As stress takes it toll, I ensure a lil ‘me’ time every day. My Top Tips…

What are your favourite de-stressing tips? Let me know below!

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I have to stay cool… I have a business to run and step children to look after. So it’s important that I find time every day to put me first so that I am always on my best form!

Some stress can be positive – and I thrive on a moderate level of stress to perform better in my work for example. However stress is only healthy if it’s short lived, and if one is not careful they will endure illness, physical and emotional exhaustion.

Unbelievably millions of people in the UK suffer with extreme stress, and it’s not taken seriously enough, especially at work. When I worked in the corporate world in London I was under intense pressure most of the time and some of my bosses weren’t sympathetic at all. But now I am my own boss, which means that I am going to take this seriously and make sure I have ‘me’ time once every single day.

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With running my own business in public relations, keeping the house in shape, cooking, having 4 step children etc, it is no wonder that I am always stressed. My daily life is chaotic from meeting press deadlines to dealing with difficult people.

So below I’ve listed a few things I am doing to ensure ‘ME’ time every day, as well as methods to help ease the stresses of life! If you are in the same boat, I hope they help! 🙂

Exercise. Most mornings (about 7.30am) I run for 30-45 minutes around the fields where I live. I also have an outdoor personal trainer who visits once a week at 8.30am. These early morning workouts have proved invaluable at setting me up for the day and pumping those happy endorphins around my body. I highly recommend AB Fitness in Fernhurst. In the warmer months I try to wake board as much as I can, and of course if I’m in Cornwall I’d be surfing!

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Weekly Massage. I book in a weekly massage at my local hair dresser and beauty salon, Eden Hair & Beauty. This not only relaxes me but eases my aches and pains from all the exercise I’m doing! Some months they have an offer on and I can get a superb 30 mins massage by the lovely Aimee for only £15! (usually £22).

Date nights. James and I always try and book in a ‘date night’ about once a month. It’s very difficult to get time to ourselves as every weekend we have children, and in the week we are both so shattered from work. Plus he doesn’t get home until about 7.30pm so by the time we’ve eaten dinner, and watched a bit of TV it’s time for bed. We’ve managed to book in a couple of days in the Cotswolds in November which will be nice, but otherwise we always try to go to our favourite pubs – The Horse Guards Inn, The Red Lion and the Banyan – where good food and service is always guaranteed.

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Diary. Writing in my diary is a super way to release all my anger, thoughts, stresses etc onto paper. Nobody gets to read it so I can really say how I feel and I always feel so much better afterwards.

Candle lit baths. As the weather gets colder, you cannot beat a bubble bath. I always turn the lights out and light my ‘Happiness’ candles by NEOM as I find the aroma helps relax me, play Classic FM and then lie back with my eye mask on. If it’s in the evening I will have a glass of prosecco next to me as well. Product recommendations… The Sanctuary‘s ultimate salt scrub, Molton Brown body wash (Pink Peppercorn) and this drench sponge by The Body Shop!

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-16-34-17Cleaning. I am one of those weird people that just love to clean! I get such satisfaction from cleaning my house. I’m sure I’m borderline OCD but I always feel better after I’ve done so. I always like my home to be sparkling clean.

Writing down 1 thing that has made me happy every day. This could be a work achievement, something the step children have done for me or a romantic gesture from James. The thing is, no matter how down you may feel there is ALWAYS something positive that happens to you every day. Just having a beating heart beat is one of them! It’s so important to focus on this every day – it does wonders for the soul.

Pop the log fire on. The visual, sound and heat effects you just cannot beat. I ALWAYS feel great straight away when I sit in front of my log fire.

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A think about my happy place – Cornwall. I LOVE Cornwall, and spend a lot of time there. Flicking through my albums full of the likes of Polzeath beach and Port Isaac takes me right back to the sea, sending all my stresses right out over the cliff tops.

Sex! Well of course I’m going to add this one in! Sex releases lots and lots of endorphins and is a superb way to release tension and stress.

Speak to my Mum. My mum is like my best friend, and she has such a great aura about her that I relax instantly. She is a very special person having been there for me through a number of extreme stresses. I couldn’t ask for a better mum!

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Flick through property portals. I’ve always dreamt of living in a gorgeous country cottage with lots land. This is why I work so so so hard so that one day, I can do just that. To remind me of this, I like to flick through the property portals to find my dream home and fantasise about what mine will look one day.

