The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin daughters - nothing else scares me

Friday, 27 March 2015

Here and Now

Like many people I find it hard to live in the moment and make the most of what's happening right now. And even on blissful days out with the family I find myself thinking, 'What's next?' rather than focus on our time together. I'm constantly reminding myself to try and relax in an attempt to stop planning the rest of the day to the nth degree.

Is this a modern phenomenon I wonder? And one that's especially a female prerogative? I'm convinced that it is. My daughters are brilliant at savouring the moment, but then they're both at university and having a ball. And Mr A has going with the flow well and truly perfected. I like to think this is something they'll all hold on to.

So I guess it's just me that's always multitasking and maybe I need to add... chill once in a while to the list of tasks that require my attention. I think as women we are incredibly hard on ourselves. Our 21st century lives can be filled with stress and the demands of modern living are not for the faint-hearted. I'd love to be able to switch off and not think about having to remember to pay the credit card bill/ buy toilet roll/ get dinner out of the freezer, (delete as appropriate) but who is going to remember all of this if I don't? Why am I always thinking about so many things at the same time exactly? I'm not convinced it makes me any more productive.

So when was the last time you did just one thing? Like watching TV without checking Twitter? Or enjoying dinner in a restaurant without feeling the need to post a picture on Instagram? Can't remember? No, me neither. Even as I type I'm guilty of having multiple tabs open on the laptop and can feel quite frazzled as I hop from one to another.

I remember in my previous job that I could easily multitask 2 things at once, any more and I'd start to lose focus, become tired more easily and fantasise about a glass of wine (or two) after work if the demands continued for prolonged periods of time. The delight of focusing on one task and doing it well before moving on to something else was for me, idyllic and I always achieved more in a day. I think it's time for me to adopt this philosophy all over again.

Do we get any more achieved by constantly bombarding our brains with so many things? I have my doubts. Maybe it's time to give up on the multitasking myth that if you're not doing at least 3 things at the same time you're simply not doing enough? I'm going to have a go at concentrating on just one thing and maybe achieve more in the process.

I'll keep you posted. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

For the record, this blog post has taken less time to write than usual as I don't have 5 tabs open at the top of the page.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 23 March 2015

The Box

There's a box in my wardrobe filled with treasure from years gone by. It contains concert tickets, random photos and pictures drawn by my daughters when they were little. I sift through its contents about once a year and reminisce about happy times and snapshots of life as a family. I'm guessing that every mum has a box containing cute pics drawn by their offspring. How could anyone bear to part with them?

And so, I thought I'd share a few that make me smile...

If memory serves, I think this was meant to be an alien and probably drawn by Sophia...

Here's an early attempt at a reindeer by Olivia...

Cats were always a theme for Sophia; she pestered us non-stop from the age of 2 until we finally relented and bought her a kitten for her 7th birthday.

And an early attempt at a caterpillar by Olivia...

Here's a picture of our cat from Sophia...

I also came across this...

It's a photo of both daughters at Alton Towers and I'm guessing they were about 3 years of age when this was taken. Don't be deceived by their angelic little faces; they were being rather mischievous and didn't want to sit still. Olivia's on the left.

Sophia always loved to draw and it's no surprise that she's studying illustration at university. Olivia meanwhile, always had her nose in a book and studies English literature. Looking back on their younger years, many of their childhood characteristics have followed them all the way through to adulthood.

Last night as I talked to Olivia via Skype I shared a few treasured drawings and photos with her. She's horrified that I feel the need to hold onto this stuff; I guess when she's a mum she'll understand.

How you imagine your kids will turn out based on their characteristics now? I'd love to hear your comments...

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 20 March 2015

Nominations Open for the BiBs 2015

It's that time of year when nominations for the Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2015 hosted by BritMums are officially open. Cue even more excitement from the blogging community and we're a pretty excitable bunch as it is.

This time last year I was astounded to be shortlisted in the Writer category. I can't begin to tell you how much that meant and concluded that a) it's not just my mum who reads my blog and b) people actually took the time to nominate me in this prestigious category and that made me very happy indeed.

