My Fashion choices over the years vary a lot. I was blessed with a mum who was brilliant at putting clothes and textures together. She had real style as my husband commented when he first met her. She could rock sparkles and I always loved her in a smart blazer and country-style skirt.

I don’t think I have a natural flair for fashion or perhaps it just got lost somewhere along the way. I have a milestone birthday next year and think I might take that as an incentive to experiment with clothing once again. As with many areas of my life, it has been far too long!

My late brother always told me that I would channel the Bay City Rollers with lots of tartan as a young girl. I think all of us who grew up in the Eighties were influenced by people like Adam Ant and the New Romantics. Musicians certainly still influence fashion choices as I guess singers are always icons of a certain era.

When I was a young teen, my Mum despaired as she wanted me to rock any sort of style and I was just happy with jeans and a jumper. I remember investing in a short white cheese-cloth dress for the Leaver’s Do at school. It’s a shame we don’t keep the outfits from milestone occasions.

When I attended university, there were lots of dos where you had to dress up and fortunately as my brother worked at Monsoon, I always had good stuff including lovely party dresses and a couple of amazing ball gowns. As yes, dear reader, I did live a little once upon a time! My favourite outfit was my crimson ra-ra suit matched with a black lace body from Marks and Spencer. I always felt amazing in that which was great as I have always lacked confidence so it became a bit of a go to outfit. I wore black a lot then although a good male friend said he much preferred me more floral things especially a Laura Ashley dress.

When working outside the home, I loved a long wrap around skirt and smart tops and preferably with a jacket. I love jackets – they just add a certain something much like scarves do.

I have had fun with accessories particularly statement necklaces and wide chunky belts.

So what happened? Well, I don’t suppose I am in alone in that I put on weight and felt pretty exhausted through many of the earlier years of parenting. Combine that with trying to make ends meet and depression and you swiftly see me making friends with dark leggings and baggy T-shirts. Yes, they are practical but I do think we lose something when we take on that particular uniform.

So 2018 is going to be the year I get back into enjoying clothes as an expression of self and not just as a way to keep warm and decent. I might even share some of my valiant attempts online.

What fashion choices or mistakes have your made over the years?

The Pramshed

The dangers of social smoking may well be on your mind as we are in Christmas party season. I am a non-smoker and my husband smokes heavily. We have struggled to navigate that difference over the years with me hating the health and financial implications of smoking. Even though my husband is not a social smoker, he will have a cigar or two at Christmas. Why do we act so differently during the festive season I wonder?

Most people will be heading out on the town as the Christmas period approaches, whether it is for a work’s party or to enjoy a much-needed catch up with friends or family. However, how many of you will be considering having a cigarette once you’re out socialising — even if you don’t smoke regularly? I know a couple of people who only smoke at parties. I have never understood this. Similarly my own parents smoked for decades and managed to give up. Imagine my surprise a few years later when I found out they still smoked when on holidays overseas.

Nicotinell — providers of expert advice on how to stop drinking and smoking — explains why you should steer away from social smoking this festive period and beyond…

Are you a low-level or occasional smoker?

Let’s see if you are indeed classed as a low-level or occasional smoker. There are three main groups to be aware of:

1. The binge smoker — this is someone who will smoke a lot but only at certain times of the week, such as throughout the weekend.

2. The low-level smoker — this is someone who will either smoke a small number of cigarettes on a daily basis, or choose to only smoke occasionally.

3. The social smoker — this is someone who will likely smoke only when in social settings, such as at a pub or when hanging out with friends.

What are the risks of smoking socially?

The main point to make to low-level or occasional smokers is that there is no safe level of smoking and that the health dangers are apparent whether someone has one cigarette occasionally, or once an hour on average.

This statement has been underlined by online resource iCanQuit, which has been developed by the Cancer Institute NSW, when looking into the health effects of irregular smoking.

According to the organisation, people who smoke between one and four cigarettes on a daily basis will almost triple their risk of dying from either heart disease or lung cancer. Both light and intermittent smokers were also found to be at nearly the same risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease as those who smoked every day.

