I can see through the glass!

So on Thursday this week I had something very exciting happen – I had our oven professionally cleaned!!!

Bless my poor husband, for weeks he’d been saying he’d do it, and so in our cupboard sat our box of Oven Pride and continued to sit for some time.

IMG_3491
Oh look, there’s the Oven Pride… in the cupboard… at the back…

But after a full week at work, the last thing he’d want to do was clean the oven, especially as Oven Pride is so caustic you can’t do it with the children around.

So in the meantime I saw on Facebook that my friend had had her oven cleaned and it looked lovely, so I got the details from her and booked in our oven with David Letchford of Oven Clean Dartford – he personally no longer seems available, but Oven Clean is a franchise, so you can check their general website here!

I will let the photos do the speaking for me!

06 Oven Six
Oh my goodness – you can see through the glass!!!
08 Oven Eight
You can see the tiles through the door!!!
01 Oven One
So shiny!!!
02 Hob Two
Ok, the photo on the left makes us look gross, but hey it’s clean now!
05 Oven Five
Look – the metal racks are so clean!
12 Oven Twelve
Looks like new!
04 Oven Four
The racks are silver now, not brown!
07 Oven Seven
Such a difference!
03 Hob Three
Looking good!
09 Oven Nine
Now that’s what you call clean!
10 Oven Ten
From gross to lovely!
11 Oven Eleven
Could actually use the hotplate now!

As you can see David did an amazing job, he was also very polite and professional! He was even kind enough to do the metal baking tray meant for the big oven, which had accidentally got left out (I didn’t blame this on my husband… I didn’t… ok, I did!) when I ran out to him when he was about to leave.

For my double oven and hob – including the racks and baking trays – it cost £90.

I would highly recommend him if you want a professional, efficient and fab cleaning job done on your oven – mine looks like new!

If you like this post, please feel free to share, comment and like! I’d much appreciate it!

🙂 xxx

 

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Did they find Jo’s trousers?

So on Tuesday 19th May I got to attend a very exciting media launch in London’s beautiful Hyde Park, courtesy of Helen of HelBels who managed to get me invited along for which I cannot thank her enough!!! I also got to meet the lovely Adele – find a link to her blog here

Hyde Park, Helen and Adele
Hyde Park, Helen and Adele

The media launch was for the Run It campaign by Join In.  It was the first time I have ever attended an event of this kind and I was super excited, probably a bit over excited to be honest!

Courtesy of Join In. https://www.joininuk.org/run-it/
Courtesy of Join In. https://www.joininuk.org/run-it/

So what is Join In? I hear you cry, well I will tell you (even if you didn’t actually cry out or haven’t clicked on the very helpful hyperlinks above! ;-))  Join In are a charity whose mission is to encourage people to volunteer and help support their local sporting groups.  It is a London 2012 legacy charity (thank you very much the Olympic games :-)) which is funded by government grant and their official partners BT and Intersport.

The Run It campaign, to put it simply, is to get more people volunteering specifically in the area of running! Be it for informal running groups (e.g. Parkrun), athletics teams or marathons.  None of these events would be able to take place if it weren’t for people volunteering to help out – in whatever capacity that they are able to – marshalling, coaching, painting the club house, making sandwiches, taking subs… literally, the possibilities for volunteering are endless and make such a huge difference!!!

Who is this half person?
Who is this half person?

This was an amazing first event to attend, even though I personally have nothing to compare it to, I felt it was a very friendly, sociable and inclusive group.  It was fun and informative.  After initially arriving and milling around meeting people and saying “hello”, receiving our very lovely purple Join In t-shirts, there was an introductory few words from Join In’s Director of Sport and former 5km world record holder David Moorcroft.  He brought across just how important volunteering is and one sentence which really sticks in my head is “If you love running, help others run”

David Moorcroft - "If you love running, help others run"
David Moorcroft – “If you love running, help others run”

Supporters of the campaign, who were in attendance, were 10,000m 2014 European Championships Gold medal winner Jo Pavey (a massive inspiration to me!) and second fastest British female runner over a marathon Mara Yamauchi – both again highlighted just how important it is to have volunteers in the sport, without volunteers neither of the them would have had the amazing sporting careers and achievements that they do!

