My autumn capsule wardrobe essentials

Today is the last day of September which means the last day of #SecondHandSeptember and I'm definitely making a promise to myself to start buying secondhand alot more often instead of new.

Todays prompt is autumn capsule wardrobe. A few weeks ago I wrote about building a capsule wardrobe and why you need one which also featured a list of items I feel are an essential. Well today is similar but with autumn themed essentials. 


1. Winter Coat/Raincoat
I have both. I like my rain coat as its light weight, but then my winter coat is great for when it's colder. Mine are both in neutral colours so that they go with whatever I am wearing.

2. Boots
I prefer boots that come up to my knee over ankle boots, which is a personal choice. I opt for black but brown is also a good choice too.

3. Jumpers & cardigans
I opt for neutral colours mainly such as navy, grey and black although I also opt for autumnal colours too. I love with jumpers that I could be wearing a summer top underneath and you wouldn't know. 

5. Wellies
A good pair of wellies are essential especially for walks or pumpkin picking and even for just jumping in muddy puddles with my son.

6. Tights
I love wearing black tights this time of year paired with dresses and skirts.

7. Scarfs
My scarfs are soon going to be coming out and I have mainly neutral colours but with patterns.

8. Neutral handbag
I have a black handbag I love that is the perfect size and has a strap as well as a handle.

9. Tops/tunics/dresses
Although I wear these all year round I love wearing them in autumnal colours and prints.


So there you are my autumn capsule wardrobe essentials

September #littleloves


What a stressful month September has been and I can safely say I'm glad it's coming to an end. We started the month with a flooded kitchen, a broken drain in the bathroom and then the toilet flooding. We've also had the stress of Blake starting school and his struggles with anxiety of being away from us. I've attended meetings with school regarding Blake and getting an EHCP sorted one of which was a  very draining two hours long. 

Anyway here is my #littleloves for September.



 READ

I've been a bit slower on the reading front this month and only managed to fit in reading 3 books.

The Mister by E.L.James
This is a stand alone novel from the author of 50 shades of grey. If you enjoyed that trilogy than you may like The Mister. It starts off really slowly and drags abit but then picks up pace.

The Stranger by Kate Riordan
The stranger is a great written historical fiction based in the wild and beautiful landscape of Cornwall. This is the first book I've read by her and definitely would love to see what her other books are like.

A house of ghosts by W.C.Ryan
This is a wonderful book that I've read for a blog book tour ready for me to share on 7th October. I'd love you to come back to my blog then to find out more about the book as it's a good one.

WATCHED
Not watched much this month in all fairness. I've watched more of Workin Moms on Netflix and also getting through 13 reasons why.


HEARD
I've been listening to both Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swifts new albums.


WORE
I've been wearing some new bits that I purchased off ebay and charity shops recently. The black butterfly print top is from yours clothing and the blue tunic top with a stripe is from next. Both I managed to get for under a fiver and are great for throwing on with leggings for an everyday casual look.  I also got around to finally wearing my essential oil diffuser necklace for the first time today and the orange oil I've opted to use smells so good.






MADE

I put together a set of busy bags to help keep Blake occupied when out and about and they have been a hit with him.


I've also made a start on planning Christmas related content especially my gift guides.



AND LASTLY..

Ive been involved in #SecondHandSeptember and pledged to buy only second hand clothing during September which is a campaign held by Oxfam to raise awareness about fast fashion.








Brew Good, Do Good, Feel Good with Coffee & Kin

Nothing beats a coffee first thing in the morning in my opinion. It's the only thing that wakes me up and starts off my day.

With capsule coffee machines increasingly becoming popular (1 in 3 households own a pod machine).  It's time we start thinking about using capsules that are kinder to our planet.

Did you know that 95% of coffee machine capsules end up in landfills? That's a shocking 56 billion capsules a year! 

This is why I chose to receive Coffee and Kin coffee capsules that are compatible with nespresso machines. The reason being is that they 100% plastic free, biodegradable and compostable. 