Here are the categories for the BiBs 2015...
  • Fresh Voice
  • Food
  • Inspire
  • Social Media
  • Writer
  • Photo
  • Video
  • Travel
  • Style
  • Crafts
  • Family
  • Outstanding
And here's the dilemma... with only 12 categories and so many brilliant blogs falling into the same one, how do you narrow it down?! For me, it was a tough decision, but after a couple of glasses of wine I managed it somehow.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who takes the time to read 'The World According to Izzie.' Regular readers will know that the past year has seen my daughters enjoying their second year at university, while I've continued to fathom what it is to be forty-something and living in an empty nest. I've discovered that I'm older but not necessarily wiser, questioned whether real life is the opposite of a fairy tale? and wondered why I have trouble sleeping? I've discovered the delights of being home alone and giggled as my daughters have grown up and sometimes discovered things the hard way. I've been baffled by completely new parenting dilemmas and continued to blog about random stuff here, here and here.

If you enjoy reading my blog I'd really appreciate a nomination in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards for 2015. I know that the competition is going to be tough for all the categories listed - but maybe you'd consider nominating me in the Writer category. Nominations close at midnight on 12th April 2015 and here are my details:

1. Click on the Nominate button on the top right hand side of this page.

2. Blog name: The World According to Izzie

3. Blog URL:

4. Twitter: @IzzieAnderton

5. Email:

6.  And the rest is up to you. Choose your favourite post and and say why you think my blog deserves a nomination.

Thank you lovely person x

Good luck to everyone in the BiBs.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Thursday, 19 March 2015

Easter Gifts for Children.

In case you hadn't noticed Easter is almost upon us. Cue: warmer days, lighter evenings and getting to spend time with our nearest and dearest in the great outdoors. As if by magic my daughters will return from uni and I look forward to making the most of their company and surviving the chaos that ensues whenever they're home.

When my daughters were little they loved Easter eggs, but I tended to buy something little more inspirational that didn't involve scoffing vast quantities of chocolate. And so, I've come up with a few suggestions for alternative gifts if you're tempted to ditch the chocolate this year...

1. First up is the Animated Origami Set from Paperchase. Create origami models that actually move - includes jumping frogs! Kit contains origami paper in a range of bright colours and a 24 page instruction booklet.

2. Also from Paperchase is this adorable Snackpackers skipping rope featuring cute panda characters on wooden handles and a hard-wearing rope.

3. Selected Disney movies are currently on offer at Disney Store on Buy One, Get One Free. The deal features many of the great Disney classics as well as more recent releases. I plan on buying a couple for my daughters as there are a few we don't have in our collection. My daughters may be 20 years of age - but they still love them!

For older children...
4. I have my nephew to thank for the inspiration behind this one. This authentic camper van is a replica of the classic VW Camper Van from 1962 and has every iconic feature from engine detail to pop-up roof.
Lego Volkswagen T1 Camper Van (Lego Shop)

5. Also ideal for an older teen is this gorgeous Art Therapy Colouring Book available from Waterstones. Create sophisticated designs and de-stress at the same time with this intricate colouring book.

6. Or how about these gorgeous Rainbow Ambient Ball fairy lights from Blaze On? Made from fine cotton thread, they allow light to diffuse creating a soft glow. There are lots of gorgeous colour options available.

For Preschoolers 
7. Available from Selfridges, here's a retro-inspired toy made by B that features 47 colourful beads on 5 separate loops.
A-maze loopty loo toy

8. I also love this set of Monte Carlo Sports Cars from Le Toy Van (available at Selfridges). The six cars are brightly painted and designed to race alone but are also compatible with a market-leading wooden train track. 

9. Next up is this novelty, travel themed puzzle from Amara - Londji Bon Voyage Puzzle. Featuring a charming travel theme with whimsical characters, it includes 22 pieces in total.

And not forgetting little ones...
10. Check out this adorable Manhattan Toy Riley Rabbit from John Lewis. Suitable from birth, this floppy bunny has soft, long ears and is perfect for baby hands to stroke and cuddle.

11. Don't you just love this beautiful Crochet Bird Music Box made by Anna-Claire Petit? This multi-stripe bird plays Brahms' Lullaby when cord is pulled and is made from 100% organic cotton. Available from Amara.

12. And finally, how about the Lola Lamb Rattle from White Company? It's perfect for baby hands and made from soft velboa with embroidered eyes and nose.

So there you have it, a selection of gifts that will last longer than all that chocolate!

