All posts by Linda

An Interview With Aurora Pets

Husband and wife team, Jonathan & Ashton Rose, along with their dogs Yianni and Yoko are my guests this week. They are the founders and owners of Aurora Pets, a UK luxury retail pet site celebrating only the most luxurious and premium brands available – the ultimate Designer Dog Shop. I caught up with them to find out more about their delightful shop….. Hi Ashton, Hi Jonathan…

Hi! We are husband and wife team Ashton and Jonathan plus our two little Frenchies Yianni and Yoko. Jonathan comes from a background of international distribution for luxury products and Ashton is an expert in customer experience. We wanted to create a place where you could not only find the best quality products for your dog but also enjoy the best experience at the same time. We are head over heels in love with our dogs and they are part of our journey no matter what we are doing. Aside from the weekly walks, we travel to different places every weekend to adventure and explore with the dogs. 

What was the inspiration behind your designer dog shop, Aurora Pets?

Yianni and Yoko were our entire inspiration for Aurora Pets. When we first got Yianni we had a lot of difficulties finding quality products that were not made with cheap materials or looked tacky. We ended up shipping products from all over the world which is when the inspiration for our business occurred, with both of our experiences combined we launched Aurora Pets. Yianni and Yoko of course are our chief testers for all products which we road test fully to ensure our customers get the best.

Only the most luxury and premium dog brands are featured on your site from dog fashions to luxury dog treats. I really love the unique Modern Beast vintage t-shirts for dogs! Which brands and/or dog products are proving most popular with dog owners so far? 

Thank you, Modern Beast are awesome and we love their ethical values, one of the many reasons we stock them at Aurora Pets. Generally, our customers love our entire collection of brands and products, each brand has its own unique quality and values which makes them loved by many and us. From Cloud7 and their extremely clean and stylish approach to design, or Max-Bone and Mister Woof with their playful designs with prints and fabrics. Most important to us and our customers we think is the product being functional, that it will survive 100 washes in the washing machine or that they work out on walks or at home. This is always at the forefront of our mind before anything else.

As a company, you strive to ensure that all your packaging does not contain plastic & is 100 % recyclable.Your company also strive to collaborate with brands who are contributing to improving lives of unfortunate dogs.  Such a worthwhile cause – have you got a particular animal charity that you support?

We work with many different charities selecting different companies to receive donations of beautiful joes and products from our collections. We worked quite closely with the Last Chance Animal Rescue Shelter to document their charity and meet the dogs at their rescue, it was incredibly sad to see all the dogs in the rescue but also reassuring to know they at least have somewhere they are being cared for and loved whilst they wait for their forever home.

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

Yes we ship internationally and many of our customers are based in the USA, Japan, Australia and Europe

Being passionate dog owners yourself, you also write blogposts on your website which are of interest to other dog owners. What themed posts create the most interest?

We see a lot of interest in our dog walk blogs, we try to make it a little different using a drone to document the landscape whilst walking, currently, we are documenting the UK, we hope to cover other parts of the world to find the absolute best places to adventure with your dogs. Yianni and Yoko’s second love is being outside exploring, their first love is and always will be food. 

Going on long dog walks is one of your favourite things to do…. where are your favourite places to go dog walking? 

Jonathan: The Devil’s Punch Bowl in Hindhead was absolutely incredible for me, it had so many different aspects for a good dog walk, great vista’s, forest, marsh areas and a little stream for the dogs to play in. We were exploring there for more than 4 hours and loved every minute of it.

 Ashton: Epping Forest because it’s such a vast area to explore, you can visit 10 times and each time walk can be different, it is also extremely quiet and peaceful with dog-friendly restaurants to visit once the walk is done to relax in.

Obviously your products have been tested by your adorable dogs, Yianni and Yoko.  Have you ever come across a product that for some reason they took an instant dislike to it?

We have to say balls, Yianni and Yoko are not huge fans of chasing or returning a ball, unless it has treats in it, Yianni is a heavy chewer and destroys most toys we give him within minutes, the rope toys are great for him to sit and chew on as they also clean his teeth while he is chewing. Yoko wants anything Yianni has got despite her always having one for herself she will ignore it and wait for Yianni to finish with his.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Both of our looks can vary day to day, classy street style would be a good way to describe our daily looks as we have to fit in working plus the chance of getting muddy whilst out walking the dogs. when we are going out for events or a night out, we both like to look smart.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Ashton: Zara, Ted Baker, and Gucci are my favourites

Jonathan: I love Zara and Farfetch 

Boots or Shoes?

Ashton: Boots – comfortable, versatile and they look great with most outfits.

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Aurora Pets

Website: https://www.aurorapets.co.uk

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/aurorapets/

Thank you Ashton and Jonathan. I’m so glad that Epping Forest is one of your favourite places to visit when dog walking. I grew up in East London and I had Epping Forest on my doorstep. I spent many happy summer holidays climbing trees, getting lost, nature spotting, having picnics in Epping Forest. It certainly is a special place.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Ashton & Jonathan Rose (Aurora Pets)

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An Interview With The Vegan Society

Living the Vegan Lifestyle has been in the news a lot recently – January was “veganuary” and the spotlight was on all things Vegan. The reactions from various people have been mixed when the word “vegan” has been mentioned – most people I’ve spoken to hadn’t really got a clue what the Vegan lifestyle entailed; some guessed that it was a more extreme form of being a vegetarian; some have embraced the ethics of being a Vegan wholeheartedly; some were interested and some were not. Personally I am not a Vegan – I do eat meat but I do embrace vegetarian and vegan dishes too. There are a few Vegan restaurants springing up and with thousands of products being granted the coveted Vegan trademark on a daily basis, embracing a Vegan lifestyle is not as daunting as you may think. I caught up with the lovely Dominika of The Vegan Society to find out more about The Vegan Society and living the Vegan lifestyle. Hi Dominika….

