Monday, 31 December 2012

A witch arriving in 6 days time !..More children and more traditions to celebrate ..

We all know many a story about St Nic and the many origins of Santa , so here are some other traditions..which we have adopted into our American/Italian/Spanish/German/English family LOL!

 When I was little the idea of being left a lump of coal on the 6th of January was inevitable as I knew that along with my orange and sweets and nuts for being a good girl I also would get the traditional coal If I had been naughty , I was always relieved when I had no coal. My children come home from Italy tomorrow having celebrated missed Santa and having celebrated  La Befana early as they have to be back in school on the 6th of January on our traditional day of celebration in both Italy and Spain. The similarities now are overwhelming as each culture alters the traditions to make them more appealing and to make more money, Coal is now available in an edible candy as seen above and is now almost expected in every childs stocking!

Father Christmas now hangs in the market stalls along side La Befana for sale and they even have stickers with La Befana on. The idea of the old hag flying around on her broomstick dropping sweets down the chimney into your socks along with the now more appealing edible coal is just not as appealing now that I have older children. The image of the old Shaman entering via the chimney in the snow cloaked in deep red and green also still springs to mind and we still see the red and white mushrooms to hang up as decorations too!Red and white proving to be far popular than winter greens.

 Whilst you can see the Befana is indeed often depicted as what we would recognise as a witch she has now been softened into a sweet old lady wearing warm reds carrying the gifts in her back sack - no pointy hat and no broomstick in sight on this one.. in fact she reminds me of good old St Nick!
 Meanwhile in Spain my family prepare for the wild street party which will begin with the three kings parade and lots of throwing of confetti and sweets into the crowd. The three Kings are eagerly awaited and they too bring coal to the naughty. Now in one story La Befana met the Three Kings and was asked the way by the Magi who were following the star , she regretted not going and supposedly has been delivery presents ever since , there is a more sinister version but you can look that up.
The Rosca on the left is a traditional cake for Reyes (the three kings) and in my opinion is far nicer than the grown up Christmas cake we get in the Uk and far easier to bake and decorate with the kids too . The Panettone on the right  is now pretty much available everywhere and is the Italian cake . I tend to buy ready made ones as this recipe is my favourite one to burn as I get side tracked playing with the kids lol. One thing I have learned to appreciate over the years of combining my heritage and traditions for the sake of my children is that as the decades go by the differences between them are softening around the edges and it makes it easier to combine and blend them to suit or rather large family.  For those of you celebrating Reyes or La Befana I wish you 'Felices Fiestas' xx

Friday, 28 December 2012

The end of an era a Happy Chirstmas & Happy New year to you all!

 My website for encouraging natural beauty finally came to the end of it's free subscription and it was time to make the move to set up another page this time with Envirowealth and weebly allowing me to conitinue my efforts to help other do the best they can to try greener products by shopping with local and small businesses across the UK. Starting with a new mission statement to reflect the changes ahead for 2013 and closing the first leg of the journey for 2012.

I do hope you all had a very merry Christmas, for us it was a very quiet one, time to reflect and time to consider some huge changes for 2013. My 3 eldest children left to go to Italy to visit their dad and my middle two went to Canada with their half brother and Dad too . Leaving my husband and I to enjoy some time alone with our youngest daughter. We stayed home, let he build and decorate her own tree and decorated some biscuits. We popped out for some last minute shopping and then relaxed on Christmas day and did not bother with turkey and trimmings opting for enchiladas and cheesy wraps and ice cream tubs instead , far more relaxing. Hopefully by the time my older children return we should have news on my health and on our impending move , in the meantime I wish you all a Happy New Year !

Monday, 17 December 2012

Reflecting on 60 seconds networking intro and the memorable dipping coin .

You may remember when I was actively networking that my favourite whilst doing my 60 seconds introduction was to dip a coin in the cleaner only to surprise everyone that during that time one half was clean and shiny with no scrubbing - with that in mind I share with you the following tips .No Chlorine no bleach , not a parlour trick just something I tried and tested!

My  mum came to visit recently and said how annoying it was to open the dishwasher and find that the tea stained cups still looked grotty, she set about spraying each of them with another of the cleaners you can see the 3 steps here - fresh from dishwasher yuck !-one quick spray- then rinse well!
 Of course for me the biggest challenge this year was eliminating bleach and chlorine from the house some of you know that my sister encouraged me to switch to a brand called Ecosense and became a Melaleuca marketing executive and had a go at starting my own little business to help my sister. It proved to be great fun as I learned a lot about labels and safety of products. I discovered a whole new range of products  that although I no longer run a business would never give up. I thought I would blog a little about what I love about the products and why for me it is a pleasure being a preferred customer but also why I chose not to continue with the business.

