Saturday, November 21, 2015

What I miss about England...

Who wants to know a little more about me? Ok, i'll give you a little background of where I grew up and a few things that I really miss about home. 

Here is a cute little map I pinched from here that shows the location in England where I grew up from age 2. We are the little village just south of the center, called Biddenden. We lived in the county Kent which is South East England, not too far from Euro Tunnel or the Ferry port to France, Dover. It is a really beautiful part of England. London was about a 45 min drive, or roughly 1hr on the train to Charing Cross with all the stops.

Here is a sneaky peek view of the village. It's pretty much your quintessential Kent village and just as pretty as you might imagine. There is a couple pubs, a small shop, a couple gift style shops, hairdressers, a small fancy restaurant and a tea shop.
..and the home I grew up in:
My heart skips a beat when I see this picture. This was the picture used when they sold it. It was sold after I had moved to the US but I got to sneak back home and say goodbye. So many fun memories were made here. I can still hear the crunch of the gravel when we would run and play.  We had geese, ducks, ponies and a horse growing up, and our animals were treated as family. I mean, we literally named them after extended family members. Haha!!

 The Kent scenery surrounding my home is very much like this, this is an area called Tunbridge Wells and is about 20mins from where we lived:

 Greenery, hills and sheep. Lots of sheep. Haha!

Ok, so that was a sneaky peek into my childhood and where I grew up. I loved taking my children back and can't wait to go again. Maybe one day we will find our way back to live there. 
Doesn't hurt to dream.....right?

Now onto some of the things I miss:
  •  My mum. We are best friends and I wish she lived close by so we could stop by each others house for a chat, or if I was sick she could take the kiddos (who adore her), or if either of us needed something from the shops we could just pick it up for eachother, or go to the gym together etc. The little things. (obviously my siblings and family we miss bunches too...but i'd be here all day going through family members..)
  • My dad. His sense of humour and seeing him with his "grandlings" as he calls them. He also teaches them art when he is with them, and I love how they ooh and ahh when they see his drawings. (He's an artist, if you didn't guess.), and to watch him introduce him to the music he brought us up with. We were exposed to everyone genre, our home was never without music.
  • My friends. bestie since school days. We were inseperable despite being at different schools...yes, she used to visit me at school...BOARDING school. My mum would sneak her in to see me. Haha!
 This was home for me during term time.
  • The food. Ohhhh the food. I don't care what the rumours are, we do food well in England. Home cooked food is the best but even the takeaways are good. Indian food, Kebab shops and fish and chips! Yes.
  • Pubs. There is nothing like a good local pub for a ploughman's lunch and drink.
  • Walks in the woods with the family in coats and wellies.
  • I love the feeling of our villages, not seeing billboards and signs everywhere, it just seems a little quieter and peaceful. We definitely don't have superstores everywhere either, and I like that. I understand not everyone likes the country life, but I do, and I miss it. Convenience is overrated.
  • Chocolate. Trust me on this. It's SO good.
  • Traditions that I am familiar with. I have worked hard to understand the holidays and traditions here so that our children get the true American experience, but I'll always miss the way we did things back in England and I try to incorporate those in our life here. Including how I dress the children. I try to keep a little Britishness up here and there, even when I get some odd looks from people. It's my culture and i'm proud of it!
  • The television and radio. I do try to catch up with my favourites on You Tube!
  • London and the glory of it all. It's such a special city. If you haven't visited, you must. Seriously. There is so much history, culture, GOOD FOOD!!
Ok, well that's just a few things that I miss, there's a whole bunch more but I could be here for a while writing them all....I need to add, I do love living in the States with my family, and would love anywhere I lived if they were with me, but take a think about how you feel about your home. We may speak the same language, but we are different cultures altogether and sometimes it's still hard not to feel a little lost. I wonder about my children's accents if we lived back home, how they would sound, and how we all might live. I'm sure we all do this to an extent though.
Sorry for the nostalgia, but maybe it's helped you understand a little more of who I am and where I'm from. It was fun having a little blast from the past moment and to allow myself to think about home. A little homesickness and I vomit mushy words about England! Hahaha! Sorry!!!

