The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin teens - nothing else scares me!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Ten Things my Daughters Wouldn't Have Said Twelve Months Ago

There are tentative signs that my daughters are turning into adults. And since they turned twenty last month, our mother/ daughter conversations have had me biting my lip in an attempt to disguise the fact that I'm trying not to laugh.

We still have the odd lapse when things get very silly, but most of the time I'm left wondering who has kidnapped my teens and replaced them with a couple of young ladies? After years of attempting to get my daughters to help, organise and be pro-active about everything, finally, they get it. Here are a few examples of recent conversations...

1. "Right, I'm all packed and ready to leave for uni tomorrow. What time are we going?"

2. "I'll clean the glass coffee table in the lounge, I love how it sparkles when you can't write your name in the dust."

3. "I'm just going to set off the first load of washing." After arriving home from a holiday in Barcelona.

4. "Can Dad show me how to use the Flymo? I need to mow the lawn at the new house."

5. One day we were heading home from a shopping trip and a child in the car in front was waving his arm out of the window. As the road was narrow and he was facing oncoming traffic, I tried to alert the driver that something was amiss. Olivia piped up with, "It's all great fun until someone's arm gets taken off by a passing truck isn't it Mum?" Seriously... she sees danger. Obviously she's in training to become a mum one day!

6. "Mum, I'll call you back, I'm cooking dinner for everyone tonight."

7. "Can you email me the recipe for vegetarian paella?" I thought Sophia was joking.

8. "Do you want me to do anything?" This one threw me completely the first few times I heard it. As I'm so used to doing everything myself I had a habit of replying, "No, I'm fine thanks." I am learning though.

9. "I'm just going to bake some cookies. I've been out and bought all the ingredients." I should point out that during baking twelve cookies merged into one on the baking sheet, dripped all over the cooker and when the mega cookie cooled, we couldn't budge it as she'd forgotten to grease the tin. Still, she's older and wiser and she did clean up the mess.

10.  And my favourite of all... Olivia actually put Sophia straight on something when she saw it from my point of view and sided against her sister. "Sophia, you're just wrong, so apologise to Mum and shut-up!"

How did this happen? And why do I find all of the above completely hilarious? My daughters are turning into awesome young women and I truly love what I see. I guess it's going to take a little getting used to...


Until next time...


Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton





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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

If Men Did Christmas...


On Saturday I was lucky enough to be dragged off Christmas shopping with my sister for the second time in as many weeks. As both of us refuse to shop during December, this means making a start in October if we've any chance of getting everything done.

Over lunch we had a discussion that went something like this...

Sis, "Do you ever wonder what would happen if you left your husband in charge of the Christmas shopping?"

Me, after choking on my tomato and mozzarella panini, "Well, I guess everyone would get a voucher from his favourite store, regardless of whether or not they shopped there."

Sis, "That's more than anyone would get from mine; I think they'd be lucky to receive a tenner sometime in January."

If Men Did Christmas became the topic of conversation for the rest of the day. And, after much deliberation, we came up with the following conclusions...

  • There is no way that turkey would be on the menu, both of the men in our lives would be more likely to extract barbecues from their winter hidey-holes and cook steak instead.
  • Everyone would receive a gift voucher, or cash (and this would probably be late).
  • The festivities would be far less stressful as our husbands wouldn't allow it to turn into a stress-fest.
  • We have no idea how the Christmas tree would look, but we were quite taken with the image above.
  • If Mr A had the chance to escape for a few days he'd prefer to book into a Premier Inn (and no, this isn't a sponsored post), eat Christmas dinner in the adjoining pub and return to normality two days' later. And finally...
  • If there were any gifts that required wrapping by either of them, it could turn out like this...
MC Hammer Spoof - Can't Wrap This (YouTube)



We concluded that the only reason we'll be doing all of the insane crazy Christmas stuff for another year is that our offspring are looking forward to the holidays and we'd feel guilty about a lone relative spending Christmas on his own. And so, for the next couple of months there will be extra demands on our time while we source perfect gifts, lovingly wrap each and every last one and prepare for the festive season all over again.
 
