How To Break Up With Your Phone- week 4

I’m currently following the How To Break Up With Your Phone plan as featured in the book (of the same title) by Catherine Price. You can read about the previous weeks of the plan by clicking these links: WEEK 1  WEEK 2  WEEK 3. Now it’s week 4 and the FINAL WEEK, here’s what I had to do every day this week.

Week Four- Your New Relationship

Day 22- Trial Separation Recap. What did I observe about myself and my behaviour and emotions in the 24hrs? I felt a lot more “in the moment” and I didn’t have that sensation of feeling “rushed” all the time. I felt like my concentration was a lot better too.

What do these observations make me think about? What do I think when I reflect not he experience? That living your life constantly behind a screen, is no life.

How do I feel about my phone now and my relationship with it? My relationship with it has been very unhealthy. I think I still have work to do. I still need to be mindful all the time. However, I weirdly like my phone more now than when I used it all the time. I appreciate the usefulness of it without out letting it suck me in and distract me from everything.

What questions to have about phones and my phone usage now I’ve been through the trial separation? How would I cope without a smartphone and just an old-fashioned flip phone. I think it might be a beautiful thing. I’m also wondering how society might change if we all used our smartphones a lot less. How would the day be different if the whole world turned their phones off for 24hrs?

What was the hardest part of the trial separation? We needed the phone number to order takeaway pizza (a must for watching the Eurovision Song Contest), so we turned the iPad on for a brief minute to look it up then immediately turned it off again. I missed my smart phone’s usefulness, but really not that much. It was only that one occasion. I also also got anxious in the final hour as I knew I’d have a few messages waiting for me from friends and I just wanted to really see them by that point.

What was the best part? I interacted and played with my daughter so much for than I normally would on a Saturday. This was by far the best part. Plus I felt freer. I suddenly had all this free time and I could do whatever I liked with it. That was lovely.

What surprised me? That I really didn’t miss my phone. It was only that final hour that I wanted to use it.

What did I learn from the trial separation that I can use once the break-up plan is over? That I don’t need it anywhere near as much as I think I do. That messages and comments will all be waiting for me when I pick my phone up and that I don’t need to be immediately replying to people all the time. That more fun things happen without my phone. This is the most important thing I learnt.

Day 23- Phast. Catherine suggests that taking short phone “phasts” are as important as a long one. Today, she suggests that at some point in the day I allocate an hour where I’ll turn my phone off again and go without. Full disclosure gang, I completely forgot to check what I was meant to do on the plan today, BUT I didn’t check my phone past 8pm on this day, so you could say I took my mini phast then. Catherine suggests we do mini phasts every day until the end of the plan. The more regularly one phasts, the less likely we’ll be drawn to our phones. She also says it’s important not to punish ourselves. We should never ask “when shall I force myself to go without my phone?”, rather we should ask “when would I like to go without my phone?”. Therefore, leaving your phone behind when you go for a walk or going out for dinner might be a nice idea (I know, if you’re a parent of a young child, this isn’t a reality, but you could always make the conscious decision not to use your phone during those times).

Day 24- Manage Your Invitations. So today isn’t about managing physical invitations. It’s about managing the invitations that our brain sends us. For example, “ooh you’re bored, why don’t you pick up your phone and check social media”. Today, is about revising the Stop, Breathe and Be method. She suggests we also extend this into non-phone activities. Instead of reacting to something immediately (i.e. someone cuts you off in traffic), she suggests stopping, taking a breath, thinking about the possible alternative ways you could react and choose how you’d like to react. You’ll be proud of me in the doctors, instead of playing on my phone whilst in the waiting room. I just sat and let myself be. It was strangely nice. Now to extend that into non-phone activities.

Day 25- Clean Up The Rest of Your Digital Life. Today, I’m looking how to tidy up any other remains parts of digital life. Namely:

  • Unsubscribe from any emails I don’t want to receive anymore. Very soon companies will have to regain your permission to send you these junk emails, so the law may well do this job for me.
  • Use an email plug-in that controls how often I check my email. I don’t think I need to do this as I don’t check my email that often.
  • Create a ‘Needs Response’ folder. This can stop you from feeling overwhelmed when looking at my inbox. I did this one immediately. I also feel like I need to go through my emails and delete all old emails that I no longer need to keep. A general email clean-up is needed.
  • Set up a commerce email account. An email account for when you buy things. This isn’t a bad idea. My inbox will look cleaner and probably not so “large”.
  • Set up a VIP list of people who’s emails you don’t want to miss. Good plan, Stan. On it.
  • Set up an “important” email account for when you’re away on holiday. Set up an automated response that says you’re on holiday, but also that you won’t respond to any emails on your return and leave details of someone else they can contract instead during your absence. If they still really need a response from just you, tell them to send their email to the important email account. Apparently, when you get back you’ll be surprised by how many people don’t bother with your “important” email account. All of this reduces the huge email pile-up you get when you go on holiday. I personally, don’t need to do this though. Would your workplace, allow you to do this?
  • Within social media, unfollow people you no longer care about or whose posts make you feel bad. Create lists of people with regards to how you know them i.e. friends, family, colleagues etc. So you can control who sees which posts of yours. This is a very good idea.
  • Use automatic drive modes that disable your phone whilst driving. I don’t drive, so don’t need to do this. However, I cannot abide people using their phones whilst driving, whatever the excuse is. People should pull in somewhere safely to use their phone if they really need to whilst on a journey.
  • Unlink your social media with other laps. Many sites give you the option to log in using your Facebook account. Apparently, you should never do this and if you have- unlink them. Luckily, I’ve never done this.

All these small digital clean-up tips help alleviate the stress that your digital life can have.

Day 26- Check Your Checking. Every time you go to reach for your phone, ask yourself “What is the best thing that can happen as a result of me checking my phone?”. What’s the best email I could receive? The best piece of news? The best notification? Then ask yourself: what’s the likelihood of any of this happening? Chances are: very low indeed. It’s probably more likely you’ll see something that’ll stress you out. Also, try using other people using their phones as a cue not to use yours. For example, when you’re in a lift and everyone is reaching for their phones. Take a deep breath and ask yourself what it is you want to pay attention right now. It really doesn’t need to be your phone.

Day 27- Digital Sabbath Life Hacks. Catherine encourages us to think about doing a regular digital sabbath. It doesn’t have to be every week. It can be just once a month. Also, you don’t have to turn all devices off. The idea is to personalise your digital sabbath into whatever works for you. I think I might just do a monthly one, but turn everything off. I enjoyed my trial separation and I also liked the challenge to fill my time non-digitally. Here are some life hacks to make the digital sabbath easier:

  • Untangle your devices (buy an alarm clock, think about getting separate music devices etc)
  • Create a “house phone” (instead of chucking an old phone when you upgrade. Keep it purely as a tool. This way you can hide away your actual smartphone, but have the “house phone” on hand to do the useful things)
  • Use your phone’s suspension modes
  • Customise your do not disturb settings
  • Download maps ahead of time
  • Get a landline
  • Downgrade to a dumbphone (I’ve actually thought about this. To go back to life before a smartphone would be pretty amazing, but for now I’ll stick to my smartphone and see how I get on the aftermath of this plan)
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment (it’s all about adopting the habits that work for you. Not everything in this book is going to work for you. See what does and what does not)

***Gang, I have to tell you, I seriously regressed today and the next day. This is probably due to attending the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards and -ahem- winning a prize and dealing with lots of lovely messages. Did I tell you I got the runner-up prize in my category? Did I not mention that? No? Never mind, you can read a bit more about it HERE. Disgusting brag over. Soz***

Day 28- The Seven Phone Habits of Highly Effective People

So now let’s check-in to see if I have healthy phone habits:

  • I have healthy phone routines. I need to answer the following questions to establish these routines and to also continue practising them to ensure that these habits become second nature.