Ok, this sap is signing off. Going to diffuse some JOY and get dinner ready!
Mum gets here Tuesday! Eeeeeeeeep!

Stay well ~xoxo

Friday, November 20, 2015

How to party (x3!) without the stress of over spending!

So we had a couple birthday's this summer...first it was the littlest's and he was turning the big ONE, my heart broke ever so slightly that day, my last baby was becoming a toddler...*sigh*. Then it was the twins 7th. Now this was the first year the twins had decided they didn't want a joint party. They had their own ideas and that was that.

So for the first birthday boy, we chose no actual theme. Haha! We just kept it plain and simple. He was pleased, so that was the main thing. I try to make most things myself to keep cost down, but there are certain things that actually cost less and save time when buying them premade. For instance, banners at target are $3 in Bullseye's deals spots. Mostly they come plain, so adding letters or numbers can be simple. You can even get those pre-cut letters/numbers they sell for poster boards. We had a bunch of scrap paper so it was most affordable to whip out the guillotine and cut up some triangles and print some letters out. Maybe not so profesh looking, but life with 5 children isn't always glam.

The cute cake was made by my mother in law. She traditionally makes their cakes, and this one was just perfect. Tasted awesome too! Again, i've seen some really ellaborate cakes in my time since being a mummy, where people have spent $$$, but again, this is not neccessary, unless it's something you are really into. A simple cake can be spruced up with accents so maybe spend less on the cake and add some cuteness with mini cake banners found here , or take inspo from these and make your own with paper straws and scrap paper. My mother in made cute little arrows with kebab sticks and scrap paper. So many options!

As for those Macarons...homemade if you please! *cue cheers and applause*. I used this recipe, the macaron recipe is at the bottom of the cake recipe, so just keep scrolling! I advise you to follow the recipe carefully, it's easy to mess up.

Ok, now onto partying with twins. Again, we kept it simple, but they loved it.  

Our son chose Harry Potter as his theme. We treated him to a cloak and glasses to make him feel the magic a little stronger. We actually went to the store together and he picked out the decorations he wanted so that it wasn't too scary. Haha! Luckily it was Halloween time of year and so we had the perfect time of year for this theme. Our daughter chose "tea party" to be her theme. She is girly pink sparkles through and through. Again we chose decorations together, and it was all rainbows and butterflies and she was the most excited about her sash and tiara. We used little banners she had for her bedroom at one point that I was holding onto in case we needed them, and they looked so cute as the backdrop. So sweet.
Again, the cakes were super awesome for the both of them and received lots of oohs and ahhs. So much cuteness!

 So remember next time you party, not everything needs to be new or bought! Remember the things you have tucked away, and keep it simple. The children won't remember the little details that you panic over, the little details they remember will be you celebrating with them. They will remember you being present, not the presents. Seriously, I can't think of a birthday that I remember all the little things that my mum did, I just remember her smile when they had turned the lights out and she was smiling behind glowing candles singing happy birthday, and I remember her making the dinner special and adding some cute birthday balloons to the kitchen. I just remember feeling special. Posting the perfect party to instagram isn't what it's about, so don't get caught up in that!! Oh, and remember, looks are deceiving, we didn't go crazy with the budget but mananged to make it look like we went all out. Camera angles help a whole bunch too! ;)

Happy partying!

Stay well. ~xoxo

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Containers: Glass VS Plastic

Hey friends! Still organizing the house over here. So lots of organizational things are on my mind today. I finally did something i've been meaning to do for years! I bagged up all our tupperware and threw it into the recycling dumpster at our local grocery store. It was exhilarating! hahaha! Ok, not quite, but almost.

