I never used to like coffee. Then I got a grown up job. I had to like coffee because that’s what people who work in London drink right? I tried to be the one that drank “Chai tea” but that just didn’t feel quite so corporate; I therefore trained myself to like coffee, starting with sniffing it, progressing to sipping it and after a number of lengthy months easily drinking it.
This was, however back in the day when coffee was just coffee. I had no option to like plain black coffee and though I was frowned on for having a sweetener I figured it was ok. It was still coffee. I then started to add milk, a lot of milk. Resulting in lovely weaker coffee but also rather cold coffee with said milk content. After a few years of London life it became more popular to drink flavoured coffee. Hallelujah! And there begun my love for the coffee bean.
It has progressed so much that you can now buy all sorts of flavours and I have discovered the land of Beanies.
Gingerbread coffee, it’s like a literal step into Christmas. I mean you look at the label and can actually picture sitting curled up in an armchair with a blanket, peace and quiet, the smell of the REAL Christmas tree permeating the air and a cup of gingerbread coffee. And to be fair when you drink it, it has that exact taste! The fact it will be drunk when you have children asking for their school bags, toast burning and the thought of de-icing the car in your mind still doesn’t take away from the fact that you are drinking a cup of sweet gingerbread, non-sickening coffee. All.year.round.
Vanilla coffee is everyone’s first venture into the world of flavoured coffee. Keeping it safe. However no matter how much you change your habits you will always come back to this firm favourite. It’s your way of saying “I’m being soooo good by not adding sugar to my coffee” but knowing that’s a lie. Vanilla coffee is reminding you that good things happen in the world and that Vanilla is not boring, its calming. Why have children not been named Vanilla?! When drinking this coffee you will realise that you can have luxury in your own home and if you don’t want to share you don’t have to.
Then last but not least hazelnut coffee. It’s one of those that’s get a bad press until you try it. When the flavoured coffee boom hit, it was more your vanilla and caramel that came into play. Gingerbread was made famous by coffee shops but only available for a couple of months a year. Anyway, I digress. This hazelnut is delish! Smooth and creamy and one to impress the neighbours, yet not shock with it being “a bit too much”. A coffee that falls into all categories is awesome. Your friend comes in with heartache? Hazelnut coffee. Your mum walks in moaning about your dad? Hazelnut coffee. Neighbourhood watch man discussing local youths? Hazelnut coffee. Win win.
Yup. Coffee = win win.
PR Samples. Written by Michelle, proper coffee lover.
If your home environment is serene and relaxed, this will greatly help to ease the day’s stresses and tensions and create a space in which you are able to indulge in creative thinking. It will also help to maintain your health. Here are a few ideas for how to attain such an atmosphere in any home.
Use pale, soft colours
A monochrome colour scheme will allow your eyes to pass smoothly over artworks and furnishings in the home, so the advice is to use dusty colours and earth-based tones to enhance this effect. Avoid any glaring or clashing colours or shades, which only detract from an overall sense of calm.
Using a very pale pink for the walls will help promote a sense of wellbeing, or you could reflect the sun by using a light marigold scheme. For the fabrics used in the likes of pillows and cushions, go for white linen, latte and beige, or dusty lavender and sage. The idea is to always keep the distinctions between colours minimal and to avoid disturbing contrasts.
Declutter your home
Zen environments, usually held up as fine examples of applied serenity, are noticeable by their absence of clutter. Systematically removing all the clutter from cabinets, floors and closets can have a miraculous and instantaneous effect on your sense of wellbeing. Pack them all away and bring them out for display only when necessary. Less is definitely more when it comes to creating a serene domestic environment.
Use soft, neutral fabrics
Use welcoming fabrics to upholster your furnishings; choose the soft and plush variety rather than stiff leather items, for example. Fill your cushions with soft down, go for deep sofa seating and use throw blankets and pillows. It’s important to avoid harsh trim and metals. Use wood wherever possible. If you find that the wood dominates the room, try painting it a lighter colour to reduce the impact.
Employ soft lighting
Glaring overhead lighting is at best uncomfortable and at worst unnerving. Instead, use floor lights and tabletop lighting, and soft bulbs that gently distribute their light rather than strongly radiating it. Don’t be afraid to use scented candles in the living room or bedroom – although never, of course, leave them unattended or close to flammable materials. Placing a group of candles in an empty fireplace is an excellent idea and is great for setting a thoroughly serene mood over the whole room. Better still, if the original fireplace is working, then by all means light it.
