#SmearForSmear | 22nd-28th January is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, and the theme this year is ‘Reduce Your Risk’. This is my story of my experience

Cervical Cancer Prevention

In all the years I have been blogging I have wrote a post about this subject 3 previous times but I have never posted them, until now. This is my story of my experience with abnormal cells and now I feel ready to share the experience.

There is one simple answer to ‘Reduce Your Risk’ which is make sure you keep up to date with your smear tests and knowing the symptoms. Cervical Cancer can be prevented and you can reduce your risk by calling your local surgery and booking in.

When I was pregnant with Josie, I became friends with a girl from Nottingham who was also pregnant but with her second child. We met on a forum page on facebook about our babies being due in August. There was three of us that started chatting and comparing our pregnancies. All three of us had girls within a few weeks of each other. I was actually due first but gave birth last out of us. We even met up around the girls 1st birthdays. Sadly three years later in 2012, she lost her life to cervical cancer, leaving behind two small children and husband.

This made me think about the smear test reminder that came through a few months previously, and in November 2012 booked in for my smear. It is one of those things that you mean to book, but taking the time to do this can be an inconvenience, but it can also save your life. I was told I would have the results back in a few weeks. I was surprised when they came back in less than a week, and in shock to see I had abnormal pre-cancerous cells which if left untreated can result in cervical cancer. Even now writing this, I remember the worry, the feeling of not knowing what was going to happen.

Just under two weeks later I went to the Colposcopy Unit at our local hospital. The colposcopy showed I had CIN 1 -Mild Changes. During the colposcopy I found this very invasive, as any one would but was put at ease by the team. You see your cervix on the screen as they insert the camera. I was shown where the abnormal cells was located and you could see a mild whiter change from the rest. A biopsy was took and then quaterized which was similar to period pain. The Nurse was very friendly and throughout my time I always saw the same nurse. She confirmed the cells wasn’t cancerous and explained about if left untreated they can form into cancerous cells. I was checked for the HPV Virus which was clear around this time.

Cervical Cancer

I was asked to go back again to keep an eye on these changes and maybe we would look at a LLETZ treatment, which involves burning the cells away. To cut a long story short I had this go on every 6 months until in June 2014 I went for my colposcopy and by this time I even knew the routine, cough when they take the biopsy etc. This time before the nurse even said I could see how different the cells looked. She said it looked like it has got worse, and to prepare for a Cone Biopsy. She had sent the biopsy and met with the consultants to discuss my results which was done each time to confirm the treatment plan. The results come back and as the Nurse thought the changes had gone to CIN 3 -Severe changes which is called High Grade Dyskaryosis, treatment was needed soon as the time for the cells changing to cancerous had halved. Within 2 weeks I was having my operation to have a cone biopsy. This is were a section of your cervix is removed to ensure the cells are no longer there.

After the operation the consultant explained they removed the cells successfully and I had lost a large part of my cervix. The Consultant stated we can have a baby but advised after the 6 month smear test to check if all clear. I did get the all clear and had a few compl;citations with delivery, mainly due to incompetence on the ward previously. It was noticed during labour that I couldn’t dilate due to scarring and on the second consultant trying, she was able to stretch the cervix and I went straight from 0.5cm to 8cm dilated. I had been having the urge to push and at 0.5cm dilated which was where Rowan wanted to come but couldn’t. I managed to give birth naturally and Rowan was absolutely fine.

The recovery was 2 weeks of me being bed bound, I also had issues with bad side effects to one of the tablets and getting numerous infections. Plus being bed bound and on your own was hard as I was feeling sorry for myself. Antony and mum was excellent helping with Josie and if I needed anything. The pain was bad for a week or so and similar to after having a baby. Again I was worrying of another 6 month wait, and then was when I realised how much the previous 2 years since I first received the letter had taken a toll on myself. That smear 6 months on was the longest wait for the results it seemed, I was ecstatic the results was clear.

Even now this still plays a part in my life. You still worry, I had my 3 year smear check in December since the all clear, which was the beginning of December. It wasn’t until after Christmas that I found I had the all clear this time. I was over the moon at the results as the same feelings previously had come flooding back. Panicking each time the post arrives, worrying over Christmas. In between the 3 year check, every year around December I used to think 2 years to go, next year to go. I am glad this is out the way and I don’t think I will be as bad worrying in the lead up to the next one, well not yearly. But it is the waiting game that is extremely difficult. Either way the best thing to do is get yourself checked. I am so thankful I did, and that even after the not so pleasant experience and long time waiting, the fact of knowing if these cells were left they could have resulted in cervical cancer is overwhelming. I am in the statistic of reducing the chance of having cervical cancer by 95% since having treatment. It is important that I keep up my routine checks, for anyone this is important. Even if you have not had any symptoms, which I hadn’t, you still need to get checked.

I cannot stress enough how important this is to have your smear and also look on Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust as they state the further symptoms to keep an eye out for. I hope one day they lower the smear test ages from minimum 25 years old as this is such an important preventive test. Please go ahead and book in for that smear, yes it is not the most pleasant procedure, but it can save your life. I know I was extremely lucky and there is a huge number who suffer from cervical cancer which is much worse than pre cancerous cells, but I wanted to share my story of how this can hopefully be prevented and hope it will encourage yourselves to book in if you haven’t already.