Hello! My name is Dominika and I work as media and PR officer at The Vegan Society. We are the world’s oldest vegan society whose co-founder, Donald Watson, came up with the word ‘vegan’ back in 1944. Everything we do is to help people go vegan and remain vegan! 

The Vegan Society has produced an app – Veguide App – that covers the basics of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle with 30 short daily videos. What inspired the creation of the app? 

We wanted to bring vegan pledges into the 21st century – we know that most new vegans are young people, and this demographic is also the one most likely to use mobile apps and social media. VeGuide features two mentors in the similar age group to our target audience which we thought would help its users to relate to them.

VeGuide is free to download on Android and iOS devices. Its users receive a combination of daily informational videos, motivational quotes, quizzes, recipes and discounts, all of which aim to help them ease into vegan living.


The Vegan Trademark – sunflower symbol – guarantees that products are free from animal ingredients and animal testing.  There are now over 30,000 products and services registered with the Vegan Trademark.  How does a brand go about registering their products? 

Brands can contact our Vegan Trademark team at trademark@vegansociety.com, which will be followed up by some questions that include the number of products a company wants to register, their turnover and size, so that my colleagues can provide them with a quote. After this, the Trademark team carefully checks all the ingredients in the products about to be Trademarked to make sure they’re animal-free. We can also help brands veganise products and suggest alternatives to any animal products their items contain. 

From curries to cakes, virtually any recipe could be made suitable for a vegan lifestyle, as long as they are made from plant-based ingredients. Have you got a personal favourite vegan dish or recipe?

I’m all for quick and easy recipes that don’t require tens of ingredients! I’m personally very much into Korean and East Asian cuisine, so I love dishes like kimchi jjigae, ddeokbokki, jjajangmyeon, Japanese curry, mapo tofu, bibimbap, and various side dishes, called muchim in Korean cuisine. For those with a less oriental preferences, I find that making vegan versions of easy classics like lasagne, chilli con carne, shepherd’s pie, enchiladas or roast dinner is best! 

I read on your website that honey was the product probably most frequently mistaken as vegan -friendly.  I must admit I thought it was! Why is honey excluded? What other foodstuffs are also mistaken as being vegan friendly?

Honey is a product made by animals, so for the sake of consistency is excluded from a vegan diet. Veganism opposes the use and killing of all animals. Other foods that sometimes may not be vegan are alcohol (beer and wine mainly).

What are the nutritional  and other benefits of becoming vegan?

You can get everything your body needs on a vegan diet – vegans actually tend to eat much more fruit and vegetables than the rest of the population which has amazing health benefits. The British Dietetic Association, an independent UK authority on nutrition, states that a vegan diet is suitable at any age or life stage, including infancy, childhood and pregnancy

Eating a balanced vegan diet helps to limit saturated fat and get plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Research shows vegans have lower blood pressure, lower chances of getting heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. This is partly because animal products, unlike vegan food, contain a significant amount of cholesterol.


In the UK all medicines are required to be tested on animals before being deemed as safe for human use.  Obviously, if you are a vegan how are you able to get the medication needed without compromising your beliefs? What are The Vegan Society’s recommendations?

Vegans avoid using animals as far as is practicable and possible. When choosing cosmetics, vegans can pick products that have not been tested on animals but unfortunately we don’t currently have such a choice with medicines or vaccinations. The Vegan Society never advises anyone to stop taking prescribed medicines but we do encourage patients to speak to their doctors to see if a vegan-friendly alternative is available.

What is the hardest part, or the hardest thing to forgo, did you find, of transitioning to follow a vegan lifestyle?  

Many people find it difficult to avoid cheese. However, the human tastebuds have a wonderful ability to adapt, so if you resign from cheese for a month or two and then try vegan cheese, you’re very like to enjoy the flavour. Most vegans say the hardest part of going vegan was simply making the decision to do it.P

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?  

I shop online a lot, on websites like Asos, EMP and Yesstyle which features East Asian fashion. When I go to a shopping mall, I often wander around all the different stores in search of a thing I’m looking for at that moment. It’s amazing how easy it is to find vegan clothes and footwear on the high street!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’ve been looking at Luxe Derbys from Will’s Vegan Shoes for a while now. They’re beautiful but pricier because they’re made of eco-friendly, durable vegan leather. I’m just waiting for the right moment to get them!  

Boots Or Shoes? 

Boots – I get cold very easily so I like footwear that covers my ankles! However, I’m 6ft tall which is a lot for a girl, so I’m not at all interested in adding any more inches which makes it tricky with boots!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about The Vegan Society.

