Happily joining in Ella from Notes from Home’s Friday Club where this week’s topic is clutter.

I honestly believe that a house with clutter is a house with soul.

Let me see. There are my bookshelves with hundreds of books on them. They make me laugh and cry. They help myself and my family to learn new things. They are essential.

There are little hooks with children’s artwork showing that I am blessed to have children and reminding me of when they were younger or or art projects we worked on together. They warm my heart. They are essential.

My walls are packed with works of art that may well reflect various aspects of myself. Dark, brooding forests, voluptuous women, lighthouses and more. They are essential.

My mantlepiece is incredibly cluttered. We have ornaments that make me giggle. There is a tile s6aying that happiness comes through doors that you didn’t even know you left open which I bought when L came back into my life. There are crystals in vibrant colours, hip flasks, incense and a photo frame that announces “Girl Power”.

Recently, my brother attacked me for my way of living with all these things around me. He practically announced that living in this way was tantamount to child and elder abuse (I live with my 3 children and elderly father). I have reflected long and hard on this and actually cleared everything away when he came to stay here for a few weeks. I felt like some essential spark of me had disappeared. He disappeared to live somewhere else thank goodness and I was able to get my clutter and myself back.

If I were to die today and you came to my house, you would not need anyone to tell you what I was like. You would see huumour, deep thought and feeling, ecletic tastes, objects of learning, celebrations of family life. For me, clutter will always be something to celebrate.

When the clutter gets too much or I judge things to be no longer useful or beautiful, I send them to the charity shop knowing that the saying is very true that one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. I am also a member of freegle where you can give stuff away for free. Storage-wise, I find drawers more useful than wardrobes. Again, if you visit charity shops, you can find some brilliant storage solutions from dark brown solid furniture to vintage trunks/suitcases and more. Incidentally, if you are like me and enjoy clutter, both freegle and charity shops are great ways of acquiring stuff whilst helping other people too.

So what do you think? Is clutter a good or bad thing?

Now pop over to the Notes from Home blog and clutter you mind with other people’s ideas. You might just learn from them.

Isn’t it lovely to see Reasons To Be Cheerful back on the Mummy from the Heart blog?

I know all the hostesses did a wonderful job over the Summer with the notable exception of yours truly who cocked it up bigstyle but it is good to see it returning home after the holidays.

For those who don’t know, Reasons to be Cheerful is a wonderful blog hop that celebrates all things good in our lives. It is great on the lovely weeks but even more meaningful on those troublesome weeks as it makes you really focus on the little things that warm the heart or make you smile.

1. I am alive. I don’t want to say more than that on this one just yet apart from to say, we do take life for granted sometimes, don’t we?

2. In the last week or so, three organisations have said they want me in different ways. It feels so long since that last happened and lifts my soul.

3. I have made a crucial and assertive decision about Christmas this year.

4. After a little wobble about losing weight yesterday, thanks to the support of family, friends and Twitter, I stuck with it and feel strong enought to continue to do so.

5. I am overwhelmed at the support for the new blog hop on #groovingmums and am so enjoying reading the stories of some very diverse mums all committed to rediscovering their va-va-voom. You can read more about this in my post from Tuesday this week and please do go and visit and lend your support to mums who are trying to change for the better.

I know these are very brief for me but they are all very deep in their own ways.

Now pop over to http://mdplife.blogspot.com and check out some other positive-thinking and pretty things.

The Gallery theme this week is Home.

I have lived in many places. By the age of one, I had lived in four places including a convent. Perhaps there is traveller in my soul as at last count, I have resided in 34 homes including on the road in a camper van one mad Summer.

So for me, I am clear that a place does not make a home. If you don’t want to enter a deeply nauseous state, I suggest you read no further.

One day, I was in the car chattering away when Him Indoors told me to shut up. I started telling him not to speak to me like that when he said. “No, I mean, listen to this song because it expresses exactly how I feel about you”. It was Billy Joel and here are the lyrics that so impressed my Other Half.

