Thursday, 26 February 2015

Books, books and more books!



When you read a novel, your own imagery is the most important. It's what makes reading such a wonderful thing.
Daniel Craig

I'm not sure that many people read books anymore. In fact, when I was searching my favourite stock photograph sites for the image that heads this post, I typed "Book" into the search engine.... and got fifteen pictures of MacBooks and only one picture of books, and it was more cake than books. 

Since I like cake and books, I chose it anyway, but it did make me realise that reading an actual book is in danger of becoming a lost art. With the invention of the Kindle, and the internet, I guess people are too busy to actually sit down and read a book. 

I love books. I don't just mean the stories inside them, I mean the books themselves. I love the feel of the paper between my fingers and the anticipation of turning the page. I love the crackle they make as they move as you move, and that the words seem to dance off the page. I haven't found that kind of love with the Kindle. I have the app on my iPhone and my iPad but I just can't seem to settle into a rhythm with it. 

I love getting lost in a book. To me, reading a book is a lot like watching a film. The words captivate my imagination and steal away my soul. When I find a book I love, I have literally been known to curl up in a corner and not move until every last word has been digested, and only then do I come up for air. 

I have snuck out of bed in the middle of the night to continue reading a book I have unwillingly put down because it's definitely too late for me to be awake, but the lure of the rest of the story means I just cannot sleep until it is finished. 

When I was little, my mum had to get me dressed around a book in the mornings, because I couldn't put them down, and I got told off in school a lot for reading story books under the table when I should have been doing maths or art (both of which do not interest me in the least!). 

I love books that capture my imagination and whisk me away to imagined lands. Books make me giggle like a child and cry uncontrollably. There is something in books that really sings to me. I love that the author can really express what the characters are feeling, as well as saying, perhaps that's why I find them so entrancing, because I feel I can really get in the characters heads and feel what they are feeling. 

I'm also a hopeless romantic. I love the whimsy and the fairytale, even when mingled in with the desperately sad. 

Here is my round up of my favourite books, and why I love them so much! 


The Twilight Saga:

I know that there has been a lot of commentary on Stephanie Meyer's writing and a lot of criticism on her technical ability. I don't care about technical ability, not one bit. I hate bad grammar, but as for sentence structure or rhythm and flow, I'm just not interested. 

Give me a book that takes over my imagination, that doesn't leave room in my head for anything else, the drowns out everything around me, and the Twilight Saga does that for me in spades.

What I love in this book is the depth of emotion. I don't care whether vampires really sparkle in the sunshine, or hate werewolves (shapeshifters... I know). I love that this book gets inside the heads of people who are in love, and whose love is permanent. 

It's not fluffy and all ribbons and rainbows, it smacks of real (the emotions that is). The real emotions of people who love under all circumstances, and who have to figure that out in a world of pain and indifference and imperfection and mismatch, not just the nice parts. 

When I finish reading Twilight, I still cringe, because I know that New Moon is next. I can feel the heartbreak rising in my chest even before I open it's well worn pages. I am compelled to read on, not to skip it for more sunnier moments in Eclipse. It's part in the story is so important, and so tangibly painful, that it demands attention and will not be ignored. 

These books had me sneaking out of bed on several occasions and I have been lost to these books for weeks on end. I now have them on audiobook, because my actual reading time is limited, and I love hearing the words come alive that way. 

Where to buy: Book 1; Book 2; Book 3; Book 4; Box Set;




The Time Travellers Wife:

This book stands alone because I haven't yet found another Audrey Niffenegger book that I actually like. Usually once I've discovered an author, I devour everything they have written and long for more, but in this case I just haven't felt the same connection with any of her other books. 

This book is such a kaleidoscope of places and times and if you aren't reading closely you can easily miss out vital parts of the story, so it's not one to read in a hurry or when you are likely to be interrupted. 

It is, however, full of emotion. The full spectrum of it. From the idealistic world of childhood, to motherhood and loss. This book reaches me in an unexpected way, and I'm not expecting the wave of emotion that arrives at the close of the book. Which is exactly what makes me keep reading it again and again and again. 