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter x

Gifts featured range from £5 to £79.99

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 16 March 2015

73 Questions

Regular readers of my blog will know that I love a good meme and so when I spotted 73 Questions from Heledd at Running in Lavender, I was inspired to give it a go. The original idea came from Vogue's '73 Things You Never Knew About...' series on YouTube. There are nine interviews in total - these include: Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica Parker, Daniel Radcliffe and Blake Lively. I can confirm that SJP's New York house is as stylish as I'd imagined and that Anna Wintour has the best job in the world. Don't you just love to find out more about the people who inspire you?

Here's Anna Wintour's interview if you're curious...

And here are the answers to my 73 Questions...

1. Were you named after anyone?

2. When was the last time you cried?
Probably the last time I watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

3. Do you like your handwriting?

4. What's your favourite lunch?
French bread with Boursin and maybe a cheeky glass of wine if it's the weekend.

5. Instagram or Twitter?

6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?

7. Do you bake?
Yes, but only when my daughters are home from university.

8. Do you like flying?
Yes, as it usually means I'm going on holiday.

9. Would you bungee jump?
Hell no!

10. What is your favourite cereal?
Tropical fruit granola.

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

12. Do you think you're strong?
Physically, no. Mentally, yes.

13. What is your favourite ice-cream?

14. What is the first thing you notice about people?
Their eyes. 

15. Red or pink?

16. What is the least favourite thing about yourself?
My feet.

17. Who do you miss the most?
My daughters, they're both away at university.

18. What was the last book you read because everyone was reading it?
Tigers In Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann.

19. What film made you cry the most?
The Fault In Our Stars.

20.What was the last thing you ate?

21. What are you listening to right now?
The cat snoring her little head off.

22. If you were a crayon what colour would you be?

23. Favourite smell?

24.  Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
Daughter, Olivia.

25. Mountain hideaway or beach house?
Beach house.

26. Favourite sport to watch?

27. Hair colour?

28. Eye colour?

29. Puppies or kittens?

30. Favourite food?
Dark chocolate.

31. Scary film or happy endings?

32. Last film you watched?
The Imitation Game.

33. What book are you reading at the moment?
A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

34. Summer or winter?

35. Hugs or kisses?

36. Favourite dessert?

37. Favourite room in the house?
The lounge.

38. How long have you been on Facebook?
Only a couple of years.

39. What is your favourite country to visit?

40. What was the last country you visited?

41. What is your favourite film?
Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

42. Favourite sound?

43. Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
The Beatles.

44. What is the farthest you have been from home?
The Seychelles.

45. Do you have a special talent?
I know what my husband is thinking before he's even opened his mouth.

46. Where were you born?
Worcestershire, UK.

47. Where are you living now?
Near Worcester.

48. Favourite Hitchcock movie?
Don't have one.

49.What book have you read again and again?
Camberwell Beauty by Jenny Eclair.

50. Favourite TV Series that's on now?
World's Greatest Motorcycle Rides.

51. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

52. What's your favourite drink?
Am I allowed to say Prosecco?

53. Who is your girl crush?
Don't have one!

54. What was the first film you saw at the cinema?
101 Dalmatians.

55. Heels or flats?

56. Favourite bedtime story?
Anything from The Famous Five Series by Enid Blyton.

57. Bath or shower?

58. What's the hardest thing about being a mum?
Finding the time to cram everything in and stay sane!

59. Favourite band?

60. Favourite solo artist?
Enrique Iglesias.

61. To be or not to be?
To be.

62. What would be the title of your autobiography?
Normal Is So Overrated.

63. Best gift you've ever received?
Twin daughters.

64. Best gift you've ever given?
My daughters.

65. Favourite fruit?

66. What was your first pet?
A rabbit.

67. Favourite board game?
Game of Life.

68. How do you have your coffee?
White with a little sugar.

69. Best invention?
The iPod.

70. Diamonds or pearls?

71. Blow dry or air dry?
Blow dry.

72.  Cheap or expensive shampoo?

73. How difficult was it to answer these questions?
Not difficult at all.

So, why not have a go at the 73 Question challenge yourself? I'd love to read your answers.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Friday, 13 March 2015

On Driving...

Recently I was asked to write a feature about my thoughts on learning to drive and compare it to that of my daughters. As it's 30 years since I passed my test and the girls passed only 3 years ago, our experiences couldn't have been more different.  

