Friday, June 28, 2013

Perfect, Little Notebooks Make Great Gifts!

The English school year wraps up in just a few short weeks and has some parents thinking "Teachers Gifts!" But fear not, I have just the thing for you! A personalized notebook! I had the wonderful opportunity to review just such a thing from

The line I reviewed are specifically marketed as teachers gifts, but frankly, they make a great gift for anyone anytime! Made By Ellis also makes beautiful invitations and thank you cards.

The designs have a simple, hand-made feel to them, but have the quality of a professional printer.

Though I'm typically partial to wire-bound notebooks, which they do carry, I couldn't resist this cover design. Then, I chose my two lines of text and just a couple of days later the notebook was in my hands!

The notebook is approximately A6 in size and fits perfectly into the small purse I carry. It's just right for keeping on me at all times to jot down notes or ideas that come while out and about.

Plus, it has a bookmark and a little pocket at the back just right for receipts or business cards or whatever! I haven't left home without it since I received it a couple of weeks ago.

This is the kind of stationary that gets a writer's blood pumping. It feels like a book, it's of superb quality and it's just right for dreaming, wishing and writing. And the good news is the shipping is very affordable, even internationally!

You can view all of their products and designs at and visit them on Facebook too!

Disclosure: I received this notebook free of charge for review purposes. No other compensation was provided. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blooming Like English Roses

It's been just over two weeks since I blogged and a week since I vlogged, which I didn't bother to post on this site, but if you missed it, you can watch here and hear my updates on the blog, moving and a bit on Scarlet Fever - my girl had it!

It's been so refreshing and relaxing to step back from the blog and social media in general. I'm on Facebook more often, so if you aren't my 'friend' or you don't already follow me there, head on over! I'm posting mesmerizing status updates several times a day. ;) It's such a fun, easy way to stay connected to friends and family, plus follow my favorite blogs in one place. I have to say, FB still has it over G+ for me.

Doesn't that look fun? Thank you, Ikea (photo credit)!
We have finally settled on a house! The paperwork is in now, so hopefully everything will go smoothly and we'll be moving in August 21st. It's furnished, so we don't have to worry about buying furniture that we'll only have to sell or ship within a year. However, we will be going from 4 bedrooms to 3, so bunk beds are in order for the younger two; actually I think we'll be doing a reversible bed so they still have some room on the floor to play. If The Boy decides he doesn't like being up high, you just turn it over! Cool, right?

Nature Girl is going to be the one with her own room. She needs a quiet space to escape from her boisterous siblings!

It's a much, much smaller house, but I'm looking at the bright side - less to clean!!! And the garden is just as big, if not as beautiful and manicured as this one. The fun part to that, though, is that I get to put my stamp on it!!

I'll miss Pheasants in the back yard, though not their poop. I'll really miss the beautiful, winding roads that lead to school, yet I'll enjoy a much shorter drive in the next house; it's less than a mile from the school I am hoping the girls will get into. I'll miss the gorgeous roses that reach as high as the roof and how wonderful they smell in a vase on my kitchen table.

And I'll miss the friends that I'm just starting to make; the mums who have become my morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up companions. Their children who sweetly wave at me and say hello. I am saddened to move my little guy from a school he has come to love and the friends and teachers he has become attached to there.

Yet, I know from experience, we'll all settle in again. This time for the girls and I, more quickly. We know how it works now. We'll be braver and more assertive as we take the step toward new friendships once more. I'll jump in faster to get involved because I know it's good for me and when Mommy is happy, everyone is happier.

Yes, the more you welcome change into your life, the easier it becomes. The more risks you take, the more often you step out of your comfort zone, the more you grow and bloom. And that's what we are all doing here; blooming like English Roses.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Direction Confirmed and Buckets of Gratitude

Wow! What a wonderful outpouring of support from faithful readers, friends and family. You are the ones who count, who matter. I write to and for you. You've listened (read), pondered and shared your thoughts and it has helped so much! I am grateful.

I knew my answer as I finished that post (need to catch up? Read that post), but through all of your comments and insights, a new, slightly altered, answer evolved. I thank you for that.

Survey Says (can't you just hear the guy saying that?):

Direction one: I'm keeping the blog! Thanks to you! You helped me see that shade of gray. I have decided, however, that I am no longer going to be promoting it or trying to build it. Of course, I'll still post my links on FB/Twitter/G+, but without the goal of building my audience. Now, it is just to share it with those readers who connect with me on a level that keeps you coming back here to read more.

I'll also be removing my review/giveaway tab soon. I have a few reviews in the works, so I'll complete those and then I likely won't do anymore unless it is for something I simply can't refuse! Like a steam mop. ;) I'm serious. Or fun ones that make sense for me to do with my kids, like one coming up on gardening with kids for BritMums. And Vlogging. I'll keep Vlogging because I just freaking LOVE to Vlog and practice here will actually help me down the road.