Romeo and Juliet: 

I'm sure there are a few raised eyebrows at this choice. But yes, I really do read Romeo and Juliet like a book. I love the stage performances and I love the Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes film, but there is something that draws me back to the original text. 

I had an amazing Drama teacher who really sat down with me and worked through translating Shakespeare, so that it really lept off the page and came to life. I am indebted to her for that. It opened new worlds for me, and helped me to explore emotion in some of the most beautifully written texts. 

While I love a lot of Shakespeare's works, this one is the one for me. I've already said I'm a hopeless romantic, and the idea of love that is worth fighting for, and ultimately dying for, has a special place to nestle in my heart. 

I still feel impatient as Romeo races back to Verona to Juliet, and I still feel the grief when he doesn't make it. The balcony scene makes my heart pound and my feet want to dance with the joy of it. 







Pride and Prejudice: 

Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice is my ultimate favourite of all her novels. I adore the sharp tongue of Elizabeth Bennett, so before her time, and she captures me, body and soul. The sisterly affection between her and Jane, and the muddle she makes of everything, warms her to me. 

A modern love from the 1800's, it is one I can read over and over and over again. The exchanges between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are alive and vibrant and they make me want to reach out and touch them. 





My Sister's Keeper: 

Jodi Picoult really does know how to write a well researched book. The depth of information in this book is staggering and it has taken me a few times over to really understand all of the information in it. 

And through that research shines the reality of a difficult and heavy hearted situation where sometimes the most horrific decision is taken for the right reasons. Having now had children (I hadn't when I first read it) I cannot comprehend what I would do in that situation. It tears at my heartstrings and I cry more than once throughout the book, from different perspectives of the family members. 

No matter how many times I re-read this book, it still holds something new for me, which it what makes it a firm favourite. 




Sparkles: 

This is my favourite light reading book, although it still has a complex story that I love to sink my teeth into. I've read a few of Louise Bagshawe's books, but I still return to this one again and again. 

I love the way that Louise Bagshawe manages to weave such complex stories and still keep the information light and easily digestible. She also knows how to make sure women come out on top, even when dealing with the not so nice men in their lives. A great beach side read! 





Second Glance: 

This list couldn't be without a second Jodi Picoult book. I love this book because it taught me a lot about a subject I knew nothing about. The way she weaves facts with fiction is incredible, and her drawing on a darker and much less talked about part of American history really created a spell binding story that I love to lose myself in. 




Harry Potter: 

Definitely saving the best until last in this list! I know that it is a children's series and I know that it is about wizards and witches and dragons and trolls, but I still love love love this series. 

I love the way that J K Rowling writes. She manages to create a world that is completely and utterly three dimensional and that is so well though out you would have no idea that it is fictional at all (save for the wizards, witches, dragons and trolls). 

I even love the way that she uses greek gods when naming her characters (Minerva), or using latin to hint at a character's secrets (Professor R J Lupin). I love the way that in book 7, she reveals the secrets from books 1-6 in such a way that you realise that the tiny, seemingly insignificant sentences actually held some of the most important information. When it is all woven together in front of your eyes, you wonder how anyone's brain can hold that depth of information about an imaginary world. 

Her writing makes me laugh and it makes me cry, in equal measure. The darkness that penetrates the books is sinister and in some parts much too scary for children. The character's emotions are potent and you can't but love or loathe them (or sometimes both). 

If I were to be forced to choose a favourite amongst the series, it would either by book 1 "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" for it's wild introduction to the magical world, and all the wonder it holds; or book 7 "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" for the mountain of information that brings new clarity and depth to the books that have gone before. 

I feel a great sense of loss and bereavement when I finish the final book in the series, because who know when I will get the time to devour them again. 



So there you have it, my favourite books of all time. What are your favourites, and which ones would you take with you to a desert island? 