Stacey

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I have been blogging since 2015, yet still this has took me this long to find myself and to start achieving my goals regarding my blog. Read below for how I have got past The Blogging Blues

Blogging Blues Simply Stacey Blog

I am finally more confident to stand up and say…

I LOVE BLOGGING

I started blogging in 2015 and at first this was a blur of hashtags. There was so much to learn as a new blogger; setting up the blog, going self hosted, templates, blogging styles, hashtags, social media, branding, no follow links, alt tags to name a few. I was lucky as I can work my way round pretty easy anything technology based, plus with the help of good old Google and YouTube you can research help in an instant. I also have a Social Media Marketing Diploma and update the work website which helped when I first set up my blog.

As stated in previous posts I have changed names 3 times, mainly due to the learning curve from blogging. Finding my path I wish to take has been tricky… do I go Parenting, do I go Lifestyle. I have been both and now decided I am just going to do both. Why limit yourself to one genre. There is no rule book about what subject you should blog about. This is your space to say what you want to say or show.

Re branding before Christmas, which you can see more of here, has made a dramatic difference to my blog. Not just my blog name has changed, but also my layout, blog colours and more importantly my blogging routine. I have never had a routine and this has been the ultimate aid to helping my blog grow. Already 22 days into 2018, I am just under 50 views for beating my total views for the whole of 2017. For me, when I saw how much I have improved looking at my statistics, this gave me an almighty boost and made me see that I have got a passion for blogging.

I have always liked blogging, and at times it has seemed more of a chore. Since I made my blog my own by using my name, something has given me a drive to start really pushing myself to achieve set goals in where I want to take my blog. Now I have 100% got a passion for this and building up my YouTube channel. I got given a Blog Planner for Christmas, which I will be going in depth to show you in the next couple of weeks. This has helped tremendously, keeping this separate to my everyday planner means I can focus on my blog and channel solely.

I am sure most bloggers can relate to the blogging blues and most of us have thought about quitting at some point or having low morale.I nearly have closed my blog a couple of times and last year I got to the point that it was really getting me down being unable to fit this in, but last summer I gave myself a break. I say a break but I was only doing about 1 or 2 uploads a month at the time. This helped me take the time to decide I am going to try one last change and really take my blog seriously and that is when I decided to re brand. Blogging can produce such a love and hate relationship. From the moments you get writers block, to where you don’t seem to be growing any new followers. You notice other bloggers that have made themselves a large following and a success and feel you can’t live up to that level then start to doubt yourself.

The biggest advice I can give, is don’t compare yourself to others. Yes, you can research editing in videos, research writing styles. But be your own person, don’t feel you are not good enough and when you stop worrying and plan at your own pace. I am sure you will notice a difference, not only in views, but more importantly for how you feel.  I am still trying to implement this to my way of thinking but so far this has helped enormously. I do have the slight wobble thinking I am not good enough, but with support from the blog community and pushing myself, I am good enough. My personal battle is being a perfectionist, I over criticise myself and this is a personal hurdle to overcome. But I am getting there. For once I can actually feel proud of my blog and feel now is the time to push myself to regular uploads.

I am pleased my YouTube channel is slowly growing, and I am learning so much each video. My new lighting has made a complete difference to the quality of my videos. I will be shortly trying my first ‘Day In The Life’ vlog. But in the meantime, I am really enjoying building both this and my blog.

Also planning my routine further to include any home matters, such as cleaning, homework, cooking dinner etc. Plus then there is also mine and Estelle’s venture of The Blog Network, growing, which we have our first Twitter chat on Wednesday 31st January. Plus then you have the background work as a Blogger, scheduling social posts, photography, planning, joining twitter chats and threads etc. I am trying to improve my photography which I am happy with the results so far, to even take some self portraits of myself shows how much my confidence has grown. Part of this is from some great people from the blogging and vlogging community.

Another change I have implemented is, I have given myself set days for uploads. This has made me push myself and made me be organised. There is going to be times this will be impossible, like last week I was struck down with a nasty cold and then toothache and it threw all plans out. But if I can get ahead and plan, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue … I am hoping.

BLOG UPDATES : Every Monday and Thursday

YOUTUBE UPLOADS : Every Sunday and Wednesday

I know I am not the best writer out there, I never have been and never will be. I am not one for gargantuan words (yes I googled big words for ‘huge’). Yes I get excited over a new notepad of a fluffy cushion makes me do jazz hands, but I am also not ashamed of this and am not letting this stop me producing more posts and documenting on my channel. In a way I have started to think if people get to know the real you, your writing style, the way you produce uploads then they will warm to that person if they choose too. I am pleased to say this moment in time I have beaten the blogging blues and am thoroughly enjoying my journey. I hope this doesn’t wear off and change, but for now I am happy and content with how I have progressed, even if this has took me 3 years to find my blogging passion. I am in no way a blogging expert, but this is what I have found that has helped myself. I really hope this post helps boost yourself if you are suffering from the blogging blues.

