Learning to Play the Piano with Piano in a Flash

For all of my adult life I have really wanted to learn to play the piano. Last year in my 35 Before 35 post I included learning to play piano and after that I bought a keyboard so I could teach myself from YouTube videos. I tried a couple of times but every time I did Ava wanted to join in and I didn’t get very far. I then asked for a keyboard stand and stool for my thirtieth birthday which I got, and planned on setting them up in the spare room and taking an hour or so to myself each week. That never happened. I think because time is so short and because I didn’t have set classes or anything like that, there was no structure to my learning and I wouldn’t be able to tell how far I was progressing, and I had to find videos to learn from myself which obviously would take longer. I still regularly thought about my desire to learn to play but couldn’t find the motivation to start to teach myself.

I was then lucky enough to be offered to try the ‘Piano in a Flash‘ course which is a combination of online instruction, lesson books and personalised feedback from the teacher, Scott Houston. Scott has had 14 seasons of an Emmy award winning public television show “The Piano Guy” and runs many live workshops which have been attended by over 15,000 people. Scott walks you through each class (online) and gets you to do an exercise to go over what you have just learnt.

I am now a couple of hours in to the first course and I have learnt so much already and I am loving it! I really wanted to keep going because it is so exciting to see much you have learnt in a short space of time. After just four of the classes within the first course I feel like I can ‘play’ (I use the term quite loosely!) two songs on the piano: ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘When the Saints Go Marching in’, which feels amazing. And whilst I can’t play them very fast or perfectly every time, I can play them, with two hands which I think is incredible for such a short time doing the course.

It’s not like you are just learning certain songs and that is it though. As you go along you are being taught to understand things like chords, what symbols and things in the gig book mean, why certain things are the way they are and loads more which is great. I know and understand so much more about playing the piano as well as about the piano itself. I can now identify a key just by looking at it.

It feels so good and so exciting to have only done roughly two hours of the course and have learnt so much so quickly and I’m very excited for what I will be able to do by the end of the course. I’m impatient and want to blitz through it so I can learn faster, but I also want to take my time and do it properly so that I have learnt this stuff forever and don’t forget it all straight after I have finished the course.

The teacher for ‘Piano in a Flash’ is great, he explains things really well and is quite informal which I like, whilst being encouraging and clear. Each lesson is simple and straightforward and not very long which I really like, as it means you don’t have to spend an hour concentrating (unless you want to) all at once, and you get to finish the individual lesson and go over what you have learnt by yourself, until you are ready to move on. This all means that you can fit learning to play the piano in with your busy life rather than trying to find time and energy to go out to a private lesson every week.

The one thing that I think could be more clear is how well I should be playing after each class. After we had learnt to play ‘Jingle Bells’ the teacher mentioned that we could now play the song. However, I am not sure whether we should be able to play it really well, fluently and go back 24 hours later and pick up where we left off, or, like me, be able to play it, relatively slowly, occasionally making a mistake, and needing a reminder when we go back to playing. It is not a big deal, because obviously you can just keep practising until you know it really well. I would just like to have an idea as to when would be best for me to move on to the next stage.

So far I am (clearly) enjoying the course, and feeling like I am starting to be able to actually play the piano – a lifelong dream! I am eager to continue with the course and find out how good I could be by the end of it, and I will do another post with updates of how it is going soon. If you are interested in learning to play the piano yourself at home and in your own time, then make sure you look out for a very special giveaway coming soon on Birds and Lilies…. Or if you can’t wait that long, you can get $25 off any course or bundle here.

If you have any questions about ‘Piano in a Flash’ then please let me know in the comments and I will try to answer them for you. Do you play the piano or another instrument, or, like me, has it always been your dream to do so?

I was given the ‘Piano in a Flash’ course to review but all thoughts, opinions and powerful renditions of Jingle Bells are my own.

