LITTLE MOMENTS 2020: 13/52 : GETTING OUT IN THE GARDEN

Typically the weather has been lovely this week when we are under lockdown. That didn't stop us though as we got out in the garden instead. 

Having lived in flats for 10 years and not having a garden has made us really appreciate having one. 


I loved seeing how blue the skies were and so I grabbed my hat, beach towel, bag and sandles and headed out into the garden to enjoy the sunshine with Blake. 

I filled the bag with the learning bits for Blake along with a drink and snacks so that we could stay out there for awhile. 


The weather may have changed yet again but I'm looking forward to being able to start planting and making the garden a more fun place for Blake to enjoy. Our garden is pretty small but I need to find some garden toys for Blake as he doesn't have many. 


*Sandles, beach towel and hat all pictured are gifted from a previous collaboration. 

Home Learning | Week One

Our first full week of attempting home learning has been a learning curve. I learnt last week when attempting home learning with Blake that he is more interested in learning in the mornings. So we have adapted that and let him have afternoon as free time. This week we have been trying out different things and finding what sort of activities work for us.


Monday
We found Monday really tricky Blake really didn't understand that we are doing learning at home and kept wondering off. I eventually realised it was best to bring the activity to him rather than try and get him to sit at the table. This has worked much better. We managed to get him to do an alphabet activity on his leapstart, used his learning resources alphabee set to spell out words, counting and shape recognition. We attempted a music and dance session on facebook which he wasn't interested in.  I think we just need to find the right one for Blake to enjoy.


Tuesday
Blake was more eager today to sit and do some activities together. We got out the playdough and made sausages to match the numbers on the frying pan worksheet school gave us. We also made shapes out of the playdough, did some singing and played a matching number game called one dog, ten frogs. I decided to attempt the Teach my monster to read app with Blake which was a huge hit with him. I also had a phone appointment so during that time Blake spent most of it playing with Stuart.



Wednesday 
I think Wednesday was the best we did all week, as we fitted quite a bit in. We started off with the phonics sheet from school followed by a story and then Blake was happy sitting doing the Teach my Monster to read app. Once that was done we decided to pop on some music and have a good dance. After lunch we headed into the garden we did attempt to join in with a gruffalo live that was on but Blake wasn't fully engaged in it. Once we got back inside Blake wanted to play with Phil the fridge which is  a fun game.  As Phil spins, players must get their food into the correct holes, but watch out for Phil's door flying open. The winner is the player who gets all their coloured food shapes into the fridge first. 





Thursday 
We went straight into the garden for learning time today. Blake did some number bubbles on the leapstart, played with Phil the fridge, made a easter themed windmill, enjoyed music and dancing followed by using the Teach my monster to read app.





Friday
It was a bit more relaxed today learning wise. We used the Teach my monster to read app and watched a few live sessions of Chester zoo to see the animals.



I think I'm going to sit down this weekend and sort out what we are going to do each morning. The teach my monster to read app is a hit so is one to continue each day.  Blake's teacher has emailed with ideas personally for him so I'm going to be looking  more into that too.

LIKES AND LOVES | MARCH 2020

Lets not going into how this month has been. We all know what's been happening and I've already mentioned about my anxiety surrounding it here. I think it's important regardless to continue my likes and loves as we all need a bit of positivity.

Any items that are gifted to me for a possible mention within this feature will be clearly marked with a * and any affiliate links will be marked with a #.

Mothers Day
It was certainly a different kind of mothers day this year. We ordered in fish and chips for lunch and I received some beautiful flowers from Blake along with a card he made from school for me.

Getting out in the garden
We are making most  of having a garden and getting out there whilst we have good weather. We've now purchased a lawn mower and have a few things we need to sort out. I've loved getting out the *beach towel and sitting in the sun doing activities with Blake.


Netflix:

All the bright places
Loved this film it's based on the book by Jennifer Niven. This is a book I've yet to read but if you love romance it's a lovely film to watch.

Lost Girls
A great murder mystery which is based on Lost Girls: An unsolved murder mystery , a book by Robert Kolker. It's about unsolved murders of young female sex workers on the South Shore barrier islands of Long Island committed by the Long Island serial killer.


Foodie bits:

I shouldn't really be eating these because of diabetes.

