At Home Column - Red-dy Steady Girl!




I’ve been blonde for eight years after a lifetime of brown hair. But recently I took the plunge to become a redhead! Do you like it? I love this colour – it’s very subtle but it warms up my complexion a bit and I’ve been told it brings out my eyes. So what made me take the plunge you ask? It’s one of those ‘life stage’ things.

You’ve heard of women who at the end of a long relationship have a drastic haircut, or when they move house change their whole d├ęcor style? Well my life stage is the end of the baby years at Business Mum’s house!

My son started full time school last month and so for the first time in eight years, I once again have control over my days. When he was in nursery I had to be aware of the clock if I went anywhere in the morning because I’d need to be back for 11.45am to collect him. The afternoon was the same as I’d have the school collection for my daughter so I’d have to think about the times I made appointments and couldn’t travel very far. Now my days have opened up and I can even meet a friend for a leisurely lunch!

Having six un-interrupted hours a day is great for business too. I have now made a start on all the plans I’ve had ‘on hold’ due to a lack of time and I’ve been able to take on more freelance work.

The playgroups where I’d drink coffee with the other mums whilst watching my toddler stagger round pushing an activity walker are now business meetings in a City Centre Starbucks. The baby highchair at home has been replaced with a pair of high stools at my breakfast bar. My baggy tunic style tops that cover everything beneath have been phased out and I’m wearing more form fitting shirts and shift dresses.

This next stage of my life is wonderful. I’ve got all these beautiful baby memories of my children without the accompanying sleepless nights and I get to watch them develop as little people, learning to navigate the world without me, and stand on their own two feet. I know how lucky I am – I’m a big believer in living in the moment, noticing what happens each day and not rushing through my life. But this is especially relevant now – in these precious few years before my young school children become teenagers then young adults with lives of their own.

I was brunette until I had children. Became blonde as a mother and now as a life experienced woman who is getting time to pursue her own interests again, I’m embracing these new changes with an outward change. I’m planning to make some wardrobe edits in the coming months, and who knows what other changes will happen. But whatever it is I’m ‘red-dy, steady, go!’



I write a fortnightly column for At Home - the Premier UK celebrity and lifestyle magazine, and this one appeared on their site www.AtHomeMagazine.co.uk a month ago. Do visit At Home and leave me a comment on the post there so they get to see your opinions too!
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About the Author
Nadine Hill is a busy working mum (“Is there any other kind?!”) who has a fascination with time management which borders on the obsessive! She loves to find more effective ways of doing the daily juggle whilst enjoying the journey and has lots of practise through raising her two children, managing her small business, being a best-selling author, running her home, public speaking and finding time to get to the gym! Nadine’s ambition is to help busy mums claw back a bit of ‘me time’ so she shares her tips with at home in these fortnightly columns and her own life stories on her blog- Juggle Mum.
She also micro blogs on Twitter where she is @Businessmum. You can learn more about Nadine at www.NadineHill.com

Review - the Black & Decker Orb-It

**This is a Product Review Post**



Product Name: Orb-it by Black & Decker
Learn More Online Here: http://www.blackanddecker.co.uk/orb-it/
Price: RRP £49.99
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


The blurb: Keep your world tidy with the Black & Decker Orb-it. Incredible power packed into the tightest space. The New Black & Decker Orb-It has revolutionised the design of the traditional Dustbuster. The design makes it the most stylish way you can clean your house. The suction nose and arm is kept within the unit and released with a button on the top. It is so compact that is sits easily in the palm of your hand.

Initial Thoughts: I loved how it looks. The Orb-it is a globe shaped ball - it looks just like a space age robot! My first thoughts were where to put it. I had to assess my home and see where it would be best suited. I tried the bedroom (I know it's gross but I do let my kids have a biscuit or toast in my bed for their supper before I put them in their own beds) so we often get crumbs in our sheets!

I also tried the Orb-it in the living room because despite me giving the kids plates if they have a snack, crumbs always end up on my carpet and sofa. Meals are eaten at the table and dining room mess tends to stay on the table so I wasn't too worried about positioning the Orb-it there. In my kitchen I use a cloth to wipe up mess or crumbs, so we ended up giving the Orb-it a home in our bedroom!

