Tuesday, 25 April 2017

1 in 6

It's gonna be hard to actually press publish on this post, so if you're reading this now, please take a second to virtually pat me on the back.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) in the US; a week in which couples all over the country hope to raise awareness of the often unspoken grief they're living, and with this year's theme being 'Listen Up!' I thought it was time I shared my story.

As many of you are probably aware, infertility does not discriminate but what you probably don't know is that if affects more people than you realise - a massive one out of every six couples in the UK and one in eight in the US struggles to start a family and, I hate to say it but, Hubs and I are one of those couples.

Just typing that sentence has sent the blood coursing through my veins rushing to just below the surface of my skin; there's a lump forming in my throat and tears burn the back of my eyes, but we're actually hopefully one of the lucky ones. You see, my current infertility looks curable, but it's not that way for many others, which is why I simply had to join in with this conversation this week; if my story gives just one woman hope, then it's worth the time taken to find the right words when there are none that truly capture the despair of facing infertility.

The National Infertility Awareness Week website rightly states:

"You never know how badly you want something until you are told that it may not be possible."

Six months ago, I was convinced I was suffering from early menopause, or premature ovarian failure (POF) to give it its proper name. You see, I came off my birth control pills a month after we moved house (which was 19 months ago today) and have not had a period since. 

After three months, I visited my doctor and was shockingly told by a patronising female GP that I just needed to give it time (a year to be exact), but I knew something wasn't right. However, being the obey-the-rules type of girl I am, I waited... 

and waited... 

and waited. 

And nothing happened. 

Things got dark and I struggled with the prospect that never becoming a mother would become my reality; I've always wanted children but have very much been in the 'one day' camp, which is why, aged 31, I felt it was time to at least come off the pill in order to get it out of my system, so my body would be ready as soon as my mind was - patience has never been my forte. Turns out life had other plans.

In early November 2016, I dragged myself nervously back to the doctors and thankfully this time I was taken seriously. I was tested for all sorts of problems, including POF and PCOS, which luckily both came back negative, however, after a couple more tests, a problem with my pituitary gland (known as Prolactinoma) was identified.

I don't wanna get into the science of it all in this post - but if you'd like to read more about Prolactinoma, click here - but just know I am undergoing treatment and Tom and I both have our fingers (and toes) crossed that my periods will return before the end of the year.

I couldn't let this week go by unacknowledged on my blog. I try to write what I know, be it mundane and ordinary or exciting and life-altering, but this post has been hard to write. I've told very few people about our current predicament - I've been told I'm not the sharing type - I often play my cards close to my chest, but I can now see light at the end of what has been an extremely dark and long tunnel.

Despite having a loving and supportive partner to walk this path with me, it's been lonely and the scariest thing I think I have ever faced; before my Prolactinoma diagnosis, some days I felt positive - 'early menopause surely can't happen to me, I'm sure my periods will come back if I just stop thinking about it' - and others have been super dark - I remember crying in the toilet at work after a throw away comment from an unknowing colleague about 'having a tropical moment' when I was hot and the weather was anything but. I spent a good portion of 2016 grieving; grieving the loss of my imagined future, grieving the loss of a child not yet created and grieving the loss of the journey to motherhood, a right-of-passage that so many take for granted.

Despite all this, I truly believe I have gone through this life-altering experience for a reason and I hope by sharing my story I can provide some comfort to someone going through the same.

If you'd like to know more about NIAW, click here.
If you're currently struggling with infertility, please feel free to get in touch.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

"Be the change you want to see in the world." ~ Gandhi

Lins over at Boo & Maddie recently wrote this post about going vegan and as so many of her beautifully written words resonated with me, I felt compelled to write a post of my own...
I've been a pescetarian for 21 years, however lately I don't feel as if this is enough, both for my own health and to support our environment. Recently I've cut down my milk and cheese consumption and have upped the number of vegetarian meals Hubs and I eat - we used to eat more meals which contained meat-free alternatives; but I'm not sure how far to go.

I feel as if I’m barely dipping my toe in vegan waters.