The blog will be just for fun now. I think I'll still switch the "A" part to "Adventures" though, because it fits better! It's easier to write here than to write letters individually to everyone back home and around the world that I like to keep in touch with. I think I may start a weekly (or whenever!) "Letters home" series.

Direction two is the winner!!! I have reached a point in my life where I can no longer ignore the call of my soul. You might refer to it as God's call or something different. But you know, at least if you've felt it, exactly what I mean. I have felt this calling for nearly 20 years. I'm coming back full circle now after being distracted for a very long time!

On Friday, after I posted and asked you for your opinions, I received confirmation of my path in two different ways. One was simply the way I felt when I wrote about becoming a Passion Test Facilitator. I felt alive, excited, vibrant, yes - passionate! I had a whole body "YES!" going on! (Don't know what the Passion Test is? Read about it here)

The second way was in helping two friends. One was inspired to step back into doing something she loves (and is damn good at) - writing. Like so many of us do, she had let life distract her. The "shoulds" took over. With a tiny nudge, from just a few interactions with me, she was able to grant herself permission again to start writing again. Yay!

The second friend needed to be heard, understood, validated. So, I listened, understood, and validated her. I could feel that I helped her and that felt good. Really good. It felt right. On Purpose. My purpose.

Fear is the Devil's work, some say. Today, I strip fear of it's power.

No longer will I be afraid of either failure or success. I will love myself and believe in my abilities and natural gifts. I will no longer fear what people will think of me. I know these fears will creep up now and then, but I vow to regularly practice losing these fears and loving myself. Practice! Practice! Practice! Those who-do-you-think-you-are voices that pop up from social conditioning will no longer rule my roost. 

I'm opening up here and telling you that I have this palpable fear that people (the ones that matter to me) will think I've gone woo-woo or weird as I begin to talk more about the Law of Attraction (an area in which I'm certified to teach), Energy, Spirituality as I experience it (not through my Roman Catholic upbringing), Personal Transformation and of course, how Affirmative Thought can change your life! 

Today, I embrace my path. My purpose. My future as a great Transformational Leader and Speaker here to make a positive impact on women and the world. First Stop: Passion Test Certification! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Change the Name or Scrap it Completely

Hi Friends.

I'm having a crisis of focus and clarity and I'm facing decision time. I am torn in two directions, but by splitting my focus I am stalling progress. Will you weigh in with your thoughts, please?

Direction one: This blog. 

The Pros: I love blogging. I love writing and connecting with so many other wonderful bloggers out there. I love documenting portions of my life here and having my family and friends (and perfect strangers) following along. I love getting free stuff to review! Plus, I can do this anywhere, anytime with no constraints.

The Cons: Time and energy are spent with little true, meaningful or monetary return. At three years into the blogosphere, I need to either move on or progress to the next level - a site change (you know it's Wordpress for the pros), a name change and a major makeover are required to turn this hobby-blog into a real business. A last major con is that I really need to be around people, interacting in person, to thrive. I suppose that can be done through networking eventually, but for now it's a very isolated venture. It's fun, but not fulfilling.

Direction two: The Passion Test and Affirmative Thought: 

The Pros: I want to be a Passion Test facilitator. I feel strongly that this is a vital step on my path to serve my purpose on this earth. I believe I am meant to inspire women. To help mothers rediscover the voices lost within the care-taking of their children and families. To guide them to find or reclaim their own passions and to assist them in giving themselves permission to embrace those passions! I want to do this one-on-one, but my real passion is in group work and speaking. I am great with small groups and the stage is where I shine. Affirmative Thought is the website/blog that will be devoted to this mission and my PT business.

The Cons: While I've got the "what" down, the "how" still eludes me. It takes planning and of course, money! My Indiegogo campaign was a flop and we're not in a position to spend anything extra when even groceries feel like a luxury at times. Plus, it's very tricky to schedule certification when I'm not sure where I'll be or when I'll be able to pay for it.

Also, it's a 4-day training, which means 6 days away from my kids(due to travel to and from the location, which occurs on specific dates in different areas of the world - I'm considering Tel Aviv in November or Norway in Jan, but that will change if my country of residence does). My husband will only agree with the travel if he can go with me and leave the children in the care of either his sister, his mother or mine (no judgments, please). Money and logistics are the only real issues here, but they are big ones.

Direction one or Direction two? Photo Credit
If I take direction one, it means committing myself fully to the blog, putting my business hat on and giving it a real go. Which means letting go of the PT dream for now. Success takes focus.

Taking direction two means letting go of this blog, which I'm emotionally attached to. But so much of me goes into it, that there isn't time or energy left for more. It means figuring out what to do with all of my content and make sure it's mine and not Google's.

And if I get really honest with myself, which I always encourage others to do, there's a big fear of failure and inadequacy blocking my way. What if I'm not good at being a Passion Test facilitator? What if I allow myself to get stuck in that fear state and fail because I'm afraid to take action to make things happen? I have a history of lacking determination and failing myself and it's all fear-based. What if I'm not really motivating or inspiring to others? What if most women really have it together and I just think I have a client-base or audience because I had a desperately hard time in the early years of my parenting journey? What if no one wants to hire me or hear me. What if? What if? What if? That's all fear.