If you are a man and totally hands-on with all of the festive planning, I'm happy to apologise
whole-heartedly. Perhaps you wouldn't mind passing on a few tips to my brother-in-law and husband, who are both pretty clueless when it comes to creating the perfect family Christmas.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

Linking up with Brilliant Blog Posts and PoCoLo 
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Saturday, 11 October 2014

What's Not to Love About Autumn?



The Autumn Tag designed by Makeup-Pixi3
I spotted this fabulous Autumn-themed tag over at Lisa's Life earlier this week and was inspired to give it a go. The idea was originally created by Georgina over at Makeup Pixi 3, and it's a brilliant one!

Autumn is a fabulous time of year and second only to summer for being my favourite season. If you're reading this post and want to join in... consider yourself tagged!

1.  OK we’re talking coffee – what’s your favourite seasonal drink from Starbucks/Costa/
Caffè Nero etc?

I don't really do the seasonal coffee thing if I'm honest and I tend to stick to plain, old cappuccino. The last time I tried a seasonal drink, it was a mint-themed one and tasted not dissimilar to mouthwash!

 
 
2.  Accessories – what do you opt for, scarf, boots, gloves? 

I don't enjoy being wrapped up in lots of layers and scarves and gloves etc. I don't know if it's an age thing, (hormones maybe?) but I tend to overheat and become ratty if I'm too warm. Having said that I completely love wearing wellies - no excuse needed whatsoever!  


3.  Music – what’s your favourite music to listen to during Autumn?

I listen to a lot of music all of the time, but have a sneaky feeling that Michael Bubl√© might well feature heavily in the coming months as we have tickets to see him in December. Excited already :o) 
 

4.  Perfume – what’s your favourite scent for this time of year?

I only have one. It's Coco Chanel and I wear it all year round.


5.  Candles – what scents will you be burning this season?

Following a recent decluttering session at home, (during which I discovered twenty candles!) I've decided to actually use a few, rather than keep dusting them week after week. Currently on the go I have... Pink Rhubarb & Blackberry (Bomb Cosmetics), Elderflower Champagne (Muji) and Mint Mojito (Paddywax). I have currently banned myself from buying any more! 


6.  What do you love most about Autumn? 

Mmmm... that's a tricky one, where do you start?
  • I love long walks in the forest with Mr A that end with a trip via the pub on the way home.
  • And having an excuse to curl up in front of the fire and read a good book if I don't feel like going out.
  • Finding Christmas presents by accident - before the panic-buying sets in some time during December!
  • At the moment I'm loving the peace and quiet at home now that both daughters are back at uni.
  • I'm happy that the cat loves staying in and doesn't object to being wrapped in a blanket and treated like the third baby we never had. We are ever so slightly besotted with her
  • And last, but by no means least... I love the awesomeness that is Mother Nature and all of the brilliant colours at this time of year! 

7. Favourite make-up look? 

Natural, but with a healthy glow.


        8.  What are you looking forward to most in Autumn ?
       
      Spending a week with Olivia in November. She's been a bit under the weather since heading back to university last month and so we're heading down to spend some time with her. My sister and her family are paying Sophia a visit, so hopefully that will make me feel slightly little less guilty for not having the chance to see both daughters before they head home for the Christmas holidays.

       
      Thanks to Lisa from Lisa's Life for the inspiration behind this post and also to Georgina from Makeup Pixi 3 for the original idea and image.

      If you fancy joining in, feel free to add your link to the comments below, or send me a link via Twitter @IzzieAnderton.
       
      Until next time...


      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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      Wednesday, 8 October 2014

      Life, Death and Vanilla Slices - Jenny Eclair

      Don't be fooled by the seemingly easy-going title of the latest release from Ms Eclair. This book packs a punch from page one and doesn't sugar-coat any of its sharp observations about the complex nature of family life. If you're a fan of black comedy and love a rollercoaster of a read, chances are you'll love this book.

      Synopsis

      Is it wrong to have a favourite child? Jean Collins had two daughters, Anne and Jess, but loved only one of them. She couldn't help herself.

      Years later - Jess is missing and no one knows what happened to her. And Anne has long since escaped to London and left her troubled upbringing behind.