Where do you charge my phone? Downstairs.

At what time do you put it away at night? 9pm. Don’t bother trying to contact me after that time.

When do you check it for the first time after you wake up? An hour after I wake up. However, I think during term time, I need to make that after I drop my daughter off at school as me checking my phone before then still delays me leaving the house.

Where do you keep your phone when you’re at work? On my desk, in sight. I have a young child at school, so that’s never going to change.

Where do you keep your phone when you’re at home? Still in reach, but after 9pm out of reach. I think I need to keep it out of reach at certain times during the day though.

Where do you keep your phone at mealtimes? Not at the table anymore. I can still see it though and reach it if needs be. I should probably move it out of sight.

Where do you carry your phone? In my coat pocket.

What do you use your phone for? Social media, checking my blog, Spotify, shopping, occasionally tools.

What are the situations that you have decided that you don’t use your phone? Waiting in queues, waiting to pick my daughter up from somewhere, in the company of someone.

Which apps are tools that enrich or simplify your life? Sky TV, weather, camera, Google Maps, SecureSafe, Podcasts, Spotify, Health and my calendar.

Which apps do you know are dangerous/the most likely to suck you in? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but I don’t have them as apps anymore. I only access them via the browser. Also, Wikipedia and IMDb can suck me in too.

Based on the previous question, which apps have you blocked? I haven’t blocked any yet, but like I said, I have deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • I have manners, and I know how to use them. Questions again.

Where do you keep your phone and how do you use it when you are:

Spending time with people? If I’m socialising with friends, it’s away out of sight. I still need to work on this in the presence of my family. I have been keeping my phone in a different room when with my daughter after school.

Watching a movie or TV? Sometimes, it’s in reach and sometimes it’s out of reach. I’m getting much better at not picking it up when watching TV though. I need to still work on this a little bit.

Having a meal? No phones at the table is a hard and fast rule now. I need to probably put it more out of sight still.

Driving a car? I don’t drive.

In classes, lecture or meetings? Out of sight.

  • I cut myself a break. Ok so my old habits reared their ugly head this past weekend, but Catherine advices to forgive yourself quickly if this happens and move on. She also suggests allowing yourself some guilt-free time to aimlessly scroll through the internet to give yourself a break. Allowing yourself some guilt-free time on the phone will actually help avoid bingeing. Catherine suggests thinking of a time in the day for this phone time. It might be a good idea for me to do it when my daughter has first gone to bed.
  • I phast. I need to establish how and when I will phast. I intend to do a 24hrs phast once a month and when I’m on holiday (as much as possible).
  • I have a life. Now, I have to think of constructive ways to spend my time instead of being on the phone. I think I’ve mentioned these before, but they will be reading, walking (when my body allows me to), baking, singing and writing.
  • I practice pausing. Why is it important to practice stillness? I think to allow your brain bit of space and recharge the batteries. What will I do when I find myself with a bit of downtime? If it’s just a few minutes, then I just be and look around my surroundings. Looking up, I have learned is a good thing. If it’s several hours, then I will do any of the above things listed.
  • I exercise my attention. What will I do to rebuild my attention span? Read, always just do one thing at a time and remember to meditate for at least 5 minutes a day (I keep on forgetting- sorry Catherine!)

Day 29- Keep Yourself on Track. Once a month, I have to check in with myself and run through these questions:

What parts of your relationship with your phone are going well?

What things about the relationship with your phone do you want to change? What’s one thing you could do to start?

What are you doing or could do to strengthen your focus?

What are your goals for the next 30 days?

What fun plans could you make to spend time with people you care about?

Have you reinstalled any of the apps that you previously deleted, let your phone back into your bedroom or turned notifications back on? If so, does it feel like the right decision (no judgement)?

What do you want o pay attention in your life?

I have to set a date in my calendar (yes it is fine to use the calendar on your phone) to ensure I go through these questions each month.

Day 30- Congratulations. I’ve done it! I’ve completed the 30 day How To Break Up With Your Phone plan. I am mighty proud of myself. So now, I need to think about my achievements and write a note to myself. I have to say, I still need to work on certain areas. In particular, where I leave my phone during the day, phubbing my family and watching TV, but even those areas are better than what they were. Here’s my note using the prompts that Catherine provides:

  • I used to think my phone…was indispensable and a boredom reliever. Now I think…it’s generally a waste of time and brain power, but it does have its uses at times.
  • I’ve learned that…my phone rarely relieves boredom and it makes me frustrated. That my attention span is diminshing.
  • I’m happy to know that…I actually don’t know what this prompt means. Do you?
  • I’m proud of myself for…easily doing the 24 hours phast, not touching my phone after 9pm, during certain situations and during mealtimes.

The Actions I Took That I think Helped Me Most:

  • Sorting my apps into different folders and organising my homepage
  • Deleting my social media apps
  • Being mindful of the times I always reach for my phone
  • Rules surrounding when my phone is off limits (at mealtimes, after 9pm, the first hour I’m awake)
  • Leaving my phone downstairs at night

How Have I Changed Since Starting This Programme

  • I can sense a slight improvement in my attention span
  • I am less frustrated
  • I am more productive
  • I am interacting with my family much more at home (this is the best thing to come out of completing the plan).

Thank you so much for joining me throughout this plan. Now, if you haven’t already, buy this book. It will change your life.

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Now, is probably the right time to mention that I’ll shortly be taking bit of a blogging break. I’ll still be doing my weekly music posts and the occasional other pre-planned post over the next few months, but it’s a good time in my life to free my time up a bit and concentrate on other projects. I’ll be back though, my friends. Thank you for all of your support so far on this blogging journey.

Annual Bloggers Bash- EXCITING NEWS!

Gang, this morning I am writing a post the I did NOT think I would be writing, but here I am. Some of you may recall that I was nominated for a blogging award in the “Best Pal” category. Well, I had the pleasure of attending the Annual Bloggers Bash on Saturday and can now tell you with great pleasure- Just Another Blog From a Woman got the RUNNER-UP PRIZE. I CAME THIRD!!!!!!! Look how excited I am about this, I’ve put several exclamation marks and everything! I am absolutely overwhelmed that this little blog here managed to rack up enough votes to come third. I do work so very hard, so receiving this recognition is so very special to me.

And I’m mainly here, blathering on, to thank each and everyone of you that voted for me. You have made this little woman very happy indeed. You are all sexy, superstars- THANK YOU.

Also, I want to thank the awards committee who work so hard to put these awards together. I was very lucky to meet them all and I can confirm they are all very lovely (and yes sexy) people.

Lastly, I just want to shout out to my fellow nominees who are all wonderful people and bloggers. It was a very tough category and as much as this sounds like a cliche, you know that we are all winners.

Big love to everyone and a big, fat THANK YOU to you all.

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Cheers!

And for a list of all the winners in all the categories click HERE

How To Break Up With Your Phone- week 3

I’m currently following the How To Break Up With Your Phone plan as featured in the book (of the same title) by Catherine Price. You can read about the previous weeks of the plan by clicking these links: WEEK 1  WEEK 2 Now it’s week 3 and here’s what I had to do every day this week.