Manicure. Again, recommend Eden Hair & Beauty if you are local but a good looking manicure which involves a relaxing hand and arm massage always does the trick!

Speak to my councillor. I am not ashamed to admit that I have a councillor, who I’ve had since losing my Dad. She has been brilliant at managing my anxiety and advising on the best techniques to get through my stresses. It’s not cheap but worth every penny!

And finally lots and lots of puppy hugs!! Millie, by Bichon Frise…

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I hope some of those help relieve your stresses. If you have any personal recommendations please do let me know below – the more the better! 🙂

Keep fit and healthy everybody.

Lots of love, Lxxx

 

 

 

My Top 10 scariest moments…

Given it’s Halloween I thought I’d look back over time (30 years) and pinpoint my top 10 scariest moments of all time…

1. Losing Dad.

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Without a doubt the scariest thing I’ve ever had to encounter. I was only 28 and I’d been given 3 months notice. 2 months later I lost him… This involved a number of scary moments from diagnosis to the funeral to moving on with life without him by my side. Nobody can understand what it feels like to know that you will never see that person again until you are actually in that position. I haven’t cried for some time but it takes only a small thing to remind me I am facing the fact that I will never be able to see or speak to my Dad ever again, and that is the scariest feeling in the world. ❤️

2. Performing the flute in front of thousands of people.

This flows nicely on from my dad as without him I would never have performed my flute or saxophone in front of thousands of people in amazing venues such as Euro Disney and the Royal Festival Hall. As a music scholar I was so lucky to be able to travel Europe performing in all sorts of places, including numerous musical exams and school performances. I was always so terrified going out on stage, especially as a solo flautist but my dad was always smiling bright at the front of any audience.

3. Starting my own business.

This goes without saying, especially as I’ve been seen as the dippy one amongst family, and even colleagues actually. In th summer of 2014 I started my own boutique property PR firm, Lucy T PR Ltd. Luckily my dad saw me start this new adventure but it was only when I found out his diagnosis that I left London life to be with him. Needing an income I started off as a freelancer and everything else just seemed to fit into place. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done but also the scariest. I’ve had to grow some balls, learn heaps about running my own business and learn how handle a different level of stress. From pitching for new business to keeping current clients happy, it has its ups and downs but my life has completely changed for the better as a result. I can’t complain! It’s all part of my journey.

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4. Becoming a step mum. 

A scary yet joyous affair this one. I’ve actually been a step mum for about 8 years now. My previous relationship started me down this path but my current one has introduced me to 4 wonderful children. I never imagined I’d meet a guy who already had kids but I wouldn’t wish it any other way. I read somewhere once that anybody can be a mother, but it takes a fearless warrior to be a step mum, and anybody in my shoes will understand exactly what I mean by that. It has its challenges, like with everything in life, but I have an amazing life which I’m so lucky to share not only with my other half but also his 4 children too. Thankfully I am the maternal type and will always strive to be the best step mum I can possibly be.

5. Having an ear plug taken off my ear drum.

I have to wear ear plugs, due to my other half snoring VERY badly. In march this year, 1 week before we were due to go to Cuba I managed to lodge a silicon ear plug right down my ear canal to my ear drum. After a 4am trip to A&E, followed by 2 very painful procedures to get it out, I was able to go on holiday without a perforated eardrum and earplug free. It takes a lot to make me cry through pain but let me tell you now… to have a silicon ear plug taken off your ear drum is the most painful procedure I’ve ever gone through. Far worse than my tattoo! I was in tears with every attempt to get it out and thank god, no surgery was required. Lesson learnt…  no more silicon ear plugs.  Now I have shooting ones…

6. Travelling Australia by myself.

After I graduated from university in 2008 I travelled to Australia by myself. Of course once out there I met millions of people who I ended up travelling with but to fly out there, visit hostels etc completely on my own was pretty hardcore. I had the best time though and this was a journey that helped me grow up a bit and learn a lot about myself. Including increase confidence in myself!

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7. Falling in love again.

Goes without saying this one, especially as I’ve been hurt so much in the past. However this time around has been a lot easier as I genuinely believe I’ve found ‘the one.’ James treats me the way somebody should treat a lady – with respect and absolute adoration. We all have a past but when you find the right person, everything changes. This one is a keeper.