Pockys
I came across Pockys on Amazon which are similar to Micardo sticks which Blake absolutely loves. They do loads of different flavours and the cookies and cream have been a popular choice. Blake and I have been sharing them and have gone through 3 boxes.
Loacker Tortina Dark Hazelnuts
These are delicious wafers that are covered in dark chocolate and have hazelnut cream sandwiched  between them.

 Beauty/skincare:

Barry M Mango Lip Scrub 
I've really enjoyed this lip scrub it's great at removing dead skin and tastes pleasant too. It doesn't have a strong mango scent but it's definitely helped my lips especially when I use a lip balm after to keep them soft and hydrated.


Neutrogena Hydroboost Moisturiser and Body gel cream.

I tried the moisturiser first as I wanted to find a great hydrating one that was cheaper than the Olay one I was using.  I've got on really well with it and love the gel formula so ordered a bottle of the body gel cream and can say it's the best body cream I've ever used. It soaks into the skin quickly and doesn't leave a sticky feel. I've got into a routine now of using both of these products every morning.


Coronavirus and Anxiety

It's safe to say it's a strange time for us all right now.  With restrictions in place meaning we can only go out for essential shopping, one form of exercise per day or any medical need its certainly a scary time.

The outbreak of the Coronavirus is certainly  making me struggle with anxiety. The what if's have been floating in and out my mind.  One minute I'll be feeling ok the next I'm thinking what if we get it? What if someone I love dies? What if die?  The whole thing terrifies me if I'm honest.


I know this is something that we are all going through together. It's hard though when my mind plays tricks on me. The uncertainty of how the coming months are going to pan out has definitely left me in tears a few times.  I know I most definitely wont be alone in this as there are many others out there who also have anxiety and maybe that's you too. 

I've been trying to distract myself from these thoughts and it's easier when I'm focusing on Blake especially his education as I am trying to do more learning with him at home. But when I'm lying in bed at night trying to drop off that is when my anxiety is at my worst.

How are you copying? Do you have any tips for anxiety? 


2020 READING CHALLENGE | WHAT I'VE READ IN MARCH

March has been a fairly good month for  reading. 7 books have been read 2 of which were for book tours. 4 of the 7 books read fit for some of the prompts for the popsugar reading challenge.




Where the crawdads sing by Delia Owen's
I finished this one on the 1st of March so counted it for March even though I started it in February. I've picked it to use for the popsugar prompt a book with a pink cover. It can however be used for the book with a map prompt but I already have a book planned for that one. I really enjoyed this one Delia really has such beautiful descriptions in her writing. It's a historical fiction so if you like that genre mixed with a bit of mystery than this will probably be a read you will enjoy. Did it live up to the hype? For me it did.



Mine by Clare Empson 
This one is a described as a physiological thriller and for me I felt it wasn't really. I still loved it though and you can read my book tour post here. I've also opted to use this book in the popsugar reading challenge as the prompt written by or about a journalist as Clare Empson is a journalist with a background in national newspapers etc.


Death in the sound by Rhen Garland 
The second book in the versipellis series and once it got going I was hooked. Rhen still keeps us guessing with her twisty and gripping passages. You can read my book tour post here for this one.


Sensory & Motor Strategies by Corinna Laurie 
This is a wonderful guide sharing practical ways to help young children and young people on the autistic spectrum. I've found this very helpful and it will be something I'll be referring to.

 Notting Hill Carnival by Candice Carter-Williams
 I've chosen this read to be for the popsugar prompt a book  by a women of colour. I must admit I couldn't really get into this one. Maybe its because I don't like the whole gang aspect of the story and don't know much about the west side story. 


The Little Dreams of Lara Cliffe by Milly Johnson 
I really enjoyed this fun little sweet story. Definitely one to enjoy when you have spare hour to just read it in one go as it's only 100 pages.

Hidden Bodies By Caroline Kepnes
This is the second book of the Netflix series YOU. I've picked it for the prompt a book featuring one of the deadly sins. So far I'm enjoy this one and I'm pretty sure i will have finished it by the end of March.


4 Essential Shoes Every Woman Should Have in 2020

*Collaborative post

2020 has been interesting so far, to say the least, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get ready for some summer fashion. Even with all the events unfolding, we can still have an idea of what’s going to be hot this summer based on what we’ve seen from some of the top designers' spring/summer collections. This year has been characterized by big comebacks, and the general trend seems to be towards a more conservative look. However, there is a little bit for everyone in this mixed bag. Let’s take a look at some of the essential shoe trends for 2020.