Website: www.vegansociety.com

FB: www.facebook.com/TheVeganSociety

Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheVeganSociety

Instagram: www.instagram.com/theoriginalvegansociety 

For Pinning Later

Thank you for the chat Dominika – those Japanese and Asian dishes really do sound interesting (and no doubt delicious!) I really hope, dear readers, that Dominika has helped to dispel any myths and if you do want to follow the Vegan route, then Dominika has given you some inspiration to go ahead and take that leap!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Pinned Photo by Linda Hobden. The other photos in the article have been published with kind permission from The Vegan Society & Dominika Piasecka

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An Interview With Global Sound Group

The world of music, live music and promoting music is changing. As a musician you want to be getting yourself into venues, perhaps wanting to broaden your horizons by stepping out of your comfort zone of the local pub circuit, perhaps wanting somebody who could help promote and guide you. As a promoter you want to find the latest star. As a venue, you want to attract the musicians that will attract audiences and keep music live. Global Sound Group are a London based music and sound company specialising in music promotion. They’ve just launched the ground breaking virtual booking agent …. online musicians (and booking agents) can get in touch directly with over 20,000 venues & promoters worldwide, allowing them to submit their music directly for consideration. The virtual booking agent is just one highlight on their peer-to-peer website, Sound Finder. I caught up with MD James Dyble to find out more…. Hi James…

Hi! My name is James Dyble and I am the managing director at London based music company Global Sound Group. 

What was the inspiration behind launching the peer-to-peer website, Sound Finder?

We have recently created our peer-to-peer website, Sound Finder with the intention of connecting musicians with professionals worldwide. It was inspired by many years of noticing that musicians struggle to find the best professionals to work with on their projects. 

 What benefits can the musician have by logging onto Sound Finder?  

The musician will benefit from a FREE membership and also the ability to work with the best professionals worldwide from as little as $5 ranging from graphic designers to mixing engineers. Also the website is completely secure and we offer a 100% money back guarantee on all services. 

One of the latest additions to the website is the ground breaking virtual booking agent. In a nutshell, what does the service provide?

The virtual Booking Agent enables musicians to submit their music to more than 20000 music venues and promoters worldwide for gig consideration. It is an extremely powerful tool for musicians to get more gigs and get paid more for their shows. 

What were your musical influences growing up?

I have always been influenced by the major record labels, I have always been interested in how they work. 

Have you always wanted to be in the music industry or did you have any other career in mind?

Since I can remember, I have always wanted to work in the music industry. 

Are you a musician yourself?

I am indeed a musician and I can play various instruments although I do not play in a band and just play at home in my free time. 

What genre of music do you personally listen to? What was the last concert you attended?

I listen to a broad range of genres, however the genre you would most likely catch me listening to is Indie/ Rock. The last concert I attended was The 1975, in Yorkshire. 

Imagine you are driving – what song would be top of your list to croon to whilst playing car karaoke?

Most probably The Killers – Mr Brightside. 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Formal clothing, suits and formal shoes. 

Do you have any favourite websites? (Apart from your own!)

I am a big fan of YouTube and spend time listening to new music on there. 

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. 

For Pinning Later…

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more about Sound Finder.

Main website – www.theoutsourcer.cohttp://www.theoutsourcer.co

Virtual booking agent – www.virtualbookingagent.co

www.facebook.com/soundfinder1

www.instagram.com/soundfinder1

www.twitter.com/soundfinder1

If any of my readers are musicians, then check out the Soundfinder website today! There may be a venue just waiting for you!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of the Global Sound Group

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7 Vegan Valentines Gifts

Valentines Day is almost upon us and shelves in the supermarkets and shops are full of red heart shaped delights from chocolates to prosecco to perfumes. If you or your partner are vegan, there are a range of products that might just tickle your fancy as well as your tastebuds!

The Vegan Society is the world’s oldest vegan society and registered educational charity. In fact, in 1944, co-founder Donald Watson actually came up with the term “vegan”. There are now over 30,000 goods and services that bear the famous Vegan Trademark symbol.

There are many ways to embrace vegan living, but one thing all vegans have in common is a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat, fish, shellfish, insects, dairy, eggs, honey – as well as products leather and anything tested on animals. So, when it comes to choosing a Valentines gift – or a gift or treat for anytime – here are 7 ideas that might just fit the bill….

  1. Chocolate & Love’s Dark Chocolate Tin

A beautiful, colourful tin full of vegan dark chocolate Neapolitans. The vegan chocolate is a mix of Panama 80% single origin, Rich Dark 71% and 70% Madagascan single. A must for fans of dark chocolate! www.chocolateandlove.com

2. Broadland Wineries’ Proudly Vegan Wines

Before my friend became a vegan, her main worry was not being able to enjoy a glass of wine. That isn’t an issue nowadays as Proudly Vegan wines have a selection of palatable rose, merlot and Sauvignon Blanc to choose from. Even the ink and glue on the labels are 100% vegan! The wines are available from Ocado.

3. Eden Perfumes’ Gift Set

Eden Perfumes match your favourite designer or popular fragrances, perfume and aftershave, using vegan ingredients such as jasmine (my favourite), vanilla, passionfruit, musk, saffron, sandalwood amongst others. www.edenperfumes.co.uk

4. Honest Brew’s 12 Beer Mixed Case

Prefer beer to wine? This mixed case of vegan-friendly beers might be more up your street. www.honestbrew.co.uk

5. The Gin Guild’s Organic London Dry Gin

Gin is all the rage at the moment and this London Dry Gin is 100% organic and GM-free. All their grain is grown organically without the use of toxic pesticides, insecticides and industrial fertilisers. They also hand harvest and dry their botanicals on site. They have a FairWild Certificate which means that those harvesting are properly paid for their junipers. Introduced in 1999, The Juniper Green gin has so far won 25 international medals against all the world’s gins, including golds in both the UK and USA. Available from Ocado, Amazon and online www.theginguild.com

6. Booja Booja’s ChocolateTruffles

Handmade luxurious Chocolate truffles inebriated with organic fine de champagne. Just stylish & sophisticated. Find these in Waitrose.