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8. My driving test.

Goodness me. What a scary process this was! Taken in Loughton in Essex back in 2004, I did pass first time with only 7 minors. But I distinctly remember this really scary lady coming in to get a candidate next to me, and then shouting at him outside because he wasn’t able to show her something in the bonnet. Everything depended on me passing my first time. My parents had spent a fortune on driving lessons and I desperately wanted my independence (I was 18). I remember panicking a couple of times but thankfully all was ok! 1 week later I was driving in a horrendous thunderstorm down to Cornwall… the storm that destroyed boscastle I believe.

9. My first (proper) kiss!

Omg I remember this so well. He was a clarinetist and a pianist at my school (a fellow music scholar) and at 13 we went on a date to see Sleepy Hollow I think it was. I knew I wanted to kiss him. I knew he was going to kiss me and then when he did, I was so nervous I bit his tongue with my teeth and held on! Thankfully mi kissing skills have improved significantly over the years but I will always remember how nervous and embarrassed I was!

10. Meeting the mothers of my step children.

This is always going to be nerve wracking the first time one does this but all was ok. I’m amicable with them both still and long may it last for the sake of the children!

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Lots of love, Lxxx

My first Halloween experience with my little step children…

It’s 5pm on 29th October. I pour myself my 2nd prosecco and crash on to the sofa exhausted… The fire is on, the pumpkins are sculpted, the candles are lit and dinner is in the oven. My youngest step children, Samantha and Orson are in their PJ’s, now settled on the sofa watching Rango (again). Between my sips, I’m scraping the flour out of my hair and massaging my feet thankful that my other half is taking over dinner this evening …. steak and homemade sweet potatoes. Hmm!

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It may come of a surprise (as it did my 2 youngest step children) that this was only my  second time celebrating Halloween in my entire life! The first time I’ve been able to celebrate with them as this year our weekend with them fell on Halloween. I … AM … EXHAUSTED!!! But I loved it!

I started the day with googling pumpkin cookie and cake recipes, before picking up Samantha and Orson from their Mum’s and rushing around Tesco with them. I hate supermarket shopping at the best of times but knowing they hate it too, and that they’re prone to sitting on the shop floor and refusing to move (something their Mum suffers with) I was not going to hang about. Tesco was heaving and I have never been so grateful for having a shopping list. Nor have I ever been so scared about losing one of them as this was the first time I’d had the two of them on my own in a supermarket… With one carrying flowers and the other his sweets, I sped through my list aisle by aisle seeking a week’s worth of shopping in as few minutes as possible. Thankfully, they were as good as gold and any fears of embarrassing me with non cooperation soon left my brain. As I got back into my car, squeezing all the shopping in around them (I have a mini convertible so space is limited), I thought to myself ‘I survived!’ They did what I told them to do throughout the whole process including sitting still whilst I paid! ‘Perhaps the rest of my day will be as calm,’ I thought to myself….

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Well…. little did I know that between then and my 5pm prosecco by the fire my house would have icing sugar dripping from the ceilings, pumpkin guts splattered across the kitchen island and clumps of dough stuck to the floor! Then imagine… several sibling bickering sessions and having to watch them like a hawk when it came to carving of the pumpkins!

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Joking aside, we did have great fun. Thankfully, fingers are still in tact and my kitchen is sparking clean (thanks to my amazing other half). We started with the pumpkin carving which as I said, involved a lot of concentration on the adult’s part to make sure no children severed off their fingers! Followed by creating a variety of cookie shapes from pumpkins to ghosts and eye balls. (thanks google!) Followed by creating 5 different types of icing sugar – we had orange, green, blue, black and white – and painting our creations as spooky as we could. This was a process just in itself but we got there in the end. You just cannot beat the sound of children laughing!

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We’re not trick or treating as they will do that with their Mum on Monday (31st) but I thoroughly enjoyed my first Halloween with my little step children. Once again, I survived!

Bring on the next one 🙂

Happy Halloween everybody! Have a ‘spooktastic’ one!

Lots of love, coolstepmum xxx

The battle of child friendly ‘healthy’ food!

