There are plenty of things in life that I am good at. I can read and write, score the odd goal at netball, hold down a job and fold an excellent origami prawn.

There are other things that I’ve just had to accept that I can’t do. Roast beef is one of them. Style hair is another. When I was asked then to review a pair of the new limited edition peacock ghd hair straighteners, it was not without a sense of impending doom that I accepted.

This is my hair normally. You can see that I could use a little help in the volume department.

"peacock ghds - before"

Me before I look like Anne Hathaway

First things first, I got out my new peacock ghds, which come in a rather gorgeous box and satin bag, and are embellished with lovely peacock designs. I have a bit of a penchant for peacocks, which was what swung me to say yes to the review in the first place. Here they are:

"peacock ghds"

My very pretty peacock styling tools

Then I had a look on YouTube and found this video to show me how to look like Anne Hathaway from the comfort of my own home. Looks so simple doesn’t it?

Then I set to work.

Twenty minutes later, feeling rather flushed from the close proximity to such efficient ceramic plates, I didn’t really feel I had quite captured the catwalk look.

“How’s the hair going?” asked Belle, bounding into my bedroom and stopping dead when she saw me. “Oh, I see, not so good is it?”

“No, not really,” I said.

“It does look better from the front than the back though,” she added trying to be comforting. “Would you like me to get a mirror so you can see?”

“No!” I shouted. “I mean no thank you,” I said more quietly. “I think just the front view is enough.”

The trouble was that the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got. I just can’t explain it. I’m not stupid, and the ghds are fine – they are beautiful, they heat up in seconds, they’re easy to use – hair just always goes wrong when I touch it.

Here is my finished style:

"peacock ghds - after"

Still not looking at all like Anne Hathaway

You see?

*sighs and resigns self to a lifetime of sloppy buns*

I was sent these to review by Regis Salons.

Today I accidentally created a science experiement. It cuaght me unawares, but I have recreated it for you here, so you can be impressed.

Sometimes when I make coffee I like to heat up an inch of milk first, and then add the coffee and hot water. Today I thought I’d go nuts* and make my own mocha, by heating up a bit of chocolate milk instead.

My ingredients were Kenco Millicano instant coffee sachets and Kara dairy free chocolate coconut milk:

"Kenco Millicano"

My lab kit

Here’s what happened next…

Once it (and I) had calmed down and I’d given the sides a bit of a wipe, I topped it up with boling water and it was very tasty.

*I’m mad I am! *jazz hands*

Last week I turned 34. I may still get asked for ID to buy a bottle of wine*, but I am noticing a certain general achiness creeping up on me. Basically I am getting old.

If you are someone who has always been sporty, you are not likely to let wear and tear in your joints get the better of you.  If however, you are someone like me, who has, until my recent discovery of netball, been more of a ‘glass of wine up to mouth’ type of exerciser, then you might be a bit more wary of where to start.

Fear not. Light sporting activities such as the following, carried out regularly, can help keep joints healthy and mobile.

Swimming

Movements that can be painful if done out of water can seem a lot easier when swimming. The resistance of the water ensures evenness of movement, and it’s a great way to relax the joints, loosen muscles and to avoid stress overload. Physical activity in the water helps to strengthen the heart, improve circulatory and respiratory functions, stimulate metabolism and relax the muscles.

"swimming"

Going for a casual stress-free swim

Dancing

A personal favourite, dancing is not only fun, it also keeps you fit and is good for your health.  Movement and pressure on joints is controlled by the tempo, length of the steps and positions of the body.  Due to the low risk of injury, dancing is recommended even for people with arthritis in the knee, and really old people like me.

Walking and hiking

Walking keeps you fit. Fact. Nordic walking, which uses sticks, (to help you walk, not to knock slow people out of the way with), is a great way to relieve the pressure on the knee joints, and both walking and hiking are knee-friendly alternatives to jogging. Due to the fact that one leg is always on the ground, this means there is no shock impact to the joints and spine. Make sure you have all the correct gear too, to minimise risk. Check out Onlysportsgear.com if you need some inspiration.

