Dear August : So We Meet Again Old Friend

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Dear August,

Here we are again. My best friend and my Nemesis. Yet again I find myself feeling jealousy towards the kids who get to appreciate summer in all of the ways I wish that I still could – with absolute freedom.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see Transformers: Age of Extinction at my local cinema, which just happens to be close to the seaside. On the walk along the seafront, to have dinner, I came across a group of teenage girls – they were probably 13 or 14 – and I marvelled at the innocence and the happiness, as they skateboarded across the seafront, and ran across the sand towards the sea (which inevitably was really far out). The screaming and the laughter was so nice to watch, and yet so saddening, because those years are now so far behind me, and there was that brief realisation that those girls were half my age, and that made me feel incredibly old. I could almost be their mother.

I’m fortunate enough to be at a stage in my life, when I genuinely feel happy. I have most of what I want out of life, and I am planning for my wedding – a day that I never expected to see, which seems crazy when you’ve been in a long-term relationship for eight years, but marriage didn’t feel right for us until earlier in the year.

It’s weird, because a part of me thought that by getting engaged would stop the “oh when are you getting married” malarkey, but now those same people seem to be obsessed with dictating our wedding – where we should get married, what dress I should wear. And then people keep complaining about not being told about it, but getting engaged was never meant to be such a big deal.

When people congratulate me, I feel like I’m pulling some big case of fraud and somehow feel guilty that they’re making this big deal out of something that seems so trivial to me. How can you congratulate someone when they haven’t actually done anything, other than put a ring on their finger and start organising a big event?

We wouldn’t congratulate each other for breathing, or for getting out of bed in the morning, because they are things that everyone does, so what’s the difference?

Marriage is still a strange concept to
me. Getting married is apparently a natural part of life, so why is it that people make it into this huge thing? And why does everyone seem to have an opinion on it?

Soooo, August – yes, whilst my insecurities about you are still completely the same, everything else in my life has changed. I’m in a different place (literally), and the world seems different – brighter, perhaps, but that’s probably this crazy heatwave that we’ve been having recently!

Love, Kat

PS – Thank you for being sunny today ;)


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The NHS and Fat People

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Yes, you read that right. I just used the f-word in the title of this post. Now, to business. For the past goodness knows how long, I've been reading a lot from people complaining about the fact that fat people receive help to diet courtesy of the NHS. Apparently this offends them, apparently the NHS should use their resources for better things.

As a fat person, I felt that I had to weigh in on the issue (ha! See what I did there?). Now, as a said fat person, I want to lay it right out, that I have never sought help from the NHS for anything weight-related. Personally, my weight is my problem and I should deal with it for myself and it is no one else's business. When I moved house and registered with a new doctors surgery six months ago, the Nurse did actually offer me ten-weeks membership to Weight Watchers, but I turned it down, because I was already a member.

I've also heard that alongside Weight Watchers, some Doctors will also refer fat patients to their local Gym, offering them free memberships. I've never been offered that, so I don't know any facts.

Now, these offers are what people moan about the most, but let me put it another way:

According to an article on the BBC's website yesterday, for a fat patient to have a Gastric Band costs the NHS £15,000 and that's not including the extra £20,000 that is needed to cover patient after-care. All together, that adds up to £35,000. Now, if we're discussing Gastric Bands, we're going to be talking about really obese people, people who are also likely to not fit into standard-sized beds and equipment, meaning that larger sized things need to be purchased, costing even more money.

Therefore, surely the solution is to tackle "fatness" before it reaches those astronomically expensive costs, right?

Let's break this down.

I pay roughly £21 a month for my membership to Weight Watchers, so for the equivalent of £35,000 for one person's Gastric Band, that is roughly 556 people that could be helped to kick start their weight loss for the initial three month period. Over the period of a year, that could help roughly 2,222 people.

So, which would you prefer?

Option One: Allow people to just get bigger and bigger until they are really enormous, costing more money on a per-person basis or;

Option Two: Tackle it early, and help more people fairly cheaply?

Whether we like it or not, we are a nation that has a big problem with food. It controls our lives, whether we binge eat it or avoid it completely. I'd love to say that it's time to change our attitudes towards food, but we all know that changing attitudes is often easier said than done. Food is like a drug; many of us are controlled by it whilst others use it to take control over an aspect of our lives.

The NHS is designed to help people. They help smokers, alcoholics and drug addicts, so why not help people with eating disorders? 

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TeaPigs Rooibos Creme Caramel Review

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So, a few years ago, when I was took this beauty blogging lark a tad more seriously - or should I say, when I had more free time to dedicate to it - there was a crazy beauty blogger obsession with the Beauty Box. At the time, I tried both Glossybox and Boudoir Prive, and absolutely loved getting an exciting box of treats every month. But for a variety of reasons, I cancelled them.