Loafers are Back
Loafers had their moment in women’s fashion about three years ago, but the trend has tapered off since then. Loafers seem to be making a comeback this year, but with a small twist. We’ve seen loafers with blocky heels and different textures. Gucci added a lot of loafers to their selection, and a few heeled ones as well.

If you want to shop the style, you can check out the popular Gucci shoes at Ssense. For heeled loafers, you can check out their Marmont Loafers, or the Black Zumi mid-heel loafers. They have a wide variety of Gucci shoes from sneakers to sandals and ankle boots, so you’ll find pretty much anything that you want from Gucci and other top designers there.



Mary Jane Heels
One of the most ubiquitous trends we’ve seen so far is Mary Jane shoes and heels. These are another classic and iconic silhouette making a comeback. Who can forget this Sex in the City episode when Carrie found a pair of Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes in Vogue’s fashion closet? 

The trend has been updated with the apparition of new prints and textures like the Marc Jacobs-inspired shearling-covered heels. Whether you’re looking for something more sophisticated or something more on the playful side, you’ll have no trouble finding tons of different options this year. 


Bows Everywhere
Bows are back for another season, so you won’t have to worry about finding something to wear for formal events and wedding ceremonies this year. We saw Burch pair floral dresses with yellow bow pumps and matching giant bow necklines, while Rowley chose to pair bowed black kitten mules with slouchy bottoms and oversized shirts.

Platforms are In
Platforms are another style we can expect to see a lot of this year if we’re judging by the runways. We saw Tibi models clunking around wearing a variety of grey platforms. We also saw Anna Sui going for something more out of the box with floral clogs. Another spin on this trend is the menswear-inspired platform shoes which take the chunky boot trend a step further and add oversized rubber soles on shoes and boots for a post-futuristic cyberpunk look.

Conclusion
So, if you are trying to build a solid shoe collection for this summer, you should definitely check these few trends. However, remember to go with what fits your personality and current wardrobe if you don’t want them to end up in the back of your closet for the whole season.

LITTLE MOMENTS 2020: 12/52 : A NEW NORMAL

Well my hope for a better week has been dashed. This whole Coronavirus has got me in a complete panic now. The schools being shut is a good thing as is the social distancing. But unfortunately there are people out there who aren't staying at home as advised. I've definitely felt emotional about it all and not going to lie I've cried a few times. I have a fear of death and I'm definitely afraid, seeing as how fast the virus is spreading.  I really don't think it's going to be long until we end up in lockdown. 


I'm starting to prepare to start doing a bit of teaching at home where we can. Blake's school has given us worksheets and we've got educational workbooks and toys we will be using. We trialled out a schedule on Friday which didn't fully work out. The morning we did manage to do some number bubbles, story time, music and dance and did some counting, shape and number recognition. 

We quickly realised that Blake is more suited for us to do learning activities with him in the morning rather than afternoon. So our plan is now to let him have free play in the afternoons. I think it's important that we dont put pressure on ourselves to do loads of learning and concentrate more on play. My advice is to have a plan and if that plan doesn't work for you then find a new plan.



Until the schools are open once more and we know more on what is happening with this pandemic this is now going to have to be our new normal. It's far from a little moment but its something that is impacting us all.

We are lucky that we are in a world where we have internet so that we can still stay in touch with friends and family via chat and video chat. I've found alot of supportive groups out there that are helping to inspire us with things to do whilst we have to stay inside. Alot of companies are doing live videos so that we can do fun activities such as musical sessions, exercise, baking and of course arts and crafts.

The main thing for us all to remember is that we are not alone,  we are all in this together.

Blog Tour| Death in the sound by Rhen Garland

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

Today I'm excited to be involved in the book tour for Death in the sound by Rhen Garland which is her second book in the Versipellis mysterious series. I was involved in the book tour for her first in the series Portrait of Death which you can find here.



The year is 1900, responding to a desperate plea from an old friend, Elliott, Giselle, and Thorne, accompanied by Veronique the Labrador, travel from England to New Zealand to unravel a new and complex mystery.

For his daughter’s twenty first birthday, Millionaire philanthropist Octavius Damant orchestrates a weekend party aboard the Taniwha, a luxurious paddle steamer moored in the primordial and isolated landscape of Milford Sound.