Stacey

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So today is 18th January, today is also my Birthday….here goes to being officially in my mid thirties. To celebrate this occasion I have complied a list of Birthday Goals

Birthday Goals Simply Stacey Blog Wiltshire

My Birthday is a funny old day, one it is a pain a few weeks after Christmas as money is always tight from the festivities. I can’t get anything in between Christmas and my birthday in case I have been brought it. Quite often it will snow on my birthday and is always freezing cold. Your birthday is always (apart for the few days before) next year.

I do struggle on the day emotionally sometimes, as I used to share my birthday with my Bampi (Grandad) who I very much adored. I loved phoning and comparing how many birthday cards we had received, he always beat me as was a social butterfly down the Royal British Legion. Every year we would always have a birthday cake together that mum would have crafted. Every year I do find myself emotional, though it is getting easier as time passes and now rather than being sad, I remind myself of happy times and my childhood as they are some of the best birthdays I had.

I remember the year I got a pilot pen set for my birthday, being obsessed with stationery from a young age, meant I thought I was the dogs doodahs that birthday whilst at school. I even had a new pencil case to parade the mixture of colored pens, highlighters and ball-pens. For many years I always had the surprise of a big present after school. Then the parties, oh my days the parties…the year of the picnic in the lounge with Ali Du Lali the magician was a birthday to remember. I even remember watching Land of The Giants beforehand, being so excited at the thought of my friends and cousins coming round to tuck into a splendid spread put on by Mum in Happy Meal style boxes.

Birthday GoalsTo make myself happy and positive on reaching the age of 35, I have decided to make a delayed New Years Resolution list, but this instead will be my classed as my Birthday Goals which I am going to try and achieve before I am 36. To make this tricker I am going to have 35 goals, to celebrate my new age…

  1.   PRODUCE A BLOGGING ROUTINE
  2.   SCHEDULE A ROUTINE FOR BLOG PHOTOS, SCHEDULED SOCIAL POSTS, TWITTER CHATS
  3.   PUSH FOR SUBSCRIBERS TO MY BLOG | Goal at 50 Subscribers
  4.   LOSE WEIGHT | Goal at losing 4 stone
  5.   BECOME FITTER
  6.   BETTER MY PHOTOGRAPHY
  7.   DO MORE AS A FAMILY
  8.   BE MORE CONFIDENT
  9.   READ MORE | Goal on my GoodReads is 20 books
  10.   GO TO NEW AND DIFFERENT PLACES
  11.   PRODUCE A YOUTUBE ROUTINE
  12.   STOP COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHERS
  13.   PUSH FOR SUBSCRIBERS TO MY CHANNEL | Goal at 1000 Subscribers
  14.   DO MORE ON DAYS OFF WITH ROWAN | Don’t feel guilty that Josie is at school
  15.   TWITTER | Goal at 5000
  16.   INSTAGRAM | Goal at 2500
  17.   HAVE MORE ME TIME
  18.   SORT HOME ROUTINES
  19.   LEARN SOMETHING NEW
  20.   LOOK AT BOOKING A BIG HOLIDAY IN 2019
  21.   MAKE MORE TIME WITH ANTONY
  22.   SPEND MORE TIME WITH FRIENDS
  23.   GET MY TATTOO COVER UP
  24.   PAMPER MYSELF ONCE IN A WHILE
  25.   DECORATE DOWNSTAIRS
  26.   SORT FINANCES | Goal at save £1000
  27.   DECORATE KIDS ROOMS
  28.   GARDEN MAKEOVER
  29.   FILM DAY IN THE LIFE VLOGS
  30.   STOP BEING SENSITIVE
  31.   DELEGATE MORE | Not everything has to be perfect and done by me
  32.   STOP BEING ANXIOUS
  33.   STAND UP FOR MYSELF
  34.   TAKE TIME TO WATCH NETFLIX OR FILMS
  35.   THE BLOG NETWORK | Goal of 500 Followers

I am planning a check in of how this is going in halfway through, and then a full catch up to compare when I am about to turn 36 next year. The majority of my goals are about self care and myself which is something I always tend to leave, to the point it is non existent. I am going to try and change this in the coming year.

Have you made a list of goals? Can you relate to any of mine?

Stacey

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Welcome to my first ever entry for The Sibling Project run by Lucy at Dear Beautiful

Sibling Project Simply Stacey

The Sibling Project is run monthly and encourages you to take photos of your children together. I love seeing these each month and have the entries have really inspired myself to take part. I originally wanted my new camera for vlogging, but have recently found myself wanting to try and improve my photography skills.

I originally was planning a photoshoot outside last Saturday doing a fun family filled activity. But thanks to Rowan having a cold, we were struck down by his germs and have been full of cold all of the weekend. Sunday night, I was finally feeling a little better and decided to have a go at trying to take some photos and I am so glad I did. Josie has been desperate to be twinning with Rowan and was over the moon when I found these tops in H&M.

I loved the idea behind The Sibling Project as it makes you take the time out of busy schedules and come together to make happy memories and documenting this. We done our photoshoot in the comfort of our home and trying out mummy’s new photography lights and the kids absolutely loved this. You can see by the photos above that Rowan kept getting the giggles. The only issue during our shoot is Josie is so tall considering she is only eight years old. So trying to get a picture of them together can be tricky.

