Monday, 21 December 2015

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Friday, 11 December 2015

Chocolate & Teapots

My current slow mo style LIFE AS IT IS means that I'm not yet feeling the Christmas baubles. Even though Fia excelled at Mary in her nativity, (beauty, joy and even grace were mentioned), and Esme wrapped her gifts for us all, well over a week ago, I'm finding the countdown to Christmas 2015 hard to embrace. The building work has only been seven weeks; I can't grumble. Instead I give thanks and a massive shout out to everyone that's helping us. Chocolate and teapots clearly make the world go round. All rather welcome and very much appreciated. Thank you. We think we're going to be complete end of next week? We had better be, I will get the tree tomorrow, and I will feel the baubles, I will!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

My guide to a stress free Christmas

For me, this post is sort of ironic, seeing as the house is yet to be finished and I am still upside down... anyway for lots of practical reasons, here's how to ensure your Christmas runs stress free:

Friday, 4 December 2015

Our favourite Christmas gifts

Over the course of the last year, LIFE AS IT IS has been fortunate enough to be sent some amazing products to review. So just in case you need any Christmas shopping inspiration, here are some of our favourites:

My goodness, if travelling with children wasn't already enough fun - just add these into the mix! Disney Samsonite cases, available from priced from £59. 

Monday, 30 November 2015


Undeniably this blog has taken a back seat while my LIFE AS IT IS has been completely turned upside down. (You think I'm joking, but no, the downstairs is currently upstairs). It's nuts. Completely and utterly. We are into the sixth week now of our extension build and still retaining a sense of humour. Doors are being hung, skirting is being stapled, and our kitchen is about to be assembled. It is so exciting. And we are almost there! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Sandwich musings of a 4YO

M: Sofia, what would you like in your sandwich? Cheese, tomato and salad cream?
S: No thanks.
M: Cheese and salad cream?
S: Just salad cream.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

46/52 The GraceFaith year long art project

Choosing a favourite piece of art, each week of the year...

(Or in this case, the art that's been hung on my kitchen door over the years -
before said kitchen door very soon turns into a wall).

Monday, 9 November 2015

Cadbury's Christmas Chocolate 2015 looks like...

...this. But don't come to me looking for it, I gave it all to Esme's school for the PTFA to help raise funds. Seemed like a good idea at the time but now, in the middle of a house build... Doh!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Perfect Christmas gift ideas for children

Perfect Christmas gift ideas for children

Do you know something? In all of my editorial career, I've never before written a top ten of Christmas gifts, that all came from the same place, where quite literally each one on the list is as good as the others. Until now. So here it is... Let me introduce you to the fabulous products of Laurence King publishing house (or ten of them anyway)... and to my mind, perfect Christmas gift ideas for children.

Number one on the list and perfect for the puppy obsessed is Dog Bingo. This classic game of numbers and chance is brought stylishly up to date with canine illustrations. Don't under estimate how dog species differ, and how much fun it is learning about them by playing this game. Eyes down and away you go! Priced £19.95

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Travel Musings of a 4YO

As we touch down on the runway of Thessaloniki, Sofia stares out the window and exclaims:
S: Hooray, we are here! We are in Lyme Regis.

Friday, 23 October 2015

LIFE AS IT IS - This week in October 2015...

This week has been a roller coaster. A metaphor often bandied about, but used to full effect here. The ups and downs and twisty unexpected turns, sudden jolts, stops and starts have each been stressful. So much so, that the out of control week long ride resulted in bruising and torn ligaments.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Autumn Winter Trends 2015 MUCK BOOTS - A review

Last week we started building an extension, and our once garden just outside the front door is fast approaching mud slide status as the rain arrived this week. However, these gorgeous Muckboot wellies also arrived this week - how is that for good timing?

Brand: The Original Muck Boot Company
Style: Women's Breezy Tall Insulated Rain Boot
Price: £95
Sizes: UK 3-9
Available from: The Original Muck Boot Company

Tagged as the welly boot that doesn't need a sock, the new Breezy Tall Insulated Rain Boot keeps you comfortable, warm and dry in the 'muckiest' of weather

Monday, 19 October 2015

Saturday, 17 October 2015

NORTHERN high LIGHTS - A travel feature

Travel writer Emma Oliver takes her family on the 

trip of a lifetime to experience Arctic conditions in Lapland 

Do you want to build a snowman? Or an entire snow family for that matter? Then this is the place to head. And while you are here, pop in on Santa (of course).

Families will appreciate all that Lapland has to offer though - not just the Father Christmas magical experience of a lifetime, which kids of any age will love. We found a destination to suit families that enjoy the great outdoors - and all manner of unique activities that the Arctic Circle provides. 

Since 2002, the award winning tour company Activities Abroad has been bringing families (children aged 4+) to Luosto in Finnish Lapland, to revel in adventure; including husky safari, reindeer sleigh ride, amethyst mining, cross country skiing, and my particular favourite, ice fishing.

Just imagine sitting on reindeer skins holding fishing rods, the worm end of which dangles down through the metre thick ice you just drilled a hole into. There's no doubt that seeing my young children settled a la Eskimo style is going to stay with me forever, but that's the thing about this sort of visceral holiday; it is the trip of a lifetime.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Christmas Musings of a 7YO (yes, already).

E: I think this morning I'll play the 100 Best Christmas Songs CD. After all, 
it is only ten weeks to Christmas.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Reclaim your lunch and your mojo!

Having a hot lunch is hot news!

So I've been up to town for work this week, and it's so cold isn't it? Anyway, hungry, I simply had to stop for food. Fortunately this is London and I knew looking for somewhere to grab a sandwich wouldn't take long. Although I kept walking past Caffè Nero - hey, I don't drink coffee anymore... Although I hadn't realised that they started doing hot dinners. When did that happen? Actually, the smell is what got me through the door. Check out my lunch...

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Fit for school with ProVen probiotics

For years now I've had the kids on a probiotic. Initially, this stemmed from their cows milk allergy days; irritated digestive systems and upset guts. As time has gone on and my children have started at school, (the GraceFaith girls are now 7 and 4), I've realised that as a result of being on a probiotic, they haven't picked up on half as many nasties as other kids, and whenever they have potentially picked up a sick bug, symptoms have never been severe. Hence my children are still on a probiotic, for really why should they suffer? 

Monday, 12 October 2015

41/52 The GraceFaith year long art project

Choosing a favourite piece of art, each week of the year...

This week Fia came home from nursery with this picture, announcing it was Halibut Jackson.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

It's a polka dot flock of moonbeam mermaids thing

DIY in style: A new room in a day courtesy of Graham & Brown

With the help of design specialists Graham & Brown, we created a new look for both our daughter's bedrooms, each taking a day, (give or take a shelf being put up here and there).

Graham & Brown has a wide variety of designs and a brilliant choice of colour, ranging in style from the beautifully understated to the downright weird and wonderful.

Looking on the website at the children's collection of wallpaper, Esme (my creative 7YO) and I, first fell in love with this frame paper, but my husband, Simon, put his foot down as far as having that as an option. I really like the idea of being able to encourage the children to draw on the walls, but I guess his playroom over bedroom argument won out on that one. Shame we don't have a playroom as the frame paper really is creative fun at its best.

Esme eventually settled on a very girlie polka flock paper, a pink velvet raised dot which is now covering all four walls. Sofia on the other hand, (my gregarious 4YO) went for a bold blue paint, with a feature wall of mermaids - yes you read that correct.

I think it is fair to say my pictures in this post, don't do this beautiful foil type paper justice, for I couldn't achieve a clean photo with flash photography or the light streaming in through the window. Frankly, it is exquisite -with a name containing the words Mermaids and Moonbeam, it was always going to be. I love how the two children chose so differently, reflecting their personalities. Look in Fia's room and you see a bright blue background and a drum kit, and look in Esme's and you see a tidy desk, offset with pink and pretty.

Why and how? Well this week is the inaugural National Wallpaper Week and to be honest, with all that has gone on in my LIFE AS IT IS recently, I welcomed the opportunity to redecorate the GraceFaith girls rooms with both arms. Our house build (ground floor extension) that was set for March 2016, has been rescheduled to start this week, and as a) we are going to be spending a lot of time upstairs over the next few months, b) the girls are in the same rooms that we decorated when I was pregnant with Esme, and c) they both totally deserve a special space, it is a welcome change of scene.

In this house, when it comes to decorating, we are usually your average tin of paint sort of people. Truth is, neither of us have ever tried to wallpaper in our lives. Naturally I asked wonderballs Simon to help and he did brilliantly. Especially as the walls are over 200 years old - wonky walls and all that. There are a couple of tricks we picked up along the way; using a pin to help release stubborn air bubbles and going for paste the wall over paste the paper, and although the walls do not bare close inspection(!), we are really pleased with the results. What do you think? Here are the before and after shots...

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The need to clear out - physically and mentally

People that regularly visit my blog will know that over the last couple of months its content has often reflected on my mission to change things for the better. (I always think of September as the start of a new year). Anyway this September, lots has been happening...

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Nonsense Show by Eric Carle - A book review

Surely everyone has heard of Eric Carle? An American designer, illustrator and writer, his book The Hungry Caterpillar has sold more than 33 million copies. No surprise there, this clever story covers colour, maths, science, language, and, lollipops! The real questions is, has everyone heard of his latest book, released next week: The Nonsense Show?

Sunday, 4 October 2015

FRAMED - car boot - Turning clutter to potential cash (3)

September to me, has always been about new beginnings. More so than New Year. Sorting crap and clearing out. What better way of doing so, than by having a car boot and selling the stuff you no longer need/want/use? After a little research, it turns out the way to find your nearest, is via carbootjunction.comSo having found one, Esme and I did one today. We managed to make over £80, which considering there were a lot of £2, £1, and 50p's going on, was brilliant - and meant we cleared a lot of stuff.

Head to to initiate a jumble sale on your street with your neighbours. Or sell online via (clothes) or (CDs/DVDs/mobile phones).

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Turning clutter to potential cash (2)

Esme and I have planned a car boot sale. The thing about car boot sales, (the really big inner city kind), is that most of us only ever do them around once every eight years, and then after they're done, feel a number of things... relieved that we managed it and made some money out of our crap, but also relieved that, well frankly, we survived.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Life is too short

Read this today... simply needed to act on it.

In Regrets of The Dying, Bronnie Ware, a hospice nurse, says 'many of the patients she nursed in their final days regretted most that they lived a life other people expected of them and not the life that they truly wanted to live.' 

Do me a favour people... don't leave room for regret.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

My Little Duckling - A baby/toddler hat review

Take a look at this gorgeous hat from the innovative company My Little Duckling, whose many fresh ideas (and quite simply adorable products) are showcasing this month at The Baby Show (Kensington, Olympia - 23-25th October, stand number B112 - opposite the Mothercare message).

Life As It Is got a sneak preview of one of these cute winter pilot hats and can tell you that the product is of the highest quality, thick and warm, yet soft and comfortable. We are sure that this hat is a fine winner for them, and can't wait to watch the company spread their wings and fly.

Check out for a gorgeous selection of hats suitable for boys and girls aged between 0-3 years of age.

Life As It Is/Emma Oliver, received a My Little Duckling Pilot Hat, in exchange for this review. 
For DISCLOSURE & DISCLAIMER, please view my page on LEGAL STUFF

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

KING OF MOTHERHOOD - An interview with Jaime King

Actress Jaime King talks candidly to Emma Oliver, about infertility, motherhood and her latest design venture Sapling

As I wait by the phone for my interview with Jaime King, I wonder what she'll be like. I expect vulnerable, closed, and abrupt. What I get though is resilient, honest, and well, really rather lovely.

The once troubled teen model from Omaha who graced Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar at age 14, is now a contented woman, loving motherhood and living her dreams.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Reaching out to raise awareness on MAD 2015.