 

{ 0 comments }

Wonderful // Blah

November 15, 2014

Kingdom of the Elves

Wonderful

  • We have a new nephew! He is so so tiny and so so gorgeous. I am so happy he is here safe and sound and I am really excited that I get to be his aunty and for Ava to be his cousin. She keeps talking about “my cousin” all the time :) Seeing her hold him was ridiculously cute and made me even more broody. Luckily I get to have newborn cuddles to keep me going for a bit at least. Note to self: You are getting married in eight months (eek) and you do not want to have to fit a giant belly in your wedding dress.
  •  It’s not (too) long until Christmas. For some reason it feels like we are getting into the Christmas spirit especially early this year. Maybe it’s because we got to visit ‘Kingdom of the Elves‘ at Bluestone Wales last weekend. I am not normally one to get into Christmas too early but I am feeling quite excited already. We will get to be with our brand new nephew this Christmas and I think Ava will enjoy it even more this year so it should be a good one. It’s definitely still too early to put the Christmas decorations up though, neighbours.
  • We were lucky enough to get invited to Bluestone Wales and we went last weekend. It is a really beautiful place and we stayed in a gorgeous lodge with forest views. There is so much for kids to do so Ava absolutely loved it and cried when we said we were going home, and we’d already ended up staying an extra day! I really notice a difference in her now when we are both around; she loves having us both to play and spend time with and order about. She loves her Daddy so much and I adore watching them together.

 

//Blah

  • I had to have an impacted wisdom tooth taken out at hospital a few weeks ago. I was so scared. The appointment had been booked months ago and I had mostly managed to avoid thinking about it but the day before the fear crept up on me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was mainly the thought of my gum being cut that I hated and the risk of nerve damage. The man that I had seen for my preliminary appointment had said that because the tooth lay very close to nerves for the right hand side of my mouth and my tongue that there was a chance that I could be numb in either of those places FOREVER. And I said “forever?”, and he said “yes, but you haven’t got a choice, you’ve got to have it out because it’s causing decay on the tooth next to it”. Well, thanks for that. The cutting part was actually fine. Obviously I didn’t feel it, but I was so panicked and the drilling went on a bit too long for my liking. It ended up being fine of course; but for a couple of weeks afterwards (and still a bit now) I had a lot of really bad toothache in the teeth next to the one that had been removed, the wisdom tooth that I still have got really inflamed and painful and my whole mouth was really sore. I also got really bad migraines (possibly from all the drilling?) and really painful earache. I don’t know if I just happened to get ill at the same time or if I got a bit of an infection after the wisdom tooth removal, but I felt so ill for a couple of weeks and it sucked big time.
  • Having to eat soft foods after having my wisdom tooth out. Tell me all I can eat is soup and mashed potato and I want steak (although I always want steak to be honest). I just couldn’t stop thinking about food all day long and all the things I couldn’t eat. I wanted chewy sweets godammit. It didn’t help that it was Halloween and there were sweets in the house saying “eat me Louise, eat meeeee, forget about the pain, we taste sooo good”.
  • Ava got some kind of sickness bug on our second day away. It was horrible and I got a bit panicked trying to work out how we were going to deal with a toddler throwing up without loads of spare towels, extra bedding, a washing machine and trying not to let her be sick on anything that didn’t belong to us. We were also really disappointed that we were going to miss out on all the fun stuff we had planned on our last full day at Bluestone. Luckily (and weirdly), she was completely fine again later on that day, and the wonderful people at Bluestone brought us extra towels and let us stay an extra day.
  • I got a few days of respite after feeling poorly for so long and then I got a bad cold and a really sore throat. Winter is here and don’t we know it. So I’ve got really behind on housework, blogging and life and I hate feeling like that. I start to feel like I’m doing better at life and getting more organised and then BOOM, I take ten (or five hundred) steps back. One step forward, and two steps back, nobody gets too far like that….

Hope you have had a great week sugarplums!

{ 0 comments }

Barbie Bag up close
Sometimes your child gets a new toy that you are not sure you are going to like but end up thinking it’s great. The Barbie Colour-Change Bag is exactly one of those things.

The Barbie Colour-Change bag magically changes colour to match any outfit. All you have to do is hold the bag against an item of clothing and press the button on the bag and watch it change colour to match what you are wearing. It’s very cool. And it’s not just Ava that thinks so; I can often be found taking it around the house seeing if it matches with all sorts of things. I have no idea how it works; I reckon it must be magic, there’s no other possible explanation. Supposedly it’s state-of-the-art colour-change technology but surely that’s just a longer way of saying magic.

The Barbie bag is the winner of the Toy Fair Best New Toy Awards 2014 in the Role-Play category, has been selected by Hamley’s as one of their Top 10 Toys for Christmas 2014 and is included in Amazon’s Christmas Wish List 2014, and I can understand why, it’s a lot of fun for little one’s (and possibly big one’s too).

Ava PosingA with her Barbie Bag

There are a couple of negatives. Although it is a bag, you can only fit really small things in it because of where the colour-change magical bit sits (it goes through a hole in the bag and comes out the back so that it can ‘read’ the colour of the clothing). It is not a huge problem because it is more about what it does than the fact it is a bag I think, but Ava has tried to put larger things in it, to no avail. Also, it is obviously plasticky looking, but whatever; we can’t all be wooden-toy snobs all the time.

It is brightly coloured and comes with some little accessories to make your bag look cooler (that do tend to get a bit lost), as well as a miniature version of the bag (no magic features) for your Barbie. Ava doesn’t actually have a Barbie yet (hi, Santa) but it’s probably a nice, tiny addition so kiddies can make their Barbie be just like them. It is recommended for children aged three to seven, but Ava is two and a half and she loves it. It’s a nice size so that children could carry it around with them and something that they could take out with them to keep them entertained for a little while. We have used it a lot and the batteries still seem to be going strong (batteries are included), and there is an on/off switch inside the bag which is great for when it gets put away so that it doesn’t keep getting pressed. It is also well-made and sturdy.

Barbie Colour Change BagA and her Barbie Bag

Lots of places stock the Barbie Colour Change Bag including Hamleys, Argos and Amazon (cheapest at £23.99 at the moment), and it would be a fun Christmas present to have for kids to show off to friends and family.

A Happy Smiley Ava                                                                                                                   Happy to be posing for Mummy’s pictures….

Would I buy it myself? I thiiink so. I really like it, Ava really likes it, but it is quite expensive for a children’s toy, so it would have to be a Christmas or birthday present and I would keep stalking Amazon to see if it ever went any cheaper.

We were sent the Barbie Colour-Change Bag to review, but all thoughts, opinions and magical imaginings are my own.

{ 1 comment }

My First Yoga Class

October 24, 2014

Yoga pose by the seaSource

On Monday evening I went to my first ever yoga class. I’ve been wanting to go to a proper yoga class for a while now but I hadn’t been able to find one that was at a time I could attend. I’ve recently been to a couple of Pilates classes at my local leisure centre, and whilst they were quite good they weren’t exactly what I wanted. I was looking for a class that was very relaxing as well as being good for the body and taken quite seriously. The pilates class wasn’t really taken that seriously (that’s fine but not what I was after) and obviously being a leisure centre the facilities aren’t the best.

The yoga class on Monday was brilliant. It was exactly what I wanted. It was at my local gym (that I have just joined), they have a designated yoga room, the teacher holds yoga retreats abroad, there was proper yoga-type music, dimmed lighting and ohmming and everything. I felt very chilled out, despite being at the front and centre of the class (worst nightmare – but it was actually fine once the lights were dimmed and we focused on our mats).

cat yoga

Cat Yoga

I’m so happy I have found a class that I love, and I’m actually looking foward to going again on Monday. Of course, it’s still hard making myself go out into the cold, dark and quite often rainy night when I could be snuggled up at home, but it’s a lot easier when it’s for something good. I actually did feel more relaxed after my class and less head-spinny than usual, and if something can tame my crazy active mind then I will be a very very happy bunny. And if I get the best yoga-bod you have ever seen as a nice side-effect, then I won’t complain either.

Do you do yoga? If so has it helped you to relax? Do you attend a class or just do it at home? Let me know; I love chatting yoga.

You can follow my Yoga board on Pinterest here.

{ 0 comments }

The Nixon Watch

October 21, 2014

Nixon Watch

For my thirtieth birthday I got this beautiful Nixon watch. It is a beautiful rose gold with a pale pink face that I love. To me it is classy and sleek-looking but because of the simple design I think it will be to my taste for a long time; I’m so happy with it. It costs £170 from asos, but I ordered it when there was a 25% off code which made it much better. It is the most expensive watch that I have ever owned and I wouldn’t have got it if it wasn’t my thirtieth birthday.

When I was a child I always wore a watch, but as I have got older I seem to go through stages of wearing one for a bit and then forgetting about it. But I am loving wearing one again now I have this. I think it adds something to an outfit and obviously it can be quite useful.

I have liked some of the Michael Kors watches for a while but I could never afford them; but I actually prefer the simplicity and style of the Nixon watch. I had also never heard of the Nixon brand until I came across them on asos, but now I am seeing them everywhere. They do some lovely, slightly cheaper leather-strapped one’s too. I do like this black one:

Nixon watch with leather strap

Do you have a special watch or do you have a favourite watch brand? Or do you not wear a watch at all?