Week Three- Reclaiming Your Brain

Day 15- Stop, Breathe and Be. So today, I was meant to take a moment to stop, breathe (can you guess what comes next?) and be. It’s a mindfulness technique where you take a moment to take account of how you’re feeling emotionally as well as physically and to also take notice of the environment surrounding you. Catherine suggests you could do this every time you automatically reach for your phone, but she asked that you did this stop, breathe and be technique at least twice today. Today, I had an incredibly busy and hectic day as my daughter was in the local carnival and then after the carnival,  I had the pleasure of taking her to the fair (I fucking hate fairs) and my darling husband meanwhile was holidaying working abroad, so I got to do all the running about with her by myself, so I did not have time to stop, breathe nor frigging be today. HOWEVER, I did make a concerted effort to do it the next day. I noticed that my brain is very busy with thoughts and so many different thoughts racing in and out of my head. Not too dissimilar  to scrolling through social media and having lots of different pieces of information thrown at me. My brain seems to be functioning like a bloody smartphone. Also, I noticed that despite living in a town centre, next a train station and a busy road, the loudest sound in my garden was the birds singing, which was quite nice really.

Day 16- Practice Pausing. This practice does relate to yesterday’s slightly and it’s also about mastering the art of being still. If we’re never still and always keep our minds busy and entertained, we never get a chance to recharge our batteries, nor do we get a chance to mull over thoughts and ideas. Being still also gives us a chance to develop our creativity, it’s when our creative ideas become nurtured. Catherine asks that we think of situations when we grab our phones to occupy our minds. It could be when waiting at the train station, waiting for a lift or having lunch. She then asked that we practice being still during those moments. I knew I was going to the cinema today and I always play on my phone until the trailers start, so I stubbornly left my phone in my bag and let myself just be. I kind of felt like bit of a twat as everyone around me was chatting or playing on their phones. This is going to take some practice, but seriously, what did we do in these moments before smartphones were invented. Did we all just stand around staring? Probably and it probably just seemed quite natural. I also, play on my phone whilst I’m cooking (gawd knows how my phone hasn’t ended up becoming part of my bolognese sauce boiling away), so I’m going to leave it well alone and just get lost in my thoughts whilst cooking instead.

Day 17- Exercise Your Attention Span. Today I need to do something to exercise my attention span. This is so I can start rebuilding my ability to ignore distractions and strengthen my attention span. Like most things, the more we practice something the better we get. Catherine provides lots of suggestions. One of them was quite simply to read and as that is something that I definitely want to do more of and for longer (my mind currently starts to get distracted 2 pages into a book. Whereas, before I had a smartphone, it would take about 30 pages of a book before I’d want to do something else. I basically have the attention span of a toddler right now). So, anyway, that is what I did. I read in the evening and then in the morning when I woke, instead of reaching for my phone, I picked up my book and read again. I know. Shocker. It’s early days yet to say if my attention span has increased, but more reaching for a book rather than a phone will surely improve it over time. Also, I have been continuing to be mindful of those times that I always reach for my phone. When waiting for my daughter to come out of Brownies, I’m usually on my phone, but instead I just left it in my pocket and what happened? I struck up a nice conversation with another parent. That wouldn’t have happened otherwise. By the way, regular reading has a hugely positive effect on the human brain (unlike our smartphones), including our reasoning skills, processing of visual signs and our memories. Catherine suggests that we should incorporate at least one attention-building exercise into our daily routine.

Day 18- Meditate. Whaaaaaa? You want me to meditate? Catherine, mate, me and mediation have never got on. Why? Because I get bored very quickly and my mind just starts racing….oh hold on…I get it. This is probably because of my smartphone addiction, isn’t it? Right fine. I’ll give meditation a go again. Did you know you can do meditation via -gasp- an app on your phone? Yes, yes I know OH THE IRONY, but this is the whole point gang. Your phone is a very useful tool and that’s exactly as it should be used- as a tool and not as a constant distraction. Something that you pick up to do something specifically helpful to your daily life and then you put back down once you’ve done it. Use and abuse it, my friend. Once you’ve got what you want from it, cast it aside. Anyway, so opened my Headspace app for the first time in years and did a quick 5 minute mediation and I have to say I quite enjoyed it. Catherine strongly recommends trying to fit in at least a 5 minute mediation everyday. Obviously, it’s not for everyone and it’s not always going to be possible to do it, but I’m going to try and do a quick 5 minutes everyday as much as I can. I think it’ll be worth it, just to calm my mind for those few minutes. It will also be very good for my attention span.

Day 19- Prepare For Your Trial Separation. Now, this is the biggy. Tonight, I am going to switch my phone off for 24 hours and at this point of the plan- I cannot wait. This separation will show us that we can actually live without our phones plus it’s a lovely reminder of what life was like before our smartphones. I have a landline plus an actual alarm clock, so I can do this trial separation in it’s entirety and that’s not just put your phone somewhere else, but with it still on and not just have my phone on airplane mode, the separation means phone off. Completely and utterly off. So, there are a few things I need to do to prepare for it. I need to:

Identify what I’m taking a break from: Catherine suggests that you take a break from all screens. It is meant to be a dramatic break. However, she does leave some screens up to us as to whether we want a break from them. The screens that we most definitely have to take a break from are: our phones (obvs), iPads, laptops, smartwatches and PCs. She does leave whether we take a break from TV and films up to us though. I’m going to watch a couple of programmes this evening and then that will be it. No TV during the day tomorrow though. Sooooo, what am I going to do with my time? Interact with my family?!?! Jeez.

Tell people what you’re doing: I’m probably not going to bother. Other than my husband and child obviously. The only people that will probably try and contact me is my Mum and she contacts me on the landline, so that will be fine.

Get others on board: Yes, I am trying to get both my husband and child on board. I will update you as to whether I was successful or not though.

Make plans: I’m planning on doing some baking with my child tomorrow. I also want to read a lot and if I’m up to it- go for a walk.

Use hard-copy instructions: I don’t think I need to do this and we’re not doing or travelling anywhere new.

Get a pad or paper or notebook: This is so I can make a list of things to do on my phone when I switch it back on again. Catherine reckons that by the time, I turn my phone back on, I probably won’t care about them anymore.

Set an automated phone greeting: Nah, I’m not going to bother to do this.

Create a physical contact list: Yes, probably a good idea to write down a few numbers, just in case.

Use call forwarding: I’m not going to bother doing this either, but apparently you can have calls forwarded from your mobile onto your landline.

Set an out of office response: Nope. Ain’t doing this either.

Set an automated text message response: I might do this (though I need to look into how to do it), but it sends an automatic response to anyone who sends you a text, informing them that you’re not currently checking your texts. It might be useful.

Day 20 & 21- Your Trial Separation. I decided to start my trail separation on Friday evening, so that it ended Saturday evening. I had to time it to finish by Saturday evening as it was the Eurovision Song Contest and I was’t missing that for anything. And guess what? I actually managed to persuade both my daughter and my husband to do the whole no screens thing for 24hrs. The things that we did instead of looking at screens was: bake, read, walk around town, play board games and play fish and chip shops (that last one was definitely my daughter’s idea). I will reflect on the experience of my trial separation or my phone-fast at the beginning of next week’s plan.

So, that’s the end of week 3. Tune in next Wednesday (it’s a 30 day trial, so week 4 is slightly longer) to see how I get on with the final week. And if you feel like joining in too, comment below on how you’re getting on.

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How To Break Up With Your Phone- week 2

I’m currently following the How To Break Up With Your Phone plan as featured in the book (of the same title) by Catherine Price. Last week, I talked about how and why I hate using my phone so much and kicked off the first week of the plan. You can read about it HERENow it’s week 2 and here’s what I had to do every day this week.

