May 2023

Blogging: Six Months Into Our Journey

Blogging: Six Months Into Our Journey

Many of our friends and family have asked us, “How come you have started a blog?” At some point we always knew we would eventually write about blogging, mostly to help others who want to dive into it too. However, as we kept having to explain to others this unexpected path we had embarked on, we decided that the best way was to write a blog post on blogging and how it’s going six months into our journey. Truth be told it’s not something we had discussed as kids or as young adults. We both always enjoyed writing, however, it was never part of any given conversation.  During one of our many walks together, around two years ago, the topic came up. It was actually Colleene who brought up the idea of starting a blog. I remember at the time agreeing with her, but thinking to myself, ‘erm not something I am capable of doing’. I could give you a million and one excuses as to why I felt that way, but the truth is, I genuinely didn’t think I had it in me. Who would want to read anything I wrote anyway? COURAGE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN Then six months ago something shifted. We were both at a crossroads. We found ourselves having very deep conversations about life, where we were at, regrets of things not done, of chances not taken. And so we finally found the courage to try something which was totally out of our comfort zone. “Let’s do it, let us start a blog. We won’t know if we can do it unless we try” Surprisingly enough those words came from me. I remember we were walking past Macdonalds. For some reason, that moment has stayed with me.  I had somehow in the last six months grown comfortable in my own skin, and I was willing to try something new. It didn’t take much encouragement for Colleene to jump at the opportunity.  It was a pivotal moment in our adult lives. Deciding to do something for ourselves, something we could create from scratch filled us with excitement for the future.  LET’S LAUNCH A BLOG  Deciding to launch a blog and actually going through the process of getting started are two very different things. We were understandably nervous about the whole procedure. Whilst the idea of being able to write about the things we love, and share our ideas, experiences and expertise with our readers, was at the forefront of our plans, blogging requires much much more. Boy were we in for a surprise. Don’t get us wrong, yes, it was exciting, however, when you have no IT knowledge (and I mean zero, zilch) and you are working demanding jobs as well as taking care of your family and home, it can also seem like a daunting and at times an impossible task.  THE FIRST STEPS TOWARDS STARTING A BLOG The journey towards our blog launch has been full of challenges, from designing our website whilst learning it all from scratch to struggling with SEO (search engine optimization), social media marketing and learning graphic design.  We also spent hours upon hours researching the best software, the best hosting company, and the do’s and don’ts in the blogging world. On paper it all looked quite straightforward, alas it was not so! Buying A Domain Our first step was deciding on a name. After a week or so of going back and forth on names, it was Colleene who came up with The Opinionated Magpies. Not the full name though. We were at my house brainstorming and eating a takeaway (you will somehow always find us eating). Colleene was looking at a photograph of my late father which I keep on my desk. She looked up at me and said “Whatever name we decide on has to have the initials T.O.M. Like your Dad”. Obviously, that made me emotional, and I didn’t quite understand the reasoning behind it. In all honesty neither did Colleene as her answer to my ‘why?’ was, “I don’t know why, it’s a feeling”. So, after that was settled, and a lot of brainstorming, The Opinionated Magpies were born. Symbolically Magpies in pairs bring joy, positivity and success. The opinionated was simple enough, we are both just that, full of opinions. And so that same night we bought our domain name. (more on this in a future blog post where we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to open your own blog). We were so happy and proud of ourselves. We had taken the first step and felt as though we were well on our way to successful blogging.  FINDING AN ADEQUATE HOSTING PROVIDER This step was both frustrating and hilarious. Let me explain. The first company we decided to go with, based on other bloggers’ recommendations, (again we will cover this in a future post and save others the trouble we went through) was a total flop. Funny anecdote for you. On one occasion Colleene told one poor IT help desk assistant “Vishna, (assistant’s name) I am losing the will to live” This lady insisted that the solution to one particular IT problem was that we were not using the Euro section on the website as we are based in Gibraltar. Now, this particular section has nothing to do with the area but the currency for payment, yet this lady could not see the difference. We were on a call with this lady for around 1.5 hours and in the end, we gave up with that particular provider and started afresh with another, super-efficient hosting provider.  INSTALLING AND CREATING A WEBSITE There’s an ad on Youtube that goes something like this, “Building a website is sort of like painting a masterpiece, except it’s nothing like painting a masterpiece”  This ad couldn’t be more accurate. Building a website with zero IT knowledge was an absolute nightmare. I am not going to sugarcoat this.  Firstly we had to install the software needed to create

