#Blogtober 2016 – Day 22: My Biggest Accomplishment

This is so subjective, isn’t it? What one person considers an accomplishment, someone else might take for granted completely. For some people, sometimes, just managing to get out of bed and take a shower is an accomplishment. And I think we should acknowledge that! It is important to celebrate achievements, both big and small.

For me, a small achievement recently has been to manage to juggle my time effectively to find more time for myself as well as everything else! I used to be really bad at this but now I understand the importance of doing so.

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Graduation Day

In terms of bigger accomplishments, I am proud that I achieved a first degree BEd at university. But then again, I am equally proud of myself for going against the grain by leaving the system, adapting my lifestyle and choosing to home educate in order to meet my daughter’s individual needs. I wonder if I would have made the same decision if I had not been a teacher though? Funny how life works out!

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 21: What Am I Afraid Of

Argh… I’m behind on blogtober, other blog posts, Project Green Challenge and general life! so I am going to keep this one really short, and cheat a little…

I think the thing I am most afraid of is the same for the vast majority of parents, especially carers of children with SEND, but no doubt most parents in general. Aside from that, my less deep and more silly fear was covered on a previous blog post so you can find the answer here!

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 20: 5 Things About Hertfordshire (Visitor Attractions, Days Out, Things To Do)

Hertfordshire has a wealth of parks, nature reserves, conservation areas and other beautiful outdoor spaces, important historical sites, major attractions, and other lovely places to go and things to do. It is just outside of London, with easy routes into the capital city, so that is also an added draw to the area.

I could easily pick far more than five things to mention but rules are rules, so here goes…

1. Roman Verulamium

St Albans is home to the ancient site of Verulamium, a large Roman town, features of which are still present today. There is a hypocaust with beautiful mosaics, Roman theatre (considered one of the best examples in the country), an award-winning museum, and even remains of the Roman wall within Verulamium park itself. There are also Roman baths in Welwyn. Great for history enthusiasts!

Other historical places in Hertfordshire include Berkhamsted Castle, Hatfield House, Celtic Harmony Camp  and Knebworth House.

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2. Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour 

Much of this world famous movie series was filmed at Leavesden, which is now home to the hugely popular WB studio tour. A must do for any Harry Potter fan. Film fans might be interested to know that Elstree studios and Pinewood studios are also nearby.

3. St Albans Abbey

This stunning cathedral is voted top by Tripadvisor for things to do in Hertfordshire. It has the longest Nave in England, bell tower, extensive medieval wall paintings and gorgeous glass painting, The Rose Window, unveiled by the late Princess Diana in 1989. People have been visiting the shrine of St Albans for over 1700 years and it is a national pilgrim site.

St Albans Clock Tower is also nearby.

4. Parks and Nature Reserves

There are plenty of beautiful outdoor spaces to visit in Hertfordshire. Some of the most notable places include Cassiobury parkVerulamium parkAldenham Country ParkAshridge estate and Fairlands Valley Park to name just a few.

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Cassiobury Park, Watford

5. Family Days Out

Paradise Wildlife ParkWillows Activity FarmNatural History Museum at Tring and Hatfield Aviation Museum are all popular days out within Hertfordshire, with many more nearby in neighbouring counties and London boroughs.

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Willows Activity Farm, St Albans

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 19: 10 Favourite Foods

Ok, my 10 favourite foods, meals and places to eat (in no particular order) are as follows:

1. Fruit and veg smoothies- not technically food but given I drink one daily for breakfast it made sense this would be at the top of my list! I generally throw in whatever fruit and veg we already have at home that needs using, rather than follow recipes. I also sometimes freeze fruit and veg bought from fresh if we have extra, so that it will be ok to use for longer- so that often gets chucked in too!

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2. Seeds- I love adding seeds to my smoothies, they are such a quick and easy way to pack in more nutrition. My favourites are chia seeds, hemp seeds and poppy seeds.