Coffee and Kin are proud to be a start to the change as most of their competitors capsules are made with either plastic or aluminium which takes hundreds of years to decompose.  

Coffee and Kin also ethically source their coffee so you’re getting a great quality product that tastes amazing and farmers are getting a fair price.

Coffee and Kin also donate 1p per capsule to the Blurt Foundation, helping young people and adults affected by depression – a cause which is close to their heart. 

For £12.50 you can purchase a starter set from Coffee and Kin which contains 30 mixed coffee capsules for you to try.  You can also buy in bulk or even sign up to a subscription if you enjoy their coffee. 

* I was sent a starter set for the purpose of this post. 

Results of using the Silk'n Tightra

So it's now been over 6 weeks since I started using the Silk'n Tightra to help with improving my pelvic floor muscles and preventing incontinence. 

Having oops moments have been embarrassing. The last thing us Mum's want to worry about is leaking whenever we laugh, cough or sneeze

There are in clinic treatments available but these can be costly and if you are a busy mum for example finding the time to visit a clinic can be tricky. Most of us mums me time tends to be in the evening with a glass of wine and a chocolate bar. This is why the Silk'n Tightra is such a great product as it cuts out the need to find time during clinic open hours and not pay as much for treatment. 


In the 6 weeks that I've been using the Silk'n Tightra device I've noticed a difference in muscle control down there and Silk'n Tightra is a simple to use, pain free and non- invasive device. It's recommended to be used twice a week for 20 minutes which I have been doing. 

I love that it's a safe product to be done at home while giving similar results to professional RF equipment. It can be used both internally and externally and with different modes you can use the device in a way that is comfortable to you. 

I mentioned in my update that I was surprised on the first use, of the intense warm feeling however I've found after using for 6 weeks I'm definitely use to this now. 




Would I recommend Silk'n Tightra?

Yes definitely.  If you are looking to tone your pelvic floor area especially after birth then this is an ideal device. Not everyone can afford to pay clinic prices and even though the Silk'n Tightra is £309 it's definitely a lot more affordable. Because of its cutting edge technology using Silk'n Tightra gives the same results as clinic treatment and I can use the device in my own time with absolute no embarrassment and as it's only for 20 minutes twice a week I know I can make time to use it. It's ideal for any women that is struggling with oops moments.



Please note that the Silk'n  Tightra device is not suitable to be used if you are:
Pregnant breastfeeding, have a metal internal birth control inserted or have any abnormal medical conditions or treated for one in the last 6 months.


 Silk'n Tightra , the vaginal rejuvenation device is available to purchase from: Current Body for £309

* I've been gifted the Silk'n Tightra  in exchange for trialling and reviewing. However all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.

Team around the child meetings

Having an autistic child has meant a ton of paperwork and along with that alot of meetings. At the moment we are currently going through the process of trying to get Blake a EHCP ( educational health care plan). 

One of these meetings are called Team around the child meetings. I wasn't too sure about what to fully expect from my first meeting which was 2 hours long and I found to be rather draining. 





WHAT IS A TEAM AROUND THE CHILD MEETING?

A Team Around The Child (TAC) meeting is where professionals and agencies that are working with a child come together to make sure that they are all  working on the same goals and sharing relevant information.

WHO ATTENDS A TEAM AROUND THE CHILD MEETING?

It depends on your child. But you will want people that are working with your child regularly there. The key people have are of course parents and key workers from nursery/school.  To give you an idea here are some of the professionals I sat around a conference table with at a meeting a few weeks ago: 

- Health Visitor 
- School Key worker
- Blake's teacher
- School SENCO
- Additional SEN worker from school
- Keyworker from the Early Support Care Co-ordination  (ESCO)

Other people you may want involved are:
- Speech and language therapist 
- PORTAGE or childrens centre staff 

It's important that professionals who aren't able to attend send over any relevant information for the meeting. 


