwiches in October though :)

Today's sandwich is the 'Crisp Mister' (oh you French, with your crazy names) which is a ham and cheese sandwich topped with bechamel sauce. We've only had one once before but it wasn't very good so we're giving it another chance today.

Ingredients: Milk, ham, Gruyere cheese, bay leaves, onion, flour, butter, white bread, salt & pepper.

Flavour the milk by simmering it with the onion, pepper and bay leaves.

 Strain the milk and set aside. Melt the butter and add flour. Stir in the milk to make a bechamel sauce in the usual way. JD's pretty pro at stirring.

 Toast the bread and make up the sandwiches using butter, ham and grated Gruyere.

 Top the sandwiches with a layer of bechamel sauce and grill until browned and crispy on top.

This was one of the best sandwiches we've had. Maybe because of the taste or maybe because I didn't have to make it. JD and Erin took over in the kitchen and made the whole thing. Erin took all the pictures too. I just had to eat the sandwich when it was done, which was great :D

It was very different from any other toasted sandwich I've had before. The bechamel sauce on top made for a lovely moist mouthful of sandwich each time and the smoked ham we used went perfectly with the Gruyere cheese. JD thought it was interesting (read as weird) to have a sauce on top of a sandwich. He didn't complain too much though and ate half of Erin's sandwich too!

Apparently there are several variations on the Croque Monsieur including being topped with a fried egg, with salmon instead of ham, with tomatoes & herbs or with a slice of pineapple. I'd like to try some of those too.

Ratings: JD -  4/5 Emma - 4/5

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 25: Scented sandwich

I can't believe we're actually having this sandwich at all but it's in the book so it has to be eaten. I suppose we're working on the theory that this will get it over with since we only have to have it once!

The recipe says you can use any edible flowers for this so we chose roses as we had some handy.

Ingredients: bread, butter and roses.

Butter up some bread.

Lay the roses on the bread and sandwich them up.

 Cover with a cloth and leave overnight. (Yes, that's right you can't even have this sandwich the same day you start making it e_e)

 Break up the roses and line the bread with the petals. Cut off the crusts and cut into small fingers.

I'm *almost* left speechless by the sheer naffness of this sandwich. The rose petals had the same texture as lettuce so eating this sandwich was similar (I imagine because who would eat a lettuce sandwich?) to eating a sandwich made with just a small layer of lettuce.

The leaving of the sandwich overnight seemed to do nothing to scent the bread but just left it a bit dryer. The petals didn't have much of a taste (although the book said flowers have a very subtle taste so maybe I missed it) but had a general flowery aroma as you'd expect.

Erin was keen to try the sandwich likely because it was pink but wasn't at all impressed.

It's the kind of sandwich you imagine old ladies eating in olden times with their tea in a teapot and these delicate subtle sandwiches on a doily. Not exactly my style :D

Ratings: JD - 1/5 Emma - 1/5 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How much housework do you do?

I know I'm not alone with this but housework on a daily basis is one of my least favourite things. If I feel like doing housework then I'll make the most of that feeling and do as much as I can until the feeling runs out. Other than that I try to stick to only doing what has to be done.

After reading this article: I felt pleased to live in a modren world where less than half the amount of housework needs to be done.

But still, 2 1/2 hours every day? Too much in my opinion.

We share the chores in our house and we've toyed with different ways of sharing the work. We had a chore wheel so we each did something different each day. We had a rota that gave us each weekly tasks to complete. Really though, I don't enjoy doing housework daily or weekly so it seems unfair to expect the kids to do it that way too.

So we're trying a new way of cleaning the house once a month in a frantic hour or so of activity. We write a list of every job that needs to be done and then pick jobs in turn until they're all allotted to someone.

We tried it last week and it was great. We were all racing to see who got finished first. JD and I had to help the kids with some chores they hadn't done before but they did great and said they much preferred this system.

Leigh sweeping the stairs.

JD tidying the back yard.

Erin cleaning the bath.

Me cleaning the loo.

Leigh hoovering to music.

Erin sweeping the kitchen floor.
Obviously some things still need to be done daily and weekly. We share the washing up duties between us and I usually do laundry once a week. Other than that we just tidy or clean up as we go and make sure things get put away where they're meant to go. Food always (with the exception of film night) gets eaten at the table which helps stop crumbs being everywhere. This is much easier with older kids of course and we've told them that the more they keep things tidy the less housework there'll be on Housework Day.

Also, the kids are responsible each for keeping their own room tidy which they approach very differently. Leigh keeps her room tidy most of the time and Erin goes through phases of messy and neat just tidying when she's in the mood to (much like her Mum).

I feel like some people will feel appalled at the idea of doing housework mostly once a month and that's ok because we're all different. I'd love to know how much time everyone spends on their own housework and if they feel it's too much or not enough.

How long do you spend on housework each day?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Saturday Sandwich 24: The Gatsby

This sandwich is named after Jay Gatsby the character from F. Scott Fitzgerald's book The Great Gatsby. The first person to eat the sandwich described it as "A Gatsby smash" and so a sandwich was born.

Ingredients: mortadella, french fries, vinegar, salt, lettuce, sub rolls and peri peri sauce.

 Fry the french fries and brown the mortadella slices.

 Shred some lettuce and split the sub rolls.

 Season the fries with salt and vinegar.

Pile everything into the sub rolls and top with the peri peri sauce. 

Sadly the picture of the finished sandwiches corrupted as I transferred it to the computer so it's all weird. I did the best my limited skills allowed so it looks like a Frankenstein's monster of a sandwich :D

The sandwich looked fantastic all heaped with the fillings and I really anticipated eating it. I haven't had mortadella before (although JD says it's very similar to bologna and I've had that once). The peri peri sauce was incredibly hot and made my top lip tingle after a few bites. The texture of the sandwich was quite soft and pleasing to eat. The lettuce gave it a bit of crunch. The crisp fries went a bit soggy with the vinegar but the vinegar gave the sandwich a sharp taste that went well with the smooth mortadella. All in all it was a tasty sandwich which was very different from anything I've had before.

Ratings: JD - 3/5 Emma - 4/5