7. LUSH’s All Yours Gift Set

Available at all LUSH stores, the All Yours Gift Set was designed by artist Kim Sielbeck. She was inspired by the colours of the sunset and verdant mountains that fill her with magical energy. Certainly vibrant – inside this box you’ll find a Peachy bath bomb, Avocado wash shower gel, American Pie body conditioner and a Bubblegum lip scrub. Just the job for a pampering session…..

With Love, Linda x

For pinning later. Photo by Linda Hobden

Apart from the last photo, all other photos have been published with kind permission from The Vegan Society (and the featured brands)

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An Interview With Mom Transparenting

There are many “Mommy/Mummy” blogs out in the World Wide Web – some I read as they are teenage based (my children are now in their teens and twenties) so I can relate; and a few I read as I find them interesting on many levels even though I have no real affiliation with them, but occasionally I can comment with a few words of my own experience in bringing up a family. I find it interesting to read about family life in other countries other than your own too. One such favourite “Mommy” blog I read falls squarely into my latter category… Nicole of Mom Transparenting has a gem of a blog and I was over the moon when she agreed to be interviewed! Come and meet Nicole… Hi Nicole!

Hi! My name is Nicole. I’m a divorced/single mom of three and a realtor in a suburb of Chicago. I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling although I have never worked  in the field. I’m very intrigued by psychology and passionate about mental health. 

What made you decide to set up your blog, Mom Transparenting?  

I started my blog about 6 months after my (then) 4 year old son came out to me as transgender. For years I have been posting on my personal FB page about various parts of life in short story form and had been told I should start a blog. It took me a long time to figure out what that even meant! (LOL!) After divorcing, custody battles, and then my son coming out I decided it was time to curate a space to share my personal experiences and stop bombarding my friends and family with it all. It’s much more socially acceptable to put it in an “article” and call it writing than it is to vent on social media about a screaming toddler 😉

As with many parent bloggers I know, blogging about family is often very difficult.  However, I do feel that reading parenting blogs helps the parent realise that they are not alone, especially when a blog tackles a particular subject. What has been the general reaction about your blog from family/friends and from readers?  How have your children reacted?

If I am being completely honest, the staggering majority of my readers and  followers are NOT my family. Most of my family doesn’t even know this blog even exists. I have some very conservative family members and I just don’t want to deal with the backlash of their opinion about how I raise my child. If I didn’t have a transgender child, that wouldn’t be the case. But this is the reality of the world we live in. When you share something like that with people that think they “know” you, they feel like they have the right to tell you how to raise and handle issues that arise with your children. Even if you aren’t asking for advice. Personally, I prefer my followers and readers be those that sought me out because they were looking for someone to relate to. I know many of my experiences seem mind-blowing to me as they happen, but I also know I am very much NOT alone and many women (and men) have similar struggles. My goal in all of this was to some how connect with other parents like me, speak from the parent perspective and not of that of a trans person, because I’m not trans. I don’t know what it is like to be trans. But I do know what it is like to have a trans child and what it’s like to be the parent under the microscope. That was reason number one I decided to share our journey in an open and raw way. 

I personally know of two people who are “transparenting” and their children, like your son, were determined at a young age to follow the gender they feel they are. How did your son approach the subject with you & what was your initial reaction?    

I have an article that was recently published on Motherly that answers this exact question: https://www.mother.ly/life/raising-4-year-old-   transgender-child

What advice do you give other parents – both in the same position as yourself as well as those who are not?

Whenever I post an article about my trans son, struggles with divorce, or custody I get numerous messages from various people telling me their similar experiences. Many ask me about their own children or want to vent about their own divorce/ex. When it comes to divorce single-motherhood I am empathetic to their situation and urge them to find someone they can connect with to help them get through this tough time. It’s an all around shit show having to juggle kids, homes, pets, work, splitting up, and financials of divorce. I wish that on NO ONE. When someone messages me regarding questions about their children’s comments about their own gender I tell them what everyone told me in the beginning. Let them lead the way, if they want to change their clothes, let them. If they ask to make a name change, do it. Give them the chance to live the way they are asking to and let them decide if this is truly them “coming out” or if it’s a phase. Because at a young age you can’t know for sure. The key (according to professionals) is consistence, insistence, and persistence. And that’s over a period of time. Considering my son has been living this way and insistent on his feelings that HE. IS. A. BOY. for at least 9 months now tells me that we are likely past any chance that this could be a phase that will pass. But, even if that were the case, my reaction and how I continue to let him lead the way would not change. 

I have found that, generally, children are often matter-of-fact and accepting.  How did your son’s siblings react? 

My youngest was only 3 and she was very quick to make the language changes my son requested and made a conscious effort to call him her brother. She has probably been the one with the least questions and the most acceptance and I find her innocence and pure view of the world so truly beautiful. If only everyone could be like that. My oldest was 7 and he was confused and sad at first. He flat out didn’t like it. But I explained to him that as family, we support each other. Even if we sometimes don’t like it. And that was enough for him to get on board and make the changes he needed to. We have conversations about it from time to time (more at first, they’ve become less and less over time) and I usually just frame it around “this is just the way it is.” You can’t change who someone is fundamentally adamant so why try? Just be loving, supportive, and accepting and be the good people I know I raised. As far as friends go, it’s interesting. My son is “stealth” at school, but I use that term loosely because he really isn’t quiet about it we just don’t go around screaming it from the rooftops. There are plenty of classmates and families that know he is trans, and just as many that only know him as a little boy. I urge my son to share when/if he’s ready and don’t ever want him to feel like he has a secret to hide or something to be ashamed of because of this. But when he does share with friends, their typical response is either “huh?” and that’s it. Like they think he’s joking. Or my favorite has been, “Oh, I used to be a girl” and his friend said, “oh, yea? Me too!” LOL

 Let’s talk about your blog & blogging in general!  What do you enjoy most about blogging?  What is your least favourite “blogging job”?