WHAT IS THE AGENDA AT A TEAM AROUND THE CHILD MEETING?

It really depends on each individual childs needs. For us our first meeting was about making sure we all have the right information and paperwork and what's happening in regards to Blake getting a EHCP and how things are going at school and what's in place along with any worries the school had.

A typical meeting may follow this agenda.




Educational health care plan | What is it and why we need one


One of the things I'd advise is to get an Educational health care plan ( EHCP) early. We had been in the process of starting it all when we moved out of the area so it's ended up being more delayed than we would've liked, with the application only getting sent off at the end of July.


What is an EHCP?

It's a legal document that sets out the educational, health and care of a young person. It is a document for children with special educational needs who's needs cannot be met by support that is usually available in schools. An EHCP should include the views, wishes and feelings of both the child and parent/s. It's important that the child and parents participate fully with the decisions made. This is because the plan is intend to support the child's educational  health and care outcomes. 

Educational settings should be monitoring childrens progress and so SEN Support is available for children who need extra help. This could be with needing 1 to 1 support for example as children with additional needs do tend to find it harder to learn. The SENCO ( Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) should put a plan in place  which we currently have for Blake to a point. Unfortunately because of Blake's needs aren't as easy to provide an EHCP is essential.


Why do we need an EHCP for Blake?

Blake's currently in a mainstream school and they feel that they don't have the right provisions in place for him and that the environment isn't inclusive for him. With that said getting an EHCP is important for him to have as specialist schools wont take children on without them. 

How do I get an EHCP?

The first thing to do is to request an assessment this is usual done via a form to the local authority (LA) . We were lucky that Blake's previous setting passed on all the information required for school to apply for an EHCP.  The LA then decides if they are going to do an assessment. Evidence of special needs is required and it's usually a 6 week process to be considered. 

Our request has been accepted and the assessment process which is usual about 8 weeks begins and this is the current stage we are at. We are currently awaiting for professionals to observe Blake at school. Once that has been done a report will be written which includes advice on outcomes and support needed. Any current reports from professionals working with Blake will be used. We've been told that we should have the report by mid november. In the meantime its reccomend that we visit the local SEN school to look around as it's important that we offer our views on what feel is beneficial for Blake.

School Transition When you have an autistic child


Starting school is such a huge milestone in a child's life. It can be equally exciting and terrifying for both the child and parents. However if your child is autistic like Blake it can be particularly challenging.

One of my fears is that Blake isn't at all school ready. He isn't as independent as other children for example even though we have tried toilet training Blake a few times now he isn't ready or even have the understanding.  

Blake has been in school since 4th September and unfortunately the school doesn't have the provision for him to be in for more than 30 minutes a day. So this obviously isn't inclusive for him. We are currently in the process of getting an EHCP (educational health care plan) for him and have been having a few different meetings. 

It's sounding very likely that Blake maybe better off moving to a SEN school which obviously will mean going through the transition process all over again.  I thought I'd share some of my tips with you incase you have an autistic child who maybe moving schools soon or still has a year to wait before starting school or maybe you just will find this information useful.



Visiting
It's important for your child to visit the school. Most schools have transition dates which are important for them to go to. We were lucky in Blake's case that the school let us visit twice a week in July before the school broke up for summer. During these visits Blake got to meet his teacher and the lady who is his temp 1 to 1.  I think this really helped him even though he is in only for a short time. 

Uniform 
Buying the uniform together along with his school shoes was a great way for us to explain about going to school. Once we had it all washed and labled it we got him to try it on a few times. Blake was very excited putting it on and still is daily.


Getting to school
Blake school isnt far from our house luckly and during the summer each time we went past I'd point out to him and say your schools down there. This helped with getting him to understand where he would be going. 


Books
I found books a great visual aid for Blake to explain about starting school. I also have some learning picture books for him which we sit and look at together. 

