November – The Happiness Challenge

So, October has been and gone and November is upon us already!  It’s beginning to look a lot like….Chr….nearly!

October Challenge

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So last month’s challenge was #blogtober – posting a blog post every day during the month of October and I failed dramatically!  Unfortunately I was still recovering from being unwell which had taken it’s toll, and with the start of the cold weather my arthritis was playing up and I was very fatigued.  I did miss out a part of the month and did think about trying to catch up once I started feeling well again.  I chose not to as I would have been placing even more pressure on myself when I had just started feeling better and probably set my recovery back.  This is life with chronic illness – despite your best laid plans, not every will always work out the way you want it to!

Challenge For November

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I am enjoying my challenge’s and so have decided to keep this going and have picked a one for this month.  Being chronically unwell puts a strain on your mental health as well as your physical health.  Having to miss out on things when you are unwell, and the slightest activity wearing you out can really make you feel even more rubbish.  With that in mind I thought I would choose a challenge for this month to encourage me mentally.

With that in mind I came across this while having a Pinterest scroll.  It looked like exactly what I needed!

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Apostrophe S is a fab blog with lots of great self care ideas and inspiration.  Check out the blog by clicking here

I won’t necessarily do these in order but I plan on doing one a day.  I aim to fill you in on the daily challenges over on my social media pages so make sure you are following me –

Facebook     –     Twitter     –     Instagram

and updating at the end of the month (and possibly halfway through) as to how I found it and how I am feeling on here.

Self Care – Is It Selfish?

Self care has become very popular recently and can mean anything from taking control over your mental health to giving yourself a little me time and having a bubble bath!  I think everyone needs to be able to treat themselves once in a while but self care, in my opinion, can be even more simple than that.

When you have mental or physical health problems, or are a parent, self care is very often forgotten about, or even consciously denied.  When you feel poorly, low and depressed, people will often ‘punish’ themselves by withholding simple care behaviour from their life. They may feel like their health concerns already take over too much of daily life and refuse to concentrate any more efforts on themselves.  They may feel unworthy of this kind of attention, that they don’t deserve it.  A parent can feel too busy and like they should be dedicating all of their time to their children and their needs.  The thing is – we all deserve a bit of TLC and the common quote – you can’t pour from an empty cup – is very true.

Starting simple with things like ensuring you are taking all your medication at the correct time, that you are staying hydrated and drinking the recommended amount daily and you are getting some fresh air are great places to start.  These sound like simple things but they are so often forgotten when you are focusing on your children or you are struggling with feeling down.  Self care is about looking after you and encompasses everything you need to be doing for yourself.  You wouldn’t forget to give your child regular drinks throughout the day.  But, as I have in the past, you could be cooking tea and realise you have only had one cup of tea all day!

Wish Me Luck!

I am really looking forward to this challenge and definitely think it will be a really positive one for me at the moment.  I would love it if you would like to join me, let me know in the comments below if you would like to participate!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

 

 

Blog Tour Book Review – The Poppy Field

#Blogtober Day Twelve

Happy publication day to The Poppy Field!  I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy of this one so I can let you know what I think!

The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr

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The Blurb

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.

Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.

This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.

What I Thought

This was a magical book which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The Poppy Field was beautifully written and I loved the way it switched between both the two lead characters.  Both women were likeable which really helped.

I loved the detail in the historical sections of the book.  As a person with an interest in psychology, the references to shell shock and mental health problems with the wounded soldiers were interesting.  I was particularly moved by the mentions of ‘will people remember what we have done in the future’.  The people fighting for our country back then would have no idea of the impact of their actions, and I am pleased, 100 years on, to still be reading about their sacrifices.

Gemma in the present day was a great character – broken and looking for a fresh start.  I liked the mirroring of the two women’s lives, over 100 years apart.  It was good to spot the similarities and also the huge differences between the two of them and what they were doing.

A touching, story which is well worth a read!

Where To Buy

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/ThePoppyField

The Author – Deborah Carr

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Deborah Carr lives on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands with her husband, two children and three rescue dogs. She became interested in books set in WW1 when researching her great-grandfather’s time as a cavalryman in the 17th 21st Lancers.