 Jo Pavey is supporting 'Run It' a campaign from charity Join In to put more volunteers into grassroots running. For more information visit joininuk.org/run-it

Jo Pavey is supporting ‘Run It’ a campaign from charity Join In to put more volunteers into grassroots running. For more information visit joininuk.org/run-it

After the initial chat, we couldn’t go to a running based media launch without actually doing any running could we?  So we ventured outside, where fortunately for us the weather held out! Here I got to do the most exciting thing which was take a photo of Mara Yamauchi and Jo Pavey together, for Mara on her camera!!! I hope it was in focus!!! Slightly overawed!

So our warm up was led by Carlos from Intersport – this *ahem* gentle warm up  was quite intense for the likes of me your amateur jogger, but was good fun! Then we headed off on a 5km run around Hyde Park – I kept at the back with Helen and a few others and the ’35 minute pace setter’.  There was a couple of people marshalling (see – good examples of volunteering!) but somehow Helen and I managed to get a bit lost and we’re positive we did about 5.5km – but hey ho whatever I WON!!! No – not like that, I was never gong to beat the likes of Jo Pavey was I? – What I did win was a fun little competition. We had to guess how long it would take us to run the 5km, I said 00:34:30 and it took me 00:33:57 – so only 33 seconds out and the closest guess! Go me!!! So I won the bragging rights there – I know how slow… I mean how fast I am!!! 😛

Helen and I after our 5.5km... :-P
Helen and I after our 5.5km… 😛

Afterwards I got to chat with David Moorcroft, who is lovely and friendly, and I mentioned my interest in running – and volunteering – and it’s ability to help those of us with mental health issues.  He introduced me to Will – who discussed with me Hidden Diamonds – Uncovering the True Value of Sport Volunteers.  It is quite overwhelming the difference that volunteering can make – not only to a community but to individual people. In some cases it can be literally life changing!

Volunteering Boosts Happiness and Wellbeing
Volunteering Boosts Happiness and Wellbeing

Right at the end we did get a few minutes to say “Hi” to Jo and we quickly discussed kids and running, but her taxi had arrived and she needed to go, but she was kind enough to have a photo taken with me.

Jo Pavey and me (looking slightly overexcited)
Jo Pavey and me (looking slightly overexcited)

All in all – it was a brilliant event and I am so pleased that Helen was able to take me along.  It’s definitely made me consider volunteering again soon – at the moment my aim is to volunteer at Parkrun each time I complete 10 runs – I’ve currently run 16 so only 4 more and time to volunteer again.  The whole thing is brilliant, as volunteering inspires people to run and vice versa, this leads on to making friends and becoming part of a network of people and the running community.

Now before I sign off, you may be wondering about the posts title, well as we were getting ready to leave Jo was asking the event organisers if they’d seen her black trousers – as like most of us she’d layered up and worn other trousers over her running ones as it was quite chilly, so one of the last things I heard before I left was “has anyone found Jo’s trousers?” and indeed I still don’t know… 😛

There are currently 4,000 opportunities to volunteer on the Join In website – go look now – watch the video – be inspired!!!

Summary of contact details for Join In and their Run it campaign

Website Join In – https://www.joininuk.org/
Website Run It – https://www.joininuk.org/run-it/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/joininuk
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/joininuk
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/JoinInUK
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/joininuk/

Also, if you’re looking to setup a club Join In can help with that too! Check out Club Hub!

Thank you for reading – please like, comment and share this post – it’s so important to keep getting the message out there! Let’s get more people volunteering! 🙂 xxx

Some images courtesy of https://www.joininuk.org and the rest are my own

So you’ve decided to be an OU student…

Firstly – well done you!!! You’ve some exciting times ahead!!!