Cycling

When cycling, your body weight rests on the saddle, (poor saddle), taking the pressure off the knee joints. Make sure you pedal round and evenly with not too much resistance. If pain occurs it means that you have overworked your knee and that the step resistance is too high. The best form of training is on an exercise bike because then you can adjust step resistance, height of the seat and handlebars according to your needs.

Whether cycling is performance-based or simply for pleasure, there is scarcely another sport that keeps the knee mobile and stress free. The seat height should be adjusted so that your leg is almost fully extended when the pedal is at its lowest point.

Pain relief

If you do find yourself suffering from any joint pain, Arnica is a great remedy, and will be familiar to many people as a treatment for bruises.  Pain relief in stiff muscles and joints can be soothed using a herbal remedy made from fresharnicaflowers in an easy-to apply gel form – ideal for muscle aches and pains, stiffness and after sporting injuries.

Of course, not all pain comes directly from working out. If your pain is the result of an accident that wasn’t your fault, it provides you with a few different options from which to choose. For example, in situations where a sports injury has caused you a great deal of pain, a personal injury lawyer might have the ability to get you some sort of settlement, in addition to rehabilitation support. Many lawyers will take your case on a no win, no fee basis, so you will not have to pay for these services unless you are awarded some compensation.

For more information about Arnica visit the www.avogel.co.uk/herbal-remedies/arnica-gel-atrogel/

*This actually happened to me yesterday. It was annoying but cool at the same time.

Photo credit – notsogoodphotography

 

I’ve got something a bit special for you today.

It’s a carnival.

Not of the cancelled St Paul’s kind – this is a carnival, started by Carol at Dance Without Sleeping, celebrating writing about mental health. So grab yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit, and take comfort from these inspiring stories.

Suzie at No Wriggling out of Writing is soon publishing an anthology of poetry and prose on the subject of mental health, called Dandelions & Bad Hair Days, and in this post she talks about how the mummy blogging community has inspired her to share her thoughts and feelings, and how she has found support in the unlikeliest of places.

In this wonderfully honest post, Adele from Circus Queen talks about her worries about how she will juggle motherhood and depression. Marriage seems to have had a positive impact, so will becoming a mother improve her mental health?

ANyone who has ever experienced a panic attack will totally sympathise with Ella at Purple Mum, as she tells the story of her panic attack in the cinema – wonderfully evocative descriptions of a terrifying situation.

Carol at Dance Without Sleeping, the creator of this carnival, is ill for the fifth time this year, and is worried for her physical and mental health. To pull herself back from the edge, Carol is planning a break – a lesson for us all here?

Muddling Along Mummy is wondering if she should ask for help. This is a strangely beautiful post about self harm – at line six I actually got goose pimples…

Coping with a mental health issue of your own is hard enough, but how to you manage when it’s your child that is suffering? Inside the Wendy House worries that her own history of depression and self-harm is to blame, and asks how she can reach out to her beloved daughter.

On the subject of supporting loved ones, Nicola is talking about the highs and lows of living with her husband and his depression. A lack of control, and the helplessness she feels, will resonate with anyone living with someone with depression.

Dark clouds are gathering, and Bloggomy wants to get her thoughts down on virtual paper. Not ashamed of experiencing depression, she finds it hard to manage sometimes, and hopes that writing it down will bring a sense of perspective.

Over at 365 Pearls of Wisdom though, the sunny skies are rolling in. Full of hope for the future, Karen has some ideas for keeping your own mental health in tip-top shape.

Mums the word is struggling with grief, and trying to decide whether or not antidepressants are the answers. What’s the good, she asks, in papering over the cracks?

On a slightly more lighthearted note, Joanne Mallon has lost a tooth, and is worried about the impact of her new ‘gap’ on her self-esteem. How are you meant to stay happy with a gap in your smile?