Several high society guests are invited to their remote home for the celebrations; Sir Wesley Eade, society lawyer and his beautiful but icy mistress Lady Leonora Carlton-Cayce, Dona Carla Riva, a flamboyant Brazilian dancer, and Carolyn Nolloth, O.D’s estranged sister-in-law who has a great love of other people’s money.

But O.D is the subject of persecution; a series of anonymous letters accuse him of past crimes and threaten the life of his daughter unless he gives in to their creator’s poisonous demands. Elliott, Giselle, and Thorne discover the odds stacked against them when an unforeseen murder is committed, and they find themselves trapped aboard the Taniwha with a killer who will seemingly stop at nothing to achieve their ends.

As the body count rises, they must unravel the clues and piece together a devilish jigsaw that includes blackmail, extortion, desire, and the reappearance of the fabulous Larkspur Diamond, a gemstone with a past as murky and blood soaked as that of the relentless killer on board.

Set in the late Victorian era, with a touch of the odd, and a twist of the macabre, “Death in the Sound” continues the crime solving, paranormal escapades of Elliott Caine, Giselle Du’Lac, and Abernathy Thorne.


I found this a bit more of a slow starter compared to A Portrait Of Death which I read last year. However once I got into it I was hooked.  I have to say out of the two A Portrait Of Death was my favourite but Rhen still keeps us guessing with her twisty and gripping passages. I love that some of the characters in the previous book were still in this one and I'm excited and hope that book 3 will happen. Honestly with the ending of this one she can't stop there really.

Reaching Out| Generalised Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis

A little over two weeks ago I mentioned on social media that I hadn't been feeling that great. I feel that antidepressants on their own just aren't working for me at the moment. I've had mental health issues since I was 15 and you can read my mental health story here. Writing about my mental health is nothing new on here. If you are interested you can read some of my other posts I've written over the years by searching mental health , Depression or anxiety into the search box at the bottom of this page.

I've mainly been on medication to help with depression and anxiety although I had counselling once back in 2009 after my Dad's death.  I've had moments over the years where medication has stopped working for me and a higher dosage was then given. Last year I had the worst reaction I've ever had to an increase in dosage resulting in suicidal thoughts and hallucinations. It was a scary time I had to reduce the medication gradually before coming off it and starting on a different one.

Since then I've had good and bad days but recently I've been struggling hence why I decided to reach out and refer myself for counselling with the local NHS service.

At the beginning of this week I had a phone call assessment. I found this hard as I hate talking on the phone and the phone ringing sets my anxiety sky high when it's someone I don't know calling. The lady was really nice and reassuring though. She asked alot of questions and some of them I found really hard to answer.

She wanted to understand what my struggles are so that they can provide me with right type of therapy. I was honest with her about my struggles.

I told her how I feel really anxious going out. I told her about my struggles with having an autistic child, I told her about how Stuart's own problems are affecting me, that I'm struggling to feel motivated, that since I was diagnosed with diabetes in November I've not been able to eat healthily like I should be, I told her about my struggles to sleep because of the thoughts that swirl through my head at night, I told her that we've only lived up here a year and that I feel lonely and isolated as we have no family and friends nearby.

Hearing myself say all these things has made me realise that it's alot and I'm bound to feel overwhelmed and that seeking help was the right thing.

We talked about therapy and so it's decided that I need one to one guided self help which will be in the form of CBT which I've not had before. So at the moment I'm awaiting to hear about an appointment which will most likely be over the phone because of the pandemic we are currently in.

Book tour | Mine By Clare Empson

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

Today I'm involved in the book tour for Mine by Clare Empson. Clare is a journalist with a background in national newspapers - small business editor, finance correspondent and fashion at the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Express, freelance for The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard and Tatler amongst others.


About the book:

Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?'

On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He's an A&R man, she's an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.

But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.

When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice - fuelled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago - starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won't settle for his mother pushing him aside once again...



Mine for me isn't what I'd describe as a physiological thriller. However having said that I loved this book. It's told in two points of view both Alice and her son Luke. I didn't initially like the character Alice however over time she grew on me especially as the story progresses and you find out more about her back story.

I found the story to be very emotional and features many complex issues such as adoption, mental health, drugs and love. I found myself reading this one pretty quickly as I was gripped.

Review| Suzy's Crafty Creations

Ad – Review. I was sent a Duckie from Suzy's Crafty Creations for review purposes. All thoughts are my own.

I hope everyone is doing ok in these struggling times at the moment? To brighten up your Friday I am sharing with you a little business Suzy's Crafty Creations who sell a wide range of handmade items.