IMG_2491

I’ve been studying my first module (TU100 My Digital Life) with the Open University (OU) since 31st Jan 2015 and one thing I wish I’d come across was an advice list in the few weeks before I started my course! There probably is one out there somewhere – but in the event there isn’t, or like me you’ve not managed to find one – I’ve put together a list of the sorts of things I wish I’d known, from the position of a newbie, nothing scary I promise, just hopefully some advice that will help at least one other person feel a bit more prepared on their new learning adventure!

1. Be organised!!!

2. Take advantage of Freshers week – you’ll be sent emails about them – I didn’t have time leading up to starting, with two young kids and finishing the last few weeks at work I didn’t get the chance to enjoy what was on offer!

3. Take a look around the OU site as soon as you have your log in details – set up your email, your google apps, check out the forums – there’s an early bird forum which I’m sure would be useful! The OU library has a wealth of information (check out Harvard referencing – trust me! This is the referencing style the majority of OU courses use, but do double check, just in case!) I didn’t do this so literally spent the first week or two chasing my tail – trying to setup all these things, read all the paraphernalia emailed to me and the sites that are suggested you look at whilst trying to study my first session and get used to learning again – I ended up feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondering what I’d let myself in for! It worked out in the end, but if I’d been a bit more prepared things might not have felt so manic!

4. Be organised!!!

5. I got all my stationary and study supplies together early (asked for the majority for Christmas – exciting I know, but it was practical!) I got:
Folders
Lever arch files
File dividers
Biros
Highlighters
Fine liners
Post it notes
Pads of A4 lined paper
A year planner – highly recommend this – I put the coloured sticky dots to show me when Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs) needed to be submitted by and the dates of the ‘school’ days – more on these shortly! I programmed these into my phone calendar too!
A week planner – this is a magnetic one, which is on my fridge, but I’ve not been so great at using this one! Oops!
A pencil case
A ruler
A calculator
A headset – this is useful for any online tutorials that your tutor might provide.

The majority of items were purchased from Amazon and some bits from my supermarket – which in this case is Morrisons (they do erasable highlighters – this made me way more excited than it should, but I have a thing for stationary! What can I say!?!)

6. Prepare your family and friends – this is going to take up quite a bit of your time (I’m sorry to say, probably more than you think) – have an idea in your head of when you are going to do your studying and try and stick to it.  I’m currently aiming to make sure I don’t study on Friday evenings so I can spend sometime with my husband and watch a bit of crap telly (I cannot tell you how grateful I am that we have a 2TB Sky+ box and can Sky+ all our favourite programmes – we’ve got a lot of programmes to catch up on it’s ridiculous!) not quite there yet, but hopefully this will be reality soon!

7. I am not doing paid work currently whilst I am studying, instead I have a full time job with motherhood (the holiday plans and pay suck, but my co-workers are kind of cute) – I am lucky that one day a week my in-laws look after my kids – well mainly my Blue One as my Pink One is now at school – but I don’t know how I would have done my studies without their support.  The Blue One is also back with his childminder one day a week as she accepts the 15 hours from the government, so this covers the one day and gives me some additional hours left if I need them to complete an assignment – if like me you are a stay at home mum and studying and your child is 3, they are entitled to the 15 hours of free childcare the term after turning 3 – it’s worth looking into!  Those who work full time, have children and study – I am in awe of you, that’s amazing and I don’t know how you do it!

8. Did I mention be organised!?!

9. Connect – use social media – the Open University has a Facebook Page, Twitter Page and Instagram (these are the ones that I know of so far – there may be more) and I am also part of The Student Blogcast (which may be where you are already listening to this post) but if not check it out.  Connect with other OU students – it really helps you not to feel alone.
Once you are studying, make use of contacting your tutor, mine has been exceptionally helpful and they are great as your first port of call. The next is your Tutor Group Forum – really useful to know you’re not alone and these other people are in the same position as you.
Also, if you can, as you start studying, try and make the Tutorial ‘school’ days – this gives you the opportunity to meet your tutor in person and other people who are studying the same module as you and you can make some great friends.
Finally if you are feeling at the end of your tether be aware that the OU also have a nightline.