Week Two- Changing Your Habits

Day 8- say “no” to notifications

Today, I’m instructed to turn off all notifications on my phone. Catherine references the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov who managed to condition dogs to salivate every time they heard a bell. He did this by giving them a treat every time they heard the bell and the dopamine in their brains caused them to salivate every time they heard the bell. Catherine suggests that our brains reaction to notifications is similar to that of Pavlov’s dogs and I agree with her. Luckily, as I mentioned last week, I have most of my notifications turned off anyway. I only had to turn off my email notification. I decided to leave notifications on for both my phone and text messages (I don’t get many texts anyway). I also decided to leave on my Parentmail notifications as it is good to know I’d be alerted immediately if there is anything I need to know in regards to my daughter’s school, especially in the case of emergencies. Everything else, I ensured was off.

Day 9- the life changing magic of tidying apps

Today, I’m going to tidy all of my apps up into specific folders. The idea of this is to slow down my app usage. It gives me a chance to briefly question how essential my usage of it is. The other reason, is that if you don’t clearing see your little app icons, you are also less tempted to use them and scroll through them. There should be at the most six folder categories that our apps can come under. They are:

  • Tools: apps that improve your life without stealing your attention i.e. maps, camera, weather, music, actual phone. These are the only apps allowed to stay on your homepage as they serve a practical purpose without being tempting. It s a judgement call as to whether we leave our internet browser on the home page (I won’t be for now).
  • Junk food apps: fun or useful apps to use for a short amount of time, but are hard to stop using once you start. I had to ask myself do these apps steal my attention more than they steal it? If an app’s risks outweigh its benefits, then I have to delete it. Examples are social media, news apps, shopping apps, messaging apps, email, games, internet browser
  • Slot Machine apps: these are apps that don’t improve your life AND steal your attention. And the message here is delete them. Examples are social media, shopping apps, games, dating apps (so you might have certain social media apps in the Junk Food folder and some in this folder. Depending on how they personally effect your life.
  • Clutter: apps that you never use. They don’t steal your attention, but they don’t improve your life either. I can either delete them or hide them all in a folder and hide the folder on the third page of my phone.
  • Utility apps: apps that serve some practical purpose, but improve your daily life enough to define as a full-time tool. Examples are Find iPhone, the App store.
  • The Undeletables: annoying apps that can’t be deleted. Put them in a folder and leave on your third page.

Catherine also suggests that if you find your phone too tempting after doing this then to turn it to “greyscale”. You can do this in your settings. It turns everything grey, which then makes your phone less appealing to use. I did this last year and whilst it did effect my usage at first, I actually quickly got used to it and carried on using it as I did before, so I didn’t bother doing it again.

I also, need to edit my menu bar. Email needs to be removed from it and perhaps replace less tempting apps with tool apps.

At the end of doing all this, I was left with a homepage with my life-improving apps, on my second screen were my junk food apps (there were a lot of these and I still haven’t re-added Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that I deleted last week) and on my third page were my occasionally used utility apps in one folder and my undeletables and clutter in another folder. This is what my home page now looks like. I wish I’d taken a “before” photo, but it was full of social media, IMDb, Wikipedia, Amazon and eBay.

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Yes YouTube Kids is there, but trust me- it’s not me that uses that

Day 10- change where you charge it. Today, I have to change where I charge my phone at night. Most people charge them in their bedroom and sleep with their phone next to them in bed. This means that people end looking at their phone last thing at night (often delaying when they go to sleep) and first thing int he morning, and possibly during the night if they wake up. This is another area where I’m surprisingly quite good. I don’t have my phone near me at night, BUT it is in my bedroom. I charge it right over the other side of the room. However, this does still tempt me to go on my phone when I get up in the morning instead of jumping straight into the shower and this inevitably makes me late to leave the house. Every single day. So, despite not sleeping with it near me, I still need to change where I charge it at night. Therefore, I’ll be charging it downstairs from now on. The only time I’ll have it near me at night, is when my husband is working away. Catherine strongly advises that you buy a non-phone alarm clock to help remove your phone from the bedroom and luckily I had one already.

Day 11- set yourself up for success.  So today, is all about thinking about what I’d like to do instead of being on my phone and setting myself up, so that I actually do those thing I want to do. So for example, if I want to read in the evening instead of faffing on my phone, I should leave my phone in a different part of the house and make sure my book is nearby instead. Pretty simple stuff. So, as reading more is exactly what I want to do more of, I shall be leaving my phone in another room in the evening. I have to say, today was the day I found my old habits starting to creep back. I think this might be that I’m getting used to accessing social media via a web browser, so I think tomorrow’s task might be good timing.

Day 12- download an app blocker. There are clever apps that you can use that restrict or schedule your apps usage (yes I know- an app that stops you from using apps. Get over it). Even though, I feel like I’m starting to spend a bit more time on my phone again, it’s still a lot less time and I don’t think I’m there yet with needing to schedule when I can use apps, BUT I think it’s a really good idea and I might return to this. What I will do is long out of social media on my web browser though.

Day 13- set boundaries. Today is about setting up physical boundaries when it comes to your phone usage. Thankfully, I have already set some of these up, but I do need to ensure I’m consistently using these boundaries. The dinner table is a no phone zone.

  • No phones allowed at the table whilst eating. I’m very good at this when I’m eating as a family, but if I’m by myself I’m on my phone, so I need to make sure I’m setting uptake same boundary when I’m by myself as when I’m with my family.
  • No phones in the bedroom. I had already done this the other day. The only time I can have my phone in the bedroom is when my husband works away.
  • Don’t use my phone for the first hour of the day. As I leave my phone downstairs to charge overnight now, this naturally ensures that I don’t do this.
  • I’d also like to not use my phone after 9pm. I didn’t start doing this today, but I will do over the next few days.

Day 14- stop phubbing. Do you know what phubbing is? It’s short for phone snubbing. It’s when you snub the person you’re with and use your phone instead. I’m very good at not doing this when I’m with friends and extended family, but I am terrible at phubbing both my husband and child. You know, the two most important people in my life. This has to stop now. I need to make myself really conscious of the fact that I’m doing this. Catherine also makes suggestions on how to stop other people phubbing in your company, but I just don’t think I’m brave enough to tell other people to put their phone down when they’re with me. Not yet anyway. I can see it will increasingly annoy me though. So the golden rule with phubbing is that it is not okay to pull your phone out if you’re using it to distance yourself from the people you’re meant to be interacting with. So, maybe you don’t need to check how many likes you’ve got for that photo of your dinner you put on Instagram when you’re meant to be having tea with Aunt Mavis.

So, that’s the end of week 2. Tune in next Monday to see how I get on with week 3. And if you feel like joining in too, comment below on how you’re getting on.

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How To Break Up With Your Phone- week 1

Gaaahhhhh. Enough, enough, ENOUGH! I am so fed up of myself. So fed up of wasting my time on my phone, caught within a cycle of social media platforms. So fed up of not being productive and frustratingly reading yet another click bait article about how some celebrities look older than -shock horror- they did when they were 30 years younger (who knew people looked older as they got older). I’m also fed up of the neck ache that seems to accompany me most days and I hold my mobile phone use fully responsible for this. I am also becoming painfully aware that I am some kind of role model to my daughter (god help her) and seeing me hunched over my phone most of the time, is not…cool. So I read the wonderful and fascinating Irresistible by Adam Atler (my review of it can be found here). It gives a very insightful look into why us humans get addicted in general and why we are becoming addicted to our phones and the internet. Whilst this book was great and equally terrifying, it still wasn’t enough to stop me from picking up my phone every 5 seconds to check if anyone has “liked” a recent photo that I’ve uploaded or to complete a Buzzfeed quiz to find out which Parks & Recreation character I am (Donna obvs). I needed to be nannied and told exactly how I can break free from my habitual and unnecessary use of my phone.