A nationally representative study which was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion and involved over 39,000 people has also suggested links between social smokers and health risks.

The research found that over ten per cent of the group surveyed classed themselves as social smokers and another 17 per cent said they were current smokers. Regardless of the type of smoker though, around 75 per cent of the current and social smokers were found to have had high blood pressure and an estimated 54 per cent had high cholesterol. This is after the research team had adjusted for differences in factors which included demographics and obesity.

Kate Gawlik, the assistant professor of clinical nursing at The Ohio State University and the study’s lead author, stressed that “doctors and nurses need to educate patients that social smoking is still a major health risk and is not a long-term healthy choice”. She also advised: “Not smoking at all is the best way to go. Even smoking in a social situation is detrimental to your cardiovascular health.”

Splitting the effects into genders, iCanQuit has also reported that males who were occasional smokers were 60 per cent more likely to die earlier than non-smoking males. Meanwhile. Females who were low-level smokers were found to typically lose between four and six years of their lives than non-smoking females.

iCanQuit therefore was keen to point out: “Even if you smoke occasionally or just on weekends, you are still a smoker – and the health dangers of low level smoking are serious and significant.”

I think we know this stuff. My parents’ generation did not know the dangers of smoking and it was glamorised in the media. That is not the case today so look after your health and your pocket and quit smoking in the New Year.


What is the joy of blogging that makes people stick with it? Are there any troublesome challenges along the way? Where can blogging lead? Today as part of my series of interviews with bloggers, Kerry shares her experiences as a blogger over at

Joy Of Blogging

Why did you start to blog?

I loved reading blogs and had started a blog a few years ago. Unfortunately, this was at a time when I did not have much spare time and it quickly fizzled out. However, the urge to blog never left me. Fast forward to October 2016 and I took the plunge again, this time going self-hosted.

How did you feel when you started blogging?

Nervous! I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I like to learn new things and I threw myself into everything blogging related. Suddenly the TV could not hold my interest, I would rather be reading up about social media or watching a YouTube video about using HTML.

How do you feel about blogging today?

I absolutely love it. I love that I am constantly learning. I love that I can write about my passions and I love that people come to my blog to read.

What is your proudest achievement related to blogging?

That has to be receiving my first ever payment for a sponsored post. I didn’t specifically start my blog with the intention of making money. I knew it could be a possibility as I had read and heard from many other successful bloggers. I just didn’t think that I would ever get to that postion.

What is the most exciting event you have attended as a blogger?

I have never attended an event. I still don’t feel like a ‘proper’ blogger. I am constantly in awe of the bloggers I see around me.

Do you monetize your blog and, if so, how?

Yes, I started off adding some affiliate links but as I blog about saving money (amongst other topics) find these do not always fit well with my content.

Recently, I have been lucky to receive some sponsored posts.

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

Time. I have a day job and I have two boys (16 and 12) so time is limited. I do make the most of every spare minute I have, which is easy really as I love blogging so much.

What surprised you most about blogging?

The support you receive from other bloggers. I have joined some brilliant Facebook groups and it always surprises me how helpful everyone is.

How do you balance blogging and family life?

I have to be super organised and love making a list and crossing things off! My lists mean that when I do sit down to work on my blog, I know exactly what needs to be done next. For example, my dinner is cooking as I am typing this.

What would lead to you giving up blogging?

Wow, at this moment in time I can’t imagine not blogging. It would have to be something serious to stop me.

What is your top tip for a new or inexperienced blogger?

Keep going. At the beginning you can feel overwhelmed by everything that you need to do. Focus on one area at a time, learn it, master it and then move on to the next area.

Huge thanks to Kerry for sharing her story about the joy of blogging. If you would like to share your story, please do get in touch.

Twin Mummy and Daddy
Me, Being Mummy

I do love a good blogger story and will be highlighting some very special bloggers partly to show how very different bloggers are despite sharing a lot of the same joys and challenges of this particular art form.