The year was 1985 and after celebrating my 17th birthday, I was fixated on learning to drive. I learnt in a turquoise blue Mini with an instructor called Bob; a chain-smoker who frequently stopped to replenish supplies from local garages during our lessons. I'm not sure what that says about his nerves or my ability behind the wheel - but there you go. I was astounded when Bob told me I could put in for my test at the end of the second lesson. And somehow after only 13 lessons, I took my driving test and passed - I don't know who was more surprised

Those first tentative trips in the car on my own were scary and I realised I still had much to learn. I suspect that I've been learning ever since and now that our roads are busier than ever, it's important to expect the unexpected even when driving conditions are perfect. On a sunny day last year a car ploughed into the side of my brand-new Toyota Aygo - I was lucky to escape with minor injuries. My car however, sustained 5K worth of damage. I have been a little more wary of other drivers ever since.

In 2011, twin daughters, Olivia and Sophia were learning to drive. I thought I'd be fairly relaxed about the whole experience and convinced myself that getting this out of the way with the two of them at the same time was going to be a cinch. Back in the day when I learnt my dad had been very patient, so I figured I'd inherit his innate skill for remaining calm under pressure. I pictured Sunday morning practice with the girls taking turns behind the wheel and not a whimper to suggest that things weren't going as planned. 

Once the girls start lessons, I change my mind and put off taking them out for as long as possible. Weeks pass and eventually I have to face the inevitable. I drive to a local trading estate late one Sunday afternoon and allow my daughters to take turns behind the wheel. To be fair they aren't bad after 10 lessons, it's just that my car is more powerful than the instructor's and try as they might, clutch control eludes them. It's their first outing however and all things considered, it had gone rather well (or so I thought). 

Pulling up in the car park so that I can take over for the drive home, I turn the ignition and discover that the battery is dead. As I'd insisted on no mobile phones in the car during practice, we are stuck on a car park in the middle of a trading estate when everything has closed for the day. Eventually, we are rescued by a couple of good Samaritans who offer to bump-start the car. I am so grateful, I offer them money for a couple of pints and drive home. 

The following morning after jump-starting the car, I head to the garage. The battery is well and truly dead and I decide to invest in a heavy-duty replacement that's guaranteed for 2 years; there's no mention of teaching twins to drive breaching the terms and conditions of the warranty. This is very good news. 

The girls ask to drive everywhere after their first outing and I alternate between thinking, 'Yes, I can do this,' to, 'No, I just can't.' On days when I feel brave and agree, I occasionally feel the need to grip the edge of my seat until my knuckles turn white or plunge my right foot into the seat well in the hope of finding a spare break pedal. I can't help thinking that I'm not as cool-headed as I'd thought. On days when I'm not feeling so resilient, I decline their requests and endure the pair of them sulking in the back of the car. It's difficult to know what's worse.  

After several weeks my daughters are not amused, I am a nervous wreck and my husband is finding the whole experience rather hilarious. There's no option but to carry on. It can't last forever. It doesn't and the girls pass their tests within the same week. Instead of feeling relieved, my sense of foreboding increases (as does my insurance premium). I am scared that something will happen and I won't be there to rescue them. What I forget is that my daughters have had 35 lessons with a brilliant instructor, passed theory and practical driving tests and have far more experience on the road than I had when I started out all those years ago. They also have mobiles to call for help should they ever breakdown.

Gradually I learn to let go. I tell myself that this is a natural progression and all part of growing up. It's years before I master the art of falling asleep before they've arrived home after a night out though. 

I have the utmost respect for anyone learning to drive and for the person responsible for chaperoning them. I'm not convinced I'd have the stamina to go through learning all over again and remember all too well how challenging it was to supervise my daughters.
To be fair the girls are much calmer behind the wheel than I am. They're never stressed in traffic and can park really well (not something I've ever mastered). My only problem with their driving is that when they're back from university my car is often missing whenever I need to use it.
Once the girls are in the market for a car of their own, I'd like to think that More Than Telematics Insurance
could play a part in keeping them even safer on the road. Specifically aimed at younger drivers (18-24 year olds), this utilises a black box attached to the car to monitor speed and breaking to give an overall view of driving style. The information collected is reflected in the insurance premium and has the potential to save up to £750 a year. Maybe I'd be tempted to try this out for myself.