3. Bananas- my favourite fruit and my ‘go to’ snack when I need a boost.

4. Popcorn- once reserved for watching movies, this is now just an easy to grab late night snack for me!

5. Crisps- I try to avoid these, I really do. But they are my achilles heel! I generally go for red pringles or kettle crisps.

6. Vegetable stir fry- my favourite dinner at home. Noodles, brocolli, peppers, onions, beansprouts, carrots and any other veg we have thrown in, ideally made with coconut oil… yummy.

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7. The Green Kitchen– not a specific food, but a great place to eat delicious vegan food. Highly recommend.

8. Jacket potato with baked beans- I realise this is pretty boring, but I like it because is such a quick and easy meal to grab, so it’s going on my list regardless of how dull it is! 

9. Harvester – specifically the new beetroot and halloumi burger with sweet potato fries… SO tasty. 

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10. Ok, so this last one is the final reminiscent of old eating habits and goes against everything else for so many reasons, but I’m going to keep it real and include it anyway lol… salt and pepper chicken from the chinese take-away. I just can’t help it, I love it. Sorry, but it’s going to have to stay on my list! 

(And no, I don’t really have a sweet tooth… hence no cakes, biscuits or CHOCOLATE on my list… I know, strange but true!)

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 18: Zodiac Sign (and does it fit) 

I was born on 7th September, which makes me a Virgo. This is as far as I can get without doing any research, because it has been a long time since I read anything on this subject! So off to do a quick google search…

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Virgo zodiac symbol

Right, I am back! According to Wikipedia, this is me…

“Astrologers ascribe certain personality traits to a person born under the Virgo: people born under this sign are typically analytical, kind, hardworking and practical. According to astrologers, Virgos tend to worry often; they are shy and dislike being the center of attention. They are also known for being modest, faithful, quiet, and very persuasive, as well as a good sense of reasoning and memory. Virgos are also known for their intellect and usually enjoy art, literature, science, mathematics, and are skilled at completing detailed work.

In addition I also read that Virgos like to be clean and orderly, but are also flexible, helpful and stable. Virgo is also an earth sign; key characteristics being grounded and ‘real’, realistic and practical, stable and likes stability (not keen on change), dependable, materialistic and sometimes superficial.

 So, does this fit with my personality? Hmmm. No, not really. There are a couple of traits that I would say are accurate, some fairly indifferent and some that are most definitely not me. But I will leave you to guess which trait is which! lol 😉 

I would say I actually identify more with the traits listed for water signs; sensitive, emotional, intuitive etc… And incidently, I have never looked up my daughter’s zodiac sign, and, after reading all of the descriptions, I never would have guessed which she was without checking the dates to find out! 

I do feel that if you list enough vaguely descriptive words that people will choose to pick out the ones that fit, if they so wish. Or find those which don’t, as the case might be! I think in reality some traits will match any given person and some won’t, I don’t people fit neatly into any boxes. We are all unique individuals. And on the one hand, we are who we are… but on the otherhand, we can also change dramatically and evolve as we grow through life too. 

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 17: Favourite Concert Attended

Ooh, today is a great theme! Going to gigs is one of my very favourite things to do, I LOVE live music. I have enjoyed a wide variety of different gigs; from watching unsigned friends just starting out to seeing top international artists on sell out tours, from pubs to festivals, and from massive stadiums to tiny intimate venues (or sometimes even just in their living room!) 

My taste in music is quite varied, I will happily listen to (and dance to!) all sorts of music and would struggle to pick a favourite type. But in terms of live music specifically, I do particularly love indie rock/ rock bands. I love original bands but I really like good cover bands too, and there are also some brilliant tribute acts around! 

The most recent gig I went to was just last week, Kaiser Chiefs at New Slang Club in Kingston, London. I have been lucky enough to see them a few times now, and they never disappoint! They are one of my fave all time bands anyway, but they are certainly one of the best to watch live, they have so much energy and really connect with their audience, absolutely love them. Also, as much as I do love bigger concerts, I feel the intimate gigs are even better still, so this was a great venue too.

