The World According to Izzie

A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Monday, 8 February 2016

The Week That Was... 8th February 2016

Graduation, GraduateDo you ever find yourself scratching your head and trying to resolve a problem that there's simply no answer to? There's been a lot of this going on over the last week as I've grappled with too many unknowns and not enough facts to resolve one particular problem. It's also been a week of locating lost paperwork and struggling to understand one daughter's filing system which appears to be based on the 'fling it all in a heap and hope Mum can find it method.' Luckily for my daughter, I did eventually find what she was looking for and managed to post her documents in time.

Maths Problems
Both daughters graduate during the same week in September. We only have the date for one graduation, the other will be announced some time in April. As their universities are 400 miles apart, what are the chances of both parents attending two graduations? I'm already feeling emotional at the prospect of being able to attend only one.

On Friday I met a friend for coffee. We hadn't found time to meet up for over two years, but managed to stay in touch via email. I'm always astounded that friends can pick up exactly where they left off even after such a very long time. After a couple of hours we were all caught up and I'm hoping that it won't be another  two years until we meet up again.

On Saturday, I was one bedraggled blogger in Ludlow celebrating her father's birthday with the rest of the family. It was one of those days where it was impossible to get any more soaked such was the rain; but we did that great British thing and carried on regardless. Fortunately a hearty lunch kept us all going for longer than we imagined was possible. For some reason we kept losing my brother-in-law and had to resort to calling him on his mobile.

raindrops, glass

Later the same day I overheard a conversation between Mr A and his sister discussing what I'd like for my birthday and telling her that I'd be 50 next year. For the record I won't be... I'm deliberating whether (or not) to share this information with my husband. This inspired a whole new conversation where I felt compelled to ask several questions that he mostly didn't know the answers to. Note to self: never apply to go on Mr & Mrs. 

There are some weekends when I think that blissful Sundays spent reading the paper, partaking of lie-ins and long country walks is the stuff of urban myth. Our entire Sunday was gobbled up with the following...

1. Going to the tip several times
2. Locating documents for Sophia's trip to the American Embassy in London next week
3. 100 other things... I won't bore you with and yes, for the record I know I need to get out more

The highlight of the day was watching the final episode of War and Peace. Suddenly, I feel compelled to read the book and have added it to my reading list.

And finally...
My favourite read for this week comes from Tattooed Mummy with her post What Do Women Really Want for Valentine's Day? With the help of several (very wise) bloggers she has compiled some fabulous suggestions. If you're a male of the species and struggling with the issue of what to buy, you might want to read this.

That's it until next week. I'd love to hear what you've all been up to x

Izzie x

 Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton
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Thursday, 4 February 2016

Creating the perfect workspace for two...

Work from home, deskThe inspiration behind our workspace originated from the need to create two separate desk areas for myself and my husband. There are days when we both work from home and obviously we each require our own space.

Before the revamp, the workspace was dark, cluttered and there wasn't enough room to work efficiently. A makeover to redefine the room and make it more user friendly was carried out a couple of years ago.

We ventured into a well-known Swedish store and returned with an assortment of flat-pack boxes. I'm not particularly imaginative when it comes to picturing how a project is going to turn out, but fortunately my husband is quite intuitive and can always envisage how it's going to look.

The project took relatively little time to complete and the room hasn't changed a great deal since then. I guess that's because it's a space that works well for us. It's relatively compact, but there's ample storage with cupboards and shelving from floor to ceiling to 'hide' work at the end of the day. I think when you work from home it's important to differentiate between work and home life.

Work from home, desk

As you can see my husband's desk is fairly minimal...

Work from home, desk

As for mine... I'm a fan of quirky, brightly-coloured accessories and not averse to using my favourite mug if anyone's trying to distract me from working.


Work from home, desk

Notice board

I'm often joined by the cat, who's rather fond of checking that I'm sticking to the work schedule in return for hugs and cat treats. She's great company to have around when I'm working at home on my own.


In the future we hope to move to the coast and buy an apartment overlooking the sea. I have no idea if I'll be able to work when the view from the window is so glorious, but I guess I can always move my desk if it's too much of a distraction. I'm picturing an Eames chair, a stylish desk with lots of storage plus a whole host of multi-coloured desk accessories.