Keep the noises down
If you’re watching TV alone, use headphones so that the rest of the house can remain quiet. Try putting on some soothing classical music, and consider using a water feature somewhere in the house – according to Chinese tradition, this is a fabulous way of introducing harmony and serenity to any living space. Another idea is to put a large aquarium on display in the main living room, illuminated by soft lighting.
Use natural accessories
Accessories in the home should consist of natural things such as items from the natural world and growing plants. You could use attractive rocks and minerals, pieces of driftwood with interesting shapes, seashells and suchlike. Be careful not to overdo it or you’ll just be adding to the clutter; arrange them carefully so that they add to the effect of the soothing décor rather than detracting from it.
If you want to use works of art in the home, choose ones that have a pale rather than glaring overall colour and tone, and that tend to depict more restful topics such as seascapes, landscapes and still lifes. The serenity of a home environment can be greatly increased by using monochromatic modern artworks, impressionistic flower arrangements and any items washed up on the seashore.
Use natural timber
Using natural timber in the home is not only environmentally friendly but also easy on the eye, and it will greatly contribute to a sense of serenity and wellbeing. Apart from its purely aesthetic attributes, natural wood actively absorbs carbon dioxide, and it is an excellent insulating material. Using timber flooring and natural wooden window frames of the type created by Stanbrook & Nicholson will make you feel closer to nature and help in creating a very calming interior atmosphere.
Make a spa bathroom
Many people treasure their bathroom as a retreat from the slings and arrows of daily life, a place to take refuge from the storm and find a degree of inner peace in the relative quiet and solitude. Although most of us don’t have the time to take advantage of professional spa treatments on health farms, we can approximate them in the home by creating something similar.
Treat yourself to attractive taps, and have a large, pale bowl of luxury scents and soaps next to the bath. Place glass jars filled with bath salts on the windowsill or table, and buy a few big, fluffy towels to promote the sense of harmony and luxuriousness you’re attempting to create in order to relax the mind.
Get into a few routines
If you’re the sort of person who struggles with a feeling of chaos and disorder in their life, then by simply establishing a few daily and weekly routines, you can introduce a sense of calm instead. Start with a cleaning routine and a bedtime routine, such as tucking the kids up at a certain time, and then introduce other routines to give yourself that invaluable sense of order and control that is so important for a sense of serenity and wellbeing.
It’s undeniable that the outside world can be, and frequently is, a very stressful place, but at the end of the day, we all want to come back to a bit of peace and serenity. This is easily achieved by making a few adjustments to our domestic environment to promote that elusive sense of calm and wellbeing. Make a few small changes at first to discover what works best for you, and then build on these to create the perfectly calm and serene home environment.
Remember way back in August when there was time to do fun stuff with the kids? No, me either. But apparently we did do fun stuff, and one of the best days out was DreamWork’s Shrek’s Adventure!
It’s an interactive adventure in London’s County Hall, right on the river and next to the London Eye, and, as every single person in the house loves the Shrek films and show, we were all really looking forward to going, despite the weather!
First thing you notice when you arrive? A HUGE Fiona at the door, surprisingly, even though there were (obviously) queues to have pictures taken with her, it moved quite quickly and kids got their chance to say hi. Then we joined another queue (there is a bit a queuing theme in this post but the whole experience was worth it) which took us through a green screen bit, where we had to pull some funny moves off, not quite sure we had that nailed, but it made us laugh and then we moved onto the next waiting area. Now, my two were good at waiting because they’re that little bit older and there was enough to entertain them on the way round, characters walking past, the decor looking like we were in a Shrek film, plenty of sounds to listen to, but I think younger kids would probably have got a bit fed up waiting for so long, an hour in total I’d say, but it was the middle of the summer holidays, a new attraction and, Shrek, so it’s forgivable!
We soon reached the first attraction, and, had to put our phones away so we didn’t spoil the surprise for anyone seeing it on social media.
We made our way into a bus depot where we had to wait for our magical bus, which Donkey was flying of course. The bus, a 4d, wrap around simulator was AMAZING. I have never seen anything like it before. Charlie was convinced we had flown out of the building and done a tour of London, through the Thames and into China where we flew with Kung Fu Panda, then a little session with Toothless and his friends, and finally, the witches from Shrek. Honestly, the best simulator ever and if that had been it for the attraction, I would have been happy! But, off we got, once we’d reached Far Far Away.
We then went through loads of different rooms (I don’t want to spoil it for you!) meeting all the characters you could think of, each time a person in our group had to take an item to the next room with a message for the character, eventually, leading us to freedom. There were plenty of jokes for the adults to appreciate, but to be honest, every one of us was enjoying the kids jokes just as much!
