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Things Mums of Boys Will Know

I was disappointed with Netmums’ article on ‘Things Mums of Boys Will Know‘. As a mother of a boy and a girls, I know that most of these are silly, and a couple are just plain ridiculous.

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Meal Planning Monday

I’ve never been one for meal planning, preferring the fly by the seat of your pants, ready steady cook kind of food prep, but I’m trying to be more organised. And stick to a budget – don’t know about you, but the excesses of Christmas are being felt both on the waistline and on the bank account.

When I was putting together the ParentPlanner, I included a meal planner because a lot of people suggested it, and I’ve been using it on and off since I did the first prototype. Some weeks I’ve stuck to it, but one thing I’ve learned is to do this planning in pencil. That way I can switch days around, if I’m held up somewhere and can’t start dinner in time to do a lot of prep.

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New Years Resolutions and Regrets

Do you make New Years Resolutions? This year, I’m taking a leaf out of the book of Rebecca from Artemis Mindset Coaching, and not bothering. Or rather, I’m making changes but not thinking of them as NY Resolutions.

But… I don’t really believe in New Year Resolutions.
We can do better than that.
We can do better than signing up to a gym and going three times.
We can do better than going 3 days cigarette free then just having the one.
And we can do so much better than randomly deciding that January the 1st is going to be the start of a whole new you.

I’ve never been good at NY resolutions. It wasn’t until Rebecca started coaching me last year, that I learned to plan ahead and visualise my goals, and to break these goals into shorter chunks. It’s so much easier to plan 3 months in advance than a whole year. And it’s so much easier to implement small changes that to try and re-arrange your entire life.

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Digital vs Paper Planner for Mums and Dads

A year ago, I was searching for a solution to my improve my organisational skills. I’d tried using the calendar on my phone. I’d downloaded apps that promised to transform my life. I’d signed up to online programmes that aimed to make a organisational super-fairy out of me. Somehow none of this worked, and I was still always in a muddle. That’s when I discovered the joy of a simple paper diary, which this year led me to develop a paper planner for mums and dads.

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Letting Go

You roll your eyes and I bite my tongue. It’s normal, I tell myself. She’s a teenager. She needs to detach. Still, it hurts my heart.

‘You may give them your love but not your thoughts’

I was the centre of your world. Your rock. Your oracle. You looked to me for answers. And now your gaze has turned outward. Read More

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Reaching Your Destination with a Life Coach

Rebecca is a Life Coach at Artemis Mindset Coaching. You might wonder what on earth that is, and who would see a life coach. I admit, when I first heard of it, I thought it sounded a bit woo (and I’m totally not woo!). She’s also a friend, so when she asked if I’d agree to be coached by her, as part of her training and certification, I agreed. Not only out of friendship, but also because I was inquisitive. What is this coaching thing, and what would I get out of it?

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New Website Launched

If you enjoy my posts on parenting, and the recent guest posts, then please do pop over and check out Jump! Parents – a new website for parents of tweens and teens.

Salt and Caramel will continue, but as my personal blog for reviews, reflections, opinions and more Secrets of Scotland (and perhaps other areas too!)

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Secrets of Scotland – Mhorfest

This weekend, we travelled up to the Highlands of Scotland to Mhor Hotel, and their annual MhorFest. We’d intended arriving in time for the Raft Race on Saturday morning, but underestimated the travelling time on the wee roads, and missed it. All was not lost, as the festival was just getting underway. With free entry for kids under 14 years, it was clear that this was going to be a popular event with families, and already there were a fair number of people milling about.

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What You Need to Know Before Moving Overseas

‘Steve and Mary from Nuneaton are following their dream, of buying and renovating a period property in rural France. The cottage we are showing them needs a bit of work, but we think that with a bit of updating, it could be stunning. Neither of them speak the language, but they came to this area on holiday last year, and fell in love with the natural beauty and the carefree lifestyle. Mary is an artist, and Steve is a graphic designer, and both hope to set up thriving home businesses in France.’

I quite like watching property shows, particularly A Place in the Sun, but usually spend the episode shouting, ‘NO! Don’t do it!’ at the screen. In part, this is due to watching the series on catchup, and knowing that the adorable finca that the couple are buying in 2007 is going to plummet in value within a year of the show being filmed. Having lived abroad, and moved many times,  I know a bit about the process, and the pitfalls. So, this is my ultimate post on what you need to know before moving overseas!