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And along came How To Break Up With Your Phone. Not only did this very simply and succinctly reiterate everything that I learnt in Adam Atler’s book, but the majority of the book is a step by step daily guide of how to -well- break up with my phone. The plan stretches over 4 weeks and at the end of it one will no longer be addicted to one’s phone. Hooray! I love this book as Catherine doesn’t believe in just going cold turkey. She believes you need to understand firstly, why you’re reaching for your phone so often. She also feels that not using your phone at all, ever again just isn’t realistic. There’s nothing wrong with going on social media or indeed doing the odd Buzzfeed quiz, it’s when your phone use is addictive that it becomes problematic. It’s not the phones nor social media that are the issue, it’s how much and how often you use them that is. The scariest part of this book is how our phone use is changing how our brains work and shortening our concentration span. This in turn is changing society as a whole and making us much less empathetic. This is not good. So, for the next 4 weeks, I will be doing the How To Break Up With Your Phone programme and detailing how I get on with the daily tasks. Here is how I got on with the first week.

[By the way, this week’s post is a bit wordy, but I think the following weeks’ posts will be less so. Also, I’ve been completely honest with myself in my answers as I won’t get anywhere if I don’t look at thing truthfully.]

Week One- Technology Triage

Day 1- download a tracking app

So, my first day is fairly easy. I just had to download an app that monitors how much you use your phone every day and how many times you pick it up. I used the Moments app. I had to write down what I predicted these numbers would be. I predicted that I used my phone for 2hrs every day and picked it up around 30 times a day. I have a feeling though these predictions might be waaaaaaay out. Time will tell.

Day 2- Asses your current relationship

Today I just had to answer four questions.

  1. What do you love about your phone?  I love it! I hate it! I love it! I hate it! Ok, so I love the convenience of it. I love being able to research things quickly and buy things swiftly. I love how easy it makes keeping in contact with friends (though I also worry that social media and phones make me less sociable. We don’t keep in contact with friends in the same way as before. We don’t call people up to see how they are as we know or rather think we know how they are via their social media).
  2. What don’t you love about your phone? I hate how it is a gigantic rabbit hole. I pick up my phone to do something quickly and than BAM two hours later I’m still faffing about doing nothing in particular. It is the biggest waste of time and stops me from being productive. I also hate how my phone use sometimes results in me ignoring people rather engaging. There is also the added pressure I feel from my phone to reply to emails/texts/messages/comments. It sometimes feels never-ending and not because I’m so wonderfully popular, but because phones and social media have been designed this way. Then there’s the RSI…
  3. What changes do you notice in yourself  -positive or negative- when you spend a lot of time on your phone? It actually makes me less sociable with the people that I’m with. Ironically, as I’ll be using social media most of the time I’m on my phone. I also feel slightly twitchy and that there’s always something else that I should be checking or doing on my phone (oh my god I AM addicted). I can also get irritable with people around me, if I get engrossed with something on my phone and they have the gall to demand my attention (I’m the actual worst). Since having a smartphone, my concentration span has definitely deteriorated. I find I start doing one thing, then within moments I start thinking about doing another and have to break off to start doing that and so on. I’m far too easily distracted and I never used to be like this. I also find that I don’t make my brain think for itself. Need to remember where I’ve seen that actor before? No need to try and think of the answer myself. I just need to quickly look it up on my phone. My short term memory is now pretty awful. That could be age of course, but I do think my phone use has something to do with it.
  4. Imagine yourself a month from now, at the end of your break-up. What would you like your new relationship with your phone to look like? What would you like to have done or accomplished with your extra time? I would just like to be freer from it, not chained to it. I want to stop wasting time on it doing useless things (I agree that doing this from time to time is perfectly fine). I want to be more in the moment and not engrossed in a screen all the time. I’d like to stop and observe things around me. I want to stop reaching for it all the time and for it to be the first thing I do whenever I get a chance. With my extra time, I would like to read and write more. My daughter has noticed that I use my phone a lot and I would like her to notice that this has changed and that I use my phone a lot less. I would like to be more engaged with her in the mornings and after school too. If I faff less on my phone, then I’ll have more time to do any essential internet tasks. I would like to do these essential things that I need to do on the internet when I’m not with my daughter, so by the time that she sees me on my phone is minimal. Easy peasy, yes?

Day 3- start paying attention

Today, things got slightly more…mindful. I had to observe my phone use over 24hrs. I had to change my lock screen to something that would prompt me to think about how I was using my phone. Catherine suggested I changed it do note saying “Why did you pick me up?”, but then I found that passive aggressive, like my phone was trying to start an argument, so I changed it to “Notice”. These are the things I had to think about:

  1. Situations that you nearly always find yourself using your phone: in queues, when my daughter is watching TV, when my husband is doing the bedtime routine, when I’m waiting for something, after I’ve watched my evening TV programmes before bed, when I first get out of bed, when my daughter is eating her breakfast, during the day when I’m working from home- I am constantly picking it up and putting it back down again, as soon as I get out of the shower. Quite a lot then.
  2. How your posture changes when I use my phone: very slumped. Neck bent over. It’s a very insular pose.
  3. Your emotional state right before you reach your phone: bored, sometimes anxious, restless.
  4. Your emotional state right after you use your phone: bored, sometimes anxious, restless and frustrated with myself.
  5. How and how often my phone grabs my attention (i.e. notifications etc): actually not that often. I’m wise enough to turn ALL notifications off and I rarely get texts. I have to go in to apps to see if I have any messages or comments.
  6. How you feel while you are using your phone as well as how you feel when you don’t have your phone: while I use it I feel frustrated and annoyed quite often (WHY THE FUDGE DO I USE IT SO OFTEN THEN?!). I occasionally feel relaxed if I’m having a funny conversation with a friend. When I don’t have my phone, I feel one of two things. If I’ve recently posted something and I don’t have my phone nearby, I feel twitchy and unable to concentrate. If I haven’t posted anything recently, without my phone I feel chilled.
  7. Moments (either on or off my phone) when I feel engaged, energised, joyful, effective and purposeful- what was I doing and who was I with? I felt energised and purposeful after finishing a piece of work. I was not on my phone and by myself. I felt engaged and joyful when chatting and laughing with my family.
  8. How and when other people use their phones and how does it make you feel? Oh this is when I actually feel dreadful. My husband came home from work and I start telling him about my day and he just gets his phone out and starts reading a text. It made me feel so annoyed. He had put this person that texted him before the person right in front of him that had started talking to him before he received the text. The worst thing is, I do this to him ALL THE TIME. So I must make him feel this annoyed. I told you that I’m the worst. I also really hate seeing people on their phones when out for meals or at bars. What’s the point in making the effort and spending money to go out and socialise with the people you’re with if you’re just going to ignore each other? I am glad to say that this is not something I do. At least, I hope I don’t. Shoot me if I do.

Day 4- take stock and take action

Oh God and today we analyse the data I’ve been collecting since day 1.

The results from the tracking app: Okaaaaay, so bearing in mind I happened to be tracking my usage during the two days I work in an office, where I never use my phone and also it happens to be the Easter holidays, so I’m out and about with my little darling and not using my phone as much as I normally would, my results are….3.5hrs a day usage and I picked my phone up on average at least 60 times a day. So what would my data results have been if it was a normal day working from home with my chid at school?! I dread to think. Needless to say my predictions were way out.

