Monday 25 September 2017

Cotswold Dog Days & Spotty Dog Lux

Cotswold Dog Days - Dalmatian

When you have a rather energetic dog such as my Dalmatian Lux for instance, it can be quite a nerve racking thought to entrust him to anyone other than yourself. Earlier this year when we went off to Crete for the week, I sent him off to a dog board (for those of you who don't know, it's essentially a holiday for dogs, where they get one to one attention, and it's an alternative to kennels). 

I knew that Lux would not fare well in kennels, so this seemed like the best option for us all. Only Lux had never been left before and he must have felt like his world was crashing in on him, that we had left him forever. Suffice to say the poor guy who was caring for Lux that week did not have an easy time of it at all, I guess that might be why he wanted to return him a day earlier than planned, and why he rocked up back home just after 8am as opposed to the discussed 14:00 o clock...

Yes, leaving Lux is not something I make a habit of doing, and up until this weekend, I didn't dare let anyone else take him out again, let alone have him over night. I guess I have become slightly anxious because I know that he can be a rather large handful, but deep down he is a lovely boy just wanting to be involved in anything and everything that is going on.

When Lux goes out for a walk, it is almost as though he see's the world for the first time (every single day), all the sights, sounds and smells, the other people and of course the other dogs make for a very excited dog.  

Cotswold Dog Days - Dalmatian

This weekend I pushed my anxiety aside and sent Lux off with Naomi of Cotswold Dog Days for a 5 mile round walk around the Cotswolds. I gave full disclosure about my not so little asbo puppy, I told her that he could be a handful and a down right monster at times, but this didn't phase Naomi and she said that she was more than happy to see how they got on if I was happy for him to go.

I decided that it would be nice for Lux to go, and it would be interesting to hear some feedback from Naomi on what she thought about Lux. At 2pm Naomi came and picked up Lux, and as soon as she arrived my mind was put at ease and I knew that Lux was in very good hands. 

Naomi had even brought a car harness for Lux to wear in her car and explained that she had planned a 5 mile walk around Broadway, and provided me a time to expect them back. 

This gave me around 3 hours at home without Lux, and it was such a strange feeling. Lux is always with me at home, so to walk around the house without having him follow me wherever I go (or do the laundry without him running off with a sock or two) was just very odd. It did however give me the chance to tidy the house from top to bottom. 

I got a text just after 5pm letting me know that they had finished their walk and were on there way back home.  

Cotswold Dog Days - Dalmatian

Naomi offers photographs of all the dogs that she takes out on her walks, and we were lucky enough to receive some absolutely gorgeous shots from Lux's walk with Cotswold Dog Days (Friends and family who have seen them have been as equally impressed as us!). When the images came through last night I felt a sudden prang, you know that feeling you get when you are proud of your kids? Yeah I got that for my dog! 

I am planning on getting one or two of these shots put onto canvases, I have been meaning to get some done for a while but never found the right photo (and now I have a gorgeous selection!). Naomi must have read my mind when it came to the telephone box, because I was going to try and get a similar image myself (but I can never get Lux to co-operate!). 

Naomi offers a very personal service to you and your dog, and I have been so impressed by the entire experience (and the gorgeous photos that you receive after).

Naomi delivered back one very tired spotty dog (Who pretty much slept for the rest of the evening), and she did absolutely amazing with him because he can be a real nightmare. I wouldn't hesitate in using Naomi and Cotswold Dog Days again in the future, and if you are local to the Cotswolds or will be visiting for a holiday at some point in the future then you can claim a 10% discount by mentioning #SpottyDogLux!

Make sure to follow @CotswoldDogDays on Instagram for more gorgeous pet photography!

Weight is just a number

Bikini Body Guide Results

A few years back now I decided that I was going to shake my lifestyle up, regular readers will know that I went on to lose 2 stone. Guess what guys? I pretty much put it all back on, but not in the way you might imagine.

As it turns out a healthy lifestyle is not all about what you weigh, and boy has it taken me a very long time to try and get my head around that. In the past I have restricted calories and denied myself treats because I was so riled up about what that damn scale said. In doing all of the above my weight did plummet, and at that time I did not see it as a problem, in actual fact I saw this as success. 

As my weight went down, all of my clothes became baggier and baggier until the day came that I simply had to get rid of the vast majority of my wardrobe in favour of going out and purchasing everything in my new smaller size. There were items that I kept, mainly dresses because they had cost me so much to purchase in the first place and annoyingly had only been worn once or twice, I didn't ever expect to actually fit into them again, but you know sometimes you keep these things just in case.

Over the last 8 months I have addressed how much I am eating and have almost doubled my calorie intake, I started lifting weights and watched as my lower body started to transition. My jeans started to get to tight, my new smaller wardrobe was not fitting quite so snuggly anymore. I remember a point in April on a weekend away in London that I got quite irate with myself, I had brought away two of my favourite dresses and they were just not fitting like they used to, one wouldn't even do up. I threw my shoes across the room in sheer frustration and had to make do with the other dress that I was quite simply not happy with.

In recent months I have had to go back through my wardrobe, give away a whole load of items that I quite honestly don't know how I ever fit into now, and also go out and replace jeans, leggings and dresses, although it has been rather nice getting to purchase some gorgeous new outfits (I have been loving the luxury women's wear at David Nieper)

Looking back it was just my body starting to change, but as I was still getting my head around how putting weight back on did not mean that I was going to revert back to old ways, and that it wasn't going to undo all of the hard work that I had put in over the last couple of years.

Bikini Body Guide Results

 This is a highlight of my starting point back in 2014, my 2 stone weight loss in the summer of 2015 and finally me today, There isn't a huge weight difference between my starting point and today, but there is a rather noticeable difference in my body composition, and there is a far cry between the skinny minnie in the middle and the girl who eats all the food on the right.

I have gone from eating a very rubbish diet combined with absolutely no exercise, to someone who was obsessing over every little detail, to finally reaching a point where I am all about balance. It's taken me a long old time to reach this point, and it hasn't always been an easy path to follow. When I decided that I wanted to started building up my lower body which of course meant eating in a calorie surplus, I questioned myself near enough every day as to whether I was doing the right thing. I got angry and frustrated when my clothes started to get to small, but now when I look between these last two photos, I can see exactly why I had to replace all my jeans! 

I had literally no bum!

We have weight drummed into us during every waking hour, but the reality really is that health and happiness does not lie in what we weigh. Health and happiness is when we are comfortable in our own skin, when we can make well balanced choices as to what we put in our bodies but equally so that we are not under eating and not restricting treats that we want to eat. 

I have learned this the absolute hard way, and I hear from girls all the time who are scared to start eating in a calorie surplus, which believe me I hands down get. I have been there. I find myself saying it all the time, but we cannot base our progress on the scale, it is merely a statistic and it cannot measure anything. You might weigh exactly the same, but you may lose inches and notice a change in your progress photos even if your weight doesn't budge. 

Friday 22 September 2017

Let's Talk About BOOBS

Let's talk about boobs.

I think that it's absolute madness that in 2017 it is still taboo to talk about BOOBS. Maybe it's because at some point over the ages, women's breasts have become sexualised and in this capacity it has meant that this natural part of a woman's anatomy has become tarnished, so that when women need to discuss important issues about their own body, they don't feel that they can, or maybe that they should.

Now this is usually very apparent when it comes to breastfeeding, I have heard of Mother's who have taken themselves away to the bathroom to feed their baby, whether it was through embarrassment or the worry of offending bystanders with their natural womanly feeding techniques, whatever it was, it shouldn't have ever been an issue and it should be accepted no matter where you are in the world.

The nature of this actually extends far past the aspect of just breastfeeding though, it comes down to health and wellbeing. As women we should ALL know our bodies, this gives us an advantage in the instance that we notice a change, maybe a new lump that wasn't there before. The sooner we can pin point what might be going on, the sooner we can seek help, guidance and if needed, treatment.
When to see a doctor:
- You spot a new lump or thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before.
- A change of size or shape of either one of your breasts.
- Bloodstained discharge from your nipples, or a rash surrounding them.
- A lump or selling in either of your armpits
- Skin dimpling on your breasts.
- A change in the appearance of your nipples. For example becoming sunken into your breast.
It is worth remembering that breast pain isn't usually a symptom of breast cancer, and 90% of lumps are not cancerous, but it is always worth getting checked over by your GP.
We live in a world where we hear about cancer everyday, and one of those cancer's is of course breast cancer. We cannot be scared of discussing this, of sharing our experiences because ultimately they could help to save lives.

Back in 2015 I found my very own lump.
I can recall it like it happened only yesterday...

Leo was sat on the bed with the iPad in hand and the television for company, while I took off my clothes and got ready for my shower. I brushed my teeth and it was while completing this mundane everyday task that I first saw it.

I actually saw it before I had even touched it. The lump was big enough for me to see in my reflection and instinctively I put my hand up to lay a finger on it, to feel it. to investigate its presence. It was hard to the touch, solid and about the same size as a small blueberry, but it was there to the side of my left breast just waiting to be discovered.