My Favourite Photo

Below is my favourite photo from the shoot. Funnily enough it wasn’t even going to be a main picture. It was one of those where you go click happy and hope for the best. I love the lighting especially in this photo and the kids look absolutely adorable Even though Rowan is looking away in the picture, this is certainly my most favourite picture.

Simply Stacey Siblings Project

I am glad I have took part in The Siblings Project and encourage you too. It makes you take those photos that you have been meaning to take. I am already looking forward to the next one.

Stacey

 

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful
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As soon as I had seen the trailer I knew I was going to love this film. If you are looking for a film to see at the cinema then I highly recommend seeing the 20th Century Fox musical about P.T.Barnum….. The Greatest Showman

Greatest Showman

Originally we went to see Ferdinand last week for a cinema treat on that awkward week between Christmas and New Year. You know the week, where you can’t think what day it is and full up on turkey and cheese. I went with Josie who loves watching films and is a real little film buff. We sat through the trailers of Early Man, The Isle of Dogs (if you loved Fantastic Mr Fox with taxidermy looking animals then this film is for you) and then came The Greatest Showman. The trailer instantly made me want to see the film, not just because Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron was eye candy and my favourite actors but the story, the song used in the trailer also drew me in. I loved the feel of the song and found this complimented the trailer perfectly.

The Greatest Showman is directed by Michael Gracey and wrote by Bill Condon and Jenny Bicks. This is actually Michael’s directing debut and what an impressive first film. The Greatest Showman is a period musical inspired by the story of the talented P.T.Barnum and his star attractions. The story shows how P.T.Barnum rose from being nothing to a worldwide sensation. In real lift I was interested to learn The Barnum & Bailey Circus was brought by Ringling Bros. and the circus closed on May 21st 2017 after 146 years in operation, due to low attendance and high costs.

The film boasts a large array of well known and talented actors such as Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, and Rebecca Ferguson. I felt they all play the parts so well, Hugh Jackman really brings his character to life and has such energy during the film you can tell he really loved making the movie. Zac Efron and Zendaya have an explosive chemistry that is beautiful to watch. As I have been obsessing over the film since I saw it, I have watched many behind the scene videos and interviews and how they all got on is great to see. You can tell they all loved making this film. I was astounded at the trapeze skills from Zendaya. During the scene for Rewrite The Stars, the work Zac and Zendaya put into this is out of this world.

I won’t got to in depth about the film as I don’t want to share any spoilers. One thing I loved is how much warmth you feel to the starts of the Barnum Circus. To see how they suffer from people not accepting any abnormalities really makes you feel for the characters. This film is great for showing that everyone no matter how different they are all are important and have feelings. You really get a sense of unity during the film, I loved this as it doesn’t focus on the characters abnormalities but shows how they come together and how they overcome small minded peoples views.

Greatest Showman

So the soundtrack (at time of writing this post) is currently number No.1 on Billboard 200 Albums Chart, and oh my days the soundtrack is nothing short of awesome! I have had this on loop, i am not even being dramatic here….I have had this constantly playing on my spotify. I even brought the CD for the car. Myself and Josie are obsessed with the songs. I like all of the songs and the more you listen to the words the more the songs have real meanings. My favourites have to be the Golden Globes 2018 Best Original ‘This Is Me’ performed by the talented Keala Settle. Make sure you look on YouTube for a video of Keala singing in rehearsals, the energy and emotion is outstanding. I read a review of autotune and CGI heavily used and makes this not believable. When you see the rehearsal videos of Keala and Hugh Jackman then you will see how talented these people are.

From Now On performed by Hugh Jackman is so catchy. This is on par in my favourite alongside with This Is Me. The part in the film is beautifully done and the dancers are amazing. They should be shown more as they are so talented. The dancers with the white hair, albino looking really stood out for me and you are bound to notice their talents in the film. The Greatest Show has also grown on me the more I have listened, such a catchy feel good tune. I could carry on but you can guess I totally love this soundtrack. For me not even skipping any songs as each one is excellent really shows that the songwriters have done such an excellent job and each song used in the film portrays each scene perfectly.

It is no secret I loved The Greatest Showman and everything about it. The songs, the acting, the story, the costumes …. for me everything was spot on and concludes to produce an excellent film. We have already seen this twice and I have preordered the DVD. I am planning to go again with Antony over my birthday as he even said it looks good from the trailer and me harping on about it. I haven’t been this excited about a film since the last years Beauty and The Beast which we have the movie poster framed in the living room, which we have ordered the same for The Greatest Showman.

I would love to hear if you also have enjoyed the film? Or are you planning to go and watch soon?

Stacey

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I hope you all had an excellent Christmas and New Year. I am entering 2018 with a mission….to make 2018 My Year

My Year 2018

As soon as January rolls round everyone starts creating New Year’s Resolutions. This year I am going to be no different to most of the population on Earth. I want to start 2018 as a new canvas for myself and my blogging, and New Years Resolutions seems an excellent time to put this in effect. The difference from the other years goals is I WILL try my hardest to accomplish this years goals. Since rebranding my blog, I have had a huge boost to make this a success. I really want to take my blog and push it as much as I possibly can.

I received a fabulous Blog Planner by Dot Creates from Antony for Christmas, I have already started using this and it has helped so much for me to be organised. I will be showing more of this in an upcoming post. I have a new separate planner for personal use. Using both simultaneously has made it much easier for me to plan like a pro. I am going to try and keep to a schedule as much as I possibly can whilst being a working mummy.

SimplyStacey

I am trying to join more of the blogging community and entering some regular linkies on my blog and YouTube channel. I am going to try and do more photography and these will be included in the linkies I am joining. I got a new camera for Christmas from my awesome mum, which I wanted for vlogging originally. But playing with it I have really enjoyed taking photos and want to improve my non existent skills.

This week I have teamed up with my best friend Estelle at Estellosaurus and we have launched our idea which has been in the pipeline for a while. We have discussed a few times setting up our own group and finally 2018 we have launched The Blog Network. We hope to grow a collective blogging community group and help promote bloggers and make some new friends along the way. With my marketing experience and Estelle’s excellent writing skills and creativity I am positive this will be a success. Be sure to join us on Twitter every last Wednesday of the month for a monthly chat.

The Blog nETWORK

I also have finally launched my YouTube Channel. This is a goal I have wanted to do for a while but have not had the confidence, I still don’t entirely but I have pushed myself to do this. I uploaded my first vlog with a post ‘Get To Know Me’ and now I have uploaded my face chatting away to the world, I feel pretty damn proud of myself. I worry about how I look and am not confident about myself but I am trying to get past this. Now I have done an upload and received some lovely messages of support from fellow bloggers, I am already feeling my confidence slowly being boosted. I really enjoy being creative and making family memories and I know I will enjoy making YouTube videos. I know with my hectic schedule this is the one I wont be able to do as often as I like, but hopefully I will work a way of achieving a successful channel.

The most used New Years Resolution of ‘Go On A Diet’ is as always on my list. This time I really need to do this, for my own health and confidence. I feel like doing this and I determined to be a yummy mummy. I also want to be fitter and healthier and am looking in to the most achievable and affordable ways to help me. I am really interested to try yoga, I have never tried it before nor been interested but for some reason recently I have really fancied to have a go. I also want to do more self help for myself this year. I don’t take enough time for me, I am constantly putting everyone else first. I actually took the day off work to myself today and this has totally rejuvenated my morale. I also want to take more time for pampering, wether a facial or massage, having my hair done today has made me feel so relaxed and like I have made an effort with myself. I have been suffering with my anxiety rearing it’s ugly head again and this causes me to go in overdrive worrying. Estelle has been super awesome listening to me rant on. This year I am determined to put this at bay and stand up for myself more.

I am determined to make 2018 a productive and positive year. Have you any plans for 2018?

Stacey

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I was recently contacted by My Personalised Case to ask if I would like to review their products. This was a godsend as my puppy had chewed my last one. See what I thought below….

PersonalisedCase

I decided to choose the wallet case for my iPhone 7 Plus as I use these especially when out. When we went away earlier in the year I just had a hard case on the back and screen protector, but this completely shattered in addition to my screen. With the wallet cases your phone is extra protected.

The wesite was so simple to use, in fact the order process took me under five minutes from start to finish whilst I was waiting for mum in the doctors. I chose to use one of my flatlay photography photos that I recently made. I go as far to predict my technophobe husband would even be able to do this without my help.

The delivery was within a couple of days and well packaged. The only thing I did find is the printing scent is extremely strong, but after a day this died down. The quality is very good on the interior and exterior. Inside the case there is room for bank cards, which I found to be very sturdy and fits cards perfectly.

There is also a magnetic clasp on the case to prevent opening if you had butter fingers and accidently dropped your device. The case holder clips to the phone with ease but securely. I didn’t have to force the case on which I liked. With some other cases on the market you have to really force the case and on a previous phone this affected my mute button.

Overall I was very pleased with the service and quality of the case. I love the fact you can personalise to any photo and text you choose. I have purposely left the review write up for a few weeks as I wanted to check wear and tear. I had previously had a well know make wallet case which was more than this, and within a week I had wear and tear starting to the point after 2 weeks stitching was coming away. The case from My Personalised Case was very good considering I use my phone ALOT and the case is still as the day I received it.

My Personalised Case cover a large range of case for smartphone and tablet devices. I will certainly be ordering again and going for a soft case for when I am busy filming and taking photos with my phone at home for my blog. These are also excellent for a thoughtful personalised gift.

Stacey

 

*** Disclaimer: I was sent this product free of charge in return for my review. All words are completely my own.

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I was tagged by Jamie at Once Upon A Blog for Shuffle The Music Tag. You can read Jamie’s answers here

I love reading Jamie’s posts and was over the moon she tagged me in this Tag. I am always listening to music, especially when working as this helps me concentrate. One of my favourite playlists is my Awesome Mixtape folder on Spotify, I love this singalong mixtape for commuting to work and playing when cooking or cleaning.

I loved it in the days of cassettes and taping my favourite songs on the Top 40, I mean who did not do this? You simply have not lived if you haven’t had your finger poised for the latest tune to play. Another memory is the boy bands and getting Top of the Pops and Smash Hits magazines so you can cut out your favourite pop star. I was always a Boyzone fan.

I find songs quite personal to me, certain ones remind me of events and memories. I grew up with mum playing Meat Loaf who I still love to this day. We even had a string quartet playing Meat Loaf during our wedding ceremony.

So Thank you Jamie for tagging me, and now lets take a look at the rules:

  • Mention the creator of the tag and link to their blog
  • Thank the person that nominated you for this tag and link to their blog as well
  • Shuffle your entire music library (no matter how old songs the songs are) and talk about the first fifteen songs that come up ( anything like why they are there , if they signify something, any story, why you like them, etc.)
  • Mention the songs as well as the artists
  • Tag 7 people or more to do this tag and please let them know

And now it’s time to press “Shuffle”, and the first 15 tracks on my shuffle list are…

1) P!nk | Beautiful Trauma

I have always liked P!nk, she has such a stunning voice. This tune I heard on the radio first and had to download and like a child with a new DVD I have had this on loop. The video for this is also fabulous and features Channing Tatum….say no more.

2) Corrine Bailey Rae | The Scientist (from Fifty Shades)

I loved this when watched the film, which I preferred to the first one. Still not as good as the books. One long commute home stuck behind traffic I thought of a whole story for a John Lewis Christmas advert. I am yet to pitch this.

3) Mika | Hurts

Another artist who I have liked most of their music. This is such a beautiful song. Another good one is Good Guys.

4) Colin O’Donoghue | Revenge Is Going To Be Mine

This is from the musical episode on Once Upon A Time which I love watching. My favourite character is Captain Hook so when Colin O’Donoghue sung this I had to rewind and watch again in detail. No lie I go all out warbling along to this.

5) Niall Horan | Too Much To Ask

I quite liked One Direction, I don’t mind admitting and went to see one of their concerts with Josie-Ann who is a fan. I love easy listening aspect of this song and Niall’s soft tones. He is the only one whose music I have liked since going solo so far. I a;ways liked Zayn’s voice but have not liked anything he has done.

6) Missy & Blonde | Stay

I also liked their version of Coldplay’s Something Like This, but this is my favourite cover. I prefer this than the original.

7) Edison Lighthouse | Love Grows

This is a random song compared to the rest on my phone. Antony got me into this one as he kept playing it. It is super catchy and there is so,etching about the chorus I like. I find that with songs, I like certain parts. When I hear this I think of Antony my husband. We recently discussed some point renewing our vows after 5 or 10 years being married and this may well be included somewhere.

8) Emma Thompson | Beauty and The Beast 2017

It is no secret I loved the new film version of the Disney classic. I prefer this version to the Ariana Grande and John Legend. I was quite disappointed with that version, I was hoping was going to be as punchy as it sounded on the trailer. I also love the Finale version from this soundtrack, I love the extra section that has been added then it sounds near the end just like the original.

9) Train | Play That Song

When I used Shazam to find this song after hearing it on the radio I was surprised it was Train. I like a few of their songs. This is my audition song should I ever go on a singing talent show, plus should I overnight have a lovely singing voice.

10) Pitbull | Back In Time

I quite like most of Pitbull’s songs and collaborations. One of my favourites is Give Me Everything. This one is from Men in Black 3 I think it is, have never seen it.

11) Ralph Felix | The Heat

This is a cover of the Whitney Houston classic ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and is fantastic for getting you pumped for the day.

12) Hanson | Every Word I Say

I have loved Hanson from the days of long blonde locks and belting out Mmm Bop. I have pretty much stalked the, since being a teenager. Taylor is my favourite and like Gary Barlow they have all got better looking with age. Their songs and singing live are amazing, these boys are seriously talented.

13) Meat Loaf | I Would Do Anything For Love

As I have shuffled my way through this post I was secretly panicking Meat Loaf hadn’t showed it self yet, would be surprising as I have every album. Phew! One has appeared. This one is special as I walked down to a string quartet version of this song. I love the early Meat Loaf classic power ballads the most, he has such an iconic voice. I have a secret power of being able to sing along to this and do backing singing, I can go totally solo on all parts LOL.

14) The Proclaimers | I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

This is a classic tune that you know as soon as it starts. I can’t help but sing with the Scottish accents too. Really is a banging tune.

15) Lifehouse | Hanging By A Moment

This time was my first one on my homepage from the days of MySpace. I like the tones of their voices and the music of their songs.

Make sure you check some of these tunes out and let me know if there is any hidden gems that you have downloaded from this list. I have thoroughly enjoyed this challenge and having a listen on my Spotify.

I tag the following:

Estellosaurus

Cuteek

May There Be Coffee

Raiin Monkey

The Hels Project

Dollies Daydream

Queen Bee Becca

I look forward to seeing your shuffles, and thank you again Jamie this was super fun to take part in.

Stacey

 

 

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I was challenged by Panasonic to do a post showing food prep tips and how we save money with our food shopping. For this challenge I chose to shop at Aldi. Read on for some of the meals we managed to make last week. See here for an excellent range of Panasonic microwave oven. I particularly like the look of the ovens that boast Turbo Steam.

 

Aldi Food Haul

Normally I will do our weekly food shops online using Tesco, mainly as I get clubcard points and it is easy to plan and not go over budget. For this challenge I decided on going to Aldi. We have a newish store about 15 minutes away which I popped in recently for a top up shop and was so impressed at the quality and prices. This occasion I didn’t have a plan of dinners and went freestyle as I went round the store. I also done some stocking up for Christmas and Half Term in addition to food for meals. This came to a total of £77.07 and has lasted us 2 weeks for dinner as a family of four point two children.