Don't get me wrong here, I love containers...all sorts of containers. The container store is pretty much how I think heaven might look. However, we've learned over the last few years a few things about plastic, and came to the conclusion that for us, we would feel better replacing all tupperware with something safer. Glass. Oh, and bonus, glass looks so much prettier! haha!

So here are a few facts about plastic that you may or may not know:

{Some of the tupperware that got send to recycling! Byeeeee!}

  • There should always be a little triangle with a code on any plastic container you buy, this tells you what type of plastic it is. The numbers range from 1 through 7. {Food codes should always be 1, 2, 4 and 5. Number 3 is vinyl/PVC and PVC creates dioxin, a potent carcinogen(!) that affects humans, animals and the environment.  6 is polystyrene which can leach styrene, a known neurotoxin which can result in harmful health effects. and 7 could be a few different plastics, including polycarbonate (a harmful synthetic estrogen), bioplastic and acrylic. 3 and 7 might contain BPA (a BIG no no for foods/drinks, so make sure you check!!)}
  • Never reheat food in any kind of plastic or leave in a hot car etc where the plastic can be heated up. If you own any plastic that looks old/worn GET RID OF IT.
  • Recycle! But make sure you understand what you are recycling and that is accepted in your recycling bin. Different plastics sometimes have different rules!
  • I urge you to do some of your own research if any of this seems confusing or unlikely, there's a bunch of sites out there that discuss pros/cons plastics vs glass. 
OR, choose GLASS

We love the glass option as it doesn't need to be repurchased since it can be used over and over again. It doesn't dull or crack over time (unless you drop it!) You can use hot or cold without any effect on the container, but best of all? It isn't harmful to us or the environment!!

Does this sound biased?  haha! It's meant to. I am biased. I added up in my head the amount of times i've purchased new tuppaware because it's lost, lids are mismatched or the plastic has started to look a little worse for wear. We picked up a reasonable box of glass containers at Costco with pretty snap on lids {see pic: I believe it was called Pyrex Snap Ware and was priced super reasonably}. We may have to buy a couple more to have a complete collection, but that's it, no more re-buying, not to mention that my cupboards look so cute now. It's the simple things!

It's interesting how all the changes we seem to be making are going BACK in time, not forward. We are going back to simpler times. I've found that convenience often comes at a price and am learning that taking a few extra minutes is not only worth it, but beneficial and makes me feel
accomplished. now if only any of my grandparents were still alive, i'd be soaking up all their tips for housekeeping, and maybe even have pinched a couple of the cute old glass containers I remember sitting on my grandma's shelves. She used to keep her cake/trifle decorations in them, silver balls/sprinkles and nuts. Funny the things that stick with you.

So are you a plastic or glass fan? I can see the light weight of plastic being a plus, but the pros of glass for us won us over. I love that I can heat up any leftovers in the container they were stored in!

Anyways...It's nearly the weekend!! Friday is the weekend warm up, hope everyone has something fun planned. We are prepping for visitors as i'm sure many others are, and my mum flies in from England next week. Can.not.wait. That means date nights for husband and I and solo shopping trips for me and spending a couple mornings laying in as mum loves to have the kids all to herself. Will post some pics of the week i'm sure! For now, signing off.

Stay well!! -xoxo

Monday, November 16, 2015

Cleaning with thieves....*insert angelic music*

Today was cleaning day. FUUUNNNNNN! Who's with me? No? Oh.

But seriously, I actually enjoy cleaning, I enjoy it even more when the husband is on board and cleans with me. I just love knowing at the end of the day we will be able to sit down and have an at home date night with a sparkling house around us. Bliss.

So since we had thrown out a bunch of {toxic} cleaning products after doing some research on them, we had to start from scratch and make our own. We have been an oily family since February this year and slowly learning what works best, i'll be happy to share our findings with any of you. To say i've seen a difference in our overall wellness is an understatement.

As far as cleaning goes, my absolute go to oil has to be THIEVES. Oh my gosh, not only does this stuff smell divine but IT WORKS. No kidding.