I love having an outlet to share our journey. I love being able to connect with other writer and content creators that I idolize and look up to. The inspire me to do better and be better in every interaction I have with them. I’ve met so many wonderful people that I am so grateful to know. I appreciate the feedback I get and I find that (for the most part) between my followers and the community of fellow bloggers I’ve met everyone has welcomed me with open arms and has become a great resource in times of need. My least favorite part is rejection. I submit a lot of guest posts and even though I know not everything I write is amazing and not every post I submit will be accepted, it still stings. 

Where do you find inspiration for posts? 

In my kids, my family, my work, basically my every day life. If my kid does something funny, I can usually find a story to write around it. When something bad/sad happens it is therapeutic for me to write about it, even if I may not share that post on my blog, it gets my feelings out and moves me forward to a place where I can be a better writer in general. 

What is your favourite social media for (a) blog networking and (b) personal browsing? 

I tend to shine on Instagram. I write memes and the majority of my followers are there. I use Facebook, twitter, and pinterest as well, but IG is really my baby. 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Oh, GAWD! Black leggings, a t-shirt or sweater (I LOVE big, comfy sweaters!) and this time of year Sorel boots. During the summer it’s flip flops, all day, every day. I wish I were more fashion forward, but as a busy mom I’m more of a function and comfort addict than I am for brands and style. Personally, I have a fun/trendy style when I can afford it! But when you’re a single mom sometimes your closet and shoe fetish takes a back seat to your kids sports and after school activities. Gotta make those hard choices, and us moms tend to make sacrifices for our kids from our own wants/needs. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I’m not a trendsetter. I shop at Target and on Amazon to keep me from leaving the house at all costs.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. All day. I loved when skinny jeans came back in style so I could show off my boots again ALL THE TIME! 

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Mom Transparenting 🙂

Blog: http://momtransparenting.com

Instagram: https://instagram.com/momtransparenting

Facebook: https://facebook.com/momtransparenting

Twitter: https://twitter.com/momtransparenting

Thank you very much for chatting to me today Nicole! I wish your blog continued success as you make your way through the jungle that is parenting 🙂

Linda x

Photographs of Nicole & her son have been published with kind permission of Nicole (Mom Transparenting) 

Pinned Photo is by Linda Hobden.


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Lipstick On Your Collar

Lipstick was on my agenda this week! After years of wearing nudes and pale pink lip glosses; the lipstick world exploded into 2019 bringing forth an array of bright bold lipsticks that exude colour, are non drying even the matt versions and are certainly not for the shrinking violets of this world! Although the Pantene colour of 2019 is reportedly coral pink, this hasn’t filtered through to the lipstick world – the trends are more of a blue hue and bright reds! Yellows for those who want to make a more subtle statement. Pinks are being shelved for this year… so I went out with my Christmas vouchers to update my lipsticks to find out what was on offer!

In the 1980s, when I was in my teens, I used to wear a dark burgundy lipstick and on special evenings out, my red Charlie lipstick….

As the 1990s and the Naughties approached, I took the much softer route – dusky pinks, peaches and nude lip glosses were my favourites. I abandoned the matte lipsticks and discovered Maybelline 24 hour stay lip glosses(which I still love to this day).Last year, I rediscovered lipstick. I bought a coral coloured moisturising Body Shop lipstick which has virtually been my main lipstick.

L’Oreal Color Riche Shine 906 #GirlsNight

So, what did I buy? My first lipstick was the pale lilac/grey L’Oreal Color Riche Shine 906 #GirlsNight. Ideal for during the day at work as well as evening. I couldn’t resist the lipstick cover design either, it was very chic….


L’Oreal Color Riche Shine 906 #GirlsNight

The other bold lipstick colours I splashed out on include a bright red colour by Estée Lauder, poshly called “Sculpting Lacquer” – it is a matte lip gloss; and I bought a couple of lip glosses by Avon plus I ordered a sample size lipstick in dark blue to try out (I haven’t been brave enough to wear that one out yet!) Here are the colours below:

L to R: L’Oreal Color Riche Shine 906 #GirlsNight ; Avon Mark Liquid Lip Lacquer Matte In Plump Up The Jam; Avon Lip Gloss In Plum Pretty; Avon Lipstick Sample in Blue Suede; Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lacquer in Wicked Apple.

My thoughts turned to summer and my prediction is a return to the 1980s monochrome clothing with red splashes; yellows and oranges with white …. so for a more subtle lipstick look for daytime in summer I opted for 2 yellow shades, one from Avon and one from BarryM…

L to R : Avon Color Trend in Metallic Gold; Barry M lipstick in Unicorn 741.

My final buy was in a place you wouldn’t expect to find make up – in the beautiful smelling chocolate shop, Hotel Chocolat. OK, I didn’t just buy lipstick … you can’t go in that shop or near it without getting a craving to eat every delicious chocolate in store…. but Hotel Chocolat do a beauty range using the finest cocoa butter from their St Lucia estate. Ideal for keeping your lips smooth and kissable, check out their Honey Chocolat Rabot 1745 Lip Balm..