Blogger Story

Today I meet Rhian Westbury and I hope you enjoy her sharing her individual blogging story.

Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog because I was doing a lot of freelance work for clients and will I loved writing I didn’t always enjoy having a brief and an outline of the style and content. I wanted somewhere where I was the creative controller so I began writing and it evolved from there.

How did you feel when you started blogging?

I felt relieved to have an outlet but I didn’t really do anything properly. My images were rubbish, I had no schedule and would sometimes go weeks (or even a month or so) without a post.

How do you feel about blogging today?

Ultimately I feel proud about blogging today as I know how far I have come with my skills involved such as social media management, photography, organizational planning and other areas. And while I post 5 times a week (sometimes more when it’s busy) I still love it.

What is your proudest achievement related to blogging?

I would probably say it would have been being picked to go on a four day trip to Ischia a few months back. I applied on Twitter and didn’t think much of it but when I got the email offer I thought it was fake to begin with but it hit me that someone had chosen me for whatever reason be it social stats or my blog and liked it enough.

What is the most exciting event you have attended as a blogger?

For my normal blog I haven’t really been to many events, just two in the last month. But I also edit a large music website and through that I have been to a number of festivals and I’d say the most exciting event would have had to be Download Festival.

Do you monetize your blog and if so how?

I do monetize my blog to some extent but only through sponsored posts with brands who fit my blog and are a natural interesting fit. I have tried affiliate work but never found it to work before but it’s something I need to look into.

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

Trying to keep on top of everything. As I work full-time and I am a music website editor, alongside wanting to spend time with friends, family, my boyfriend etc I find it can be tough managing my time. But it’s worth it.

What surprised you most about blogging?

How time consuming it is. It’s not just writing a post and clicking publish there’s so much more to do such as taking the right photo, optimizing your post, scheduling social media, promoting and so much more.

How do you balance blogging and family life?

I balance blogging with a full-time job in marketing by using my time wisely. I blog and do admin before work in the mornings, I am productive at lunchtime and scheduling is my friend. I batch take photos, batch schedule social media so I can have time off when I need it to enjoy life.

What would lead you to giving up blogging?

I can’t actually imagine not blogging. I think the only reason I would give it up would be if I had a health issue and physically wasn’t able to, although even then I’d like to think blogging would be a good outlet.

What is your top tip for a new or inexperienced blogger?

Buy your own domain straight away. They’re so cheap so it’s not a huge investment but it means you can start building your DA right from the start as opposed to when you change over a year after you start.

You can also find Rhian on Instagram and Twitter @Rswstbry

Do you have a blogger story you would like to share. If you do, please get in touch with me.

The Pramshed

Attitudes to money have changed a lot over three generations in my family.

My parents were very much of the view that if you did not have the cash available, you did not buy a product or service. Credit was not something they wanted to get involved in and they even set an income level before they would get married and start a family.

I think credit was less readily available then. If they had struggled they would have gone to family I imagine but even that seems unlikely unless it was an absolute crisis.

They bought  things locally and I guess local businesses acted on trust sometimes or made special deals.

I started borrowing money when I became a student because it was pushed on you then and I was very naïve. Free money! What young person would have turned that down in the Eighties before we saw how borrowing could come back and bite you on the derriere once a change of life circumstances like the loss of a job or a new baby happened. As a debt counsellor, I saw so many people struggling particularly if they became ill or disabled and were unable to work.

It did not stop me though and I would spend and borrow, borrow and spend. Looking back, I think this was part of my mental health issues but at the time it just seemed like fun until the demands for repayment arrived.

I think credit is now part of 21st century society and will be for some time yet. Whether you consider online personal loans by Northcash or talk to your credit union I think people will be borrowing rather than bartering for some time yet.

I thought it would be helpful to find out what my son’s attitude to money was. He simply said “I like it!”. Don’t we all? Tomorrow, I will have a longer conversation about budgeting as he works his way slowly into adult life.

How have attitudes to money changed over the years in your family?


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