10. Be organised!!! I know I have joked all through this post about being organised, but for me this is the crux of the whole thing – work out how you want to record your notes and do your activities, for me my notes are typed and my activities I handwrite – unless otherwise stated – if you are not organised things will soon run away from you and you won’t be able to keep up – so focus, prepare and be organised!

Good luck with whatever you’re studying and feel free to contact me if you’d like! I hope you have enjoyed this post and it has helped you in some small way!

Also, don’t worry if you do fall behind a little, life happens – the OU will help you in everyway they can.  Finally it is perfectly normal to procrastinate no matter how organised you are – what do you think I am doing right now!?!

What would you have liked to have known prior to starting your studies – or what do you wish to know before you start? Comment below – or email me (You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!)

As I included some topical lyrics in my last Student Blogcast, I thought it was only fitting I do the same again here so this time we have some words from the Beatles

“Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone, help

When I was younger so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind I’ve opened up the door

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me”

Please like, comment and share this post – it would be much appreciated!

🙂 xxx

Find the audio blog post here

50 things that make me happy 

I thought the blog post by Love From Clueless Mum was very inspiring, so thanks to her (and her inspiration mr and mrs t plus three) here’s my list, in no particular order, of 50 things that make me happy…

1. My children when they play nicely together – the laughter is lovely to hear even if I’m thinking at the back of my mind “this is probably going to end in tears!”

Having Fun!
Having Fun!

2. Taking photos – my Nikon D60 was my first baby, it was bought the October the year before the Pink One was born – I love taking photos, I take far too many, and when I find time I like to put my favourite ones on Redbubble – you can find my images here and I’ve written a post on some of my photography which you can find here.

3. Singing – it is a great stress reliever, I am a member of a choir too.  You can hear some of my singing on YouTube if you wish and I have also sung on some of my audio blog posts

4. Studying with the Open University – it’s been one of the most challenging things I have done, but also very rewarding and opened up other opportunities I could never have foreseen

Studying
Studying

5. Beautiful blue skies on a cold crisp winter day

6. Running – as an anxiety sufferer this has been great for my mentality and the subject of my first ever blog post! It’s even more enjoyable when I go with friends – Helen and Kay have been marvellous at supporting and encouraging me.

Running
Running

7. Big family gatherings

8. Seeing a Robin redbreast – it just feels significant to me

9. Seeing my friends succeed – that in itself is inspiring

10. Seeing my Social Media presence grow

11. Blogging – when you finish a particularly good post (in your opinion) and it’s taken quite a lot of work, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as hitting publish

12. Reading someone else’s blog and thinking what a fab post (and realising it’s not just me! Lovely not to feel alone especially when it comes to this parenting malarkey!)

13. My 100 Days Style Challenge (especially painting my nails!!!) – which I will be writing a separate post on (at some point! So much going on – need more hours in the day!!!) – but I was inspired by Kat Henry (links to her Blog and Instagram) who in turn was inspired by Kathryn (links to her Blog and Instagram) – amazing women!

14. Nights out with my mummy friends that I have known since the birth of the Pink One

15. Writing down the funny things my children say or mispronunciation of words – these are currently on my phone, but I am gradually transferring them into a book which I am handwriting that they can have when they grow up! (think I have about 2 years worth to write up for both of them!!! haha!!!)

16. Sitting on the sofa with my hubby and watching some crap TV or a film

17. Actually managing to go on a date night or day with my hubby

18. As much as I love my kids nothing brings a smile to my face as to when they go for a sleepover at nanny and granddads!!!

19. Getting an assignment for the OU submitted

20. Getting the result of assignment back (when it’s a good one!)

21. Starting and finishing a creative project that I’ve seen on Pinterest, or come up with myself, even if it takes me a over a year!!! One example I blogged about you can find here!

