Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Eating Well Now I Am in My 40s #OneYou

I was a healthy ladies size 12 from a young age, since my early teens. I don't have a size 6 or 8 or even a 10 frame (it worries me that some young people chase those dress sizes regardless of their frame). Even at my absolute slimmest I am a 12. But ironically even when large - my largest being an 18 - I have very slim wrists, feet and ankles, so I think even though I have spent nearly a decade as a size 16/18, the extra weight isn't what my frame is designed to carry. I think it's just diet and lifestyle choices rather than anything hereditary that see me this size. Eating well is therefore a priority for me, not only for health, for disease prevention* but also for energy levels. Even more so now that I am 43 years of age. I need to be able to run around and keep up with two young children and be around to see my Grandchildren.
*Becoming overweight or obese increases your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Read more at

When I was about 15 I went through a phase where I put on about half a stone and everything felt tight. I actually went out and bought a Rosemary Conley book and video and learned all about fats, daily allowances and recommended daily intakes. Our house consumed full fat milk back then until I educated them and it's been semi skimmed ever since. I didn't eat a Pot Noodle for about a decade after that as they blew my daily fat allowance straight out of the water in one meal, if you can call it that. That was the decade when fats were demonised. A month of corrective healthy eating and the adoption of some lifetime good habits and that was me sorted. Except I remember within a couple of months of starting University and the lifetsyle that went along with it from fresher week onwards, I went from 32 inch jeans to 34. But I quickly made a few changes to get myself in check and then I retained my usual size for my remaining years in Canterbury. In fact it was at Uni that I learned how to cook as my Mum had done all of the cooking at home. 

Roll on adult life and alcohol laden nights out after work along with long hours/junk food sometimes saw me putting on weight. My first graduate job was so physically demanding and intense (DIY Manager) that despite the long hours and far from ideal diet, the activity of working hard on my feet all day kept my weight in check - not at its lowest but healthy enough. We had great morale and often whistled while we worked, literally. My diet wasn't so bad as I did quite often cook from scratch back then. 

My second graduate job was physically demanding at first, until I decided to go down the Office Manager route, which saw my butt get bigger as my mobility reduced. What then kept me in check was taking up yoga in 2001 as it included a whole lifestyle approach to health and saw me eating better. Yoga saw me healthy from 2001 to 2006, at which point I started a great new job at a size 12. This was my 4th by now, having worked my 3rd retail management job from 2002 to 2006 (which resulted in my getting into HR).

Although... I was actually already slim and healthy in 2001 before I embarked on yoga as I had that year been diagnosed with candida (a parasitic fungus in the digestive system that can feed off sugar and yeast) and had given up all processed sugars as a result. I actually fully gave up alcohol too for 8 months (due to its sugar content), only reintroducing it just before my hen night. Between February 2001 and June 2001 I lost 3.5 stone (which had mainly been in my tummy area - the worst place to carry weight) purely as a result of eliminating processed foods, eating healthily (cooked from scratch meals) and swapping sugary fizzy drinks/sugary coffees for water. The increased water intake, reduced sugar intake and healthy food saw my PCOS, IBS and candida all simultaneously disappear. Whenever I felt like snacking on crisps I had healthy nuts instead and chocolate, cakes and biscuits were a thing of the past.

My dietary changes were fuelled and implemented by the desire to be pain free (I used to be doubled over with the IBS and sugar used to give me back pain too) and the weight loss was merely a side effect, but given that I got married October 2001 it was a necessary and very welcomed side effect. The weight loss and the resulting increase in energy meant I was absolutely glowing the day I got married. A fog lifts and you get a spring in your step, with the sluggishness gone when you give up processed sugars in all their forms. The year before we got married, my swollen bloated tummy actually made me look about 7 months pregnant. Thank God he was prepared to marry me anyway LOL! Well we have been together since 1988 after all :-)

The office I was working in prior to my candida diagnosis literally had a sweetie box, so when we were working long hours or late to go on lunch we'd raid the box and dine on boiled sweets. Not something I'd ever eat now. Just by chance I noticed that days when I maxed out on sweets then my IBS symptoms were worse, so I decided to quit the (processed) sugar.

