Friday, 20 February 2015

Dissertation, Dissertation, Dissertation

Yes it's that time of year when final year students give up all of the fun stuff to write their dissertations.  This year I am one of those students and every spare moment is taken up with thoughts about my dissertation, reading for it or actually writing it. Simple pleasures of baking, taking the children to the park, or spending time sewing, leave me feeling guilty because I know I should be working on my dissertation.  Since last summer the subject of my research has become my latest obsession.  Being a bit of a perfectionist I will not start writing anything until I know I have fully explored the topic, delving into textbooks and reading many, many journal articles. 

With only four weeks until hand in day and trying to write the discussion part of my extended proposal I am more than a little distracted.  There are some days I wonder if I should be actually driving, using the commute home from placement to consider various options for the trial I am creating.  How many arms,? What will the control arm involve? Will I use mixed methods? Does case study really fit for the qualitative part? These are some of the many questions spinning around my head right now. 

So alongside normal family life and being on clinical placement I will endeavor to complete my dissertation, especially as it is already helping to shape a future clinical study.  Nobody said retraining would be easy and the next four weeks are going to be the hardest, but thankfully I have a very understanding family, who know they will get me back very soon, no longer distracted by endless thoughts about my dissertation.  

And to all the other final year radiography and nursing students currently stuck down the dissertation rabbit hole, good luck.  We will be allowed out very soon, to see daylight again!

Until next time, take care.


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Having Fun in Muddy Puddles

Living in the countryside means we get to spend alot of time outdoors, even in the winter. Wrapped up in cosy hats and scarves, warm coats and hands protected, snuggled in gloves, we head to the beach, the forest or just across the fields to the park.  Blowing away the cobwebs is as good for us as it is for the children, even our teenagers will join us, as being outside is a way of life for us, instilled from when they were tiny, playing in the garden whatever the month.

Having the right outdoor clothing obviously makes spending time outside in the chillier months all the more bearable.  something I have learnt over the years living in rural Suffolk is that you must dress for the weather.  There have been times I have been caught out and being cold on the beach is no fun at all.  With this in mind we have always made sure the children have good winter coats, opting regularly for ski jackets, due to their warmth, for keeping off that sea breeze and of course keeping them dry when the heavens open just at school pick up time.  Obviously as they have got older they choose other coats most of the time, or no coat (teenagers!) yet they all still opt for cosy waterproofs when we head out for walks.  So when Muddy Puddles got in contact, asking if Kitty would like to test their Blizzard Ski Jacket, of course we said yes! Having inherited numerous hand me downs over the years Kitty was delighted to try a brand new coat.

Arriving the day before Christmas eve, Kitty eagerly tried on her new coat.  The colour was perfect, not too pink and was very snuggly.  We both particuarly liked that the hood is detatchable as Kitty often finds hoods annoying, unless it's windy or raining, when she welcomes the shelter it offers.  She was also impressed with all the pockets and a space on the label to write her name.  Personally I was very impressed with the overall quality of the coat, the fleece lining was soft, the outer shell seemed tough enough to put up with some serious outdoor fun. Over the years we have brought numerous coats and after initial inspection this stands in the top three.  Muddy Puddles is a brand I have loved for years, but as the children got older I moved away from it, but have previously loved their waterproof trousers and all in one suits.  

So aesthetically it passed the Kitty test and so far had past my test, but now we had to try it outside.  Would it keep my youngest warm and dry, but more importantly would it be cumbersome when playing at the park or heading up the climbing wall in the forest?  Having a coat the doesn't hinder play but keeps children warm and dry is important for parents and I am pleased to report that the Blizzard Ski Jacket fits the bill.  Furthermore it is easy to clean, quickly wiping down after a slip playing football on a muddy field and is washable too.  Now to talk price, is this coat good value for money?  With an RRP of £59 it may seem a little pricey for some, (hence the 4.5 stars in the star test below)but believe me it is worth every penny.  As a mother of five children affordability is key but durablity is of vital importance too.  I need to know that something like this will last more than one season, will be worn year after year, even handed down to younger siblings.  Bearing this in mind, this jacket is not expensive as I know Kitty will get at least two winters wear and then I am sure my little nieces will love it as much as we do.  Now that is fantastic fashion maths value for money!