So for 2019, this is going to be the Year of the Bold…. are you game? Lipstick on your collar….

For pinning

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden. All views are my own. This isn’t an affiliate post.

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Walking In The Saltmarshes

Happy New Year!

I’m lucky to have the salt marshes & mudflats virtually on my doorstep – it is just the place to blow away the cobwebs after days of overeating and drinking during the Christmas/New Year period. In fact, it is a great place to walk whatever season – the marshes change so much and the salty air is so embracing. On New Year’s Eve 2018 the weather was cloudy but mild – unlike previous years where the air was crisp and the skies were cloudless and blue. The ground was a bit muddy underfoot too … very muddy… but nothing that a good pair of wellies or walking boots can handle. So where are these salt marshes?

The green coastal areas are the salt marshes – my walks are at the north of the River Blackwater around the creeks of Tollesbury & Salcot

The Saltmarsh Coast is the 75 miles of coastline and creeks that stretch from the estuary of the River Crouch to the south to the estuary of the River Blackwater in the north, of the Maldon district of Essex in South East England. The Blackwater Estuary is internationally recognised as being an area of outstanding importance for wildlife and conservation – the marshes are habitat for migrant wildfowl and waders; and a magnet for thousands upon thousands of wild duck, geese and wading birds. On Old Hall Marshes it is estimated that around 4000 Brent geese feed here in winter. The site also supports 24 species of butterfly, dragon and damselflies.

No wildlife or birds to be seen today though! When the tide comes in the grasses are under water. Walking along the seawall at Tollesbury.

Historically the Romans were interested in this highly salty area – the Roman town of Colchester (Britain’s oldest town) is only around 10 miles away and the famous Maldon Salt is still produced in the town of Maldon. However, in the 19th century the major industry here was oyster dredging. Small oysters were dredged at Tollesbury and sent along to the Kent coast to mature. There are still small oysters to be found. As the Tollesbury mudflats are a very important area for native oysters, it is a good place to spot oystercatchers, so my birdwatcher friends tell me.

Oyster beds, River Blackwater… I took this photo in the summer from Tollesbury Wick Marshes.

One feature I always photograph whenever I walk the seawall and that is the Tollesbury Tree …. it looked quite lonely this week!

Tollesbury Tree

There were still grasses and berries abound but under the cloud the mud reigned supreme.

I can’t wait to show you the seawall in Spring and in the sunshine….here’s a sneak peak from a previous summer ….

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden; map downloaded from Maldon District Council’s Saltmarsh tourist site.

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SPROUTS, STUFFING & SEASONAL SOMETHINGS

SEASONS GREETINGS to you all!

As it is the last post of 2018 I thought I’d reflect on the “S” words that summarise this SEASON.

In the UK, and in most other countries I can imagine, this coming weekend will be mad in the SHOPS and SUPERMARKETS as people try to STUFF their trolleys with last minute gifts, extra wrapping paper and tags and enough food to probably last months but we will all consume in the week to follow. And then there is the booze….

SNOWBALL (egg nog), SPUMANTE, SHERRY, SCOTCH WHISKY, SAUVIGNON BLANC, SPANISH RED WINE …. SHARE the corner of the cabinet alongside Baileys Irish Cream, prosecco, brandy, beer, gin, vodka,Guinness….. I actually discovered in my fridge an unopened bottle of Baileys Irish Cream from last Christmas as I was putting this year’s bottle away. It had a best before date of end November 2018 … it smelt alright and tasted ok… I had to test it! Irish Cream is one of those drinks that I tend to buy each year… and I do like it … but after Christmas it tends to be redundant. I’m sure I’m not the only one with spirit bottles that have been stored away & only retrieved on the odd occasion that someone might want a dry martini and lemonade instead of a glass of pinot grigio! This year I fancied trying these liqueur chocolates…

SANTA CLAUS …. who can forget ST NICK? Even though my children are teenagers and adults, they still get a little SOMETHING from “Father Christmas” that resembles a SATSUMA but isn’t as healthy! The SMILES from children when they SEE their STOCKINGS or SACKS filled with gifts on Christmas morning makes being STIRRED awake at some unearthly hour worth it.

Christmas Day breakfast – SAUSAGES, SCRAMBLED EGG, SMOKED SALMON, SAUTEED MUSHROOMS, SAUCY BAKED BEANS, SMOKED BACON RASHERS, SQUASHED TOMATOES, SELECTION OF FRUIT JUICES ….. OR are you like me – I reach for my usual cereal as I just can’t face eating a full breakfast knowing that in a few hours time I will be indulging in the Christmas Dinner? My husband and sons disagree with me though!