Billy Joel Home

When you look into my eyes
and you see the crazy gypsy in my soul
it always comes as a surprise
when i feel my withered roots begin to grow

well i never had a place
that I could call my very own
but that’s all right my love
cuz you’re my home.

when you touch my weary head
and you tell me everything will be all right
You say use my body for your bed
and my love will keep you warm throughout the night

well i’ll never be a stranger
and i’ll never be alone
wherever we’re together
that’s my home.

Home could be the Pennsylvania turnpike
Indiana’s early morning dew
high up in the hills of California
home is just another word for you

Well I never had a place that i could call my very own
but that’s all right my love cuz you’re my home

If i travel all my life
and i never get stop and settle down
long as i have you by my side
there’s a roof above and good walls all around
you’re my castle, you’re my cabin
and my instant pleasure dome
i need you in my house
cuz you’re my home,..
you’re my home.

Him Indoors is not very good at expressing his feelings but he said that this song just about sums up our relationship for him. As for me being shallow, I particularly liked the idea of being an instant pleasure dome.

As I thought about it, I remembered Mum and Dad used to play this song a lot and it actually has pretty much the same meaning to the Billy Joel one.

You placed gold on my finger
You brought love like I’ve never known
You gave life to our children
And to me a reason to go on.

You’re my bread when I’m hungry
You’re my shelter from troubled winds
You’re my anchor in life’s ocean
But most of all you’re my best friend.

When I need hope and inspiration
You’re always strong when I’m tired and weak
I could search This whole world over
You’ll still be everything that I need.

You’re my bread when I’m hungry
You’re my shelter from troubled winds
You’re my anchor in life’s ocean
But most of all you’re my best friend.

You’re my bread when I’m hungry
You’re my shelter from troubled winds
You’re my anchor in life’s ocean
But most of all you’re my best friend…

Him Indoors likes to sit in “his” chair.

When my Mum died, I spoke to Dad and said one of the worst bits was turning to the phone to ring her and then realising there was no point. He said to me “Imagine how often I turn to “her” chair to tell her something and it is empty”.

What am I saying? That despite being possibly the least romantic couple in the world that Him Indoors remains in his chair perceiving me to be his “home” for a long time yet.

Home is wherever Him Indoors lays his hat for me too. Shhhh! Don’t tell him.

With love from the Striking Mum x

As I am fully committed to shifting the extra pounds (hey, who am I kidding? That would be stones and stones) I decided to invest in a brand new pair of weighing scales. I made an event out of it taking the whole family off to Tesco to choose some. I even took them all to MacDonalds afterwards to celebrate and yes, I had nothing except a diet coke.

So this morning once Him Indoors and the children were dispatched to their various lives, I whipped off all my clothes and bounced onto the new scales. Nothing. The instructions did not tell you you had to take a little plastic tab out of them to make them work. OK, that’s sorted. Try again. Wow, I appear to have lost 5 stones overnight! I knew this could not be possible but was quite happy to bask in the moment. Right, time to face reality. It does not say 10 stones 2 pounds. It says 102kg. Since when did anybody stuck in the Eighties want to deal in kg?!

Read the instructions and worked out that I needed to push a button if I wanted to deal in old-fashioned weights. It turns out I am around the 16 stone mark when I thought it was a mere (lol) 15 stone. Feel totally deflated after nearly 3 weeks of being so good on the healthy eating front.

Seized on the support of Twitter and within minutes was reassured. 70 pounds to lose is just 2 pounds for 35 weeks. That sounds far more manageable. It is pretty clear to me that I have lost around 91b already in 2 weeks so I am on track. As Him Indoors said, all that has changed is the starting point, so when you lose the weight, it will be an even more impressive story.

I am going to admit because I bet I am not the only one to do this that I tried the scales in various places in the house blaming sloping floors and all sorts for the terrible truth.

However, due to the support of Twitter and family members, I got in the car and went off to buy Weightwatchers bread and smoked salmon for lunch.