Actually Mummy is worried about her daughter. “Because I’m rubbish! I’m so bad! I’m a really bad girl!” her daughter shouts. What is a mum to do?

Pret-a-Mummy is talking about sleep. “I felt stressed,” she says, suffering from lack of sleep with her small children “and the slightest problem seemed insurmountable”. Sleep is something we take for granted, but is so important for our mental health.

Hollybobb’s wants to remind us all that depression is not a weakness. Having lived with depression for most of her life, she knows more than most. She shares her thoughts of where to go for support.

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed for a really wonderful and inspiring collection of posts. If you have a post you’d like to share, do feel free to leave a comment and a link.

Photo credit – Paulaloe

I have a confession to make.

When Merci Maman first asked me if I’d like to review one of their personalised charm bracelets, there was a little bit of me that screamed ‘NOOOO!’

It made me feel awful, and like some kind of horrible snob, but I’m not the most sentimental of parents, and sometimes I find the whole ‘wearing symbols of your children’ thing a bit tacky. Is that terrible of me?

I scolded myself suitably though, kept an open mind, and am really glad I did, because my personalised charm bracelet is actually rather lovely. I went for a turquoise braid and sterling silver hearts, and have one for each child, hand-engraved with their names on one side and their date of births on the other, in case I forget, as it was a long time ago now. It arrived very quickly, and it a very sweet presentation box, which I will add to the collection of ‘little boxes I like’ on my desk.

The thing I like best about it though is the engraving – I think the handwriting is really beautiful, and the swirls and loops are so pretty, I couldn’t stop admiring it:

"personalised charm bracelet"

I’ve been told I’m a fairly fickle person, so I’m imagining if I do get bored, down the line, I might take the charms off the braid and wear them as a necklace on a silver chain. The world really is my lobster.

Anyway, enough about me, you want one for yourself now don’t you? Well just maybe I can make all your dreams come true! (Not all of them obviously, just the one about having your very own personalised charm bracelet).

The very lovely Clémence at Merci Maman is offering one lucky reader the chance to win their own bracelet, with one heart for each of your children. You can choose your braid, go for sterling silver or gold plate, and each heart will be hand engraved for you too. I reckon that’s a pretty nice prize. Especially nice if you happen to have six or seven kids.

For this giveaway, I wanted to try out Rafflecopter, but I couldn’t get it to work – something to do with WordPress and Javascript – so I’m doing it the old-fashioned way, with actual words.

If you’d like to enter, just follow the instructions below. You can do as many or as few of the options as you fancy, and each one counts as one ticket in the prize hat.

Not that last one though. Don’t forget to tell me which ones you have done too, that’s important.

The competition will close on May 4th, and I will notify a winner when I remember to.

Good luck!

As featured on Loquax Competitions and ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

And by written, I mean actually written. With a pen, like in the old days.

Working in marketing and social media, much of my life revolves around the virtual world – emails, tweets, status updates – it’s all typey typey typey. This is fine, it’s my job, I understand it is the modern way, but at the same time I do have to acknowledge the fact that I am not quite of the internet generation.

For example, I would sill prefer to peer over my glasses at a copy of the Radio Times than to look on the television because, for some reason, in my hands the remote control turns into something unresponsive, and I take on the look of an elderly person trying to talk into the wrong end of a telephone.

I also like writing. Actual, physical writing. I know that between them my blackberry, laptop and netbook could provide me with all manner of whizzy time management tools, but I prefer to surround myself with physical list-making equipment that I trust not to delete itself. Here is a little corner of my office as evidence:

"picture of my office"

You see? I have everything I need – whiteboards, calendars, notebooks, nice pens, sparkling elderflower wine…

Call me old-fashioned, mock if you will, but as much as the mobile internet devices try to worm their way in, I will always be more excited by a large pack of whiteboard markers. Apple store or Staples? I know where I’d rather be.