SPROUTS, STUFFING, STUFFED TURKEY CROWN, SPUDS (crispy roast potatoes), SEASONAL VEGETABLES, SAUCES, SAUSAGES wrapped in bacon and SPECIAL TURKEY GRAVY made by Gran! Followed by STEAMED CHRISTMAS PUDDING (SIXPENCE no longer inside) with a SELECTION of creams, SUMPTIOUS brandy butter, STEAMING hot custard or SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM. SPROUTS. I don’t actually like SPROUTS. And yet every year I have to dish up one on my dinner plate, just because. My mother in law discovered a new recipe recently that mixed sprouts with bacon …. mmm… maybe, however, with “pigs in blankets” already on the menu, perhaps plain, steamed would be better. It is strange that a vegetable that is good for you – SPROUTS count for one of your “five a day” and contain antioxidants which are thought to prevent cancer – can lead, through overindulgence, to bloating with gas which can be uncomfortable for you and could be unpleasant for others…

STOMACH ACHES! SUDDEN change in diet can lead to uncomfortable consequences – the rich, creamy foods as well as overindulgence of sprouts, peppers, broccoli, eggs, baked beans…. The traditional post Christmas dinner STROLL could help – good for relieving STRESS & that STUFFED feeling, STRENGTHENING family bonds, STRETCHING those legs, and STAVING off that overwhelming SLEEPINESS feeling that will hit you once you SIT down on your SOFA to watch on the TV SCREEN those SOAPS and Christmas SPECIALS…

3pm. STANDING up as our National Anthem is played heralding the START of our Queen delivering her annual SPEECH on our TV SCREENS from her STATELY abode of SANDRINGHAM. I quite like this traditional of listening to the Queen’s SPEECH – it’s a bit like receiving a royal “Round Robin” updating the nation on her family events! SHE has quite a bit of news this year what with the Royal weddings and births!

SNOW. Let it snow! Despite what many people think, the UK rarely experiences snow at Christmas – The Met Office says snow has fallen somewhere in the UK on Christmas Day 38 times in the last 54 years. However, of all the winter months, December is when Britain is least likely to see snow. The last time it snowed in the UK on Christmas Day was on 25 December 2010! Will it snow on Christmas Day in 2018? Personally, I doubt it…. we shall see. If it does, I suppose we could dig out the SLEDS from our SHEDS, build SNOWMEN and make SNOWANGELS , throw SNOWBALLS, SCRAPE our car windscreens, SHOVEL our drives, and SKID our way to SING SONGS in the local church SERVICE ….

SONGS! Carols or Pop songs – nothing puts you in a good mood when the SEASONAL SOUNDS are heard over the airwaves! There was a game on one of the SOCIAL MEDIA SITES – I can’t remember which one – which from the 1st December, you had to try and last the month without hearing “Last Christmas” by Wham as you go about your daily life. Easy you might say ….but SUPERMARKETS seem to always have it on their playlists and if you hear it whilst SHOPPING, you’re out! As I’m a retail merchandiser working in SHOPS & SUPERMARKETS with their radio stations playing all day, I think I lasted a few SECONDS…

SMELLS…. SPICES around this time of year are delightful ….cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger….

SIX O’Clock. Time for SNACKS, SWEETS, and other SUGARY delights before SUPPER at 9pm…. cold meats, SALMON, French bread lavishly SPREAD with SALTED butter, pickles, STUFFED dates, STUFFED olives, SALT & VINEGAR crisps, SALTED peanuts, SAUSAGE rolls, cheese STRAWS….

In the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE it is SUMMER where the temperatures are SIZZLING and I can imagine that it is too hot to contemplate eating as much. I expect the order of the day is a barbecue on the SAND, grilled SALMON STEAKS, SHRIMP cocktail, SALADS, various SKEWERS of meat/veg …. followed by a frolic in SURF, under a glorious SUN and an ice cold SOMETHING to quench your thirst.

SHOW you care this SEASON and think of those whose home is on the STREETS, those who need SHELTER, those who need SOMEBODY to talk to, those who are STARVING, those who are SUICIDAL, those who are SAD, those who are SUFFERING….try and SPREAD a little SEASONAL SPIRIT where you can…

For Pinning

SEE you all in 2019!

LINDA x

All photographs were taken by Linda Hobden.

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What Happens in France: A Book Review

If you are anything like me, I do like a good book to read, especially when I’m on holiday.  I like a variety of genres… I must admit to loving the gritty thrillers, horrors and mysteries; although I just as readily delve into the realms of the classics, the historical sagas, the travel journals and the fun loving feel good romantic comedies.        So when I was given the chance to read “What Happens In France” by Carol Wyer before it’s publication  on January 28th 2019, it was a more than a pleasure.

Carol is an author I’m well acquainted with – I read her book Three Little Birds and was smitten with her feel good romantic comedy style. Thankfully she agreed to an interview (read the interview HERE) and I’ve been following her career ever since.  I’ve read every book she has written since then too. Carol has written romantic comedies like “Life Swap”; she has written non-fiction such as “Grumpy Old Menopause” which won the People’s Prize for non fiction 2015; she has written thrilling crime in 2017 – the 1st book in her DI Robyn Carter series “Little Girl Lost” shot to #2 best selling spot on kindle, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible, and a USA Today top 150 best sellers; and now Carol has returned to writing a heart warming romantic comedy – “What Happens In France”.

“What Happens In France” in a nutshell….

For years Bryony Masters has been looking for her long lost sister Hannah.  When her father has a stroke, Bryony realises that time is running out and she is even more determined to find Hannah to reunite the family before it is too late.  Bryony spots an advertisement for candidates for a new prime time game show and  fondly remembering that Hannah was a TV game show addict, decides that applying to take part might be a great way of getting her search for Hannah in the public eye…hoping that Hannah herself would come forward.  Of course, Bryony gets through and that’s when her adventures begin…. a private jet,  stunning French countryside, a handsome team mate, interesting and unique personalities, game show antics….. and a delightful pug dog called Biggie Smalls….

What I loved about “What Happens In France”….