The Star Test (5 being excellent, 1 being poor)
Blizzard Ski Jacket from Muddy Puddles

Fit  - 5 Stars
Quality  - 5 Stars
Durability - 5 Stars
Comfort - 5 Stars
Price - 4.5 Stars
Practicality - 5 Stars

I have just popped on to the Muddy Puddles website today and the Blizzard Ski Jacket is in their winter sale, reduced to £36, even better value for money.

Until next time, take care.

Disclaimer - Muddy Puddles kindly provided the Blizzrd Ski Jacket to be reviewed, however all opinions, thoughts and text are my own.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The Year In Books - January

Last year I vowed to read more and eagerly took part in Laura at Circle of Pine Trees project, The Year in Books.  This seemed like a wonderful way to make sure I read regularly again, but also connected with other bibliophiles, sharing our love of reading and discovering even more books to read. Without the pressure of a book club, all reading the same book, each of us chose our own books, writing each month about these and then sharing these via Laura's linky.  So now I am thinking ahead to this year and will again be taking part in The Year in Books and I know that Laura has plans to expand on last years success, by adding monthly twitter chats and maybe even a month where we can read the same book if we want to join in.  

Obviously the next eleven weeks for me will be filled with dissertation research and writing, but I still plan to read fiction, every night before I go to sleep.  I am currently two thirds through 'How To Fall in Love' by one of my favourites, Cecelia Ahern.  This is a truly wonderful page turner, with intrinsic detail to the underlying story aswell as what is written on the page.  Learning to live and love life again the characters are believable and I truly hope that they find happiness in the final chapters.

Thankfully Santa has added to my increasing reading pile, with Cecelia Ahern's latest 'The Year I Met You', the much anticipated 'Us' by David Nicholls and then Markus Zusak's 'The Book Thief'.  Now I know I am a little late to the party with the last one, but I am really looking forward to reading this.  As for 'Us' I am a little apprehensive as 'One Day' is  one of my favourite books of the past decade, so I shall cross my fingers and hope it doesn't disppoint.  Another addition to our bookshelves here this Christmas was a beautiful Folio edition of my all time favourite book, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.  The joys of being married to a vintage and antique bookseller!  

So what will I read next? I think it will be 'Us'. How about you, what is next on your reading list? For more inspiration, or to join in the fun, visit Circle of Pine Trees to find out more about The Year in Books.

Until next time, take care.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My Word For 2015

The last day of the year, a time to reflect, take stock, make plans.  Something I have been doing for the past few days, especially as I have been thinking about choosing my word for 2015.  The new year will be one of changes and big birthdays, exciting times and new adventures.  With this in mind I have chosen EMBRACE as my word for 2015.

As I finish my degree in June and embark on my career in radiography, it will be a time of new beginnings, even more so if I start my career at a different hospital to my training hospital. Embracing this new beginning, my new career and the changes it will bring will make it all seem a little less daunting.  March will see the start of a new decade for me, as I turn 40.  Just another twelve weeks in my thirties seems a little scary, but I am also feeling ready for this new era.  I hope to embrace being 40, being a little more grown up, looking after me, my body and my mind.  My thirties found me finally feeling comfortable in my own skin. So now I want to continue with that but also to embrace the changes that will come in my forties.  Health and fitness have become more important to me and I want to make time for exercise, meditation and eating properly.

But 2015 isn't all about me, there are more big changes afoot.  Andy will turn 50 in the summer, another big birthday that has got him thinking too.  Being happy and healthy are always at the forefront of our plans and I know he will start his fifties as he means to go on, already planning some half marathons for the year.  Connor will turn 17 later in the year which means he can learn to drive and by this time next year he will have submitted his UCAS application.  Jack will take his GCSE's this summer and will start sixth form in September.  As a parent this all seems a little scary, but I want to embrace these changes that being a mother to teenagers involves.  As for my gorgeous daughters, Lucy chooses and starts her GCSE courses in 2015, Amber will become a teenager and Kitty will turn 9, the last year of single digits.  

So 2015 already holds a lot of promise and I want to embrace every moment.  Whatever else comes our way I know as a family unit we will stay strong, making the most of opportunities and enjoying life.

I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy new year and hope 2015 is full of promise for you too.

