What does being a woman mean to me?

Woman

My first instinctive answer is that it means I am different. I guess this is because I was the only daughter in my family with two much older brothers. My mum had always wanted a girl, was unable to have one so adopted me.

As a young girl, I probably played more with boys than girls interestingly always creating myself a role so I could be part of their games.  I remember my Mum turning away the boys as I got older when they came to ask me to play out. I could not understand why but when I get my first period she announced to all the family that I had become a woman. I was upset that it was no longer deemed acceptable to play with the boys but it did mean that my Dad was dispatched to buy cake to mark this momentous womanhood. I have always loved the fact that my period was seen as a milestone to be celebrated.

I did not really think deeply about my place in the world until I became a teenager. My Dad said I just came downstairs one morning ranting and raving about various injustices in the world with the position of women in society being right at the top of the list.

I continued ranting when I went to Cambridge University where women were very much in the minority. Whilst other girls were seeking boyfriends, I was joining and then running women’s groups. I even invited some hapless blokes to come along to be educated! Back then I was so sure of myself in terms of opinions even if not so brave socially or boyfriend seeking wise. I used my womanhood as a reason to join a group where I knew they could not kick me out. Of course I learned a lot about women and the world through women’s group and those harsh facts just made me rant all the more infamously getting the porn removed from WHSmith for a whole day and  arguing we should not have the Sun in the common room.

In the advice world, I saw so many women in a state through mistreatment by men. Wives left with debts where men had signed their signatures. One woman in  particular is on my mind today from my early days as an advice worker. She was a victim of domestic violence and I could not work out why her hands were black and purple with bruises. I went home and Dad explained why. Police officers know these things that people who have not seen domestic violence don’t have to think about most of the time. I hope this woman is alive and living a positive life today. So many are not.

As a woman, I do not think I should have to conform to some media expectation of how I should look, how many hairs I should have on my bits, my underarms or my legs. I don’t actually trip over any of them you know!

As a woman, I wish some women would not reject the term feminism whilst we still have women killed every weeks in their own homes never mind on our streets. We have bigger battles to fight and we should join together until people of every gender and sexuality are treated with respect.

My mum’s hope for me was that she would have instilled backbone into me. That in itself says she knew I would have my own challenges as a woman and indeed we both suffered assault by men on the streets in our time.

My hope for my daughter is that she will respect herself mind, body and soul.

I am a mum. I am not always sure I should have become one as I struggle with many aspects of it. Having said that, I have released two boys and one little woman who have values that will ensure they do not abuse others moving forwards in life. And just possibly, that makes me woman enough.

 

 

Boundaries

Are you a little short on cash but are in need of a great gift? The best gifts do not have to cost the earth especially if buy from sites such as the deals queen one, and actually, gifts bought on a budget can be a lot more thoughtful! Below, we have a few ideas of what gifts you can give without breaking the bank especially if you use a hot discount code or two.

Homemade Gifts

Of course, the cheapest way to give a great gift on a budget is to make something yourself! Homemade gifts are special due to the amount of time and effort put into them. Whether you just make a card or go all out and knit a piece of clothing, your recipient is sure to appreciate the hard work that you have gone through for their gift. There are so many different DIY gifts that you can make, so no matter who it is you are buying for, you are sure to find something to make that they will love!

Buy Them Artwork

One of the great things about gift giving is that you can purchase something that they might not buy for themselves. Artwork is a great example of this and it does not have to cost a fortune, plus, many of us are not the most creative people on the planet, so a homemade DIY gift isn’t an option! A piece of art can brighten up any room and add lots of character. Plus, every time they look at the art hanging on their wall, it will make them think of you! FineArtAmerica.com is the perfect site to head on over to if you are looking for some gorgeous art on a budget. You’ll find a wide range of wall art here and they are at fantastic prices that won’t break the bank.

Make Them A Meal

Going out for a meal can be a costly affair, however, you can have just as great a time cooking from home! Making someone a meal is a thoughtful gift that they are sure to appreciate and it does not have to cost the earth. If you are not the best cook, look up a few recipes online and have a practice before making it for your loved one.

 

 A Gift Basket

A gift basket is a really thoughtful way to give someone a gift but it can also be done on a budget. Grab a hamper, then start filling it up with all their favourite small things. This is a fantastic way to give a personalised gift as what goes into the hamper really is up to you. A few ideas we would suggest include their favourite sweet treats, candles, toiletries, small clothing items and even photographs.

Gift Cards

If all fails, you can always buy a gift card! Do some research into what their favourite stores are before buying. This is a win-win situation as you don’t have to spend too much picking out a gift and they can purchase something that they want and will love!