So, after this I tracked my usage when my daughter went back to school and I wasn’t working and I used my phone for 5hrs and picked it up 81 times in one day. FFS.

Notice what you’ve noticed: reflecting on what I noticed when I was using my phone, what patterns did I notice and what surprised me? That using my phone didn’t alleviate boredom. That I used it most when sitting on my couch. That it was a reflex that most of the time I wasn’t even aware of. That it caused more frustration than pleasure.

Day 5- delete social media apps 

So, today is the day that I delete all social media apps. Wtf? Seriously? Ok, so this isn’t an irreversible action, I can still check social media via a browser and Catherine does explain that later on in the programme I will be “reintroduced” to these apps, but for now- they’ve got to go. Okaaaaaay.

Also, Catherine introduces me to the WWW speed bump. Every time I go to use my phone or the internet, I have to ask myself:

  • What for? (why am I using it?)
  • Why now? (why am I using it right at this moment and not later?)
  • What else? (what could I be doing right now instead of using my phone?)

The idea is that if I ask myself these questions every time I reach for my phone, the delay creates an obstacle that slows down the action of reaching for my phone. This gives us the opportunity to change course i.e. decide to do something else. It’s a pause between our impulse and our actions.

So, now I’ve deleted all my social media apps (I deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). Whilst I did find myself just logging in on a browser and checking those platforms, I did fid that there were plenty of times that I reached for my phone and couldn’t be bothered to check social media as it wasn’t quite going to be as quick and simple as normal, so I *gasp* just put my phone back down again. I have to say, jut doing this alone was already making a difference.

Day 6- come back to (real) life

So, now without my social media apps, I need to start thinking about how I’m going to spend this reclaimed time. Catherine suggested some prompts to help me think about this.

I’ve always loved to: walk, write, sing, socialise

I’ve always wanted to: write a book or play

When I was a kid I was fascinated by: music, books and animals (and Shakin’ Stevens, but I don’t think that’s relevant right now)

If I had more time, I would like to: play with my daughter, go for walks, bake, read and write more

Some activities that I know put me into flow are: socialising and getting fresh air.

People I would like to spend more time with: more quality time with daughter, my husband and my friends (and my family, but they love 200 miles, so more difficult to see them frequently).

Next, I need to make a list of several specific fun off-phone things to do over the next few days/rest of the programme: go for a walk, read, play a game with my daughter

Day 7- get physical

Today, unsurprisingly, Catherine asks that we do something physical. Her point being that she wants us to remember we’re not just a brain sitting on top of a body. So, I went for a long walk with my daughter. It was kind of like killing two birds with one stone [NB: no birds were killed whilst completing this programme]. I had some quality time with my daughter and I got some fresh air and exercise. I do have an issue with doing physical things as I suffer from chronic pain, but luckily today my body allowed me to go for a walk and it was lovely. My daughter was also in her element.

So, that’s the end of week 1. Tune in next Monday to see how I get on with week 2. And if you feel like joining in too, comment below on how you’re getting on.

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I strongly recommend you read this book. Now.

***LAST DAY TO GET YOUR VOTE IN*** Just Another Blog From a Woman has been nominated for an award. If you enjoy my blog and you have a spare few seconds, would you mind voting for me HERE It’s very simple and there’s no need to register or provide an email address, just vote for Just Another Blog From a Woman under the Best Pal category. Thank you SO much.

Don’t Make Me Go Out

Oh my God, please don’t make me go out on a night out. Don’t make me go out out. I’m very almost 42 year of age and I’ve finally come to the conclusion, I fucking hate going out. Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an anti-social piece. I love socialising. I love my friends. I love getting together with them for a gossip  discussion about world politics and down bucket loads of pinot grigio enjoy a tipple or two with them, BUT going out into the outside world and rubbing shoulders with strangers just isn’t my ideal way to spend my spare time anymore.

I’ve been thinking about my favourite social appointments that I’ve had over the last year and which ones I’ve enjoyed the most. Every single one of them has involved being inside a home rather than actually being out.

1) A Halloween party- at a friend’s HOUSE

2) A 50th Birthday party- at my cousin’s HOUSE

3) A wedding anniversary party- at my aunt’s HOUSE

4) My Mum’s 70th- at my brother’s HOUSE

5) Drinks with all my Mum friends- at one of their HOUSES

6) A dinner party- at a friend’s HOUSE

7) A New Year’s Eve party- at a friend’s HOUSE

You get the idea. Love socialising. Hate being in the real world.

Advantages to socialising in homes rather than the real world:

  • don’t have to queue to get a drink
  • economically pleasing
  • nice and cosy. Ooh I do like cosy
  • much more comfortable. Call me boring, but I like a seat and a comfortable seat at that
  • I can actually hear what people are saying
  • not as much pressure to dress up. I think I’m done with dressing up. I can’t wear heels anyway and I’ve no interest in anyone else finding me sexually attractive and quite frankly, I just can’t be arsed.
  • you get to stay in one place the whole evening. No faffing about, walking from bar to bar and as this is the UK- usually in the rain.
  • don’t have to contend with being felt up at the bar. Some people might actually miss this special feature of going out out though.
  • free snacks
  • warmer. Your evening begins inside. You stay inside.
  • More potential to have control over what music is played.

Advantages of going out out:

  • I like pub quizzes. I don’t mind going out for a pub quiz. And just staying in that pub all evening. You know, a nice cosy pub with comfortable seats and an open fire and music not too loud. Like a home from home kind of pub.
  • And I like eating out because you know- food. However, not too often. And I prefer eating out during the day really to be honest. A boozy lunch. I’m up for that.
  • Going out in the evening is good if you like going out in the evening. I don’t.

Now please understand, when I have gone out out with friends, I’ve had plenty of excellent nights. It’s just that as I get older and let’s be completely honest here more boring and much, much more lazy, I like these nights out to be few and far between. Unless you’re inviting me to your gaff for a knees up, then I’d be there in a shot. In all seriousness, I really struggle to hear what’s being said when I go out out, so increasingly it’s just not that much fun for me. The best nights I’ve had out out in recent years have been nights out with just one other person and that’s probably because everything they say is directed towards me at close proximity i.e. I get to hear most of what they say. However, hearing problems aside, I do also feel like I’m a lazy arse when it comes to going out out, so I still don’t think I could be bothered to go to the effort of going out even if I could hear perfectly.

In conclusion, going out is shit and I’m surprised it’s still a thing. Staying in is everything.

What about you? Are you team going out or team staying in?

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Here’s a recent picture of me going out whilst remaining inside a house. I thoroughly recommend it.

 

Memories of the Grandadest of Grandads

A while ago I wrote a piece for the wonderful Angela at You Are Awesome about what makes a good grandad and I talked about my own amazing grandfather. I’ve just realised that I never shard it with you on this blog. So, with tissues at the ready you can have a read of it here on Angela’s website. Please leave your comments over at her blog too rather than mine and whilst you’re there, check out some of her other posts. Many thanks!

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This photo is of my Grandad in 2010 with my daughter. She is the youngest of his great-grandchildren and as he died in 2013, this meant he got to meet all of his great-grandchildren.