Skip forward three years or so and I found myself missing those days of opening up a box of goodies that I wouldn't ordinarily try, so I had a look around at some of the boxes that have cropped up in my absence and decided to try out the Love Me Beauty one (note: I wasn't sent this box, I paid for it with my own cash and I wasn't asked to review it, or any of its contents!)

In the past, I've read a few bloggers complaining about none-beauty products in these boxes, but I have to say that the product that I loved most in my box was definitely the TeaPigs Rooibos Creme Caramel tea:


Who are TeaPigs?

Launched in November 2006 by tea lovers Nick and Louise, TeaPigs isn't about airs or graces, it's just about the tea - which is just what I like to hear ;)

What the Website Says...

  • We will only ever sell teas of the highest quality. We will never compromise on quality. It also means we sell only whole leaf tea from selected estates, which we supply either as loose leaf or in tea temples. 
  • We love tea; we just don't like the snobbery that can come with it. Instead we concentrate on bringing you the very best tea we can find and not taking ourselves too seriously.
  • We don't want to intimidate you with a huge list of teas or bewilder you with a mass of information (although, of course, you can always ask us). We've handpicked a select range that offers you the chance to discover the wonderfully diverse world of tea. 

Choosing Creme Caramel 

I actually chose my Love Me Beauty based on the flavour of the tea, because I have been known to be quite picky about my tea choices. 

I have to admit that I was a bit worried that the Creme Caramel would be a bit sickeningly sweet, but having never tried a flavour like it, I thought that I would give it a try.


Ingredients

rooibos, caramel pieces (condensed skimmed milk, sugar, glucose syrup, butter, humectant: sorbitol, emulsifier: mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids) (5%), naural flavouring
Not overly impressed with the inclusion of sorbitol, which is one of my number one enemies!

How Did it Do?

The smell of this tea is definitely the first thing that hit me, even before I had opened the packet. It is - as expected - incredibly sweet smelling, but it smells so divine.

The tea comes in little "temples", as TeaPigs like to call them, but they are similar to the Pyramids that PG Tips do (or they used to, I don't buy PG Tips, so I don't know if you can still get them or not LOL!). I love the fact that in with the tea leaves, there's also a little caramel cube that melts in the hot water. I've never had a tea with anything like that before, so that's a nice touch, rather than having flavouring or a syrup.

Weirdly, the one I took a photo of, didn't seem to have a cube of Caramel in it! Or maybe it was shy, and so was hiding from me!!


As you can see, it looks more like wood chippings than tea leaves, but trust me, it honestly is tea.


Brewing

TeaPigs recommend brewing for three minutes, sweetening to taste and adding a drop of milk. Since it smelt so sweet, I decided that I wouldn't add any sugar or Sweeteners. I was also a little apprehensive of adding milk, because I'm not used to adding it to my tea, but I did and I'm so glad that I chose to, because it really helped with the overall flavour.

Tasting

Fortunately, the tea didn't taste anywhere near as sweet as the aroma led me to believe, which I was very happy about. 

At first, I wasn't sure about the flavour, but as I kept drinking it, the more I loved it. The flavour is very subtle, but just sweet enough to quash a sweet tooth, which is always going to be a good thing in my books.

Calorific

Due to the inclusion of a caramel cube, I was a little concerned about how bad this tea would be for my diet. I wanted to find out how many Weight Watchers points were in a tea bag, but since I only received three tea bags, none of which included the nutritional value, I wouldn't work it out.

However, I hopped on over to the TeaPigs website, which informed me that one bag of Rooibos Creme Caramel tea was just 2 calories, so that sounds good enough to me.

Overall

I don't think that I would have this on a regular basis, but would definitely buy it as an occasional treat because it was so delicious. It was sweet on the nose, but don't let that fool you, because it tastes much lighter than it smells.

Where to Buy

If you're not sure, but want to give this tea a try, you can pick up a sample of two tea bags for £1.30. Or for £3.99, you can buy a pack of 15 bags.

That is a little expensive, but as a once-in-a-while tea, I think that it is definitely worth every penny.

Grab your bags from the TeaPigs website.


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Hello, I am The Anti-Bride

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Hi, my name is Kat and I am the Anti-Bride! Well, I thought I was...and then I started planning my wedding!

Seriously, anyone who knows me will tell you that since my late teens I have been ridiculously anti-marriage. I'm still not 100% convinced about the whole deal, but that's something else entirely, that we won't get into right now.

Yes, I am getting exciting about planning my big day - I've chosen a theme that fits with something that we're both big fans of (that was weirdly easy), I have a rough idea about what the invitations are going to look like and we have a date to work towards. And yet, there are so many "traditions" that I really have no interest in.