      When Jean is left in a coma after stepping out into the middle of the road and being run over by a motorbike, it's Anne who heads back up north to sit with her mother. But why was her mother distracted? And why was she carrying a box of vanilla slices - a treat reserved only for special occasions?

      Returning to the house where she grew up, Anne leaves her two ungrateful sons and a husband who's
      career-minded, but clueless to their own devices. She is forced to confront the past and discovers a few secrets that were buried a long time ago.


      Review

      I loved the narration from the two main characters throughout the book. Anne's rant about what it is to be middle-aged and peri-menopausal had me collapsed in a fit of giggles. And anyone who's ever shared a house with teens will identify (although, hopefully not too much) with the descriptions of Anne's sons, Nat and Jools.

      Although Jean isn't a particularly likeable character, she is one of life's survivors and I couldn't help but feel sympathetic towards her by the end of the book. I constantly had to remind myself that part of the novel was set in the 1960s and 70s when attitudes towards women were so very different from those of today. 

      Occasionally additional characters sneak in and add to the narrative. I love that the story unfurls from different perspectives as this adds to the mix of this heart-breaking family drama. There are many skeletons in the family closet and one by one they are revealed. This family has had more than its fair share of tragedy and Anne and Jean have learnt to deal with the past and move on with their lives without ever knowing what happened to Jess.

      The novel is pacey throughout and I was so desperate to reach the final page that on a sleepless night, I snuck downstairs and devoured the last hundred pages like a thing possessed. And although I thought I had the ending all sussed, it turns out I wasn't even close. Expect a clever twist at the end of this compelling read, which is really very satisfying.


      Conclusions

      Perfect for anyone who loved The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend. Life, Death and Vanilla Slices is dark, hilarious and compulsive reading.

      Rating 5/5


      Until next time...

      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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      Saturday, 4 October 2014

      Not Just For Kids - Blaze On Fairy Lights

      With winter just around the corner and the nights getting longer it's great to have an excuse to stay in, snuggle up and make the house even more luxurious and inviting. Anything that makes a home feel slightly more gorgeous for the dark nights ahead can only be a good thing, especially when staying in is the new going out. And as someone who would much rather hibernate than brave a cold winter's evening, making the house that little bit extra cosy is very high on my agenda right now.

      As a huge fan of fairy lights I was thrilled to receive a set of Ambient Ball LED lights in Metro Lavender from Blaze On to review. These arrived in a stylish box and were very beautiful indeed.

       
      As someone who's never going to be too old for a liberal sprinkling of fairy lights throughout the house, I couldn't wait to extract the lights from their packaging and arrange them in a variety of locations.

      Here they are on the mantelpiece...


      spilling out of a glass vase...




      and finally, lined up along the headboard...




      Here are my thoughts...

      • Produced in Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mook and Oo (pronounced "Oh"), these beautifully handcrafted balls are made from fine cotton thread. Light diffuses through each one to create a soft and ambient glow. I have tried to capture how intricate they are in the photo...


      • The Ambient Ball set is perfect for grown-ups of all ages as well as older children. I have a feeling that little ones would probably prefer an alternative set of lights from the vast selection available - think fireflies, fairies and stars, plus a whole host of equally gorgeous designs. Check out the full range here.

      • I was impressed to read about Blaze On's commitment to use ethically-sourced products and natural ingredients. They also support community development in the families they collaborate with in Thailand. Read more about the company's Ethical Policy here.

      • With LED bulbs using up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and Blaze On's LED light strings having a lifespan of up to 10 years (100,000 hours), they're energy efficient, eco-friendly and will last for ages.

      • Unlike other sets of LED lights I've purchased in the past, these didn't heat up during use. This reassured me that they were safe to leave on for prolonged periods of time.
       
      • All LED light strings come with a full one year electronic guarantee and free UK technical support.

      With a huge variety of fairy lights, candles and tea lights, Blaze On have something for almost everyone and ship to almost anywhere in the world (contact the company for further details). If it's not too early to mention Christmas?... a set of fairy lights would make for an inspired gift choice and while you're visiting the site why not treat yourself at the the same time? Can a home ever have too many strings of sumptuous fairy lights I wonder?