She is part of ‘The Blonde Plotters’ writing group and was Deputy Editor on the online review site, Novelicious.com for seven years. Her debut historical romance, Broken Faces, is set in WW1 and was runner-up in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and given a ‘special commendation’ in the Harry Bowling Prize that year. The Poppy Field is her second historical novel.

Social Media Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

 

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

Thankyou to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me on this blog tour.  I received the book in return for my honest review

Check out the rest of the reviews at the blogs below!

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An Interview With… Karen Osman

#Blogtober DAY 9

Karen Osman has written two books which I have previously reviewed on the blog, and loved!  I am really pleased that she has begun writing her next book, find out more in this interview with her, courtesy of Aria, her publishers.

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Tell us more about your latest book, The Home.

My second novel, The Home, is a psychological thriller, set between the 1970s and 1980s, about successful career woman Angela whose memories of an abusive children’s home affect her adult life. The book delves into the darkness of living in a children’s home, casting a shadow over family ties and what it means to belong. Abandoned as a baby, Angela is desperate to escape her supposed refuge, yet despite being adoptedand taken into the hearts of a wealthy couple, the scars of her childhood remain. When Angela discovers the identity of her birth mother Evelyn, their reunion is no fairy tale and as sinister events start to unfold, Evelyn fears she may not survive her daughter’s return.

How did you come up with the plot of the book?

As a mother of two young sons, 2 and 4, I still remember that double-edged maelstrom of emotion of those new-born days – a mix of joy and worry – and it’s been a powerful influence in my writing for my new book, The Home.  At the same time, I was researching about the horrors of children’s homes in the ’60s and ’70s, much of which only came to light many years later. It’s incredibly disturbing that such events could have happened in places which are supposed to protect children. From here, I started to develop the outline of a plot and the character of Angela was born.

Can you tell us more about the characters of Angela and Evelyn?

Angela is ambitious and career driven and the 1980s were an interesting time for women.  On the one hand, Margaret Thatcher was a powerful example of what could be achieved by women, but on the other hand, sexism was very much present. The hardworking personality of Angela is the polar opposite of Evelyn who is content to rely on government support and often plays the role of the victim, abstaining from as much responsibility as she can get away with.

Can you describe The Home in three adjectives?

Chilling, dark, surprising.

What comes to you first – the setting, the characters or some aspect of the story?

When I plan a new book, I usually focus on coming up with the big idea of the plot first. From here, the characters, and the setting follow. I’m a bit of a planner when it comes to novel writing and I try and outline as much of the book as possible. This includes character development, chapter outlines, and narrative arcs. Of course, you can’t plan out everything and I do get a lot of ideas as I’m writing and I enjoy that surprising element of the process.

What is your favourite and least favourite thing about writing?

My favourite part of writing is creating the first and last chapters. These are usually the most exciting for me. I also really love building the narrative. My least favourite part is all the re-reads that are required to make sure the book is as good as it can be!

When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?

I have always written in some form or another from a very young age. I loved it and it was, and continues to be, a daily part of my life – even on holidays! From a professional perspective, I would say probably in 2011 when I set up my writing business, Travel Ink, in 2011 which provides content services for the travel and tourism industry. I started writing novels in 2016, when I won the Montegrappa Writing Prize for The Good Mother, which then led to a three-book deal.

What is a great book you’ve read recently that you would recommend?

The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn was fantastic. I’ve also just finished Annabel Kantaria’s new book I Know You.

What are you working on next?

I’ve already started writing my third novel, The Perfect Lie, about a lawyer who is representing a young woman who has been raped. As the case develops, the lawyer is reminded of a past she would rather forget and her perfect life starts to unravel.

Hope you enjoyed reading a little more about Karen Osman.  You can check out my reviews of her first two books at the links below.

The Good Mother

The Home

Who are some of your favourite authors?  Let me know in the comments below!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

Recipe – Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole

#Blogtober Day 2

Good morning and happy Tuesday.  Today I am sharing a recipe with you for a sausage casserole.  One of the best things about the arrival of Autumn is the re-ermerging slow cooker!  I love mine and it is really easy and convenient to use.

Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole

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What You Will Need

Pack of 8 Sausages (I used Lincolnshire)

Onion, diced

Leek, sliced

2 large carrots, sliced

One red or orange pepper

Worcestershire Sauce

Large handful of mushrooms, peeled and sliced (OSTOMATE TIP – chop your mushrooms really small to get the taste but not risk a blockage)

I used a Sausage Casserole packet mix for this recipe and 300ml water – easy and cheap, most supermarkets do these packet sauces on offer.

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If I didn’t use this I would also use

A tin of chopped tomatoes

250ml water

Stock cube (I use beef, but you could use a vegetable one)

Gravy granules to thicken sauce if needed

A teaspoon of mixed herbs

How To Make It

I always like to brown the sausages first to give them some colour and add flavour.

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I then threw everything in the slow cooker and popped it on high for 4 hours to cook.

About half an hour before it finished I got Ste to make me some dumplings and pop them in.  This is personal choice and you can leave these out!  I served the casserole with some fresh, crusty bread and butter and it was the perfect Autumnal tea!

I haven’t shared a recipe for a while but hope to do some more in the coming weeks.  This one is a firm favourite for me though, and the ultimate comfort food.  Enjoy!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

Welcome To #Blogtober

Good afternoon, happy new week!  And happy new month to you all as we are officially in October.  This month I am looking forward to Autumn kicking in, Leo’s tenth birthday (how did that happen?!?), half term school holidays and Halloween!

Last Month’s Challenge

Last month I attempted Scroll Free September which meant, apart from for work (blog) purposes, I would not be on social media.  You can read my introduction post about it here.

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I was really excited about the challenge and thought it would help me explore my relationship with social media.  I do feel I often spend too much time on there, especially with blogging being central to the online world.  It is something Ste has also mentioned.  I know he is proud of my blogging work, but does often feel like it takes over too much of my time.

The first couple of weeks were a real eye opener.  I stuck tot he rules really well and only went on at set times to post things for my blog.  Unfortunately, halfway through the month I became unwell with a nasty sickness bug and then a cold.  This led to lots more rest time and I noticed I began scrolling again more frequently.  I was upset that I had failed the challenge but also, too poorly to care at the time.  I do think the challenge was having a positive effect on my well being when I was following it.  Being poorly did make me feel down though, and sliding back into using social media again and realizing I had failed, did not help with this.

On reflection, I still think Scroll Free September taught me a lot.  Although I took the option of trying ‘cold turkey’ which meant that I wasn’t doing anything online except for work purposes, the creators planned different options.  Things like not using social media in bed is something I will be continuing with.  Me and Ste have started watching films and TV series again and getting a little quality time in the evening without interruptions, which I love.  I also want to extend this to the mornings, as I often get up and check my social media first thing.  I am going to try getting up and waiting o check my social media till I get my cuppa and breakfast.

Treating blogging a little more like a job is also worthwhile.  Rather than frequently popping on to check on my different accounts, I spend a little time prepping what I want to be posting about at the beginning of the week/day and then will just go on to check it at a couple of times throughout the day for messages etc.

Although I technically failed the challenge, and I don’t mind admitting it, I hope that Ste especially will see the steps forward that I have taken this month and continue to support me with this.  I am now back to studying for my degree too so need to ensure my time is well handled so I do not fall behind.

This Month’s Challenge

So a new month is beginning and I have set myself a new challenge – maybe this should become a regular monthly thing?!  Let me know in the comments below if you have any ideas I could do in the coming months!

This month I have decided to take part in #Blogtober which means I will be posting a blog post every single day of the month.  I feel tired just saying it!  Make sure that you are subscribed if you aren’t already and you won’t miss a post, as they will all conveniently drop into your inbox!  To do this just check out the bottom of the home page and type in your email address. I have lots of content planned and I hope you all enjoy it.

Thankyou all once again for your support – every like, share and comment is hugely appreciated.  I try and reply to everyone’s comments and you can also message me privately if preferred.

Happy #Blogtober, wish me luck!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy