FAMILY | THE CAT(ERPILLAR) THAT GOT THE CREAM

 THE CAT(ERPILLAR) THAT GOT THE CREAM: HUGELY POPULAR M&S CREAM CAKE RANGE JOINS COLIN THE CATERPILLAR TO CELEBRATE 10 YEARS OF MACMILLAN PARTNERSHIP

Over 2 million packs of M&S cream cakes expected to be snapped up in the month of Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning



Macmillan Cancer Support is celebrating 10 years in partnership with Marks & Spencer as headline partner of the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, the charity’s flagship fundraising event. To celebrate the anniversary, M&S is introducing more products into its Macmillan Coffee Morning range than ever before, including its hugely popular fresh cream cakes, which it anticipates it will sell over two million packs of in September alone.

Available from September 1st, the range will include customer favourites such as Chocolate Eclairs (£1.70), Strawberry Tarts (£3.75), and Jam & Cream Horns (£1.70), as well as a delicious box of six Assorted Cream Cakes (£3.60). 10% from sales of each of the products in the range will be donated to Macmillan, to help the charity continue its vital work to support people living with cancer.

 Georgina Blundell, Senior Desserts Buyer at M&S said, “Our fresh cream cakes range is so popular with customers, we thought adding them to the Macmillan Coffee Morning range would be a fantastic way of celebrating the tenth anniversary of our partnership. We’re thrilled to have raised over £16m for the charity since 2010 and can’t wait to see what happens this year with our even bigger range and other fun initiatives in stores.”

 Colin the Caterpillar (£7.00) will also be donning a special purple and green outfit once again, as the iconic M&S celebration cake returns with a Macmillan ‘makeover’. Colin can be found amongst a host of other well-loved cakes, including a Lemon Drizzle (£2.80) and four-pack of Mini Victoria Sponges (£2.30), all donating to Macmillan this September.

 

Joining the cakes this year will be limited-edition “Fancy a Coffee?” and “Fancy a Cuppa?” mugs (£5) as well as a stylish and sustainable new travel cup (£3) for hot drinks on the move.

M&S Cafés will also be doing their bit, with 5p from every coffee and slice of cake throughout September going towards funding Macmillan professionals.

Over the past 10 years, M&S has raised £16.3m for Macmillan, whose income is almost entirely reliant on the generosity of public donations. All donations from M&S goes towards funding Macmillan professionals who support the growing number of people living with cancer to live life as fully as they can. As the number of people living with cancer is constantly growing, their needs are becoming increasingly complex and the support of the public has never been more important.

Adam Nash, Senior Partnerships Manager, at Macmillan Cancer Support said, “We’re thrilled to be celebrating this milestone anniversary with M&S Food and delighted Colin the Caterpillar is having a Macmillan makeover again and donning his purple and green sprinkles in aid of Coffee Morning. All the money raised by M&S staff and customers goes towards funding Macmillan professionals to help people with cancer live life as fully as they can.”

Head to M&S Food stores and Cafés from Sunday 1st September to purchase special Macmillan Coffee Morning products, or visit www.marksandspencer.com/food-to-order/macmillan-coffee-morning to find sweet and savoury recipe inspiration, or learn about hosting your own coffee morning event.


HOW TO GET INVOLVED:

  1. Sign up at macmillan.org.uk/coffee or by searching ‘Macmillan Coffee Morning’

  2. Host a Coffee Morning at home, work or the local community centre, or find a local Macmillan Coffee Morning to attend, using the interactive map on the website

  3. Bake a showstopper or buy one of the limited-edition M&S products. Throughout September, our headline partner Marks & Spencer will be selling a selection of Coffee Morning products in M&S Food halls - including a special edition Coffee Morning Colin the Caterpillar cake - with 10% of proceeds going to Macmillan

  4. Have a personal Coffee Morning of your own every day in September at an M&S Café, which will be donating 5p from every coffee and slice of cake sold throughout September

FAMILY | BACK TO SCHOOL – BACK TO ROUTINE!

 The countdown is on for the start of the new school year (I, for one, am ticking off the days), but, if you’re dreading the return of the associated morning madness as much as I am, then read on for a tried and tested, stress-free routine that actually works.

By Cathy Martin with contributor Amanda  Maguire of www.imamanda.co.uk

 THE NIGHT BEFORE…

1.       Tidy house, tidy mind! Do you put dinner dishes in the dishwasher or wash them at the sink right after dinner? Or are they still there at bedtime? One way to feel less stressed in the morning is to wake up with the kitchen – and especially the dishes - done, so best tackle that right after dinner if you can, and then you can relax a little with your evening. While you’re at it, maybe also wipe down the worktops, put the rubbish out and soak that baking dish so you’re literally starting afresh the next day. I hear lots of people talk about misplacing car keys and all sorts, but we have a strict rule that house and car keys ALWAYS go into the little tray by the door, so they’re rarely, if ever lost.

As my all-time fave housekeeper and manager of kids Mary Poppins once said (quoting Samuel Smiles of course) 'A place for everything and everything in its place

2.       Shop smart & pre-prep lunches: if your child takes a packed lunch or snack, then try to start to prep lunchboxes with non-refrigerated items (although I do know mums who prep everything and pop the whole lunchbox in the fridge to save morning minutes). It may feel like the last thing you want to do, but there is a definite smugness when you just have to grab ‘n’ go with the lunchbox in the morning!  And who wants to open the fridge door on a wet school morning to find you’ve run out of smoothies, yoghurts, cheese squares or carrot sticks (or indeed whatever your little one loves for lunch or snack)?  If you’re a single mum like me, a late night supermarket run once they’ve gone to bed is out of the question. And a quick-stop dash to the shop in the morning is impossible to factor in timewise, so take stock early and sort it out as required.

3.       Leave out uniform, clothes and shoes: You can (and should) encourage the kids to get involved here and do this themselves from as early as Primary 1. And in winter, maybe pop them onto a radiator so they’re super cosy for your little ones getting ready in the morning. Paired socks and underwear all pre set out prevents those long, drawn out (and agonising to listen to) calls of ‘muuuuuuum, where’s my….?’  when you’re trying to get ready yourself. Another good point, learnt the hard way, is to try and have a clean uniform or spare clothes to hand too. This takes the stress out of the inevitable breakfast spills or those moments when you notice a streak of pink paint down the arm of a school jumper 10 minutes before you’re due to leave the house. Or, in my case, when you’re getting into the car. PS I recommend parents to do this with their own clothes to remove any time wasting deciding what to wear; it is revolutionary. On gym days, I pack my work clothes in my gym bag so I’m all set to go once I shower there. On superhero days, my gym bag and clothes are popped out to the car the night before. But TBF I rarely have superhero days.

4.       It seems obvious, but I often forget to check Valentina’s bag for teacher notes and extra titbits of homework, reading or project work. We’ve all been there at 08.55 trying to find empty loo rolls we’ve just been told about! A quick check after dinner and/or when prepping uniform will prevent last minute panics and give time for you (or rather, them) to complete forgotten tasks.  Make sure everything else that is needed for next day is left out (for us, by the door or in the hall) including PE kits, musical instruments, costumes for assemblies or signed slips for school trips and so on. You get the drift. Again, I would encourage kids to lead here if you can. And no screen time until it’s done!

5.       Abolish the Ablutions!: Have a bath the night before to save time in the morning. I do love a shower in the morning but sometimes I just know that given the choice between 10 more minutes in bed and a shower I will gladly take the 10 minutes’ kip! Having said that, I’m often straight into gym gear and shower after class or a run when I have peace and no kids around! Plus, in our house, Valentina doesn’t bathe every night or indeed every morning – instead opting for two or three showers a week, usually after swimming. I’m a firm believer that too much washing isn’t great for our skin and a weekly bath from post nappies until puberty never did me any harm!

 

THE MORNING AFTER!

6.       Get up early: Some mums just seem to have their shizzle together more than others. I’m definitely more often in the ‘others’ category, although I would love to be one of those who gets a workout in, or is showered and ready in peace with a hot coffee or a healthy green juice or smoothie while listening to an inspirational podcast before the children wake up. Imagine!? This is the dream… but I just love the quiet of late night working too much to do this regularly.

7.       Prep breakfast: Limit breakfast choices to a couple of options to save time making decisions as well as the possible arguments. Thankfully, Valentina has a brioche, a crepe or a croissant with Nutella most mornings and it’s been that way since she started school. I appreciate it would be considered quite a sugar-heavy breakfast for some mums, but the rest of her day is quite healthy so I take the French approach to brekkie and fuel up on calories at the start of the day with a view to burning them all off!

8.       Timings: Make sure everyone knows what time you need to leave the house and give them plenty of reminders if necessary. I use my phone and set different sounding alarms for 20 minutes, 10 minutes, etc, which works.  This means I’m not shouting or clock watching (as much) which greatly reduces parental stress levels in the morning.

9.       The List: Valentina has a list of four things she has to do herself with a strict house rule of no TV, technology or other activities until she has time to spare. Her four things are:

·         Get Dressed

·         Brush Teeth

·         Brush Hair

·         Eat Breakfast & put away breakfast dishes

I’ve seen this described as a ‘need to do’ list and a ‘want to do’ list. In other words, they can do the things they want to do once the things they need to do, like brushing their teeth, eating breakfast etc. are completed. It helps children stay motivated and avoids unwanted distractions.

 

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AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST….

10.   Keep calm! Even with the best laid plans, not all mornings will run smoothly; and that’s OK. The important thing is how you react. Don’t let a sleep in or a bad 5 minutes ruin your whole day. If something doesn’t go according to plan, try to let it go, ask for help and reallocate a task to someone else. Or if you’re a single mum like me with no one else around, simply take a minute to yourself and breathe. The worst that will happen is you find yourself being brought to task by a child because you forgot to do something you were supposed to do…

The overriding rule though? It’s important to involve the children, making sure they understand the benefits of the routine and take responsibility for their tasks. When kids feel included and listened to they are more willing to follow the routine and became more independent and self-disciplined in general, not just in the mornings.

 Roll on La Rentrée!

FAMILY | FAMILY TIME AT THE NORTH COAST

 If you haven’t got a holiday booked this year or been away anywhere yet, then there is no better place to have a “staycation” than up at the North Coast. Now that The Open has been and gone, the towns and villages are back to ‘business as usual’ with a whole host of family fun set among naturally beautiful coastline and stunning beaches, so there is plenty to keep the family entertained over the summer months and through all weathers.

Here we have listed a few of our faves, but there are lots more things to do and plenty of resources to check it all out.

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1. The Giants Causeway

Many of us locals take this Natural Wonder of the World for granted, but it really is outstanding and such a crazy natural phenomenon when you stop to think about how our famous hexagonal rocks were formed. The Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre has lots of information on the area and the history behind the stones; you can choose to take an audio tour or simply walk down to the Causeway and just take in the gorgeous scenery at your own pace. It’s a photographer’s dream, whatever the weather – and a must-do is to get a picture on the rocks near a crashing wave if you feel like risking it. Not one for the little ones though! The walk to the Causeway can be a challenge for those who are perambulate or just too young/too old, so there is a bus that takes you from the visitors’ centre and back again if you can’t manage. To add to the enjoyment you can also get the old fashioned railway train from Bushmills up to the Causeway which is a real treat for the kids. There is free parking at the Bushmills carpark for the train.

 https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway

2. White Rock Beach

Located in Portrush, White Rocks beach has to be among the most gorgeous beaches in all Ireland, with beautiful sand dunes that kids loving running up and down. [Side note: A great use for that sledge you have from the winter months is putting the kids on it and letting them sail down the dunes!] Another interesting activity for younger ones is to search the caves for any hidden treasures. We also enjoy acting out the “going on a bear hunt” book and searching the caves for imaginary bears.

Kids aside, there is no better place for  a lovely stroll along the water (or in the water if you feel like getting your toes wet) watching the surfers…

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There is  no better place for just a lovely long the water watching the surfers try their best to catch some waves. If you have older kids, they can take up some surf lessons closer to the town end of the beach. There are a few schools, but Troggs is probably the oldest and best established and surfing is a great way to build up an appetite for a big feed at the Ramore or Neptune and Prawn.

http://www.troggssurfschool.com/

 3. Ballintoy Harbour

Down the narrowest and bendiest road you will find the most gorgeous harbour, Ballintoy. With beautiful little fishing boats and views for days, Ballintoy its great place to explore with little ones – and the perfect place to capture life-long photo memories in black and white too. There is beach with loads of pebbles which are fabulous to collect for decoration (I have a beautiful vase of plain white pebbles in the bathroom) or plain grey ones are fab for painting back at home. If you’re adventurous you can bring paints with you to wile away an hour or two on the picnic blanket! Ballintoy is also known to be popular with marine wildlife, so make sure to keep your eyes open in case you spot a pod of dolphins nearby!

4.  Portballintrae Beach

 Of all the beaches there are for kids, Portballintrae would probably be the most popular choice because it is small, located beside a shop which sells delicious ice cream and there is a public toilet located next to the town hall.  You will find many families pack up for the day and head here so you always see a barbeque or picnic happening – if not at the beach, then by the pier wall, where older kids jump off and swim back in to shore.  It’s important to note that Portballintrae is a relatively  small cove which doesn’t have as strong a current as, say, White Rocks or East Strand in Portrush, so the water is safer to play in. This is the Atlantic Ocean after all. There are also plenty of rock pools so make sure to bring a net to catch some crabs in there as there are always plenty to spot.

5. An evening in Portstewart

A great way to round up a busy day is a walk along the promenade in Portstewart. At the very end of the street there is wonderful play park built in the sand with a splash pad located just beside, so make sure and bring a change of clothes for the little ones! There is also a panoramic viewing wheel located in Portstewart for the summer months so you can take in the views from great height - 110 metres to be exact. This will be there until 01 September, so be sure to give it a go. There are loads of eateries in the area and we love some of the restaurants in Portstewart, but a bag of takeaway chips eaten on the prom is also a fun adventure for the kids too.

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6. Morellis Ice Cream

Have you even been to Port-Magic if you haven’t visited Morellis!? Located in Portrush and Portstewart, this third-generation ice cream café is an absolute essential. The ice cream is absolutely delicious with a vast array of flavours from your typical vanilla and chocolate through to Daim bar and Nutella delights. They even have a hot chocolate sauce tap to cover your ice cream! Mums will love that Morellis cater brilliantly for smaller children with their Monkey Cone; just enough ice cream to enjoy the flavour with much less stress about dripping chocolate on those clothes - if you know, you know!

ww.morellisices.com/

7. Barry’s amusements

Barry’s is, of course, a North Coast institution. Everyone (from this neck of the woods anyway) surely  remembers a trip to Barry’s at some stage in their life? How could you forget!?  It has definitely moved with the times though, and now caters to a younger crowd with more toddler rides to keep the littlest ones happy while the bigger ones can enjoy the famous Ghost Train and Big Dipper out the back. The only tears you will see are when the tokens for the rides run out!

www.barrysamusements.com

8.  Creative Gardens

This is not only the most beautiful garden centre you could find (located in Bushmills), but also a great idea for a rainy day. There is a big gift shop inside with lots of alternative toys and books for children and also a lovely restaurant/café. There is a play barn with a climbing frame and slide equipment located beside the ice cream/coffee station so parents can relax whilst the children play in a safe environment.  There are also numerous children’s activities that go on through the summer including treasure hunts, face painting and barbeques as they house a Webber Barbeque area.

 

9.  Coastering and other watersports

The Atlantic Ocean is free to use – so get out and enjoy it, even for a paddle, while the Gulf Stream keeps the waters warm right through until October. If you have older kids and you’re feeling particularly sporty, find Hanno at Alive Surf School, who does wonderful surf plus Stand Up Paddle Boarding lessons for kids and adults from the beach. (He also does free diving – think Luc Besson in La Grande Bleu circa 1989 – but maybe not for the kids!) We also love kayaking up here too, it’s so fab and a great way to explore the coast on a calm day.

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Matt and Barry at CausewayCoasteringNI are a brilliant duo to encourage your kids to face their fears and experience a multi-sensory, adrenaline-rushed day out climbing rocks and jumping off into the sea. Believe me, it’s scary at first, but so exhilarating and kids LOVE the adventure of it. If you’d prefer the river life to ocean life, then try water skiing on The Bann river at Coleraine.

https://alivesurfschool.com/

http://www.causewaycoasteering.com  .

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10. Golf lessons

Contact Royal Portrush, home of The Open 2019, to book a lesson for the budding Rory McIlroys in your family. The scenery is wonderful in the links course, not that all kids will notice to be honest, but the fresh air, the walking and the concentration of the put will build focus as well as an appetite for lunch or dinner in the Ramore afterwards!  

https://www.royalportrushgolfclub.com

 

FAMILY | EGG-STRA SPECIAL EASTER

Let’s Get Crackin’ with National Trust!

As I was off having ‘me-time’ and ‘we-time’ with my other half this Easter, I handed over The F Words FAMILY reins to my yummy mummy friend Laura who has guest blogged her Egg-citing Easter weekend activities with her five year old son Joshua for us.

Keep up with Laura's journey on social media below!

School’s out for Easter and my five-year-old little bunny was bursting with EGGcitement - quite literally! Family fun, outdoor adventures and the prospect of excessive chocolate beckoned. Eagerly scrolling through my social media feeds to discover Easter events happening nearby, we agreed that Cadbury’s Egg Hunt at Mount Stewart was the coolest family event to kick-start our holiday fun. After all, Mount Stewart and Cadbury’s always guarantees family fun - especially when you’re National Trust member. (If you’re not already - it is definitely worth the investment!)

In true Easter preparation, our first stop was Cancer Research on Holywood’s High Street, where we picked up the sweetest hand-made felt Easter basket. With our new Easter basket on hand, raincoat zipped up, Batman backpack fixed on, we set off on  our foraging expeditions. On arrival, we quickly found the Egg Hunt meeting point in the stunning courtyard. We paid our £1 entrance fee and received our Dragon’s Egg Trail map. At this point, Joshua was giddy with excitement as he watched other families on the Cadbury’s Egg Hunt. With 8 Dragon Eggs hid in secret locations, Joshua was a man on a mission and so - off he went!

On each Dragon Egg was a question to answer in order to crack the secret code needed to collect prize at the end. And so, we muddled in - and met lovely little bunnies along the way! During the hunt, we went off the beaten track a little, to explore the historic buildings at Mount Stewart, collecting conkers and foraging in the woods as we went.  

With only a few Dragon Eggs left to find, Joshua led us back to the Dragon trail. Elated with a mighty sense of achievement, we arrived at the finish line and claimed Joshua’s chocolate prize! Yippee!

We topped off our fun-filled day with local Glastry Farm Ice Cream, face painting and art & crafts. “The best day ever” was Joshua’s final commentary. It was an all-round perfect family day! Despite this tired bunny face, Joshua is looking forward to jumpin’ into Spring/Summer ’17 at National Trust, with a Cadbury’s treat in his Batman backpack!

IS CHEATING EVER OK?

A Sex Therapist Explains

I’ve been cheated on by a partner I adored - and whom I thought adored me. It absolutely shattered my heart and the core of my very being; and it took a long while to heal from because it was the worst kind of cheating - the serial and continued type, and with women he paid for. I am still healing and learning to accept and move on from it, so when I came across this article on Mind Body Green by therapist Robert Weiss, I devoured it - it resonated so much with me, so I felt I had to share it here again; because although my self-esteem, my self-confidence, my trust - and even my will to live - lay on the floor for months, I can tell you that there is life after infidelity, if you work your way through acceptance and accept loved ones’ honesty when the mistrust and lies dissipate.  It’s not easy, and it’s not a path that works for everyone (myself included), but it is possible.

And for anyone who wants to know, Robert’s right, number 3 IS the worst part. For me, the worst part wasn’t the sexual act with someone else, it was the lies and the deceit - and then the gaslighting when he was found out.

MBG//Robert Weiss:

In my book, I define infidelity as the breaking of trust that occurs when you keep intimate, meaningful secrets from your primary romantic partner.

I use this definition for three very important reasons:

  1. It encompasses both online and real-world sexual activity. Thus, it is effective in the digital era.

  2. It encompasses sexual activities other than actual penis-in-vagina intercourse.

  3. It focuses on the loss of relationship trust rather than on specific sexual and/or romantic acts.

Based on both research and clinical experience, I can tell you that the third item on that list—the loss of relationship trust—is by far the most important facet of infidelity. Put simply, for a cheated-on partner it's not any specific sexual or romantic act that causes the most pain; instead, it's the lying, the secrets, and the newfound inability to believe anything the cheater says or does.

So is there ever a good reason to engage in infidelity? In my opinion, there is not.

This does not, however, mean that every relationship must be monogamous. In fact, many couples that I know, both personally and professionally, have perfectly happy relationships that are, in one way or another, nonmonogamous. That said, having a relationship that is not monogamous in the traditional "till death do us part" sense is not something one partner should ever force onto or keep secret from his or her significant other.

Instead, open relationships should be approached with integrity, with both partners having an equal say and mutually agreeing, without coercion of any kind, that certain activities are (or are not) acceptable within the bounds of their relationship.

There are many reasons for a couple to have some form of an open relationship, including but by no means limited to the following:

  • Both partners are tech-savvy and enjoy using things like digital pornography, webcam sex, sexting, and hookup apps, and neither wants to give these things up just because they're in a committed romantic relationship.

  • One partner has a much greater sex drive than the other, and they can mutually agree that satisfying this drive, within certain limits, is acceptable.

  • One partner consistently refuses to have sex or is reviled by the experience of sex and doesn't mind if the other partner seeks sex elsewhere.

  • A couple is separated for long periods of time thanks to career, family, or other commitments, and both still want to have an active in-person (rather than purely digital) sex life.

Any and all of the above are perfectly good reasons for having a nonmonogamous relationship. However, there is no excuse for doing this in secret. If two people truly love each other, and they are psychologically capable of having an honest, open-minded discussion about their sexual desires, that is the approach they should take.

Consider the case of Sam and Mary. In 2005, Mary was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident. Afterward, she was unable to perform sexually. Plus, she lost all interest in sex. For Sam, this was a problem. Because they loved each other very much and had no interest in ending their marriage, they were able to mutually agree on certain sexual boundaries. For instance, Sam could watch and masturbate to porn, and if he truly felt the need for physical sexual contact he could hire an escort. He did not need to tell Mary about his use of porn or escorts, but he did need to be honest afterward if she asked him where he'd been or what he'd been doing. Twelve years later, they are still happily married.

My point here is that monogamy and traditional visions of marriage and fidelity are not absolutes in today's world. Many couples happily engage in all sorts of sextracurricular activity with the knowledge and consent of their primary partner. Sometimes these relationships are open from the start; other times life creates circumstances where sex outside a previously monogamous relationship makes sense.

As long as secrets aren't kept and lies aren't being told, such behavior does not qualify as cheating. As such, as stated above, it is my belief that there is never a good reason to betray a partner by engaging in infidelity.

This material is based on the book, Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating, by Robert Weiss.

Credit: The original article is here:  

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-29017/is-cheating-ever-ok-a-sex-therapist-explains.html