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Review of Ziggys Restaurant St Andrews

Review of Ziggys Restaurant in St Andrews

It was my first visit to Ziggys Restaurant in St Andrews, and I was intrigued to see it described as a family owned ‘themed restaurant’, decorated with rock and roll memorabilia. I was guessing it would be a bit like Hard Rock Cafe, but more personal and individual. If possible, I try to support local businesses, rather than national (or international!) chain restaurants. Read More

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5 Signs of Low Self Esteem in a Child … and What You Can Do About It

A guest post by Coach Rebecca Pintre, from Artemis Mindset Coaching, on recognising the signs of low self esteem in a child, and what parents can do about it. 

Self-esteem is the sense of worth a person has about themselves, the value they put on themselves. It is important to have a good balance of self-esteem and a positive yet realistic sense of self-worth. As a coach, low self-esteem is one of the issues I come across frequently. As a mother of two young girls I know that fostering good self-esteem in my daughters is one of my key tasks. Read More

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Dear 13 Year Old Me…

It is my daughter’s 13th birthday today. At last, she is a TEENAGER! She’s promised that she won’t suddenly turn into a stroppy, hormonal monster. Check back in a year to see whether she’s been able to keep that vow!

I was thinking back to my teenage years, and what I would tell myself, if I could go back in time and give myself some advice. Read More

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Marigold – A Short Story for March Writers’ Workshop

For the March Writers’ Workshop

The prompt I chose was, ‘Reluctantly, she let the flower fall from her hand, watching as it spiralled down’.

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How to Make a First Period Kit

No, don’t worry. I’m not going to advise you to throw a First Period Party for your daughter. I can only imagine the sheer horror that my daughter would greet this suggestion. It is probably up there with ‘Mum-dancing with my guidance teacher at the school disco in an effort to get all the kids to dance’ on the 1 – 100 scale of embarrassment.

Talking to kids about sex is an important part of parenting, and a part of this is talking to girls about getting their first period. One of the best ways to help your daughter prepare, is to make a First Period Kit.

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What If…. A Guest Post for World Down Syndrome Day

A Guest Post for World Down Syndrome Day, by Emily

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The Bombing of Würzburg

In my life I have lived in many cities and villages, but the cities I consider “home” are the twin towns of Dundee and Würzburg. I was born and brought up in Dundee, and have recently returned to bring up my children here.

I moved to Würzburg in Germany when I was 19 years old, to work as an au-pair for a year. On the day of my arrival, I met the man who I would later marry, but that is a story for another day. Today, I am thinking of the upcoming 70th anniversary of an event that almost destroyed the city, but instead led to its re-birth.

While the destruction of Dresden is common knowledge, many people don’t know that other German cities were targeted for destruction in the closing months of the war. One of these cities was Würzburg.

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Five Wounds by Katharine Edgar

Review – Five Wounds by Katharine Edgar

My Goodreads Review of Five Wounds, by Katharine Edgar
Five Wounds by Katharine Edgar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A gripping tale, that kept me awake into the wee hours, as I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished it.

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This Little Piggy Was Caught in a Twitter Storm

This article deals with processes in feminism, but the point made about social media is true for all online discussions.

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When our online world is nothing but an ‘echo chamber’, we miss the dissenting voices, the ones that change our minds, or strengthen our resolve.

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“My Mum Reads My Texts”… Checking Kids Phones and eSafety

“My Mum reads my texts”, is the digital age version of “My mum reads my diary”. Did you write a diary when you were younger? If you did, you may remember the fear of your parents reading it, finding out all those private thoughts, spying on you.

Then the similarity between the diary and the smartphone ends, because a diary is kept private, while social media and text updates are shared with others.

Many parents worry about their children, and their use of social media and smartphones. Are they being bullied – or are they bullying others? Are they sharing information that they shouldn’t? Who are they talking to online, and can they really be sure if the person that they are talking to is being honest with them – or is even the person they are purporting to be?

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12 Awesome Women Explorers

It is done! Months of research, and hours of agonising which of the many wonderful women to include – today 12 Awesome Women Explorers was published. Initially only on Kindle, but soon to be available in print, and on iBooks.

One of the challenges of writing this book, was finding women who were explorers in a positive sense. Not rich, entitled white women who ‘explored’ countries where people had been living quite happily for many years, but those who actually brought a deeper understanding between peoples, or who made exciting scientific discoveries.

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Online Writers' Workshop

Join our Online Writers’ Workshop!

The lovely Millie Slavidou and I were chatting today about collaborative writing. She suggested we write a story together, but I fear I am too much of a control freak to enjoy that. What if she took the story in a different direction, to the one I had in mind?

I suggested that to preserve our friendship, we could do a monthly Writers’ Workshop instead. When I lived in Geneva, I joined a wonderful group at the American International Women’s Club. In fact, it is due to the support and encouragement of the women in that group, that I began to share my writing, both online and offline.

Millie and I would like to invite you to join in our Online Writers’ Workshop. This is open to anyone who would like to take part.