I Liked:
The 4.8 volt motor provides suction to suit small pick ups around the home. The dustbowl has a translucent door so you can see when it is getting too full and it couldn't be more simple to empty the bowl - just click the door open and empty out the contents. The unit also comes with a soft brush and crevice tool for intricate pick ups. It is an attractive looking design and doesn't look out of place on display in my home. You could be mistaken for thinking you are looking at an iPod docking station rather than a vacuum cleaner!

Here is the cat checking out Orb-it, she wasn't sure about it!

Whilst the cat was curious about this new 'ball' and she followed me round whilst I was cleaning, she was wary of it when I rolled it toward her!!

I wasn't Keen: I had to knock half a point off my star rating because after just one use, the Orb-it had become scratched on its side. When I test something out, I really throw myself into it and give it a vigorous test, so I did get on the floor and use the Orb-it to gather the under-bed dust and under my sideboard unit which is high enough off the floor to need cleaning but too low for my regular upright vacuum to reach underneath, so the Orb-it was great for this. However I think that this is where it picked up the surface scratches,and I was a little disappointed that the 'newness' is now gone.

Overall: The Orb-it is a really handy little vac and because it adds a bit of interest to an otherwise tedious job, I was able to encourage the kids to use it to clean up their mess which is always a bonus! The blue LED light shows you that the unit is charging so it is always ready to go when you need it. It would make an excellent Christmas gift for someone who is houseproud or just loves to be crumb free!

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Stuck for Ideas this Half Term?

Yesterday my family and I were invited to the National Railway Museum in York to experience the start of the October Half Term. The museum in York is currently having a Toy Trains event, and wanted to show us everything they had to offer!



In all honesty, I was surprised at the amount of things to do at this place - it was huge. I had kind of thought that we'd spend a half day there, then do a bit of shopping in York City Centre which is only a 10 minute walk away, or the Museum has a shuttle train that takes you to the Minster for a £2 fare, but you can easily spend a whole day at the museum and not get bored! I didn't realise that it is actually the world's largest railway museum, and so I felt quite proud that it is located in Yorkshire where I live!

We started off in the Great Hall which is the old converted steam engine shed. It is completely modernised now though- having a light glass roof to make it pleasant to be in - not like the dark, cramped place it would have been tears ago when it was a working locomotive shed. Now it is a display area where the steam engines of trains from history are displayed around a central turntable. It really is a step back in time, as you see the brightly coloured painted engine bodies with the wheels as large as a person. They are so completely different from what we are used to seeing on our railways these days.



There are painted cast iron signs hung on the walls to show the names of trains that they adorned years ago, and we had just arrived in time for the turntable demonstration, where the staff gave us a talk about how the turntable was historically used to turn a steam train engine around on the track in the days before trains had a working cab at each end and could run on a track 'backwards' as easily as it could 'forwards'.



Whilst milling round the Great Hall we saw the special features that had been laid on for the day. I think the museum must change the displays from time to time as when I arrived I was given a 'Daily Diary' to show me what's on today. So we could see the Meccano displays,Chuggington, Thomas the Tank Engine display going round the track and a kiddies play area with toy trains, but these aren't necessarily always there. The website will give you more information about what's on to help you plan your trip, so I'd recommend looking at that first to check the additonal features.

Something that is always there however is the simulator ride, and we went on this. It is an optional 'extra' - it costs £3 per person to ride, and you can choose from several experiences like a space shuttle mission or riding the steam train to London, set in the olden days! We went for the time travel experience which meant we could look at the dinosaurs- essential viewing for my 4 YO son who loves T-Rex!

There are two main parts to this museum, and they are adjoined by a tunnel, so we went through the tunnel to the Station Hall which is where the restaurant is housed. There is a cafe in the Great Hall too, but we wanted something more filling than a soup and sandwich, so we headed for the Station Hall restaurant. It was lovely- just like dining on the platform at St Pancras! This might not sound very lovely and it probably isn't these days, but the Station Hall had quite a romantic feel. I think that there is something very enchanting about steam trains and their platforms, but I was brought up on Narnia books and have a secret desire to travel on the Orient Express one day, so this whole area of the museum was lovely to wander round. There were Royal train carriages on display where you could see proper iron bedsteads and quilted covers in the sleeping carriages alongside carriages that looked like 'smoking rooms' with leather wing back chairs and even a living room carriage complete with a writing desk! Royalty from history obviously travelled in style! The restaurant was amongst these displays, so you could eat and observe at the same time.