New album #StayTogether, favourite band, concert, blogtober, blogging challengeKaiser Chiefs

New album #StayTogether, favourite band, concert, blogtober, blogging challenge

Other particularly memorable music events I have attended include the 2004 Tsunami Benefit Concert in Cardiff, Live 8 at Hyde Park in 2005, and the absolutely amazing buzz of various festivals, especially Reading festival. 

In terms of smaller gigs, aside from my favourites the Kaiser Chiefs, I particularly enjoyed Feeder and Red Hot Chilli Peppers (which was actually a big venue but we were in a sectioned off area at the front so it felt intimate!) I also loved watching Bon Jovi UK recently, best tribute band I have ever seen. And there have been a few really good local cover bands at nearby music venues that have made for a great night out too! 

My first ever concert, I think, was Beautiful South with my mum. I remember they were supported by The Lightning Seeds and there was a technical hitch which meant their equipment suddenly stopped working after a couple of songs, so they gave up and walked off the stage! It was still a brilliant (and memorable!) night though.

Last but not least, the most iconic venue I have ever watched live music probably has to be The Viper Room in LA. I can’t even remember which band was playing the night we were there but it was a cool atmosphere.

Phew, I think that sums it up… not that it was a simple answer! But wow, so many AMAZING memories!!! 

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 16: Piercings and Tattoos

This post will be VERY short! I had my ears pierced when I was a young child but I stopped wearing earrings a long time ago so the holes have closed up. I have no other piercings and absolutely no tattoos! It’s not that I don’t like them full stop, not that it is any of my business what other people choose to do with their own bodies either way of course, but many are absolutely beautiful body art. I just don’t want to have any myself; I know I change my mind too often! 😉

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 15: Timeline Of My Day

For most people this is probably a really straightforward one but our lifestyle is abit different due to Squiggle’s needs. We tend to have very loose routines, which can be easily adjusted as required, rather than a tight schedule. We enjoy the freedom and flexibility that home education allows, to do things at our own pace and go with the flow when needed. This really helps Squiggle feel able to actually do more, without too much pressure. 

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Squiggle does have a very simple but fairly rigid evening routine though. We have dinner, tidy up, bedtime snack, brush hair, strokes with one of our cats, clean teeth and goes to bed. This is a routine that she has developed herself, to help her to feel ready to sleep. 

I have blogged about our home ed week before so this theme ties in with that. You can read more here. We love our lifestyle! 

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 14: Meaning Behind My Blog Name

I came up with my blog name because I felt it described our lifestyle and what my blog is about quite well. It really is exactly what we are doing on a daily basis; living life our way! 

I will be interested to read the inspiration behind other people’s blog names too!

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 13: What’s In My Fridge

Does anyone seriously want to read about what’s in my fridge? Hmmm, doubtful! So let’s make this a quick one! 

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Basically there is a selection of fruit and veg, potatoes, pure sunflower spread, violife vegan cheese, flaxseed, innocent smoothies (I make my own daily with a nutribullet using fresh ingredients, but Squiggle likes these so we sometimes buy them), condiments and almond milk. Oh and there may also be a few beer bottles tucked in the corner there too! 

We try to eat as much raw food as possible and we are also what is apparently known as flexitarians (and/ or reducetarians?) because we eat a primarily plant based diet and have mindfully reduced our consumption of meat, yet we are flexible about it. I would say we are about 90% vegetarian and 75% vegan. 

Squiggle has personally chosen not to eat meat from a young age, which is actually what initiated changes to my own diet in the first place, in order to respect her wishes and still accomodate both of our dietary needs. This later led to the further developments, both for our own health and the benefit of the environment. Prior to this I ate a reasonably healthy diet, but it did include far more meat and processed food, and less proper nutrition!

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