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Affirmations For Inner Peace

Affirmations For Inner Peace

Finding inner peace or any kind of peace hasn’t always been my forte. In fact, throughout my life, I have fought against this so-called peace. It has been there for the taking, but more often than not, I would choose to live in suffering, worry and pain, without forgetting the neverending self-loathing. Then again, I didn’t know any better!  The Present Version Of Me! Fast forward to the present day, and all I want is peace. I crave it, I strive for it, it’s my main objective moving forward. The kind of peace I seek is not the unsociable, stay home and away from people kind, although that’s a good kind of peace too. No, I seek the kind of peace that makes my soul feel light. The present version of me wants happiness, contentment, acceptance, and serenity.  In Search Of Inner Peace In other words, as I mentioned above, I want to find my inner peace. To know and trust that I am exactly where I need to be. That everything in my life is happening for my greater good. Feeling positive about the future whilst remaining grounded in the present moment is what I constantly strive for.  I desire the ability to find joy in each moment. To watch a sunset and stare in awe. To feel the air on my face and be grateful for the gift of life. Acknowledging and accepting that challenges will come my way, but trusting that I will overcome them no matter what. But mostly what I really want is to master the art of quieting my mind. Because if my mind is calm, everything else becomes clear.  Affirmations Whilst there are many ways to achieve inner peace, today we are just going to tackle the practice of affirmations. If you have read any of my articles before this one, you will already know that I practise self-care every day. In my daily self-care routine, I set aside a few minutes for affirmations. Yes, I know many will say, “Just because I say it doesn’t mean I’m going to believe it”, or “Telling myself I’m awesome is just plain awkward”. That was me a few years ago. I lived in such a state of negativity, that I wasn’t even willing to try anything that could possibly help me live a better life.  The Science Behind Affirmations I was wrong, after all, there is a science behind this practice. There are studies which prove that using positive affirmations can help in activating parts of the brain which are associated with self-related processing and reward. These same studies also indicate that this practice can aid in building or restoring self-competence.  Now let’s not confuse affirmations with magic. There is no magic behind it. Positive affirmations have to be backed up by action. It’s unrealistic to think that you can change aspects of your life by just repeating words and not showing up and doing the work.  One of my favourite affirmations is ‘I am enough’. I say it daily and often. However, it would be fruitless to affirm this every morning if, during the rest of my day, I end up using hateful words towards myself. For example, “I am useless, I cannot do this”, “I am fat”, and “I am so unlucky”…..you get the gist? In order for affirmations to rewire your brain, you also have to be mindful of your own inner conversation.  It takes practice, but just like a muscle, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.  Affirmations To Find Inner Peace Turbulence, it’s unavoidable. Life happens, and the mind feels as though it’s drowning in rough seas, searching for a lifeboat, a lifeline.  Recently I experienced a subtle amount of turbulence, which is why, right now, all I want is peace. My mind wants it, my soul needs it! So to achieve this, I prioritise self-care, and one of the most useful tools in my arsenal are the following affirmations to find inner peace. Read our article on Happiness. Choose to be happy! Need motivation to start your week? We have a blog on Monday Morning Motivational Quotes. Final Thoughts Whilst I feel as though I still have a lot to learn on this journey of self-discovery and inner peace, I know I’m currently at a good place. Our wish is to help others on their journey too. Do you use affirmations? Maybe you have considered it before but never given them a try? If you do, please let us know. We love getting feedback from our readers. Related articles on self-care!