The thing about sugar is not only does it provide empty calories that provide no nutritional value, but also the fact that it acts as a stimulant means it messes with your natural sleep cycle, which creates tiredness which again sees you reaching for the sugar, so reducing it really does help take you off this sugar fueled merry-go-round. That's even before you start thinking about organs like the pancreas etc... I've written about my feelings on sugar in the past. With diabetes on the increase monitoring sugar intake can only be a good thing. 
Unfortunately by the time 2009 came I was a size 16 once again because although I was teaching yoga, it was only once a week and I was working very long hours by then which always saw me grabbing an unhealthy takeaway on the way home. I used to have really healthy lunches, but too many lattes and dinners late at night were my downfall, as well as being inactive at a desk all day, or on the train there or back. Writing this post I am seeing a yo yo pattern to my weight history, which is a shame as I actually adore healthy food. I could quite happily watch a film chomping on celery, cucumber and carrot sticks. I think my problem is being too much of a workaholic and not planning my food. A lack of self discipline and organisation was definitely part of the problem, along with a tendency to always put the needs of others before mine.

I was burning the candle at both ends literally and reaching for convenience food all of the time. January 2009 I told myself I would not get pregnant till I lost the weight, but September rolled around (forgive the pun) and there I was pregnant; me and my size 16 self.

But the single most successful thing in getting me to eat really healthily has been being pregnant. There's something about creating and sustaining a new life that focuses the mind. My first trimester I had a large fruit salad for breakfast every morning. With my most recent pregnancy in 2015 I craved salad in the first trimester.

So it is no surprise I got healthier and healthier whilst being pregnant with Aaron. So much so, I was able to teach yoga every Friday till 38 weeks' pregnant, even sitting cross legged on the floor and being able to get up without holding onto anything. I was healthy and very flexible/mobile, although carrying a few extra pounds. 
6 months after he was born, the Xmas binge and his weaning onto solids (and the resulting reduced breastfeeding) collided, which saw me piling on weight for the beginning of 2011. Here he is walking yet I look like I have *just* had a baby!!! You'd think the picture here, with the maxi dress was a different person to the one "baby-wearing" above but that's the same baby; the same Mum. I blogged about my "Mum Tum" back then. It was a similar physique to the one I'd had a year before getting married.

Fast forward to our efforts to have a second baby and THIS time I DID try and lose some weight before getting pregnant and I proudly recorded this video when something FITS. Ironically that was recorded the same month we got pregnant.

Again, as with Aaron, this pregnancy with Lottie saw me adopting "eating well" habits, but this time they are here to stay. After all I have adopted these habits since February 2015, whilst I was seriously thinking about trying to conceive, and good habits are easier to sustain once you've been at them quite some time.

My current good habits are that I eat a balanced and varied diet. I eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. That means I give myself the right portion size when serving food and even then if it is too much I'll ask Daddy to finish it. Gone are the days of me doing crash diets/fasts as it is not practical with a five year old so I have to eat what he does and vice versa, which means I'll have carbs if he is and he'll have cucumber and broccoli if I am. So if I want him to eat fish twice a week, I'll perhaps have salmon with a hot meal and tuna with mayo and sweetcorn in a cold meal. My good habits rub off on him and my ensuring he has a varied and balance diet makes sure I do too. 
A speedy healthy lunch on a school day.

My current motivation for eating healthily is breastfeeding and I am doing everything in my power to ensure that my diet is good. It's demanding though, as sometimes caring for her means it'll be later than I like when I start dinner. So I am now often online less as there is a certain window after school in which she is in a good enough mood for me to cook. Social media nowadays is often limited to me scrolling through my phone with one hand, eating with the other, all whilst Lottie is on the breast.

A great routine to have I've found, is for her to breastfeed when I eat, so I'll breastfeed her as I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. She'll often feed outside of these times as well, especially when cluster feeding in the evening, but at least structuring her feeds around mine means we are in synch and it means I minimise the amount of time that I am stationary on the sofa. Stationary means lethargy so I grab every moment I can when there's scope for me to be mobile. I cluster feed her during the evening soaps (mine are Coronation Street and Eastenders) so again, I would have been sat there anyway.

Breastfeeding means I ensure I am never hungry/thirsty and I have to drink LOTS of water, including taking a bottle with me to bed to drink each time I wake for her feeds. These are good habits I didn't adopt with Aaron so no wonder I had low milk supply. My routine normally involves having breakfast before the school run and then porridge immediately after the school run (with really nutritious fruit and seeds on top). Then I'll have lunch by midday and a snack with Aaron after school. We then have dinner anytime between 6 and 8 p.m. Eating with him does wonders for me as it means I am no longer eating dinner at 10 p.m. at night which would have been a frequent affair pre-kids. I do find eating five a day can be a challenge, but my approach is to spread them throughout the day. So for example take Aaron. He'll have a piece of fruit as a snack at school. He'll have one after school. He has 1-2 vegetables with his school dinner (never ever packed lunch) and then he'll have approximately 3 vegetables with his dinner, so that's him covered. If you have a fussy eater who doesn't like to see vegetables on the side, I find a great way to include veg is to hide them in a stew. This can be blatant, like this:

However if they don't even want to see the veg at all, spaghetti bolognese can have chunky courgettes, onions, mushrooms and bell peppers in that you hide by blending them all once cooked. Aaron would be picking all of those out (especially the onions), so I simply put the bolognese in my Vitamix once cooked and then it comes out a smooth consistency. I don't blend it for long as I like to ensure that the chunkiness of the mince is still visible, but this technique works for me as I don't have the patience to cut the onions small enough to make them disappear. I initially got this idea, years ago, from Multiple Mummy - Kerry. However upon Googling it just now I have found the same idea on BBC, so it must be just the thing to hide veg and then blend it, in spag bol.

Luckily he does eat his veg, so we can have traditional meals too:
One great thing about Aaron's childhood is we have never fallen into a habit of saying "eat all of your dinner and you can have pudding". At a guess I'd say we actually only have pudding perhaps once or twice a week. So my job is rather to ensure that he is hungry at meal times so this is where I have to be clever with his snacks, the timing of meals and his levels of activity. Also, when he doesn't finish his dinner I don't throw it away. I either cover it or put it in the fridge as the next time he is hungry - literally 45 minutes later usually - he is offered his dinner again and normally finishes it. 
I'm proud to see that our plates above do not look too dissimilar to the Eating Well plate guide from Public Health England:

The Eatwell Guide from Public Health England shows the proportions in which different types of foods are needed to have a well-balanced and healthy diet. Eating well and having a healthy lifestyle can help us to feel our best and make a big difference to long-term health. Because Aaron's always had a healthy relationship with food, when he is hungry, if you try to give him sweets or an unhealthy snack, he'll say "no I want something proper" as he can feel when something fills him, or whether alternatively it just gives him a false sugar high that doesn't last long.  He doesn't really like sweets, but does have a weakness for chocolate, biscuits and cake, so I just keep these as treats. A couple of weeks ago he had far too much chocolate and got sinusitus soon after as I believe there is a link between an increase in sugar intake and a lowered immune system, so we're back to monioring his sugar intake again after that blip. The same thing happened about a year ago, so that tells me what I need to know.

Below is a typical meal for us, so we're not always good at ensuring we have vegetables on the side (unless it is a roast dinner), but having worked with Public Health England I now know that a moderate amount of carbohydrates, especially the wholewheat variety are necessary. The fact that it's combined with lean white meat is healthy and although there looks like there is no veg on the side there are some blended in the sauce AND tinned tomatoes themselves count towards your five-a-day!!!
One piece of advice that struck me in The Eatwell Guide was the tip to eat potato skins. Quite often I am in such a rush to make dinner that my potatoes of choice are new/Charlotte potatoes, which I cook (steam) in their skins. Even Aaron doesn't mind eating them like that. I cut them in half so that they cook quickly and it's a real speedy solution for the starch base for your meal. Healthier than chips and just as fast to cook.

I’m supporting One You*, Public Health England's new health campaign which provides free and personalised support, advice and tools to help adults make small changes to improve their health now and in the future. Take the online ‘How Are You’ quiz!. One You is here to help you get back to a healthier you. Get free advice and support to improve your health by taking the How Are You online health quiz. I completed the quiz and got a score of 7. I was green for smoking and alcohol as they are both not part of my life but I received tips for eating and moving:

You've told us a bit about your eating habits, some good, some bad! An easy way to make a difference is to swap your favourite meals for healthier versions.
You should be doing at least 30 minutes' moderate activity, 5-days-a-week and two 30-minute strengthening sessions. You're doing okay, but you're not hitting both targets.

To get the information regarding swapping your favourite meals for healthier versions, Public Health England provides a free One You Easy Meals "app" with lots of tips and tricks for healthy eating. For moving, there is a free Couch to 5k app.

I love One You's easy to understand 8 tips for eating well

  1. Base your meals on starchy foods
  2. Eat lots of fruit and veg
  3. Eat more fish – including a portion of oily fish each week
  4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
  5. Eat less salt – no more than 6g a day for adults
  6. Get active and be a healthy weight
  7. Don’t get thirsty
  8. Don’t skip breakfast
The advice above (on the traffic lights) that I got as a result of completing the quiz is fine for me, as I walk to school 15 minutes which is a mile and a half. I do that there and back twice a day which means I walk for an hour a day which is 6 miles a day. That's 30 miles a week and doesn't include my walks to the shop and the longer walk we have for football club. Granted, sometimes Daddy's shifts mean we sometimes get a lift but I definitely walk those lengths 80% of the time. I'd say it is the strengthening exercise that I now need to adopt and I will certainly consider this. Especially at my age of 43 as the elasticity in my skin isn't what it was and my muscles haven't looked firm in years although this recent pregnancy has done wonders for my arms and legs.

I know my walking, eating well and breastfeeding is all combining for a healthier me. The signs are there. I'm now a size 16 as opposed to my pre-pregnancy size 18 AND I actually this month fitted into boots that I have had for over 5 years that have never ever fitted me on the calves. I can definitely say that small changes are very sustainable and I am enjoying including more vegetables in my diet. Plus, eating well ensured I had a healthy pregnancy. Something, aged 43, I don't take for granted.

* One You is a ground-breaking new campaign from PHE which was launched on 7 March to help the nation’s adults, especially those between the ages of 40-60 years old, reduce their risk of getting diseases caused by modern day lifestyles in the future. Everyday habits and behaviours - such as having too many foods and drinks high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, drinking more alcohol than is recommended, continuing to smoke and not being active enough – are responsible for around 40% of all deaths in England, and cost the NHS more than £11 billion a year.

One You aims to encourage adults, particular those in middle age, to take control of their health to enjoy significant benefits now, and in later life. One You will invite adults to take ‘How Are You’, an online health quiz that assesses people’s current behaviours and shows them which areas they should look to change. ‘How Are You’ will ask people how they are feeling and get them to think about their levels of activity, their diet, alcohol intake and whether they smoke. It will then direct people to free online tools designed to help them make changes in the areas where they most need to take action.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

It's All White on Instagram

Lots of lovely Instagram accounts. At first it seems like the heavy hitters on Instagram are all "white" - I mean interiors etc... not skin colour by the way. But dig deeper and you see so so much more. I have been on an exploration of late (as I spend so many hours breastfeeding on the sofa) and here below is just a sample of what I have found.

My own personal favourite of mine before I share the others, is this one:

Be warned once you start looking at the below accounts you go down a rabbit hole of similar accounts and you may need rescuing to get out, or you may just find you've lost a few hours. It's aspirational and meditative. Inhaling the simple slow life.

As of today I think my favourite account has to be Surprised by Five - this *new* account is from the Mamma that has just had 5 babies, conceived naturally:

One of my favourites is @wellettas and this Babble article explains why 

A photo posted by Cassidy Compton (@cascompton) on

Baby yawns are the very sweetest- I've been feeling the fatigue these past couple days. 🌸Maribell Primrose and I took a nice new moon bath this evening, and it was lovely- she's a very grateful bather. ✨🌑✨ Did you know this new moon in Taurus is the third super moon in a row? And that Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto are all in retrograde? I was just reading about it at @mysticmamma: "The Taurus New Moon means for you is love you and your gifts. This love lasts. Taurus reveals your talents and gifts. These abilities you want to leverage in this life. This is the gold within you. This is what will make you happy." ✨Some of the gold that makes me happy is to love my gift of Motherhood.✨// This photo was taken by @angelinaaaalopez who lovingly documented our last postpartum herb bath together ✨🌑✨
A photo posted by ⚘Nico⚘ (@ozarkmamadeer) on

Parenthood... 💤☕️Do you know those moments when your biggest dream is a cup of tea while watching your favorite series? In silence. Without worrying that the little one will bite off the cable. And - in the most perfect world - after a night full of sleep? This week was kind of tough: I had to get my thesis ready for printing and travel half of the country to get ready for the PhD defense together with this angel, who seemed to have a mental leap on top of all. And even though my body is now screaming for some rest, I wouldn't want to change a thing in our hectic life. Do you know the feeling? #BabyVsCoffee ||| Фото из серии "кто кого" 💪🏽 Бывают моменты, когда хочется просто посмотреть любимый сериал с чашкой чая, которую никто не опрокинет на ноутбук, а ещё не придётся беспокоиться о том, что кто-то перегрызёт провод от зарядки. Прошлая неделя была сумасшедшей, пришлось готовить диссер к печати, а потом проехать полстраны в универ вместе с маленькой, у которой, похоже, был очередной скачок роста. Так что теперь мой организм кричит об отдыхе, но не тут-то было: на следующей неделе желанные гости и подготовка к защите. И всё же я ни на что не променяла б эти заботы. Знакомы такие чувства?
A photo posted by Madina (@thesematters) on

A photo posted by Madina (@thesematters) on

okay...maybe I am overdoing it with the sleeping baby on your feed, 🙈 but how can I not? I can't do anything apart from going back and forth between all the possible angles trying to make memories while she small😀 I have everything I could ask for on this beautiful spring morning: my family, peace, tranquility, sound of singing birds. Staring at the clear blue sky and admiring the beauty of the earth. It all makes me close my eyes and take it all in (including sip of coffee). What a good reason to say "thank you" prayer to our creator.  Да я знаю бесконечная спящая малютка в маем Инстаграм. Ну ничего с этим поделать не могу. День просто замечательный и настроение супер. Наслаждаюсь тишиной пока Авия в видение сладких снов. Я очень люблю Апрель и Май, природа в этот период проста божественна. Прикосновение весны в воздухе затаило дыхание во мне. Может потому что именно сегодня я поняла что наступила весна. Именно сегодня я хочу быть особо благодарной Богу за то что он для нас придумал этот сказочный мир.
A photo posted by Mayya (@mayyabor) on

A photo posted by Hailey DeRoo Haugen (@mynorthernstory) on

A photo posted by @thisisjules on

A photo posted by Bri Heiligenthal (@burtsbrisplease) on

A photo posted by Bri Heiligenthal (@burtsbrisplease) on

A photo posted by Jessica Shyba (@mommasgonecity) on

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Room DVD - Homework for All Parents

If you haven't watched a film in a long time, even if the last one you saw *was* Room at the cinema, then you need to see it on DVD.

I didn't get to see it at the cinema, so grabbed the chance to watch a test copy on DVD a fortnight ago, prior to its imminent retail release next week.

Now that is a movie right there! I think all parents should watch it. It got me on so many levels. It's hard to know what to say here as I don't want to include any spoilers, as I had somehow managed to get as far as April 2016 without hearing any and it truly meant that I thoroughly enjoyed the film as did my husband. He's a bit of a boffin when it comes to movies. Knows the name of all actors, knows his way around IMDB etc etc but he was blown away!!!

We both agreed that although Brie Larson did deserve her Oscar, it is Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who carries the weight of the film. If she is the egg, he is the yolk. He can't BE a yolk without her as the white and the shell, but he is the nucleus of the film. Think of Macaulay Culkin and THEN SOME. Think of Haley Joel Osment - no I didn't know his name either till just now, but all I need say is "I see dead people"... Still don't get it? He was the star of The Sixth Sense.