Where do you work at home when you're writing? I'd love to hear about your own workspace.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Week That Was... 1st February 2016

Decluttering, MinimalismIt's been another hectic week in the Anderton house and week two of juggling two jobs has gone pretty well. I'm enjoying the challenge of being busy and realised that I still have plenty of time to write. This has made me very happy indeed.

Here's what I've been up to this week...

I may have sniggered at this conversation my sister had with her son...
'N, Can you put your washing in the basket please?' My nephew proceeded to give excuses as to why this wasn't going to be done. And my sister replied... 'I asked for your washing, not a kidney. Just get on with it.' For once, he was speechless and did as he was told.

Daughter no 1 returned to university on Wednesday. It was fun to have her around and I've missed her company. While at home she borrowed my iPod and was surprised to find that I had 'Tarantula' by Pendulum on there. 'Mum, did you download this by accident?' she asked. I was speechless. Pendulum are awesome. I've even seen them in concert.

Thanks to National Express for making sure that my daughter arrived home safely. Her return coach was running an hour late, which meant she missed both connections for her ongoing journey. National Express put on an additional service just for my daughter and she arrived home at 9pm as planned. I was one very happy (and relieved) mum.

New beds
There are new beds on order for both daughters. These come with ottoman storage - not that I'm sharing this information with either of them. I have managed to resist replacing the iron though. No iron equals the perfect excuse not to spend hours slaving away at the ironing board and anyway, if you hang the clothes up just as soon as they're dry they look pretty good. This helpful tip saves hours each week for more important things like Twitter, blogging and going to work.

The decluttering fairy strikes again...
As the girls leave university in June they, and their formidable pile of possessions will return home for the foreseeable future. I like to think of the first two months of the year as decluttering season. We spent a considerable amount of time at the weekend sorting out the loft in anticipation of the girls coming home and trying to donate as much as possible to local charity shops. I'd forgotten just how cathartic it is to extract the things you no longer want (or need) from the house and secretly, I'm rather enjoying the whole process.

My mother popped over for a coffee last week and extracted two books from the depths of her handbag. After the initial excitement of, 'Yay, something new to read,' I spied the titles. Is she trying to tell me something I wonder?

tactless books

And finally...
My favourite read for this week comes from Natalie at Plutonium Sox. After a difficult few weeks Natalie decided that all the jobs could wait and instead, she enjoyed a much-needed day at the beach with her family. It's a fabulous post and a great reminder that it's important to leave mundane things behind and spend time with loved ones.

Wishing you all a brilliant week whatever you're up to...

 Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 29 January 2016

A Milestone Birthday for my Father

My father celebrates a milestone birthday at the end of next week.

Sadly, he's a widower after Stepmum died four years ago from cancer and is in no mood to celebrate. There will be no party. Instead, he would rather forget about the day and do nothing.

Only, you can't actually stand by and allow that to happen can you? We will visit on his birthday anyway and try to persuade him otherwise. My sister and I have been racking our brains since New Year and decided that despite his absolute refusal to do anything on his birthday, we've asked that he keep the following day free and plan on taking him out.

He's asked for no presents, but we've ignored that request and filled a hamper with treats he'd never buy for himself - even though he could easily afford to do so.

Myself, Mr A, my sister and her family will descend on a local tourist destination and visit the castle. Maybe we'll browse at an antiques fair as Dad used to like that sort of thing. We've booked a table at a restaurant for lunch and plan to go home again for a belated birthday tea.

I thought that Dad would eventually be OK after losing Stepmum.

Initial signs were encouraging. Dad settled into a routine of coming over for meals, days out and spent agonising afternoons sifting though Stepmum's belongings with my sister and I. He raised funds for the hospice where Stepmum had passed away. We were grateful for their incredible work and open house policy that meant all of Stepmum's extended family from all over the country could visit whenever they wanted to. Dad never left Stepmum's side and the hospice were only too happy to accommodate his wishes.

During the last four years however, Dad has become more and more withdrawn. Seeing him sad and unhappy is hard on us all. He's had bereavement counselling, joined several different social groups (and promptly left). We try to spend as much time as possible with him, but he's more likely to turn down an invitation that to accept. We help with the gardening and have persuaded him to sell the house that he and Stepmum once shared.

It's times like these that you realise you might just be a grown-up for having to assume responsibility for a parent. The role reversal is harsh and not something you ever thought would happen.