Let them be small

Monday, 23 February 2015

Recipes: Paleo Frosted Gingerbread Muffins


These scrummy gingerbread muffins will literally melt in your mouth! It reminds me of old fashioned Parkin! They are from Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind and are truly a genius moment! 

The frosting really makes it amazing, it lightens the darkness of the gingerbread and it so tasty I want to lick the bowl! (although I have been know to slather the warm muffins with vanilla ice cream too!)

Paleo Frosted Gingerbread Mini Muffins
Makes 24 mini muffins

Muffin Ingredients: 
1 cup fine blanched almond flour (Honeyville brand) - Where to buy
1 tablespoon coconut flour - Where to buy
1 tablespoon arrowroot flour - Where to buy
1 teaspoon ground ginger - Where to buy
1/2 teaspoon baking soda - Where to buy
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon - Where to buy
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves - Where to buy
1/8 teaspoon pink himalayan salt - Where to buy
1 organic cage-free egg
1 organic cage-free egg white
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar - Where to buy
1/3 cup grass-fed butter, softened - Where to buy
2 tablespoons organic blackstrap molasses - Where to buy
1 teaspoon water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 degrees celcuis. Line or grease a mini muffin pan or standard size and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl combine the almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Use a fork to stir together, set aside.

In a large bowl combine the eggs and coconut sugar. Whisk until they become frothy with air bubbles. Then mix in the butter, molasses, and water. Continue to whisk until combined.

Sift in the dry flour and spices mixture into the wet egg mixture. Stir until combined. Use a cookie scoop to transfer the batter into the lined muffin pan. Cook for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let completely cool before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting Ingredients:
1 can coconut milk, full fat, refrigerated overnight - Where to buy
1 teaspoon vanilla - Where to buy
1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted -  Where to buy
1 teaspoon coconut butter - Where to buy
1 teaspoon raw honey - Where to buy

Directions:

Place a can of full fat coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. Scrape the thickened cream off the top into a bowl or tall cup.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together using an immersion blender, hand mixer or stand mixer.

Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip or a Ziploc bag and cut the corner off. Drizzle the frosting back and forth. Place finished muffins in the refrigerator for 10 minutes so the frosting can set then enjoy!

Notes:
You could sub the butter for coconut oil or ghee. I would probably try ghee first because the butter flavor definitely adds to the gingerbread flavor. I find ghee to be much stronger in flavor than regular butter so I would probably only use 1/4 cup instead of 1/3 cup. However, when using coconut oil still use the 1/3 cup.

Link up your recipe of the week

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Essential Oils: My Five Favourite Oils for under £20


When you start looking at essential oils, you'll be overwhelmed by the sheer number of oils available, and even more overwhelmed by the fluctuation in prices. The price of doTERRA's essential oils depend on their rarity. The more difficult an oil to produce, the higher the price is. 

So if you are looking for somewhere to start, especially if you are looking to buy a gift for a loved one, let me help you out! Here are my five favourite essential oils for under £20. These would make amazing gifts, as they are cost effective but have so many uses!


Peppermint: 

I think Peppermint is my favourite of all the essential oils in the under £20 category. I just find it so useful! I use it for abdominal cramps, stomach upsets, fever, mood lifter, energy boost and it tastes amazing when you add a drop to chocolate brownies..... 

So this would be an amazing start to your doTERRA collection, but just don't make too many brownies.... they are too delicious to leave! 


Lemon:

Lemon is my go to essential oil to add to my water. It's great for helping with liver function, so your body can better rid itself of toxins. It's also great mixed with honey for a sore throat and to help chase away the seasonal sniffles. If that wasn't enough for you, it's great at getting chewing gum out of hair (those with girls at school, you'll be needing this) and it's great to add a drop or two to your dishwasher for super sparkly dishes. 


Lavender: 

I use Lavender to help me get some decent shut eye. Every minute counts when you have two under two, and I need all the help I can get to get my mind to shut down at night. It's also been great for my eczema and for my baby's eczema. A drop or two in the bath, or added to a moisturiser works wonders! It's incredibly soothing for cuts and scrapes and it can also be used mixed with water as a refresher for your mattress. 