I snapped a pic so you could see what i'm talking about. If you have never heard of it, seriously, you need to try it. It has replaced pretty much all of my cleaner/anti bac sprays. I use it for the whole house floors, kitchen countertops, bathrooms etc. and I diffuse this like crazy during the cold/flu seasons.

This product is made with 100% plant and mineral-based ingredients. So I don't hesitate to use this on and around the children either. It's perfect for the high chair messes and also I carry a spray in my purse for when we are out and about!

I invite you to do a little research yourself, google thieves vs popular home cleaners. See what you find? If you were as grossed out as I was then come back and ask me how you can make the switch! I won't just send you a link to buying the stuff, that's not my goal here, i'm here to help you make changes in your home, at a pace you prefer, that will increase wellness in your family, long term. This is a LIFESTYLE, not a product. A lifestyle we believe in whole heartedly. But keep in mind, this is something you need to study and learn about, understanding our bodies and our childrens bodies is part of this process. Learning the effects of the stuff we put around our family can be a little heartbreaking. I hated realizing the bubble bath, candles, lotions, cleaners etc I used to use in our home were poisoning them. That is not an exaggeration. I urge you to research.

A little graphic explaining a breakdown of the wellness side of thieves:

For those with the question "But isn't it expensive??".....No. It really isn't. Cost breakdown:

 {Thieves Household Cleaner is a concentrated product that you can use to make different 
solutions to replace almost all your cleaners under the sink right now! 
An all-purpose cleaner you would dilute 30:1 water to Thieves Household Cleaner. If you wondering how this breaks down cost wide it would be: One 64 oz bottle of Thieves Household Cleaner concentrate to make 128 30oz all-purpose spray bottles, costing roughly 88 cents per bottle.
 BUT, if you were interested in saving even more money I can help get you set up for Young Livings wholesale pricing which would bring your cost down to around 67 cents per bottle, 
while also saving on all their other AWESOME products.  
We use Young Living products daily and in confidence because of their seed to seal guarentee. 
Please, please do not hesitate to ask questions about the products, I'm happy to share all my knowledge because I truly truly back up this company. They are doing good things and have helped us on our journey to wellness, i'd love to get you started on yours!! }

If you are interested and want some info, get in touch! I'm more than happy to help. I'm also happy to set up a class locally, or online to teach you more about essential oils and their benefits. 

Click on the link below for our website and go to the contact page if you want more info 
or hop over to our Facebook page and message us there!

*Disclaimer - This information has not been evaluated by the FDA
 and is not intended to diagnose, cure, or treat disease.*

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hello Again friends!

 Happy Fall Y'all!

It's been a while since I've a long while. Sorry for the radio silence.
We have had a bunch going on, but i'm hoping to be getting back on here for good now. I am in the process of setting up a little spot for me to do some vlogs, which might be a little easier for me to keep up with, because, you know, I can chat! ;)

The children are all still being homeschooled, and YES it's a challenge, YES it's infuriating somedays, but YES it is so so worth it. I love them being home together and learning together. One of these days I'll get a blog done about our homeschool room/curriculum. It's nothing snazzy, but it works for us.

We are getting ready for the holidays now and with five children in the house there is definitely excitement brewing. Since I'm English and have never really celebrated Thanksgiving, we are doing things a little bit differently this year and are having friends over for a big English style roast dinner. For any Americans reading, there are lots of variations according to taste, but to me a roast is Roast meat (chicken/beef or lamb) with roasted potatoes, parsnips, caramalized carrots, roasted brussel sprouts, yorkshire pudding, gravy and bread sauce. Oh my gosh, i'm drooling just thinking about it. Will definitely be posting results of the day and any successful recipes. I'm thinking trifle for pudding! Doesn't get much more English than that!?

For now, i'll sign off, but rest assured, this blog is going to be kept up from now out for vlogs too! (ugh...this means i'm going to actually have to put some makeup on instead of my usual foundation and mascara gig!!)

Love, Jess xoxo

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