We had a lovely quiche and salad, and some fishcake and wedges, and the kids had sausage chips and beans so it was filling and tasted nice, but the best thing about the restaurant was how helpful the staff was. Whilst my husband was getting the kids their food, I was struggling to carry two trays, so one chap who worked there helped me to my table with it. I felt that the food and drinks were a little expensive at about £8 for a main meal and some drinks in bottles were about £2.50 to £3, but if you are having a day out there the entry to the museum is free, so the costs weigh themselves out. You can also take a packed lunch if you are on a budget - there are plenty of places to sit and eat, but on balance the restaurant prices are worth it for a nice day out and the experience of sitting in the Station Hall restaurant which really was lovely.

Whilst we were at the Station Hall side of the museum, we went out into the South Yard which was an outdoor area with a playground, an outdoor minature railway (which we went on!) and a big steam engine that you can ride on too. I wanted to go on this but we didn't realise it was in the South Yard until we'd walked away and we were getting tired towards the end of the day and didn't want to walk all the way back to the South Yard when our car was parked next to the Great Hall. The museum really is big, which is fab for a whole fun filled day out but bad for my feet! I tend to flag a bit late afternoon and need a coffee and cake type pick me up. I could have done this- there was a cafe serving this kind of thing but the kids wanted to do their craft activity and so I helped them instead.



After the craft stall, we had a last look around the Great Hall before we left. We went into a Japanese Bullet Train, saw the workings of a Chinese Steam Train (which was huge!) and watched a Eurostar movie in the back of a segment of Eurostar train which was positioned inside a tunnel so we could see how large these tunnels are. With all this and model railways to look at, there is something to see at every turn, and if you want to learn more in depth, there is a library area on a mezzanine level where you can go and search the archives.

My husband told me that he wasn't expecting to see that much from the museum, he had an idea in his head about what the day would be like but the actual experience surpassed it. If you are looking for a fun filled day out in Yorkshire, I'd definitely recommend giving the National Railway Museum a try!

The 'Big Fun With Little Trains' event is for Half Term only and is on from 22-30 October 2011.

Disclosure: Our car parking, lunch and rides on the simulator and minature railways were paid for by the museum as a special Blogger's Day Out. However it's worth noting that entry to the museum is free of charge for everyone.

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Minute Mum- Tip for Baking with Kids!

Y'know those plastic bags that come with school uniform polo shirts that have a hanger on the top? Here's how I use mine to stay tidy in the kitchen when baking with kids. It's a great tip and environmentally friendly too as I'm re-using the bag!

The kids and I had a really fun afternoon recently making Rice Crispie buns, chocolate chip cookies and also some bread, and here is a short video. If the video is not displayed directly below, just scroll to the bottom of my blog and you will see the video there! Sometimes it doesn't embed correctly!



Kellogg's kindly sent us those chefs hats you see the kids wearing, along with some cereals such as the Rice Crispies and also some new look Multi Grains. We didn't bake with the Multi Grains - the kids ate them long before our afternoon in the kitchen, but it was lovely of Kellogg's to send them in any case! My children love a bowl of cereal in the mornings, so we can't wait until the launch of their new cereal Mini Max which is coming out this month.



I hope you enjoy watching this video as much as we enjoyed making it!!

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At Home Column - Getting Fruity!

As I write, I’m enjoying the baking smell that is coming from the kitchen – I’ve got an apple pie in the oven! Last Sunday we had a pork dinner with homemade apple sauce, and I also bought a juicer recently in which I made some apple juice to drink – but I still have two large bowls of apples picked from our tree to do something with, and I’m running out of ideas!

The tree in our back garden yields a massive amount of apples each year. In August and September we get ready to pick what we can manage and what we can’t ends up going rotten in the floor. It’s such a waste, but until now, I haven’t had the time nor the inclination to deal with them. However I think getting older broadens your interest in other activities like gardening and particularly the current economic climate has piqued my desire to reduce food bills and become more self-sufficient, so I’ve started to pay attention to food and look at what else I can grow.