Yesterday on my Facebook Page I posted this:

Sometimes the answers you come up with for your toughest life questions are hard to hear. 
Listen anyway.

You can probably tell that I already know my answers, but I am having a real challenge listening.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Vlog Talk: 6 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Summer

I'm looking forward to many things this summer! Like more trips to gorgeous beaches along the English Coast like this one, Barton on Sea. You can see more pictures and read all about that heavenly place here.

Coming Attraction: Cherry Tomatoes - lots of them!

Plus, there's tomatoes, moving and blogging to look forward to, so watch, learn, enjoy, subscribe and most importantly (aside from the watching bit), comment!

And of course, I'm linking up with Mama Kat, so go check out some other vlogs or make your own!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Barton on Sea - Exploring the English Coast

There is something magical about a day at the seaside. The fresh air revives you, the waves entrance you and the sunshine warms your heart.

Living in Hampshire has it's perks. We're just an hour or two from some of the best beaches the English coastline has to offer and finally, the weather is offering the opportunity to truly explore and enjoy a day-trip to the ocean.

Barton on Sea is a gorgeous beach stretching across 5 km (approximately 3 miles) of coastline with views on the Isle of Wight and Highcliff Castle. I was completely taken in by the spread of wildflowers growing on the slope from cliff to sea.

Relieved to be out of a small car with three kids, we started our day with a picnic lunch at the top of the cliff. The view of the ocean was spectacular and limitless. The picnic was cut short, however, by the small bladders of children! Two were content to utilize a spot of tall grass and one decided to wait.

The decent from the cliff-top parking to the beach was a relatively easy walk. It is surely delightful for anyone with cartilage in their knees! I grimaced a bit, but the kids enjoyed the 10-minute or so trek.

I thought it might be too cold, but my three little loves were thrilled to jump and splash in the water, regardless of the temperature! Barely 20 degrees centigrade (68 F), they thought it was a heatwave. And it felt like it after the long, cold, damp winter (even by British standards). The ocean, of course, was still like an ice-bath, but kids hardly notice that!

Eventually, they all stripped down into their bathing suits and played in the water until their teeth chattered. Then with towels and warm sand to ward off hypothermia, they recovered with a snack. 

The beach is rocky with patches of sand where the tide comes in and it's heaven for fossil-hunters. Don't spend too much time near the edge of the cliff, though. There are plenty of slips and much of it is cordoned off to keep visitors safely away from the eroding edges that are so tempting to look over! 

For those who love a bit of climbing, there are magnificent rocks stretching out into the surf to adventure upon, but I kept my little ones on the sand.  

Just over an hours drive from the Basingstoke area, Barton on Sea's cheap parking, portaloos and gorgeous views makes for a day at the beach we will likely repeat! There is even the Highcliff Castle to explore just minutes away (too much in one day for my 3), several B&Bs and a few restaurants to quench your hunger (or thirst!)! 

But before we return to Barton on Sea, we'll have to explore more of the coast to find our family's favorite spot! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Transitional Limbo Drives Me Batty

I look up to the sky and wonder. And wait.
You know that point in the space of your life where you know that certain changes will be happening soon, but you don't know the where or the when? That's where we're at. It's frustrating. 

We know that another move is imminent, but that's all we know. Two things in life drive me completely batty: Waiting and Not Knowing. I am in both states. Waiting to know. And therefore batty. 

The lease is up on our rental house at the end of July, yet we will likely remain in England until the end of the calendar year. The owners are returning from their own overseas stint, so, we have to find another house. Furnished, because all of our furniture is stored at my parents' in Detroit and there is no point in buying more just to ship it or sell it in a few months time. 

The house or apartment needs to be in a decent area, within an hour of my husband's office and with a safe and good quality school. 

Then the questions in my mind begin: Should we try to keep them in the school they are in now so they don't have to change schools 3 times in less than 18 months? Or get closer to the hubs' office so that we cut down on commute/travel expenses? 

Plus, where will we be moving? We don't know yet. Could be Hong Kong, Singapore, K.L. or even Sydney. We're rooting for Sydney. Just for the cost of school, we're rooting for Sydney. And it's Australia. Duh! What better place for a future Animal Rescuer (Nature Girl)?!

Essentially, I'm dealing with two moves at once. England to England and England to Asia. Moving my kids from one house to the next, possibly one school to the next, then one country to the next... all with very little certainty of anything for the next 6 months to a year of our lives. Transitional Limbo. Not knowing. Waiting. 

I was hoping to wait out a portion of this limbo enjoying the company of family with my parents at my childhood home after school gets out at the end of July. Sadly, it doesn't look like that will be happening either. Airfare for 5 and all that. Money will be better spent on the first month's rent wherever we end up and perhaps a few days on the seaside. Such is life. 

How do you cope with the uncertainty that transition is certain to bring?