I booked a doctors appointment and thankfully I was given the all clear right then and there, but actually finding a lump is enough to really strike the worry into you.

There are measures you can take to check yourself out at home, have you ever heard of Breastlight?

Breastlight™ is a new health and well being product for women. It’s actually a unique invention for detection of breast illness. Being part of breast cancer awareness campaign this self-examination device helps in finding the abnormalities in breast and a woman can examine any unusual change in their breasts with frequent sessions that can easily be done at home.

Breastlight shines a harmless red light through the breast tissue so that you can see some of the particulars inside. Through these sessions you can have a clear view and further can make out whether it is giving normal signs or some alarming ciphers. In such a way you feel more confident that you are having a caring disposition for your body as well as a sigh of relief and obviously it dispels many apprehensions.
I really like that this is something you can do from home, because it gives you that extra detail when you are being vigilant, it allows you to take your home check that one step further. It obviously does not replace the necessity of a Mammogram screening, but it can really aid the home check.

It's so important to simply be vigilant and consistent, and if you are unsure or concerned about anything, book in with your doctor and take the next step forward.

Thursday 14 September 2017

Pomelody Launches to Give Children the Gift of Learning & Development Through Music


Pomelody launches to give children the gift of learning and development through music

- Home-based e-learning music platform for pre-schoolers aims to unlock a
child’s innate musical talent and potentially increase IQ by 18% -

- For parents, Pomelody offers the ability to have fun and connect with their infants.
No music background required. 

“… It’s the sheer joy and bonding between a child and its parents that makes music so magical.” 

When Leo was a baby I remember thinking how lacking the music available was for young toddlers and children, and it turns out that I was not alone in this mindset. Adam and Anna developed Pomelody which is a comprehensive online music education system for children 0-6 and their families. 

It's the world’s first music education e-learning platform for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. 

Pomelody is designed from the ground up to stimulate a child’s music potential while giving parents (even those with no music ability) an opportunity to bond and have fun. Every quarter, Pomelody delivers an online (via PC, laptop, tablet) series of music.

I can't help wishing that this was around when Leo was younger, the music sounds incredible and I believe that this would have been something that Leo would have adored. If I go on to have any future children, I would be very interested in introducing Pomelody from a young age. I can't help but wonder if Leo had fallen in love with music, whether this would have helped him and his academic struggles now.

London, UK and New York, US 14 th September: 
Pomelody today announced that they are ready to bring fun, family-bonding music education to children and parents everywhere. 

The idea came from professional musicians Adam and Anna who, whilst raising a young family and knowing how powerfully music impacts on a child’s development, tried to find musical content that they could use in order to interact with their children. There was very little musical content available and what was available was unstructured. They set about designing, testing and recording a series of specially recorded songs, music theory tutorials for parents and animated stories for kids. 


The result is the first simple to access (online via PC, laptop or tablet), fun and engaging platform for parents to embrace music along with their young children. Indeed, the first music-making classes for families ever put on video. 

The production of content (season one is finalized) and building the platform is nearly finished. 

Pomelody is now turning to Kickstarter to secure funding of $30,000 to help develop further seasons (delivered quarterly) and to finish the platform build. 


What do you get as a series backer of Pomelody? (earlybird discount $69) 

- Collection of 25 songs - composed, recorded and produced with 12 different bands/artists 
- 10 Pomelody classes recorded 
-One songbook 
- 3 animated lectures with music theory for parents 
- Animated stories

Importantly, Pomelody also has a stretch goal of $55,000 on Kickstarter which will enable the development of an institutional version of the platform, giving free access to orphanages around the world. 

Adam, Weber founder of Pomelody, said: “Music is such a powerful medium to stimulate a child’s imagination. Its benefits stretch way beyond childhood with many reports suggesting that it can boost an individual’s adult IQ by up to 18%, compared to children with no early years music exposure. Whilst this is motivation in itself, it's the sheer joy and bonding between a child and its parents that makes interacting with music so magical. With Pomelody we have a created a unique opportunity for
families to bond, to learn, to have fun and to stimulate the next generation. We are very excited to bring this project to market and, fingers crossed, we can achieve our stretch goal and give free access to underprivileged children around the world.”

Monday 11 September 2017

Life with a Dalmatian

Life with a Dalmatian

When I decided to get a puppy I thought that I had covered every base. I had done extensive breed research, I had conducted even more breed research after setting my heart on a Dalmatian, and I was armed with the knowledge of their health conditions and how to help him grow and thrive. 

It turns out that no matter how much research you put in, nothing can really prepare you for having a puppy, or a dog in general for that matter. 