      Disclaimer: I received a set of Ambient Ball LED lights in Metro Lavender for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

      Until next time...

      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton





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      Wednesday, 1 October 2014

      Charity, Chocolate and Winning the Lottery.

      After a year of winning nothing on the Euro lottery I decided to switch back to playing Lotto last weekend.

      I'd used the same numbers for years after discovering them inside a fortune cookie, but when the price of a Lotto ticket went up to £2 last September, I started buying lucky dips on the Euro instead.

      Last weekend after playing my fortune cookie numbers for the first time in a year, I was thrilled to discover that I'd won. I should mention that the win is not a life-changing sum of money. It did made me happy though.

      So the only dilemma is what should I spend my winnings on?

      First of all I deposited a donation into a jar of change I'm collecting for the charity I volunteer for. It seemed like the right thing to do.

      I guess we've all thought long and hard about what we'd do with our lives if all six numbers came up on the lottery. It's fun to fantasise that someday money won't be something we have to think about. I concluded that apart from moving to the coast (to an apartment, not a mansion) and seeing more of the world, there wasn't a great deal I'd change.

      For starters, I'm not convinced that I'd tell the kids. Does that make me a bad parent? Both daughters adore university, love their chosen degree subjects and that makes us all very happy. What could they possibly need when they're enjoying life to the full as it is? I don't think for a minute that having lots of money would be good for either of them. And should you ever allow your offspring to be funded by bank of mum and dad for an indefinite time period without encouraging self-sufficiency and reward from gainful employment?

      As for Mr A and myself... we're happy, enjoy the same things in life and muddle along together very nicely indeed. I have a feeling that if either of us decided to trade the other in for a younger, flashier model with a penchant for fast cars, or trinkets from Tiffany, that life would be very difficult indeed. Mr A and myself have known each other for 25 years and we're a bit like an old pair of slippers... slightly worn, but rather comfortable. So why would you want to trade these in for a pair of stilettos exactly and have to wear them for the entire day, or the rest of your life for that matter?

      As for writing, well... I love to write and have a hunch that I'd continue to spend a considerable amount of time at my laptop each day. Although maybe I'd upgrade as this one's seven year's old and technically belongs to one of my daughters. I couldn't care less... it works!

      Volunteering: I've volunteered for a charity mentoring teenagers for about eight years now, I guess I'd give even more of my time and donate more funds (obviously). Volunteering is always one of the highlights of my week, so why change what you love?

      It's not necessarily the expensive things in life that makes any of us happy. Often it's the simple unexpected moments that make us happiest of all. Just this morning when I was collecting my winnings at the supermarket I heard not one, but two songs that reminded me of a fabulous family holiday. For a while I was lost in the moment and paying no attention whatsoever to filling the trolley. It's these little moments of bliss that make for a happy and fulfilled life and not pining over the latest must-have handbag, or pair of Jimmy Choos.

      Now all I need to do is work out how to spend the rest of my win. I'm pretty rubbish at spending money on myself but maybe I'll treat myself to the latest Caitlin Moran book and take Mr A to the pub for a round (or two) of drinks. If you've got it, I guess it's good to indulge just a little. And maybe if there's any change left, I could treat myself to a Dark Chocolate Bounty bar.

      I guess it's OK to fantasise over winning the lottery from time to time, just as long as you appreciate what you already have.

      How would you spend the rest of your life if your numbers came up?

      Until next time...

      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton







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      Saturday, 27 September 2014

      Review: Silk-Filled Duvet from Silk Bedding Direct


      As an asthma sufferer anything that helps to reduce or alleviate symptoms can only be a good thing. Over the years I've taken lots of measures to ensure that the risks associated with having an attack are kept to a minimum. But when it comes to dust mites and reducing these in my home, it's a never-ending battle.

      As we spend approximately one third of our lives in bed, getting through the night without disturbed sleep as an asthma sufferer can be a challenge. So when I was offered the chance to review a silk-filled duvet from Silk Bedding Direct, I was keen to try it out.