Except Jacob Tremblay (Jack in "Room") out-acts both of them put together and gives a performance that is so tender, so innocent, so childlike, that you completely forget he is acting. He plays the part of a spirited 5 year old boy and I have one of them myself, which probably certainly added to the depth of emotion this film brought about in me. I've just seen though that he was born in 2006 not 2010 like my Aaron.
Do not watch this film without tissues!
Do not watch it when you are half focused on something else!
Don't watch it at bedtime thinking you'll watch half now and half another time as you won't be able to stop watching.
Do not watch it alone - you may need a hug.
Do not watch it with your children - it's a certificate 15!

Do watch it with someone who hasn't seen it before because then through them you can relive the bits that are moving, shocking, tender, poignant, touching and heart breaking. I will soon watch it for the 2nd time but hope to feel all those things once again.

I loved it so much I plan on having all the PTA ladies over to watch it with me. It is such an amazing film that I thought the whole world except me had seen it, but no, none of them have heard of it, so I can't wait to see what they think.

You get to see the world through Jack's eyes and it really reminds me of Aaron's younger years and even now when something is entirely new to him. I was still hormonal from having my newborn a few weeks ago when I watched it, so the movie really moved me. I look at her when she is soaking something in, like, literally, she hasn't seen the WORLD before. Like today when she couldn't get enough of looking at a simple thing like a blue sky. Like when she meets people and realises that there are people... in the... world... other than Mummy and Daddy.

The movie and the mother and son's relationship is breathtaking in its innocence. What it shows you about character and motherhood. She still breastfeeds him at 5 years old. I only breastfed Aaron till 13 months, but he sat on my knee to have a bottle (with a teet) till he was 5. Plus I am now breastfeeding my baby girl, so I saw the tenderness (of the nursing) between them even though the film does not at all make a point of it... well till much later when he can't have mother's milk anymore and you realise that's what all the clothes tugging was about. What she protects him from is unbelievable, but then we all protect our children don't we.

Room tells the extraordinary story of Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a spirited 5-year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted mother (Brie Larson). Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical--they are trapped--confined to a 11-by-11-foot space that Ma has euphemistically named Room. Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room, and she will stop at nothing to ensure that, even in this treacherous environment, Jack is able to live a complete and fulfilling life. But as Jack's curiosity about their situation grows, and Ma's resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face-to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world.
Now I didn't even know ^ that much when I watched it. But there are no spoilers there so phew!
STUDIOCANAL is delighted to announce the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the multi award winning ROOM on May 9th 2016. Directed by Academy Award® nominated Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) with a screenplay by Emma Donoghue that she adapted from her best-selling novel, ROOM stars Brie Larson (Kong: Skull Island, Free Fire), Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen (The Bourne Ultimatum), William H. Macy (Fargo) and Sean Bridgers (Trumbo), ROOM is one of the most highly acclaimed films of the year.
Winner: ‘Best Actress’ Academy Award®, 
BAFTA, Golden Globe.

Also nominated for a further three Academy Awards,
two Golden Globes and one BAFTA.

“Brie Larson is nothing short of perfect in this heart-breaking, life affirming drama
brilliantly directed by Lenny Abrahamson.”

The Observor‘Wondrous, magical and extraordinary film’

Metro‘Powerful and hugely affecting’
***** Total Film ***** The Observer ***** The Times 
*****The Daily Mail
**** Empire **** The Guardian **** The Independent

  • Audio Commentary with Director Larry Abrahamson
  • ‘Making of’ featurette
  • ‘Eleven by Eleven’ featurette
  • ‘Cast & Crew’ featurettes
118mins / Cert: 15

Out on DVD and Blu Ray on 9th May 2016.

Oh and since I started talking to people about this movie all I hear now is how good the book is. So that is the next job on the list. To read the book and I always love to do it that way round. The movie and THEN the book :-)


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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Mills and Boon Releases The Art of Romance | Over 40 Book Covers for Adults to Colour In

Mills and Boon is celebrating over 100 years of its iconic books and of course that includes their covers.