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Learn To Say No Instead Of Yes

Learn To Say No Instead Of Yes

Saying NO is a form of art. A skill not easily acquired unless you are determined to protect your peace and set healthy boundaries. The word NO carries power. Ironically it’s one of the first words we learn as a toddler and one of the first words we forget when we become adults. Saying ‘YES’ to things you don’t want to do, is like telling your mind and body, “Sorry but I prioritize others before you”. When you are overwhelmed trying to fit in other people’s plans and commitments, you are sending a message to your body that says, “I just don’t have the time to take care of you”.  Your time is just as valuable as anyone else’s. Make sure you treat it as such. Saying No Isn’t Easy But let’s not kid ourselves. Saying NO is not easy, especially if you have spent most of your life being a people pleaser (Colleene I’m looking at you). In the past, I was one too. In fact, I like to refer to myself as a recovering people pleaser.  I don’t know where this need stemmed from. Maybe from trying to be the perfect daughter, or trying to be liked in school. However, I can proudly say I have mastered the skill of saying NO. It’s so liberating to just not have to do things I simply don’t want to do.  Don’t get me wrong, realistically, there are things like cooking, laundry, and going to work, that I rather not do, (especially when I’m in the middle of a good book)  but as I don’t own a magic wand (yet), then saying no is not an option.  When saying yes instead of saying no, makes you feel miserable, anxious and just plain angry with yourself, please know that I’ve been there myself. Don’t despair, there are ways to say no without being disrespectful, whilst honouring yourself and your time. How To Say No Respectfully Saying no doesn’t need to be complicated. On the contrary, it’s quite simple, even if at first it makes you feel discomfort. It doesn’t mean you need to stop being kind to others, but primarily be kind to yourself. Don’t let others take advantage of your kindness. You can still be kind and caring and help others without compromising your own needs and mental health.  Ways to Say No without upsetting anyone, whilst still honouring yourself: OR you can simply say, It’s Not Your Responsibility To Hand Out Explanations We often feel like we need to explain ourselves to others in order to not offend anyone, or let them down. I stopped giving explanations to those who are not particularly close to me. It doesn’t sit well with me anymore, plus more often than not, people are not concerned about your explanation anyway. In many cases, you will find that when you are straightforward and honest, others will respect you. Furthermore, you will respect yourself.  You can say NO without feeling guilty. You are not responsible for others’ perception of you. Learning to say no, without explanations or guilt will allow you to create space in your life for all those things that bring you joy and contribute to your growth as a human being. THREE Steps To Make Saying NO Easier Let’s have a look at these three steps that will help you say no and prioritise your time! STEP 1: Plan your month with all the stuff you want to do! Buy yourself a calendar or planner. At the beginning of every month, plan and write down all the stuff YOU want to do. All those things that make you happy. Make a list of your goals and ensure you make the time to commit to them. They are YOUR goals after all and should take precedence over everything else. STEP 2: What’s the worst thing that can happen if you say NO? Make A List (a realistic one) Seriously what is it? Stop and consider what saying yes takes out of your day. Does it get in the way of your own plans? Does it mean sacrificing your own time for others? What will happen if you say no? You will upset someone? And? So what? Chances are they will appreciate your honesty. And if it turns out that saying no to someone you care about results in them being upset, then that person doesn’t truly care about you. They probably care more about their own needs than yours. Not to mention they might be used to having you say yes all the time. Change of behaviour, especially when it involves self-care isn’t always well received.  Here is my list of why I fear (or rather, feared) saying NO! STEP 3: Make a list of your  TOP priorities Simply put, write down those things you want to prioritise above everything else and make time for them.  This is what my list looks like; Benefits Of Setting Healthy Boundaries Setting up healthy boundaries is one of the greatest forms of self-love. It will help you build a trusting relationship with yourself and others. When you feel burnt out or overwhelmed, take a day or two. Recharge your batteries. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Take the time to get to know yourself. Be clear on what you want, your goals, your values and your belief system. Stick to your values and watch as your self-esteem grows. Your mental health will improve and you will find a certain kind of peace that only comes when you learn how to value yourself above all else. Final Thoughts Are you a people pleaser yourself? How have you dealt with situations where saying yes has brought you grief? We would love to hear about your own experiences.  When you start saying NO, soak up how that feels. Our time on earth is limited. Once it’s gone you can’t get it back. In the meantime, make time for yourself, practice self-care, but mostly, Learn To Say