See I am creative!
See I am creative!

22. Seeing my kids facing when they see the birthday cake I have made for them, regardless of the sleepless night and tears that have gone into it… I’ve posted blogs about the Pink Ones cake and the Blue Ones cake and the amazing Sister who helps me!

Yummy! Cake!!!
Yummy! Cake!!!

23. Christmas – we love this festive season as a family and we probably go overboard, but the expressions on the kids faces makes it all worth while

Yay! Christmas!
Yay! Christmas!

24. The fact my Blue One is out of nappies during the day!

25. Getting to have one-on-one time with each of my children

26. When you email a company and they are actually very helpful – in the latest instance Sistema, the makers of the water bottles we use, I let them know that even with careful cleaning the bottles lids smelt of stagnant water and they posted me some new lids with no fuss whatsoever

27. My self designed tattoo – a tribute to my kids, if you look in the wings you can see their first initials A and a J – this is on my left thigh and I love it! Again, I designed it and then waited a year before I had it done. It was actually a major stepping stone in my struggle with anxiety!  What really helped was my phenomenal tattoo artist! I had it done at Jesters Tattoos in New Eltham, and my artist was Manda!

My Tattoo!
My Tattoo!

28. Getting an unexpected compliment

29. When my husband takes holiday time off work – love us all being together as a family (and it means its not just me telling the kids off)

30. When the kids do something the first time I ask – I also think this would make me faint as it does not happen often (if at all)!!!

31. When Stephen Amell personally liked a Facebook message I posted to him!!!

32. The smell of clean washing

33. Warm sunny days where you can just be lazy

34. The ‘dates’ I have with my Blue One in the Morrisons café – used to do this with my Pink One as well before she started school.

35. Getting a good bargain – regardless of what it is I am buying – it could be cleaning products to some lovely new clothes – a bargain is a bargain!

36. Watching my children sleep (they can’t answer me back when they are asleep) they look so angelic

Ahhh, sleeping angels...
Ahhh, sleeping angels…

37. The look on my Pink One’s face when she got a note from the Tooth Fairy for her first lost baby tooth (you can see the tinyletter in the photo of them sleeping above)

38. My kids excitement when Father Christmas has been

39. Developing my logo/brand for Jog on Mum

40. Having a lie in

41. Getting breakfast in bed

42. Getting my hair cut and coloured – I love it so much and afterwards I feel like me again! I have the best hairdresser!

43. Hearing my children say “I love you mummy, you’re the best” – I may not actually be the best mummy but to them I am so that’s all that matters! *grumble* *moan*

44. My tummy not being bloated and uncomfy at the end of the day – blooming IBS, still not great and I have  been following a low FODMAP diet since February!!!

45. A long hot shower without my small people for company (also in that line, going to the loo on my own too!)

46. Snow days with the kids

47. Days out at Brighton with the family, walking on the pier, playing dolphin derby and eating hot doughnuts! My hubby proposed to me on Brighton pier so it’s extra sentimental to me!

48. A lovely hot cup of tea – not one that has been reheated in the microwave for the umpteenth time, or left in there, or half drunk in a rush in the morning, one that you can savour as you watch some TV, read a book or are reading a particularly good blog post – ahhhh, bliss! Sometimes it really is the little things in life – the thought of this is just making me smile!

A hot cup of tea - bliss!!!
A hot cup of tea – bliss!!!

49. Looking through all my photos and videos (particularly ones of the kids) I could lose hours if not days to doing this!!!

50. People reading my blog, liking it and getting comments!!! It’s definitely a good ego booster!!! 🙂

It’s been nice to write a positive improve your mood kind of post, and 50 is quite a large number, really makes you think and sometimes you’ll be surprised that it really is the little things in life that make you happiest – such as that hot cup of tea or the sound of your children laughing – what would be on your list?

Comment below and please share this post – it would be much appreciated!

🙂 xxx