  1. The details.  Over the past year, I have spotted Carol on TV taking part in daytime game shows and I know that she has spent a lot of time in France … Carol has always embraced challenges in order to write truthfully about experiences – it shows in this book: the game show process, the characters, the knowledge of the part of France where the fictional game show is set.
  2. The characters.  Believable characters.  And the delightful pug dog, Biggie Smalls.   I loved how all the characters came alive in my head and were so relatable – the handsome team mate Lewis, the vain and pompous quizmaster,  Bryony’s ill father who asks for Hannah all the time.  Bryony is a fab character – she holds a place in my heart – I wanted her to believe in herself at times! 
  3.  The storyline.  It’s a different angle to most romantic comedies. It is really hard to do a review without giving too much away as quite often I want to tell every minute detail but although I want to  reveal all I am really going to zip it!  Suffice to say I really hope Carol follows up on this story with a part 2 … about  what happens  after France … I need to know what happens next! 
  4.  It is an easy going, feel good  romantic comedy that embraces friendships, family, love and laugh out loud moments. It is one of those books that the pages keep turning and you can lose track of time….  Ideal for relaxing by that pool, perhaps in France…. 
  5.   If you like authors such as Marian Keyes, then this book is in the same ilk. You won’t be disappointed. 

Book Info….

“What Happens In France” by Carol Wyer is published by Canelo. Release Date:  28 January 2019.                                                                                 ISBN: 9781788632768.                                                                                                   Pre Order from  Amazon  HERE.                                                                                

To learn more about Carol, go to www.carolwyer.co.uk or follow Carol on Twitter: @carolewyer. 
Carol also blogs at www.carolwyer.com

 For Pinning  Later.

Credits….

Thanks goes to Carol Wyer and Ellie of Canelo Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read the book before general release. I loved it. 

Thanks to Carol for her kind permission for allowing publication of the photographs (except the pinning photo which was taken by myself (Linda Hobden) in France).

Linda x

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An Interview With Bright Corner

Messages to cut down on packaging, reduce the use of plastics and to help halt the severity of global warning, among others, are repeated every day on our news. I’m pleased, therefore, to interview a company that is totally eco friendly – even down to the packaging.  Bright Corner is a company that specialises in pretty interior wooden LED lights for the home that brighten up even the dullest corner. Good lighting in your home is important emotionally for making you, your family and your abode happy.  I caught up with founder Chloe Harrison to find out more… Hi Chloe!

Hello, I am Chloe,  founder and owner of Bright Corner, where I design and make wooden LED lights to create and inspire a happy, cosy home.

Your company designs and makes simple wooden LED lights. What inspired you to start your company?
I left my job in London a few years ago, to start something myself that gave me a better work / life balance. I spent a while volunteering and doing some courses but before I had figured out what I wanted to do, I became pregnant. This obviously took over for a while, but I knew I wanted to start a small creative business. Bright Corner came to me when I couldn’t find a simple wooden light for my little girl’s bedroom. So, I decided to design one and it grew from there.
Bringing a little bit of nature indoors, it makes a refreshing change to use natural wood. When it comes to packaging etc though, does your company maintain its eco friendly ethos by avoiding plastic?   
Yes definitely, I aim to be as environmentally friendly as possible. My products are packaged with no plastic, in simple brown boxes, protected with loose fill paper packaging – all recyclable. My parcel bags are Eco friendly made from Coex, a 100% natural product.
There are 3 designs to choose from: Star Tent, Townhouse & Woodland; as well as a choice of 3 fabric cable colours: natural jute, olive green, mustard yellow – which design and colour cable seems to be the most popular amongst your customers? Do you have a favourite design?
It is still early days, and all designs have been well received but the Star Tent seems to be the most popular for children’s rooms and the Townhouse, Woodland for adults. The cable colour favourite is mustard but I think that’s a top colour this winter. My personal favourite is the Townhouse with mustard but ask me in 6 months and I would have probably changed my mind.
Are there any new additions to your range of lights in the pipeline for 2019?
Yes I am working on a few new designs for the Spring / Summer and maybe even some new products, but they will have the same simple, wooden feel to them as my lights do.
As you are based in the UK, are your products available to customers abroad?
At the moment I only supply a UK plug but also send to Europe. I am hoping as my company grows, I can offer different plugs and expand to America / Canada.
Have you always had an interest in design or did you have other aspirations growing up? 
My sister was the creative one growing up and I was obsessed with films. I ended up working in the film industry, so still a creative world but I wasn’t creative myself. I felt a gap in my life for creativity, so I started to paint and had that as my outlet until I decided to leave my career and start a new adventure.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I prefer winter clothes to summer, I love tights with skirts / dresses, boots and jumpers, cosy clothes.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I love a charity shop bargain, I once bought a COS T-shirt for £3 and wear it all the time. I am trying to buy more independent and recently got an amazing moon/ star jumper from Alphabet Sweats. For a treat I love Finisterre and Toast –  gorgeous brands, beautiful clothes.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I have always wanted a pair of Swedish Clogs, maybe I will treat myself for the Spring.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots, they are much more practical and there are better designs out there. I am a mum, so love a slip-on boot, so much easier when you are carrying a little one in and out of the house.

For pinning later

 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Bright Corner.

https://www.brightcorner-shop.com/

https://www.instagram.com/brightcornershop/

https://www.facebook.com/brightcornershop/

Lovely designs Chloe!  Although I do so love the minimalist interior home designs that are trending –  your lights are simply stylish and versatile – looking good in a new build or in a rustic old style country cottage.  I look forward to seeing your new creative designs in 2019.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Chloe Harrison of Bright Corner.

 

 

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