Please tell me your ‘child friendly’ homemade dishes to inspire me 🙂

Since being with James, I’ve found a surprising love for cooking. Something my Dad would be super proud of having been an amazing cook himself. I love cooking a proper meal whilst James comes home from work and for the kids when they come to stay at the weekends. I pop Classic FM on, pour myself either a prosecco, G&T or red wine and cook away… well cooking does require a bit of time and preparation!

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First attempt at Beef Wellington for my outlaws

I take most of my inspiration from Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay. With Jamie’s, I love the twists he puts on traditional family suppers such as lasagne or cottage pie. Something the step kids love. Gordon saved my life when it came to meeting my ‘outlaws’ for the first time. I thought I would attempt a Beef Wellington, having never cooked something quite so extravagant before, and the first attempt was an absolute disaster, with the recipe taken from an online recipe somewhere. So I googled… and came across Gordon’s YouTube demonstration . I must say, cooking along to a video massively helped me and thankfully I passed the ‘cooking test’ with my outlaws. I gave myself 8/10 as I’d wrapped the pastry too tight and so the pasty split at the top. Otherwise it was pink, juicy and succulent! Ironically I’ve cooked for them several times since and the other week I accidentally dropped a bag of sugar in the homemade cottage piece I was making and thought I’d got away with it …. I didn’t – oops! A small amount of sugar goes a long way but a few heaps of it, hmm no!

FEEDING THE CHILDREN!!!

It’s important to us that we feed the children when they stay with us every weekend as healthily as we can. By healthy I don’t mean salads and vegetables only but making things fresh, not out of a packet etc and incorporating the ‘5 a day’ into those dishes. The ingredients… However, as any parent or step parent would know, it’s quite challenging to get kids to try new things and want something other than pizza, burgers and chips. Sweets is a big no no for us, only on special occasions and fizzy drinks are kept to a minimum.

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Fresh, homemade cottage pie packed with leeks, carrots and tomatoes. Served with peas.

However we want the kids to have fun and enjoy their food too so I’ve taken what they love and put my own spin on them… For example, all sauces that I make are home made as that eliminates all the crap that are put in jarred sauces, so my cottage pie and meatballs  Samantha (8) and Orson (9) absolutely love. I also do a smashing crispy jacket potato (from smearing garlic and butter around the skin and popping in the oven for 1.5 hours) to have with salad and cheese and a chicken roast dinner with lots of vegetables and home made roast potatoes – all of which always go down a treat. The eldest, Chris (13) and Barney (17) like more of a variety of food so we tend to cook things like beef in black bean sauce,  chicken and chorizo rice, chicken fajitas, thai green curry and roast chicken for them. Occasionally a Chicago Town pizza is cooked but they exercise a lot so we don’t feel too guilty about that! Everything is fresh and home made – no packets or anything frozen bar peas!

With most children, trying something new is always a challenge, especially when they are used to eating specific things at their home, but we do try and slowly introduce new things into their diet and make sure we always have vegetables or salad of some kind included in every meal we give them. I still find that Samantha picks out chopped tomatoes from her cottage pie and Orson will try and put volumes of salt on his food (we obviously don’t let him!). All 4 kids don’t like to try anything they don’t like the look of but I think that’s children generally. I remember I used to hate Brussel sprouts, now I love them!

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Jamie Oliver’s baked sole goujons

This weekend I’m trying something new … they love meat balls, and they love my homemade sauce. It’s seriously tempting to do that again but I think I’m going to experiment a bit and see if we can get them to eat some Baked Sole Goujons and home made wedges and salad from Jamie Oliver’s Kids Recipes section… I will tell them it’s fish fingers… I’ll let you know how it goes!

Would love to hear of some more ‘child friendly’ homemade dishes to inspire me so please do let me know what you recommend below! 🙂

Lots of love, coolstepmum xxx

How I became a step mum with a Walt Disney twist…

How I became a step mum – a version Walt Disney doesn’t tell you when you are a little girl!

I realised the other day as I was watching yet another ‘Frozen’ session with Samantha, (who is 8) that the whole concept of the beautiful Princess finding love with the first man she meets (Prince Charming), being saved from the wicked witch by true love’s kiss and everybody lives happily ever after really is a load of rubbish.