My nanna used to grow her own vegetables, and so when I mentioned that I’m planning a vegetable patch, she gave me some tips on what is easy to grow and even bought me a couple of ‘how to’ books. It is quite a large undertaking for me to get my head round- growing my own food, and can be quite overwhelming, but one of the books helped grow my confidence with the catch-line, “If peasant people can do it - so can you!”

I’ve learned the best times of year to plant seed, and my onions will start the planting process in January next year so until then I’m busy planning the patch I will have, clearing the ground where I will plant and getting my bricklayer husband to build some beds. The big question is can this office dwelling, Shellac manicured Jugglista make food worth eating? Only time will tell…




I write a fortnightly column for At Home - the Premier UK celebrity and lifestyle magazine, and this one appeared on their site www.AtHomeMagazine.co.uk a month ago. Do visit At Home and leave me a comment on the post there so they get to see your opinions too!
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About the Author
Nadine Hill is a busy working mum (“Is there any other kind?!”) who has a fascination with time management which borders on the obsessive! She loves to find more effective ways of doing the daily juggle whilst enjoying the journey and has lots of practise through raising her two children, managing her small business, being a best-selling author, running her home, public speaking and finding time to get to the gym! Nadine’s ambition is to help busy mums claw back a bit of ‘me time’ so she shares her tips with at home in these fortnightly columns and her own life stories on her blog- Juggle Mum.
She also micro blogs on Twitter where she is @Businessmum. You can learn more about Nadine at www.NadineHill.com

At Home Column - Happy Birthday to Me!

Apparently I look like a monkey and I smell like one too! This is what my kids told me as they sang out on my birthday morning! Then, as is the tradition in our house, we all climbed into my bed and I opened my cards and presents. I love this- it’s a great excuse for another cuddle with the kids.

My parents call me at about 8am to sing ‘Happy Birthday’, and this is as far as I got with replaying family traditions, because what happened next has not happened before. Mum was talking about us going round for a birthday tea, then she said “Just think, 38 years ago today I was in the hospital having you!”

“Erm, Mum – I’m 37!”

“No you’re not! You’re 38 today!” I couldn’t believe she was even arguing with me about it. But she insisted I was 38, because she said she was 62.

“Mum, you’re adding another year to my age! Don’t wish my life away!” I know after you turn 30 that it’s easy to have to think for a minute when someone asks your age. It doesn’t seem to matter as much after 30 than it did before then. I’ve had moments where I’ve had to really concentrate before answering as I couldn’t recall whether I was 35 or 36, but my own Mum has never got it wrong before!

She started working it out – determined to prove me wrong, but when she did the maths she realised that I was indeed 37. So then for some reason that I’ll never know, I got all indignant and said how I’d never forget MY daughter’s age! It’s like no matter how old and supposedly mature you get, you can still act like a brat with your parents. I’m sure when I’m 62 I’ll have times where I need my daughter’s young brain to refresh my memory, but I’m really hoping I won’t need help to remember those things that a mother doesn’t forget. Like your child’s date of birth or their weight when they were born.

Anyway mum redeemed herself. She offered to babysit that night so hubby and I could have a night out. Parents of young children will know, you don’t get many occasions to go out as a couple without the kids, so we made the most of it by doing a ‘double header’ at the cinema - two movies, back to back! The last time we did that was in 1994 at the Odeon on Kensington High Street when we saw Pulp Fiction and Leon before getting the number 52 bus home. This was before we got married, living in our one bedroom flat in London, with a carefree lifestyle – we didn’t need to plan our time, we could go out on a whim. This time life has certainly changed. The preparations were part of the daily juggle and involved putting kids into pyjamas before we left, furnishing them with a drink, favourite teddy bear, instructions to Grandma to put them to bed BEFORE she gets stuck in to Downton Abbey, a round of kisses, cuddles and “We’ll be back before you know it”. It took us 20 minutes to get out of the door, and ironically, do you know what films we saw?

The Change Up followed by ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’!



