Maintaining something like a work/life balance…

The other day, I had a five lesson day, with lunch duty and an after school revision session for mocks. Then I got home, put D to bed and had my tea. Then I worked on two hours’ worth of marking, had a bath and collapsed into bed. Oh, and I spent four hours of the next day-my day off-marking too.

Image: Huffington Post

Image: Huffington Post

Now, this is not a ‘poor me’ post, but rather a ‘how the bloody hell did I let that happen?’ post. For some reason, this term has been manic and I’m finding it harder and harder to balance home and work. It was affecting the time I spent with D and Benn. I wasn’t doing anything FUN. So I’m trying to claw something back.

I’ve decided to try and leave work at work when I can. I’m making sure that I spend time with D doing fun things: colouring, baking, reading- the usual stuff. I guess that I don’t want him, when he’s grown up, to say I never spent time with him when he was little. My mum was a stay-at-home-mum and I always knew she’d be at home. It’s not really an option for me, but I do want to give D quality time.

I’ve also asked Benn that we arrange something where we go out without D. For the first time ever, I’ve persuaded him to come to my work’s Christmas do on the 19th (oh, IMAGINE THE HILARITY when I found out the other day that my dentist’s office have their Christmas party at the same place on the same day and at the same time as ours. I did say that I was only joking when I’d said that I spent so much time at their office that I was part of the team.) We’e booked tickets to a few comedy gigs in the next few months and we’re lucky enough to have people around us who appear to like D enough to take him off our hands for a couple of hours.

We live in a world of 24 hour communication, where we expect to have whatever we want at the click of a button- but it seems that we’re overloading ourselves, scared of missing out, judging ourselves against work and other people. It’s really tiring, isn’t it? So now I’m going to attempt to take a bit of my own time back- I’m getting better at saying no to some things; trying to get more sleep and taking care of myself better; and carving time out for myself where I can. That’s not asking for too much… is it?

Netflix Obsessions

Apart from watching films for work (keep your eyes peeled for a post about some of my favourite foreign language films coming soon), I’ve been quite lazy when it comes to watching anything longer than an hour. I didn’t finish watching Game of Thrones season 3 earlier in the year, but I have been completely hooked on Netflix.

First, obviously, is the wonderful Orange is the New Black:

Image: Netflix

Image: Netflix

I wrote about OITNB a few months back, briefly, after reading the book (which is nowhere near as good as the series, by the way. If you think Piper on TV is annoying, you’ll definitely not be a fan of her in the book.) I love this show- the characters are fantastic and the use of flashbacks to learn about their stories is a great narrative technique. Also, the ending of series 2? Epic. I cannot wait to see what series 3 brings in 2015.

My main obsession at the moment, though, is the glorious House of Cards. Oh, my word I LOVE IT.

Image: Independent.co.uk

Image: Independent.co.uk

Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood is wonderfully creepy- imagine all of Shakespeare’s villains all rolled into one ambitious American congressman and you have a brilliant TV show. I love how plot twists smack me in the face when I’m least expecting it- at least one character ends up suffering at the hands of the Underwoods in a way I could never predict- and it’s the one show I binge watch. Benn knows not to ask for the TV during one of my screenings.

Alas, I am coming to the end of the second series and so am looking for something to replace it. I’ve been told the original British mini-series that House of Cards is based on is worth a watch, but otherwise I have no idea what to watch next. House? Breaking Bad? Dexter? Leave me suggestions in the comments!

So you want to help fight Ebola, but don’t want to buy the Band Aid single?

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed that I’m not terribly impressed with the Band Aid single (also, I feel old watching it. I’m 30. THIRTY IS TOO YOUNG TO FEEL OLD.) I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it bothered me so much, apart from the fact that Bono is talking about touching people. Hint: if you find Bono ambling towards you, threatening to touch you, I think a tap on the nose with a rolled up newspaper would do the trick of stopping him. You’re welcome.

It also doesn’t bother me that Youtubers are involved- which of us would not milk our fifteen minutes of fame in any way we could? It does remind me of that episode of The Apprentice a couple of weeks ago, though.

Anyway, once I read this article from The Telegraph, I knew that Bryony Gordon had hit the nail on the head for me.

Watching the news (especially Channel 4’s excellent coverage), I wish I could do SOMETHING. Rather than just whinging on social media and joking about Bono, I decided to donate directly to one of the charities involved with the care of Ebola patients: Medecins sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders.

Image: Agus Morales/MSF

Image: Agus Morales/MSF

The thing is, MSF have been working with Ebola patients since March- before it registered on a lot of Western radars. The charity is independent and offers medical care wherever it is needed. MSF runs projects for cholera sufferers, women in labour and other projects, alongside their Ebola project. They need money. You can read about one of the projects aiming to raise Ebola awareness here.

I have only a small portion of the internet that’s mine and a few readers (I’m certainly no Zoella!) But if I can encourage someone to maybe donate a fiver they would have spent on a drink at the work’s Christmas do, or a couple of quid saved from an offer when out shopping, I’d be eternally grateful. And maybe we’d prevent Bono from singing The Line again in a few years.

A wee tim’rous beastie- to live on my desk

I have a fondness for mice; as kids we kept them as pets and I actually don’t mind it when Bronts brings them in (even though it is a faff to catch them. Oh, and one once hid in D’s buggy and I nearly deafened those in a five mile radius when I screeched in shock.)

When the lovely people at Museum Selection offered me something to review, I really was spoilt for choice; there’s loads for the discerning Christmas shopper. After perusing the items on offer, I chose this little mouse and conker ornament*. I thought he’d make a good paperweight on my desk and the description of him as a ‘tim’rous beastie’ sold it to me, as it’s one of my nicknames for D. Although, D is certainly not a timorous beastie, I do like the Burns poem!