I was able to  buy 35 pts worth of products quite easily , which as many of you may know is the amount you are asked to purchase once a month to become a preferred customer and get not only a 30-40% discount but also 10% cashback advantage pounds.  In fact on average with a family of 8 I probably use around 100 pts but I like to budget so I do try and stick around the 35pts as this equates to approx £38-£50 worth of products.  One of the nice things is that it made me stream line my bathroom as you can see we have a his and hers set - how many excess products are cluttering up your shelves?
In my lower cabinet I have my first aid box , reusable cloth pads and just 2 cleaning products undiluted. So by the time I add them to 5 parts water into a spray bottle they go a long way to saving me time money and space.

 Of course with 6 children their bathroom tells a slightly different story but again we manage with the koala pals range for my 8 year old, the original melaleuca shampoos for my boys and the affinia range for my older daughters who have very long hair . No aerosols even though we get hairspray and even deoderant and antiperspirant from them too . We have all 3 toothpastes in a multipack with the dental floss, gum and mouthwash .

In the laundry room we have one shelf with super concentrated products , I fell in love with the fresh scent although I met many customers wh preferred the scent free range . I love the smell as I empty 3-4 loads of laundry a day onto my washing line and when I had a tumble dryer I used to add a bit of melasoft to a hand towel and throw it in as an anti static. Now I just add it into the wash as a fabric softener along with a small cap of eat prespot  into where I used to add a spot of bleach. I also mix up a spray with water 1/4 parts cleaner to pre spray any dried in stubborn stains and have been surprised as my girls use washable pads how clean they come out of the machine. Even socks with grass stains have retained their colour which was quite a challenge for any detergent to be honest.  Of course I have had the chance to try these products over the last year as their ethos is that anyone can build a business but to build one you need to truelly know the value of the products. I can tell you that whilst the products are not the cheapest on the market they are certainly good value for money.
So you may ask why I gave up recruiting and selling the membership ? -  The difficulty I had  is that I am a consumer and a mystery shopper by nature, not a sales lady. When you start the business you are not selling the products , the customer like you buys them direct from the company but what you are selling is the same  membership that you purchase with the exact same benefits which even now is hard to believe. There are a complex set of rules and earnings which if you want to know more about I would suggest you get in touch and I can introduce you to another business builder who I am sure will happily tell you more.
 I was happy to trust my sister and purchase the membership with their money back guarantee but I soon learned that many people mistrusted the concept and misguidedly thought I was selling products either as a party plan or an MLM style. The hardest thing for me was explaining that I did not host parties, I did not sell products . I could recommend based upon my personal experience but that at the time I was selling membership. Despite this I did well and soon became a Director , meanwhile my sister and her team grew in phenominal numbers across Canada and the USA and I saw their posts as they clearly could and would sell membership to anyone. I hit several obstacles , first on a health level I was only devoting 5 hours a week to doing what they refer to as critical activities . I have no doubt had I invested more of my time I would have achieve more. But I was content and wrote an article all about how I had saved and earned . Chuffed with the results and chuffed to have found something that worked. I also struggled with the idea that many of the customers I approached preferred to be a direct customer buying at full price never fully understanding the value and savings they would make , perhaps seeing me with 6 children they thought they would never buy enough to save? However I had one single gentleman who joined who proved even in a household of 1 he benefited from being preferred , maybe it was just about timing .
 I have never been terribly patient , but I feel that as my health had to become a priority that my decision to stop marketing was the right one for me. Now the pressure is off and I can blog when I feel like it helping others and raising awareness. I am no longer a Director I am happy being a preferred customer and I suspect now that I have converted my children we will all be customers for a long while yet. We love the idea that the company prides itself on the over 250 natural products and that unlike other companies they are doing their best to keep our waters free of chlorine and bleach playing their part to protect the environment. For me it may not have been the right business but as for a wise decision to switch and save - it gets the thumbs up !

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

30 seconds ..seriously? and why I needed to find myself in my wardrobe !

I had to blog about my recent indulgence , I purchased an ebook , the latest one from colour me beautiful within it I was shocked to find that as a nation we really do judge a book by its cover . Quite often within the first 30 seconds we are looking at how well groomed you are, what your style says about you and we begin to formulate ideas based upon what we perceive from the superficial information gained at first sight!
 This idea came as a bit of a shock , I have to say that over the years I have been known to have what some might call a throw away wardrobe. That is to say I literally keep the bare minimum in my closet , make sure it is pretty much colour co ordinated , seasonal and then I willingly had it over to charity. I have had times in the past when my obseccion for a certain pair of shoes or a hat has driven my family crazy as I have changed the colour of my hair , tried nail extensions, hair extensions all to satisfy a craving to be accepted in society and more importantly by the ones I love.

In the past I have been very submissive to both style magazines, even branding but when my financial situation changed over night I had to consider how best to continue to fuel my OCD without spending too much. I was doing pretty good right up until I had my stroke and became dependant on others to wash and dress me. Suddenly I had no choice or desire to shop for clothes , I was greatful if someone could just get me something on without causing me too much pain in the process. I hid under my large waterproof cape all winter long and even on ocassion got away with wearing my comfy PJs underneath. So it was very exciting when I finally got out of my chair and naturally I shopped where I was volunteering at a charity shop and later picked up a few bargains whilst doing some visual merchandising. I was awarded for my window display and complimented on achieving such a seasonal co ordinated look , but at this point what I wanted was to be the mannequin not dress them every day .