I try to make ingredients go into different meals to be cost effective and less waste. Some tips and examples of ingredients I can make go further and use on multiple meals. I try to plan this when food planning. This is the base of me deciding which meals we will have for the week. Chicken I find extremely versatile and can be made to go in so many meals.

  • Sweet Potatoes: Chips, Wedges, Sweet Potato Dahl, Soup, Jacket Sweet Potato, Sweet Potato Mash, Crisps
  • Chicken: Chicken Nuggets, Chicken and Leek Puff Slices, Chicken and Stuffing Sandwiches, Chicken Curry, Risotto, Casserole
  • Bacon: Risotto, Chicken wrapped in bacon, Macaroni Cheese, Omelette, Quiche, Carbonara

These ingredients are in most of my weekly shops as they are so versatile and can make so many meals. A good tip of making meals go further is go on a health kick, pack it out with salad. This way you use less main meal which means the meal will go further. If possible I try to do leftover boxes, wether these are for lunch or for freezing for another day. Again this eliminates the waste and makes more meals. If I am using white potatoes and have a few left I will make a mash for a lunch or one of the kids in the freezer. One of my favourites is to add tinned tuna and salad cream to the mash.

 

On working days with work and picking up children for childcare we are commuting for a good hour until we arrive home. Then is the rush of walking the dog, homework, spellings, bathtime, children in bed and cooking dinner so we tend to have quicker meals on days we are both working. Rowan goes to nursery and Josie goes to after school club which they have a tea meal and a cooked school/nursery lunch so both tend to just have a snack when home.

Non working weekdays I have found it easier to sit the kids down earlier for their dinner and we will have ours when Antony is home or after the kids are in bed. Then we make sure to eat as a family weekends. Below I have listed some of the meals we had from this shop:

Thai Chicken Stirfry

As we don’t normally go to Aldi we went for some different meals than I would normally plan as a treat. First up we had Thai Chicken Stirfry (£2.99). The Stirfry kit contained chicken and vegetables plus a Thai sauce. The chicken was quite big chunks which to make go further I cut these smaller. Then I served with Microwave Rice which I had in the cupboard. This meal took me under 10 minutes to prep and cook and was so filling and went down well with the hubby.

Aldi Thai Chicken

Rosemary and Garlic Lamb Chops, Parmentier Potatoes and Asparagus in Bacon

Next I done Lamb Chops in Rosemary and Garlic (£3.49) with Parmentier Potatoes (£0.90) with a side of Asparagus (£1.35) wrapped in Streaky Bacon (£1.39). I only used a few rashers of bacon and the rest went into more meals. Considering I done this on a worknight, again it only took 25-30 mins from prep to finish. This was no doubt my favourite meal. The lamb was done to perfection. I chose to oven cook these rather than grill and smoke out the house.

Chicken Wrapped in Bacon, Double Cooked Roast Potatoes and Sweetcorn

Another meal which was on a non working day was one of our favourites as a family. Chicken (£5.35) wrapped in Bacon. This was the same streaky bacon used previously. The extra chicken we used to make chicken nuggets. With this meal we had roast potatoes and sweetcorn, the kids had homemade chips and beans. For the childrens dinner I cooked their chicken first. Josie wanted bacon on her chicken like us. Rowan has trouble chewing so I just done him chicken, he shares his chicken with Bibi the dog and Pickles the cat as they are huge sized chicken breasts. The potatoes I used for the chips went on to make our roast potatoes and the rest went on for a tuna mash for the following day.

I cooked ours for Antony coming home whilst the kids ate their dinner. I had previously parboiled the potatoes which I forgot to set a timer and ended up over parboiling. So being a clever housewife, I still roasted them then a few minutes before serving I cut them up and sautéed them with some Parmesan. Another quick dinner trick, cook frozen roast potatoes and do the same as above once cooked. You can really spruce them up to make a scrumptious accompaniment to your meal.

We also have planned Sweet Potato Dahl and a hard boiled egg side which makes enough for dinner, lunch and a frozen couple of batches. Gammon Steaks with homemade sweet potato chips/wedges and fried egg. We will also have Risotto which is brilliant for left overs, I always use Parmesan and will use the last of the bacon and frozen leeks from the freezer. I also brought soup mix which I pack out with red lentils also used in the Sweet Potato Dahl to make this go further. Overall I was very impressed with Aldi and will certainly be going again.

I enjoyed trying different meals and was amazed at the price difference. The quality of the fruit and vegetables was amazing. This was a plus from online ordering as you can choose the ones you like the look of. As with Primark and Homesense, Aldi is on my Wishlist for sites that I wish done deliveries.

Do you plan your meals? Have you any tips for meal prepping like a pro?

Stacey

 

*** Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All words and pictures are my own.
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I have always enjoyed Blogging, even though time is not always on my side. I have struggled finding my passion that I used to have, then I realised why the past year I have not been able to find my purpose…..time for a change…time for Simply Stacey

New Beginning

When I first started Blogging, I was a complete novice. I was introduced to blogging from a lovely friend over at NorthernNewMum. I originally started as a sole parent blogger, as that was all I knew from being a mummy, so parenting would be where my blog would start it’s journey.