I know that I can't change a thing. That doesn't mean I'll ever stop trying.

Happy Birthday Dad x 

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 25 January 2016

The Week That Was... 25th January 2016

Since the last update there have been several new developments in the Anderton house. These are mostly good and all conspiring to keep me busy - which I guess can only be a good thing.

Here's what I've been up to this week...

I've started not one, but two new jobs. I was offered one just before Christmas and received a phone call out of the blue with the offer of a second, last week. At the moment I'm juggling both and enjoying them equally.

I'd hoped my daughters would come and watch The Peanuts Movie when they were home over Christmas, naturally, they weren't keen and so I cajoled Mr A into seeing it instead. We thoroughly enjoyed the film and I couldn't have cared less that we were the only grown-ups in the cinema without children.

Olivia arrived home on Friday for a surprise visit. She's currently hard at work on her dissertation and I'm loving her being at home. She might be 21, but that doesn't stop me from sneaking glances and thinking how adorable she is. I am one very proud mum. I have to wait until Easter to see daughter, Sophia though :o(

If all goes to plan both daughters will graduate during the first week of September. I'm hopeful that their graduations won't happen on the same day as my daughters' universities are 400 miles apart. Although, if memory serves, their formidable start to uni life back in September 2013 was also due to take place on the same date and ended up being quite the juggling act.

Will Sophia even be home in time for graduation after working in the US for the summer? Who knows? It all sounds like the plot from a random episode of Soap. Let me know if you're old enough to remember this. 

The Best Meal of the Day... 
Going out for breakfast has become our new favourite start to the weekend. We pop into the newsagents for a paper on the way to our favoured haunt before settling into the cosy fug of the coffee shop for a lengthy read over breakfast and several cups of coffee. 

This gorgeous mug was a gift from my sister-in-law. It comes in handy when surrounded by distractions at home...

I finally spied the last two cushions for our sofas while I wasn't even looking. Isn't this the best kind of shopping?! I am quietly optimistic that the cat won't wreck either of them. Although, I may have said this about every cushion purchased since she came into our home as a kitten 14 years ago and decided that destroying cushions was one of her many talents.

I've also bought a couple of new outfits for work. Huge thanks to White Stuff for stocking something that fits my Cadbury's Mis-shape, forty-something figure and coming to my rescue the day before I was due to start a new job.

And finally...
My favourite blogging read for this week goes to Tracy from Inside The Rainbow with her inspired post Dancing With Mr D, all about celebrities who are no longer with us and the legacies they've left behind. If you haven't read it already, it comes highly recommended.

Well, that's about it from the Anderton house for this week. Wishing you all a fabulous week whatever you're up to x

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton
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Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Trouble With Sleep - Part 2

In Part 1 of the The Trouble With Sleep I discussed the signs of a poor sleep pattern and how this can contribute to performance in everyday life. I also mentioned that I'd decided to make 2016 the year to tackle my own sleep patterns after being sleep deprived for more years than I care to remember.

In Part 2, I'll be sharing my experiences of taking the 'Wake Up Ready' campaign with Kalms.

For the past three weeks I've tried adopting a few of the lifestyle changes from the list below to make a good night's sleep that little bit less elusive...

10 things you can do to sleep better...

1. Always get up at the same time - even at the weekend.
It might seem like you need a lie-in to make up for sleep you've missed out on, but to break the cycle of sleeping problems you need to train your body into a good sleeping pattern.

2. Avoid catnaps during the day.
It'll only make it harder to get into good sleeping habits.

3. Replace caffeine and alcohol with hot milky drinks.
Alcohol won't help you sleep properly. If you are having trouble cutting out caffeine, set yourself a time in the day beyond which you don't have any.

4. Unwind with a hot bath and lavender bubbles.
Both will aid sleep by helping you feel more relaxed.

5. Exercise during the day.
Exercising at night will actually make you feel more awake and you'll find it harder to get to sleep.

6. Go to bed at the same time every night.
It'll help your body prepare itself for sleep.

7. Make your bedroom a shrine to sleep.
No TV and no smart phones.

8. Alleviate your worries.
Try writing them down before you go to bed.

9. Try a traditional herbal remedy.
Valerian root has been used for centuries due to its natural sedative effect.

10. Don't lie there frustrated.
If you can't sleep, get up and do something (non strenuous) for a while.

I have to admit to looking at the list and thinking that all the advice was pretty obvious. Didn't I know most of this stuff already? Yes, I think I probably did.

