Every christmas present will tell a story this year…

If you are anything like me, you still haven’t done your christmas shopping. And even if you have, I don’t think one can ever do enough shopping.

This christmas I promise to shop local and not step into the giant shopping complex that ruin the prospects of our local businesses. I think shopping from independent local shops provides an exclusivity to the gifts (how many people do you spot wearing the same primark christmas jumpers? or jackets from H&M on sale?).

I like my presents to have a story and warmth, and it comes from local business owners as they are small and can give you personal attention while sharing the story of their journey with you. I have never met a superstore owner walking up to me to ask if I needed help and displayed a curiosity to know about me or share their amazing story?

Like I prefer to know my food and what goes into my body (Where it comes from, how was it produces etc), I prefer to treat my gifts the same. I’d like to tell my friends and family, something about the present they will be owning.

Here are some of the shops I went into and found some interesting stuff. Now there are many more, but I shall leave that up to you to explore :

The Secret Wardrobe (High Street):

Lisa Parsons is one of the most soft spoken and warm hearted person I have met. She loves her shop and is so proud of her products. Her products range from jackets, hats, scarves to jewellery and more. There is something for everyone. They are sourced from all over the world although mostly England, and picked and chosen from Lisa’s travels. It looks fancy but is very affordable. Do not fear to enter because you are on a budget. Lisa will help you out, mark my word!

Email: lisaparsons@hotmail.co.uk

Phone: 07830074649

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 Comics & Sci – Fi World (Market Place):

We have had a surge of new independent shops in Margate’s Old Town and on the high street, most by female entrepreneurs meaning a lot of shops cater to women. So this shop was perfect to find something for the “HIM (s)” that also need presents. Some amazing old comics to rare movie figures and collectables. Toys, books and magazines for the big babies of the family can also be found. The owner is very friendly, although not particularly chatty. But his face did lit-up when I told him that I am trying to inspire people to shop local through this blogpost.

Email: comicsandsfworld@googlemail.com

Phone: 01843225335

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No:60 (High Street):

This is a small little shop based on the high street with an assortment of handmade products made by the owner and some supplied by local people. They have handmade soaps, bags, purses, jewellery and some other decoratives like candle holders, essential oils etc.

The owners also run workshops from time to time on various interests like making loom band lampshades to cupcake decorations.

Find them on twitter: https://twitter.com/No60Margate

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Doggie Apparel (Old Town):

This is my favourite place. Every one gets a present on christmas, so why not your pooch? Here’s an exclusive shop just for doggies. They have everything handmade for your dog from beds to jumpers and jackets, leads, harnesses that are made to order and custom sized apparel, toys, treats etc. We had a great time just hanging out in the shop as it has such a lovely vibe and environment. Rustle, my dog loved trying a couple of things and we can’t wait to go back to shop for his size from the new stock coming in just before christmas. A must visit!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/doggieapparel (They are all over the place including Facebook and everybody is talking about them, easy to find)

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Pop Up Margate (High Street):

This is a place full of surprises as shops come in and out. Everytime I visit, there is a new little stall selling some new things. I have taken a few pictures but this is a place for each one to explore and find what they like. I would especially like to give a shout out to Faith, who makes cushions and is also a seamstress, who plans to take her pop up stall to the next level by opening her own independent shop soon, hopefully in 2015. She is quick and very very reasonable. She is here to stay and very local!

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Hooked On Books (High Street):

This is heaven for all those reading aficionados. There is a wealth of rare, old, classic hardcopies/paperback for just a few pounds. It is big and nicely organised. Gary is helpful, personable and non intrusive. You can sit and spend hours without being pushed to purchase. Even my kids were nice and quietly occupied while I did my work.

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I hope some of you will visit these shops and show your support. Here’s wishing everyone a very merry and prosperous christmas.

Support local, eat healthy and change the planet

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I have been meaning to write about veggie boxes for a while now. This year has been a year of huge changes in my life. I have taken some drastic steps to add and modify things in my lifestyle. We brought a house, we got married, I gave up alcohol and meat completely.

With my husband, constantly fighting to be as green as we can practically be and being surrounded by people who are all about community welfare and supporting local and independent businesses, I have become more conscious than ever.

Food has been an important part of my life and is a big part of my Indian culture. When we plan a holiday, we first think of the cuisine before the sights there are to see. I cook fresh and hot meals everyday for our family and we thrive on good food. For years, I have been living to eat. But this year, I had a change of heart. I am working my way towards a healthy and more environment friendly lifestyle. I am not all the way just yet, but baby steps are what I am taking.