The cake? Yeah, I'm not having one! The other half has other ideas, and is determined that he is going to
have one, of some kind (even if it's a birthday cake from ASDA - his words, not mine!) but nope, I don't want one. It's not that I don't want one because I don't like cake (for the record, I loooove cake more than sense), my problem is that wedding cakes are yet another over-priced entity that yes, it does look pretty, but I personally don't feel that they're worth the money (and let's face it, the word "wedding" typically adds at least one zero to the end of practically everything, when it comes to cost!). I have other ideas, that worth nicely with our theme.

The Dress? Now, this is something that I'm a little torn about. I'm not interested in a big, lavish wedding dress. Not just because I couldn't afford the expense, but because they're just not "me". Ever since I started planning, I've always known that I wanted something a little different, but something that has surprised me is the way my other half and I clash over what colour the dress should be.

Not typically one for tradition, I actually found myself being drawn to ivory or pale gold for a dress. I can't help it, it just feels "right". The other half, on the other hand, thinks I should move away from lighter shades, and wear something darker, because those are the colours that I normally wear.

Now, I'm over-the-moon that he knows me well enough to know what colours I wear, and he is right, darker shades are the direction I normally pull towards, and yet, oh those ivory dresses are so alluring!

So, when it comes to my dress, I'm torn between tradition and something a little different. We'll see how that one pans out!

I'm really glad that I've given myself two years to plan this one out, because as much as I do like organising things, I think that this one is going to be the biggest challenge - in an organisational sense - of my life. I am going to need all the help that I can get *gulp*

So, ladies (and gents) what parts of the wedding would you ditch, and which traditions could you never get rid of? If you're married, looking back, what would you have done differently?


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Should I Change My Name?

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In May, my other half and I will have been together for eight years, and in January of this year we decided to get engaged. It wasn't one of those spontaneous, down-on-one-knee affairs like you always hear about. Nope, we're one of those completely unromantic - according to the media - couples who talked about it because we have been together for a long time, and then - as a joke - he buys me a ring for £2.50 from a Museum Gift Shop! He handed it to me all goofy and I did initially wear it - until it turned my finger green, and finally replaced it with a ring from a collection of jewellery that I inherited.

So no, it isn't the most romantic story, but that's how we are. We're a backwards couple anyway, whereby I can never remember the exact date of our anniversary, other than the fact that it's in May and normally Facebook has to kindly remind me. My other half, well he never forgets it!

For us, marriage is still a long way off. I suggested our anniversary next year, giving us time to save up for a small ceremony with just close family and friends (even a small ceremony seems ridiculously expensive to me!), whilst he suggested making it our ten year anniversary which is when we have agreed on.

So, in just over two years time, I will be getting married.

It still seems weird to say, because for a long time marriage had no interest to me. I have always felt that I don't need a piece of paper to tell me how much my other half means to me. And, after a childhood of not being able to get away from my ridiculously long surname (and being forever grateful that my mother opted for the shortened version of "Kathryn") quick enough, in adulthood I've found that I have become quite attached to it - well, it has been with me for the past thirty years!

Which means that for the next two years, I expect to have a very lengthy internal argument with myself about what name I intend to use.

On the selfish side, I really can't be bothered to contact absolutely every company I deal with to tell them that I have changed my name. Having recently moved house, I am all too aware of how much of a pain in the rear end just changing your address can be, so changing my name doesn't sound like fun.

And signing my name. Wow that just seems weird - my signature has always been boring, but if I change my name it'll never be the same. But is this the opportunity to reinvent that cursed thing that I always have to do the same way otherwise my bank will think I'm some fraudster! To think that men don't get the chance to reinvent their signatures - poor buggers!

Another issue is the fact that I am known as Kat Musselwhite professionally, so how do I work around that? If I keep my name, it's not really a problem. However, if I change it, then I run the risk of confusing everyone from clients to search engines (Google is a pedantic thing sometimes). It's not even a case of: well, change your name personally, but keep Musselwhite professionally, because that just gets complicated, and confusing - especially for my banking.

One argument for changing my name, is the fact that everyone expects women to. So, even if I don't change my name, you just know that I will be referred to as Mrs [insert other half's surname]. But, to be honest, I don't think that would bother me, because I already get people referring to my other half as my husband anyway!

I know that a lot of women reading this probably think I'm absolutely crazy, because for most women this isn't even an argument worth having - you just change your name, and you're happy with that. And I really, really envy you for that, because I really wish that I could think like that, but nope, my brain wants to make life difficult for me!

For the record, I am definitely not a feminist! This isn't about not wanting a man to own me and all that other bullshit. For me, this is more about identity and who I am. Musselwhite has been a huge part of my life, and I'm not sure that I am quite ready to pass on that part of my identity, just yet!

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