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 9 March 2015

A Letter to my Sixteen-Year-Old Self

If you could write a letter to yourself at sixteen, what would it say? What valuable insight would you give to help you through the maelstrom that was your teenage years? Featuring letters from well-loved personalities, Dear Me: More Letters to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self is an anthology written by well-loved personalities to their teen selves. Honest, funny and insightful, it includes letters from J. K Rowling, Jodi Picoult and Hugh Jackman to name a few.
Here's mine:

Dear Izzie,

Wow, you're sixteen and have your whole life ahead of you. It's going to get easier I promise. 

First of all, don't grow up too fast. Experience more of what life has to offer and have fun along the way. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, it's how you'll learn what does and doesn't work for you and there's nothing wrong with reinventing your plans. Being a grown-up is so overrated at times and that's why it's important to make the most of your teen years. And stop hiding your petite figure under fisherman's rib jumpers borrowed from your dad's wardrobe - one day you will wish that you hadn't.

It's your dad's ambition for you to work in the medical profession. However, this is not your dream and it won't make you happy. You've always wanted to write for a living, so tell everyone to butt out and go for it.

The childhood you always wanted will be yours once you have children of your own. They will experience all the things you always wanted to do because you'll work hard and make it happen. You will love your children more than you have ever loved anyone else in your life. I know you don't think this is possible - believe me, it is.

In the meantime, care less about what others think and more about your own thoughts and beliefs. As you grow older what other people think won't bother you in the slightest and you won't be afraid to tell them so.

A face full of spots at 16, means that once you hit forty, your skin will be wrinkle-free. And one day you'll quit arguing with your sister and realise that your mum was right; your sister really is the best friend you could wish for.

In a couple of years you're going to be offered a job in New York. Who knows what will happen if you take a chance and say, "Yes?" If you turn it down, you'll never know. Your parents are going to be unimpressed, but will eventually forgive you, because that's what parents do.

At forty you're still going to love books and music, I guess some things never change.

Be happy,

Izzie x

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 6 March 2015

Tracks of My Years

While sorting out in the loft earlier this week I spied my collection of singles and LPs from the 1970s and 80s and thought I'd share a few with you. As my beloved record player is now defunct I wasn't able to play the records (sob) and settled for the next best thing, an evening in the company of YouTube. It was fun to reminisce about school discos, ra-ra skirts and more innocent times back in the day when I was a heck of a lot younger than I am now.

YouTube is brilliant for Top Of The Pops performances and as this was unmissable TV when I was younger, I've used these videos wherever possible. For all my readers from the US, TOTP was a music chart TV programme made by the BBC which was broadcast between 1964 and 2006.

My record collection reflected what was going on in my life at the time. For teen angst and retaliation against my dad I've selected 3 songs:

First up is Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) - 1984.

Next, as no disco was complete without everyone throwing themselves around the dance floor, I had to include Toy Dolls - Nellie the Elephant (1984).

When I shared the following song with my daughters, they dished out one of those distainful looks that requires no explanation whatsoever. My dad also hated this track. I, on the other hand still love it and couldn't care less. Altered Images were awesome and I may have followed Clare Grogan on Twitter since watching this last night. I Could Be Happy (1981).

These songs were played frequently and I lost count of the number of times I'd be told to, 'Turn it down.' Where did my daughters get their rebellious streak from I wonder?

And then there were tracks I simply loved, many of which are downloaded on my iPod and listened to thirty years later.

J Geils Band - Centerfold (1982), this overlaps with tracks my dad loathed as he didn't think it appropriate for his then 14-year old daughter to be listening to it. I'm not convinced I'd have understood the lyrics back then, as these were very naive times.

The next song sounds as brilliant today as it did almost 30 years ago and my daughters love it. Run-DMC/ Aerosmith - Walk This Way (1986).

And finally, the perfect soundtrack to my moody, yet often philosophical teen years. Dream Academy - Life In A Northern Town (1985).

And, if you really want to scare the kids, play some tracks from your own childhood, sing along with gusto and show them they're not the only ones with a different taste in music.

When my own daughters were going through what can only be described as a challenging phase with their choice in music, I found it easier to pretend to love everything. Heck, we even took them to several concerts, and Pendulum were very awesome indeed.

Anyone else have a selection of singles and LPs in storage? What were your favourites?

Until next time...

All videos from YouTube

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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