Lux has kept me on my toes everyday, I have learned that I cannot leave ANYTHING at all on the kitchen side because he will get hold of it, and he will chew or shred it into submission. I have learned that even if I don't leave anything on the side for him to destroy, he will create some new kind of carnage of his own, the most recent venture has been the chewing of my laminate floor (I guess you could say he is helping me with the home improvement costs, as now when I get the kitchen tiled, the guys won't have quite as much floor to tear up!)

Life with a Dalmatian

He certainly looks very proud of himself don't you think? I guess I should just be thankful that he grew out of eating the dry wall...

I have found myself doing things that I didn't ever think I would need to do. Ever heard of anyone who actually hoovers their washing machine? Yup, I use the vacuum cleaner to get all of Lux's hair out. I was aware that Dalmatian's shed 365 days a year, don't get me wrong, but was I prepared for the level of dog hair? There is not enough reading material in the world to prepare me for the Tsunami of wire like hair that comes from having a Dalmatian, it sticks to your clothes and you will find it in places you would never expect to find it. 

Just this morning I insisted that Leo wear his dressing gown to breakfast, as I didn't want him wearing his school uniform around the pup. Not after I had washed it (and found that it somehow had remnants of Lux still on it), then I used a sticky roller to make sure that it was completely free of Lux and finally ironed the set. I was pretty impressed with myself when I managed to get Leo out of the door with no dog hair on him at all! 

Life with a Dalmatian

We have recently installed a stair gate, not for Leo, but for the dog. Lux seizes opportunities to go galloping off up the stairs, it''s in the space of a few seconds that he manages to cause absolute carnage. He will steal soft toys, clothing and anything else he can get his paws on, so the stair gate means that upstairs is a completely dog free space. No dogs allowed. 

This means that I don't need to worry about anything dog related upstairs, no dog hair, no dog destruction, no nothing. That means that I can keep on top of downstairs and makes life that little bit easier. 

Lux might be one of the most mischievous pups I have ever met, but he is loving and enjoys a good fuss. Thankfully although he does create some additional housework and mayhem at times, he does have a few perks going for him, he doesn't have a doggy smell and he doesn't dribble (unless of course you have food that he wants to eat!)


Thursday 7 September 2017

Winter Is Coming (So are the Spiders!)

Today is the first day of the new school term, summer has officially ended and the (dare I say it?) wind down to the Christmas season has commenced. X Factor is back on our television screens, Tesco have brought out the very tempting boxes of chocolate, and there is a familiar chill in the air again. 

I have always loved this time of year, watching as Autumn brushes past each tree and gently changing the leaves from green to golden. There is something very satisfying about being able to wrap up warm when you step outside into the seasonal breeze, and something as equally satisfying about coming home, relaxing in a hot bath and slipping into your favourite PJ's and watching your favourite box set on Netflix (with a hot chocolate of course!).

I am one of those girls who needs to be warm, I quite simply detest being cold and the nights have certainly got colder in the last few weeks, I have dug out my onesies from the very depth of my wardrobe (Much to the other halfs dismay!), but it has lead me to discover that I really need to invest in some new PJs and cosy nighttime wear before it get's too cold. 

I love a little bit of luxury when it comes to my PJs, I know I am not going to be wearing them out in public, but there are occasions where I will be in them as early as 5pm, so I don't mind splashing out. I have been looking at the luxury dressing gowns at David Nieper and think I might have to treat myself to the floral soft satin wrap. Usually I would opt for a thick fluffy gown, but I love the idea of satin and it means that I will still be able to make use of it when the weather starts to warm up again.

So far I have managed to avoid turning the heating on and hoisting the electric blanket out of the cupboard, but I think in the coming weeks and months this will change. I am not the only one who has noticed that the weather is cooling down... Have you seen the size of some of these house spiders that are making there way in right now? 

Big House Spider

I was catching up on Suits the other evening when I saw a something black trotting along the carpet, thankfully the puppy saw it too and bee lined for the offending trotting spider. Unfortunately for me Lux decided to sit on the sofa and play with it (until he finally ate it). 20 minutes later I was heading through to the kitchen when out from under the bathroom door, came the original spiders twin brother! Thankfully Lux was close at hand and took care of it (I knew that there was a reason I wanted a puppy!). 

Lux has become the resident spider assasinator, a role that he seems to be thoroughly enjoying, and the training for said position has gone from strength to strength, all we need to do now is ask Lux 'Where's the spider?' and he scours the walls/ floor until he finds it!

As I cannot see the spider invasion coming to a halt anytime soon, I guess I will just be thankful that Lux is now eating spiders and not the kitchen floor anylonger...