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Exam Brain Food Menu

There is no doubt that exam time is a stressful period.  During this time, it can be all too tempting to reach for processed foods for the sake of speed and convenience.  However, these foods are usually full of sugar which causes a dopamine spike followed by an inevitable crash.  Choosing whole foods which provide a steady stream of energy without the crash associated with sugar consumption is a much better choice.  Our exam brain food menu ideas are full of healthy, delicious and easy-to-make choices to see you through the next few weeks. Day 1 Breakfast Spinach and mushroom scrambled eggs Lunch Tuna salad with mixed greens, nuts and seeds Dinner Grilled steak with mixed greens and roasted mushrooms Day 2 Breakfast Greek yoghurt with mixed berries and walnuts Lunch Quinoa salad with mixed veggies and roasted lemon and pepper chicken Dinner Baked lemon and garlic salmon try this recipe by The Mediterranean Dish and serve with garlic parmesan broccoli and sweet potato fries. To make the broccoli, cut into florets and place on a baking tray.  Add slivers of garlic (around 2 cloves).  Drizzle with some olive oil and add salt and pepper and a little chilli flakes.  Cook for around 15 minutes then add a little grated parmesan over the top and cook for a further 5 minutes. Day 3 Breakfast Overnight Oats  with berries Lunch Baked Parmesan chicken with roasted veggies – try this recipe by Chelsea’s Messy Apron Dinner  Spinach and feta omelette Day 4 Breakfast Smoothie with spinach, berries and almond milk – Try this version by BBC Good Food  Lunch Prawns pil pil with tagliatelle  Dinner Egg fried rice with oriental chicken – Try this version by All Recipes Day 5 Breakfast  Avocado toast with cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar Lunch Chicken fajitas Dinner Grilled steak with mixed greens and roasted sweet potato Day 6 Breakfast Frittata with spinach tomatoes and feta cheese Lunch Aubergine salad with chilli salsa (serves 4) Ingredients Instructions Dinner Lentil bolognese – Try this version by Feasting At Home Day 7 Breakfast Greek yoghurt with mixed berries and granola Lunch Spanish omelette and gazpacho  Check out our guide on how to make a Spanish omelette (torta de patata)  in the Gibraltar section of our Easter food blog here.  For an amazing Gazpacho recipe be sure to give this version a go: Blend all the ingredients except the oil in a liquidiser.  Then slowly add the oil and a bit of water if the soup needs thinning down a bit. Dinner Spinach, Goat’s cheese and caramelised onion quiche Day 8 Breakfast Scrambled eggs with spinach and mixed veggies Lunch Lemon, garlic and feta spaghetti – This version by Delish is quick and easy to make and so delicious!  Dinner Baked chicken teriyaki bowl – This tasty version by Spend With Pennies will surely go down a treat Day 9 Breakfast Smoothie with banana, berries and almond milk Lunch Quinoa salad with mixed veggies and pesto chicken Dinner Baked teriyaki salmon with noodles – This version by Natasha’s Kitchen is so tasty  Day 10 Breakfast Avocado toast with poached egg and chilli flakes Lunch Greek salad Dinner  Grilled steak with mixed greens and roasted mushrooms Day 11 Breakfast Omelette with spinach, mushrooms and feta cheese Lunch  Quinoa salad with mixed veggies avocado and buffalo chicken Dinner Curried chickpea jacket sweet potato – By Good Food Day 12 Breakfast Greek yoghurt with mixed berries and granola Lunch Red pepper and goat’s cheese jacket potato Dinner Grilled steak with roasted asparagus and sweet potato fries Day 13 Breakfast Oats with berries Lunch Tagliatelle and prawns Peel and devein the prawns. Add a good glug of olive oil to a pan and add a clove of garlic. Cook together with the prawns until they turn pink. Cook the tagliatelle according to the pack instructions and then add to the prawns with some passata sauce and single cream. Add some salt and pepper and chili flakes to taste. Dinner Cheesy Veggie Enchiladas – this version by  The Novice Chef with bell peppers, spinach, corn and black beans is delicious and filling  Day 14 Breakfast Strawberry, banana and oats smoothie Lunch Tuna and courgette fritters by Joe Wicks Flake the tuna into a bowl, then add the grated courgette, flour and egg. Mix together to make a batter. You can add a little water if you feel you need to loosen the consistency a bit. Melt a little of the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add spoonfuls of the batter to the oil. leaving some space between each one, as the batter will spread as it cooks. Cook the fritters for about 2-3 minutes on each side before lifting them out of the pan and drain on paper towels. Serve the fritters with a small bowl of light soy sauce for dipping. Dinner Lentil stuffed peppers – try this version by Killing Thyme Bon Apetit & Bonne Chance We hope you enjoy these meal ideas and that they ensure that you are well-fed during your exam period. If you are feeling peckish in between meals try snacking on some nuts or these delicious Energy Balls. Milly and I would like to wish you the very best of luck in your upcoming exams. Related Articles:

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Perfect Loaf Cakes

Loaf cakes are a delicious and simple treat that can be made in a variety of flavours and styles. They are easy to make and require minimal effort, making them the perfect dessert for busy days or when you want to indulge in something sweet without spending too much time in the kitchen.  One of the best things about loaf cakes is that you can create a variety of different cakes from one basic base recipe. This means that once you have perfected the base recipe you can get creative with different flavours and ingredients to make a range of different cakes to suit everyone’s taste.  This World Baking Day, be sure to add this recipe to your favourites!  We guarantee you won’t regret it. To make the basic loaf cake, you will need the following INGREDIENTS: Directions So, that’s the basic loaf cake done but let’s make things more interesting and add some delicious variations. Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake To make a lemon blueberry loaf cake, add the zest and juice of one small lemon to the basic batter and fold in 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries. Bake as directed. Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake To make a chocolate chip loaf cake, add 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips to the basic batter. Bake as directed. Pistachio Loaf To make this delicious pistachio loaf add 100g of shelled and roughly chopped pistachios to the batter. Bake as directed. Walnut and Honey Loaf Add 2 tablespoons of runny honey and 60g of roughly chopped nuts to the batter.  Bake as directed. Orange, Almond & Yoghurt Loaf Add 1 tablespoon of grated orange zest and 10g of flaked almonds to the batter.  Bake as directed. Cinnamon & Raisin Loaf Add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 70g of raisins to the batter and bake as above. Cardamom Loaf Split 10 cardamom pods removing the seeds and crushing them in a pestle and mortar.  Add to the batter and bake. No matter which variation you choose, loaf cakes are a delicious and easy dessert that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. With just a few simple ingredients and some creativity, you can create a variety of different cakes to suit any occasion. Be sure to check out our other food and drink ideas: Related Articles:

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Self-Care During Exam Time

The days are finally brighter and we are all looking forward to summer.  Enjoying the great weather, beach, mojitos by the pool and holidays.  But for students, it’s exam time and the next few weeks can be full of stress, worry and angst.  When you are busy cramming it can be all too easy to forget to exercise self-care.   However, this is probably the time when you need to take care of your mental and physical health the most. Here are some tips on how to keep yourself healthy and well during the exam period. Maintain A Healthy Diet Eating a well-balanced diet can help keep you energised and focused. It may be tempting to grab fast foods during this time but it is best to avoid sugary and processed foods. Consuming sugar causes a rapid release of dopamine.  Whilst this is a chemical which makes you feel good a crash inevitably follows the dopamine spike.  This crash can also lead to mood swings, feelings of depression and anxiety, especially in times of stress. Instead, your self-care plan should include choosing whole foods. These provide a steady stream of energy without the crash associated with sugar consumption such as: Get enough sleep Another vital part of self-care is getting enough rest. A lack of sleep can cause fatigue, lack of focus, and decreased productivity. You should aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  This can of course not be so easy when you are working late and worrying. But here are some tips which might help: Exercise regularly Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety, and it can also improve your focus and concentration. Even a 20-30 minute walk can help improve your mood and energy levels.  You may feel that this is robbing you of study time but, given exercise’s ability to clear your mind you will actually be better placed to study after exercising.  Stay hydrated Drinking plenty of water can help keep you alert and focused during the exam period. Avoid sugary drinks and caffeine as they can cause energy crashes and dehydration. Take breaks It’s important to take regular breaks during your study sessions. Taking a 10-15 minute break every hour can help improve your productivity and focus. Practice relaxation techniques Stress and anxiety can negatively impact your health during the exam period. Introducing relaxing techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, havening or yoga as part of your self-care can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Seek support Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends, or a counsellor if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed during the exam period.  Childline and Gibsams are also available if you wish to talk to someone anonymously.  Remember that you are never alone and there are always people willing and able to help. Together you can develop coping strategies to get you through these difficult weeks. Also, remember that your results do not define who you are and that life will offer you many different opportunities – you just have to be ready to take them. We wish you the very best of luck for your exams. Check out these Motivational Mantras to get you inspired! Related Articles:

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Perfect Sandwiches

British Sandwich Week is an annual celebration of one of the nation’s most popular lunches.  It takes place in the second week of May and celebrates the diversity of sandwiches in the UK.  From classic cheese and pickles to falafel and hummus, everyone has a favourite. But, what fillings make for perfect sandwiches? Why Do Sandwiches Make The Best Packed Lunch? Firstly, they are incredibly convenient.  They can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until you need them.  This way you can prepare the night before and mornings become a lot easier.  You can easily just grab your lunch on your way out of the door.  Prep your overnight oats in the evening and you also have a stress-free, delicious and healthy breakfast sorted too! Secondly, they are versatile.  Whether you prefer meat, fish, vegetables or cheese, there is a sandwich filling for everyone’s tastes. Lastly, they are cost-effective so perfect when you are looking after the pennies.  They are a great way to use up leftovers and can be made using ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.  Making your sandwiches at home instead of buying them from a cafe will also save you a small fortune every month. But Aren’t Sandwiches Boring? They most certainly don’t have to be!  Recently I have not been as organised with my packed lunches as I usually am.  I have been working long hours and when I have come home I haven’t been prepping for the next day’s breakfast and lunch.  Big mistake!  This means that I have been making unhealthy, expensive and sometimes boring breakfast and lunch choices. Variety Is The Spice of Life To celebrate British Sandwich Week, here are our 10 favourite sandwich ideas for adults: The options are as limitless as your imagination.  You can vary the fillings or the bread.  Have a classic sandwich, roll, croissant, bagel or wrap.  You can also make delicious toasted sandwiches although these are probably best left for the weekend when you have more time at home. What About Picky Kids? With kids, you will want to keep the fillings simple.  With my two I find that their absolute favourite is a simple chicken schnitzel.  Unbelievably they like it as it comes – no butter, mayo alioli or pesto.  That said, it is one of their favourite school lunches. Some simple yet delicious options for kids include: What are your favourite sandwich fillings?  Do you have any tips for making sure that your kids eat their lunch at school? We love hearing from you so please do comment on our social media platforms or drop us an email. Sharing Is Caring: More ideas for you in our Food & Drink section:

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Granny’s Famous Apple Pie

I remember sitting around the table as a little girl whilst my granny made her famous apple tart. However, as a young child I never actually tried it!! That was a BIG mistake! But, I would make up for my late appreciation of her delectable apple pie years later. And, because it’s just too good not to share, I decided to include her recipe on our website. You will never try a more delicious apple pie than my granny’s famous apple pie! My cousin, however, discovered the deliciousness of my gran’s apple pie at a young age. And apple pie was inevitably on the menu when my cousins came to my granny’s house for tea. In fact, my gran would make a pie for Desiree and one for everyone else! At parties too, her pie was always the most anticipated treat. She however always claimed that it was nothing special. At 94 my gran no longer cooks or bakes. Luckily she shared her recipe with me and I am now able to replicate her delicious apple tart for my children. So Delicious! Granny’s Famous apple pie is delicious served warm, on its own or with custard, or cold with a good quality vanilla ice cream. Be sure to check out our other delicious recipes in our food section. If you enjoyed this, please give us a share Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Here Comes The Sun!