Activities
I've been doing some activities over the summer with him to help with learning. I'm thinking of doing a separate post on this. One of the things we've been doing is sitting together and doing an odd card from the my busy bots I'm starting school flashcards. Another was sitting together and having fun learning with different books on the leapad 3d we've got for him. 



I hope these tips have been helpful have you done anything I've not mentioned? 

10 tips for Charity Shopping Like A Pro

I've heard people say that they never find anything good in charity shops and that its mainly old ladies clothing . This of course isn't at all true. Yes you are going to most likely see clothing that are for the older generation but you can find some great gems and often if lucky clothing that still has the tags on. Let's be honest alot of us have clothing in our wardrobe that we don't wear or regret buying and its these clothing items and accessories that end up in charity shops.  


So how do I make the most out of our local charity shops? Well read below some of my tips on how to charity shop like a pro.


Have a list 
Having an idea on what you are looking for whether it's a denim jacket or an occasion dress can help you save money,rather than just jumping in and buying whatever looks nice. In the past I've purchased items and regretted them as I didn't have other items in my wardrobe that they would go with. It's also handy if you are in a rush and can just scan the rails.

Pick your time
Weekdays tend to be the best time. 

Pick your location
If you are able to travel a bit outside of your local area it's a great way broaden your search.  More affluent areas mean you may find designer items and more higher end high street pieces, however the downside is prices tend to be higher. For example a primark dress could be priced up for more than it would be in store. I think it's worth visiting charity shops in a mixture of affluent and less affluent areas.


Visit regularly 
You most likely wont strike gold on every occasion. Popping in regularly for example once  a week means you are likely to find items from your list. This is due to charity shops getting new stock out everyday.

Be prepared to rummage
Most charity shops have clothing organised into sizing and/or colour. However not everyone puts items back in the right places. It's a good idea to take your time and have a good rummage.



Try on items and examine them carefully
The last thing you want is to buy a top for example to find out when you get home it doesn't fit or worse has a broken zip, is stained, wripped or smelly. 

Have an idea of repair and alteration costs
If a zip is broken I tend to leave the item as I dont have the time to sort it and also it could be an expensive job. If an item just needs a bit of sewing or can be upcycled into something better than if I love it and it fits than I'll most likely purchase the item.

Check labels
If you've not heard of a brand than Google them. I tend to do this to get an idea how much an item would cost new. Also check lables incase they are dry clean only or hand wash only. 

Try online charity shops
I only recently was aware that charity shops these days tend to also have an online shop. This is handy as you can shop from the comfort of your own home and it's great for those of you that cant get out.

Give Back
It's important to give back to charity as they rely on donations to survive. So when you next have a wardrobe clear out think of donating any unwanted items. 

Building a capsual wardrobe & why you need one

It's now the 12th day of being involved in #SecondHandSeptember and so far I've picked up a few bargains in charity shops and on Ebay. I'm also joining in with ThriftyMum.com prompts each day which I'm sharing mainly on Facebook and Instagram with a few posts here on my blog.

Today's prompt is about capsule wardrobes and so I wanted to write a post about starting one as I definitely need to add some more basics into my wardrobe.


First of all what is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a limited collection of clothing and accessories that coordinate well and can be worn in multiple different ways. This means you can also dress them up or down to fit the occasion.

I've read quite a few articles on capsule wardrobes and some items vary but there are some that are on every list such as Jeans and a little black dress. I've decided to share items that I've got and some bits I'm going to purchase at some point. Not everything will be on everyone's list but I'm hoping if you are stuck I can give you some ideas.


1. Basic t-shirt
Alot of the lists say a plain white t-shirt. I think as well as white its essential for me to have ones in black, grey and navy as well. As they are great basic colours to have in my wardrobe.

2. Leggings
I live in leggings so having a good few pairs are definitely essential to me.

3. Jeans 
I've not worn jeans in years as I've not found ones that I am perfectly comfortable in but I'm definitely going to be searching for them.