{ 0 comments }

Heart of Berries

Source

For the last couple of years I’ve been getting more and more into health, and thinking about what we use and put into and on our bodies. I’ve always cared, but the more I find out, the more I want to know and do to help my family and I live long and healthy lives.

I think it probably all stemmed from when Ava was born and started eating solid food and I was suddenly responsible for feeding another human being and thinking about what I was putting into her tiny little belly and how it might affect her.

When you start to be interested in health and wellness it quickly becomes quite ovewhelming; all the different advice about what we should and shouldn’t be eating, is organic important, are saturated fats bad or not, is brown rice and pasta better for you than white; and I have read arguments for both sides of all of these. It is very hard to know what and who to trust and really I think you just have to try and do the best you can with what you have, minimise processed foods, minimise sugar, eat a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables and don’t deprive yourself of the thing you really want. I generally try to follow these things, drink lots of water, enjoy some wine, eat natural foods and get as much goodness into our diets as possible. I also take quite a few supplements to top me up with the things I think I am lacking or to try and help with a problem I have (Magnesium for migraines and to help with sleep for example).

For Ava we make sure she has a home-cooked dinner almost every night, gets lots of vegetables, plenty of water (it’s actually all she’ll drink), and as healthy snacks as possible. I am not particularly strict about unhealthier treats like chocolate or ice cream, especially if we are out or at someone’s house, especially if we are indulging too; but she still has them very rarely (hence we still have lots of her Easter eggs left!). I choose the best toddler snacks that are available (and do try to make my own healthy snacks, but it doesn’t happen often), with as few ingredients as possible, and at home try to offer healthier options.

I try to incorporate healthy bits into our life without it making things too difficult or inconvenient (especially as the boy generally can’t be bothered with me telling him how bad something is for him). I just get very worried hearing about the horrible and scary ingredients that are in a lot of our foods nowadays and the diseases that they are linked with, and I want to do the best for my family and for me. I have quite a few health issues and I want to help myself the best I can through my diet and exercise.

So, on that note, here are a few of my favourite ‘healthy things’ from the last month or so…

Coconut Oil: There are so many health benefits to Coconut Oil. I’ve used it for quite a while now; I use it as an oil to cook with, on my hands to help with eczema, as a body moisturiser, as a nappy rash cream on my daughter (it works amazingly well for this and you don’t have to worry about nasty ingredients) and for her eczema when she had it, and I ingest some every day to get the health benefits. I also put some in my lovely green smoothies. I love that I can scoop a spoonful out to put into a frying pan and rub whatever is left on the spoon into my hands and arms! My favourite is Lucy Bee’s Coconut Oil that I get from amazon.

Wheatgrass Powder: After my morning cup of warm lemon water and before my breakfast I have a shot of wheatgrass powder in water. Wheatgrass has loads of nutritonal benefits and although some people hate the taste and say it tastes like pond water, I think it’s fine, and even if it tasted awful I’d still drink it for the benefits. I have never actually had any fresh Wheatgrass juice, (I will as soon as I get the chance) which is the best kind to have as it is freshest; but for convenience and cost the powder is great. We also add the powder to our smoothies for extra goodness.

 I Quit Sugar For Life book by Sarah Wilson: I didn’t buy this book to learn how to quit sugar; but because it looked like an interesting read, with some good, simple recipes and because it’s always good to have less sugar. I love it, there’s loads of interesting bits to read, lots of great recipes of which I’ve already made quite a few (that never happens!), great healthy snack and breakfast idea’s and brilliant ways to make healthy options fit into your everyday life. We both particularly love the Chocolate Coco-nutty clusters – I have made them a few times and although I haven’t found them that easy to get right cooking-wise, when I do they are amazing and we love them as a healthy evening snack. I almost didn’t get a look in once the boy found them.

eat less sugarSource

Green Smoothies: A couple of months ago I discovered the Breville Blend-Active Personal Blender which I think is like a much cheaper version of the NutriBullet. The Breville Blender is only around £24 and it is bloody brilliant. One of the main things I love about it is that you make the smoothie in the same cup that you drink it from so all you have to wash up is the cup, its lid and the blade. It’s so easy to use and unlike my juicer (which I do love), load of different things can be thrown in to get loads of healthy stuff in there. In mine I tend to put coconut oil, wheatgrass powder, maca powder, chia seeds, flaxseed, fresh lemon juice, frozen spinach, banana, a bit of water or coconut water and sometimes a few berries if we have some. We both have smoothies a few times a week and the boy often takes his to work with him and then uses the large cup to have water in all day, which I think probably increases his water intake too!