You see, there are two things keeping me ashore, preventing me from leaping head first into crystal clear vegan waters - ok, I'll quit with the metaphor now!

Firstly, I love chocolate. No really, I L-O-V-E chocolate; I need a taste every day in order to function. It doesn't need to be a lot: a snack-size bar, a couple of choccy biscuits, Nutella on toast; whatever it may be, I need a taste, even in the run up to my wedding when I was dieting, I factored in the calories (or Weight Watchers Points as that was the diet I was on at the time) for a chocolatey treat each day. How do I overcome this? I've tried replacing my milk chocolate fix with dark and, honestly, it's just not the same.

And secondly, I fear how my husband and family would react to the news I'd given up dairy and fish. Now don't get me wrong, my family and my husband have always been supportive of my choices, but that's just it, they're MY choices and I don't know how to navigate dinners out with my family or Sunday roasts at my parents' house as a vegan.

I think the solution, for now at least, is to keep cutting down on my animal products one step at a time, with the hope that one day I'll feel confident enough to take that final step; either that or I'll reach a point where I feel comfortable and confident in the choices I make, both for my long-term health and my impact on the world in which we live.

If you have any advice for me, please leave me a comment :)

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Easter weekend

I'm sooo in love with four-day weekends.
My work life hasn't been the best of late, so spending nearly 100 hours in my home or with the ones I love most in the world was just what my soul needed; well, it could have done with four more days but that'll have to wait until the end of May, when Hubs and I have a much-needed holiday booked :) 

With twice as much time available to us than a usual weekend, many things were accomplished, watched and eaten this weekend, as you would expect, but our highlights included...

Freshly painted nails
Friday night while watching Gardeners' World, I painted a couple of coats of Essie's Merino Cool onto my nails. I've not painted my nails as religiously as I used to; I just don't seem to find the time these days, so it was nice to make time and to have nice nails all weekend. I love this colour; it's perfect for spring and autumn, thanks to its mix of purple, grey and brown tones.

A spot of gardening
Despite painting my nails, I pulled on my gardening gloves and got on with some jobs on Saturday, including repotting my sunflower seedlings and sieving soil from The Mound to put into our raised bed - we figured it'd save us money as we wouldn't need to buy as much top soil :) Tom also moved some slabs from the driveway to the back garden.

Family time
After going out for a meal on Saturday night with Tom's youngest sister, their dad and his wife, we had my parents and Tom's sister, mum and step-dad round for a roast dinner on Sunday and it was lovely. Spending time with my family (both chosen and biological) feeds my soul; I know there are people who will always support and love me and I think that's what I needed most this weekend. It means so much to me that my parents get along with Tom's family and that days like Sunday can become a more regular occurrence once my parents have moved closer to us, which they hope to do next spring.

On Sunday, we went for a walk with most of the family (to walk off our roast dinner) around the fields near where we live and saw loads of calves and cows, a few chickens, heard the occasional pheasant and just enjoyed the spring scenery.

Yesterday, we managed to get out in the late afternoon for a walk and decided to head to Moira Furnace and Country Park for a stroll around the woods and along the canal. It's somewhere I've never been before but Hubs has been loads to canoe on the canal with the Scouts; I'd defo go back again, but I can imagine how busy it must get on nice weather days. 

While I haven't eaten any Easter eggs over the past four days, I have eaten far too many of these cute little nest cakes, not to mention having pudding on Saturday and Sunday - eekk!

13 Reasons Why
You all know how much I love a good TV show, so it'll come as no surprise to know that I binged these 13 episodes this weekend. I thought the show contained some fantastic performances (mainly from the main protagonist, Clay, and Mrs Baker), but agree with the critics who say the story is a little simplistic and doesn't really address the issue of mental health; instead it focuses on blaming other people and getting revenge on said people for a choice Hannah Baker made. Saying that, I would recommend it, so if you're after a new show, give it a try.