Cedarwood:

Cedarwood is one of my current favourites. I only discovered it just after Christmas, but it's quickly become a staple in my essential oils routine. It's fantastic on my skin, so I've added it into my oil cleanser and my facial serum and I've also added it to my shampoo as it can help your body to prevent hair loss. 

I also use Cedarwood along with Lavender when I've had a hectic day, and there's another hectic day coming and I really need to tune out the day to come and get to sleep. It helps your body to shift a cough and congestion and it can even be used to help your body start to get rid of cellulite!


Melaleuca:

Melaleuca is one of my staples in my medicine cabinet. It's not only great for acne breakouts but it can be added to your shoes for athletes foot, applied to the head to deal with the dreaded lice outbreak and help with cold sores and earache. 

So there you have it, my five favourite essential oils for under £20. Perfect for starting out your journey with doTERRA essential oils!

If you are interested in doTERRA essential oils, click here for details on how to get started!

Please join my Facebook group on essential oils and like my Facebook page to be kept up to date on my latest blog posts. 

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This website is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, psychological, or psychiatric problem, or a disability that requires medical attention, then you should consult your licensed medical doctor or appropriate health care provider. Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.




Monday, 16 February 2015

Pregnancy and the Dreaded Weight Gain!



Personally, I hated being pregnant. I hated every single minute of it from the moment I turned 8 weeks and the morning sickness began, to the point I went into labour. Now most of that probably has to do with the fact that I had hyper emesis and I vomited for the majority of my pregnancies.

I waited for it to pass, everyone said it would get better at 12 weeks, then 16 weeks, then 20 weeks. 

Then people stopped commenting, because I was still being sick. Even with anti sickness medication, I was still sick.

The even bigger downside to having hyper emesis is that I was not blessed with losing my appetite and losing weight in the first trimester. I quickly discovered that pretty much the only way to help stem the tide of vomit was to eat. Eat everything in sight, because the sickness would return within the hour of me having something to eat.

I had to eat little and often, which is hard when you can't open the fridge because your stomach is convinced it smells like someone died in there (it didn't, my husband practically doused it in bleach in an attempt to ward off the smell).

So I ended up eating the things I could reach without having to go in the fridge.... McDonalds (three times a day, I'm not exaggerating), crisps (Salt and Vinegar Lays) and biscuits. You'll not the lack of fruit and vegetables, and even mostly lacking in protein.

You'll also notice the massive amount of empty calories. Calories that weren't ever really going to fill me up or satisfy me. I'm sure it was only making my nausea worse in the long run, but I could not stand the thought of eating anything else.

And so the inevitable weight gain began. It was steady, but it was fast. I couldn't stop it. Every time I stepped on the scales I winced (as did my doctor), which was often as they weighed me every doctors visit which was at least once a month, becoming more frequent as time went on.

I gained 26kgs in my first pregnancy. That's well over 4 stone! And I gained exactly the same amount in my second pregnancy. You would have thought I had learned the first time, and the truth is, I did. I tried so hard not to overeat in my first trimester that I only gained 700 grams.

But second and third trimesters were just as horrendous as the first one, and I lost my ability to restrict what I was eating. I had a permanent hangover and was always borderline running for the bathroom, and so I ate to get through the day with as little time hanging over the toilet as possible.

Don't get me wrong, it was worth it. I have two beautiful, healthy children, who I adore, but I have to admit the idea of having to go through pregnancy ever again makes me feel slightly panicked. It was hard work and I spent a lot of time in floods of tears because I really really didn't want to be sick again.

Back to the weight gain. 26kgs is a lot of weight. And don't be fooled, almost none of it was baby. I think I lost 7kgs after my children were born, and that was it. None of this shrinking back into my pre-pregnancy jeans in 6 weeks (like my mum, lucky sod!).