Breville Blend-Active BlenderSource

Pilates: I have recently been going to a Pilates class at my local leisure centre, and I have been quite enjoying it as well as the aching of muscles deep inside that I didn’t know I had the next morning. At the time it doesn’t feel like you are doing a lot but I can definitely feel it the next day and I like that it feels gentle and relaxing while you are doing it. The only thing is, the class I attend is not taken too seriously and I really want to do a Pilates or Yoga class where peace, quiet and relaxation is the focus so that I can relax and unwind as well as tone my body. I am hoping to join my local gym where they have a dedicated room for Yoga and a teacher who regularly travels to India and has her own Yogi! I wouldn’t normally join an expensive gym, but it will actually cost less than two classes a week at the leisure centre and I can go to classes, and use the gym, swim and sauna. I do fancy a day of relaxing yoga, a sauna, jacuzzi, swim and maybe a chance to read a book afterwards in the cafe; sounds bloody amazing to me!

 Do you do anything in particular to stay healthy? Do you have any easy little tips that you use to add some health into your daily routines? Please tell me about them in the comments, I love stuff like this!

 

Mums' Days

{ 5 comments }

Pampers and UNICEF '1 pack = 1 vaccine' campaign

As a new parent we have lots of firsts to look forward to; first steps, first words, first smile; and our biggest worry is that we won’t be there to experience them when they happen.

My daughter saw her first ever snow when she was just over a month old. We had inches of it and I put her in a gorgeous fluffy white snow suit. It was a very small one but it was still massive on her; her arms only came halfway down the soft puffy sleeves and she looked like a big squidgy marshmallow. It was so so cute. Her Daddy, Ava and I went out into our garden for a few minutes and took some photos, but it was far too cold to stay out for long. Another day we went out for a little bit into the snow with A’s Granny and Grandad and wrote her name in the snow. It was really lovely being out in the snow with my snuggly, warm little bundle and sharing her first ever snow with her.

A's first snowAva’s first snow

The first time Ava crawled and walked were very special. We were very lucky to both be there for both of them. The first time she crawled we were both there encouraging her across the floor and the first time she walked properly was Christmas Day!!! She had taken a couple of very tentative steps a couple of days before, and then on Christmas Day with her mummy and daddy and some more of her family there with her, and 8 days before her first birthday, she took a few proper steps. It was so emotional to see her walking for the first time and to share some of those first steps with family on such a memorable day made it even better.

Ava's first time on a beachAva’s first time on a beach

We were also both there the first time she uttered “I love Daddy” and “I love Mummy”. It was amazing hearing her say those special words, and even more incredible to share that special moment with each other. As parents, it is wonderful to experience our children’s first special moments and the memories will stay with us for a very long time. I feel so lucky as her mummy to have been there for all of Ava’s firsts and I am so grateful that she is a healthy little girl.

 Ava's first Christmas and the day she took her first stepsAva’s first Christmas and the day she took her first steps!

A healthy start in life makes all of these special first-time experiences possible; and we are very lucky that here in the UK we can expect that healthy start for our little one’s. But for many mothers and their newborn babies the reality is that they may not get the chance to enjoy these special moments. In 24 of the world’s poorest countries the threat of the deadly but entirely preventable Maternal and Newborn Tetanus still exists.

Since 2006 Pampers has worked with UNICEF, funding 300 million vaccines and eliminating the disease in 15 countries. But there are still babies in those 24 countries at risk. This year is the 9th ‘Pampers and UNICEF “1 pack = 1 vaccine”’ campaign, which allows expectant mothers to be vaccinated, protecting mums and their newborns against Maternal and Newborn Tetanus. For every view of this blog post, Pampers will donate the cost of 3 vaccines to UNICEF; so please please get sharing this post in as many places as you can. Together let’s make this my most viewed blog post ever. Let’s help save some lives and eradicate this disease. You can also help to donate even more vaccines by buying the specially marked packs of Pampers nappies for your little one.

To do even more you can watch the short video below that shows some first moments: for every view, like and share the video gets Pampers will donate a vaccine; so please watch, and like it and share it wherever you can!