Today is Mesothelioma Awareness Day (M.A.D.)

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by an American woman that reads my blog. Heather Von St James, age 46, was diagnosed with Mesothelioma ten years ago. She was given only 15 months to live.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Juicing - An in-house experiment (5) The pros and cons...

The pros and cons of juicing...

If you are thinking about buying a juicer, I'd say go for it. I've loved trialling this one, the Braun Identity Spin Juicer (J500) and would thoroughly recommend it. It is simple to use, and to clean. It looks good, it's not huge, and at £129.99 it's middle of the range as far as expense. Did you know you could spend upwards of £700 on a juicer? Anyway, some food for thought. Throughout trialling the juicer, I've realised a few things...

1) It's not just the expense of a juicer. Bare in mind that you will add a lot of extra fruit and vegetables onto your shopping bill.

2) Having researched the fructose content in natural fruit juice, although there are the positives to drinking natural fruit juice, I ought to add that the healthiest way of using your juicer, is to use vegetables over fruit.

3)  If you use mainly fruit in your juicer, don't expect it to help you lose weight. It won't. Initially, thanks to the fructose, I put on a few pounds, hence I've got into drinking mainly vegetables.

4) Mainly vegetables don't taste as great, so think about including one apple or one orange each time, with whatever mix of veg you use.

5) There are many positives to drinking juice. It is a great substitute for coffee in the morning. I am full of energy, and my complexion is the best it's been in a very long time. I can't see me wanting to ever give it up...

Juicing - An in-house experiment (4) Exploring natural sugar... says:

When it comes to healthy beverage options, most people would probably agree that fruit juice is a better choice than soda or coffee. After all, juice comes from fruit so it must be healthy, right? Many experts are now in agreement that because of over-processing and pasteurization, most fruit juice contains only a hint of the nutrients it originally had and is not much healthier than a can of soda.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Juicing - An In-house experiment (2) ZINGY LIFE AS IT IS

Having established that I was in the business of concocting juices for a living (read about that here in this somewhat poignant tale), I have had enormous fun at home in my kitchen, with Classic FM or Absolute radio for company - depending on how I've woken up - reminiscing about juice recipes, and getting into my new juice regime.

There isn't much I haven't tried all over again. From beets to orange, I've enjoyed the lot. My favourite recipe remains apple and ginger, however, from a health point of view, my other favourite recipe is the ZINGY LIFE AS IT IS.

For this - apart from the obvious (a juicer), you will need:
2 oranges, peeled
A third of a bag of spinach leaves
3 medium sized carrots
3 apples
A good knob of ginger

Simply whizz it through and you'll find it makes about a pint. Keep it in the fridge and drink from it throughout the day, or guzzle the lot down, whatever your body needs at the time. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

...When I lived in Australia

I worked in a cafe. The Queen of Tarts was situated on Cappuccino strip in Fremantle,
W. A., and was a small, somewhat shoddy set up, which frankly suited me. Over time, I pretty much ended up running the place. Making juice all day long.

It was a great place to work. Mainly because of the great people I met; commuters passing through on the way to the train station and their own place of work.

Digressing slightly... but when I was a kid, and again when I was in Oz, Alan Ball was the manager of my father's beloved Portsmouth Football Club, affectionately known as Pompey. And as a kid, all I remember of Alan Ball is a squeaky high pitched voice. This was because my mum, whenever his name was mentioned, never failed to pipe up (in a squeaky high pitched voice) 'Little Alan Ball'. Turns out, he's also little.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Juicing - An in-house experiment (1)

I started juicing soon after I finished coffee-ing. Make sense? Probably not. Let me fill you in. Here's the post on giving up coffee.

So having kicked the habit and beginning to feel the benefits, I began to crave feeling better. Basically, looking after myself. (God knows I've put my body through it over the years and self destruct mode is lethal). Anyway, for the health purposes alone of nutritious support from within, I wanted to try drinking juice as a replacement for my morning coffee. More than anything, I saw it as an aid to my immune system. Here's a snippet of something I wrote earlier about combating depression naturally...

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Sunday pillow talk results in turning clutter to (potential) cash

Sunday morning pillow talk and as Simon and I discuss all the hidden extras to the extension we are planning, it dawns on me that our grand plans will more than likely be modified, i.e. just how quickly we could run out of money. So I say... I'll do a car boot. And he replies... Great, there's £50. And I muse... Esme and I have always said we'd like to do a car boot. And he replies: Great, there's £40. And then we both laugh.

38/52 The GraceFaith year long art project

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Cicciobello (Rumbly Tummy doll) - A review

To be honest, my girls don't play with dolls very much at all at the moment - although, like most young children they are massive fans of toilet humour. So when asked if LIFE AS IT IS would review the farting friend that is Cicciobello, naturally curious, I couldn't resist.

Cicciobello doll
Includes doll, interactive spoon, interactive orange juice box, customised potty, 2 wipes and a dummy
Size: H45cms
Ages suitable for: 3 years +
Available from: Argos, Toys R Us & Smyths
Price: £49.99
Batteries required: 3xAA
WARNING(S): Not suitable for children under 3 years old. Only for domestic use.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Back to school & overwhelmed musings of a 7YO

It's been big smiles all round, then last night, she collapsed.
Thoroughly exhausted. A new school. A new routine.
The amount of change that my eldest girl at just seven is undertaking, finally hit her.
I understand. I feel slightly confused and overwhelmed too.
How much paperwork?!
We all have to settle into the new school year.
I explained that to her shiny tear stained face at bedtime.
Esme Grace. So good at explaining how she feels:
"But Mummy, how am I supposed to remember it all?"

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The truth about trampolines

Thinking of buying a trampoline? Think again...

We got our trampoline when Esme was about three. She turned seven last week, and we had 12 kids here for an outdoor party that included a water slide, an 8ft pool and our netted 12 foot trampoline. 

For safety, I had put them into three groups of four, and arranged it so that three adults were on site to organise the chaos and supervise. I had no idea that the children on the trampoline were at risk.

Fortunately, nothing went wrong. Fortunately, we have never had any accidents happen on our trampoline. Goodness, the GraceFaith girls love it. It is part of our LIFE AS IT IS. But it has to go. Why? 

A friend's youngest is currently in hospital with her badly broken leg in traction. It breaks my heart to think of a two-year-old in a plaster that is almost the length of her body. 

Here's a sobering figure from the Royal Society For The Prevention Of Accidents (RoSPA) who suggest: Trampolines account for up to 50 per cent of A&E admissions for injuries in the home sustained by children under 14. 

The fact is, if you do have a trampoline only one person at a time should be on it - with supervision. Even then, a single child can land awkwardly and hurt themselves, but as more people get on, the risk of injury rapidly accumulates. When more than one child is playing on a trampoline, jumping at different times, your bouncy trampoline turns into a landing pad of concrete. This is not me scaremongering. This is how it is. 

If you are thinking of having a trampoline, I would ask you to think carefully.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Slipping through my fingers (2)

Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while

The feeling that I'm losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I'm glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Thursday, 3 September 2015

My girl turns 7 and donates her birthday presents to charity

Esme Grace just turned seven. If you didn't read the previous post about that, you will have missed this. Something I need to shout about! 

It was months ago you asked if you could make your birthday invitations. Of course you did - you still love art - I was astounded at the result. (For the record, I had absolutely nothing to do with it).

You wrote that instead of a gift, you would like the children to bring a donation for the WWF. I tried to talk you out of it, but you were (as only you can be) adamant. 

On the morning you turned seven, we expected 10 children to arrive without a wrapped gift in sight. 
I asked if you were prepared for that. 
Yes. You said squarely. 
And how does that make you feel? 
It's fine Mummy. I want to look after animals.

I don't know many children at age six that would think like this, let alone follow through with this Esme. I am so proud of you. This weekend you raised £42 for the World Wildlife Fund. Amazing.