There is nothing like an extra 19kgs of weight to really thwart your self confidence. Not only mentally, but physically. Carting around an extra 19kgs, that you gained in an astonishingly short period of time, is physically exhausting.

I became listless, lethargic, and that extra weight certainly wasn't helping out my already patchy thyroid function. Patchy thyroid function also means a drop in self confidence and a short, sharp road to depression if you aren't careful.

After my first child was born, I was stupid. I crash dieted and I swapped out healthy meals for chocolate or Starbucks skinny blueberry muffins. I dropped the weight in the five months after my daughter was born, and got back to my pre-pregnancy weight. But I was unhealthy. I had no muscles and I had no definition. I was flobberly and loose and just did not feel like myself.

And then I got pregnant again, so all of the loose skin and the saggy self disappeared under the massive weight gain.

I can't tell you how upset I was as I approached my due date and I saw the scales mounting again and again and again. I had really thought I had the self control to stop myself from eating so much food, but my hormones were raging and the nausea and vomiting had driven me over the edge and left me with no self control whatsoever.

After my son was born, I was determined to do the whole weight loss thing differently. And not only because I wanted a decent body back, but because I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be able to carry my 12kg daughter around without feeling exhausted. I wanted to be able to play with them and run after them (my daughter was already almost able to outrun me). Most of all, I wanted to be healthy for them, to minimise the effects of my thyroid disease and to make sure I was fit, healthy and alive as long as humanly possible.

So I took on the whole thing! Diet and exercise. As The Circuit Factory trainers remind me all the time, it is 80% food and only 20% exercise. Not surprisingly it is the 80% food that I struggle with the most, but I keep slogging away at it.

The exercise classes are exhausting and leave me aching and sore and stiff, but they are worth it too. To see my muscles move under my skin, and to feel the way they have slowly become more fluid. To see my run times get faster and faster and know that I am getting fitter all the time. To know that I am building a body that I can not only be proud of, but that I can use to maintain my health and to maintain my family life.

It's been so hard to get my backside off the sofa and out to an exercise class. I've had to accept that I have no self discipline when it comes to exercise. I'm not going to go to the gym and push myself hard enough. I need to be yelled at, I need someone who knows what I am capable of, and who doesn't let me slack off. It cost me more money than a basic gym membership, but it's more than worth it too. I'm fed up of wasting my time and getting nowhere.

Accepting my limitations and working within in them has really been the key. The constant reinforcement and encouragement and pushing has really driven me to new fitness heights, and I'm excited to see what is in store for me in the future.

Getting back my pre-pregnancy body has been hard work, but working for more than that, for a fitness that I have never known before, that is something that is worth every burpee, every press up, every mile run.

The Circuit Factory, I owe you much more than you know.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Nursery Dilemma



So when you are going back to work, you have no choice, you have to look for childcare. Your child can't fend for themselves at home while you work, for however short a period, so you'll need someone to take over the reins while you are at work. 

There are lots of nurseries and childminders around, so hopefully you'll be spoilt for choice and be able to find a solution that really fits you, your child and your work hours. 

But what if you aren't going back to work? What if you are going to be a Stay At Home Mum? Surely you're not going to look at nursery, when you have mummy at home? 

Well, yes and no. I'm not going to ship my kids off to nursery just because I want to swan around having manicures and going for coffee. But, and it's a big but, I believe there are positive reasons for my kids to go to nursery, even though I'm not working. 

First of all, they are going to have to go to school eventually. For me, it's important that they have a taste of a classroom environment before they start full time school at age 4 (or 3 if you are in Dubai). My daughter is going to literally be the youngest in the year, and I feel that an introduction to a classroom environment is going to be an important part of the transition for her. Although saying that, I also think there is real benefit in it for both of my children regardless of their birthdays. We are not going to be home schooling our children, so they are going to be in a classroom environment with lots of kids. 