Whether or not I was actually sticking to any of the above before starting the campaign was a different matter. As I'd slept badly while my daughters were at home I felt more sleep deprived than ever and was desperate to give it a try.

During the last three weeks, I have tried to stick to the recommendations and made a few useful discoveries...

1. I already get up at the same time every day (6:30am) which means that I'm ready to go to bed at around 10pm. I try to stay off the laptop after 8pm however, like most rules, this one is sometimes broken.

2. Often when I can't go back to sleep I'm thinking about what needs to be done the following day. So instead of agonising over tasks in the early hours of the morning, I've started to write a list after dinner in the hope that this is one less thing to mull over if I wake up early.

3. Catnaps were probably the hardest habit to break, but in the interests of the campaign I've managed to resist temptation for three whole weeks. Knowing that I'm not taking a catnap to compensate for missed sleep has really helped me to focus on sleeping better at night.

4. As I've been arriving home late from work some evenings, I've forfeited my usual glass of wine and switched to hot chocolate instead.

5. I've learnt that alcohol before bedtime does not make for a restful night's sleep - not that I'm planning on giving up drinking completely.

6. I've also added an extra tip to my good sleep routine and that's to think about five good things that have happened during the day if my mind won't stop thinking about what's not gone so well.

7. I found a bottle of lavender and camomile bath oil at the back of the cupboard and add several drops to my bath water. It's a soothing way to end a hectic day and I guess this adds to the overall feeling of sleepiness.

During the last three weeks I've still had several nights of poor sleep, but each time have managed to identify a cause...

1. A late phone call with worrying news meant that I didn't have time to relax before bedtime and could not go to sleep. I got up and went downstairs to read, rather than logging onto Twitter to chat with fellow insomniac friends. After an hour, I went back to bed and decided that nothing was going to be resolved by my staying awake and being tired the following day.

2. New Year's Eve was a daft time to make a start on the 'Wake Up Ready' campaign... half a bottle of Prosecco plus staying up till 1:45am meant that sleep was fairly elusive.

To conclude, I think that adopting a few of the tips from the list has made a difference to my sleep pattern. If only I persuade my daughters to be quiet while mum's trying to sleep that would be brilliant. Does anyone have any suggestions for sharing a house with older children who seem to inhabit a different time zone to their parents?

Do you have any other great sleeping tips you'd add to the list?

This is a collaborative post.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 18 January 2016

The Trouble with Sleep - Part 1

I have been rubbish at sleeping for as long as I can remember. This started when I covered a lot of on call in addition to full-time hours at work.

I'd notice that my performance after a night on call would be average, which I guess was only to be expected. The night after being on duty however, I'd be too tired to go to sleep. Following an exceptionally busy on call session, the impact of sleep deprivation even a couple of days later could affect my ability to function well.

Even on nights when I wasn't working I'd anticipate the phone ringing and this would keep me awake.

I'd been on the on call rota for several years by the time my twin daughters arrived and nothing could have prepared me for the night feeds. By the time these stopped, I found myself back at work and on call again; there were days when I probably couldn't have said what day of the week it was with any conviction.

My sleep pattern has been pretty atrocious ever since. I know the science behind poor sleep and how this can affect health and performance. I have tried to resolve my sleeping problems many times... and failed.

Over the years there have been many changes to my life and now I'm lucky enough to work (mostly) from home and my daughters are all grown-up and away at university.

I've learnt that I can go to sleep reasonably well while reading a book at bedtime, it's staying asleep that's the problem. As a fairly light sleeper I'm easily woken... the cat sneaking upstairs, my daughters coming up to bed at some ungodly hour when they're at home and my husband snoring are just a few of the things that wake me up. It can take ages for me to go back to sleep again.

My other problem is waking between 3 - 4am and feeling wide awake. I'm rather fond of sneaking downstairs and logging onto Twitter to see if there are any fellow insomniacs out there. Quite often there are a few of us using the hashtag #TroubleSleeping and sharing our tales of sleep deprivation. And that's fine, apart from feeling as though I need a catnap mid-afternoon and regularly falling asleep on the sofa at around 9pm.