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One of the biggest addition to this step is boycotting supermarkets for weekly supply of vegetables. We have started welcoming fresh and locally grown vegetable boxes into our lives. There are a few options in the area of Margate (Thanet) we live in but the one that satisfies our appetite is Nethergong Nurseries.

Nethergong Nurseries is based just outside Canterbury. It is run by the Jenkins family and they work with other local farms in order to put together the veg box that they deliver to your doorsteps every week. The one I order is meant for 2 -3 people and although we are two adults and 2 children, believe it or not, the box keeps up with all four of us and leaves a few treats (carrots) for the dogs too. So everyone is happy!

I have been ordering this veg box for almost 2 months now (after trying a few others), and I am pretty happy with the choice. The veg box comes with some standard supply of onions, potatoes and carrots with a smattering of other seasonal vegetables. I didn’t even know they grew mushrooms here. The box comes with at least one surprise element every week.

This week’s surprise elements were some red spinach and Crown Prince Squash? Yes I mean what the heck is that? One would not know because supermarkets seldom have them.

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Reasons to go local

If you are not convinced yet, here are some of the many reasons why going local is a great idea:

Nutrition and Health:

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Getting a vegetable box from your local farmer mean that these vegetables are freshly harvested and supplied to you. Most supermarket supply is over a week or two old losing a lot of nutritional value, whereas with a regular supply of vegetables from your local farm, you obtain your 5 a day much more easily and the quality is guaranteed.

Size Matters:

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Look at the size of these vegetables, I mean seriously! I bet you won’t find a ginormous squash in the supermarket or a parsnip this size. Out of season vegetables are much smaller and don’t taste as good. When vegetables are grown seasonally, they look and taste better or shall I say just right!

Environment friendly:

It isn’t easy to gauge but at the same time, it is a no brainer to say that vegetables grown and supplied locally have far less impact on the environment. They don’t use much packaging, crates or boxes are reused and the mileage covered by their delivery trucks are negligible in comparison to the big supermakets.

Local Economy:

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When you buy a veg box, you support local farmers and local community thereby contributing towards your local economic growth. In this world of supermarkets and large scale productions, our local farmers who are trying to produce ethically and trying to make a change get hugely ignored. We need to support them and other local businesses.

Saving Money and flexibility:

My veg box is merely £10 a week and that feeds us for an entire week, sometimes I even have leftovers. To give you an idea this weeks box consists :

Potatoes, Onions, Carrots, Parsnips, Squash, Spinach, Purple Sprouts and Mushrooms.

Now, I only visit supermarket for things like detergents etc which saves me money as I avoid the food isle altogether. For extra veg like tomatoes, or some herbs I will simply pop into our local green grocers.

Nethergong people are especially flexible with  your demands. They can make a box that suits your family size and requirement. They can supply you weekly, fortnightly or monthly. There are various payment options too. They are always available on mobile phone which helps keep track of your delivery.

Makes cooking easy:

For the ones who worry about cooking, the veg box also comes with a handy sheet full of recipes and information about what is in your box. Pretty cool, I think! Saves my time from googling the surprise elements in the box.

Healthy Eating Habits:

Ever since we’ve started the veggie box, our eating habits have improved a lot. We are not only eating healthy, but also learning some good old traditional habits; something as simple as washing your vegetables. Supermarket vegetables look very clean in their plastic packaging and many of us take it for granted and don’t wash the vegetables. I admit that I have skipped the step many a times. But these vegetables in the box come with some soil still stuck on them, which not only means they have been harvested recently but also reminds you to wash them. To teach the kids the concept of invisible germs on pre-packaged supermarket produce can be a challenge sometimes.

There are various options in Thanet and like me, I’d suggest try out various options first; one each week from different farmers to decide which one suits you best.

 

 

Kids are Kind

In our day to day parenting, we often are consumed with the chores and filled with frustration even; mopping up the floor, doing scores and scores of laundry, dealing with sticky table tops, cleaning drawings off the wall etc etc. And, if you have more than one kid, you are endlessly referree’ing between the two and no matter how many times you explain, they will be at it all over again probably within next 10 minutes or so.

Whilst we love our children, it isn’t untrue that they do drive us up the wall. And sometimes, we just want to get through the day and become less appreciative.