It was such a well thought out, fun adventure. I can’t think of anything else like it that we’ve seen, so every single queue was more than worth it. The kids still talk about it now, and next time we watch Shrek, we’ll feel like we’ve been there with him!
You get the chance to buy a book at the end of the adventure with all the photos taken of you, it’s an amazing book and I really wish we’d bought it now, but, alas, being a full time student we’ve had to cut back on a fair few things so we just bought our favourite shot of the day. I think it captures the whole day perfectly!
Oh! And how can I forget! At the end, just as we’re making our way to the exit, who do we meet? The one and only, real life, 7 foot hunk of a man, Shrek! (This is where Charlie went into panic mode and wouldn’t talk to him, but Holly and I made up for that!)
If you’re looking for a day out with a different, I cannot recommend this enough. Tickets cost from £23.40 and the adventure is open from 10am-6pm Monday – Saturday and 10am – 5pm on a Sunday.
Huge thanks to Shrek’s Adventure for inviting us along!
It’s been a pretty good year for me so far (touch wood!) I’ve finally found my calling in life, and I am actually taking steps towards it. It may have taken me 34 years to get here, but I’d say that was all good life experience! We’ve welcomed a new pup to the family, finally got the dream car, the kids are doing AMAZINGLY well at school, I’m doing really well at college, the bloke is doing really well at work.
We’ve had such a good summer, this year we broke up the loooong 7 weeks with a holiday to France which was just gorgeous. We had nothing but pure sunshine and relaxation for the whole time we were there and the kids absolutely loved it. We’re planning next years holiday already!
I’m really trying to remain chilled and calm (trying being the operative word there) but I’m sure once the kids go back to school and we start a routine again things will feel more organised, I’ve got my yoga and pilates classes planned, I’m back to college and starting my maths GCSE (again) so I will really need to stay on top of that whole calm thing! Feeling organised and in control makes me feel super, as well as having a bit of time to myself, and some alone time with the bloke. As well as having some quality time with the kids…..!
But, I’m not the only one feeling super. Oh no. The #FeelSuper campaign is a partnership between Superdrug and P&G in support of Marie Curie, which, throughout 2015, aims to raise £100,000 for the charity.
New mum Frankie Bridge is supporting the campaign, and, from the 26th August to 22nd September, each time you buy any Pampers product from Superdrug, your purchase will trigger a donation to Marie Curie. Find out more at Superdrug.com/feelsuper.
All money raised from the campaign will go towards helping Marie Curie provide expert care, guidance and support to people with a terminal illness and their families. Marie Curie Nurses work night and day, either in people’s homes or in one of the charity’s nine hospices, providing hands-on care and vital emotional support to those that need it.
To celebrate and promote this campaign I’ve been given a months worth of Pampers wipes to give away to one person, all you need to do is tell me what makes you feel super – pretty easy eh!
Or not. It’s 2 weeks until the end of the summer holidays and I’m not sure I’ve had anything that remotely resembled silence since the 16th July. There are several drawbacks to that, but at least I know my ears work. Look on the plus side and all that?
We’ve had a bloody brilliant summer, we’ve chilled out (as much as kids chill out) we’ve travelled, explored, partied in the garden, drank cocktails (me, not them) swam (them, not me) and just generally made the most of the late nights and lazy mornings.
It hasn’t really been a proper summer in terms of the weather, at the risk of sounding like an old fart, when I was younger, the summer holidays were *hot*. Not so much anymore. If it had been better weather we would have spent a lot more time in the garden, music blaring and bbq cooking. We are music freaks in this house, we all have different tastes so stick the iPad on shuffle and you’ll get a good old mix. My speakers are pretty good for garden parties, but they do run out of battery pretty quick, if I was making a party wishlist, it would probably involve some new wireless speakers. Usually the husband sorts out all the technical stuff, but I do get a say in what they look like, he’ll pick the best of a bunch performance wise, and I’ll pick the one that looks the best out of those, usually works for us and he does know his stuff! I love the look of the Panasonic Technics c700 – if technics can be pretty, then this is.
Coupled with a big ole gas BBQ – I am aware that it’s not really a BBQ if it’s not on charcoal but I don’t really care, a cold glass of Aperole and some good company, we’re pretty much set. One summer, soon hopefully, we’ll actually get the chance to do it more than once, and with a bit of notice. Don’t you just love the British summertime…..! It does make me want to escape to a warmer country, the kids are so much happier (and quieter) when they can run around outside all day long, getting some vitamin D in their bodies.
In the meantime, I am going to dig out some earplugs and count down the days until my parents take the little darlings off me for a while.