So, when I was invited to write a post about sleep by Kalms Herbal Remedies, I decided that resolving my sleep issues was going to be my New Year's resolution. It might be an unusual choice, but this was something I've been wanting to do for a very long time and it felt like a fabulous start to 2016.

I was asked to keep a daily sleep and performance diary for three weeks and try to stick to the guidelines I'd been given. I started on New Year's Eve. This wasn't the most auspicious start to the 'Wake Up Ready' campaign I'd hoped for, but in evaluating my sleep problems, it did make me realise that drinking half a bottle of Prosecco before bedtime wasn't conducive to a good night's sleep.

Everyone's sleep patterns are different and the length of time we need to sleep varies from person to person - seven to nine hours is considered 'normal.' If you find yourself frequently feeling tired and lethargic during the day, you may be experiencing sleep problems.

It's estimated that one in three people in the UK suffer from poor sleep, yet a good night's sleep is essential for our health in many ways, including immunity, emotional and psychological well-being.

In terms of performance, poor sleep can contribute to:  

1. Feeling groggy and lethargic during the morning
2. Increased irritability
3. Feeling drowsy during the day
4. Forgetfulness
5. Becoming accident prone
6. Feeling the need for caffeinated or sugary drinks
7. Being unable to switch off from the problems of the day
8. Difficulty concentrating

Signs of poor sleep include: 

1. Difficulty falling asleep
2. Light or restless sleeping
3. Waking often
4. Lying awake
5. Waking early

 How many of these can you identify with?

Or, if you're one of those lucky people who sleep well, do you have any tips to share?

To discover how I got on with the sleep diary, click here to read Part 2.

This is a collaborative post.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton
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Thursday, 14 January 2016

Rubbish Ways to Spend a Weekend

We did well to get to the 9th January without Mr A making a start on his first DIY project of the year. As he'd gone and bought himself a new drill I'd known that he was looking for an excuse to use it.

After 23 years of marriage I can mostly guess what my husband is thinking. Until that is, it comes to picking off one of the many tasks that require attention at home. These get deleted from the list of 'rubbish ways to spend a weekend' in the strangest of orders. I'm not convinced that Mr A could explain the selection process.

We have lived in our current home for 18 years and 5 months exactly. In all that time we'd thought that the door into the lounge was fitted by a mad man. It opens into the room creating congestion whenever two or more people are coming in or going out. I'd often use this as an excuse for an impromptu hug with my daughters and that made me very happy indeed. Unfortunately, hugging all of your guests isn't such a great idea and at times this has been downright awkward.

I'd spied Mr A eyeing up the door and wielding his tape measure several days ago. 'I'm just popping out to get a few things,' he muttered. Vanishing before I could open my mouth to protest and ask what he was plotting. He returned several hours later with a pile of items that had cost a crazy sum and proceeded to deposit the lot all over the floor.
'Care to share what you're up to now?' I asked. 'No, not really,' he said. And with that, he started to unscrew the door from its hinges and refit it to open towards the window. This all took rather a long time. He chiselled, hammered, sanded, sawed, drilled, plastered, sanded some more, and used several words that aren't suitable for publication.

More plaster fell off the walls than expected as he made channels for a new dimmer switch cable. He turned the power on and off again several times, while I worked to a deadline in fading light, on a laptop with no charge and craved several cups of tea.

Sadly, I didn't get to close the doors before the all-pervading scent of wood filler diffused all over the house, carrying with it a layer of fine wood and plaster dust.
The cat sulked on the floor in the dining room as she had nowhere else to go. She remained inconsolable for the rest of the weekend. No amount of tuna could lift her spirits. In fact, we were both pretty grumpy... I blame my hormones. As for the cat, well, she's a cat... it's not as if she needs an excuse.

Nobody puts Kitty in the corner

The next few days were punctuated by coughing fits, sneezing and finding dust in places I don't usually think to look.

As of today, the door has reached Mr A's dizzy heights of DIY perfection, and now opens exactly the way he wants it to.

It's a shame about the wall though.

I'm predicting another fun-filled weekend as he fixes the plaster and repaints the walls.

Who knows what he has planned after that?

Maybe I'll keep a low profile.

Would anyone care to join me down the pub?

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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