Then there's the behavioural aspect of it. Before my two year old started nursery (when she was 12 months) she had never been anywhere without me, save for a couple of hours with her grandparents, which is infrequent given we live on another continent. I'm always the one to check her, to keep an eye on her, to teach her the right way to behave. I believe it's important for us that our kids get used to being in an environment where they aren't watched all the time, and still learn how to behave. To learn how to be guided and instructed by someone else, several some one elses, and to adapt to the group environment. 

Messy play. Need I say more. I'm not the best person to do messy play with, I'm constantly cleaning up and cringing  at the mess. I don't really like the mess that messy play makes. When they do messy play at nursery, I don't feel so bad that I'm not doing loads of that at home!

Time to reconnect. I use the time away from the kids to reboot, to run errands, and to just take some time for me. Because there is never anytime for just me. At the weekends we try to make the most of family time, so I don't really want to keep pushing for time to myself, because time as a family is important too. That time away from the kids means that I come back refreshed and with renewed patience and energy. I'm a much better mother having had time to shake off the negative energy, and miss my little shadows a little. 

So those are the reasons why my daughter is in nursery and why my son will also go to nursery when he's over a year old. These are the reasons why nursery works for us, and why we have chosen to send them to nursery, even when I'm not working. 

It's not for everyone, but it's the choice that works for us. How does it work in your household? 

Monday, 9 February 2015

I Miss My Old Wardrobe


I miss my old wardrobe.

This realisation hit me particularly hard, because I was standing in one of my favourite clothes shops when it finally dawned on me.

I had escaped for a rare Saturday afternoon shopping trip, completely alone, so that I could go looking for some new clothes and have some time to myself.

I was browsing the rails when I caught sight of myself in the mirror, and was shocked at what I saw. Greasy, barely brushed hair, no make up, my husband's T-shirt and a pair of linen trousers that were at least one, possibly two sizes too big (they were bought when my son was only two months old because I had nothing that fit).

I stood out horribly in contrast to the clothes all around me, clothes that I used to wear on a daily basis. I was even more shocked, because it's not like I had gotten dressed in the dark that morning.

I had done it, slipped into the hassled mum look, without ever meaning to. I had let myself go, and the person in that mirror didn't look anything like the person I felt on the inside.

It was nothing to do with the baby weight, I was finally back to my pre-pregnancy weight and could slip back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Yet I was still choosing the baggy, too big, not flattering clothes, and not bothering with my appearance.

For the record, I'm not saying that everyone should wear make-up, but I do (or at least I did). I have naturally dark under eye circles and having a baby and a toddler had only made them look more bruised and purple than they ever have before. I like wearing make-up, I like eye liner and mascara. I like covering up the bags so I don't look like a member of the cast of Twilight.

Turning away from the reflection that I didn't really want to look at, my hands skimmed the fabric of the dresses, the tops, the skirts and the old me hit me smack in the face. The me that liked choosing out my outfits in the morning, who took pride in what I wore.

I don't miss much from my working life, but I do miss the clothes that I used to wear. I missed the person who didn't choose her wardrobe based on whether it could hide the sticky finger marks from my toddler, or the milk stains from my baby, as he spat milk over my shoulder.

But far from dressing in clothes that would hide the marks that came with spending time with toddlers, I was dressing in clothes that hid me instead, made me invisible. Made me lose a part of me, a part of me that I grieved for when I looked in that mirror.

I had allowed being a mother to take over all areas. I was making sacrifices in areas where sacrifices didn't need to be made. I was giving up a part of me that could easily co-exist alongside my sticky fingered toddler and my milky sick baby. I was allowed to wear clothes that I liked, whilst being a mother. That part of me didn't have to be given up and shoved away under a rock.

That first shopping trip was a real piece of exhilaration. To browse, to try on, to not think about the marks that would eventually touch those clothes, to look at the clothes and just decide if they were me. The real me. The me that was a mother, but also a girl. A girl who wanted to look like herself, and not someone who had been trodden underfoot by the needs of her children.

The real me is constantly evolving, as I always have. Hot pants no longer appear in my wardrobe, and  mini skirts are really inconvenient when you are hoisting a pram in and out of the car three or four times a day. But clothes that suit me, even if the clothes that suit me evolve with the seasons, they should always be in my wardrobe.