Happy Tuesday,

Monday, 10 April 2017

the seasonal garden: spring

After months of cold, wet and downright misery, the milder, sunnier months of spring are finally upon us. Not only are humans coming out of their winter hibernation, our gardens are also springing to life...
When Hubby and I moved into our new build in September 2015, we had little more than a pile of mud and a few slabs, so we worked hard during 2016 to ensure we laid the foundations for a usable garden, somewhere we could eat breakfast on summer's mornings, or potter about on warm spring and autumn days, and eventually somewhere our kids could play. 

While our garden may not currently be the dream garden, or even the 'finished' garden I imagined, I'm determined to add some life to it this year - I want more than a few pots. Late last summer we built a raised bed, which has stood empty and unused. This spring (hopefully end of this month/beginning of next) I want to get it filled with compost and top soil so I can start planting and experimenting with the kinds of plants and flowers I want to grow; I have such vivid dreams for this small outdoor space.
If you've got grand plans for your garden but aren't too sure what needs doing when, here are my must-do jobs for the season of spring...

1. Pick off any developing seed heads on daffodils and other spring bulbs so they don't waste energy setting seed, but leave the foliage to die back naturally.

2. Sow in pots indoors: tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers and sunflowers. Sow sweet peas in deep pots and keep them frost free in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. Once they develop, prick out seedlings as soon as they produce their first true leaves.

3. Mow your lawn and re-cut the edges with a half-moon edging tool; repair damaged patches.

4. Plant dahlias tubers in pots indoors and plant out after all risk of frost has passed, usually mid-May. Water thirsty crops (tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes) regularly as the weather warms up.

5. Apply wood treatment to wooden garden furniture to condition it for summer. Build (or buy) a new compost bin to recycle the coming season's garden waste.

6. Keep bird feeders stocked and make boxes for solitary bees; hang in a sunny part of the garden.

7. Indoors, start feeding house-plants once a week with liquid fertiliser continuing through to autumn.

Home Etc

Happy Monday :)

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

jobs around the house: april

I can't believe we're well into April already, a time of new growth in the garden, warmer days
and lighter evenings, and egg-cellent decor (see what I did there?)
It's once again time to share with you the five essential jobs that I feel are vital to do in April in order to keep your home looking its best and ensure you stay on top of your cleaning schedule...

1. Clean your windows
All the terrible weather of winter leaves your windows far from sparkly, and now that the sun is once again filling your home, streaming through said windows, every speck of dirt and every smear shows us, so it's time to clean them on the outside (after cleaning the inside last month). You'll need a bucket of warm, soapy water, a sponge and a squeegee; don't forget to run a damp cloth around the window frames to keep them looking great too.

2. Clean the wheelie bins
They store your rubbish until collection day week in and week out but when was the last time you gave such an essential piece of equipment a good scrub? April is the perfect time to get the hose and some disinfectant on your bins, leaving them to dry in the sun.

3. Clear gutters of winter debris
Winter doesn't half cause problems for homeowners, so if you've not yet done so, April is the perfect time to clear your guttering and downpipes of any debris (such as leaves, twigs, moss and anything else that has got caught in your guttering), to avoid blockages causing problems further down the line.

4. Touch up interior paintwork
Muddy wellies, rain-soaked pets and the general mess that accompanies winter can take their toll on your home, and with an extended Bank Holiday weekend this month, there's no better time than this month to touch up your interior paintwork; this is sure to make any room look clean and fresh with very minimal effort!

5. Deep clean your fridge freezer
While I hope you clean your refrigerator once a month (at least), the arrival of the warmer weather presents the perfect time to give your fridge and freezer a deep clean; throw out expired items and scrub everything. Don't buy any new food items and spend some time eating the things that are in date and have built up, so you can defrost your freezer to ensure it is working at its optimum.

Home Etc

Life With Munchers

Happy Wednesday :)

Saturday, 1 April 2017

life lately

The months of 2017 are flying by.
As it's April today (how?!), it's time to take a look back at the past month...

In the month when the clocks sprung forward, I continued to fill my home with fresh flowers and began getting the garden ready for summer.

I have also absolutely been loving the numerous blue skies and warmer temperatures we've enjoyed this month, although I have yet to dig out my flip flops - I wonder how much longer it'll be before I do wear them?!