The point of this post is really to ask whether other women give the weighing scales too much power. Do you jump on and off them every 3 seconds? Do you move them around to try to get them to give you a different result? If you are on a steady path of weight loss, should they be so important in your life?

In case you are wondering, I will lose the weight. I am believing in myself and you lot can catch up in your own time.

How to be a happy mum is a question that torments many of us at various points of the parenting journey.

How To Be A Happy Mum

Last week, I started a new blog hop/meme/linky, call it what you will, concerned with helping Mums to have a bit of a personal revival and get their groove back. It is all about recognising that the individual woman sometimes gets lost a bit in the business of being a mum and trying desperately to juggle it all.

I was delighted to see seven lovely mums joining in and hope even more will write a blog post and link up this week. I also got so many comments that clearly shows I am not alone in asking where that feisty woman of yesteryear has gone to and resolving to find her.

So what might help you get your groove back? It might be doing a course, volunteering, applying for a job or looking into setting up a business. It might be as simple as taking time out for you to go for a walk, to have a pampering session or to organise a night out with the girls. It might be learning to say no to some things and yes to others. It might be returning to an old hobby or developping a new skill. The fun of it all is that you get to choose and then you get to share how it all went with some very supportive blogger friends going through the same sort of thing.

To clarify things, you can link up on any day of the week but if you do it on Tuesday, that is fabulous. Please do try and find time to visit some of the other entries (or all of them) as you can bet you will be inspired and also able to give a supportive comment or two too. I will visit and support all entries.

I like to play around a bit (oo-er missus!) so will set little (tiny) challenges or things you can do and report back on the following week. However, this blog hop is not about rules so please feel free to post about what you want and to ignore any parts of the challenges you don’t like.

This week, I have two questions for you.

What song would be best to play a lot whilst attempting to get your groove back?

My choice is Revival by Annie Lennox

What can you do to make your body feel better this week?

Right, what have I done to get my va-va-voom back this week.

1. I have had a habit since experiencing post-natal depression of hiding from and saying no to positive experiences. I have made myself a bit of a prisoner sometimes I think. This week, I said yes to a night out at the seaside, yes to a shopping trip to town and yes to a carnival.

2. I have also got very much into putting my family first which is a good thing but not if it means you are constantly denying yourself. This week, I went out and bought myself a new duvet and some silly but fun things from the charity shop that amused me. You really don’t need bigger justifiction than that. Do I like it? Do I consider it be beautiful or useful? Can I afford it? Right, buy it – where’s the problem? You can see my finds at the charity shop in my Magpie Monday post from yesterday.

3. I am looking into volunteering in a charity shop, at school and with Homestart. For those who don’t know Homestart provides trained volunteers to support mums with children under 5 years old. I think a Homestart volunteer could have transformed my life when I was finding looking after 2 under 2 and a 4 year old so tough.

4. I have continued to indulge in healthy eating most of the time and join in the #mumentum community of women trying to lose mummy tummies. I said more about this yesterday including revealing that I am such an emotional eater so need to tackle that.

So that’s me but this blog hop is all about you. Yes you who is thinking whether you should join in or not. What are you up to? Are you going to commit to improving your own life? Fancy joining some very lovely women doing the same? Well then, what are you waiting for?

Write a post today or if you really can’t manage that sometime before next Monday and link up below. Any questions, just email me on mums-the-word@live.com.

Ideally, take time out this week to visit some or all of the other entries from brave and open women and give them a lovely comment on their blog.

I look forward to hearing how you are getting on.

Another favour, please tweet about your post and use the hashtag thing so that we can all spread the word about the blog hop. Do the same if you will on other social media sites too. I have decided to keep it simple so please use the #groovingmums when mentioning this blog hop.

If you don’t do any of these things, I will not be hunting you down with a big stick. If you do them, I think we will all get more out of the experience.

Right, time for me to stop babbling and you to start blogging and linking up. Ready, steady, go and find out how to be a happy mom.