Emma Bunton is also supporting this campaign for the second year running, and below is some footage of Emma’s recent trip to Madagascar; a country that has just announced its elimination of Maternal and Newborn Tetanus. Here she saw the incredible benefits of the support that this campaign has provided.

I am really happy to be involved in this important campaign and do a little something to help. I would really love and appreciate it if you could help me in getting as many vaccines as possible donated by Pampers (and you already have if you are reading this post :), by sharing this post on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and anywhere else you can; buying the special packs of Pampers for your little one; and watching, liking and sharing the video’s above. They are such easy things to do but really worthwhile.

Pampers and UNICEF '1 pack = 1 vaccine' campaign
Thanks so much.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

{ 1 comment }

Stratford-Upon-Avon Visit

September 29, 2014

P and A by the river

I was completely and utterly spoilt for my thirtieth birthday. I got thirty (THIRTY!) presents from the boy including a camera I desperately wanted but was sure I wouldn’t get. He kept it back until the very end and let me think he hadn’t bought it for me and then popped it out after I’d finished opening everything else. Actually writing that I’ve just realised I did the same thing with his playstation for his thirtieth earlier in the year! I was very snap happy for the rest of my birthday week (you get a week when you’re thirty). I was also completely spoilt by my family and friends and I think I actually got everything on my mammoth list! I celebrated my birthday with friends the weekend before, where we went for a meal and drinks and then ended up staying out really late and dancing the night away! It was perfectly unplanned and so much fun. Ava and I went for lunch with my Dad the week before and then had ice creams in the park. Then I went out for a meal with my close family on my actual birthday. I was made to feel very special and loved throughout all the celebrations and I didn’t want it all to end.

30th with PaulA and I on my thirtieth30th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 120

The day after my 30th birthday we left for a few wonderful days in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Just our little family. It was exactly what we all needed. We enjoyed gorgeously sunny weather, fresh air, ice creams (the best Mr Whippy I’ve ever tasted!), running around and playing on the grass, lots of meals out, and lots of wandering around the pretty streets and by the river; watching the boats and people and swans. It was perfect.
Swans30th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 86030th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 475Paul and Ava at the riverA&L running30th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 433Swan30th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 83030th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 42030th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 30830th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 19730th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 22830th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 21730th Birthday and Stratford-Upon-Avon 530-2

{ 2 comments }

YogaSource

With the summer coming to an end and the cooler, greyer months approaching fast it’s easy to lose the motivation for staying healthy and doing exercise like we tend to have in the warmer, brighter months of summer. I know last year after losing quite a bit of weight and getting fitter over the summer I struggled to make myself keep going through the winter and ended up doing very little and hence putting a bit of weight on and feeling worse about myself again. My body also stops craving the (albeit large) healthy salads, juices and lighter meals and longs for quick, warming, often unhealthy comfort foods. When I’m cold I want to eat and so apart from the grey days lowering my mood, I also feel worse because I am eating crap.

So this September and continuing through the freezing winter months I am determined to continue with my fitness routines, eat healthily as well as start some new things to make me feel even better mentally and physically.

Legacy Sportswear have set me a challenge to set four goals to try and improve my way of life and be the best version of me over the next month, which is exactly what I need as the cold, dull days start to greet us with their presence (winter is lovely in England!). So here are my health and fitness goals for the Legacy Challenge:

1. Attend a fitness class once a week. I really want to try a few new things; yoga, pilates and dance are all things I want to try and so this week I am going to start with Pilates at my local leisure centre. I want to start going to classes rather than just exercising at home so that I can make sure I am doing it properly, but more importantly for me to get some time out on my own once a week without my daughter, so that I can have some time for myself and not have to contend with a 2 year old clambering all over me whilst attempting to do a handstand. I have been intending to start going to classes for a while now, so this challenge with Legacy is just the push I need.

2. Yoga every damn day. Yoga again; I am determined to find some zen in my life! There is a hashtag on Instagram #YogaEveryDamnDay to inspire people to keep their yoga practice up and I love looking at everybody’s beautiful poses that I dream of being able to do one day. I find it hard to keep something up when I am not good at it straight away, so this is a mental challenge more than a physical one. I want to practice some yoga every day, even if it is just a few minutes trying one pose. I want to increase my flexibility, tone by body and my core, and relax my mind. And I really really really want to be able to do a perfect handstand.