Walt Disney brainwashed us little girls into thinking that life really was like that… For example, we’d lose our mermaid tail thanks to Daddy’s magical powers and set off into the sunset with a the man we loved on a mega yacht (Little Mermaid); or we’d meet a strapping young man who would come to our rescue and wake us up from a ‘deep sleep’ with his gentle kiss and live happily ever after (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty). Walt Disney even made us believe it was possible to fall in love with a Beast, because secretly he was under a witches’ spell and actually a really good looking man with bulging biceps! True loves kiss came from the woman then! (Beauty & The Beast – which btw is one of my favourite’s!) But still… happily ever after!

However, what Walt Disney didn’t tell us was that in reality, you can love somebody who doesn’t love you back, or you can love somebody who you are with for many years who is capable of ripping your heart apart with lies and deception. Both scenarios being absolutely heart wrenching for the girl leading to unhealthy weight loss, nausea, depression, exhaustion, never ending crying and in extreme cases psycho behaviour and an expensive phone bill!

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The Little Mermaid

Anyway, as I looked at Samantha thinking about this, I felt saddened that one day, her heart would be broken at least once. That her innocence to the world would be taken away as the harsh reality of life set in – that the Disney fairytale endings actually do not exist. Love is far more complicated than that and there are only a very lucky few who meet ‘the one’ from very young and go on to live happily ever after. How could I protect her? How could her mum and dad protect her? Do we lock her up in a tower for several years and wait for a man to prove his worth by battling the fiery dragon to save her? (Shrek). No… sadly we have to accept that she will most likely be hurt and all we can do is be there for her when it happens. After all, as much as heart break sucks, it certainly makes you stronger and a bit more wary for the ‘next guy’ that comes along. Life is a learning curve, and having your heart broken is a part of that journey.

However, one thing Walt Disney did get right in one of his films was how you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your Prince (Princess and the Frog perhaps?). Thankfully for me, after  kissing too many frogs that never turned out to be a Prince, I finally found him… somebody who had already been in my life for six months as a friend.

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I was however a step mum for 6 years before I met James. 3.5 of those years I had no idea I was a step mum as my ex had hidden her from me the whole time (a story that requires a novel) but she was called Grace and I met her when she was 8. The lovely lovely Grace, who as you do as a step parent, I fell in love with and had an amazing few years with. However, her father continued to tell me lies and treat me appallingly so sadly I had to leave him, which meant leaving her too but those years with her brought me into a world I never dreamt I’d be…

Why? Because when I was watching Beauty & The Beast, The Little Mermaid etc, I believed that by the age of 30 I’d be married to a man (him having kids never even crossed my mind!), where we would have 2 children together (a boy, Ben and a girl, Charlotte). We’d live in a pretty cottage in the countryside surrounded by chickens, goats, ducks and dogs and live happily ever after.

Instead, I dated and had relationships with some absolute time wasters, having my heart ripped out of my chest and stomped on and shoved back in again a couple of times. I remember the after effects being horrendous but hey ho, the cliché of time being an excellent healer is absolutely true and I live to tell the tale – although at the time you really do feel like you are dying! After a long long wait, I finally meet ‘the one’ at 28. He has 4 children with 2 different Mum’s – 2 with Rebecca who he was married to 20 years previously, and 2 with Sandra who he was with for 10 years soon after. If that’s not complicated enough, he’s 14 years older than me and isn’t sure if he wants more children. So the TOTAL OPPOSITE OF WALT DISNEY’S VERSION OF TRUE LOVE!

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Thankfully though, I am very happy. I don’t need Walt’s poncy version as I still got my happily ever after…. it’s just not been as quiet or as quick a journey as he paints it out to be.

I am adored by James, his family and friends. I get on very well with his children. Generally, I get on with the Mum’s. My family and friends love James and co. and even though I’m 30 now, we both want to get married and I’m pretty confident he will be proposing in the near future. And re having kids of our own.. well that’s something that pops up now and again but let’s just wait and see. One thing I will NOT be doing is tricking him into it…!! So no more heart breaks for me. Yes! Funnily enough I keep a frog emoji by his name on my phone to remind me that he is the frog that turned into my Prince. *eugh pass the bucket, I know!*

So there we are. That is how I became a step mum and do you know what, it is the best job ever!!! 🙂

Would love to hear what your Disney dream was and how reality really panned out!

Lots of love, coolstepmum xxx