Can you believe the weather we have been having in Gibraltar recently?  Some of these last days in April and early May have been absolutely scorching.  Summer weather even!  Now whilst it’s not quite summer yet, it really is just around the corner. Summer Skin Prep Summer is a season of fun, sun, and relaxation, but it can also be a time when our skin needs extra care and protection. As temperatures rise, it’s important to take steps to prepare your skin for the summer months and to protect it from the harmful effects of the sun. In this post, we’ll explore some tips for preparing your skin for summer and how to look after your skin whilst in the sun. Exfoliate After months of hiding your skin under big jumpers and trousers, your skin is most likely in need of some TLC.  I know I don’t focus much on my skin during the winter months, rushing to put on my nice fluffy pjs, thick socks and dressing gown after a shower.  Not surprisingly, my skin has had more scales than Elliot the dragon! Moisturise We all know that moisturising is important all year round even though many of us ignore this when it is cold.  But, this is especially important in the summer months. Sun exposure can cause your skin to become dehydrated, leading to dryness and flakiness. Choose a lightweight, non-greasy moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated without feeling heavy or sticky. Wear Sunscreen Protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun is crucial, and sunscreen is one of the most effective ways to do so. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and apply it liberally to all exposed areas of the skin. Reapply every two hours, or more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming. Protecting our children’s sensitive skin can be such a battle right?  We’ve all been there.  Lugging everything but the kitchen sink down to the beach and your little ones just wanting to rush off to play in the sea the moment they arrive!  Be sure to apply sunscreen before leaving the house.  Your skin takes half an hour to absorb sunscreen meaning that by applying sunscreen upon arrival at the beach your little ones are exposed to the harmful effects of the sun for half an hour.  Not only this, but, by applying sunscreen at home you avoid one of the first battles you face upon arrival at the beach.  Check out these recommendations when deciding on which sunscreen to buy for your kids this year. Stay Hydrated Drinking plenty of water is essential for healthy skin, especially during the summer months. When you’re in the sun, your body loses water through sweat, so it’s important to replenish it by drinking water regularly throughout the day. Staying hydrated can also help to keep your skin looking plump and youthful. Cover Up Wearing protective clothing is another effective way to protect your skin from the sun. Opt for light, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much skin as possible, especially during the hottest parts of the day.   This is something which we are not very good at in Gibraltar and our beaches are usually packed as from 10am! We all know that it can be nigh on impossible to keep your little ones away from the pool or seashore so their skin will be continuously exposed to the sun’s damaging rays.  Be sure to protect them as their skin is very sensitive.  UV tops not only protect them against the UV rays but also stop rashes caused by hours of surfing. Don’t forget to wear hats and sunglasses too in order to protect your face and eyes from the sun.  This type of sun hat is especially good for little ones as they shield their face and neck from the sun and have 50+ UPF.  UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and is the measure used to measure sunburn protection.  Whilst we are all no doubt familiar with SPF which is the measure used to measure sunscreen protection, UPF is the equivalent measure for protection offered by fabrics. Stay Fabulous If you are looking for some great summer reads don’t forget to check into our book corner for our top recommendations.  You can also join our book club and have your say.  We love hearing about what you think about our recommendations and learning about what books you think we will enjoy. Check out these Wellness blogs:

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Motivational Mantras Fit For A King

Happy Coronation Weekend Bank Holiday! What have you been up to this weekend? Did you enjoy the coronation celebrations and have your own party at home? Or did you make the most of the long weekend and head off somewhere for a bit of R&R? At TOM we’ve had a bit of both. Milly enjoyed a mini break away, relaxing in the beautiful beaches of Chiclana. I on the other hand stayed home. Catching up with housework, boring I know. But, we also enjoyed a lovely coronation lunch and tea whilst watching all the festivities. And that concert last night! Wow!! Let’s Stay Focused After a  long weekend filled with celebrations and relaxation, losing motivation and falling out of our routine can be easy. That’s why today, we’re sharing some motivational Monday mantras to help you stay focused and inspired throughout the weekend and into the week ahead. Why Use Mantras? Incorporating motivational Monday mantras into your routine can help to keep you focused, inspired, and motivated throughout the weekend and into the week ahead. Be sure to read about different techniques such as journalling and havening which can also help keep you relaxed and focused. Whether celebrating the long weekend or tackling your goals, remember to take care of yourself and stay positive. Happy Coronation Weekend Bank Holiday! Check out these articles on wellness:

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