But kids are naturally kind. And in their own little ways, they express it every now and again. Now, it is up to us to notice them and make a memory of them because you know what? We may not remember every little mischief they do, but we will always cherish little acts of kindness they display which will eventually become a big part of their characteristic.

Here are just a few of many ways my kids have shown me love, affection and kindness when I least expected them:

Folding up the laundry:

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After returning from school, children get about 3 hours before it is their bedtime. And those 3 hours are spent playing, doing homework and arguing with each other, while mother (I) cooks, cleans, fold up the laundry, designates homework and helps them play as calmly as possible (impossible).

But one fine day, this was when Irene was five, she folded up a BIG pile of laundry into stacks individually piled up for each person in the house. I had no idea that this was happening while I was in the kitchen. I was awestruck by this act of her kindness and thought, gosh I love her so much and that she loves me so much!

If I ever complaint of having a lot to do, she’d often say, “I wish I could stay home today, so I could help you.” And she means it, I know that because she is very keen to help me out whenever she is home.

Making the bed:

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He may not make his own bed, even after begging him to do so everyday. But recently, since our dog had a leg surgery I am forced to sleep with her on the sofa from 4am when she wakes up. The only way to keep her calm is for me to sleep downstairs with her, and that way she remains calm and everybody can get few more hours of sound sleep.

Now because of this new arrangement my bedding needs to go back upstairs every morning. Normally, I’d do it after I drop the kids off to school but this morning was different. This morning my 8 year old, Reuben voluntarily picked up all my bedding and took it upstairs. Not only that, he also made my bed just the way I like it.

He said, “Mummy I made your bed. Sorry I can’t hear the dog in the morning to wake up and settle her back in bed. I am not strong enough yet.”

He touched my heart by showing appreciation for the sacrifices I make for everyone.

Keeping mummy warm:

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This happened in summer but knowing England’s weather, a hot day turned into quite a windy cold one. Clever mummy that I am I always carry enough clothing for my children but sometimes forget about myself.

My daughter held on to my legs (I was wearing a skirt so legs were cold), wrapped her arms around them to keep my legs warms. It may seem like nothing special but somehow it was to me. Ofcourse it didn’t keep my legs warm but it did keep my heart warm for a while. (I had a picture but I can’t find it)

I suppose children have to be raised in a kind and loving environment to receive it back. But honestly, I think children are naturally very kind. It is the unkindness that we teach them sometimes which takes over the act of kindness. The kindness remains as a natural instinct.

Who doesn’t like Red Lipstick?

IMG_3813 Welcome to the christmas season! It is the festive colours that bring life to the dreadfully darker, colder months of winter. Same applies to the winter fashion. People jazz up their clothing and make-up ever so slightly because of all the dark black jackets that consume them and their fashion otherwise. One of my winter fashion must-have is a bright and rich lip colour. I, personally, don’t spend a lot of time doing make-up. I am quite secure with my skin and it requires little to no work most days, luckily! But lip colour is my biggest weakness and I have to have one on before I leave the house, even if it is just to pop out to the newspaper vendor. IMG_3905 This season’s favourite is Big Bang from Rimmel London’s Apocalips. It is a liquid lip lacquer that is a perfect blend between a lipgloss and lipstick! Such a life-saver! It is seriously glossy when applied generously, but most days I simply put a tiny dot and dab it all over with my finger, which leaves a orangish red hint on my Indian berry lips. Since I dab it all over with my finger, I then have to apply a bit of lipstick for moisture and gloss. When I am out partying, or socialising, I apply it generously and it looks as glamourous as glamourous can be. IMG_3806 I have to be honest, that it is best worn with a lip liner as the gloss tends to bleed a little if applied too generously. And it stains on everything like most liquid lipsticks. It lasts a long time, simply because it leaves a dark pinkish red stain on your lips (I suppose a different stain on a different coloured lip) even after the gloss disappears. It is perfect for someone like me, who does small trips for school runs, dog walks etc.. Lip colour is, one of the most essential part of my make-up. Especially during winter days, as the only thing visible through your hood is your face. Now putting a load of make-up for dog walk seems over-indulging, a lipstick does the trick. Such a small thing, but has such an impact and makes a statement, every time! You get it wrong, you are doomed! Get it right, you become instantly noticeable! I love red and berry colours. I still haven’t found this season’s berry colour yet, but I will update this space with one soon. Until then, please go and dare to wear this red! Don’t be shy, under those dark, baggy jackets of yours! What is your favourite lip colour(s) for this time of the year?