What I think I love most about March is the fact that the mornings are light, the days are warm but the nights are still dark by 7pm so you can cosy up with candles and throws in front of the TV without feeling like you should be enjoying the outdoors...

I made some excellent purchases during March, including...

Finally, I know this shouldn't make me happy but I reached 100 likes on a photo on Instagram for the first time this month!

Happy Saturday,

Monday, 20 March 2017

styling the seasons: spring

As today is the first official day of spring, warmer temperatures, blue skies and bags of sunshine should now be upon us, or at least more frequent than they have been, and that makes me happy!
With the arrival of this new season, I thought today was the perfect opportunity to share with you my top tips for styling your home for spring...

1 | Fill your home with all the flowers
Although I've had daffodils and tulips in my home since early January, spring is THE time for fresh flowers and growing bulbs; currently I have tulips in the window, cut daffodils in the kitchen, bulb daffodils in the living room and a beautiful hyacinth in the front window. You don't have to limit yourself to flowers though; for a one-of-a-kind floral display, cut off a flowering branch or two from a bush or tree in your garden and place in a vase with water - this is also a cheap way to bring spring into your home.

2 | Change your cushions
Whether they're bright and bold or full of florals, spring is the perfect time to swap out your cushions and/or throws in favour of something lighter, brighter and more in-keeping with the season of new growth and new life. Whatever you choose, make sure the textile is lighter than your winter cushions; go for cotton for a carefree vibe.
3 | Rid the house of winter
Put away throws and thick blankets, add spring-inspired artwork to gallery walls and take down those fairy lights that have given your home that hygge glow all winter long. 

4 | A new scent
Now's the time to put away any winter candles you have remaining and replace them with spring scented ones, like this one. The nights will still be dark enough after 7pm-ish to light a candle and, as we all know, spring in Britain doesn't guarantee fine weather so I'm sure there will still be plenty of grey and miserable days for cosying up and lighting candles.

5 | A lick of paint
With longer days and warmer temperatures, spring is also the ideal time to embark upon a decorating project, be it painting an entire room, upcycling an outdated piece of furniture or even freshening up the outside of your home, be it re-staining the decking or painting your garden fence.

Home Etc

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

jobs around the house: March

With warmer temperatures and more sunlight filling our homes, spring really is just around the corner.
And with that in mind, today I want to share with you five jobs to do around the house this month to get you and your home out of the winter rut and looking forward to longer spring days...

1. Change your bedding.
The warmer temperatures of spring and summer call for a lighter duvet so March is the ideal time to swap your thick 13.5 tog duvet for something lighter because if you're too hot (or too cold) in bed you won't get a good night's sleep. I shared some tips for creating a sleep-friendly bedroom here.

2. Deep clean carpets & rugs.
Spring is the time for cleaning away winter's dirt and grim and nowhere takes more dirt and grim than your floors and if you've got carpets and/or rugs a warm and sunny March day is the best time to give them a deep clean. If you're carpets are pretty clean but don't smell so fresh, you can make your own deodoriser by adding 15 drops of any essential oil to 450g of bicarbonate of soda. Mix well and shake onto your carpet, wait five minutes then vacuum up.

3. Wash windows & curtains.
If you want the sunlight to pour in and fill your home during the spring and summer months then now is the time to wash your windows (save outside until later when the weather's improved) and curtains. You could even swap your heavy winter drapes for lighter, sheer curtains for the spring and summer seasons.

4. Clean out your wardrobe.
Although it's not safe to assume you won't need your big coats and winter boots again just yet, the weather has warmed up enough now so you can pack away thick jumpers and thermals and replace them with lighter layers and strappier tops (which always look cute combined with chunky knit cardigans).

5. Brighten up your decor.
If you're anything like me you like to swap out your accessories with each new season and the arrival of springs means it's time to banish dark colours and replace them with bright blues, yellows and greens to liven up your home and set the tone for spring. From living room cushions to bathroom towels, there are numerous ways to add splashes of spring colour to every room in your home.

Home Etc

Happy Tuesday!