3. Use my Acupressure mat every evening before bed. An acupressure mat is for relaxation and increased wellbeing. It can improve circulation, increase energy levels, relieve neck and back pain, reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep and relieve insomnia and improve skin complexion. Sounds magic huh? All of these things I need help with so spending at least ten minutes each night before bed on my mat is definitely a sensible idea. Even if all it does is help me to relax before bed then it is a positive change that could make a big difference to my life. I really struggle to get to sleep and I also suffer from migraines and I really feel this could help. Since I got my mat for my 30th birthday almost two months ago I have used it twice; mainly because I have kept it down the side of a chair and always forget to get it out. So I am determined to put it somewhere I will remember to use it or get in such a routine with it before bed that I would never forget. I used it last night and I will definitely be dragging it out tonight.

4. Drink lots of water consistently. I am generally quite good at drinking water; it is pretty much all I drink apart from hot drinks and wine. But a lot of days I don’t drink enough throughout the day and I am very inconsistent with drinking plenty all day errrday. Drinking lots of water makes me feel much better and it helps keep my skin clearer, which is a big thing for me at the moment.

So they are my challenges for the next month and hopefully beyond! Wish me luck!

Legacy is kindly offering my readers a 30% discount on all of their clothing, so get browsing here. Use the code birdsandlilies30 at the checkout. I love the bright royal blue sports bra and the training vest in neon pink.

#LEAVEYOURLEGACY

This post was written in collaboration with Legacy Sportswear, but all thoughts and ideas are my own.

{ 2 comments }

ilumi gluten free food

ilumi provide the widest range of naturally gluten-free prepared meals on the market. They are also nut and milk free and contain all locally sourced ingredients.

ilumi’s mission is to create delicious, colourful, deeply flavoursome foods that their customers can trust, to make them accessible and convenient, and to spread the word about eating for wellness to the wider community.

We were asked to try an evening meal from ilumi that was delivered to us at home. We chose to try the Mediterranean menu from the range.

ilumi gluten free mealsilumi gluten free soupilumi gluten free mains

You can either microwave or cook each meal on the hob so it only takes a few minutes to prepare which means they are super convenient and quick and easy. They are great for when you don’t have much energy or time to prepare a healthy meal but you don’t want to resort to an ready meal full of bad ingredients.

We tried:
Pea Pancetta and Mint Soup
Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
Basil and Garlic Chicken Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Mediterranean Style Rice with Pork and Chorizo
Peppery Tuscan Style Beef Stew
Spanish Style Fish Stew
White Long Grain Rice

Overall we thought the meals were really nice, especially for the ease and the fact that they are gluten, nut and milk free. We both liked the Mediterranean Style Rice with Pork and Chorizo best; it had lots of flavour and plenty of meat in it. The boy didn’t really like the fish stew (I thought it was pretty fishy but ok) and the beef stew was very peppery but I think that was just a matter of taste. The boy was very surprised at the quality of beef in the stew; he said it was very good. The soups were also nice and you could definitely taste the mint in the Pea Pancetta and Mint Soup which I was surprised and pleased about. All the meals had plenty of taste and we enjoyed them.

The main courses are mostly £2.75 or £3.75 each and the rice is £1 (with free delivery in the UK) which we both thought was very good value for a convenient, healthy meal, and especially if you are gluten-free and find it hard to find healthy easy meal options. For us the gluten-free aspect was just a bonus but ilumi is a great option if you are gluten-intolerant.

All of the meals come in space-saving pouches which means they don’t need refrigeration; so they are really handy to have in the house for when you need something quick to eat.

ilumi gluten free

ilumi also do meal plans for either 7, 14 or 28 days where you get your three meals a day plus snacks delivered to you and you get to choose which meals you would like from the options. I think this is a great idea for someone who wants to see whether they might be affected by gluten and wants to try being gluten-free for a week or so but doesn’t want to have to read packets and try to work out what they can and can’t have for every meal. The meal plans start at £44.99 for 7 days.

Going gluten-free is believed to lead to a reduction in bloating, clearer complexion and increased energy so it is worth a try if you think you might be affected by it, and apparently that’s quite a few of us; 1 in 5 of the UK population is actively avoiding gluten.

Would I buy it myself? Yes, if I was gluten-free or wanted to try being gluten-free for a period of time to see if I felt better.

We were sent an evening meal to try from ilumi, but all thoughts and opinions are mine or the boy’s.

Family Fever

{ 8 comments }