 

Budget Beauty Products

Well, this is an unusual post for me. Whilst, I’ve never written a beauty based post before (and this will probably be the only one I do write), I am in fact a tad obsessed with beauty products, specifically skincare products. However, after giving up my career, I have had to scale back on how much I spend on beauty products. So after several years of trial and error and my unhealthy obsession with finding the best cheap beauty products available, here’s a list of all the best affordable buys out there. I strongly believe you can find beauty products cheaply that are as effective as a more expensive product. Did you know the beauty industry deems anything under £25 as budget? I’m more of an under £10 kind of gal, but as everyone’s idea of “budget” varies, I’ve done three categories for each section, products £10 or under, products £20 or under and one pricier treat (because we all deserve a treat sometimes). Apart from a couple examples, I’ve still tried to make the pricier treats fairly affordable. All products can be bought in the UK and some can be bought in the USA too. For information, my skin type is normal to dry.

BEST CLEANSERS (I find hot cloth cleansing is the most effective way of getting your skin sparkling clean. Hot cloth cleansing is where you apply the cleansing product on dry skin and wash off with a face cloth- as hot as your skin can stand. Most of the below products come with cloths or you can just use any ole flannel, which is actually my preference)

£10 or under:

  • Superdrug Vitamin E Hot Cloth Cleanser (£4.99)IMG_8067
  • Superdrug Naturally Radiant Hot Cloth Cleanser (£5.99)
  • Superfacialist Rose Hydrate Cleanser (£7.99)
  • No.7 Hot Cloth Cleanser (Usually £10, but with the £5 voucher you often receive in store, this is only £5 and lasts forever)

£20 or under:

  • Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser (15)
  • Balance Me Restore & Replenish (£18)
  • Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel (£20)

Pricier Treat

  • Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser (£29.50)

DAY SERUM

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No.7 Lift & Luminate Serum

£10 or under:

  • Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum (£2.99)

£20 or under:

  • Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Serum (£11)
  • Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum (£17.50)
  • L’Oreal Revitalift Renew Hyaluronic Replumping Serum (19.99)

Pricier treat:

  • No.7 Lift Luminate (£27)

NIGHT SERUM

£10 or under:

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Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Night Serum

  • Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Night serum (£3.99)

£20 or under:

  • Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight serum-in-oil (£16.99)

Pricer treat:

  • Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Comlex II (£53- yeah I know)

DAY CREAM WITH SPF

£10 or under:

  • Simple Regeneration Day Cream Age Resisting SPF15 (£5.99)
  • Superdrug Naturally Radiant Brightening Day Cream SPF15 (£5.99)

£20 or under:

  • Body Shop Vitamin C SPF30 (£13)
  • Superdrug Optimum PhytoDeluxe Day Cream SPF15 (£14.99)
  • Anew Reversalist Complete SPF25 (£16)
  • Olay Total Effect SPF15 (£16.99)

Pricer Treat:

  • Clarins Hydra Quench SPF15 (£34)

DAY CREAM WITHOUT SPF

£10 or under:

  • The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA (£4.90)

£20 or under:

  • Body Shop Vitamin E Moisturiser (£13)
  • Face Theory Regenerating Moisturiser (£13.99)

Pricier treat:

  • Clinique Dramatically Different Lotion £30

NIGHT CREAM

£10 or under:

  • Superdrug Naturally Radiant Renewing Night Cream (£5.99)
  • My Trusty Sunflower Oil (£7.99)
  • Superfacialist Rose Peaceful Skin (£9.99)

£20 or under:

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M&S Formula Night Cream

 

  • Body Shop Vitamin E (£13)
  • Weleda Wild Rose Night Cream (£15)
  • Anew Reversalist Renewal Night Cream (£16)
  • Anew Reversalist Infinite Effects Night Treatment (£19.95)

 

Pricier treat:

  • M&S Formula Absolute Ultimate Sleep Cream (£22)

EYE GEL/CREAM (at night I just use my night cream around my eyes and it’s absolutely fine. I do like to use a gel in the mornings though)

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Boots Essentials Eye Gel

£10 or under:

  • Boots Essentials Cucumber Gel (£1.52)
  • Body Shop Elderflower Cooling Gel (£7)

Pricer treat:

  • Clinique All About Eyes (£27)

EXFOLIATING TONER (forget normal toners, they’re the biggest waste of time and money. Just splash your face with cold water instead and use an exfoliating toner twice a week or so before serum)

£10 or under:

  • Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Acid Toner (£5.99)
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting BHS Liquid Exfolliant (£8)
  • Derma E Refining Vit A Glycolic Toner (£9.60)

£20 or under:

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Clarins Exfolliater Toner

  • REN Clarimatte Clarifying Toner (£15)
  • Pixi Glow Tonic (£18)
  • Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfolliant (£18)
  • FAB Facial Radiance Pads (£20)

Pricer treat:

  • Clarins Gentle Exfolliater Brightening (£25)

FACE MASKS

£10 or under:

  • Simple Deep Cleansing (£4.39)
  • Dr.Organic Rose Otto (£7.99)

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    Dr. Organic Rose Ottot Face Mask

  • Body Shop Warming Mineral Mask (£10)

Pricer Treat:

  • Origins Original Skin Retexturing Rose Clay Mask (£23)

BODY MOISTURISER

£10 or under:

  • Garnier Hydralock Moisturing Milk (£5.65)
  • Neutrogena Deep Moisturing Lotion (£7.65)
  • Yes to Carrots C Smooth Body Moisturing Lotion (£8)
  • Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey (£8.50)

No £20 or pricier treat suggestions for body lotions as the ones above are superior to any more expensive ones that I have ever tried.

HAND CREAM

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Balance Me Hand Cream

£10 or under:

  • Dr Organic Bioactive Skincare Manuka Honey (£5.69)
  • L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream (£8)

£20 or under:

  • Liz Earle Hand Repair (£10.50)
  • Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream (£14.50)

Pricier treat:

  • Aromatherapy Rose Hand Cream (£23)

LIP BALM

£10 or under:

  • Vaseline Lip Therapy (£1.99)

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    Vaseline Limited Edition Lip Therapy

  • Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm (£2.99)

£20 or under:

  • Lanolips 101 Ointment (£10.99)
  • Clinique Super Balm (£12)
  • Clarins Hydra Quench Moisture Lip Balm (£19)

No pricier treat. I think £19 for a lip balm is pricey enough.

SHOWER GEL

£10 or under:

  • Palmolive Naturals (£1.00)
  • Dove Silk Body Wash (£2.55)
  • Yes How to Carrots Nourishing Body Wash (£4.99)
  • Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey (£5)
  • Soaper Duper Vanilla Shea or Passion Fruit (£6.50)
  • Mandala Spa Shower Cream Balti Santi (£7)

£20 or under:

  • Clarins Tonic Bath & Shower Concentrate (£20)

No pricier treat for shower gels as I just cannot justify spending a lot of money on a shower gel.

BUBBLE BATH

£10 or under:

  • Radox Original (£1.99)
  • Waitress Ginger & Clementine (£1.99)
  • Good Things Manuka Honey (£3.49)
  • Body Shop Wild Aragon Oil (£8)

£20 or under:

  • Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey (£12)

Pricier treat:

  • Mio Liquid Yoga Restorative Bath Soak (£26)

Budget beauty tip: When your products start to feel empty, get your scissors out and cut that baby open. You’ll be surprised how much more product is there dwindling at the bottom of the bottle/tube. I never throw away a beauty product that feels empty without cutting it in half first. You’ll save plenty of pennies doing this.