When I got home, those linen trousers were demoted to the back of my wardrobe. I took a bath and spent the time to dry my hair, which took less time than I thought. The next morning, when I dressed in my new clothes, applied my old make-up and looked in the mirror, I was looking back. The me I felt on the inside, the me that had been hiding behind those linen trousers.

I miss my old wardrobe, but I have a feeling I'm going to like my new wardrobe even more.



Mummascribbles
toddlerapprovedtuesday

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Photography: Engagement Shoot by Chloe Lodge Photography


We never got round to an engagement shoot. It would have been rather tricky, given we got married in California, travelling there from the UK, and we were only there three days before the wedding. Still, I would have loved to have had those additional images that would showcase us, just as we were, before we got married. 

That sounds completely crazy because we have about a million breathtaking images from our wedding, along with a stunning wedding video, but I am a little bit obsessed about photographs. More specifically, obsessed with professional photographs that really seem to lift life off the page and captures the emotions and the inflection of life at the point the photographs were taken. 

There is something totally different about photographs that just contain you as a couple. I know that the vibe and the energy and even the relationship between us is completely different when we are captured as a family. We love our kids to death, and we wouldn't be without them, but there also has to be time for us, just us, somewhere in the chaos that is family life. 

I absolutely adore these images from Chloe Lodge Photography, for two reasons. First of all, they showcase a beautiful couple, who are in love and on the brink of exploring the new world of marriage. That, to me, is always so special, because it is the start of such a different chapter. 

Second, they capture some of the essence of the older Dubai. You don't see the glass towers or the sweeping shapes of the Palm, you see the more rustic and relaxed Dubai that isn't always easy to see. 

Chloe Lodge is based in both Dubai and the UK, so if you are in either place and are looking for some beautiful photographs, she is the girl to go to! 

You can see more of Chloe's work on her website, blog and Facebook page. Here is a little piece of Chloe, and her approach to photography: 

Hi, I’m Chloe, I’m a Dubai based photographer who specialises in capturing beauty; honest, raw beauty. The kind we see with our heart and feel with our eyes, whether it’s on the day we marry the love of our life or give birth to our first, second or third born child. I have been an artist since I was a child, painting, sculpting, imagining. As a graduate I studied art history and during these years I began to understand more about light, line, form and composition. It wasn’t until my early thirties that photography became the art form which combined all my passions - people, art and story telling. In 2010 I spent a year in Paris studying for my Masters in Photojournalism and documentary. 

Photography for me is everything. Once you switch the light on, it never runs out of charge. It glows brighter and brighter as you learn more, grow and evolve. People and relationships are my dream subjects. Mother and child, husband and wife, brother and sister, owner and their animal, even one’s own relationship with ourselves or the environment around us. I shoot on-location because I love the texture and brilliance of the world around us. And what better way to remember a particular time in our lives - a house where our child first came home to and learnt to walk in, a city where we find ourselves calling home for a time or the park or beach where happy memories have been made. 

Wedding photography is a love of mine, story telling at it’s most beautiful. When hired by clients to capture their day, as an important addition to their journey we begin with a couple’s shoot. We choose somewhere which has meaning to the individual couple, somewhere that triggers something for them. Michael and Claire met in Dubai and will marry here at the end of January. They had planned a trip to the gold souk to find wedding bands so we were talking about their session we decided an abra trip on the creek. It was the perfect location for their engagement session and the light as the sun set was absolutely gorgeous. I only lightly direct my clients as for me it’s so important to capture authenticity and honesty. I just allow those I capture to have their own mini adventure and that’s what we did.









Monday, 2 February 2015

Essential Oils: My Five Favourite Essential Oils for Mood Balancing


One of my favourite ways to use essential oils is for mood balancing. We can't always control how we feel and we can't always be the happy, singing and dancing side of our personalities. But I live in the real world, and I'm not two years old. I need to be able to function, despite the emotions I might be feeling. 