4. Neutral shade cardigans and jumpers 
I have ones in black, white and navy for cardigans and for jumpers I also have a grey one.

5. Little black dress
Always handy to have to dress up for nights out or down for during the day.

6. Black skirt
Just like the little black dress a black skirt is great edition to your wardrobe to dress up or down. I own a skater style one which I prefer however a pencil skirt is also one to think about adding.

7. Denim Jacket
I don't currently own one but it's on my list to find.

8. Leather jacket
Again I don't currently own one but is worth getting.

9.  Winter coat/Rain coat
I own both and have opted for navy winter coat and a black rain coat.

10. Trainers
A comfy pair of trainers in a neutral colour is a must I love my converse.

11. Black pumps

12. Neutral coloured boots

13. Black heels
Go with anything and are suitable for most occasions 

14. A tote bag.

15. Cross the body bag.


There you go that's my list. Is there anything in your capsule wardrobe that's different to mine? 


4 of the Best places you can buy/sell second hand clothing

We could all do with making some extra money, couldn't we? One of the ways I've made a bit of extra cash recently has been by selling clothing I no longer wear and clothing Blake has grown out of.  

The 3 benefits I've found from this are:

- Decluttering 
It's given me the chance to make more room in our home. I'm no longer rifling through clothing that doesn't fit either so it's made finding something for us to wear each day much easier.

- Extra Cash
The extra cash always helps. We've had a few issues with our house recently so any extra money is a god send.

- Sustainability 
Fash fashion has a shocking impact on the environment so by selling items we no longer need instead of throwing them out means I am doing my bit to help our environment.


There are many different places to sell on your clothing, both on and offline. I've compiled a list of some of the best places to sell clothing.

Ebay
Ebay is great for reaching a wider audience. I do find the fees and postage a bit off putting. I have however found selling clothing in bundles and also offering combined postage is the best way to go. 

Facebook marketplace and local groups
This a great way for selling your clothing to those in your area. It also means you can save on postage by selling locally and selling bigger bundles too.

Carboot 
I've not actually been to a car boot in a long time. Back when I was still living with my parents my sister and I would spend some Sunday's  going to a few local carboots with my mum and grandparents. We use to love to find bargains and I remember getting quite a few clothing items. I've never actually run a carboot myself though.


Table top sales
These are great for childrens clothing especially if you find a local NCT nearly new sales going on. 

Another thing I wanted to touch on in this post is about whether buying from charity shops and then reselling for a profit is ever ok? Have you ever done so? If not would you? I'm interested to know your thoughts on this one. Personally I feel it's ok as you are still giving money to charity and it gives them a chance to get more stock out. I personally have only resold charity shop purchases after I've worn them and no longer need or want the item of clothing anymore. Sometimes I make a few extra £s when I do.

Blog Book Tour: A shadow on the lens

[Ad – review. I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes and all thoughts are my own]

It's no secret that I love a good crime/thriller novel and that it's my favourite genre to read. There are so many great crime writers out there and I do love it when a debut novel comes out.

Today I am involved in the book tour of a wonderful debut A Shadow On The Lens by Sam Hurcom.Sam Hurcom was born in Dinas Powys, South Wales in 1991. He studied Philosophy at Cardiff University, attaining both an undergraduate and master's degree. He has since had several short stories published and has written and illustrated a number of children's books. Sam currently lives in the village he was raised in, close to the woodlands that have always inspired his writing.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me.

He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.
Someone had been watching us.

1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland - her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl - the face of Betsan Tilny.



I really enjoyed the build up and the mystery around who killed Betsan and was totally not expecting who it turned out to be. There are definitely some red herrings throughout and when you thought you knew who the murderer is Hurcom surprises you with a twist. I liked the character Thomas Bexley as he was determined to find out what happened despite the frustrations and problems that come to light. The whole story was well written and was both chilling and creepy.  If you are expecting a regular murderer mystery then you are wrong. Sam Hurcom is definitely a writer to watch and I'm excited to see what else he has up his sleeve.