      Some of the benefits include:

      • Temperature control: silk breathes and allows for excess heat and moisture to escape if you're too hot, but also retains heat when it's cooler to keep you warm and snug.  
      • Clean: other types of bedding might contain thousands (or even millions) of dust mites, as well as other microscopic life. These cannot live in mulberry silk. 
      • Comfortable: as silk-filled duvets are so lightweight, they wrap around your body and drape beautifully no matter how many times you change sleeping position during the night! 
      • 100% natural: filled with top quality mulberry silk, which is universally accepted to be the best in the world. This is used in its natural state with no chemicals, or anything else added during the production process. 
      • Hand-sewn: to ensure that the silk cannot bunch up or move about within the casing. This maintains efficient insulating properties for the life of the duvet.
      •  Hypoallergenic: designed to minimize the likelihood of an allergic response as the duvet contains 100% natural mulberry silk.
      • Clip together: silk duvets can be used all year round as they feature a clever clip system that allows a second duvet to clipped to the first for extra warmth. Perfect for our great British weather!

      To learn more about the benefits of using mulberry silk-filled duvets, click here.


      Statement from Asthma UK 

      "Asthma UK welcomes any product that helps people with asthma in the UK. Dust mites in bedding are a common trigger for asthma and with more than 200 people being admitted to hospital every day with asthma attacks, we're doing all we can to help people reduce their risks of an attack. Beginning on 14th July 2014 we are working with Silk Bedding Direct who produce and deliver silk-filled duvets which could help to reduce symptoms and give people with asthma a better night's sleep."

      Please visit Asthma UK to find out more.

      Silk Bedding Direct is partnered with Asthma UK and 10% from UK sales are donated to help fund this worthwhile cause.


      Review: 

      • The duvet arrived in a handy carry case that's perfect for storage when not in use. 


      • The duvet felt incredibly comfortable and draped beautifully during the night. 
      • The duvet casing is a 300 count cotton sateen filled with natural mulberry silk. Together they make a soft and luxurious duvet which is great to snuggle up in.  


      • The clips that allow additional duvets to be added depending on the ambient temperature are a great feature and allow the user to feel comfortable no matter what the great British weather has in store. 


      • My temperature was comfortable throughout the night and it's unusual for me not to wake feeling too hot or cold at some point.
      Overall verdict: Although they're not cheap to buy, you can't put a price on a great night's sleep. Not just for people with asthma and allergies, silk-filled duvets would be great for anyone and I'd definitely consider buying these for other family members.




      Product list

      Silk-filled duvets are available in the following sizes:
      • Single.
      • Double.
      • King Size.
      • Super King Size.
      • And perfect for little ones: Cot Bed.

      All sizes are available in Light, Medium and Deep Fill:
      • Light Fill: perfect for Summer (equivalent tog rating 2-4).
      • Medium Fill: perfect for Spring and Autumn (equivalent tog rating 7-9).
      • Deep Fill: a combination of light and medium fill together, secured with a clip system and perfect for all year round use (equivalent tog rating 10-13).
       Head over to Silk Bedding Direct to check out any of these products here

      Silk Bedding Direct also ship to almost everywhere in the world. All orders include free courier shipping. Click here for further details.

      **Special Offer**

      Receive a 10% discount on any purchases using this code: SBD10E




      Disclaimer: I received a complimentary duvet in return for writing this post. All opinions however, are entirely my own.

      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton




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      Wednesday, 24 September 2014

      How to Own Less Stuff...

      Stuff to go...
      Flicking through a magazine the other day, I was inspired by a feature about owning 100 things. Further research on the Internet revealed lots of sites dedicated to owning less and after reading a few posts I decided to give it a go.

      Here are my thoughts...

      Clutter makes my life more complicated. When my daughters are home I spend a considerable amount of time moving things back to where they belong and when they're away, I'm forever trying to find room to accommodate everything. I concluded that our house is filled with too many belongings and this doesn't necessarily make it a great space to live in.

      Although filled with admiration for those individuals who own only 100 things, this is too aspirational a goal for me right now and so, after much deliberation - I decided to offload 100 possessions instead.