I write a fortnightly column for At Home - the Premier UK celebrity and lifestyle magazine, and this one appeared on their site www.AtHomeMagazine.co.uk a month ago. Do visit At Home and leave me a comment on the post there so they get to see your opinions too!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
About the Author
Nadine Hill is a busy working mum (“Is there any other kind?!”) who has a fascination with time management which borders on the obsessive! She loves to find more effective ways of doing the daily juggle whilst enjoying the journey and has lots of practise through raising her two children, managing her small business, being a best-selling author, running her home, public speaking and finding time to get to the gym! Nadine’s ambition is to help busy mums claw back a bit of ‘me time’ so she shares her tips with at home in these fortnightly columns and her own life stories on her blog- Juggle Mum.
She also micro blogs on Twitter where she is @Businessmum. You can learn more about Nadine at www.NadineHill.com

The Road To Wellbeing Starts at Breakfast!



You know it’s going to be a good day when the UK Head of External Communications for a Worldwide Corporation gets into a white towelling bathrobe with his hairy legs on show and comes to chat to you and two other scantily clad bloggers in the relaxation room of The Lowry Spa in Central Manchester!

But this kind of ‘hands on’, ‘we’re in it together’ approach is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Kellogg’s – the company who hosted a spa day event for me and 7 other mummy bloggers, to announce their latest campaign. As mums with a voice and a platform on which to use it, they knew that we’d be concerned to hear about some of our nation’s children who are sent to school without proper food in their belly each morning, but they also knew that being busy mums ourselves, we could use a bit of TLC too, so they arranged for us to have some super pampering treatments, so we could enjoy being looked after, before we had to collect our kids and become the one who does the looking after once again!

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I was shocked to hear the results of research done by Kellogg's that showed 1 out of 7 UK children go to school without having breakfast. The main reason is due to a lack of time in the morning, so they often buy crisps and sweets on the way to eat instead.

Mornings can be hectic in a busy household, and a few organisation techniques can be learned - did you see my video blog about 'How to get out of the door on time?'

Breakfast clubs at schools provide useful childcare for working parents, the ability for children to socialise with kids of different ages from different classes, and they also ensure that the children get to their lessons on time at the start of the school day! Because Kellogg's recognise the importance of these clubs, they have helped 500 schools set up and run their own breakfast clubs and invested £1.5million into their scheme to assist schools with breakfast clubs.

You can learn more at www.giveachildabreakfast.co.uk and even find out how your child's school could apply for a grant.

....But that's not all! Kellogg's have offered me and 7 other bloggers a competition prize each - to give away A YEAR'S SUPPLY OF BREAKFAST for a school breakfast club! Here is how to be in with a chance to win:

COMPETTION

This competition gives you the chance to win a year supply of breakfast (approx 100 boxes) for your school with eight blogs over an eight week period. To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is watch this video in the 'What's Your Favourite Thing About Breakfast Club?' section and leave me a comment below telling me what the tongue-tied little boy says at the end.

I will pick the winner at random on Tuesday 18th October.

Terms and Conditions:
• This competition will run for one week until the 18th October 2011 • The winner will be chosen at random • Competition is open to residents of the UK and NI only • Prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative is available • Leave your answer in the comments section with an email address or way to contact you if you win.

The blogs that are participating in this campaign are: Mum in the Madhouse, Cheshire Mum, Squidyboo , And one more means 5, Not such a yummy mummy, The Coffee Lady, and The Five F's.

Good Luck!

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Why I'm Going to BritMums Live

BritMums Live has just been announced, and is promising to be Britain's biggest parent blogging conference.

For the last two years it has been known as CyberMummy, but from 2012 it is BritMums Live and will spead over two days, with even more workshops, parties and blogging mixer opportunities!

I've done a short video to say why I'll be there in 2012- hope to see you too!



www.britmumslive.co.uk
If the video isn't showing, simply scroll to the bottom of the blog and it will be positioned at the bottom. I'm not sure why Blogger is putting my videos here but this is how to find them!!


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Do Mums Have the Upper Hand in Parenting?

The BritMums have been discussing the topic of maternal instinct. Does being a woman give you the upper hand when it comes to parenting?

Here are my thoughts...



If this video doesn't show, just scroll to the bottom of my blog and it will be 'sat' at the bottom of the screen! I've found Blogger to be a bit tempremental when it comes to positioning videos in a post!

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