I started as UnicornMummy, Josie came up with the title from our love of unicorns. I soon found my niche was too limited at parenting blogging and I started venturing into other blogging genres such as beauty. The more blogging I done, the more the world of blogging opened up new finds. Over the year this soon become apparent that I didn’t want to limit myself to being solely a parenting blog, so came (another of Josie’s wonders) UnicornFairy.

Unicorn Fairy was coming up 2 years old in January, but I have recently felt my blog was missing something. I loved my name, but I was finding when people was asking me what is your blog name, I was feeling slightly embarrassed. I will always love unicorns, do not get me wrong. But I want to be taken seriously as a blogger and started feeling the name was affecting this.

Also in the blogging community I have made some super close friends, especially my best friend Estelle, it’s very rare we don’t go a day without hearing from each other. I am very much looking forward to an upcoming collaboration with Estelle that is going to be epic.

Since we have moved, I have been in a better place mentally. The move to Wiltshire has made such a difference, plus having a promotion at work and taking on a new role has really boosted my confidence. How much everything in our lives have changed in a year is unreal.

I only decided in the last couple of weeks that I am going to change my name, and since this decision was made it has been like a huge weight of my shoulders. I have struggled thinking of names, then it came to me ….. Simply Stacey. In a weird way it has been like an evolution; Unicorn Mummy was like my baby, growing into a teenager of Unicorn Fairy. Now I feel I have blossomed and took control to a new me, hence the last stage of growing my blog.

With my new found confidence I can finally feel to put myself into my blog, why not name it after myself rather than hide behind an awesome mythical creature. I feel now at this point I can be myself and take this blog where I want too. I really want to make something of my blog, I have been lucky in the past with opportunities being brand ambassadors,  working with companies, but recently haven’t pushed this. I also want to not worry about what I should blog, and blog what I want to blog. So now this is my chance to take UnicornFairy and evolve my blog to a new era.

I am hoping to purchase a camera for filming and do more Insta videos and Vlogs soon, but for now I am upping my blogging game. I am going to make sure i set more time aside for my blogging at this is my passion and for doing your passion you shouldn’t shy away. Biting the bullet and making this change has given me the drive again from doing what I love. So I would like to welcome you to my new chapter…Simply Stacey.

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As a budding mini brick construction fan, Josie loves Lego. So for Josie’s birthday we purchased her Lego Dimensions

Lego is one of the timeless classics that has been around for many years and will be for more years to come. Josie will sit lovely and build Lego, she is very insistant to use the instructions for her master pieces. We have a mixture of Lego sets, ranging from Lego Friends, Jurassic World, Lego City and of course Disney.

Josie is also heavily into her technology. She loves her iPad and likes playing on her Lego apps. Recently has got into using the computer to write stories or make PowerPoint presentations. She likes also playing on the PlayStation. So what better present to get, Lego and Gaming…..Lego Dimensions.

Lego Dimensions starter packs come with Batman from DC Heroes, Wildstyle from Lego Movie and Gandalf from Lord of The Rings. We built all the pieces and the Toypad before playing, but as you get past the introduction and start helping your heroes you can actually build the Toypad portal as you play.

You can purchase additional packs to play with, and these come on a 3 level tier of activities and uses. At first I was annoyed as we started building these ready and there was instructions for the figures, but not the vehicles. Luckily I googled and found these and we carried on making them ready. But as you get playing, the game actually gets you to build these during the game with interactive instructions. This is probably due to most of the vehicles can transform into different types of cars etc.


Story Packs -Additional story sets to play

Level Packs -Misson based new game levels

Fun Packs -Expand your hero collection with new powers and abilities

Team Packs -Call your friends into the game when you need back up


The next problem we encountered, was trying to upload the recent packs we brought. Adventure Time Level Pack was not anywhere in the Vortex menu, after myself googling I realised we needed to update the game, after working out I can do this wirelessly we were on a roll. All of these little blips were not the games fault, but could maybe be more clear that you can build as you play.

Josie used to be into Disney Infinity but I found this a bit boring, she was happy with it but I like the fact you can do missions and the game is more challenging. Also unlike Disney Infinity when a new update is brought out, you don’t need another game and more figures that only work on that base. Lego Dimensions works by updates, so all of your pieces will work on the same game.

So far we have Adventure Time, Unikitty and The Simpsons. But Josie is asking for Christmas for Fantastic Beasts, Ghostbusters and Jurassic World Packs. She also has her eye on Gremlins, Powerpuff Girls and ET Fun Packs.  The other thing that Lego Dimensions impressed me on was the fact you can still have a fantastic gaming experiance without purchasing the extra packs. On level 2 of your mission you come across The Wizard of Oz, if you had the figures then you can control them but you can still easily play using the standard trio that came with the game. Only when you get to the Vortex stage you may want to buy extra backs to play.

This game was definitely worth the money, even better at the time we purchased this game it was half price. This is a must have for any Lego fan. I love the fact that Unikitty can enter the world of Lord of The Rings and help Homer Simpson. We had great fun playing this game, and looking forward to seeing what Santa may bring.

***Contains Affiliate Links

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