 

 

The Insignificance of Romance

 

sunset-hands-love-woman.jpgWhen I got married, I made the speech that traditionally the groom makes. This isn’t so shocking in itself, but what surprised people more is that my husband didn’t make a speech at all. He (quite wisely) left all the talking to me. Did this bother me? Not even in the slightest. I made the speech because my husband’s greatest fear is public speaking. Whereas for me, it doesn’t remotely bother me. I’d even go as far to say that I quite enjoy it. Just because I don’t have a penis, why should I sit there silently and let my husband do all the talking? Equally, the sexism prevails that a man is automatically expected and pressured to make a speech, but if a woman doesn’t make a speech then nothing is thought of it. Therefore, there was no chance that I was going to make my husband stand up and do a speech, rendering him in panic mode for the duration of our ceremony and reception drinks afterwards, worrying incessantly about the job ahead of making a speech. Nope, it was his day too and he deserved to be relaxed and enjoy it all. As did I. People understood this, but some people still thought he should have made a speech regardless. They still thought he should have stood up and made his declaration of love for me for all to hear. Didn’t I want this on my wedding day? Nah, you’re all right mate. I’ll survive.

For me, I don’t need my man to stand up and announce to a room full of people “hey everyone, I like, really love this woman with all my heart. She’s quite fit ‘n’ all and makes a mean chilli too” (I do make a mean chilli, as it happens). All I want from a man, is to *know* that he loves me without the need for it to be verbally clarified.

You see, I’m not a woman that needs romantic gestures at all. In my twenties, I thought romance was important. I wanted to be spoiled and made to feel special. I wanted flowers, surprises and gifts that he’d given a great deal of thought to. Now in my forties, I see very little importance in it all.

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Now, my husband does indeed buy me the odd treat (my favourite being when I was heavily pregnant and he brought home a Cadbury’s Creme Egg for me- I’m a simple woman) and don’t get me wrong, if a man wants to give me chocolate, I’m not going to throw it back in his face. I’m no idiot. Free chocolate is free chocolate. However, I don’t need and I don’t judge a relationship if one isn’t bestowed with gifts. For me, anyone can go into a shop, pull out money and buy flowers. Money spent and material objects are not love. I don’t need him to buy expensive jewellery to prove his love to me. A flash designer label handbag is not needed to make me feel loved.

For me, things that you cannot see or feel are love. I just need a man to be kind, to listen, to support me, encourage me, bring the best out in me. Who I know will always be my rock. Who I can rely on and whole heartedly trust. And I hope, I also provide these things to my husband in return. Chocolates, flowers and expensive gifts are inferior compared to these things.

I’d even go as far to say that I don’t need a man to say “I love you”. I’d much rather feel it, than hear it. Romantic platitudes have no soul for me. A profound connection with a man is everything. Romance is nothing, but two dimensional.

And when it comes to weddings, I certainly do not want to criticise anyone’s choice on how they want to spend their wedding day. It’s a very personal thing and what suits one couple won’t suit another. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed big, expensive weddings. They’re a lovey day out. And of course, you can have a huge wedding and still be a couple madly and genuinely in love. However, for me personally fancy table decorations, elaborate flower arrangements, wedding dresses that cost thousands of pounds and an engagement ring that costs 3 times your monthly salary (or whatever bollox that rule is) is not love. Long speeches about how much you love someone (whether it be on your wedding day, on Facebook or down the pub) is not love. The person making the speech about their love, may of course genuinely mean it and feel it, but it’s not imperative to a relationship or marriage in the slightest. Any fool can talk, any fool can spend money. Love does not cardinally prevail in these tokens. Love just is.

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On our wedding day, happy and relaxed.

In Celebration of Food

Recently, the wonderful food writer and eat what you want advocate, Ruby Tandoh wrote a piece about the nostalgia of food. The simple kind of food that gives you instance gratification. That makes you feel safe and at home and easily fills you with joy. And most importantly the kind of food that makes you feel like you. She talked about Mars Bars and cheddar cheese a lot (girl after my own heart/stomach). Whilst, I’m generally in love with food 99.9% of the time, her piece rekindled my love of food even more. It reminded me that it is only to be enjoyed. That it is never to feel guilty about and that it is a privilege that I have easy, ready access to it. In honour of food and the simple, but wonderful pleasures it brings, I have written a list of food that gives me great oral pleasure (maybe I should reword that sentence, but Imma just gonna leave it as it is). It’s a very personal list, as what food brings you comfort and makes you feel at home, can only be unique to yourself.

Hot crumpets oozing with butter (never margarine).

Jacket potato with baked beans (always Heinz), cheese and yes lots of butter.

Seasonal strawberries and sugar served at room temperature.

Fried halloumi cheese, nicely browned on both sides.

Thin pancakes served on Pancake Day with sugar and freshly squeezed lemon.

Baked bananas with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows down the middle, so it’s nice and gooey when you open up the banana.

Mum’s roast dinner, with the roast potatoes done just right.

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Enjoying one of Mum’s roast dinners on Christmas Day in (possibly) 1979. Yes I am the rosy cheeked child and yes that is a bottle of Brut aftershave in the back ground.

Mum’s macaroni cheese with more cheese than necessary.

Homemade bread, still warm, so the butter slightly melts with raspberry jam.

Marmite soldiers dipped in a boiled egg.

Crunchie ice creams.

Crunchies.

Tunnock’s Teacakes

Hot chocolate overflowing with mini marshmallows

Fish and chips from the local chippy or eaten at the seaside in the wind.

Toasted brioche with Nutella and mascarpone

Fluffy pancakes served with strawberries and maple syrup on a lazy Sunday morning.

Pret’s chocolate mousse

Sweet potato fries dipped in Mayo.

Wensleydale cheese with cranberries on a digestive biscuit

Thornton’s Mini Caramel Shortcake Bites

Scottish Shortbread

Cinnamon and raisin bagels with, you’ve guessed it, lots of butter.

Marks & Spencer’s Raspberry jelly pots.

Plain bagels toasted with cheese and marmite.

Egg fried rice from the local Chinese takeaway. Preferably eaten whilst drunk.

Spaghetti served in any which way.

Walkers Prawn Cocktail crisps (the Daddy of crisps).

Homemade apple and blackberry crumble served with hot custard.

Maltesers in the cinema.

Bangers and mash with really creamy mash, gravy and peas.

Scones (pronounced like phone, no need to correct me) with BUTTER, jam and clotted cream.

Betty’s Fat Rascals.

Moist chocolate brownies. Oh yes. Moist.

Vegetable Korma with pilau rice and garlic naan bread dipped in mango chutney.

Pizza Express Fiorentina pizza (no olives thanks)

Fresh warm doughnuts served with sugar and cinnamon. This one is officially better than sex.

Nectarines in summer.

Clementines in winter.

Dad’s green beans from the garden.

Cheese and pineapple sticks, straight from the 80s.

Plain chocolate hobnobs

Rich tea biscuits dipped in tea (most underrated biscuits ever)

Lemon curd yogurt

Fishfinger sandwiches (please ignore Em Linthorpe’s view on fishfingers. She knows nothing).

Chocolate buttons.

Licked cake batter off of a wooden spoon.

Marks and Spencer’s Percy Pigs (my version of crack)

Cadbury’s Creme Eggs (I lied. These are my crack)

Nobbly Bobbly ice lollies.

Orange Smarties

Green & Blacks Dark Chocolate

Toasted marshmallows, slightly burnt

Corn on the cob. Lots of butter.

Prawn Cocktail in a glass.

Wagamama’s Katsu Curry

McVitie’s Jamaica Cake

Pub lasagne with bubbling cheese on top served with garlic bread and a token bit of salad (and I always eat every single scrap of it)

Lemon.Drizzle.Cake.

Enjoy your food and savour every taste. It’s a privilege.

 

You can read more about my thoughts on food and body image here

And you can sign up for Ruby’s brilliant tiny letters about food here.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for sometime, but Suzie’s excellent blog post here finally prompted me to.