      This is what has left the house so far..,

      Clothing
      • 3 t-shirts that the cat had manage to get hold of (and totally wreck).
      • 12 pairs of undies: how many pairs does one woman need exactly?!
      • 5 pairs of trainer socks with holes.
      • One bra that had seen better days!
      All donated to a local charity for ragging.

      There were also a few items that had hung in the wardrobe for over a year and never been worn. A couple of long-sleeve tops, a denim jacket, a cardigan, skirt, belt and 2 scarves were all donated to local hospice shop.

      I love how spacious the wardrobe looks and appreciate being able to see what's in there. From now on I plan to remove one item for each new one purchased.


      Handbags

      Although I love handbags, I've never felt the need to accumulate too many. There were 3 in the wardrobe that hadn't been used for several months and these have been donated.


      Stuff that collects dust...

      I am guilty of buying too many candles and frequently receive presents that I should either re-gift or donate. Each of these items receives attention approximately once a week when they get dusted and carefully replaced. And seriously, what's the point if they aren't useful and/ or cherished? So far I've removed a tea light holder, a soapstone box, a mirror and a decorative wooden sign. I plan on re-gifting 2 of these and have donated the rest. I've also started to use some of the candles... my aim is to go from 20 down to 12!


      Jewellery

      Last year I inherited 3 gold rings and have been wondering what to do with them ever since. As they're never going to be worn, I decided to sell them and buy something to remember my friend by instead. I like to think she'd approve.

      I also found a stash of costume jewellery to send to the charity shop. As I tend to buy this to match clothing for a particular season, when the clothes are donated, it's time for the accessories to move on as well.


      Books

      There are far too many books in my house. I'm not particularly guilty of filling the bookshelves (and tend to use the local library a lot), but don't get me started on other family members! Still, this post is all about my possessions and as it's rare for me to re-read a book, I tend to pass them on to friends or relatives and instruct them to do the same once they've finished. Having said that a quick scan of the bookshelves reveals that there were 6 that needed to be passed on.


      Magazines

      I adore magazines, currently have 2 subscriptions on the go and often pop into the local library to riffle through their magazine swap box. With more magazines in the house than I'd care to admit to owning, I've offloaded 12 at the local library and am now the proud owner of only one magazine file.


      DVDs

      I'm not one for watching the same DVD over and over and if I had my way I'd only keep about 6. My daughters sadly, don't share this sentiment and therefore I could only offload those DVDs that belong to me. As I can also borrow DVDs from the library, I need to learn to do this from now on.


      A really old and completely knackered laptop

      Why this was sitting in my desk drawer I have absolutely no idea? I guess it was sheer laziness that prevented me from destroying the hard drive and getting rid! With its case, mouse and charger to offload as well, that made a total of 4 items. The same drawer also revealed a broken travel alarm clock and an umbrella with a hole, why did I hold onto these exactly?


      The bathroom cabinet

      Filled to bursting with lotions, potions, medicines and bath treats, this was an obvious location for finding a stash of items that were surplus to requirements. I seriously needed to think about how many products were in there, and I'm learning to keep only one spare and use up what's left before buying replacements.

      And this is what was unearthed in there:
      • 3 out of date medicines.
      • 4 special bars of soap that are too good to use now going to get used.
      • 4 pots of Lip Balm.
      • 5 bottles of shower gel.
      • 3 bottles of face wash.
      • 9 bottles of contact lens solution!
      • Lots of bits and bobs that need finishing up!

      Cards, tags, bags and gift wrap

      After rounding up a stash of these from their various hidey-holes around the house, I suspect that I won't have to purchase any of the above until the middle of next year!

      By my reckoning that's over one hundred items and many of these have already left the house. The secret now is to ensure that less stuff comes into our home in the first place. I've been thinking about ways to make that happen...


      How to buy less...
      • Use what you have, buy what you need. And...
      • Do I want this, or do I need it?
      I'm optimistic that this is the start of a new minimalist trend in the Anderton house. I guess it would be unfair of me to inflict this on my daughters but, Mr A is already inspired. I think this may have something to do with our house move that's planned in the next couple of years.
       

      If you have any additional tips you'd like to pass on, I'd really love to hear them.

      Until next time...

      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton








       

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