 

 

Winnettes

In the run up to International Women’s Day, I am pleased to share a guest post from Tushna Ghadially, Founder of Marylebone Mums.

Mums

After giving birth to my daughter in March 2013, I gave up work as a fund manager. However, within the first few months of motherhood, I soon discovered that although Marylebone Village is a very family friendly area, it wasn’t easy to find information about children’s activities or mums groups that were available in the area. Having left a very male-dominated City environment, and not really knowing anyone who had children let alone babies I wanted to meet other new mums. I had chosen not to do an NCT course as there were none in the local area so I was feeling rather isolated. I realised I could solve both problems easily so I set up Marylebone Mums to connect with others and to help people exchange information about the local area. Learning how to edit a website and searching for information made me feel like a functioning adult again as I emerged from the haze of the first 6 months after birth! I run Marylebone Mums for free in my spare time for the benefit of our local community. It has been so fulfilling seeing what a difference it has made.

I run a blog where news and information about the many local events, classes and coffee mornings taking place are posted. It’s gradually grown over the years and we now have around 1600 mums and dads following the Facebook group and over 1000 followers on Twitter. Every day I get member requests from women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby who live in the area. Funnily enough, I’ve also had an increasing number of dads wanting to join the group and be involved with the community so I’ve renamed our Facebook group Marylebone Mums (& Dads). Sometimes we also get requests from Marylebone residents who don’t have kids but see the group as a good way to stay informed with local issues as well as fun topics such as new restaurants and shops opening in our area. Parents spend a lot of time walking pushing prams around and we love sharing new finds with our group!

The great thing about the group is that we have such a mix of people who help support each other. Some like me are born and raised in London, but many are people who have moved to the city for the first time. We have so many expats in the area who turn up here knowing nobody and end up meeting so many other people through the various events on offer. I understand how isolating it can be when families move to the city for the first time and how important it is to have a support network. My involvement in Marylebone Mums helps people connect with others so they don’t suffer from loneliness. I run a monthly coffee morning which is an easy way for Mums to introduce themselves to the community and to put people in touch with one another.

I love the fact that there’s a community of people in Marylebone who are settled here and are long standing residents, or who see themselves staying here for a long time, so you do get that real community feel, but at the same we’re right in the centre of London. When living in the heart of a big city I’ve also realised that it’s important to reach out and connect with others, or start a conversation with other mums in the local playground, you soon realise that they are in the same boat and appreciate a bit of extra support.”

Find out more about what’s going on in Marylebone and the local area on the website: www.marylebonevillage.com

 

Run Jump Scrap

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

A porch is the perfect space to use a halfway point between people visiting and entering your home. From the moment you start to decorate your home, the main aim is always to have a warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes people feel at home and comfortable, and this applies to the porch too. Many people overlook the porch and see it is a wasted space, but it actually has a huge impact on the overall image people have of your home. First impressions always count, and your porch is the first point people see before they enter your home properly, so it needs to be as inviting as possible!

Keep Things Fresh

The benefit to having a porch is that more often than not, you have a small space with large windows that enable plenty of natural light to filter through and brighten the area beautifully. You want your porch to be a space that feels fresh and bright, and your décor choices will help you with this. For those porches large enough, introducing a chic oak console table in the corner to position a fresh display of flowers will instantly add that crisp, clean feel you want to achieve. This is also a great way of utilising the space, giving you an area to keep post, place your dirty wellies underneath and so on.

Be Bright and Bold

If your porch is a space that has a nice balance of windows then you can guarantee you’re going to have a lovely flow of natural light passing through from morning to night, but the moment the sun goes down this area can become a little dark and daunting. Whilst the porch is still classed as your interiors, many people overlook this and forget to add sufficient lighting to keep the area lit through the evening time. By adding a stylish lamp to your porch, you can create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for your home, giving it the perfect entrance. The moment people look at your home they will see a delicate glow from the entrance area which will automatically make your home seem cosy and inviting.

Make it Practical

Having a porch is ideal for dedicating a space for keeping shoes, coats, umbrellas and other random items safe and neat, without having to bring them into the main part of your home. There’s nothing worse than someone walking through the house, over your lovely cream carpets with dirty boots on, and this is where the porch comes in very handy. To really utilise the space within your porch and make it as practical as possible, you want to include plenty of storage space, some durable hooks and even some drawers to keep items neatly stored away. This will really help to keep the rest of your home neat and tidy, whilst still having everything easily accessible.

Open it Up

Whilst the majority of people use their porch as an additional room within the home, there is also the option to open it up and create an outdoor space that’s unique to your property. To give yourself an open-style porch, you can create an enclosed space that has no door or windows but contains a couple of seats and a stylish plant to add to the character of the space. This is perfect for those who want to enhance their gardens overall look and introduce a unique touch of landscaping to their home.