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He’s a lovely heavy little chap and he’s very lifelike in his details. I’m now eyeing up the curled fox  sculpture to add to my ever-growing woodland animal collection…

If you’re looking for Christmas presents with a twist, do take a look!

Skincare to get you through a cold

I have recently been feeling sorry for myself with a particularly nasty cold which I picked up from D. My skin has been dry and scaly it was already suffering due to stress and the change in weather. I have a few things in the winter skin pipeline to show you (mainly from the Memeboxes). In the meantime, I thought I’d show you a few saviours that have worked for me this time.

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I’m all about comfort and ease at the best of times and, when I’m ill, it becomes even more important. (Seriously, I’m not a good ill person at all.)

Blistex Intensive Moisturiser lip balm (£2.63 for 5g)- This is my favourite lip balm of the moment and I’ve repurchased it three times since I started using it in the spring. If you like the tingle of Carmex, but wish it lasted longer, then this is the one for you. It’s a cream, rather than a waxy balm and is easily smoothed onto dry, dehydrated lips.

Molton Brown Eucalyptus body wash (£18 for 300ml)- my friend Jaqui gave me a little bottle of this a few weeks ago (I would never have bought it). It’s BRILLIANT. The wash has top notes of eucalyptus with mint and cedarwood and is really good at clearing the head. I’ve been using it as a bath; unlike many other bath foams designed for colds, it doesn’t make my skin feel dried out or stinky. I’m tempted to repurchase and just save it for when a massive cold strikes again.

Superdrug Coconut Oil (£2.29 for 125ml)- I’ve been an advocate for coconut oil for AGES and it’s a staple of my bathroom cabinet. As well as using it as a hair mask, it’s also a great smoother for sore skin. I’ve been rubbing it around my nose and on my eyelids, where my eczema has been threatening to break out again. I think it’s nicer than using Vaseline and less greasy.

Steamcream (£12.95 for 75ml) I had a tin of Steamcream ages ago, but never bought it once it ran out. However, when I went to my mum’s a couple of weeks ago, she gave me a tin. I’m back in the Steamcream fan club! I find it too heavy to use all over my face in normal circumstances, but putting it on the driest bits of my skin worked wonders. I’ll let you know if it replaces my usual Naked Thirst Aid as my deepest-winter night cream.

Any suggestions? Add them in the comments!

 

My first Memeboxes: I jumped on the bandwagon!

I’ve written about Korean makeup in the past- it’s interesting to see how it’s taken off in such a huge way. I have a few bits to review, so keep your eyes out.

Aaanyway, so I noticed that a few of my blogging and twitter pals were always raving about Memebox and so I decided to take the plunge. I ordered two boxes- Face Shop and a brand that I have used and loved in the past, Skin Food. Both boxes were $35 (about £23) each including postage.

Face Shop

faceshop.jpg

 

Included in the box are full size products:

  • Pink Cushion blusher in pink
  • Milk Plus shower cream
  • Dessert lip balm
  • Mini Pet hand cream in Floral
  • Calendula moisture cream
  • Today Is All Night Party eyeshadow in Sand

So far, I’ve used the lip balm (which was a bit gloopy and meh, to be honest, but it’s cute and it’ll do in an emergency) and the hand cream which is BRILLIANT. It’s really thick and moisturising. Oh, and D has taken quite the shine to it and so I get regular exercise hunting for whichever bizarre hiding place he’s hidden ‘pussy cat’ in.

Skin Food

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Included in this box- all full size again:

  • Black sugar mask
  • Egg White Pore Meringue cleansing foam
  • Facial Water Vita-C cream
  • Premium Tomato Whitening toner
  • Choco Eyebrow Powder Cake in choco-grey

What I love about Skin Food is that not only are their products brilliant quality, but also completely bonkers. I can’t wait to try this and, although I was a bit dubious as to whether it would suit me, I think it will. If not, it’ll be a grand eyeshadow. I’ll be using the toner as a refresher after a facemask or when I’m too lazy to wash my face after a no makeup day. I’m very excited to try the cleansing foam though!

Which of these products do you have your eye on? Which should I review first?

New Twinings’ loose leaf pyramid teabags*

twinings.jpg

 

Twinings has launched some exciting new teas for the coming winter and I’m very excited to be able to tell you all about them!

Using pyramid bags to brew tea leaves isn’t a new idea, but it is one that proves to be a winning combination with Twinings’ new flavours and the known quality of their teas. It’s safe to say that Twinings are set to compete with some of the newer kids on the tea block with this new range.

Stand-out teas for me are the chais; I tried the Bollywood chai latte, which takes traditional Indian chai as its basis and is made the same way (a mixture of water and milk). It has quite the kick, provided by star anise and was lovely when I made it on the first really cold night of the year. There’s also a redbush/rooibos caramel chai latte and a limited edition vanilla chai latte… both of which I am desperate to try.

I found the green teas- especially the Moroccan Mint and Rose- excellent post work-out teas. I was a bit skeptical about the mint and rose, as spearmint usually (bizarrely) gives me a headache, but it was very light and delicious.

The tea that most surprised and impressed me was the nutty chocolate assam. Believe me- if I could have this on tap, I would. It was like drinking a guilt-free hazelnut hot chocolate. As it’s also been released as a loose leaf, I’m thinking I could have it at work (teabags) and home (loose leaf) and quell my mid-afternoon chocolate cravings. Massive thumbs up on this one.

The teas are available from Twinings and Waitrose and are priced £3.49 for twelve pyramid bags