Suzy sells a wide range of handmade items for every occasion such as decoparge shells, jars, coasters , boxes, light up bottles, her popular duckies and more.

I was excited to receive a duckie of my choice from Suzy.  She has a wide range of  different styles such as general decoparge or painted, ones in tutus, ones that are decorated with foam roses and ones in different fun outfits.

Suzy has duckies in 4 different sizes 23cm, 27cm, 35cm and 40cm. Prices start at £10 for a 23cm webbed feet duckie that is either painted or decoparged. 

I opted for a tutu duckie which is such a fun design. For a painted/decoparge duckie you choose the size, if you want a webbed feet or booted, the body base colour, hearts or decoparge design. With regards to the tutu you can choose from a range of tulle colours:

Purple

White

Baby blue

Red

Yellow

Plum

Grey

Baby pink

Wine

Turquoise

Black

Green

Orange

Lilac

If you are not sure which colour/ colours tutu to have , then why not treat your self to an extra one so you can swap and change it around , these are available at £5.00 each for the 23cm and 27cm duckies and £6.00 each for the 35cm and 40cm duckies .



What I love about the tutu duckie is it means your duckie has 2 looks as you can opt to take off the tutu if you wish.

I'm in love with the decoparge design I opted for.  The duckie is well made and you can see that Suzy takes pride in how she gets the designs onto her duckies perfectly. The tutu is beautiful made and is easy to pop on and off your duckie as required.


I've actually given my duckie a name she is called Edwina. It was a name that came to me and feel actually suits her. She has pride of place on one of our corner shelves in our living room. 

I'd love it if you would support Suzy's Crafty Creations  you can find her on:

Facebook
Instagram 


Vehicle Inspection for Used Cars: Is It Worth It?

*Collaborative Post
Purchasing a used car allows drivers to save a substantial amount of money when looking for a vehicle, but there can also be factors of purchasing a used car that need some serious consideration. 

Some people may find vehicle inspection for a used car a necessity, whereas others may feel that such an investment is a waste of money. 

Ascertaining as to whether a vehicle inspection is worthwhile can depend on the requirements of the person, but those looking to have a used car inspection carried out need to consider factors before parting with their money. 



Is an MOT Not Enough When Purchasing a Used Car? 
The United Kingdom is unique in that it is one of the few countries that enforce the checking of a vehicle every 12 months. 

An MOT takes an average of 45 minutes to complete and costs around £50. Some of the more common reasoned a vehicle can fail an MOT include a shortage of screen wash and stickers on the windshield. 

While such issues may mean a vehicle fails its MOT, they won’t be issues that stop the purchasing of a used car.

It’s also worth noting that an MOT only shows that a vehicle passed the requirements at the time the test was carried out and doesn’t allow for any faults incurred since the MOT. 

How Does a Vehicle Inspection Differ From an MOT? 
To ascertain as to whether a used car inspection is worthwhile, it’s important to understand the differences a vehicle inspection offers in comparison to an MOT. 

What’s included with a vehicle inspection can depend on the company, but it’s not unusual to find the checks are carried out in relation to the following: 
Suspension 
Engine and Gearbox 
Interior Features 
Bodywork Condition 
Interior Features 
Signs of Accidental Damage 
Evidence of Poor Maintenance 

When compared to the checks made with an MOT, a vehicles inspection can be more informative as to where a used car should be purchased or not. 

The Benefits of Vehicle Inspection for a Used Car 

As well as carrying out a series of checks that ensure the vehicle is safe, the use of a vehicle inspection also ensures that faults and defects aren’t being covered up in order to sell the vehicle at a higher price. 

In many instances, if something seems too good to be true, then it generally is. A used car that isn’t showing any signs of wear and tear could mean that all is not as it seems with a vehicle, and the use of a professional can ensure that first-time buyers aren’t hoodwinked when it comes to purchasing a used car.

The Drawbacks of a Vehicle Inspection 
Although there are benefits associated with a vehicle inspection, there can also be drawbacks. For example, just because a vehicle is roadworthy when inspected doesn’t mean that there won’t be any issues with the vehicle in the future. 

Even a comprehensive vehicle inspection will not factor in every single detail, so there can still be some background checks that need to be carried out, such as a HPI check. 

In short, a vehicle inspection for a used car can be worthwhile, but it’s also important to note that suit some people better than others.