 As my health took one more sharp turn I also lost 5 1/2 stone in weight taking me from 20/22 down to 16/18 with  a bump and then right down to 10/12 .
The funny thing was instead of rushing out to buy a new wardrobe I suddenly felt I had a chance to re invent myself . I asked my children what should mummy look like in her 40s , they each gave me odd bits of advice. I turned to my husband who said he wanted me to be me . This proved frustrating as I was suddenly faced with a very differently proportioned me who I did not know how to dress.

I sought help from several sources, first I had to tackle my perception of who I was and learn to look at myself in the mirror. Once I had accepted I moved on to seeing a wonderful lady called Jane Cooke who had complimented me on my coat of all things and despite my terrible memory I recalled how well she was dressed and how effortlessly she moved within the room . She had more than a fashion sense , her clothes did not wear her she wore them, her colours made her stand out , radiant and confident . I later had the chance to attend an open house with my daughters and we purchased some stunning jewellery . At this stage I was still to shy to even glance at the colours or the clothes. I delved back into my book shelves peering over cut outs of shapes and colours and laughed as I had kept just about every   reference I would need for a larger bust , wider calves and wide hips and nothing on what to do with me now .

 I decided to visit a neighbour who does a colour me beautiful session and we had a lovely time over a cuppa as I explained my predicament. I was relieved to find that for the most part the clothes and colours I was most attracted to were the right balance for me. Renewed with confidence I popped out and spent £38 in 3 charity shops and was amazed at how many compliments I got over the next 3 days. I contacted Jane this time with a firm idea in my mind as to what I wanted to look like but little idea as to quite how to put it all together. This is where her talent comes in to play. She was able to send me pictures based upon some of the items I had already found on the kettlewell site so that  I would be able to extend my wardrobe making it the perfect eco friendly capsule that I was after. I would have those all essential key pieces and a few fashionable 'throw aways ' to fuel my mood.

The tips she has given me and the advice in general has seriously made me think very differently about clothes. My perception of who I am has also softened, I have regained a femininity which I thought I had lost with my curves. I have regained a youthful glow which I am complimented on even with my current jaundice as I can now cleverly distract people with some tricks up my sleeve . I cannot thank Jane enough and I am so looking forward to taking my daughter down pre prom as her ultimate indulgence. She is hoping to find her dream dress and feel like a princess for the day , and I have every confidence that Jane will ensure my Cinderella goes to the ball in style .

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Timing is everything

 I have not blogged in a while as I have been rather unaware of one day blending into the next. I had a follow up appointment with my psychiatrist as they had doubled my fluoxetine dose and instead of feeling better I began to feel much worse. Originally I was placed on fluoxetine as it is an ideal medication for fibromyalgia as it helps with mood but sadly the wrong dosage can as it turns out have quite a negative effect. I was rapid cycling and literally up and down within minutes let alone hours or days . He could only apologise once more as yet again I need to be weaned from one drug to another . The last one Seroquel had me suffering with tachycardia , breathless and caused double vision and it would seem that my body for a short while improves on the medication and then suddenly it takes a nasty swing in the opposite direction causing more side effects than benefits . So I was nervous of yet another change . I am now two weeks in and feeling a little more able to sit and write now and then . So my ramblings continue ..
 I have linked a new facebook page to my blog and am continueing to support the many talented local businesses who I met during my toe dipping experience into networking. There are a hug number of fantastic groups and community pages and websites devoted to networking and yet I am pleased to see that a few people are beginning to come on over and like the new page and are sharing what they are doing . It is nice to keep in touch and whilst I may not be well enough to network in real life the virtual world is still easy to access as is online shopping . So I hope you will find the page a useful free resource as well as an extension to mummy ramblings it will highlight those businesses which are making a difference to the environment and our wealth . It is my personal way of thanking everyone who supported me through my journey this year .
In my house we celebrate Christmas every other year, this year my children are off to Italy and Canada with their Dads and extended family so the usual baking and decorating is on hold. We are all boxed up awaiting news of our move to a new home. Something which came rather unexpectedly but which we are all adjusting to and now dare I say it even looking forward to. For us it will mean a new lifestyle, one we can just about afford. A smaller eco friendly home , with less gas and electric bills and less wasted space. Two of my children are now full time boarders thanks to their dad and my eldest is moving out so many new changes for the new year.
 If there is one new thing I have learned this year is that for my family timing is everything.  None of us likes change and none of us likes the unexpected but in time we are adjusting and together we will move on to a new adjusted lifestyle in the new year . It is never to late to change and every day we spend together is more precious than the day before . Time passes all to quick and as I look back over the Christmases gone by I smile at the memories of happier times.  Now it is time for me to plan my next visit back to the hospital for further tests in the hopes of getting some answers as to my prognosis before the children come back from their Christmas holidays.