The world continues to revolve and I continue to exist within it. I can't just have a total meltdown and scream and cry (at least not all day!) and I can't spend the whole day crying or sitting in a corner wringing my hands together. Life has to go on, and I can't just act out when I have kids to look after (or a job to go to, or family to be with). 

So I find using essential oils to help to balance out my moods really helps me to get through a day and function a little better, no matter what issues I have to deal with, or whatever emotions I might be feeling. 

doTERRA have a great range of essential oil blends all ready to help you make the most of your day. I love these blends because they contain oils that doTERRA don't sell separately, so you get to experience new oils, and they have been carefully put together to deal with different emotions. 

So here are my five favourite essential oils for mood balancing:


Balance: 

Balance is doTERRA's grounding blend. It is a great blend to use when you are feeling anxious, tense and worried. It can help your body balance out your emotions and help you to work through any emotional blocks you may be clinging onto. Balance promotes tranquility and a sense of calm and well being. 

Balance contains Spruce, Ho Wood, Frankincense, Blue Tansy and Blue Chamomile. It can be really helpful for those who have mood swings, anxiety or temper problems. Balance can be used daily and should be reapplied when you are feeling confused or unsettled or your mind is full of doubts. 

I love using Balance for the days when I'm feeling a little insecure or having doubts about a particular course of action. I find it really helps me to think clearly and balance my emotions. 


Clary Calm: 

Now don't be fooled because Clary Calm is called the Monthly Women's Blend, the men in your lives can really use this blend too! It's a great blend at helping your body to balancing hormones and by doing that, reducing the hormone induced mood swings. 

It contains Clary Sage, Lavender, Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Fennel, Carrot Seed, Palmarosa and Vitex. I apply it to my ankles every morning (it's the reflexology point for the uterus) to balance my hormones, and then I use it three times a day at the appropriate time of the month! 



Serenity: 

Serenity is doTERRA's calming blend, and it is fabulous for when you are feeling angry or impatient. It is extremely soothing and it can help the body to reduce cortisol production, so that the flight or fight response is diminished and you can return to your usual zen like state! 

Serenity contains Lavender, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Ylany Ylang, Hawaiian Sandalwood and Vanilla Bean. Be warned though, it's a fantastic blend for helping send you off to sleep, so use it sparingly during the day unless you want to be caught snoozing at your desk! 

I mainly use Serenity at night to help me get to sleep, as it contains all of the best ingredients to help my mind stop ticking over and relax my body for some good shut eye, but I also use it if I get a case of the mean reds when I really want a punch bag to let off some steam.


Elevation:

Elevation is doTERRA's joyful blend and I think it's my utter favourite of doTERRA's mood balancing blends. It is such a great blend for uplifting the mind and spirit and I love using it to bring a dose of joy back into even the most stressful or tense day. 

Elevation contains Lavandin, Lavender, Melissa, Ylang Ylang, Osmanthus, Tangerine, Elemi and Lemon Myrtle. It promotes a positive mood and an energised body and mind. It is a particularly good blend for those dealing with grief or depression. It can promote feelings of self worth while lessening feelings of sadness or anxiety. 

I apply it in the morning and I find it really sends me out into the world with a positive outlook, and it really helps me appreciate spending time with my kids, rather than just succumbing to the monotony. It makes toddler tantrums a lot easier to deal with too! 



Citrus Bliss: 

Citrus Bliss is a great blend for when you are feeling unmotivated or discouraged. It is great for uplifting the mood and focusing the mind. It's a fantastic blend to use when you have a lot of work that needs to be finished, and you're not in the right frame of mind to get the job done. 

Citrus Bliss contains Wild Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Mandarin, Bergamot, Tangerine, Clementine and Vanilla. I use this whenever I really need to concentrate and just finalise important details that I've been letting slip past me. 

So there are my five favourite essential oil blends for mood balancing, how do you use yours? 

If you are interested in doTERRA essential oils, click here for details on how to get started!

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