Once a month, I will post a writing prompt on this blog. You write an article or story – fiction or non-fiction, poetry or cartoon –  and at the end of the month we will share our work online. We will link up our blogs, so that readers can hop from one to the next, and we will give each other constructive and supportive feedback.

Sign up here and follow the discussion on the Facebook Page

 

Join Our Online Writers’ Workshop

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Secrets of Scotland – The Kingdom of Fife

It’s been a while since I wrote a Secrets of Scotland, so I thought I’d catch you all up on some of the glorious areas of the country I am lucky enough to call home. The suggestions on this blog are many, and you won’t be able to do them all in a day, so pick the ones you like best, and don’t forget to let me know the ones I missed!

A lot of tourists land in Edinburgh and drive straight past Fife to head for the Highlands. Or if they visit the area, they drive to St Andrews, and then onwards. When we pick visitors up from the airport, we always drive around the coast road of Fife, and our guests are stunned by the beautiful views.

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Talking to Kids About Sex

Talking to The Kids About Sex – Without Euphemisms or Embarrassment

According to Planned Parenthood, teens who had good, honest conversations with their parents about sex are more likely to delay sexual activity, have fewer partners and use condoms or other contraceptives when they do have sex.

So how do we go about talking to the kids about sex and puberty, so that they are informed of the changes ahead, know how they can protect themselves, and how to react to the pressures from others? Without euphemisms or embarrassment.

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NSPCC Share Aware Campaign

NSPCC Be Share Aware Campaign

I was pleased to read that the NSPCC were launching a new campaign to better inform parents of the dangers of Social Media, but was slightly disappointed with the results.

The videos ‘I Can See Your Willy’, and ‘Lucy and the Boy’ have been shown on TV spots, and are being shared around the internet, but I have several issues with them.

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Social Media for Kids – What Parents Need to Know About Instagram

This is the fourth in the series about Social Media for Kids, today dealing with what parents need to know about Instagram. Catch up on the earlier posts on Online Safety for Kids, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter first.

One of the most popular Social Media sites for young people at the moment is Instagram. As an image-based mobile site, it is ideal for kids to get their first experience of social networking.

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Parenting without Punishments

Parenting Without Punishments

 

When a friend recently talked about ‘Gentle Parenting‘, or parenting without punishments or rewards, I will admit to first having to look up the term, and second thinking that can’t possibly work. 

After reading the list on this blog, I realised that I’d been practicing a version of this parenting philosophy, without knowing there was a name for it. There is no blueprint for successful parenting, and I wouldn’t say that I am an expert, but these are the tactics that have worked for me, and my family. 

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A Feminist Self-Publishing Collective

Times are tough for writers. With too many people willing to work for nothing, freelance writers are finding it difficult to survive. I know many talented writers who work hard, both in creating and promoting, with little to show for it. Rejection follows rejection, as publishers are reluctant to take a chance on an unknown writer, when they could sign up a celebrity or a YouTuber with huge existing fan base.

I am not knocking Zoe Suggs, also known as Zoella, but I do understand the frustration of many writers today, who looked at the headlines and sighed wearily. A relatively unknown vlogger who outsells JK Rowling – impossible!

Ever more writers are turning to self-publishing, cutting out the middle-man and selling directly to their readers. Particularly for bloggers, who already have a network, this can be a sensible option.

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Why You Should Be Using Buffer to Schedule Social Media Posts

 

If you run a Social Media account for a blog, a business or a campaign, then this post will help you drastically reduce the time spent spent on this task. One of the reasons most often given by small business owners for not having a social media presence, or for giving it up, is the time spent scheduling and tracking posts and replying to updates. Help is at hand, via a nifty little app called BUFFER! 

It is my absolute favourite tool for managing social media accounts, and I always recommend it. Buffer schedules updates for a variety of Social Media accounts.  Here are the functions that set it apart from every other social media scheduling site. 

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How to Write a Trip Advisor Review

I love a good Trip Advisor review. Generally I use them as an aid to finding hotels to avoid.  Any mention of “hilarious holiday reps”, “fab poolside and evening entertainment” or “delicious all you can eat buffet with proper English grub!” tells me that I will hate the hotel, and should keep looking.
Here are my top tips on how to write a Trip Advisor review.

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Guest Post – My Make Up Day

A good friend of mine wore make-up last week. You may be wondering why that is worthy of a blog post, but you see Millie doesn’t wear make up. Not that she rarely uses cosmetics. She NEVER wears make up. She doesn’t own any cosmetics at all.  
She posted a photo on Facebook, and was debating whether to wipe it all off, when I suggested she leave it for the day and blog about the reaction of her friends and family. She has written about the word ‘cosmetic’ on her brilliant etymology blog here.

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