Dear Blake on the eve of you starting School





Dear Blake 

It doesn't feel that long ago since writing about your birth. It's strange to think that back then I thought we had plenty of time before you would go to school. I was wrong as the time has just flown by. 

The years have just disappeared and even when you went to preschool it didn't prepare me for how I would feel about you being in school. I have a feeling when I see you looking so grown up tomorrow in your uniform it's not just going to be you crying as you go in. 

I guess we are lucky that school is being supportive of your needs and building up your hours slowly ready for you to be in full time 9 til 3:30. This will hopefully help me to adjust to it as well. 

I hope that you have a much more better school life than I did. I hope you manage to make friends easily as well as do well academically as you can. All that matters is that you try your hardest in all that you do over the next 12 years or however long you end up in education.

I hope that you turn to me with any struggles you may face and know I will always be there for you. Now it's time for me to let you go and start this new journey.



8 Reasons to buy second hand

I admit that I can be guilty of buying new clothing from time to time. However alot of our clothing are now second hand. The majority of my clothing are what my sister was getting rid of and she let me try on before they went to a charity shop and others are items that I've managed to find that have caught my eye when browsing in charity shops, eBay or on Facebook market place. I can say at least 90% of Blake's clothes are second hand too as I find them in the above mentioned places and I also have a friend who's son grows out of the size Blake moves onto so I end up buying them off her. As for Stuart he rarely gets anything new and has shirts and jumpers he has had for years as they last him well.


Today as part of #SecondHandSeptember i'm sharing with you reasons why you should be buying second hand and saying NO to fast fashion. 

1. It's good for the environment 

I recently came across some shocking statistics regarding the impact fast fashion is having. It's estimated that two tonnes of clothing are brought every minute here in the UK. That amount produces nearly 50 tonnes of carbon emissions – the same as driving 162,000 miles in a car. In one month alone, the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK was greater than flying a plane around the world 900 times. Yep let that sink in. 

2. Helping charity
By buying second hand in charity shops you are giving money to help out a  good cause. Don't forget to also donate any unwanted belongings of yours too.

3. You will save money 
Definitely one of the most obvious things is that you can buy things for so much cheaper. Which means you can buy more for your budget or just spend less and be able to use money on other things.

4. Wide selection of items
Buying second hand means there is such a wide selection to choose from. It's not just charity shops you can buy from but car boot sales and online sites such as Ebay and Facebook  marketplace where you can search for what you are looking for.

5. Unique pieces
You never know what you are going to find. You may come across some unique pieces that no one else owns.

6. Fashionable pieces
I must admit I don't really follow the trends. However why buy a new flannel shirt in new look when you could find one that's really from the 90s.

7. Designer items
If you are lucky you may find designer items. With second hand working out cheaper it means you may actually be able to afford that channel handbag you had your eye on.

8. It's fun
I actually enjoy browsing and finding a gem of an item. Especially as you dont know what you will find.

How you can take part in #SecondHandSeptember


Today I've pledged to take part in #SecondHandSeptember which is a campaign run by the charity Oxfam to raise awareness of the impact of fast fashion. They’re looking for people to take a 30 day pledge to SAY NO to buying new clothes. You can join in too by signing up here.


Why is the campaign important?

Every week 11 million items of clothing end up in landfill. Throwaway fashion is putting increasing pressure on our planet and its people - it’s unsustainable. Fast fashion is doing more harm than you may think. We are all aware about needing to cut down on plastic but most of us don't realise the impact and shocking statistics surrounding fast fashion and buying new.


After reading about the campaign on the  thrifty mum's blog I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. So the next 30 days will see me only buying second hand. On top of that I have also chosen to take part in thrifty mums  prompts over the next 30 days to help raise awareness about the real cost of fast fashion.