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Reflecting on Word for 2014

After a lovely break over Christmas, I have returned to my dissertation research today.  Endless cups of tea, comfy jeans and cosy socks are necessities for this task. However I have just popped in here to reflect upon my word for 2014, before the year comes to an end and before I share my word for 2015.  Having spent a while considering my word this time last year, I settled on TIME.  My life had become incredibly hectic and I felt I had no time for anything or was really awful at making time for things. There never seemed enough time to do the fun stuff nevermind the important or necessary things.  

So did choosing time as my word for 2014 have any impact?  This is a question I have pondered over the past couple of weeks and I am pleased to report that yes, it has.  I made sure I found time to sew, to bake, to play Scrabble with the children.  By joining in with The Year in Books, I made sure I found time to read a different book each month.  Whilst I haven't written this blog regularly, I have made time to write and am liking the idea of the slow blogging movement, discussed by Holly on Decor 8.  Another aspect of making more time was the introduction of date days with my husband, walks on the beach, trips out for coffee, became features in my diary and will be continued throughout 2015, with cinema trips and visits to local National Trust houses and gardens added to the list.  

Choosing a word for the year really helped me to focus, especially when I was feeling very stressed trying to juggle the demands of study, family, work and running a house.  As for taking this forward I plan to continue making time for things in 2015.  Yet I have chosen a new word for 2015, which I will share with you later this week.  

Have you chosen your word yet? Be sure to share with me.

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Dissertation, Word for 2015 & Winter Writing

Well that's all my assignments submitted for this semester, exams completed but there is no rest.  With my dissertation due in at the end of March, I need to get organised.  Thankfully my dissertation supervisor is keeping me to plan but I would really like to just have a little rest and indulge in some Christmas baking and crafting.  However as this week is timetabled as dissertation week, which means I am at home, I think a little compromise is possible. My mornings will be spent working on my dissertation and my afternoons shall indulge my creative side. Perfect!

With the festive holiday fast approaching I am looking forward to slowing down, relaxing and spending time with family.  The time between Christmas and New Year is always very special to me, as I think ahead to the new year.  I am already thinking about my word for the year but as yet am unsure what it shall be.  I will definitely be getting a little help with the inspiring download from Susannah Conway as I fathom what word will be mine for 2015.  Next year is promising to be exciting and scary, as I turn forty, entering a new decade and my studies (for now) will come to an end as I qualify in June, so I will be job hunting.   Also over the holidays I have promised to help my husband make plans for his business for the coming year.  I shall pop on my social media consultant and blog editor head for a little while to help him make even more of a growing business.  Life is never dull in my world!

So with the promise of an exciting new year that will also be filled with plenty of academic writing I have given myself a little present, signing up to the Winter Writing Workshop with Do What You Love.  I want to make some time to write some fiction, developing my style, finding my voice and think this will be the perfect opportunity as I have a little time during the holidays.

I promise to share my word closer to the end of the year and would love to know what your word will be too.  Also say hi if you are also joining the writing workshop.  And for everyone slaving over a dissertation this holiday, I wish you luck and send virtual mugs of tea and biccies.

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Year in Books : December

I know it has been a while since I wrote a post for The Year in Books but I have still been reading, although mostly journal articles for assignments and my dissertation.  However unless you have an interest in paediatric oncology, prostate cancer or health literacy I am sure none of these will be of interest! But thankfully I still find a few minutes each night to read before I go to sleep.  Over the past few weeks I have loved If I Stay by Gayle Forman and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Both have recently been released on the big screen but I am always cautious when great books are made into films, so I haven't rushed to the cinema just yet.  

This month I have opted for something a bit more light hearted, in the shape of my old heroine Bridget Jones.  A little late to the party in reading the latest diary, Mad About The Boy, from this character, but I have already spent the last few nights reading into the small hours. Clearly I am not disappointed with Helen Fieldings latest offering, already rooting for Bridget to make it through the abyss of single parenting and getting back on her feet after the loss of her great love, Mr Darcy.  

My Christmas list is always full of books and with a bookseller husband there is always something to read in our house.  Perhaps if you are stuck for what to read next pop over to The Year in Books link up on Circle of Pines for plenty of inspiration and reviews.  Also if you are looking for some vintage Ladybird, Enid Blyton or Penguin books for stocking fillers this Christmas then pop over to Letters & Luggage on Etsy.

Until next time, take care.