Cuddle Fairy

California is a state so large, so grand, and so overwhelmingly wonderful that it takes a long time to explore. California is a number of different kinds of destinations all in one state, so a road trip with the family to explore this spectacular state is a choice well worth making.

If you’re going to soak up all the wonders of the Sunshine State in a single vacation, then you’re going to need a route that is planned with maximum efficiency in mind. The average length of a vacation for American families is just four days, but how much of the best and brightest of California can you really enjoy in such a restrictive timeframe?

A lot more than you might expect, especially if you’re prepared to rent a vehicle for the duration of your stay. Below is a busy but exciting itinerary

DAY ONE

STARTING POINT: San Diego

California

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No trip to California is complete without a visit to San Diego, making this vibrant city the ideal starting point for your four-day family trip. There are so many options as to what you can see and do in this fantastic city, including the world-famous zoo or an educational trip to the State Historic Park, so choose your activity of choice. In fact, this itinerary is designed to allow you the majority of the day in San Diego, so you can choose two sites to enjoy!

Around 6pm, it’s time to make a move— you won’t be spending the night in San Diego. Jump in your car for an hour and a half’s drive to…

NEXT STOP: Cleveland National Forest

California

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This rather confusingly-named forest is northwest of San Diego, and the route to get there is pleasantly simple. After a day spent in the bustling San Diego, the calm tranquility of Cleveland National Forest makes for the perfect place to spend an evening relaxing, as you enjoy the panoramic scenic views.

You can camp in the forest itself, or head to one of the nearby towns to spend the night. There are plenty of hotels in La Jolla Amago, which is perfectly placed for exploring the forest itself the next day.

After a night’s rest, it’s worth jumping back in the car again the next morning. Half an hour from La Jolla Amago (or less, if you’re camping at the forest itself) is the incredible Palomar Observatory. Take a tour of the facility and allow your kids to learn about how the three telescopes are being used to map the skies; a truly wonderful morning trip that the whole family will love. You’ll also have the chance to enjoy the stunning views offered by the forest, exploring the trails and perhaps even hiking Palomar Mountain if you’re in the mood for a challenge.

Just remember to leave in plenty of time to make the two-hour journey to…

NEXT STOP: Huntington Beach

California

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Huntington Beach is truly one of the most delightful places in California. After your time spent in the wilderness, you’ll be back at the seaside, and able to spend the evening wandering along Huntington Pier and enjoying the stunning seafood cuisine. While you’ll likely to arrive a little too late for swimming in the ocean, you can nevertheless enjoy the view of the sun setting over the waves.

Get a good night’s rest, as tomorrow will bring forth (what your children, at least, will consider to be) the most exciting day of the vacation…

NEXT STOP: Anaheim

California

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Realistically, Anaheim is only known for one thing— no offence to the city itself, but most people can’t name much about it… except for the fact it’s home to the Disneyland Resort. After a couple of days spent enjoying the natural wonders of California, now is a great time to indulge in something lighthearted and familiar.

The journey from Huntington Beach to Anaheim is pleasantly short, at just over a half hour. When you arrive in Anaheim itself, you can check into a local hotel if you don’t want to stay on the Disneyland resort itself. With your bags checked, you can head to the park for an incredible fun family day out.

Telling you what to see and do at the Disneyland Resort is largely pointless. First and foremost, the park is so varied that it’s impossible to choose just a handful of collections to visit, and your choices will largely be dictated by the age of your children. So you’re best to plot your own route, using an online guide. This will allow you to ensure you get to see and do all the things you want; the park is sprawling, so you’ll need to keep a careful check on the time.

After a day filled with excitement, head back to your chosen hotel for a quiet evening spent reminiscing about the time you’ve enjoyed so far.

LAST STOP: Los Angeles

California

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As with San Diego, no visit to California is complete without a trip to Los Angeles. Not only is the city one of the most vibrant and exciting in the world, it’s also home to LAX Airport, which should allow you to travel home on a direct flight.

The journey from Anaheim to Los Angeles is less than an hour; with good traffic, you should be able to make it in around 45 minutes. If you choose a night-time flight, then you’ll be able to spend the day exploring LA itself, which can be a nice cherry on the top of a thrilling vacation.

You could head to the beach, or stay in LA itself to walk the famous “Walk of Fame”. Alternatively, if the Palomar Observatory excited an interest in astronomy, then the Griffith Observatory is one of the most well-known attractions in the state. If you’d rather pick up some souvenirs, then heading for the shopping districts and The Grove can also be a pleasant way to round off your vacation.

In conclusion

The above route tries to take in all that California has to offer, from sandy beaches to rugged mountainous terrain. Enjoy your travels!

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