In celebration they have released an adult colouring book ‘The Art of Romance’ which I have been lucky enough to receive last week to review.
I couldn't help but notice that the book will be officially  released on 5th May 2016 which is my Mum's birthday so after completing the below page - rather brightly - to start her off I have actually today posted the colouring book to my Mum. Why?!?!? Well because it was through her copies of Mills and Boon that I got introduced to the iconic books. Those and Jackie Collins. Two, because my Mum no longer works after decades of being a career woman with long hours and a long commute. She retired to Ireland in my final year of University and one of her main vices now, other than the fags, is reading. She reads a couple of books a week and is a regular at her local library. I wanted to find her a new hobby to have alongside her reading and this opportunity fell into my lap. I hope she takes to it. Oh and that brings me onto a 3rd reason to send it to her. It was she, my Mum who taught ME to colour in when I was little, so it's now come full circle, such is the circle of life and now I am giving her a nudge. Just posting the book and a birthday card cost me £6.60 so I didn't put in a pack of felt tip pens but she will need them.

I was using Aaron's crayons and felt tips to do the above, hence the use of mainly primary colours, but if you had one of those huge sets with various SHADES of various colours wow you could do a mighty job altogether. Both at the front and the back of the colouring book they give you examples of how they could be coloured in:
As you can see from the covers on the right and the example on the left, below (printed in the back of the colouring book) the colours are quite muted which is why I thought it would be fun to do my bright version.
I can't wait to see which angle my Mum goes for - bright or muted. She can't draw for toffee (my Auntie Berniece taught me that) but *is* very good with colours and home interiors, so I think this book will put her in touch with her creative side, which is so important for us to foster as humans. I remember my Mum's colouring in being fabulous when I was little. I hope this book gets her a bit nostalgic. I hope she thinks it's a touching present.

I was asking myself, is sending this to her the right thing (I posted it today as her birthday is 5th May, the same day the colouring book is released) and I asked for a sign. Turned the page and boom! Look below
My Mum was born in the Marian year and her name is unusually spelled Marion. Plus the book will get there by airmail and I always fly there via Ryanair!

Yes, she will most certainly LOVE this colouring in book. Being in the West of Ireland in the countryside she may not know about the recent trend for adult colouring in but I will bring her up to speed. She LOVES knowing something is trendy.

Over the course of more than 100 years Mills and Boon has  documented the history of romance, evolution of fashion and social change from the 1900s to the present day. The book: The Art of Romance features 47 cover illustrations to colour in, alongside year-by- year facts, quotes and memories to give social history and context.

The Art of Romance celebrates over 100 years of the publisher’s most iconic covers, taking the reader back to key moments in history from the austere war years, the birth of a royal baby, the swinging sixties and even the rise of the rom-com in the noughties.

Perfect for fans of art, fashion and vintage culture, The Art of Romance charts the history of romance in the 20th Century, featuring quotes, facts and snippets of information about what was happening in the world when each story and associated cover were created.

The Art of Romance launches as the wave of adult colouring books continues to sweep the UK. The trend shows no signs of slowing down with experts 1 hailing colouring as a great way to exercise mindfulness and distress. Lisa Milton, Harlequin Executive Publisher, elaborates: “Colouring is a wonderful way to relax and be creative; there’s something very nostalgic and comforting about it. The Art of Romance takes you on a fantastic journey back in time, remembering what romance was like when your grandparents met or even when you had your first kiss! With Mills & Boon’s beautiful artwork as inspiration, it is a wonderful way to unwind.”

She continues: “As a heritage brand, with our 108 year archive, we were spoiled for choice for covers to include within the book. In bringing together the vintage covers, snippets of social history and utterly fabulous fashions across the decades, I can’t think of a better way to tell the story of Mills and Boon than through The Art of Romance.”

The Art of Romance will be available to buy from and in all good bookshops from
May 5th 2016.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy for this review and will have a further one available for a giveaway. The giveaway will be added to this post tomorrow as we draw closer to the excitement of the book being released! 


To enter you  must do all three things: follow @NewMumOnline and @MillsandBoon on Twitter and send a  tweet. All three entry options are mandatory and all must be completed via the following Rafflecopter widget:

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